I got this e-mail from our agency today. It made me chuckle:
I am currently reviewing your file to prepare for your dossier to be sent to China. China is very particular of the photos that are sent, so I need to be picky for you. After reviewing your photos you sent with your application, I will need the following additional photos to be sent to me as soon as possible, but not over nighted. The CCAA will use these pictures when it comes time to match you with your future child.
ALL ORIGINAL PICTURES NEED TO BE CLEAR. IF I AM ASKING FOR HOUSE PICTURES, THE ROOMS NEED TO BE CLUTTER FREE OF ITEMS. i.e. NEWSPAPERS OR TONS OF TOYS ON THE FLOOR, MEDICINES OR CLEANING SUPPLIES ON THE COUNTER TOPS, ETC. PICTURES OF PARENTS NEED TO DRESS CONSERVATIVE - SO NO SWIM SUITS OR TINY SPAGHETTI STRAPS PLEASE.
I need 2 passport photos for EACH of you - the standard 2 x 2 size only with white background
I need 3 different photos of your family including your doing something together - recreational, playing, baking, etc. ( if possible having the entire family in this photo is best; but I realize that this is not always possible. So if that is the case, then please send a few pictures with the mom only and the children and a few pictures of the Dad and the children only is fine....these may have to be posed....These pictures shows China that your family does things as a unit/team - very important!!)
I need 1 family photo with everyone in it - again semi formal is perfectly fine!
All other photos you sent with your application will be used for your picture presentation as well. Thank you ! ~T
So, I think we'll go apple picking and pose mid-pick, just to prove we "do things together" as a family (although who will take the picture?). It's just funny to me. Of course, I've spent lots of time now thinking about what activity/activities we actually DO, and which would be conveyed well via photos (dancing in the living room after dinner? Riding around in our car looking at houses? Have we missed beach season...oh, wait, no bathing suits!) Then, I realized that we don't do anything all together that seems particularly photo worthy (snuggling on the couch reading books? watching Dora? wrestling?). This seems doomed to be the first of a thousand tasks which I will over-think and then do hastily at the last possible minute.
Since I feel silly inviting someone over at an odd time (when we're all here) to take posed pictures of us, say riding our bikes, I think we'll have to go with the only-one-parent in the photo plan. Or will that send the wrong message?
This is going to be far more complicated than I thought! Can't I just write a paragraph about the things we like to do together?
Oh, and no clutter? Yikes. I hope the woman coming to our house for the home study doesn't mind clutter. The fire department was here last night (CO monitor went off) and they said this place was a virtual tinder box with all the boxes in the basement. I'm fairly certain they left here convinced they'd be back before winter was out. I'm slightly surprised they didn't just spray it all down for good measure. They seemed worried! If I wasn't afraid we'd all die of carbon monoxide poisoning, I probably woulnd't have let them in- I knew we would be cited for some fire hazard.
Anyway, I'll have to post our We-Do-Things-As-A-Family pictures once we get them! That should be good for a laugh!
I got this e-mail from our agency today. It made me chuckle:
Here's another post from a prospective China adoptive parent that made me laugh: The animal with the longest gestational period is not the giraffe nor the elephant (as I originally thought), but instead the Alpine Black Salamander. It remains pregnant for a maximum of 38 months (it can be as short a duration as 24 months: a lot depends on the altitude at which it lives). So ... I like to think of myself as an Alpine Black Salamander.
OK, math is depressing to people for various reasons, but here is some EXTREMELY depressing math for prospective China adoptive parents. Maybe this is only interesting to me. If so, skip this blog post and move on to the next one. Hopefully, it will, at the very least, be less demoralizing!
In order for all you adoption laymen to understand this post I'm copying from a message board, here is an explanation of terms:
* Dossier= the plethora of (expensive) paperwork you put together for the government of China to use to "match" you with a child
* CCAA=China Center of Adoption Affairs
* LID= the date your dossier is "logged in" at CCAA and you are officially considered to be waiting in line for a child (how awful does that make it sound?)
* Referral= the moment all adoptive parents wait for: the time when you are told of the child who you have been matched with; this comes with pictures and some information
* CHI= Children's Hope International (our adoption agency, at least for the moment- I'm still researcing)
* SN= Special Needs referral/adoption
* NSN= Non-special needs referral/adoption
* DOR= date of referral
* IA= International Adoption
Here's the message I copied that breaks the wait all down mathematically:
I think you can hope for 3.5 year wait for your referral, plan for 4 years and be prepared for 5.
I'm a research market analyst, so I love working with numbers...
The wait right now is close to two years and has more than doubled
in the last year and a half. My lid is 6/2/06 and it looks like it
will get to three years (if not more) by the time they get to my
month. It took them 6 months to process all the LIDs for November 2005 and March 2006 is
just as long if not longer. So, even if they do 15 day batches for
Dec 05, Jan/Feb/Apr/May 06 - those 12 months plus the 6 for March
put someone with a June 06 lid at a 3 1/2 year wait.
