Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Ok, I will try to start from the beginning...
We took off with no problems, but had a 5 hour lay over in Seoul starting at 4:30 in the morning. The airport was so quiet and deserted. It was a very long 5 hours. Well we got on our connection and before we knew it, we were in Beijing. But I wasn't feeling relieved as of yet because I knew we had to go through immigration. And just the luck of it, all three girls needed to go to the bathroom, so by the time we reached the area, the lines were very long and going no where. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a fast moving uniformed man, and i think, "Hmmm, he's going to open another line up." So I got ready, and the instant I saw him beckon, I rushed forward, forgetting to tell my family what I'm doing, so by the time I get up there as number 3 in the line, instead of number 43, they had gotten lost in my dust and were still standing there. I signaled to them and they rushed up to me. So, then we have a long walk to baggage claim, get our 7 bags, and find the driver to pick us up. It is now 11:30 am. We get to the apartment that we rented and collapsed. Slowly we unpacked, and one by one we laid down for a 'short nap'. By then we had been up for 46 hours. Two and a half hours later I wake up and realize, we need to eat dinner because it's 6:00 and we need to go to bed early. It is not easy to wake up 3 exhausted children. They were lumps. I picked up one of twins, and jumped up and down with her to shake her sleepiness out of her and sang to the tune Of "Gonna wash that man right out of my hair" "Gonna shake that sleepiness right out of your body and send it on it's way..." - no luck. Finally after 30 minutes of cajoling and pleading, we were on our way. Dinner then bed for one and all.
I am falling asleep every other sentence trying to write, wait to you see the girl's pictures asleep in the restaurant tonight. We could barely keep them awake to eat dinner. If we hadn't, they would have woken up in the middle of the night starving.
Let me start with today since I just mentioned the end of the day already.
What an amazing day, quite unpredictable. We had breakfast and then decided to go to the Forbidden City. The driver we had just happened to speak fairly good English and was a wealth of knowledge of the history of everything we saw. He made the whole experience very rich. We walked a lot going through much of the city.
We arrived back at our apartment for a 2:00 meeting. I had arranged this meeting before we left, but I wasn't sure if it was going to happen. A while back in my blog, I mentioned about the grass root organization called "baby Come Home" in China. Thousands of children are kidnapped each year and sold for a variety of purposes. When it's reported to the police, it is ignored, especially if it comes from a working class or peasant farmer. One father whose child was kidnapped became so frustrated that he started a web site called "Baby Come Home" to publicize the missing children. Parents would send a picture of their child, age, what they were wearing and place they disappeared. This father started small, but as the word spread and this became the only hope for parents, it grew rapidly. Thousands of parents registered, and more and more volunteers popped up in many cities to help in searching for these children. It's all volunteers, including the lawyer who does all their legal work, and his wife is a volunteer also for Baby Come Home.
Well, the lawyer, his wife, a friend who can translate and a reporter all showed up at two. I was thrilled that I was able to contact them. He told us that he had put my daughter's picture in the newspaper and her story in the city she came from. Well, as we sat here a reporter from that city called and said a man called up and said he believed that that could be his daughter, he even described a mark on her face. The reporter asked to speak with my daughter to get more information, he asked if she would come and take a DNA test. I said yes, if they would pay for transportation and hotel. Well, he wasn't very sure about that, so the lawyer got on the phone and started to convince him to do it. So the reporter is going to run another article to raise the money to make it happen. Do you believe this? it is so incredible. I never thought that this would happen.
So, I came to China to adopt two daughters and in the process, I may have a chance to locate my daughter's parents. And with the other reporter doing a story, this should publicize it even more. I'll let you know what happens. All in all the day was very exciting and fulfilling.
Tomorrow at 10:00 am we receive our first daughter, Xiao Qing, she is deaf. I will write about it. Right now I have to close my eyes every two sentences, and rest, I've completely fallen asleep twice writing the blog. So if there are typos, please forgive me.
