Win an iPad Mini 2 *** Help Bring Jia Home!

Hi there!  If you’re new here, let me catch you up!  We are currently in the process of adopting a sweet as can be 2 year old, named Jia.  She is from China.  You can learn more about her here.  Our total adoption costs are in the neighborhood of $30,000, so we’re doing some fundraising to help with that.  And here are the details on our current fundraiser!


ipad raffle 1


That small print you can’t read just says that you can make a tax deductible donation at If you’re local, you’re welcome to just give us cash or a check.

The raffle will conclude on 4/15/15 and we’ll post here and on Facebook to let you know who won!  If it’s you, we’ll ship the iPad Mini 2 to you directly from Amazon.

Thank you for your donations and for helping us get closer to bringing Jia home!  We’re so lucky to have such awesome family and friends!

Adoption Alphabet Soup


So, today we got the best paperwork news we’ve gotten so far… we are DOCUMENTS TO CHINA!!!!  That means all of our documents have been through 3 layers of critical review, our photos mounted, everything bound in a pretty red folder, and everything sent via International Express Mail to the Chinese Center of Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).  Once it gets to the CCCWA, since we’re already matched, our dossier goes to the “match room” where they process all of our paperwork.  Then we get a Log in Date (LID), and then we start our wait for our Letter of Acceptance (LOI), which is our Official with a capital O acceptance of Jia as our daughter.  The wait from LID to LOA is currently averaging about 45 days.

After that, we fill out more forms and government information and other stuff that I’m not thinking too much about right now.  I would estimate that we are still at least 3, but probably more like 5 months from travel.  Those months are going to fly by though!

If you’re friends with me on Facebook I alluded to the end part of our paper chase being a little chaotic, and now that it’s over, it’s actually kind of funny, so here’s a story.  We were really hoping to be DTC last Friday and were not.  I got a call on Monday from Kim at CCAI, saying that to complete our dossier, she needed a doctors letter related to Josh’s heart condition, basically saying “yes, he’s healthy, no current concerns, carry on.”  She said that to be DTC by Friday (today), she needed to have the letter by Thursday at noon.

So Josh called his cardiologist and asked them to write the letter, which we were thinking we’d have on Tuesday.  But then Tuesday at 5pm, we got a call from the cardio office saying that they couldn’t write it after all because they could only attest to his cardiac health, not his overall health.  Wednesday morning, I called our family doctor to ask them to do it.  They said they would, and again, I expected to have this letter by Wednesday afternoon.  I called Wednesday afternoon and was told that there wasn’t even a doctor in the office that day… so no letter.  By now we’re realizing that we’re not going to have this letter to Kim by the time she was hoping, so we emailed her and she said if we could get it in by Friday at noon, we had a CHANCE of being DTC on Friday.

Thursday morning I call the office and ask again.  Still no letter, but “we’ll work on it.”  Thursday afternoon I call and she says that she’s almost done typing it and finally I laid the smack down… “I know you’re very busy but please know that if I don’t have this document to our agency tomorrow, we will have to wait a significant length of time (okay, only a week, but it’s significant to me!) before we can submit our documents and we are just trying to get our daughter home as soon as possible. So any help you can give me gets her one day closer to us.” I had that document in 30 minutes, no joke. Apparently I’d finally reached my limit of waiting and was now resorting to guilt trips. I figure this is one of the only steps where I even have the opportunity to guilt trip someone so might as well take advantage.

Then with document in hand, I ran for the Post Office, overnighted the letter to Colorado, and they delivered my “we’ll have it there by noon” package at 11:41.  Nothing like cutting it close!  And then at 3:30, we got *the* email… the one that said “you’ve made it!”

We have jumped a huge hurdle at this point, probably the biggest one at least in terms of paperwork, and you know what?  It feels amazing.  At the beginning of this process I really doubted my ability to be organized and diligent enough to get this all done, but I guess that just goes to show what a mother will do to get to her child.  So, it’s done, we’ve crossed it off the list and we’re one step closer to China and our little girl.  It’s a fantastic day today.


Dossier = DONE!!!

