Friday, December 29, 2006

Another Late Night: Letter of Introduction and Family Photo Pages

Tonight was another late night in our home with mouse clicking steadily away. We wrote our "Letter of Introduction." For the orphanage and social workers in Taiwan, this letter is a first glimpse of our family. The letter helps match a child to us, and it's very possible that the birth mother will see the letter and photos. We described our family, interests, hobbies, reasons for wanting to adopt from Taiwan, and commitment to the child's upbringing. Obviously, this is really important! Kevin and I spent hours going through files of our digital photos looking for just the right ones to show what kind of things we like to do together as a family. We have a few questions for our agency to make sure we're doing it right. I'm beat. Gotta go bed. Gotta be at work in 7 hours. Night night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Simple Gifts

Kevin and I decided a couple of months ago that we wouldn't get each other gifts at Christmas, choosing to save the money for our adoption expenses. Well, of course one of us (yeah, that's me) couldn't resist getting a present for our spouse. I bought our first baby item for him tonight after work, a pink and white "I love my Daddy" bib. When I asked Kevin if he wanted to open his Christmas present tonight or tomorrow, he started to get pretty upset... "Hey, I thought we agreed that we weren't getting gifts!" until I showed him what it was. Hee hee, I got kissed a few times after he saw the bib. Guess a baby present was an acceptable purchase!

We participated in the Christmas Eve service at church tonight. The handbell group I'm in played "In the Bleak Midwinter" sweetly and playfully knocked out "Carol of the Bells." It's amazing how practice sometimes doesn't go so hot but we do really well when we're faced with an audience. Kevin served as door greeter and photographer. He cleaned up really nice in a new suit, don't ya think?

Steven Curtis Chapman-All I Really Want for Christmas

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that our Hannah's soon would be there.

Stockings left to right: Sedona doggie's, Kevin's,
Sarah's, and room for Hannah's.

The most beautiful gift
In all this world
Becomes dim in our sight
When placed beside
The gift of love
God gave us on Christmas night.

Wishing you the Gifts of Peace
and Happiness this Holiday Season
And throughout the Coming Year.

Kevin and Sarah

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Late night cramming for homestudy appointment #1

I was up until 3:30am last night finishing the paperwork for our first of two homestudy appointments. We left the house at 8am to be in Indianapolis for the appointment at 10am. Kevin completed his essay questions (about self, family, home, and community) during the day while I was at work. We figured he'd get a good night sleep and do all of the driving while I snoozed. And yes, we even found Sedona's vaccination records to submit. Sedona's not a dangerous breed and she'd had her shots, so she's in! We made our final homestudy appointment when the social worker comes to our home for Wednesday, January 24th. I estimate the homestudy will be complete about March 1st.

The homestudy agency did comment that they have a huge amount of couples that are frantically rushing to get their homestudies completed right now to submit their dossier to China before the rules changes go into effect May 1st. Glad that's not me! All of the forms, duplicate copies, notaries, and blood tests including HIV and Hep B are overwhelming enough without worrying about all of this getting done before May 1st or you'll never be able to adopt from China.

Monday night one of my Tri Kappa sorority sisters named Joan told me she visited Taiwan several years ago when her husband was there for a job. Hearing her stories about culture clashes and the traffic were really interesting. She said that she made a huge mistake at a party by complimenting a man on his beautiful watch. Their cultural rules required the man to give her the watch, and he got pretty upset when she was refusing to accept it! Thanks Joan for helping me realize that I really need to buy some more books on Chinese/Taiwanese culture so that I don't mistakenly offend anyone while in Taiwan!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Papers, papers, papers, and POOP!

Saturday I opened the mailbox and discovered it jammed packed of Christmas cards and two big packages, one from the adoption agency and another from the homestudy agency. Kevin tackled the adoption agency packet and I'm digesting the homestudy packet. Oh my, they want us to fill out all of this stuff before our appointment THIS TUESDAY! We had plans with my parents for a "Roy Appreciation Day" trip to Indianapolis all afternoon and evening Saturday. Today (Sunday) we spent the morning at church and then rushed home to get the house picked up, tables set, and food cooked to host a Christmas party for my work friends. It's been a busy weekend! We stayed up till 2am Saturday night filling out questionnaires for the homestudy agency. I wish they would have told me how much work we'd have to do before the first appointment. If I would have known, I would have scheduled it for after Christmas. We're still not anywhere near done. Tomorrow night is gonna be a late night! I feel like I'm still in college rushing to do a paper at the last minute. Get this, we even have to have documentation that our dog has her vaccines up to date as a part of the homestudy process. Even the babydog Sedona requires paperwork for the adoption process!