Two sites to use for calculations are:
(someone else posted this and it gives you an estimate as well as a
best-case-scenario and worst-case-scenario).
I really like this one because it lets you control the variables
(how many days you think the CCAA will do each month).
For those of you unfamiliar with the CCAA's referral history, the
average number of days they've done for the past 6 month has been 6
and for all of 2007 they've averaged 8 (largest batch was 19 days
and smallest was 2). To illustrate the lengthening wait, here are
the average numbers of days the CCAA referred by year:
2005 avg 26 days per month
2006 avg 12 days per month
2007 avg 8 days per month
We know the CCAA has stated they have received a record number of
applications. I believe this is true, but we don't have the actual
numbers. What we DO know though is that 2006 US adoptions were down
18% from 2005. And, we know CHI's referral numbers for this year
thus far (NSN and SN) that Ann posted earlier in the week which
reflect the overall numbers:
2003 - 306 (avg 25.5 days per month)
2004 - 443 (avg 37)
2005 - 498 (avg 41.5)
2006 - 368 (avg 31)
2007 through the end of September - 194 (avg 21.5)
So, a 31% drop in the average number of days per month vs. 06 and a
48% drop vs. 2005.
(A friend's agency told her that in the 9 months of 2007 they have
done 1/2 the referrals of 2006)!
More families, fewer babies made available for IA = the perfect
If you are interested in referral history average number of days I'm
listing it below.
DOR Thru # of days LID (this is how many dossiers were processed in China resulting in referrals for the time frame given)
4/18/2005 10/19/2004 33
5/25/2005 11/19/2004 31
6/24/2005 12/20/2004 31
7/29/2005 1/27/2004 38
9/1/2005 2/24/2005 28
10/3/2005 3/15/2005 19
11/10/2005 3/31/2005 16
12/8/2005 4/14/2005 14
1/2/2006 4/25/2005 11
1/25/2006 5/13/2005 18
2/27/2006 5/25/2005 12
3/27/2006 5/30/2005 5
4/27/2006 6/6/2005 7
5/26/2006 6/15/2005 9
6/26/2006 6/28/2005 13
7/31/2006 7/13/2005 15
8/24/2006 7/22/2005 9
9/25/2006 8/9/2005 18
11/3/2006 8/25/2005 16
11/30/2006 9/8/2005 14
1/3/2007 9/27/2005 19
2/1/2007 10/13/2005 16
3/5/2007 10/24/2005 11
4/9/2007 10/26/2005 2
4/30/2007 11/1/2005 6
6/5/2007 11/7/2005 6
7/5/2007 11/14/2005 7
8/2/2007 11/21/2007 7
9/3/2007 11/25/2007 4
10/3/2007 11/30/2007 5
Math has never been more depressing.
Survivor China. Is this the best season of Survivor ever, or is it just me? I can barely focus on the show I'm so distracted by all the surroundings and my thoughts. Could our next child be coming from that very countryside? It's a really surreal thing. Hard to explain. Anyway, I was COMPLETELY distracted tonight by the arrival at one winning tribe's camp of a local fisherman and his family. I fully expected to see more than two generations, and I was right. There was a grandfather accompanying the family. Although, now that I type that, I guess I'm assuming it was the grandfather. It's an educated guess.
I was pretty surprised, however, to see two kids- a son and a daughter. This wouldn't have been all that surprising if the daughter had been older, but she wasn't. Typically, if the family had a son, that would be it. If they had another child (and had the misfortune of living in a province or area where the laws were strictly adhered to), they would have paid a very high fine (equal to usually one or two years salary) for having her. Maybe they live in a less restrictive area, and they didn't have to pay a high fine. I just couldn't help but stare at the wife/mother though. Women just like her (and possibly even her) all over China have been forced to abandon their babies who they surely loved because of their government. I cannot even imagine. If she hasn't given up a baby, she surely knows someone who has. It is just so sad. So sad, because these children being adopted out of China HAVE FAMILIES. The climate there just makes it impossible for these families to remain intact. In fact, as I have been reading, I was surprised to find out that many of the girls abandoned are most likely second daughters since the parents tried for a boy after having a girl, but then could not keep their second daughter (and pay the fine) because they felt as though they had to have a son (fines are more likely paid for the second child when it is a son- that's considered an investment). In China, a son is who takes care of the parents in their old age. Daughters are expected to take care of their husband's parents. So, many girls being adopted out of China are thought (with good reason) to have not only parents, but a sibling (probably a sister). I have a hard time getting my mind around that.