Good night for now.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Everything is fine, and one piece of info..as we walked out the door to the airport our agency called and confirmed that we had a CA appointment on the day I requested from the Director of the Adoption Unit. And it was so strange too, because I looked at the clock and I don't think the Consulate was even open yet at the time we got the CA. And we were able to get almost the first appointment of the day.
So things are good, and I'm off to bed reminding myself to "don't drink the water."
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
And Yes we got the TA, and yes it "is" on the way to the Provinces. And we have copies to bring with us.
So, we go. I have to finish packing, yes Gaye I know, you'd be done by now... Have the house already and neighbors with assigned duties get the kids ready and off we goooooooo.
I'll post again as soon as I'm not sleep deprived, no wait that could be years form now. I'll post perhaps Friday, Sat. at the latest.
Must go and pack and clean and laundry, yikes I only have 2.5 hours till we go!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
NO TA TODAY! Can you believe it? Doesn't matter, I'm leaving with my family tomorrow night for Beijing.
It was supposed to have been there today, they promised, it was not, they say the same for tomorrow, hmmm, I wonder? I asked the agency what they plan to do and they said they would have CCAA send it to the Provincial offices instead. Sound familiar Patty? She was in the same bind, and The TA did not get mailed to the Province but to the agency. So, I asked, what contingency plans they had in case that scenario happens again. And the agency replied they would have it re-issued. Sounds like a possible crisis in the making. Let's hope not. Let us all visualize the TAs arriving safely to the Provincial offices.
There are a lot of very tight deadlines in both Provinces before we hit Guangzhou. Imagine doing everything that's needed in a day and a half in a Province! Whew, we will be flying.
It's quarter to 10:00 and I'm eating dinner while I write. I am having cereal. At least it's something before I go back to work.
Tomorrow should be interesting. I would really like to just slide into it, but I have a feeling I will be crash banging the whole way.
OH, break time is up. Must return to the duties at hand. I will post a quick note tomorrow before we leave. Hopefully to say that the TA had finally arrived.
Bye for now................
Monday, January 25, 2010
Where to begin? Since I have twins I am in a National/Regional group called Mothers of Multiples. Each year we have two huge tag sales to get rid of out grown clothes and toys. For some reason they decided that if you aren't part of a conference call talking about the 'rules' you can't sell. Which is absurd since I have been selling for 7 years and never had a problem. But I received an email today saying, if I don't participate in the call, I can't sell. I was counting on this tag sale to raise about $250 towards already spent adoption expenses. Well, I blasted them with a cc to the President and posted an email on the message board. I was livivd. They chose technicalities having priority over me not being here because I was in China adopting.
Then there was the booking flight issues. No, we don't have our TA yet (tomorrow?) but we need to go. SO I booked the flight. Arrive Jan. 29th, pick up daughter #1 in Beijing on Jan. 31. Feb. 3, Civil Affairs, & passport & fly to Zhengzhou & pick up daughter #2. Hey wait a minute, the agency never told me what time we can leave Beijing to fly out if we have 2 appointments! So I estimated, better take the 5:00, in case we run into delays. I come to find out after the fact (and they couldn't tell me this before) that if I arrive that late I can't pick up daughter #2 until the next day. But after much discussion within the agency they decided that departing at 5:00 was a good idea. But if I pick up daughter #2, the next day when can I go to the orphanage, (an hour away), because of needing to do civil affair and passport with her and leave on the 5th, the next day. Never fear, I shall figure that out... I hope.
Then there was, oh never mind, you really don't need to know the details, suffice it to say, it was a tension headache day which is now drawing to a close.
I have packed 4 daughters, and the everything bag, now one more daughter, and, oh yes, me! There is a lot to accomplish in just two days. I hope that I am up to it.
For all of those who have asked, I will blog and send pictures while in China, the best I can.
