Saturday, March 13, 2010

Documents and more documents

Our WACAP caseworker called me yesterday to go over all the documents we need to hand carry to China. Our pile of paperwork is over a foot tall, and we need to hand carry many of the important documents with us when we travel. David spent hours and hours photocopying and scanning paperwork into the computer (as a back-up) this week, and I found out yesterday he's not done yet. David made 5 copies of our passports, for example, and it turns out we need five copies for EACH adoption. That means, for some reason, we need to have 10 copies of our passports, and 10 copies of the visa page in our passport. Twenty sheets of paper, just for one of the items on the document list. No getting around it; there is an incredible the amount of paperwork involved when adopting. With the age of scanning and emailing pdf files, I would have thought that hardcopies would not be necessary anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, after going through the mountain of papers, I do have a concise pile all ready to pack. Only 4 more days until we leave, and 6 more days until we get to hold our sons in our arms!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


It's funny how communication can sometimes be so difficult. Take coffee, for instance. A month or so ago, I asked Cheng for some suggestions on gifts to bring to China. It is customary to give anyone who helps us during the trip a gift from America. Cheng suggested American coffee. I was always under the impression that Chinese people did not drink coffee, but Cheng assured me that they do, and they enjoy coffee as a present (along with cigarettes). I diligently bought 7 or 8 bags of Starbucks, New England Coffee, and Green Mountain Coffee. The other day, Cheng casually asked me if I'm bringing the coffee machine (maker) to China. I responded, no, of course not. Why would I pack a coffee maker? It won't work in China unless we also bring an electric converter, and it's too big and fragile to transport easily. Well, if I'm not bringing the coffeemaker, I was told, then I don't need to bring coffee as gifts. What I didn't understand at first, is that people in China only make INSTANT coffee, since they do not own electric coffeemakers. Ahh haa. Now back to the drawing board for gifts, and we'll be drinking more expensive coffee at home for awhile. Fortunately, I found out yesterday that two of our guides are women, and one is male. That helps me decide on gifts. Another appreciated gift, other than cigarettes, is cosmetics. So today I bought $50 worth of cosmetics in various kits. We also received all our final documents today. We are officially READY TO GO MEET OUR SONS! I really pray they WANT to be adopted, as much as we want to adopt them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Support Groups

Earlier in the adoption process, I looked into adoption support groups. There is a group that meets monthly in Geneseo, but it is run by the Department of Social Services. First of all, most of the people who attend are foster-parent/adoptions, and secondly, I'm a bit down on DSS lately. I've sent a bunch of inquiries as to how our four (former) foster children are faring (like the alliteration?), and they don't even give me the courtesy of a response. I decided I'd better join Families with Children from China in Rochester. I originally hesitated to join FCC because it seems as if the emphasis is on adopted Chinese girls who were adopted as babies; our situation is quite different. Nonetheless, I sent in my $25 joining fee, and we will see what type of support they can offer our family when we get them home. I also joined two listserv Yahoo groups about Chinese adoption, and I've engaged in online conversation with a few other parents who have adopted older children. While waiting for Connor (who attends various lessons) the last two days, I re-read a bunch of articles that the social worker and pediatrician gave us on adoption, bonding, learning disabilities, language acquisition, identity formation, culture shock etc. etc. I am a fast reader, and I still spent 4-5 hours reading the stack of literature. Whew. I just hope and pray that our boys bond with us and feel happy to be a part of our crazy, but wonderful, family!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Busy getting ready still! Travel Notice issued!

Today, I went to the bank to get the cashiers check for the adoption, the post office to mail it, shopped for (a size bigger) pants(that took 3 hours!), took Connor to the store for new jeans for the trip, bought 3 weeks of dogfood, picked up Austin from school at 3p, took him to the chiropractor (he fell while skiing and is limping now), took the boys for haircuts, and then drove Connor to Tae Kwon Do at 6p. Whew! We also heard today that the final Travel Notice was issued yesterday, and we should have it in our hot little hands by Friday. Hooray! That was the very last paper we need to travel. Now if only Cheng will get better (he has a cold) all will be perfect. One week left and counting!!!

Paying today

I woke up at 4am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I kept running over my lists of things to do, so I decided I might as well get up and get my day started. Last night we received an email with our official itinerary and costs. The fees alone are enough to make a sane person lose a night's sleep. I honestly do not know how people afford to adopt multiple times. We've been corresponding regularly with a family that has adopted 10 children from China over the last few years, and I know another family who has adopted at least 8 children (they have 12 total!) from various countries. I honestly wonder, how do they manage all the fees? We are upper-middle class, and it's going to take us several years to pay off our credit card. The orphanage "donations" for our two boys total $11,255, payable by bank-certified check only, wired directly to China. I have to go get the check today, and Fedex it to Seattle, so that they can wire it to their representative in China (for $200 wiring fee). The only other option is to hand-carry that much money in cash. No thanks. I'm nervous enough traveling without carrying large amounts of cash. Then, of course, the trip itself will cost us well over $12,000, since there are 3 of us traveling to China, and five of us traveling for 2 weeks within China, and then five flights home. Add to that, the home-study fees, agency fees, notary fees, passports, original documents,Fedex charges, Chinese visas, passports, and immigration fees and the total is close to $10,000 more. If you're thinking, well, we could adopt a US child for less money, you would be mistaken. Adopting from the US is only slightly less expensive overall. The home-study, agency fees etc. are almost the same, no matter from where we adopt. The only big savings would be the cost of the trip, but we'd have to travel (usually a few trips) within the US too. Amazingly enough, we found out that tickets to states in the Midwest can cost as much as tickets to China. If we adopted in the US, we'd have to pay all the legal adoption fees here, which would be close to the cost of the orphanage donations. This is why many people choose to adopt abroad. In addition to USA adoptions not being much cheaper, the adoptions (of older children)in the USA are almost always "open" adoptions. This means that the parents, grandparents and other relatives know the names of the adopted parents, and often have visitation rights or the right to keep in touch. If they decline all their rights at adoption time, they can later go to court and petition for visitation rights. It happens all the time. The adopted children can also decide later that they want to see their biological family,and they can pursue that option at any time.I know someone who adopted a girl from the USA, and when the girl was a teen she found her biological mother. The biological mother then milked the girl out of her entire college fund. Yes, adopting from China isn't free, but we believe that it is worth every penny. I also try to remember that giving birth wasn't free either. Not only did I have a miserable nine months, but the costs of the hospital and doctor add up quickly too!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Obsessing...or should I call it "nesting"?

I have been obsessing over our trip, as I always do before we travel. Today, I cleaned out the van. Why does the van need to be cleaned suddenly? Because when we arrive home from the airport, I don't want the boys' first impression to be a dirty car. Yes, I know, I go slightly overboard sometimes. I also put in the request to stop our mail, and I'm getting Austin's haircut tonight too. Before we leave, I'm determined that everyone gets their teeth cleaned (and the two children with braces also need to see the orthodontist), and I'm cleaning the house from top to bottom this weekend. The dogs are scheduled to go to the groomers the day before we leave. I don't want them stinking up their caretakers homes. I'm putting off my own hair appointment until the last minute, so that I look good for the trip. Oh yeah, and my nails need to be done last minute too. A manicure will not last more than 2 weeks, tops. Tomorrow, I'll find something else to fix, clean, schedule, or obsess about. Killing time wrecks havoc with my mental health!! Good thing I work-out everyday or I'd be an absolute mess!! I remember feeling this disjointed right before I had each of our children. The endless filling up of time. The two weeks before giving birth, when I no longer went into work each day, were shear torture. Hmmm. I'd better clean the garage tomorrow too.