Thursday, March 23, 2006

Great, great pictures

Love Without Boundaries, a website for

a group of volunteers around the world who have realized that people who have a pure love for helping children can truly make a difference. We all donate our time and gifts in an attempt to brighten the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable children.

has posted their "Top 10 Pictures of 2005",. Such beautiful pictures! There were quite a few that made me cry....LWB seems to be a very worthy organization, going to China and helping the babies who need it most. They get help for babies who are cleft affected, get them to orphanages who can devote enough time to just FEED them, and get them appropriate medical care. They also provide foster care for children so that they do not have to stay in orphanages, and help orphanage provide the children's most basic needs: Food. Formula. Rice cereal. Things that you and I can pick up easily at the grocery store a short distance away, but that the orphanage cannot afford.

Check them out. And support them if you can.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wow, I was right! Two Days to Save to Asia

Heck, I'm not DTC yet, but these prices sound MAD cheap!

From the Business Traveller newsletter:

ACT FAST, BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAVE TILL MIDNIGHT THURSDAY (March 23) to take advantage of United's "Spectacular Savings to Asia" special fares. Destinations include Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Beijing and Shanghai. Hop aboard United's wide-body jets nonstop to China and Japan, or one-stop to Southeast Asia. Sample one-way fares: Boston to Shanghai, $430; Los Angeles to Bangkok, $350; Chicago to Tokyo, $310. Tickets must be purchased at least 14 days before departure for travel off-peak Monday through Thursday between April 1 and May 18, 2006. A six-day minimum stay is required. For more information, visit www.united.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Does this mean we won't have to spend a bloody fortune on plane tickets?

From a business traveller newsletter:

China Inks Aviation Deal With United States

BUILDING ON AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
SIGNED IN 2004, China and the United States have
signed a new bilateral aviation agreement. Under the
new agreement, the number of weekly flights between
the two nations will rise from 54 to 249 and the
number of permitted carriers from four to nine. U.S.
airlines will be allowed to add new flights in 2006,
2008 and 2010, and build hubs in China starting in
2007. Also, restrictions on 12 U.S. and five Chinese
cities will be lifted.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So, where are we up to?

One of these days, I will post a list of all the steps we have to go through. But this is what we've done so far:

* Chosen an adoption agency
* Sent in the application and application fee ($200)
* Had an intake meeting
* Went thru the homestudy ($1400 so far)
* Got DH's physical
* Scheduled my physical
* Got my employment verification letter
* Got DH's employment verification letter (but I think it won't be accepted)
* Got two referral letters
* Asked for a third referral letter
* Found our marriage and birth certificates and some other documents
* Realized that we have to get new passports next year
* Selected two dossier pictures of us w/family.
* Plan to take some nice formal pictures of us as a couple this Friday. Don't have to, but I've been wanting to do this anyways, so I finally have a good excuse.
* Will be sending in the i600a (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, or, as I call it "the form asking the government permission to bring in an alien baby") this week, without the homestudy. ($550+ dollars - don't remember the exact amount.)
* Will be sending in other types of documents to the agency this week as well.
* Will be taking pictures of our house as soon as the daffodils bloom, making the outside look real purty-like, and inside pictures, while the house is still clean and neat as a result of the grand homestudy cleanup.
* Will be taking more FAMILY TOGETHERNESS pictures during the festive Purim meal. Before everyone gets drunk. Or maybe after.

I just hope we don't have to wait 3-4 months before the USCIS processes the i600a and invites us down for a fingerprinting appointment. Pray, people, pray!

Wow! The homestudy was a breeze!

I still can't believe it. We found a great social worker who made the whole process very easy for us. The in-house meeting was very quick and to the point, and all she wanted to see were the common living areas and the room that would be the baby's room. Oh well...at least our master bedroom is clean & neat now. I'm trying to keep it up. We had already prepared answers to some of the questions we knew would come up, such as "how do you resolve conflicts between yourselves" (our answer: well, we discuss things and each other viewpoints and resolve them thru discussion - we left out the things like throwing beer bottles and shouting matches JUST KIDDING!), and "how do you plan to integrate Chinese culture into your lives?" (our answer: well, we've joined Familes with Children from China, are reading a lot about China, and plan to learn more, etc, etc).

And then she asked (are you ready for this?): Is there such a thing as a kosher Chinese food restaurant (in a tone indicating that she was expecting a no)?

When my husband and I picked ourselves up off the floor, as we were laughing too hard to stay in our chairs, we explained that in Jewish neighborhoods, first is the pizza store, and then there is the Chinese restaurant or takeout place. And we have three within driving distance of our house. And we know that sushi is Japanese, not Chinese, but they serve it anyways. She was QUITE happy with this answer. I also explained that my father was always into all styles of cooking, some of it Chinese, and that I grew up with a wok in the house, and didn't know how to cook rice without it when I got married and didn't have one. But my mother had recently given me her extra wok. And that my husband had bought me the aforementioned China, The Beautiful Cookbook, which I am planning to utilize. Someday. Maybe when my dossier is complete.

