Friday, July 29, 2011

Travel Approval!!!!!!!!


We received TA today! We don't know when we will travel yet because we are waiting for Consulate Appointment, but the earliest dates our agency suggested have us leaving around the 8th, which is really soon!!

Today is our 16th wedding anniversary. This is the best anniversary present ever. And we beat the August 1st deadline. If TA had been issued on the 1st or later we would have been subject to new rules that require post placement reports for the next 5 years and various other requirements.

No idea how buying tickets will go with only a week's notice, and I am a little unsure about spending the month of August in southern China. Good thing I like the heat ok.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We are moving (rather quickly) towards travel. Since we are a Hague family we have many steps between referral and travel. Here is our progress so far:

Referral 6/1/2011
I800 sent 6/6/2011
I800 approved 6/20/2011
Cabled 6/28/2011
Cable letter 6/30/2011
Article 5 - about 2 weeks
TA - about 2-4 weeks after Article 5
Travel! - about 1-3 weeks after TA

So if we follow the shortest estimate for timing, we could be in China in 5 weeks (around August 8). Most likely it will be 8/22 or so.

We got updated information about little Anya, and she seems to be doing well!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hope someone is holding our baby

It is so hard to just wait to travel and not know anything about how Anya is doing. We don’t really even know if she is in an orphanage or foster care. Her paperwork says she is in the social welfare institute (SWI), but that would be really unusual for this SWI as most kids under 3 are in foster care.

Her SWI is notorious for providing no information before or after adoption. They do not generally allow adoptive parents to visit. Many people with referrals from throughout China use various services to send care packages and get updated info and photos of their kids while they wait to travel. Several people in the June group have recently gotten wonderful updated photos. Anya’s SWI does not provide these updates to these types of services. So we have decided to send a more personalized care package on our own with no hope of an update (but we have not gotten it together yet). I’m planning to use my rusty Mandarin and hand-write a note to accompany the package. I hope they are not offended.

Our agency may get an update right before we travel, but that is months from now and all the information we have is already 3 months old. I panic when I read about any trouble in China (currently - floods, riots, lead poisoning, bombings!).

The Fuzhou yahoo group is reassuring at least. They state that the kids – whether in foster care or the SWI - are generally well cared for and healthy. Few to no cases of scabies have been reported. Several kids came home with giardia, though, so we will take precautions until we can get her tested (i.e., not let Nik and Anya take baths together and wash our hands a lot). Not all kids have it, though – especially if they are in foster care. There is a Half the Sky program at the SWI, but we don’t know if Anya is in it – probably not because I get the feeling that most kids in the HTS programs are SN.

I learned about a person who can get updates and photos - primarily from the Fuzhou SWI. People who have used his service have gotten as many as 75 photos of their kids with the foster parents, the town, the SWI, the baby’s bed, etc! BUT, I have also heard that this person pays the SWI director and possibly the foster parents to obtain all the info. While that is an innocent payment, it makes me nervous and is probably technically a violation of Hague and possibly US immigration laws. We cannot give money to our future daughter’s current guardians until the adoption is final. But… 75 photos of our little baby and her life before joining our family! And others have used the service with no issues. Sigh… we will (probably) wait until after the adoption and then use his services to get photos of people and places that were important to her early life.

And, in the meantime, please pray that our little girl is happy, healthy, and loved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Information

We got a FedEx with two more pictures and a little more information. Everything is from March, so when she was about 4 months old. There is not a lot we can tell about her development based on a report at 4 months old. She was not rolling over or grasping at toys yet, but these are skills that develop around 3-4 months. And considering how bundled she probably was from the time she was born in November until the report in March, it is not surprising at all. She laughs out loud, recognizes familiar people, likes to be surrounded by activity, likes quiet, likes music, and sucks her fingers. "She makes noises at people and animals" - I wonder what animals she encounters? Her personality is described as, "introverted, cheerful, lively and active. She has an exuberant energy, but sometimes she is relatively irritable." I love the expression on her face in one of the new pictures - like "what the heck is going on." Nikolai made a similar expression when we took him outside for the first time. I find it interesting that they appear to have photoshopped out someone's arm from behind her in one picture. It's not like we would expect a 4-month old to be able to sit up on their own.

