Leaving on a jet plane…. arriving in China!

Hi pals. I’m typing this from our airplane… isn’t technology a marvel? But I am tying on a teeny tiny tablet keyboard, so I’m having to retype every word, basically, since I’m also in a cramped airplane seat, so have tiny t-rex arm syndrome. :).


I am trying to keep a good record of this trip because I’m sure, like most big events, this will eventually fade. So here’s how things have gone.

We have been packing for DAYS. DAYS. And by Monday night, we had 99% of our stuff packed and ready to go, and then the rest of Tuesday was just chucking more stuff in that we “might” need. I’m sure we brought far more then we needed, but we ended up with two 46 lb suitcases, so I’m quite pleased with that. Roughing it isn’t really my “thing” so I’m pretty proud of our “light” packing.

Emotionally, the days leading up to leaving were rough. I’m sure I looked frazzled, and I certainly felt that way. I was worried about Eden, I was worried about the trip, etc, etc, etc. I mean, just, all the worries. And I told myself that I would worry right up until we walked into that airport, and then I was done. I had done as much as I could, and that would have to be enough. As much packing, as much prepping Eden, as much aimless worrying, and at some point I just needed to relinquish it. I was especially worried about an emotional airport scene with Eden, on both our ends. I could just see her having to be dragged away, and me sobbing through security. Ugh. But a few days ago, I read a blog post from a fellow adoptive mom who said that she has encouraged her kids to yell and scream and jump as they were pulling out of the driveway, and on the way up, I told Eden that I wanted her to make as much noise as possible while we were walking away and make everyone stare. It worked really well and we got good hugs and goodbyes and then she screamed us into the airport. I am so glad that I read about that tactic, I think it saved us a lot of the sads.

Once we got to the airport, we got boarding passes, checked our baggage and got through security in record time, and had plenty of time to go eat, so we walked down to Chik–fil-a, and had a nice American meal of fried chicken and fries. Our flight was delayed 40 minutes, so we got to chill for a little while, chat with friends, etc. It was a huge help for my fragile emotions to read all the notes and texts from the people we love. You guys helped so much.

So we boarded, got our seats, and off we went. We found out that for some reason, our flight would be shorter then usual by about an hour, which is why we delayed our take off. Apparently Beijing only lets you land within 30 minutes of your planned time, so we had to adjust for that. We don’t really care why, just WAHOO shorter flight.

So far we’ve had dinner (thai beef!) and drinks and have watched two episodes of The Newsroom. We’re still too wired to sleep much, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Tylenol PM is our friend. There is a guy sitting across from me who is having some PHELM ISSUES, so ear plugs are also my friend.  Update:  Josh slept two hours, me, about 20 minutes.  We are not good airplane sleepers.

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One super cool thing that’s happened is we are sitting in a row of four seats, and the other couple in our row is also adopting a 2 year old little girl. So it’s been fun talking with them and comparing notes.

Anyway. That’s the beginning of our trip. Sorry for the stream of consciousness blogging. Not my best effort, but all I can manage for now. Thanks again for following along and for loving us well. Couldn’t do it without you!


Okay, now we’re on our room and we’ve actually slept, so maybe I can be coherent. We landed yesterday and were met by our guide, and waiting on another family who were also arriving around the same time. One thing that has been nice is this process is being able to connect with other families who we’ll be traveling with via Facebook, so we knew who we were meeting and there were hugs and much rejoicing!

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We took a mini bus to our hotel from the airport and got settled in our room. By then the lack of sleep and long day were catching up with us, but I was hungry, so we walked to a noodle shop that was right next door. We ordered a chicken dish and a beef and noodles dish. I’m not sure that either of them was a huge hit, but they were pretty good filled our bellies and that was enough. Then we came back and Josh was out like a light. I don’t know what it was, but I was WIRED and not quite ready to sleep, so I video called my parents and Eden and talked to them and then finally, finally, the crash happened. We both slept okay, but woke up at about 3:45 wide awake and ready to start the day. I’m sure we’ll pay for that later.

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Today we’re going to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, then we’re going to see the old streets of Beijing via rickshaw, and have dinner with a local family in their home. It should be QUITE A DAY!