You definitely want a social worker who has a lot of experience in writing China homestudies. She knows what should and shouldn't go into the homestudy. As long as our criminal and abuse checks go thru ok, we should be fine. She even emailed us a draft the SAME DAY. Unbelievable.

So...we're getting our fingerprints done on Purim*, as we're both off that day and have time to go to the police station. Can you believe that we can only go to our local police station from 10am-2pm on a weekday? We would usually have to take off from work to take care of them. My sister who is currently living with us did her fingerprints last Friday. When the officer heard why she had to get her fingerprints done, he was very helpful, and also said that he knew of two other couples in our village who had adopted from China! I haven't met them yet. I think I'm going to have to drive around and stalk houses...just kidding.

Oh, and something interesting about the social worker. We mentioned to her that we knew of two other Orthodox families in the area who had adopted from China, and we knew their names, but we couldn't find them. Our mutual acquaintances lost their phone number, and they're unlisted! It turns out that she did the homestudy for one of the couples, and told us where they moved to. We, ahem, have since Googled them and found them...but she's going to call them first and see whether we have permission to contact them. She's on vacation right now though, so I can't ask her whether she's contacted them. I think they may have even used our agency, so that would be the experience with Sabbath observant Jews that they've had. So...if you think that you may be this family...can you please contact us? We'd love to talk (and drool enviously over your daughter...I'm sure you won't mind)!

* Purim websites (they can explain it better than I can):
Chabad.org
Aish.com

Yes, it involves alcohol, partying, costumes and a lot of food. Fun times.
But if you're yearning for children...it's quite stressful. Plus I accompany my husband to deliver Shalach Manos to certain important individuals who have been important in our lives, and I STILL GET THE STOMACH SCAN. You know, the "Hm, I wonder if she's pregnant, let me look at her stomach" look. Yo. I've been married ten years and I haven't been pregnant. EVER. My stomach is it's own fatty self. LEAVE ME ALONE.

I also find myself going to megilla readings that do not have a lot of children attending, as it's so, so difficult to see cute little kids in costumes...and me wanting one too....And with the way referral are going lately, it is quite likely that a)I will be in China RIGHT NOW this time next year or b)I'll still be waiting for my referral. So I may have to be tortured next Purim too...but I'll be closer to having one of my own to dress up in a costume. But she will not be dressed as an Asian girl costume. EVER.

Tearjerker of a video...and a worthy organization

Warning: this video will make you cry (via A Red Thread to China).

China Care is an organization started by a TEENAGER, who saw the plight of orphans in China. The video is from his appearance on Oprah. He's raising money to help fund operations for orphans with terrible birth defects, and to help get handicapped orphans adopted in the U.S.

The homepage explains it the best:

The predicament of orphans in China is something few Americans can fathom.

Every year tens of thousands of children are thrust into overcrowded, under-funded orphanages. They are abandoned because parents can't afford to care for them. Or, simply because they're born into an enormous population forced to maintain a policy of one child families. They are forgotten because there are simply not enough resources to provide adoption, foster care or even the basic necessities to such a large number of orphans.

And for children born with disabilities, the outlook is far grimmer. Even conditions corrected with routine medical procedures in America can render a child unadoptable and destined for an unthinkable existence in a cold institutional setting.
.

If you are looking for a way to help Chinese orphans...I think this would be a great way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dum, dum, dum dum....Time for the HOMESTUDY

One bonus to scheduling a homestudy this time of year?
EARLY PESACH CLEANING*.

This post was rolling around in my head, and then I read Karen's post about laundry (sorry, password protected)...and then my comment to her turned into this.

Until a few days ago, there was a huge gigantic enormous towering sizeable pile of things to be ironed/folded/mended in our bedroom. Clean clothes though. Hate ironing. I ended up with a huge pile after my last failed IVF (LAST SUMMER) and NEVER CLEANED IT UP. Never mind the (most likely) clinically depressed situation that I was in for, oh, four months or so. I was too busy obsessively reading adoption blogs researching adoption to fold and iron. I thought my husband owned two pairs of work pants, and that I had maybe four work outfits. I couldn't imagine what happened to all our clothes!

Amazing what a homestudy appointment will do for you. The pile is GONE. Two nights and one Sunday of ironing and reorganizing the walk-in closet, and we are FLUSH with clothing.

So proud of myself right now. And even more proud of Karen, who has many more challenges in her life right now than I have.

But I haven't been down to the basement lately, our unofficial laundry room. I avoid the basement at all costs. It's just darn ugly, full of everyone else's storage (all my family uses it for their storage, as I'm the one with room), it's the "overflow pantry" (and sometimes other things overflow there...like the sewage pump) and it irritates my asthma when it's damp. I wonder what's sitting down there?

Uh oh.

*Passover. Orthodox (and Conservative and some Reform) Jews rid their house of all leavened bread etc. before Passover, which usually entails a *lot* of cleaning, changing all of the kitchen dishes to the special Passover dishes, and so on. I'm sure I'll be b****ing complaining about it over the next six weeks.

Wait. Today's Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the lunar month). Pesach is in SIX WEEKS? Deep breathing, deep breathing...let's get through the homestudy first...