I discovered this blog this week. This couple is adopting a daughter named Laney from Taiwan and will travel to her in January. They're using the same agency we are. It has been so comforting to be able to read about their experiences. I feel like we're following in their footsteps, going through the same paperchase with guidance from the same adoption agency. Knowing that they got through it all, and VERY QUICKLY, makes me feel oh so much better. IF ANYONE KNOWS OF ANY RECENT BLOGS FROM FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN TAIWAN FAMILIES, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Laney's nursery is so cute! I'm already shopping for crib bedding and thinking about how to decorate Hannah's room. I think pink, yellow, and green round paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling would look so pretty with this bedding called "bubble gum". (Updated 1/2/07: Or maybe this bedding called "scribbles" with pink, cream, and brown lanterns. I can't decide!) What do you think? I'm not making any purchases until after we get our referral. I figure a big project like that will keep us busy during the 4 month wait while the adoption is processed through the Taiwanese court system. But that doesn't mean that a girl can't window shop, right?

Here's a shout out to the girls from work (Dana, Linda, Diane, Jo, Sandy, and Amber)! Thanks for coming to my Christmas party. I think we all had a great time! Cheers to Dana for serving as the toastmaster. Thanks so my neighbors the Quegans for bringing 4 of their 7 wiener dog puppies over so my guests could snuggle with them for a while. And to the 3 weeks old little dapple weiner dog that pooped all over my new white sparkle shirt, I'm so glad that you and your siblings chose me to poop on rather than my guests. It would be no fun to get pooped on at a Christmas party and not have any clothes to change into!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Preparing Doggie for Baby

What am I doing tonight? I'm reading online about how to prepare dog for baby. Yes, I'm serious. When a dog is essentially an only child, the dog can feel threatened by a child that comes into the home. All of the new baby stuff, different smells, and attention given to the child can be very upsetting for the dog. Anyone who knows Kevin and I knows that Sedona is our "baby dog." I wasn't even sure that I wanted to have children until we got Sedona and have had so much fun taking care of her TOGETHER as PARENTS. We've taught her several phrases she understands and responds to, we've mastered housebreaking her (that wasn't easy) with big help from the doggie door to the back yard, and we share responsibility brushing, feeding, and giving her baths. I'm in charge of the heartworm and flea meds and doggie hair bow departments though. Kevin is very handy at oh so many things, but his ability to make pony tails doesn't live up to mommy standards.

Speaking of pony tails, I remember bringing barrettes and hair bands to my dad as a little girl and asking him to do my hair before school on a very limited number of days where Mom wasn't around. Sorry Dad, but you really sucked at little girl hair-do! That's okay, you make great french toast and pancakes!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We're Not Criminals and Home Study A-Go-Go

Today Kevin and I went down to the police station and did our criminal background check to submit with our dossier to prove we're not "the bad guys." When we got home, we had a message from the home study agency that they wanted to make our first appointment. Yay! I called back and made our first appointment at their office NEXT TUESDAY morning in Indianapolis. Kevin freaked out a little bit when I told them we'd start next week already. I could see the panic on his face thinking, "Oh no, with a social worker coming to our house my wife will make me spend the whole week cleaning the whole house!"

Only 22 more days until our cruise! We're going to Florida to visit Kevin's family after Christmas. From there we'll go on a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas with his whole family: Ron (Kevin's dad), Adrienne (Kevin's mom), Marjorie (Kevin's grandma), Karen (Kevin's sister), Nelson (Karen's husband), Isobella (Karen and Nelson's 5 year old daughter), Shane (Kevin's brother), and Leyna (Shane's girlfriend) will all be aboard. I wonder if this cruise ship will have a Funnel deck (see picture below) like on our last cruise this spring?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Head's Up! Attachment Bonding

I've been reading up on attachment bonding getting ready for conversations with our social worker during the homestudy process. Here's my favorite website on this topic right now: Attachment 101 at The best parts are titled Baby's Experience and Immense Loss: Walk a Mile in Baby's Booties. We most likely won't be allowing anyone but us hold or feed our baby for six weeks to a few months, and we'll stay at home with baby a lot to aid in attachment bonding. A year ago I most likely would have thought that adopting parents that said something like this were selfish and overprotective. But after reading some horrible stories about kids with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), I want to to take reasonable steps to prevent attachment disorders in my family.