Tomorrow is the Great Wall and then the day after we take the train to Zhengzhou and the wait to meet Jia is hours, not days. I am loving being here, and so glad we got to come a few days early and see Beijing, but I think I am just anxious to get to Jia and get started. But I am not wanting to squander our last few kid free days for a loooooooong time, so I’m soaking it in. What a ride!

We’re going on an adventure!

Y’all.  We leave in SIX DAYS.  S-I-X.  As in one less then 7, one more then 5.  SIX.

This is a very auspicious day because a year ago today, we signed with our adoption agency and started this whole crazy process.  It seems unreal that a year ago, we only imagined our daughter, and now we get to meet her in 6 days.

The crazy thing with adoption is that so much of it is waiting.  Once you’re done with the dossier part, you’re largely just hanging out while people to pass all your paperwork around and give it their approval, so you just WAIT…. and then the last person stamps it and it’s GO TIME.  We got Travel Approval June 25th, got our Consulate Appointment and scheduled our plane tickets on the 26th and we take off the 8th.  That’s crazy fast!

It also means that reality comes slamming in, and for me it’s been some hard moments realizing that Eden won’t be my only anymore.  I assume this is something that every mom goes through when their first baby isn’t their only baby anymore, but that’s been hard the last few days.  Add that to the logistical demands of packing for China and tying up last minute details, which takes a lot of my time and ooof, Mom Guilt like WHOA.  I know we will all adjust and it’s going to be so good, but I think we’re all grieving what is because we don’t yet fully know what will be.

Josh and I both feel like our emotions change radically every 5 minutes… we’re happy, sad, worried, excited, nervous, ready to go and completely overwhelmed with everything that still has to be done.  I don’t know, you guys.  I want to put a pretty bow on this, but right now it’s kind of like we’re just muddling through to the end.  We’re trying to stay present and actually live the next 6 days aware and that’s taking all we’ve got right now.

We are looking forward to having this part of it done, and getting on a plane and being able to just FOCUS on getting to Jia.  That is one thing we don’t have any conflicted emotions about…we are ECSTATIC about finally getting her in our arms and finding out who she really is.  We know that this is going to be SO HARD for her, and that what is exciting for us is terrifying for her.  That part of it is heartbreaking.  We will actually meet her on July 13th around 11:00am (so 11pm July 12th Eastern time) and we’d really love it if people would pray and send all their positive energy for her that night.

So, here’s my conclusion… we’re all a little bonkers, and we probably will be for a while.  We’ve been leaning on friends and family and your prayers and good thoughts and kind words lately and are so grateful for them all.  I’ve had so many people offer to help do anything we need and even though I haven’t been good at taking people up on their offers, just the offers themselves and knowing people are thinking of us has meant so much.

I am going to try to blog here during our trip so stop back!  Can’t wait to share this crazy adventure with you!

Are You Ready For This?

Does it seem to anyone else that every blog post I write goes something like “sometime REALLY SOON we’ll be going to China, but not yet, actually… “? Because that’s pretty much how it feels around here these days. Like, we are SO CLOSE and yet, still in the United States, waiting and waiting and waiting.

So, here’s what’s new: in the last couple weeks, we’ve submitted our I800 form, and had it approved, and sent to the Consulate for approval. We’ve applied for our Visas. We’ve applied for Jia’s Visa (for a while the computer system was down and it has the potential to delay our travel and I finally came completely unhinged. They fixed it today though!).

At this point, we’re waiting on them to issue our Article 5, which we should get on June 18th. This let’s the CCCWA know our Immigration file is COMPLETE and then we will be issued Travel Approval. Travel Approval usually comes 5-7 days after Article 5 is issued, but there are a few people who have waited 20+ days recently due to a computer glitch. If you want to pray/send good thoughts for something, a super short Travel Approval wait is high on my list. Honestly, I will be devastated if we get to that point and then we just have to wait.

Once we have TA, we’ll apply for a date to meet with the Consulate in Guangzhou, which is where we’ll complete our adoption. The rest of our trip hinges on our Consulate Appointment (CA) so once we have that, we’ll be able to buy plane tickets and GO! Most people travel 10-21 days after TA, but I know some people who have only waited a few days before they were on a plane. We will be asking for the first available CA and the soonest possible flights.

