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Our journey begins again

Monday, September 25, 2006

How hard is it to get a notary?

Apparently it's really hard. I went to go redo my I-797 today. I had a friend notarize it. Well when I got to the courthouse to have them certify the notary, it turns out that my notary used her full name instead of her initial like she did on her seal. Okay, so I ask if there was anyone there who could notarize the letter since I had brought extra copies with me. I was told yes so I went out to the car to get them. By the time I came back, the clerk had changed her mind. She didn't want to notarize the document stating that it was a copy of a copy. Fine. I asked her where the closet branch of my bank was and she told me. I went there to have them notarize it. Mind you, this form had already been completed it was just the dates that were not correct and also my adoption agency said it was okay to use this. So I get up to the teller and tell her what I need for her to do. She looks and looks and looks. She decides she can't do it because AJ wasn't with me. I'm in tears at this point. I called AJ to ask him if the girl who had been doing our notary stuff was at the dealership. He said she was and so I had her do it. No problems. I went to the Dekalb County courthouse and got the notary certified and then rode Marta to the Secretary of State's office to have it state sealed. It was that easy. I wish I had done Marta the whole time. It's 3.50 roundtrip, but I saved gas and hassle trying to find parking plus walking several miles to the Secretary of State's office. The Marta station is right there. You just go up the escalator. Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and get it in the mail so I needed to make copies. I stopped at the post office thinking that they had a copier like all of the other post offices that I have been to. Well this one apparently doesn't believe in copiers. I went over to Kroger and asked to get some copies made. I was told they don't do copies. I found a check cashing place that would make copies for me at .25/page. I needed 6 pages. Oh well, it was worth it. The form is in the mail on it's way. I'm a little paranoid now and will be glad when I finally get it back and sent to the agency. On a side note, I met 2 people who had dealings with AAA Partners in Adoption our old ripping off homestudy agency. The first one used to work there and actually apologized for the agency. She now works for another agency here in GA. It wasn't her fault, but it was nice of her to apologize. The second was at the Secretary of State's office. He was having his documents state sealed for their adoption from Ethophia. I asked him what agency he was using and he told me AAA and I apologized to him. It kind of slipped out. I explained to him our situation and told him he needed to make sure that he stayed on top of them. Hopefully it will work out for them.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I am such a blonde!

Last time our I-171H/I797 had to be notarized by an attorney. This time it did not. I was excited. All I had to do was type a letter stating that the notary had compared the original and the copy and they were one in the same. Easy right. Well in my excited hurry up state I typed the letter up on 9/13. We didn't receive our form on 9/14. I changed the date at the top of the letter to say 9/15 and the notary signed it for 9/15. Well stupid me forgot to change the date in the body of the letter. I received the form back today from the Houston Consulate saying they couldn't authenticate it because of the dates not matching. Oh well, just another minor set back. Seriously frustrating. I really don't think we will make DTC next week and it probably won't be until the second week of October because the CCAA is closed for the Chinese holidays. Suprisingly enough, I am really calm about it. I am frustrated at myself, but I'm calm. I had thought last night that it might not be so bad waiting til January to travel. That way we aren't so busy at work and I won't have to rush and get her SSN really quick by the end of the year. I hate that she won't be hear for Christmas, but maybe we will have 2! Hopefully it will be the first of the year, but who knows. Maybe her SWI will be really quick in processing her paperwork and we will get TA really quick, but I'm not counting on it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

How could I?

How could I leave that sweet little face in China? How could anyone leave any of these sweet little faces in China? I just don't understand it. Although I don't know how Sophie will be when I get her, I can't leave her there. I wouldn't leave her there. We signed up for this. We signed up to be parents, the good and the bad. I just can't imagine going to China and having Sophie cry and cry and just telling her "Sorry kid, you must have other problems you have to stay". I am nervous about meeting Sophie don't get me wrong and I know the grief that she will have will be intense, but I'm not giving up. She has lived in an orphanage all of her life. That is all that she has known. She will have some strange blond woman who doesn't speak Chinese picking her up. I have stared at her picture everyday for the last 6 months. She is my daughter just as Maddie is my daughter and Brandon is my son. She will be our daughter regardless of what happens. My heart hurts for all of the children this year whose families went to China and then decided not to take them home. If you think you are prepared to go to China without understanding grief and institutionals life, please read this article before signing the contract to adopt.