These are the characters of her middle name
Jing 4 (modest, chaste) Xiu 4 (beautiful, elegant)

Usually Chinese names have a meaning that goes beyond the exact translation of the two parts. I don't know if that is true for Anya's name, but we hope to have a Chinese speaker give us their interpretation of her name.

These are the characters we would use for her first name (although a Chinese name would never have 4 characters plus a surname!)
An 1 (peaceful) Ya 3 (elegant, graceful, refined)
安 雅

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ge ge (big brother)

Nikolai seems genuinely excited about his new sister. When I picked him up from daycare yesterday I gave him a picture and he first showed it to his best friend Kayleigh, then Mr. Jarrell, the teacher in his new class. Then he ran down the hall and into the 2s room and plowed through the group of kids standing around the craft project demonstration in order to show it to Ms. Nahid, his teacher for the last year or so. On the way to the bank to meet Chris to get a document notarized, Nikolai spouted off all the things he is going to teach “his baby”. He is going to teach her to talk, and to walk, and to climb, and to climb in his chair. And he’s going to do the monkey dance to make her laugh. When we got home, he saw the other copies of the one photo we had yesterday and said, “my baby sister! There’s more! They all match.” Yes, when you only have one photo – they all will match. I hope he really adjusts to being a big brother as well as he appears to be.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a Girl!

We finally got the call! She's beautiful! I can't stop staring in her dark eyes.

Anya JingXiu

DOB: November 17, 2010 (about 6 months)
Fuzhou SWI, Jiangxi Province
Favorite toy: rattle
Favorite activity: being held
Healthy appetite, supposedly eating milk and rice formula, rice cereal, egg, and meat soup?
In March she was 25" long and weighed 13 lbs

We will travel in about 11-15 weeks!

I just plotted her measurements and if what they told us is accurate, she is about 50 percentile! Amazing.

Waiting is making me crazy

Why on earth do we get so much advanced notice? Is it just to ensure we are absolutely crazy by the time the call comes? Last night we got an email from our agency...

"We look forward to calling you about your match tomorrow! Have a nice evening."

Have a nice evening? Not even a hint? Our agency will begin making calls at 9 am their time - so 11 am our time. It has been a long morning.

It was so much easier for Nikolai. I was at work and saw our coordinator was calling but assumed it was because they needed more paperwork or something. I answered the phone calmly, she spit out the brief info about our potential son and that was that. No stress!

Monday, May 30, 2011

We're In!!

The cut-off is confirmed of June 30th!!!! Not only are we in, but the rest of June 2006 is being referred!! I am so happy for those included and for the morale boost for those behind us. Referral calls are happening in Europe today. The US should receive theirs tomorrow and hopefully our agency will call on Wednesday. It all seems so sudden (which I realize is ridiculous because we have been waiting more than 5 years).

From RQ:

Friday, May 27, 2011


According to our agency, referrals have been mailed! Of course Monday is a holiday, so packages won't arrive until Tuesday. Our agency won't make calls that day, but waits to translate everything and makes calls the next day. SO we may know who our second child is on Wednesday! We still don't know what the cut-off is, so there is no guarantee we are in, but probably. The only cut-off rumor is for June 30th, which would be the largest batch in a couple years (4 times the size of last month)! So it is a little hard to believe, but it is being reported by multiple sources, so maybe. It would be nice for the rest of the Junies to be included together, and this would be a HUGE boost to everyone behind us. I hope we keep busy over the weekend.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Referrals came out today. Congratulations to all the new families! Unfortunately this was the smallest batch in history, with a cut-off June 20th. If they had gotten through the 21st we would definitely be in next month. Now, I think we will be in, but it is not a guarantee. I was disappointed and sad about the cut-off and then saw the email from our agency letting us know we were not in this month. They have never contacted us before, and the fact that they felt they needed to let us know we were not in this month – as if there was a chance we could have been – made me panic. How can I be disappointed about a small cut-off and panicked about potentially being in in the near future at the same time? Brains are confusing.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Next, Next

Yes – we are still adopting from China. After almost 5 years, I think we can safely say we “next next” and should finally see our second child’s face in late May or early June, and then travel probably at the end of August. At least we don’t have to worry about bringing any bulky winter clothes. When we went to Kazakhstan, it was in the 80s when we arrived and the low 40s when we left – that was hard to pack for.