Today was a big, big day because today I sent our dossier to CCAI – the completion of months and months of literal blood, sweat and tears.  I’m not sure it’s truly sunk in that it’s DONE and there are no more pages in the Dossier Guide to read, no more documents to track down, no more asking our awesome notary friend Michelle to bring her stamp to church yet again.  Looking at that packet of paperwork in July I could hardly imagine this day and now it’s here.

The final stack of paperwork, copies, certifications, and pictures.

The final stack of paperwork, copies, certifications, and pictures.

Every time we hit a big moment, I expect something akin to the skies parting and the voice of God descending.  But instead, today I sat in the parking lot whispering fervent prayers of safe keeping and speed over my documents, I mailed my package and posed for this picture… and then I went to the grocery store.  The holy and the normal happening all together, which is just as it should be.

dossier complete

So what happens now?  Well, that’s a good question, and one I asked my CCAI group today because I really wasn’t sure.  I’ve been so focused on getting our dossier done that I haven’t even looked forward to what comes next.  Tomorrow by noon our package will arrive at CCAI and will be there for 9-11 business days where it will undergo three levels of critical review to check for anything we missed or mistakes.  They’ll put it in a pretty red folder, mount all of our photos, and then it is sent off to China (eeeekkkk!).  Then after about a week, we are officially “logged in” and we do a happy, happy dance of joy.  At that point, we are waiting for our official Letter of Acceptance that indicates that we do, indeed, want to adopt Jia (we do, we do, we do, we do!!!!!!!).  From what I understand the wait for that is currently running about 2 and a half months so it’s going to be a little while.  People who have been there, done that have said that this is the time to get in shape so you can lug around a toddler, get your house in order (in our case, getting Jia’s room ready), get your funding in order, and basically to use your waiting time well, so that’s my goal.

We are one (freaking enormous) step closer to Jia and it feels pretty awesome.  We have an ending in sight, we have a clear path forward and we are ready, ready, ready.


Fitting our hearts in a shoebox is hard….

One of the exciting things that happen when you get matched is that you get to send your child a care package! I am planning to send Jia’s this week and thought you all might be interested in knowing what we sent.

This care package will go to her orphanage before it goes to her foster family.  In the instruction guide they request that you keep the size of the package to shoe box size due to customs issues, so we’re talking about cramming gifts for Jia, her foster family and the orphanage director and the nannies… in a shoe box.  It was a challenge for sure.

So, first, the things we sent for Jia are a large blanket, a small fabric square blanket, a stuffed dog, a photo album with all of our family and a few friends in it, and a recordable story book with all of our voices.  I was going to send the Puffs, but totally ran out of space.  Thanks to the suggestions of people on Facebook, I ordered some vacuum seal bags which worked really well to get all the “fluffy stuff” down to a manageable size.  We also sent along several memory sticks because we’ve heard that they often get returned with many, many pictures from the time kids were brought to the orphanage, and we’re also hoping to get one back from her foster family.  It would be a gift to her and to us, to have those pictures.

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We actually bought two sets of all of Jia’s items, so we’ll take those with us when we travel in hopes that if she did get the care package, she will recognize some of the items, as it’s likely that many of the items won’t be returned to us or brought with her.  Eden has been sleeping with the puppy every night since we got it, and we washed her blankets in our detergent so she might recognize that smell when we meet her.  They say smell is a powerful sense, so we’re hoping they’re right.

For the nannies and director at her orphanage we sent Bath and Body Works lotion.  Apparently, that’s a highly regarded gift, so hopefully they like it.

For her foster family, I actually was able to talk to an expat American living currently in China and just sent whatever she suggested, so I sent Reese’s cups, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Ranch dressing mix packets, and disposable razors, which we hear are hard to come by in China. I was going to include the lotion too (another hot commodity in China), but… shoe box. We also wrote them a letter introducing ourselves and telling them about our hopes for Jia.  This package is how they will likely find out Jia has been matched, and I’m sure that will be a bittersweet moment for them.

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The care package will be delivered to her orphanage and then forwarded on to her foster family from there.  While her orphanage has been pretty good in the past about getting the package out, there is now a new director, so we’ll see how it goes.  You can send all your prayers and good juju for our package to get to Jia.  In the long run, it probably won’t be a huge deal, but for now it feels like all we can do for her, so we really want it to get there.