This is by Amy Eldridge, founder of Love Without
Boundaries and I think the information is so valuable
for anyone who has not yet traveled. This is posted
with her permission. The first part was her posting,
the second is her reply when people began asking her
to share.

I most definitely wish there was a way to educate
ALL adoptive parents about the truths of institutional
care, however I have come to realize in my daily work
that just as many parents are not online
reading everything they can find on adoption as are.
There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of
parents out there who have no idea what life is like
for a child in an orphanage, and who head overseas to
pick up their "China doll" only to be handed a baby
who is unresponsive, thin, unable to eat..and on and
on and on. While adopting my son last month, I walked
several times over to the White Swan to talk to
parents, and over and over I spoke with moms and dads
who had no clue whatsoever about the issues their kids
were having.

I heard so many times things like, "she won't eat
solid foods" (oral aversion), "she has no muscle tone"
(muscle atrophy from lying in a crib all day), "she
won't smile" (pure grieving from being taken from her
foster mom). I guess since I live China 24/7, I assume
everyone adopting does, too, which is not the case. I
talked to at least a dozen parents who didn't even know
their child's orphanage name, and while I gently said "you might
want to memorize that for your child's sake", at the
same time I was trying to process how many parents get
all the way to China without ever reading about
post-institutional issues. It was sobering to me.
Babies in the NSN as well as the SN path can have
issues with attachment, motor skills, emotional issues
and more. I think all of us on the WCC list
acknowledge that, while also acknowledging that all
children (whether bio or not) can have these same
issues. Living in an orphanage of course increases the

I think the easy out is to say that agencies have to
do more, as well as social workers, but I do think
that most of them do try to give information to the
parents but often parents don't want to hear it or
else think it won't happen to them. Again, I am often
surprised to talk to parents leaving soon and to
realize they are not prepared. One family was
adopting from our foster care program, and when I
told them that the child was DEEPLY attached to the
mom, the father said, "guess she might cry for an hour
or so then?" An hour or so? She had been in foster
care for over a year! I tried to explain that
this little girl was about ready to lose everything
she had ever known, and that they should not expect
her to be sunny, happy, and full of personality after
an hour. I told them to please remember the 72 hour
rule.......that after 72 hours they would probably see
her spark, but that she would probably grieve for a
long time after that as well.

I don't think many want to read the "bad stuff", and
so I do think that ultimately it is the parents who
are at fault for not doing more to educate themselves.
There certainly are books galore out there about
post-institutional issues. I equate this to when I was
pregnant with my kids and I would read "What to Expect
When Expecting", and I would
get to the C-section part and always skip it. Each and
every time I would jump to the next chapter as "that
wasn't going to happen to me". Well, on my
fifth baby, when they were rushing me in for an
emergency C section, I sure was wishing I had read
that section earlier! But at that point in the OR,
while they were strapping my hands down to the table,
it was too late, and so I felt complete panic when I
could have been prepared. I think adoption from China
is very similar to giving birth.. it is much more rosy
to only read the happy stories on APC, but I now
encourage every family I meet to read the harder ones
as well, because if you are the family who is handed a
child that is limp and listless and who looks
autistic, what you have learned in the past will help
you make the right decision for your family during
those very emotional first few days.

