Where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going…



Where we’ve been:
We started this process in July. Since then, we’ve completed our home study, gathered all of our dossier documents, completed our Medical Conditions Checklist, finished Parent Training, submitted our Immigration paperwork, traveled to Detroit for our Immigration fingerprint appointment, and just TODAY…. received our Immigration approval. Phew!! That’s a lot in 4 months and looking back at all the work done, we’ve come a long way. Back in July, it was hard to imagine being here.

Where we are:

Now that we have our Immigration paperwork back, the work continues. We have to get most of our paperwork (employment verifications, financial forms, things like that) notarized, which is a process on it’s own because things have to notarized in a specific way, either as a copy or an original and it’s complicated, man. Then I have to have all of those notary seals approved by the county in which the notary is licensed. So far, I’m going to need to go to Lucas, Sandusky, and Cuyahoga, and possibly more, so that will be at least one full day of chasing signatures. Then, we have to go to the State Department and they have to approve everything, which means a trip to Columbus for more signatures.

Honestly, this is the part of the whole process that is the most stressful to me so far. When I first read the dossier instruction packet, it was super overwhelming, but once I read it a few more times, it started to make sense. But the first time I read the instruction packet for the sealing process, it was baffling, and I don’t feel like that has changed in my subsequent readings. So any prayers and good mojo you could throw at me as I’m figuring this out would not be wasted. My biggest worry is that I don’t want to make any mistakes because mistakes could mean we have to get something re-done and wait for that, and I don’t want this process to be any longer than it already is.

Then, once we’re done with all the sealing and approving, we will make copies of everything and send it by courier to the China Consulate for their approval. After that, we CELEBRATE and then send all of our paperwork to our agency for them to put through critical review and finalize the format and then we are DTC (documents to China). When that day comes, you will find me in a heap on the floor weeping from relief. They call DTC being “paper pregnant” and I figure all pregnant ladies (paper or otherwise) are allowed to weep on the floor occasionally, right?

Where we’re going:
Once our documents are in China, they’ll be reviewed again and then we’ll be logged in to their system and given a log in date (LID). And then we wait to be matched. There is a lot more that happens after that, but that’s another post for another day.

Today, with Immigration Approval in hand, it feels like a good day. It is a good day! We’ve made some progress and it feels like we’ve jumped a big hurdle. So we’re savoring today and preparing for tomorrow. We’re going to focus on Thanksgiving and enjoying being with friends and family, and then we’re going to start moving full speed ahead with signatures and approvals. Our goal is to have our paperwork completed and to our agency by the end of the year, and I really think we can meet that goal. We would be so thankful for your thoughts and prayers as we’re going forward from here, because this is where things get even more intense and details are crucial. We’re so grateful to you all for walking this journey with us and for keeping us sane!

We’ve already come a long way and we’ve got more to do, but we’re getting closer and the end is a slightly larger speck in the distance now. So, off we go… we’re going on an adventure!

What’s in a Name?


One question that people ask us a lot is “are you going to change P4’s name?”. That’s a complicated question we’re not really sure how to answer yet!  But here are some of our thoughts.

The first thing that is important to understand is that more than likely, P4 will already be on his or her second name: the name he or she was given at birth, and then the name he or she is given when he or she entered the orphanage.  It’s unlikely that the orphanage will know their given name, so they’ll be given another one.  And, often the name they’re given in the orphanage is not the name they’re called in the orphanage; many kids are given nicknames and that’s what they answer to.

The other part of that scenario is that often, names given to kids in orphanages are names that are culturally associated with orphans and being abandoned, which carries weight with it.  For instance, all kids in one orphanage might be given the same last name, which would identify them as an orphan to anyone who heard their last name – rather then giving them a common last name, they were given a last name like “Guo”, which means something like “ward of the State”.

On the other hand, a name is a huge personal identifier and something that we embrace as part of our personal identity, so changing that, especially for the second time in a child’s life, is a really hard thing to consider.  We are already asking our child to give up everything they know – home, friends, nannies, culture, language, food, EVERYTHING – and asking them to also give up their name seems like too much.

But, then, on the other OTHER other hand, if their name is very difficult to pronounce or literally not pronounceable in English, what then?