In other news, just as a quick “where we are in the process” update, we sent our documents to the NY China Consulate expecting it to be about 10-12 days before we got them back, but due to a paperclip where there should have been a staple (nope, not even kidding…), we had to resubmit a document which meant a whole mess of additional paperwork, money orders, copies and swear words.  As of this morning, all of our additional paperwork is on its way to New York, so hopefully this will do the trick.  If it doesn’t, as I so calmly told my friends the day we found out about all this, I’m going to drive to New York and staple my home study to someone’s forehead.  I kid, of course… but I really do hope this is it!

A little of this, a little of that…

Hi friends!  No big news to share, but I wanted to do a quick update that includes a few different pieces of this adoption puzzle.

Where we are now:

Our dossier is currently in the hands of the China Consulate in New York City.  This is the first time since we started this process that our dossier has been mailed anywhere (we just walked it in to all the other places), so it’s a weird feeling not to have it close by.  Currently the wait time for processing is 6-8 business days, so we should have it back by the first week of February.  Then, it’s on to critical review with our agency (about 9-11 business days) and then on to China where we should get an official Log in Date within about 5-7 days.  The end is in sight!  I look back over the last 6 months and am blown away by how much we accomplished in that time.

Telling people about Jia:

I thought maybe some of you would be interested in how we told people we were matched.  We got matched a lot sooner then we expected so we didn’t have a lot of time to think about how to announce the news to Eden, our parents and siblings, but I think we did okay.  We printed out sheets of paper that looked like this, but personalized them for each person,


And put them in red envelopes and gave them to people as Christmas presents.   Everyone’s reaction was a little shock mixed with a lot of joy.  It was so fun to get to tell people in person and in a special way.

I also wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who left your excited well wishes on Facebook and elsewhere.  Getting to share this experience with all of you has made this process even more special.

What’s next:

Once we have our LID, we wait for our “hard” Letter of Approval, and then we start filling out more paperwork that I don’t even know about yet because I think our agency doesn’t want to overwhelm us (too late!!).  We will travel 3-6 months after our Log in Date in China so we’re still on target to travel sometime between June and August assuming nothing significant changes.  Josh and I both keep having moment of “at this time next year, Jia will be ______” or, my favorite from the other day as we were sitting at lunch “holy crap, we’re going to have two kids.”  We’ve already starting making plans for the summer with the tentative “well, we’re not sure when we’re traveling, so we probably can, but…”.  I mean, things are getting real, folks!

We are also working on grants and fundraising right now, so more paperwork!  We’ll keep you updated as we get fundraisers planned!

So, that’s our update for now.  Nothing earth shaking and it’s hard to beat my last post, but I wanted to keep you all in the loop as we wait for our girl to come home!

Our Beautiful Daughter, Jia

When I first started this blog, one of the posts I was most excited to write was the one that started “WE’RE MATCHED!!” and here we are, months sooner than we planned and more delighted than I could have imagined.  Friends, please meet our beautiful daughter…. WE’RE MATCHED!!!

  Dang Jia Qi 10.15.14 4

Some of you want the facts and some of you want the details, so we’ll do facts first:  Our daughter’s name is Jia Qi, and she is 23 months old (she’ll turn 2 on February 2nd).  She is currently living with an American foster family in China, but we don’t know much about them other then that.  We do know that she has an older foster sister though, which is kind of awesome!  We really hope to stay in touch with them after she is adopted, but it’s unlikely we will be able to contact them before due to the rules and regulation regarding adoption in China. We also don’t know if they speak to her in English or Chinese, but we’re hoping she will at least know some English before we get there. She has a postoperative heart condition (that was repaired in China) that will need followed up with a pediatric cardiologist, but otherwise, she is healthy!  Her paperwork says that she is learning things at “150 miles per hour.”  We  could not be more smitten… isn’t she beautiful?!  We feel so lucky to get to be her parents!!!