Tomorrow will be my last entry for a few days, but I will return...
Oh, we have a lay over in Korea for 5 hours, any suggestions?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We leave next Wed. nite, to pick up our daughters. Since one of them is deaf and 14. I decided to make the transition easier for her, so she could ask questions, I could tell her many things about her new family, and her new sisters could talk to her, I would search out an interpreter in China that knew CSL. I was only going to use her/him for the first few days to get the ball rolling. Impossible task? Yes and no. I contacted the China Assoc. of the Deaf. I sent an email, and used a translator to write in Chinese in the subject line, "Need interpreter for Chinese Sign Language" Then I wrote in English what I needed and what it was for. Well, by golly, within 24 hours I received a reply in English! I was given a woman's name and phone number. I was SO crazy excited! I contacted Ann of Red Threads in Beijing, and asked her to call her and explain my needs. Ann wrote back this morning that she will call her and will get back to me. YEAH!!!!!!!!!! I do have a book on CSL, and I know ASL, although I haven't used it in 10 years. But we are off with a great start.
There's been lots of backing and filling and negotiations on fees etc. I think we are finally settled on that point. But we still don't have a date out of China. I am hoping that we have one before we leave. That would be ever so nice. Oh, and no TA at this point, perhaps Monday...
Lots of packing to do today, I hope to finish it all, yeah, I know, wishful thinking.
My daughter in Luoyang sent a message asking for me to bring lots of candy so she can pass it out to all her friends left behind. Is that sweet or what? So I asked my agency to set it up for me to be able to go into the orphanage since they have a working relationship with them. They told me that I had to do that myself?! They also said that about finding an interpreter.
In addition to finding an interpreter, and getting into the orphanage I do believe that I also did the following because they said they couldn't: got my fingerprint appointment moved up by 3 weeks, got them expedited through the system, and found an Officer at USCIS that personally handled my I-800A and I-800 and expedited those and she sent a note to the Visa Dept. to expedite my docs, I also found the Director of the Adoption Unit at The US Consulate so I could plead my case to for a CA appointment on the week we needed, (when they said they didn't know who the Director was or how to contact them.) So I'm paying the agency this large sum of money for what?
Alright, I'm off to pack!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
So, if I could just get everyone packed , I would be content. There has been so much else to do that the little details about packing have some how been shoved into the background. SO right now, I'm pulling out those suitcases, and assigning them, and do a bit of packing tonight. I will go to bed early, (and how many times have I said that before?), because I'm on duty tonight. There haven't been any calls for about 2 weeks, but watch tonight, it will happen.
The time is passing rapidly now, and soon our family will expand, it's very exciting and nerving racking. So before I think any more about it, I will just march right downstairs and get those suitcases! Good night everyone.
Tonight I did something nice for myself. I got together with a friend whose birthday it was. She didn't have anyone to celebrate with. We are comrades, because we were the oldest people in the EMT class, and thought we were going to have a variety of nervous breakdowns. The information was like pre-med, you were constantly over-saturated with facts with no time to absorb them, and if you got behind, just` one day, it was close to impossible to catch up. We suffered together. I think forty-eight started out in the class, and only nineteen finished. And two of the nineteen, were us!
So, we leave next week, gasp!, the time has come. I do so appreciate your interest in keeping up with my blog. I feel like I have an extended family out there somewhere? Iceland, Canada, the Netherlands, which I have been to and love, Singapore, Germany and many in the USA. I will continue to update our adventure as we go thorough all our adoptions.
For those of you that have donated for the girls, thank you. For those of you who have cared enough to return to keep up on the progress, I make this request. As this is the 'final hour' so to speak, would you make a donation of any amount, because it does make a difference. Every cent adds up to pay an adoption fee. Even $10 goes a long way. It could feed at least four people lunch. So you see if you donate not only will it help with the adoptions costs, BUT it will make you feel good as well! Two for one. Such a deal!