I have been called many times in the last few years
by parents in China worried about their children. I
agree that having a support network to help you
through the initial time is essential. Everyone
should go to China with at least one phone number of
someone they can call if they are panicked upon
meeting their new child. I remember feeling so alone
when I was handed my daughter and she was so tiny
and limp. Because our foundation often helps with
the kids who have been disrupted, I am aware that
sometimes there are children who have much more
serious issues than originally reported and that is
such a hard thing for a parent to get to China and
then discover their child is truly autistic or has
serious mental delays. I think everyone on both the
China and international side would agree that it is
absolutely wrong of an orphanage to not be honest in
their reports, and no one would excuse that, but I
also know without a doubt that the majority of kids
who are disrupted are just suffering from
institutional issues and would catch up quickly in a
loving home. It is always a very sad day for the
orphanage and everyone involved when a child that they
know is absolutely fine, but perhaps thin and
grieving, is returned by their new parents for being

I think far too many people believe their child's
life is going to begin the moment they meet them. The
truth is, and everyone must realize it a child's life
is going on RIGHT NOW in China, and all of their
experiences are shaping who they are. The vast
majority of aunties that I have met in China are such
kind and caring people, but it absolutely is not the
same as having a mom and dad at your beck and call. I
have had new parents call and say "we didn't think
living in an orphanage would affect her at all", and
those statements truly puzzle me. How could they not
contemplate life in an orphanage? Walk through Babies
R Us and you will see every gadget known to man to
make our children's lives here as ideal as possible.
Now Americans have two way video monitors, so that
when baby awakens not only can mommy see when to
immediately rush in and comfort him, but she can
talk to baby so that he doesn't even have one single
second where he feels alone. How many new parents
would have a newborn and then put that baby in a crib
22 hours a day on their own? How many would only
feed their baby, even if they were really crying hard,
every 8 hours? Or prop the bottle in her crib and then
not watch to see if she ever really ate? Of course no
one would do that we feed newborns on
demand, comfort on demand, love continuously and
whether people want to recognize it or not, that is
NOT the life of an orphan in an institution. ...even
when the aunties are as good as gold. I remember
one night when I took some volunteers in for the night
shift in an orphanage, when normally just a few
aunties are working. One mom looked at me with tears
in her eyes as she slowly realized that it was
absolutely impossible with just two hands to feed
every child, to comfort every child, to soothe every
baby who was crying. She said her heart was aching to
realize that her own daughter most likely had many,
many times where she cried without someone to comfort
her.....and she told me that for the first time she
finally understood why her daughter had such a deep
seated fear of being out of her mom's sight.

The aunties are trying their absolute best, but that
doesn't equal mother/child care. I remember being in
an orphanage in the north this past winter and the
aunties were so proud of how they had 6-8 layers
of clothes and blankets on every baby to keep them
warm. They were swaddled so tight that they couldn't
move, but it was freezing in the orphanage and so the
aunties wanted the babies to stay as warm as possible.
What alternative did they have? It really was freezing
there..I was cold in my wool coat, so the babies
couldn't be up and about with just 1-2 layers on, with
the ability to move their arms and legs. To stay warm
they had to be immobile, and so of course all of those
kids have weak muscle tone. But the aunties were truly
trying their best, and when a parent is given one of
those beautiful children on adoption day, I am sure
they will go back to their room with concern and say
"she can't sit up by herself..she can't put weight on
her legs". That is absolutely the truth, but she also
survived 10 degree weather in a very cold province and
she will catch up soon enough with parents to encourage her.

To not acknowledge that living in orphanage
circumstances can cause lower body weights, low muscle
tone, inability to make good eye contact is very sad
to me. Can it be overcome? Most definitely! The one
thing I have learned over and over again about the
kids in China is that they are fighters and survivors.
But for some reason, people seem to want to ignore
these issues in public forums.