Here's a link to a commentary on the Rumor Queen website on "the-not-so-rosy part" of adoptions that I thought was really helpful too.

So... Moms, Dads, Brothers, Sisters... we'd appreciate it if you'd read a little about attachment too so you understand what we're trying to do. We wanted to give you a head's up so you're not surprised when we bring her home. We really aren't crazy, well... you know what I mean!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

"Merry Christmas" by Third Day

There's a new Christmas song to make you shed a few tears: "Merry Christmas" by Third Day.

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for mama's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are
But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white
And make angels in the snow
But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that Heaven's Angels come to carry you here

Christmas is the time we celebrate the Holy Child
And we celebrate His perfect gift of love
He came to Earth to give His life and prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with Him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And tell you from my heart
I'll tell you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Here's a link to where you can listen to a clip (and buy the CD). You could also do what I did and download the song at iTunes for 99 cents.

Red Threads

Some friends have asked me to explain the "red thread" reference in my previous post. It refers to the following Chinese proverb that has become important to many parents during their adoption journey.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. - Chinese proverb

Here's a Cafe Press site with red thread gifts that I think are pretty cute.
I really like the symbolism of the red thread. I can imagine myself holding on to this red line... and it stretches out farther than I can see. I don't know where it goes, but somewhere half way around the world I can picture our daughter holding on to it too. Hopefully we'll find her at the end of that long red thread in Taiwan.

Friday, December 8, 2006


Basically, now we can't adopt from China even if we wanted to. We don't have $80,000 in net worth, I have a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 40, and I don't turn 30 until March 29th (so I'd only have a tiny window of one month to submit my dossier to MAYBE qualify under the old rules). I'd have to continue to put more money in my 401K, pay off those student loans, and loose a handful of BMI points before I'd qualify for a China adoption under the new rules. I'm a little emotional about the announcement, as many adoptive parents around the word with red threads to China are. In a way though, I'm almost relieved. I've been worrying about qualifying to adopt from China after rumors about the BMI requirement. I'm glad that we decided on Taiwan BEFORE this was announced. That way WE CHOSE Taiwan and not China, not that China rejected us. Haha, China! I'm glad to hear that I'm too poor to choose China. It sucks, but it would really suck to sit at home upset because we just didn't qualify because of my weight.

The following text was posted on the RUMOR QUEEN website tonight that I've been reading faithfully, sometimes multiple times a day. If you want to check it out, the address is Rumor Queen, you are so cool. You keep all of these pre-adoptive parents in the know with rumors on what's going on with the CCAA from adoption agencies all over the world.

The CCAA yearly meeting with all of the agencies happened last night (U.S. time). We have information out of the meeting from one agency, a reputable agency that is trustworthy. I will feel better when we have this coming from more than one agency, but I have no reason to doubt the information that this agency is giving. They give information from their notes of the meeting and state that the CCAA will be issuing a formal statement at a later date. Again, it will be interesting to see what other agencies have to say about the meeting and compare their notes.

They state that the number of dossiers is 2 times the number of children the CCAA has to place. The wait time from LID to referral will not shorten at this time and it may get longer. They note that the CCAA does not define what they mean by longer. I note that they don’t say the number of dossiers is twice the number of children, but twice the number of children the CCAA has to place - I believe we are still talking about paper ready children and not total children.
They state that the following requirements will be in place for all dossiers accepted after May 1, 2007. Read that again - for all dossiers accepted after that date. If your dossier is in by that date then presumably you are okay under the current rules.

The new rules are stated to be:

Married couples only. No singles. Agencies may continue to submit singles dossiers within their 8% constraints until May 1, 2007 and then the CCAA will not accept any more single dossiers.
Married couples must be married over 2 years if there are no previous marriages. If there are previous marriages then the present marriage must be over 5 years. However, no more than two previous marriages will be allowed (it is unclear if this is two per person or two per couple)

Each parent must be 30 to 50 years old. No parent can be outside of this range. Upper limit can be 55 for a family in the waiting child program (and that “can be” kind of looks like it’s going to be on a case by case basis, not an absolute, but it’s hard to tell).