Listen, there was a time when I was feeling kind of conflicted about this trip because there was still so much to do and so many things to check off my list. I’m over it now. I don’t care. My house could be crumbling around me and I would get on a plane because I need my kid home now (do not take that as an invitation to test me, Universe… it is a figure of speech.) I’ve reached the point where I will figure it out, I will make it work, I will accept anything as long as she’s with us. I am working hard to stay fully present in this current life and to notice and appreciate how awesome life is right now (because it is!), but a huge part of my heart and mind are in China now more than ever and It’s just time for Jia to be home. I’m ready to start tackling this new normal, I’m ready to have some illusion of control, I’m just READY.

So, that’s the latest, that’s our way forward… we’d so appreciate your prayers and good thoughts for speedy TA and cheap flights (because it turns out that booking international flights days before you leave is pretty much the opposite of cheap!), and most especially for Jia. We’ll keep you posted as things are happening!

Some Things I’ve Learned So Far: The “Let’s Talk About My Feeeeeeelings” Edition

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Things that adoption has taught me (so far):

  • Waiting is not my favorite. I mean, duh, right? But this kind of waiting is unlike any other kind I’ve ever experienced because at the end of this wait lies my child, my youngest, my baby. It is very different from a pregnancy wait, too, because there are so many factors out of my control or ability to do anything about.  We simply have to trust that the people who are doing all the things we’d rather be doing ourselves are doing them well, and we believe they are.  We are so lucky to know that she is very well cared for and well loved and safe, but the process of entrusting someone else with the care of your child is rough.
  • Control IS my favorite, and I don’t have any of it. We are currently at the mercy of the Chinese government, then we’ll be at the mercy of the US government, and then it switches back and forth until the end. We’re at the mercy of plane ticket prices, hotel bookings, and other people’s plans. We are dependent on others for advice, direction and “how to’s” on just about everything. I have been so grateful for the people who work at our agency and the people we’ve dealt with in government and the people who have walked this road before me for their advice and patience and reassurances, but I am looking forward to having some sort of solid ground back. But I just realized as I’m typing this that adoptive parenting is, in some ways, a whole new ball game, so I should just resign myself to not knowing anything for a while.
  • Fundraising is hard. PLEASE don’t misconstrue that to mean that I am not beside myself with gratitude for all of your contributions. I just mean that I hate asking. I don’t like being the needy one. I am an extremely uncomfortable self promoter. I don’t ask for help well. I am a hard core introvert. I worry that people will get sick of us. I worry that people will make unkind judgments. It’s just a recipe for a lot of discomfort. But we truly could not do it without help, so we’ve asked, which leads me to my next point….
  • We have the awesomest people on Earth, ever in the history of the world, period, full stop, do not even try to argue with me, I mean it. I will do a full post about this later on, but just know that we have been truly blown away by how you’ve rallied for us, and how well you’ve loved all of us through this process. People I knew would show up, and people I never expected have lavished us with love and support and good will in way we will never be able to repay. If you want to see me ugly cry (you don’t though, ask Josh), ask me sometime about the things people have done for us this last 8 months. And know that it’s is not only or even mostly, financial support that that we’re talking about. It’s the questions, and the interest and the kind and supportive texts and emails and calls. It’s the people who say “if you need anything, let me know” and mean it. We have such an amazing community supporting us and Jia and we are so thankful.
  • Love crosses oceans and doesn’t even need to meet in person to be real. We love Jia. She’s ours and we’re hers and we’re us all together and we haven’t even met yet. That is the craziest, realest, most surprising thing about all of this. It will grow and change and go deeper once we meet, of course, but it’s there and it’s real and it’s not going away. In much the same way that you love your biological children before you meet them in person, we love Jia, and that love gets deeper when you’re in the thick of life together and it’s built on shared experiences and memories and showing up when you’re needed. I can’t wait to get started on that next part.

So, those are a few things I’ve learned so far, and I can’t wait to learn more.  This process has been crazy and hard and magical and humbling and achingly beautiful and full of bone deep grief and mind boggling delight.  This is adoption, and it’s brutiful (brutal/beautiful).

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!

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.