foster sister covered

Now, for the details!  I received a call from CCAI on December 12th, sitting at work.  I saw CCAI come up on the caller ID, but I had been waiting on a phone call back about a dossier question, so I was pretty surprised to hear the person on the other end say “we have a file for you to review!”  Our CCAI contact went through the basic contents of the file and then asked if I was still interested.  I couldn’t say yes fast enough!  As soon as I hung up the phone, I started crying… mother’s intuition?  I don’t know.  In any event, I waited for the info to come through in my email, and called Josh to tell him.  Because she is with a foster family, we were lucky enough to get lots of extra pictures, which was so awesome.  I looked at those pictures and that was pretty much it for me.  I honestly didn’t care what the paperwork said.  She was ours from the minute I saw her.  I started looking through her paperwork, and emailed it all to an international adoption clinic doctor with whom we have an established relationship and asked her to look at everything.  And then, because it was a Friday… we waited.


We heard back from Dr. Ottegen on Monday who reviewed all of the paperwork we had and confirmed our feelings that Jia’s medical situation and prognosis were excellent.  She also consulted with a pediatric cardiologist and he also give us a good report.  So we were left to make a decision that had the potential to totally change our lives.

Dang Jia Qi 10.15.14

Of course, this all happened during one of the busiest weeks of our year….  I had a late work event, Josh had late meetings and activities, my mom and I went to Columbus (and, by the way, I did not breathe a word of this to anyone… so imagine me, the worlds worst secret keeper, having to spend 4 hours with my mom, to whom I tell just about everything, and not being able to talk about the only thing on my mind!  It was rough, y’all.), and by the time we had a minute to really sit down and hash things out, it was Thursday night at 10:30 and we had to make a decision by the next morning.  Making a decision like that feels like holy ground, and we certainly didn’t make it lightly, but it wasn’t a hard decision in the end.  I think we both knew nearly from the minute we saw Jia that she was our daughter.  So our conversation was more “how did we get so lucky?” then “should we say yes?”.  We had said yes in our hearts a week before, it just took a while for our brains to catch up.

Dang Jia Qi 10.15.14 3

So, the next day, we called our agency, and said “she’s ours!”.  We had to fill out some additional paperwork, write a letter of intent stating that we understand her medical needs, and have a plan to care for her, and submit some basic family information.  Once we sent that in, her file was “locked” which means that no one else could see it or request it, and then all of that information was submitted electronically to China.  We were told to expect not to hear anything back from them until after the new year, but the day after Christmas, we got our Letter of Acceptance and it because unofficially official (it will become really official once we have our dossier to China)!!


As far as what changes, our process is now quite a bit expedited, and we are expecting to travel no later than August.  That means we’re working like mad people to get all of our documents to China and our dossier completed, we’re trying to figure out our fundraising plan on an expedited timeline, and we’re are nearly out of our minds with excitement about getting to meet our sweet Jia.


So, that’s what’s been going on behind the scenes, friends…  what a ride!


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.



Linda Richman is a little Verklempt

I do not often find myself without words (anyone who knows me in person just laughed because… no, , no I do not.  I have lots of words, all the time), but I’m not sure how to find the right words to convey all the feelings I’ve had over the last 10 days.

So, we started this fundraiser having no idea, at all, how it was going to go.  Would people support it?  What if they didn’t?  I would really rather have a root canal then ask people for money, so this was hard.  It’s really vulnerable to put your story out there and ask people to help make your dreams happen.  But then orders started showing up, a friend here, Twitter follower there, and before you know it Josh and I are texting each other every day going “is this real?”  People shared our story all over Facebook and Twitter, some of you pretty much every day.  You all became our champions, pushing this crazy thing forward and cheering us on… I will never forget it.

You all have left me delightfully baffled by this grace and enthusiasm you have lavished on us this week.  We feel loved, supported, lifted up.  You have rallied for us this week and our words of thanks for woefully inadequate compared to the absolutely overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel.

Someday, P4 will be home with us, and I can’t wait to show him or her the page where people gave of their money and affection to bring him or her home.  I can’t wait to show him or her all the people who shared our story because they thought it was important.  I am thankful beyond words to have all of you standing behind us as our village.  Thanks for loving us, but more then that, thanks for loving P4, who is just a dream right now, but who will be a reality because you showed up, bought and shared.  THANK YOU, FRIENDS.  We love you so much.  Thanks for loving us so well.