Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Moving along....slowly.
Well, we got an email from the homestudy agency advising that the homestudy has been forwarded to the DC for review. DC says she'll have it reviewed in a few days and then it will be sent to USCIS. I have just one thought, "please hurry."

Thanksgiving is almost here and once again I think of next year and hope that we'll be enjoying the holiday with a new addition to our family. This may be just wishful thinking but, for now, that's all I have to do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Well we finally have a rough draft from the social worker. It wasn't horrible except for the part where she didn't cut and paste correctly and left in the employment info for the last people she did one for. The amazing part is that when I pointed this out to her she didn't even apologize. I know she really hates me. Anyway, we are one step closer to a completed homestudy and that is good news.

I've been shopping for baby stuff and thought I'd post some pix here of the things I've been looking at. I absolutely love this set by Young America. It's called Isabella and has tons of pieces that match it including teen furniture like desks, etc. My plan is to get the crib and then basically all the furniture we would need for her as she gets older and that way, when she transitions to a big bed, we won't have to change everything. The piece on the left is a doll/curio cabinet. I love it!!
The link to the whole set is here:
Furniture Set

I've also been looking at bedding. My fav so far is a set by Glenna Jean also called Isabella. Here's the link:

Shopping, shopping, shopping... it is a fun way to pass the time!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Control issues....
OK, for those of you who know me, I tend to prefer the things in life I can control. I really don't think I'm a "controlling" person by nature, but, at least if it's my responsibility I know that if I do it, it's done. Which brings me again to our social worker. When I contracted with this homestudy agency one of my main concerns was timeline. The agency supervisor told me that we should be able to complete this process quickly and I have a feeling that if it were truly up to her we would be done by now. But it's not. As I think is common, they contract your job out to a social worker who they've probably never met in person. So, there you go.

At the outset I was told 7-10 days for a rough draft. I patiently waited until day 10 then called the SW and left a msg asking when it could be expected. She called back leaving a msg that it would be emailed the following day. At 5pm the following day, she emails to say it's not done but it should be the next day, or maybe the day after that. We're now on day 12 and no homestudy yet. Thing is, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that when the rough draft gets here it's going to be a mess. She just strikes me that way. I'm trying to be patient but it's wearing thin.

On the positive side, I was fingerprinted for USCIS on Wed and Bobby just yesterday so at least that's done. On the internet groups I've been reading it can be as soon as 3-4 weeks after they receive the homestudy and prints for the I171, the last document needed for the dossier so we are definitely moving in the right direction. Goal: DTC before 1/1/06. Fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

OK, so today I'm feeling kinda low. I've been reading the Yahoo boards and it seems as though the referral process has really slowed down. From what I've seen there are several reasons for this. Apparantly, the director of the CCAA (the organization in China that does the adoptions) has been out of the office for awhile visiting orphanages, or something. He was supposed to be back in today and rumor is, may have started signing off on some of the referrals. If this is true, we should start seeing them in the next week or so. I've also heard that the number of applications is way up. I'm not sure about this one although it may be true.

I know that it is not yet my turn to get my referral, heck, we haven't even completed the paperchase, but there's just something about seeing those referrals that kinda keeps me going. It makes it feel "real" and "possible" that this will actually happen to us some day! I get tears in my eyes when I read those words on the screen "The ____ Family is thrilled to announce the referral of their daughter" and I so want to type those words myself. I know it will happen, I'm just being impatient.

I had to run out to Target to get something for Brett this evening and saw the cutest little outfit. Up til this point, I hadn't purchased any clothes for our girl. I've looked plenty, to which Bobby and the boys can attest, but no buying. There are several reasons for this, like HELLO!! we don't know what size she's gonna be!!! But this was just the most adorable outfit of all time. Its a pink (big surprise) little sweat suit with a patterned onesie that goes under it and it has the most adorable little Pooh on it. OK, I got the hat too. I got 9 mos, which should be fine as most of the girls adopted are small by US standards. I just couldn't resist. Don't worry, I won't get anymore... just this one.

Just for fun, I continue to kick around names:
I'll list more as I think of them

Well, hopefully I have some good news this week, the homestudy is supposed to have a rough draft on Wed which would be definite progress. You can see from the time of this entry that I'm up in the middle of the night, ruminating on this process and lamenting my lack of control. I have a feeling that my hope to have our little girl at home by next Christmas may not happen but I still have my fingers crossed!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Besides costs, people are always very curious as to how long this process takes to complete. Once again, there is a short answer "about a year." But, that timeframe can be hugely affected by many things that are within the adoptive parents' control and many more that are out of our hands.
**Since this was originally written, referral times have slowed considerably. Therefore, if someone were asking me today how long the process takes to complete, I may say 18 mos-2 years.
***amended 1/8/07 --the wait time for new families will likely be at least 5 years.