Referrals came out yesterday and the cut-off was a tiny bit better than expected - June 15, 2006. Our LID is June 23, 2006. I think there is almost no chance that we could be in the next batch at the end of April (I predict a cut-off of June 21, although the 22 may sneak in there). There is also almost no chance that we WON’T be in the batch at the end of May! It feels very weird after the years of uncertainty and every month having to extend our estimate for referral another month (or another year) to actually know when we will get referral. In the back of my mind I keep worrying that something will happen – that maybe we were told the wrong LID or our dossier somehow fell behind a book case at some point over the past 5 years. Unfortunately things like that have happened, but they are always resolved.

Our new agency (after our first agency went out of business) will not provide any info the day referrals come out, but waits until they check and translate everything and makes calls the next day. This month, referrals arrived on a Friday, so people with our agency have to wait over the weekend to get any information – torture! It will be strange to actually know the day that we will get the call. I may have to take the day off work; how could I concentrate? I think I prefer how we got the call for Nikolai – we knew we were in the time range to receive information, but we had been in the range for months. Then out of the blue I got a call at work from our coordinator, who announced that they “had a little guy for us”!

I am trying not to hope for any particular “type” of referral, but it is hard because I do want a child as young as possible to limit the time they had to spend in an orphanage. I also would like a girl. But then again the referral photos of the toddlers are SO cute, and boys are great too. We’ll see what happens. We may have a heart attack if referred twins. I can’t comprehend even simple tasks with three young kids – like getting from the car into daycare. Twins are VERY unlikely, though.

Our house is totally not prepared for another child yet. The little one’s room is a mess and full of the clothes Nikolai has outgrown – in case we get another boy. We need to re-baby proof and figure out some system for toys that allows two development stages worth of toys to be out in our little living/play/TV/dining room (or perhaps we should use other parts of the house). I have no idea how to keep Nikolai’s toys with tiny pieces off of the floor. I guess we should try to teach him to pick up when he is done with things, but then that requires actually having space to put things away. My parents and Nikolai are coming to China with us! It will be essential to have my parents to help with Nikolai so that we can focus on the new child when needed and attend official paperwork things alone. We are not willing to go 3 weeks without bringing Nikolai. The only drawback is that my parents will also be jet-lagged when we get back. When we came home from Kazakhstan, my parents had filled our refrigerator with perishables and made a bunch of baby food. The first couple weeks home was crazy hard with Nikolai – I was SO tired, jet lagged, and sick. And I could not do anything without Nikolai clinging to my leg or wanting to be picked up, so I often went without lunch (except for the days our Kazakh neighbor brought me lunch!). Thinking back I find it hard to believe I couldn’t figure out a way to feed the baby and eat myself. I don’t know if it will be easier this time having experience as a parent. I should be a little less tired because we will have been in China for longer and had custody of our child longer. Then again this child may have a significantly harder time adjusting than Nikolai – who adjusted and attached easily. There have been discussions on Rumor Queen comparing the stress and fatigue associated with having a newborn to bringing home a newly adopted child. The consensus from those who have experienced both was that both are equally hard, but for very different reasons.

We need to prepare a little bit more in advance than we did for Kazakhstan (admittedly we were given only one week’s notice to arrive in Kaz). We will NOT pack the day we leave again (even if we ALWAYS end up packing the day we leave – including doing so twice for our trips to Kaz). We plan to cook some things and freeze them (soup, casseroles, etc.) as well as preparing baby food (if appropriate).

It has been so fun watching all of the other June bugs get their referrals over the past three months! While I don’t know any of them in person, having been in the online group together for 4-5 years makes them important to me. As someone else described it on Rumor Queen – every referral announcement is like seeing a niece or nephew for the first time. Every one of the babies/toddlers referred so far has been absolutely wonderful. The first group is getting ready to travel!