So, that’s a portion of the things we’ve considered when making this decision about what to do about a name.  The place where we’ve landed is that we’re going to wait until we’re matched to make a decision, and it’s all going to depend on what P4’s name is.  For instance, if his name is Bin, we would possibly change it to Ben or if her name is Lin, we might change it to Lynn because that’s a pretty close English match.  If it’s not a very simple change like that, our tentative plan is to choose an English name that starts with the same letter sound, like, for instance, if his name was Tian, we’d go with Tyson, or Tyler or something like that. Then we will absolutely keep their Chinese name as a middle name.  We feel like doing that gives him or her the option to go back to, or just keep using, their Chinese name if that is what they’d prefer. It also gives them an English name if that is their preference.  I’ve read so many stories of adult adoptees who feel like having their name changed stripped them of their personal and cultural identity, so it’s really important to us that P4 have both a Chinese name and an English name so there is no choosing one culture over the other, but embracing both.

The long story short is that we aren’t making any hard and fast decisions right now, and probably will travel with a very loose idea of what our name plan is, but wait until we’ve met P4 and figured out what name he or she she actually identifies with before we make any lasting decisions.

This is a tricky decision because we want to make sure that we’re making choices that honor P4’s culture and roots, but also will send him or her into a new culture with fresh wings.  So, we’ll see where that takes us.  But at the end of the day, no matter what their first name becomes, they’ll also be getting a new last name with all the messy Pollard family glory that comes with it, and a new identity as son or daughter.  So we can figure out all the rest together.


Why China and not the US?



First, of course, a disclaimer that this is our personal story, and our personal decision and not in any way meant to suggest that other people should do what we did or that international adoption is better than domestic or any other negative thing.  I have a friend who is currently pursuing domestic infant adoption and several friends who have adopted from foster care and their stories are glorious and wonderful and so clearly just right for them and their particular set of life circumstances.  We love adoption however it happens.

So, all that said… here’s our story.  As I’ve mentioned before, we started the adoption journey alongside our struggle with infertility.  The infertility process for us was pretty much the most difficult and devastating thing we’ve ever gone through, and we walked out of the process exhausted and very sad.  So we knew going into adoption that we really wanted it to be as much of a “sure thing” as possible.  In adoption, of course, there are no sure things, but we were determined to try.  Additionally, Eden had been expressing for a long time how much she wanted a sibling and we didn’t want to introduce her to a sibling unless we knew for sure that it was a done deal.

So, after contacting several local foster care agencies, we were consistently told that if we wanted a child under 8, we would need to be foster parents and open our home to children who may not stay.  While that is something we might be interested in in the future, for us, and for Eden at that time, we knew that the unpredictable nature of foster parenting wasn’t a good fit.  I’m sure in other areas of the country, the foster care/adoption system is different, but that was our experience in Lucas and Wood counties, with both county and private agencies.

The other factor that was really important to us was the our kids be closeish together in age.  By the time we started really pursuing adoption, Eden was 6, so we didn’t feel like infant adoption was a great fit.  Infant adoption is also somewhat unpredictable, so for the reasons above, we didn’t feel like that was a good fit.

So, there we were, with the two in-country options ruled out. We started looking at other options, specifically international adoption.  We quickly found that for the age of child we were hoping to adopt (1-3) and the permanency we were wanting, international adoption was the way to go.  In Chinese adoptions, our child will actually become a US citizen in China, and will be issued a US visa at that time.  So we chose international adoption because it gave us the best chance of having two kids close in age, and it gave us the smallest chance of having an adoption fall through.

There have been a few questions from people (including the memorable “why would you want a Chinese kid when there are perfectly good American kids…. aren’t those good enough for you?), and I certainly understand those questions.  There are kids here in the US who need families.  But for us and our unique circumstances, international adoption is the right fit.  For other people and their unique circumstances, it might be foster to adopt, or infant adoption.  But no matter what, we CELEBRATE there is one fewer child without a family to love them.  Each adoptive family has their own story with their own set of priorities, griefs, and hopes and their own ways to make a decision about what’s right for them.  We’re really excited to be on our particular journey, and equally excited for our friends who are on their own, different journeys.  Because no matter how you get there, it means that one more kid has a family.  And that’s worth celebrating.