It is not easy for me to ask for donations. So I will only beg this one time..pretty please, give what you can. You'll be glad that you did!
It is 12:30 am, time for sleep so I have energy to start the new day, of packing like crazy. I feel so behind. I will give another progress report tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
First we thought we would leave on Jan. 26th, we even booked the flight. Then it came to light that we don't know if we would get our CA (Consulate Appointment) the week of the 8th or the 22nd. The week in between was out as it is Chinese New Year. So booking a return flight was a huge question mark. But our travel agent called and said that we needed to book that day (Sunday) to get the cheap fare, if not, it would be an extra $350 extra per ticket, that's times seven!!
So I asked what happens if we book later in the week of the 22nd (when it's cheaper), and if we get in earlier for our CA, then we could change the ticket? He said "No, don't book now, because not only would you have the extra charge, on top of that there is a $75 charge per ticket to change it!" So what to do? In order to get that CA we need a TA as I have said before. To get the TA you have to have an Article 5 picked up from the Consulate and given to CCAA. Then CCAA will issue a TA (Travel Approval), that gets overnighted to the agency which then faxes it to the Consulate and emails the form requesting an appointment, whew.
I asked the agency if they could request to expedite everything, but they said that they don't tend to do that any more as the child is already adopted by Chinese standards. If we don't get an appointment the week of the 8th that means staying there a month to have the CA, which is way too expensive for us to do. The agency said they would try to request an early CA, but because of the holiday and not having a TA yet, it didn't look good. I asked, who is in charge of the adoption unit there, the agency didn't know.
So, I decided to do my usual Producer type thing...and I got the person's name and email. I sent an email explaining the situation. I received an email saying as soon as the TA is gotten, they would try to accommodate my request... It comes down to this, if we do get the CA for the week of the 8th, we can leave any time after the 13th. Unfortunately the cheap flights are sold out the 13,14,15,16,17, & 18th. If we chose one of those dates that's where the extra $350 comes in. Getting an appointment the week of the 22nd means staying in China a month. Yes there will be cheaper fare but we still have to pay for 2 weeks of extra accommodation. We can't leave later because of the aging out situation. But I did change the departure from the 26th to the 28th, which saves 2 days of accommodation.
And of course when things finally shake out I will have to reschedule the ride to the airport, the accommodation in Beijing and Guangzhou, the people who will babysit our bunnies, the watering of plants, school work for the children, mail, the list goes on. So I sit here at the starting line waiting to to take off. And I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Perhaps there will be a little more information tomorrow. It has to happen by Thurs, because that is China's Friday...
My head is splitting, and I'm tired. I still need to pack for 4 people, and for the new daughters. We have had friends donate clothes is the sizes we have guessed at. And wouldn't you know it, we have to pack for two climates. The first two cities are winter cold, sometimes in the teens. The last stop fluctuates between 60's and 70's. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! These are life's little challenges that keep testing us and keeps us growing.
You know, I could use a few days without any more growth spurts...
Friday, January 15, 2010
So a little adventure on Wednesday that I forgot to mention.. We had gone out to do a food shopping and supplies for when we get back home and upon returning home we backed into the driveway only to smell smoke and see smoke directly behind the hill in front of us. I looked at my dh and said, "GO!" We live on a dead-end loop, and there aren't any house on that side of the hill. So we go flying around the loop and up the hill, and yes, there was a fire and the fire department where I am a volunteer was attempting to bring it under control. A contractor who had cut many trees down to build houses didn't want to take the effort to bury the stumps. So he had this huge pile, about feet high and 15 yards long, and he decided to burn it without a burn permit and the regulated size of only 3 feet by 3 feet. And yes , it started to get out of control. So,I had my husband drop me off since he was driving, went to the trunk pulled out my fire boots and trousers, slipped them on, and said "see ya later" to my dh, and went to work.