To understand the timeline, its good to have an understanding of what the process is actually requiring families to do. In order to complete an international adoption (IA), there are three separate sets of requirements to complete:

1. The Homestudy completed by a social worker who then says it is safe for us to have a child in our home. We make enough money, have enough room, are healthy, and are not complete freaks.

2. The feds USCIS (formerly INS) --this is the quest toward a magic piece of paper, the Holy Grail if you will, to most IA families --the dreaded (if you haven't received it yet) or lovely (if you have it in your hands) I-171H. In a nutshell you are applying to the federal govt to be allowed to bring a foreign orphan into the country. Sounds simple, huh?

3. China's requirements the Dossier --this is a group of documents that China requires including an application to adopt, marriage and birth certs, medical clearance, financial statement, employment letters the homestudy, the I-171H, and pix of your house and family. Again, seems simple, huh?

The problem is that China is very particular about these docs. They have to be relatively new, certified, then notarized, then verified, then authenticated. Whew, I'm exhausted already. Also, they cannot include any revisions, whiteout, mistakes and all numbers must match up with all the other numbers on all the other docs or they're no good and you must start over. Trust me, this creates some problems.

09/05/2005 --Applied to Harrah's AIM

09/07/2005 --Brett's birthday!!

09/12/2005 --Rec'd agency acceptance letter and huge packet of paperwork from Harrah's AIM

09/13/2005 --Sent 1st agency fee and agency dossier prep fee to Harrah's, ordered birth certs from LA County for Susan, Brett and Casey.

09/15/2005 --Applied for passports

09/27/2005 --Ordered Bobby's birth cert from Michigan, only $16 for 3 copies!!!

09/30/2005 --Rec'd birth certs from LA County

10/04/2005 --San Bernardino recorder's office for marriage cert, same day service.

10/05/2005 --Rec'd Bobby's birth cert from Michigan, even came in a cute little holder!!

10/06/2005 --First physical exam for Bobby and Susan, some bloodwork. Doctor's office mistakenly scheduled our evals on Thursday so TB test could not be done. Will need an addional appointment. (1st frustration with Dr's office) I carefully explain to nurses and doctor's that the forms need to be filled out completely, no cross outs, no blank spaces, etc. Doctor and nurses look at me like I am insane or a total shrew, or both.

10/07/2005 --Susan's second trip to lab for bloodwork because doctor forgot to request HIV test (2nd frustration with doctor's office) and Susan obtains her background check

10/08/2005 --First homestudy visit at Starbuck's

10/10/2005 --Back to Dr's office for TB test

10/12/2005 --Bobby obtains his background check and rec'd Susan's passport

10/12/2005 --Back to Dr's office to have TB test read, and picked up Susan and Bobby's medical forms (that's done, yeah right!!)

10/19/2005 --Rec'd Bobby's passport

10/20/2005 --Notified by Dossier Consultant (DC) that Bobby's medical clearance has a white out correction on it. Upon close inspection I realize she is correct. Back to the doctor to have him sign a new form. (3rd frustration with Dr's office). Susan's medical clearance has an "abnormal" circled. What?!?! Dr's office says I'll have to re-test. (4th frustration with Dr's office)

10/27/2005 --(1)Casey's birthday!!! (2) I-600a received by USCIS

10/30/2005 --Second homestudy visit --our house.

11/01/2005 --Susan returns to Dr's office for re-test where she is so grumpy that Dr. avoids her and makes nurses discuss forms, etc. Susan explains to nurse, not that politely, that this really needs to be done correctly. Cross your fingers!!

11/08/2005 --received USCIS fingerprint referral notice saying we must be fingerprinted between 11/8/05 and 11/22/05!!!! I was told by many that we probably wouldn't get our fingerprint notice for about 3 weeks after USCIS received it, luckily we got it in 12 days!!!

11/09/2005 --Susan fingerprinted for USCIS (yeah!) and obtained even more documents from the courthouse re: our background checks (grrrr..). Supposed to get rough draft of homestudy today. SW calls, homestudy will be ready and emailed tomorrow.

11/10/2005 --Bobby fingerprinted for USCIS. SW emails, homestudy will be ready in a day or two.

11/22/2005 --Homestudy is complete and forwarded to DC for review. Should be mailed to USCIS in about a week.

11/28/2005 --Homestudy received by LA USCIS --6 week countdown begins!!

11/30/05 --After 3 more visits, Susan finally gets medical clearance from doctor. Total trips to doctor's office = 11!!

12/01/2005 --Write and received approval of CCAA letter to adopt. Also, adoption agency gave tentative approval to the china version of the homestudy.