Recently, one of our medical babies that we had met
several times in person was adopted, and we all knew
that this child was a "spitfire". When the family
arrived and spent a few days with her, they decided
she was too much of a handful for them and they wanted
to disrupt. She absolutely was not what they expected.
When they called their agency, they were told they had
two choices: adopt the child, bring
her to the US, and change their expectations of what
they were hoping for, or adopt the child, bring her to
the US and the agency would have a family waiting at
the airport to adopt her locally. Option three of
leaving the child in China was never once given. I
admire that agency so much, as they were thinking of
the child and the child alone. The family followed
through with the adoption and handed the little girl
to a new family upon her arrival in the US. As
horrible and tragic and emotional as it was for
everyone involved...I still feel this was the right
decision for the agency to make. It was done in the
absolute best interest of the child, who had waited a
long, long time for a family. I wish more agencies
would advocate for the rights of the child, instead of
always seeming to give in to the parents, especially
in those cases when they know with absolute
certainty that nothing is permanently wrong with the
child. Recently with another disruption, the agency I
spoke with told me that it was "easier" to just get
the family a new baby. Sometimes easier does not equal
right. The first baby who was rejected has now been
labeled "mentally challenged" even though the agency
knew the child was really going to be okay.

I think all of us, who do realize that delays occur
and that babies can usually overcome them, should be
these children's advocates by continually trying to
educate new parents on what to expect in China.
By helping them be better prepared, we just might help
stop a disruption in the future. I love Chinese
adoption with my whole heart, and it is my life's
work..but I also want every family who goes to get
their baby to go with their eyes open and to be as
emotionally prepared as possible, for the child's

Amy E

I don't mind if you share the post, although I am so
far from an expert that I get embarrassed by anyone
quoting me. The only thing I would add is that I think
it is very important that parents spend at
least as much time educating themselves about
post-institutional issues as they do decorating the
nursery or working on their packing lists. I know the
wait to referral can seem SO long, but I believe
that is a wonderful opportunity to educate ourselves
on how to best handle any situation that might come
up. Our future sons and daughters are depending on us
to care for them in the best way possible and to help
them overcome any issues they might have, and that
means being informed. I believe with all my heart that
the vast majority of babies being adopted are indeed
healthy and happy. As I said, I am a passionate
advocate for Chinese adoption. I wish every
single child I have met in China could find a
home......every single one. I am humbled each and
every day by their strength, their spirits, and their
capacity to reach out for love, even after being
abandoned. But I also believe that we should all be as
prepared as possible for the different situations that
we might face with international adoption. When we
finally meet the child whose photo we have stared at
each day, we owe it to them to understand as much as
possible about what issues they might be dealing with
from losing their birthparents and being raised in an
institution. I was asked once by a government official
in China what could be done to stop parents from
turning children back in, and I really do think
that pre-adoption education is essential.

Some of the topics I think every parent should read
about include:

What are some of the immediate things I can do in
China to promote attachment with my child?

Am I informed about head banging, rocking, and other
self sothing behaviors?

What are night terrors?

What does it mean to be tactilely defensive?

Is it a problem if a child only bonds to one parent?

What are the signs of oral aversion?

How can I help my child overcome oral issues?

What does it mean for a child to have sensory
integration issues?

What are the common parasites that my child might have
and what are the symptoms for each of them?

What is anxious attachment?

With older children adoption, do I understand possible
initial behaviors like "over friendliness", hoarding,
premature independence, fear of rejection?

Have I prepared myself that my baby might be much
smaller than expected or weak in muscle tone?

What are some of the emergency symptoms that require
me to call a doctor immediately?

Have I prepared myself mentally for the different
"forever day" scenarios, from a child who shuts down
completely in shock to a child who grieves intensely
for their foster parent to a child who rages
and actually acts like they hate me?

What does it mean for a child to have institutional

Do I understand that attachment is a process and that
my child won't love me instantly, even if they cling
on for dear life?

Do I have someone I can trust completely to call and
talk to in the event my child is not who I expected?