Almost 3 hours, four tanker runs to get more water, & 2,800 gallons of water it was finally out. I reeked of smoke. So I walked home stripped off the gear and hopped into a shower.
Next little drama is information fro my agency: "We will do the best we can to advocate for a consulate appointment on our target date of Feb. 10; however there are many families requesting consulate appointments that week in order to complete the process before CNY. If the consulate cannot grant that date, the next available date to request will be Monday, Feb. 22 (meaning you would receive the girls’ visas on Wed. Feb. 24, and could leave late Wed. the 24th or any time after)."
And folks THAT means we will have to stay in China an extra 11-13 days more than was planned. And that will be costly. I know there are worse things to be stuck in China during Chinese New Years, but from various aspects it would make things quite difficult.
But in the greater perspective of things, it is so small to the human suffering that is happening in Haiti, which is quite unfathemable.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I also received more information about my other daughter and her orphanage. What I heard really disturbed me, it reminded me of a Dickinson orphanage. Thankfully though she is only there on weekends as she goes to school for the deaf during the week.
For those of you that keep coming and checking in to the blog, thank you for your support. No matter where in the world that you are located it is appreciated.
I'm pulling in loose ends right now, and there is so many. I have been slowed down though by the catastrophe in Haiti. The magnitude is overwhelming. I also think there was a group of adoptive parents who were there to pick up their children.... It is all very sad. We couldn't give more obviously, but we sent a donation to the Red Cross.
I will share more news tomorrow, I'm trying lately to get to bed before 1:30 am to take better care of myself before the big trip...
So, until tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I solved the problem of transportation to/from the airport. I found a company that will take us to the airport in a SUV, and home, they will pick us up in a mini van! The price was more reasonable than I expected.
Donations have been coming in by people I know and don't know. This is such an experience for me. It never ceases to amaze me that people really care. How cool is that. Here I go along in my world, having lived in Wales, London, CT, LA, Seattle and NYC over the years, volunteering usually to work with kids in some way or produce fund raisers, always wanting to help someone, or challenge someone if they aren't being appropriate with a child, or the elderly. I mean, I truly enjoy problem solving and helping people. I was raised to always stand up for the 'under dog' and boy howdy I can be scary at times if I'm righting a 'wrong'.
I really should be carful, but my tenacious streak bursts forward and there's no stopping me. Like following a man out of the P.O. to his pick-up truck, banging on his window, demanding he roll it down to talk to me and then lambasting him with, "Did your Father hit YOU as a child, how did YOU like it, feel good? Well, don't haul off and back hand your 2 year old. He is a little person, just learning, he's only been alive for 2 years. Did YOU know everything at 2 years old? Listen to him to understand him, have patience to get to know him, he's not just a thing to annoy you. Hitting only teaches violence. Did it teach YOU anything except to pick on a child smaller than you?" Good thing he didn't have gun in that pick-up truck...
That's just me, I have no tolerance when I see a child being emotionally or physically abused. As well as any human being, or animal.
My point is, after that long diatribe, is that I almost never think about me, so I am astonished when people say complimentary things to me. I find it hard to believe that those good words are about me. So what I have learned from trying to raise money, is to be a bit more accepting of myself, and not to dismiss the compliments in my head by saying, "Oh if they really new who I was and what a failure I am, they wouldn't say that." I now take a little more time to listen to the words and try to accept them.
This has been a journey for me to become a better person to help with all my daughter's journeys.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Well, I finally am feeling a little more comfortable in several areas. We finished painting the room, have all the furniture in, bought the curtains and rug, and it looks great.
And our flight reservations have been made tentatively, because the paperwork has not been completed as of yet. It still has to go through several other offices. Time is ticking by, we must get there in time! I also have the reservations for two of the three cities that we'll be in completed. I haven't quite figured out how to get five of us to the airport and seven of us home from the airport. It is a dilemma, especially with all the luggage.