12/06/2005 --All docs now notarized and mailed to DC for review. Learned from online groups wait may now be 8 weeks for I171H.

01/04/06 --we have been approved to bring an orphan into the country, just waiting on having the I171 in our hot little hands.

01/11/06 --GOT IT!!! THE I171H IS HERE!!!

01/12/06 --I171H notarized by friend at work, thank you Phi, and overnighted to Dossier Consultant to get needed certifications. We're on track to be DTC 1/20/06.

01/13/06 --I171H expedited at the Secretary of State

01/14/06 --Bobby's birthday --Lordy, lordy, look who's forty!!

01/16/06 --MLK day. "I have a dream..." me too!!

01/17/06 --I171H personally delivered to Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.

01/18/06 --I171H picked up from consulate and fed ex'd to HFS!!!

01/19/06 --Notified by HFS, all documents received and complete. On track to be DTC tomorrow.

01/20/06 --DTC today!!!!! Now begins "the wait"

01/28/06--2/12/06: CCAA closed for Lunar/Chinese New Year.

02/13/06 --our LID. CCAA now stating estimated wait til referral is 12 mos. If this is true, we should have our referral by 2/13/2007 and travel possilbly 4/07.

05/23/06 --100 days since LID and we got our Brown Envelope! Current referral time 12 mos. Rumors now quoting 18 mos from LID to referral for subsequent LID's.

05/27/06 --Susan turns 40 ;-l

09/25/07 --Brett starts college!

10/27/07 --Casey turns 17!

01/04/08 --2nd I171 rec'd. Most recent info says we will not recieve a referral until late 2008 or early 2009 due to Olympics in Beijing 08/08/2008.

01/14/08 --Bobby turns 42!

06/21/2008 --Its official, we've been married 22 yrs

09/07/2008 --Brett turns 20!

09/13/08 --3rd USCIS fingerprinting (Bobby, Susan and Brett) --only 4 lids til ours!!

09/29/2008 --REFERRAL!!!!

11/10/08 --TA's arrived, finally!

11/17/08 --Consulate appointment confirmed for 12/16/08!!

12/1/08 --we will leave for Beijing!!!

The saga continues......
Yeah!!!! Our second homestudy was completed on Sunday!!! I really must admit there is absolutely no love between our social worker and me. We just don't hit it off at all. She was at our house for about 50 minutes total during which she stared at my kids, asked them what they thought of this process (they gave their standard "it's weird" answer) then told us all that they looked "normal" and sent them on their merry way. Very strange. I have to admit I was slightly concerned with the fact that Brett's arms are literally covered in huge ugly bruises! It looks like someone beat him with a bat --they're actually from his football games/practices. Anyway, I don't think the SW noticed... to tell you truth, I don't think she notices much of anything.

Although we were told it was very important to have our autobiographies available at the first homestudy meeting so the SW could review them prior to our "in-depth" second meeting, it was obvious that she had never looked at them at all. In fact approximately half of the 50 mins was spent with her reading through them while we looked at her across that table. The balance of the time she walked us through our house explaining that we will need to put up gates and place door latches on the cupboards. Can we all say "DUH!!!" I mean, Hello, we have two teenagers. She also had some issues with the pool but seemed fairly satisfied that we are safety freakish enough that it shouldn't be a problem.

In any event, before she left she asked if we had any questions. Of course I only had one... When will the homestudy be complete? She said 10 days so, doing the math, it seems we'll have an emailed rough draft by maybe 11/10/05 or so. Yippeeee!!!

I guess I really shouldn't complain about the fact that the SW doesn't seem overly involved in this process. It could certainly be worse. I've heard of some that just drive people crazy with things they need to do before they can be approved.

On the USCIS front (previously I.N.S.) our I600 was received by them on 10/27/05. I'm not sure how long it will take for them to send us some reply. Our homestudy agency director says that we should receive a letter from them saying "thanks, now we're waiting for your homestudy." But I've read on the International Adopt California yahoo group that it's likely we'll be given a fingerprint appointment without the homestudy. We will see.

In regard to the dossier, we're really now just waiting on the correctly completed form from the doctor for my medical clearance. Yesterday, I went to his office for a new test (this is my 7th!!! visit to the doctor to get this single page form completed) and we should have the completed doc by 11/4 (fingers crossed).

All in all, it seems that things are going along fairly well. I spend some time everyday reading the chinese adoption blogs and stories of others and looking at referral pix of those who already have their little bundles of joy. I also daydream and do endless internet searches for cribs, crib bedding, strollers, and of course baby names. It passes the time. Halloween just passed and it's interesting to think that by next year we may have our little girl to dress up and take trick-or- treating!! It seems as though referrals are slowing down though so, once again, we'll have to see.

Alright then. I'll write more when there's more to tell!!