Unfortunately China has just issued new rules regarding post placement reports – well, unfortunate for our family but probably good for kids overall. It used to be that you submitted a post placement report at 6 and 12 months and that was it (plus one more the first year to satisfy VA requirements). Now China wants reports at 1, 6, 12, 24, 36, and 60 months. It is not that big of a deal, but the 1 month one will be hard. In the past our social worker has required a month to write the report so she would have to come to our house the first week home. At least we really like our social worker. But who is to say she will be available still 5 years from now? Who knows if our agency will even still be around?

We will be fingerprinted for the final time next week. Assuming we don’t get any requests for evidence from USCIS, we will soon after get approval to bring our next child to the US as a citizen. That is the most important outstanding adoption-related thing we need to do – at least for now.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I have been a bad blogger – thanks to Facebook. I just wanted to share some cute stories from the past 6 months or so.

Nikolai is a talker, and talks almost constantly. If he goes 10 minutes without saying something, invariably it means he has something in his mouth he wants to spit out (a vegetable he has tried, apple skin, etc.). If he is mad he will also get quiet.

He pronounces almost everything perfectly, so when he doesn’t I think it is so cute. Instead of saying “don’t forget” he says “don’t have got”. He calls ninjas “injas”.

Nik: That car is in front of us (referring to the one behind us)

Me: No, that car is behind us.

Nik: No! That car is in front of my back!

Last fall, while trying to catch leaves as they fell from the trees last fall, Nikolai looked at me and seriously said, “we don’t have to catch leaves, we can just pick them up!” Yes, but…

After watching a Dora episode where they were trying to find wishing stars, Nikolai said he wanted a wish. I asked him what he would wish for, and he replied, “the moon.” So cute!

Nik and I met Chris for dinner at church and stayed for the beginning of the youth drama rehearsal. While Chris was talking to the kids at the front of the room, Nikolai ran up and wanted to be picked up. Without Chris realizing, Nikolai started making funny faces to make the kids laugh. He LOVES to be the center of attention.

The fact that he likes to be the center of attention makes pediatrician appointments easy. He loves everyone talking to and looking at him. At his 3-yr appointment, when the nurse was done checking his temperature, height, and weight, she started to walk out of the room. Nikolai called after her, saying “don’t have got my heart!” She responded that the doctor would do that, and Nikolai said, “but you’re a doctor.” After she clarified that she was a nurse, Nikolai told me “that doctor is a nurse!” When the actual doctor walked in the room, Nikolai immediately asked her to tell him a story. When she looked in his ears, she told him she saw a red bunny in one and a blue bunny in the other – just being silly. But at bed time Nikolai very seriously and with wide eyes told me, “the bunnies are still in there.”

A few days after the Christmas play at church, Nikolai declared, “my friend Patrick likes juice. He’s going to take all his friends’ juice.” Patrick played King Herod, and kept declaring loudly that he was the King of the Jews in the play.

I asked Nikolai if he wanted a sibling, and he emphatically said “Yes!” I then asked if he knew what a sibling was, and he answered, “yes, a candy!” It is just like him to assume the best - that something he doesn’t know is the most wonderful thing he can think of.

Another example of this thinking – One evening Chris declared that dinner was ready. Nikolai jumped up, declaring “Yay! Yay! Hot dogs!” (We were not having hot dogs)

The other day he got up from the chair in the living room and headed towards the kitchen. Just before entering, he turned back to us, held up his hand and said very seriously "don't come." Nothing suspicious about that statement! He was after a marshmallow.

Chris got Nikolai a carnation for Valentine's day and he acted like it is his pet. We put it in a little vase, which he had to carry up to his room when he went to bed. He placed the vase on his book case, saying "awe, good night little fella." He carried the vase downstairs with him the next morning.

Early one morning while it was still dark out, I was lying in bed and heard Nikolai walk past. I said, “Nikolai what are you doing?” and he answered, “I’m just getting the stool.” He picked up the stool and brought it back to his room, put it against the dresser, climbed up, grabbed a paci from the bin, got down and climbed back in bed! I am beginning to feel obsolete.