Some things I’ve learned so far: the “China adoption facts” edition

When we first started this process, I felt like I knew quite a bit about international adoption in general, but very little about China specifically.  A lot of the reading I’d done on adoption centered around Haiti and Ethiopia, so I knew a lot about the underlying causes of the orphan situation there, but not as much about China.  Maybe you’re in the same boat, or just want to know more, so if so… read on!

  • The one that always surprises people the most is that there are more boys then girls in the Special Needs Program. If you are open to adopting a boy, you very frequently get matched before your even submit a dossier, and will get matched very quickly after. The ratio is about 60/40 boys to girls.
  • The reasons for abandonment in China are both simple and complicated. First, you have the cultural preference for boys over girls. Second, you have the one child policy, although it has been relaxed recently in most parts of China. Third, you have a cultural stigma regarding people with disabilities. And lastly, you have a health care system that requires all money up front.  So, let’s go through an example. A Chinese couple finds out they are expecting a wanted and loved baby. The baby is born with cleft lip and palate and is a girl. They don’t make enough money to pay for the surgery to fix her cleft lip and palate, and don’t have access to the kind of bottles you use to feed a baby with cleft, so their daughter quickly becomes malnourished. There are aid organizations that perform the initial surgeries to repairs the clefts, but any additional surgeries would be out of pocket. They don’t know how to access those organizations and their daughter is getting sicker.  Then throw in the cultural stigmas for both girls and special needs, and you can start to see the heart breaking challenges presented. If they abandon their daughter, she will get the care she needs and potentially be adopted. They can go on to have another child. It’s a devastating reality for many of these kids in the Special Needs program.
  • I keep using the word “abandon” and I’m not using it lightly, or as a synonym for “placing for adoption” which is the common terminology for most US adoptions. In China, it is illegal to place a child for adoption, so children are truly abandoned, usually in a public place where they will be found quickly and taken to an orphanage or in “baby hatches” where they are put into a small room and the parent rings a bell and hurries away, and the child is retrieved a few minutes later. The paperwork we get will likely include P4’s “finding spot”, whether it be a public place or a baby hatch. This also means that we’ll have no medical or family history for P4, something that breaks my heart any time I think about it.

So, that’s some pretty depressing news, huh?  Let’s see if I can offer a little bit of hope, here.

  • Our agency, CCAI, pioneered what they refer to as Lily Orphan Care Centers, which are designed to put children in the best possible environment even though they are in an orphanage. You can read more about it here: http://www.ccaifamily.org/OrphanCare/Lily-OrphanCare.aspx and http://www.ccaifamily.org/OrphanCare/Henan-Project.aspx
  • For non-Special Needs Adoption, adoption by Chinese families has significantly increased in recent years, which is amazing news. If possible, it would be best for a child to be raised in their birth culture, and we’re encouraged that that seems to be happening.
  • Many children are also starting to be part of foster programs, where they are raised by foster parents among a smaller group of children. This is also great news because foster care almost always is a much better option then orphanage care.

So, there are some China adoption (true as far as I know) facts.  I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, but that’s at least a start to the new things we’ve learned since starting this adventure.

Have questions or want more information?  Leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can find out!

A ridiculous number of words about how this process works.

Several people have asked us about what the adoption process looks like, and I thought I’d do a quick (ha! not really. very long. saddle up.) blog post to kind of at least give an overview of what this process has looked like for us.

We made the decision to adopt sometime in January and started researching countries and agencies. For us, China made the most sense because it’s a well established program, and the wait in relatively short. It also requires a comparatively short travel time. Once we picked China, we started researching agencies. We ended up choosing CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International). They are an agency that has been working in China from the beginning of it’s international adoption program, and have facilitated 11.000+ adoptions, so we feel like we’re in good hands.

The first step once we decided on an agency was applying. The application is a very basic overview of our lives, and it also certifies that we meet China’s conditions to adopt, which include age, BMI, income of at least $10,000 per family member, and a significant “net worth” requirement. We also simultaneously applied to our home study agency, Options for Families and Youth in the Cleveland area. We were accepted by both agencies and we got started!