The CCAA wants healthy parents - no infectious disease, no mental disease (including depression or anxiety), no blindness, and no serious disease or disability. There is a note about waiting to see what the CCAA’s formal notice says, which sounds to me like they hope there will be more information in the formal notice about these things. There is another note that cancer was not specifically mentioned.

Both parents must have a BMI under 40.

At least one parent must have a stable job. Income requirement is $10,000 per family member including the child to be adopted.

Family’s net assets must be over $80,000

Each parent must have a high school education or higher.

No more than five children in the home including the child to be adopted. The youngest child in the home must be over 1 year old. Exceptions will be considered for the waiting child program.
No criminal record. There is a note about the CCAA not elaborating so we will again have to wait to see what the formal notice says.

The CCAA fees are also changing - going from $410 to $620.

There are also some notes about the Waiting Children’s Program. It sounds like there will be a category between the current NSN and SN categories for children with low birth wait and developmental delays. Fees will be the same as for the NSN program but the wait time will be closer to the SN program.

Also, they will be launching the internet waiting children project in February. The CCAA is still working on the project and more details will be available later.

And last but certainly not least - the CCAA will be launching a new email communication tool that will be open to agencies that want to pay a fee to participate.

Step 1: Homestudy and Adoption Agency Applications

This week Kevin and I have taken the first big step in our adoption process. We sent applications and checks out to the home study and adoption agencies that we've chosen. We'd like to work with Adoption Support Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, to do our home study. They seem very professional and organized. I've talked to and corresponded to several people in Indiana who've used them and I like what I'm hearing. All adoptions start with a home study that is performed by a social worker to evaluate the adopting parents' commitment to adoption, explore your reasons you want to adopt and your commitment to adopt, evaluate you as a prospective parent, and provide education about adoption. No, this isn't a white glove test to make sure your house is clean enough to adopt! We've also sent off our application to Families for Children's Taiwan Program.

We started out in this process all excited about adopting from China. I've been talking about wanting to visit China for a vacation in the last year after reading about some of the trips that the Ambassair Travel Club offers. In my Change and Tradition humanities class in college, my favorite section was on Chinese History. We read from the Tao Te Ching, learned about Confucianism, and enjoyed folk stories. Kevin's been using the Rosetta Stone software to learn some Mandarin. I think he needs to work on pronunciation a little bit more. We visited our friend Susan that owns a local Chinese restaurant and he was way off on some words. Susan seemed to really get a kick out of Kevin trying his Mandarin on her, and we've had a lot of fun with that. The only word I remember is the word for cat, which interestingly sounds a little like a "meow" very forcefully.

The growing and growing and growing wait time for referral and rumors on rule changes with China have us scared off. We started looking at programs to adopt from Vietnam and Taiwan, and we're really excited about Taiwan. With China, the majority of children are female infants abandoned within a few days of birth because of China's one child (or two child in come cases) policy. For lots of reasons too complicated to go into by me, it is seen as a necessity to have a male child rather than a female child. Kevin and I bought a National Geographic Video on the subject that is really good. Anyway, the children available for adoption in Taiwan are both male and female. The birthmothers in Taiwan are often young unmarried girls unprepared to raise a child or their birth parents can not take care of them for economic reasons. Adoption agencies in Taiwan work directly with orphanages to place the children into homes. In contrast, the matching in China is done by a government agency called the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs). I like the idea of knowing that our child would have better access to information on her birthparents if she wants it someday, and that we can travel freely to Taiwan without a VISA on return trips. Ahh. That's enough for now!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Oh my, I'm a blogger! What a ride this will be!

Heehee! Kevin's watched and listened to me read so many other blogs about adoption journeys from China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and now that we've comitted to a program with Families for Children's Taiwan program I guess we're ready to start one of our own. Hold on to your hats, 'cause it's gonna be a wild ride until we come home with Hannah Claire!

This is pic is of Adrienne (Kevin's mom) and Kevin in a space capsule at Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral, FL, in April 2006. Yeah, I married a space cadet. (haha)

... and the Blogging begins

Well, I guess it's time to start blogging. My wife has taken to reading many other blogs regarding the adoption of children from China and Taiwan.

Since we are submitting our application soon, I thought it might be a good idea to share our experiences with other families.

I hope you enjoy reading our story.