I don't write any of the above questions to cause
fear.......I truly believe adoption is so beautiful
and amazing. I write them so parents can be informed
of some of the "possibilities". I am sure you all
could come up with many more important questions to
ask ourselves as we prepare for adoption....but I
think we all agree that these are very important
topics for new parents to consider.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

IT FINALLY CAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After exactly 12 weeks today, this little piece of paper finally arrived in the mail today. I still can't believe I actually have it. Tomorrow I will be having it notarized, the notary certified and then take it to the Secretary of States office. I will then drop it in the mail to the Houston Consulate and pray that it comes back to me next week. We still have a chance of being DTC at the end of the month. WOOOHOOO!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pony Express

Apparently the USCIS is using Pony Express to get our form here. The officer said we were approved on 9/8. That was Friday. Today is Wednesday. It's not that far from here to there. So if you are in Atlanta and you see the Pony Express going by, send them my way please and tell them to hurry!!!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hanging by a thread

I got an email (only after I emailed her last night with a desperate plea) this morning from the officer at USCIS. She said that we were approved on 9/8. Where is it? It's not that far from Atlanta to here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yep... This sums it up!

Well this is day 80 and this is how I feel about the USCIS today!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Well what did ya think?

Did you think that it would come today like I did? Well we were both wrong. Nothing, nada, zilcho, negative. It's really hard typing this with tears in your eyes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Well the darn USCIS is at it again. I emailed them today because I wanted an update. We are at 76 days post homestudy received and 56 days post fingerprinting. I of course got an automated email reply from them. This is what it said:

1. We receive such a high volume of individual inquiries that to respond to each one would take significant time away from adjudicating orphan petitions, so we reply to email inquiries within three business days only if both the I600A and the home study have been in our office for 75 days and your question is not answered below. We are currently working on I600A applications that have home studies received by us between June 15th and June 30th.
2. Until we receive both the home study and the I600A Application and fingerprints, we can take no action and the “clock has not started ticking”. The average processing time after we receive both the application and the home study is now 75 days due to a huge number of applications filed recently (and the correspondingly high number of phone calls) . We are struggling to get the processing time back to 60 days, but temporarily it is 75 days.
3. We do not routinely acknowledge that we have received the home study, but we do acknowledge receipt of the petition by sending you a receipt for the fee. If the home study is being sent separately from the I600A, please send it registered mail return receipt requested, FEDEX, UPS, or some other carrier where it can be tracked, if you want confirmation that we have received it.
4. As soon as we receive both the home study and the application "the clock will start ticking" and we will quickly send you an appointment for each person who is required to be fingerprinted, that is everybody 18 or older who is living in your home. By doing this, the 15-month validity period of the fingerprints more closely matches the 18 month validity period of the I600A.
5. If we must request more information or documents from you, of course it will take additional time. It might expedite processing if you include your email address.

Okay my question to you, all 3 of you who read this :), please explain paragraph 2 and paragraph 4. They say 2 different things. Does your "clock start ticking" when you have turned in your application, homestudy and fingerprints or does it start ticking when you turn in your application and homestudy? The reason they are getting so many phone calls and email inquiries is because they are so freaking incompetent. How can bigger offices that handle more paperwork get forms out in 2 weeks? Why does this office not go in order like it's supposed to? Why did this office tell my congressman that they try their best to process SN adoptions in a timely matter? Why did this office tell me that the processing time is taking 60 days 2 weeks ago? How did there suddenly become more applications, homestudies and fingerprints that arrived between 6/15 - 6/30 (the period they are supposedly working on right now)in the last 2 weeks?

I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of incompetent people who can't handle the job. This person is paid by me with my tax dollars and she is paid by me with the money they used to process our form. I want answers. I don't want them just for me, I want them for everyone else who will be coming after me.

Oh well, enough whining for tonight. Here's a little humor and cuteness for you. Make sure your volume is on.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Sophie Lou!

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Today is Sophie's birthday. It is also her mimi's and her aunt Carol's. I hate that she's not here. She turns 4 today. We sang Happy Birthday to her at mimi's house and then we came home and made her a cake and sang Happy Birthday here. Maddie kept looking at her picture and saying that sissy wanted her to pick her up.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Stupid Me!

For some reason I got my hopes up that today would be the day we got our form. I practically ran to the mailbox. Well was it there, nope. Well it's only been 10 1/2 weeks. I really can't expect them to hurry, now can I? Silly me, what was I thinking! I think I'm going to buy this T-shirt I found on a funny t-shirt website.