Home Study:
A home study is a set of face to face interviews with a social worker to determine whether you’ll be a suitable parents to the child you adopt. Most people, us included, find it terribly intimidating and spend obscene amounts of time cleaning all the things and setting out ridiculous snacks because you want the social worker to think you’re awesome. Every article I read kept saying that it wasn’t a big deal, to just relax and HA!, have we met? I did not relax. But I’m here to say… it was no big deal. Our social worker, Ginger, is the absolute best. We liked her right from the start. She was kind and funny, and walked us through the whole process. She is a gift and we are so grateful to her. We did one longer visit at our house, just Josh and I, and then we went to her office for fingerprints and a training required by Ohio law. She also did one more visit to our house (I cleaned a lot less for this one!) and interviewed Eden. She did a quick walk through of the house to make sure that we didn’t have any torture chambers or, you know, doors that a child could lock themselves in with, and it was super easy. Along with the home study, we did background checks, a fire inspection (we own a fire extinguisher now… exciting stuff!), and some personal narrative work as well. And best of all, when she asked if I spoke any languages besides English fluently, and I replied “sarcasm” she laughed because she is the awesome. The other piece of that is asking people to write letters of recommendation. We can’t say thank you enough to Phil and Kristina, Dave and Karen, Danielle, Melissa and Michelle. It’s a scary thing to ask someone to tell a social worker their honest opinion of your parenting and we are so grateful that they said “yes” when we asked them, and that, we assume, they said nice things.

Medical Conditions Checklist (MCC):
The MCC is what gets the clock ticking for when you’re matched with your child. It’s pretty much what it sounds like; our adoption agency has an extensive list of conditions and you go through and check which ones you would accept and which ones you would not. It is an incredibly bizarre experience to sit on the couch with your spouse and say “yes, I could deal with this, but no, I couldn’t deal with that.” It was one of the more humbling experience of this journey so far for me, because behind each condition you say yes or no to, there are actual kids waiting for their families to find them. In the end, we said yes to lots of conditions, such as cleft lip/palate, heart defects, limb differences, skin conditions, some feeding and digestive challenges, and a lot more. As I said above, submitting this starts your clock to match, so we pushed hard to get this done. Once we are “Documents to China” (DTC), this is what they will use to match us, and our openness to conditions will shorten or lengthen our wait. People open to boys with Down Syndrome, or significant heart issues, or older children etc will be matched sometimes before they even complete their dossier. People who are requesting a girl under 3 with very minor health concerns might wait 24 months+. So, the MCC is really important. Our clock started running on July 17th, 2014, so we’ll see when it stops!

Oh, the dossier. Say this word to any adoptive parent and their eyes immediately glaze over in exhaustion. A dossier is a look at our lives on paper and includes birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, the home study, immigration approval, a petition to adopt, physical exams, blood work, and a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. Once it’s completed, most of it has to be notarized and then the notary seals have to be authenticated in the county where the notary has their license. THEN, it goes to the Ohio Secretary of State to be certified again and THEN it goes to the China Counsolate in New York (by courier! because you can’t just mail it!), and THEN it goes to our agency for critical review, and THEN it’s bound and sent on it’s way to China. Head spinning yet?! Now that I’ve had some time to wrap my head around this part of the process, I’m good, but when I read through all of that for the first time, it was pretty intense. I will be so happy when that part of this process is over and our documents are in China!

Documents to China/Log in Date (DTC/LID):
Once our dossier gets to China, we are logged into their system, and that is when doors really start to open up. Once that happens, we are able to be matched with any child in the system. If we are following a “typical” timeline, we may be waiting for a while after LID, but our MCC is fairly open, so who knows? This is both a relief and a whole new kind of stress because now every phone call and every email could be “THE ONE”.

Special Needs (SN) vs. Special Focus (SF):
We are adopting through the special needs program, which encompasses the “traditional” special needs program and also the special focus program. Basically, special needs are considered mild to moderate and correctable in the US. The special focus program are kids who have multiple special needs, are older, or who have more severe conditions that may be on going once they’re home. The other difference is that for SF, we can request their file without having our dossier logged in. For SN kids, we have to be logged in.

Still with me?! Phew! That’s at least an overview of what we’re doing right now, and where we’re going. It’s a long process, but so worth it, and our agency is amazing and has a fantastic guide that is walking us through the process so we feel confident we know what we’re doing. We are currently waiting on our home study and then we’ll be working on immigration. Progress is happening, and we’ll keep moving forward!