I haven't been able to keep up with teaching the family Sign because I am always busy needing to do something. Even now it's past midnight and I have things to do.. At least I'm not bored.
I can't wait to meet our new daughters. It such a strange concept to adding two almost full grown daughters to a family. I don't have any of that 'baby/toddler/girl' time of them growing up. It's just "Hi how are you, you're our daughter now." First you have to get to know them as a person, and they you, then you can start attaching. With younger children it's easier to say "Awww", and cuddle and get close. It's a bit harder when the child is almost as tall as you. It will be quite a journey. Speaking of which, I will journey myself up to bed as it's already past midnight - again.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Traveling on this road there is a lot of self discovery. I for one find it incredibly hard to ask for for help for me. For anyone else, I can knock doors down, but for me... That is why I have waited to the last minute to let it be known our need. I'm embarrassed, and I'm a bit afraid if I ask for help and no one responds then I feel horribly rejected. I know it's not about me, but in a way I feel like it is.
So in all this rambling I guess what I'm saying is that I have learned something, to accept what has been given with my heart, instead of shutting down and not feeling. Which is a good thing. But I still am hurt when more people have not stepped forward to reach out and help. I must of gotten stuck in one of those pot holes...
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I went to the Chinese Consulate today (on 4 hours sleep) and got all the visas. It didn't go as smooth as I would have liked, because there is always something that you haven't done exactly the way they wanted it... I took my older daughter with me because she also had an eye doctors appointment. Well, we submitted all the information by 10:30 am, and they said come back at 2:00 because they close at 2:30.
So I went to the window at 2:00 - not ready yet, 2:15 - same, 2:30- same----by now the doors are locked and most workers are getting ready to go home. 2:45, nope not yet...3:00 - why yes, here it is! I left and there were 20 other people waiting for their papers.
So, the good news is, I have all the visas, the other good news is...we got our Seeking Confirmation (LOA) today!! and it went to USCIS and our I-800 has been processed and already sent to NBC to get the visas!
OK now once they send it to the Consulate we will have a good idea of when we're going. It will either be on January 19th or 26th. I think we better start packing.
We are on our way. So it is time to send out the panic alert to gather whatever more donations we can. Besides that we have budgeted for two girls our agency told us there by the way you will also have to pay $800 for a facilitator even if you only need him to meet you at the offices and follow up on your documents huh? $800? Why was that not in the original breakdown? Any negotiation? No. Alrighty then, I am now going to see if I an find my own licensed guide in each of the three cities. Wish me luck.
Now that we have rearranged the whole house I can start to pack for everyone. Although some attitudes around here are making it hard to be cheerful with all the stress and lack of sleep.
Yesterday I found out a whole lot of information about the Beijing orphanage and one of my daughters. Now I don't feel like I'm working in a void.
Actually, I think I'll write more tomorrow, I am falling asleep trying to write this and I'm getting up in 4 hours, so for now, good night.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
One day I logged over 83 people downloading my blog. The result was 2 donations. Now I'm not saying that all should feel the need to give something, but a chunk of that number were alumni from my high school. So that makes me sad that only two individuals felt compelled to help two children who are in need of a family and a home. Sigh, I suppose I had higher expectations from the people I grew up with...
Friday, January 1, 2010
I came home at 11:30 to find everyone still up insisting to stay that way until midnight. So as a family we brought in 2010.
Tonight and tomorrow night I have night duty for our fire dept. With any luck I will get two nights of uninterrupted sleep.
There's a few adoption things happening, we were logged in Dec. 24th, and are almost out or already am out of translation. I'm having a 'discussion' with my adoption agency about the 'travel fee' they want to charge to use a company's services for meeting us at the offices when we do paperwork and translating. That's all we need from them, meet at offices, translation, and confirming the appointments. I think $800 is a bit steep for that. So we're 'talking'. Besides that was not budgeted in, it was just given to us as an 'oh by the way' cost.
I'll let you know the outcome.