I wonder a lot what it will be like to look into this little child's eyes and know that there is another set of parents somewhere wondering if their child is ok. I feel honored to be a part of giving that child a family when I think about that. These men and women risk everything to give their children up (there is no legal way to put a child up for adoption in China, but abandoning a baby is a major offense there as it is here in the US), and they do so with the sincere hope, I believe, of their child having a better life. It is truly a courageous choice especially since many people in China don't abandon the babies they can't keep......it is hard for me to imagine that what I have read is true, but, many girl babies are killed shortly after birth. That is so unfathomable, but I am thankful that some courageous families at least choose to give their daughters (or sons, in some cases where there is a medical issue) a chance at life.
Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about while watching Survivor every Thursday. That, and wondering why the mountains in China look so different from they mountains I've ever seen before (tall and skinny). So weird.
My first blog post. Finally. Since I have been wanting to start this for some time now, this actually seems a little late. Oh well. Where do I begin? I could go way back, but I guess I'll start with the most recent developments. On Friday, we got a call saying that our application was approved by the adoption agency we chose: Children's Hope International. We chose it after lots of research and after a recommendation from a family we trust (the wife works for them now after adopting from China). It was exciting! We should be getting our packet of stuff to guide us in the dossier making process any day now.
However, over the weekend I was reading a lot on a message board for China adoptive parents. Just as when you have a small medical problem and you check out the internet, this is not always a wise thing to do as it makes you jump to the worst-case scenario. ANYWAY, on this message board, the topic of how long the wait is/will be for adoptive parents was brought up. For those of you who have no idea about adoptions and such (as I didn't just a few hort months ago), China is currently in a dramatic slow down that has been caused by a lot of factors which I won't bore everyone with. The wait from having your dossier logged in in China (LID: Log in Date....you need to start getting to know the lingo! :) )to referral (the time you are matched with a child and given his/her info) is currently 22 months and lengthening by one month fwith each passing month). Do the math. That's not a good thing to hear. In fact, it is downright depressing. Just two short years ago adoptive parents were getting referrals in 8 months! Now, these people on the message board were talking about a 4, 5, 8, and even possibly 10 year wait. Now, even those alarmists admit it doesn't seems highly likely, but if you look at the numbers and trends for the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs.....there will be a test later), it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. Even so, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. At any rate, it took my excitement over the approved application, and stomped all over it.
It was a long weekend waiting for Monday at 9 AM when I could call a few agencies and get the story as they see it. First, I called a Christian agency that had been our second choice. I don't even know why I called them at all, but I did. The woman spent 30 minutes on the phone with me through various interruptions here (including Chloe throwing up on herself) giving me her thoughts, information and impressions. While assuring me that they really don't know what the wait will look like in a year or two, they truly feel that (for many reasons she listed to me, I'll spare you all the details) the wait will top out at about 36 months. While it may hold there for a bit, it should start to decrease after that. We will have to endure the peak of the wait, but it may speed up towards the end of our process. At any rate, she thought the wait getting to 5+ years sounded ridiculous (while admitting that everything is pure speculation). My logic tells me the same thing. Everything she said to me sounded much more realistic than the doom and gloom from the message boards which I suspect had as its goal to scare people away from applying to China- many posters said as much (for what purpose, I don't know specifically, but selfish motives for sure).
I then called the woman here in Nashua who is our essentially our case manager. She basically told me the same thing as the first lady, but all the while she was huffing and puffing as if she was irritated that I was reading anything on the internet at all and that she had to answer my ridiculous questions. She ended the conversation by saying that if I ever had any questions about anything to "CALL ME". I thought that was a strange comment since she seemed so irritated to be answering my questions. However, looking back at it, I realize that what she meant was to call her INSTEAD OF reading anything on the internet. At any rate, I didn't like the conversation very much. She didn't have the great info the first lady did and certainly didn't treat me nicely.
So, we feel strongly about China and we want to continue in that program (as opposed to looking into another country like Korea). However, we are thinking about switching agencies. The more I look into the other agency (America World Adoption Agency) now that I know more, I see some things that are more appealing to us. The fact that the woman from CHI is here is Nashua is a big plus though as she knows exactly how things work in NH and can be helpful to me that way. AWAA doesn't have anyone in NH. Anyway, we are weighing the pros and cons and plan to make a decision here quickly. No matter what, one things is for sure, every day that goes by that our dossier isn't in China is a day that makes the wait longer. So, I have to make speedy work of getting our dossier together. And by speedy I mean that I'm hoping to do it in 4 months instead of 6. Since I have to depend on lots of local and state level government agencies (not just in NH, but ANYWHERE we've EVER lived) to be timely in their processes, I don't have a whole lot of hope of getting our dossier in anytime before April of next year.
I'm not a fan of waiting. This is a lesson I'll be learning over the next......however many years! I'll keep you posted! :)