Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Light colored hair

So, heard today that the cute and endearing light hair on Lucy could be a vitamin deficiency. I have no idea what to do for a 2 year old for vitamins - Flintstones chewables in China?? I'm going to have to hit the internet and find out what I can about vitamin issues in kids.

A quick google has showed me that there are issues with Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iron and Mineral deficiencies, and much more. Headlines include:

Yikes - it just goes on and on. I guess I won't beg for trouble until I know that there is an issue. And I'll pack Fred and Wilma to join us on the trip.

Breathing deep

Yay - it's getting closer! I wrote the check today, so it's got to be real! Second major check, and only another couple dozen to go!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Homestudy Authentication

Thank goodness for M - she was able to drive to Oly today in order to authenticate the home study from my HS agency. That should be done by now (unless they are eating at the bakery by the capital) and on Monday I can send a check, along with fees to the consulate, for all the docs.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

China won't loosen one-child policy

NYT article on China and the one child policy - basically stating that they realize that the one child policy is in part to blame for infant abandonment and the growing gender imbalance in China.

With the change in policy, increased media attention on international adoptions and China specifically, and the upcoming Olympics in 2008, I hope that China may revisit some of the changes post-Olympics, and start placing more children in homes.


Documents sent to CHS yesterday. I was able to send off:
  • Updated Police Clearance
  • Updated medical
  • Letter to CCAA requesting to adopt (love that, since I have PA)
  • Letter of Heterosexuality (yes, I'm single...)
  • Letter of employment
Just waiting for my updated guardian letter to arrive, and I'll send the check later this week, and the dossier should be off by Feb 2nd... TGDTC.

When I talked with the agency yesterday to confirm, they are now thinking I'll travel in early May to early June, instead of sometime in April. Can't wait to figure it all out...

NYTimes Editorial

In todays New York Times Beth Nonte Russell writes about the "Mystery of the Chinese Baby Shortage".

It is just my two cents, but I believe the wait time for referral is primarily a infrastructure/organizational issue of the CCAA being able to process children into their system, and then quickly and efficiently match them out. From all research I’ve read, this is NOT an issue about having children available for adoption. So—instead of improving process to make matches faster and find homes for children, CCAA will reduce the number of families being matched to their existing infrastructure. At the same time, it appears that overall international applications are up a small amount, although domestic Chinese adoptions are up significantly.

While I understand the great need to be sure that the families that these children go to are exemplary, the real goal should be finding loving, capable homes for these children - and the millions of others WW who are in need of homes.

I hope that CCAA will work to improve infrastructure and matching abilities, and process children inbound in order to place with families, while keeping their ability to place more children into loving homes - either in China or internationally.

Here is the text of the article if the link above does not work:

January 23, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
The Mystery of the Chinese Baby Shortage
McLean, Va.

ACCORDING to a State Department report released this week, American citizens adopted 6,493 children from China in 2006, a decline of 18 percent from the previous year’s total of 7,906. And yet, just over a month ago, this newspaper reported that China had prepared strict new criteria for foreign adoption applications because the country claimed it lacked “available” babies to meet the “spike” in demand.

China has always limited foreign adoptions, and it does not publish reliable statistics on the number of children in its orphanages. So how is one to know whether the decrease in adoptions reflects a lack of supply or a lack of demand?

In the week following the report on the new guidelines, more than one bewildered person said to me, “But I thought there were lots of babies in orphanages in China!” My response was to helplessly reply, “So did I.” My understanding of this was based not on conjecture, but on having been to China twice to adopt, having seen orphanages with my own eyes, and on research and other eyewitness accounts. Many hundreds and perhaps thousands of orphanages operate in China, most of them full of girls.

According to a February 2005 report in The Weekend Standard, a Chinese business newspaper, demographers in China found a ratio of 117 boys per 100 girls under the age of 5 in the 2000 census. Thanks to China’s one-child policy, put into effect in 1979 in order to curb population growth, and a strong cultural preference for male children, this gender gap could result in as many as 60 million “missing” girls from the population by the end of the decade, enough to alarm even Chinese officials.

And what happened to these girls? According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (a term that takes on a whole new meaning when referring to China), there are about seven million abortions in China per year, 70 percent of which are estimated to be of females. That adds up to around five million per year, or 50 million by the end of the decade; so where are the other 10 million girls? If even 10 percent end up in orphanages... well, you do the math.

A few months ago, in a conversation with my friend Patrick Mason, executive director of the International Adoption Center at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, I confessed a growing fear: that China, the country from which my two daughters were adopted, would sooner or later shut down its international adoption program. Dr. Mason immediately dismissed my concern, saying, “The number of orphans is just too great.”
And yet, I continued to wonder whether, as China increasingly asserts itself on the world stage and prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, allowing Westerners to adopt thousands of infants each year would fit the image it wanted to project. I suspect not, and China’s new restrictions lead me to believe that national pride is more important than getting these children into loving homes.

The issue of abandoned and institutionalized children remains a taboo subject in China, a problem the government does not even acknowledge exists. The impulse to hide it seems to stem partly from embarrassment and partly from fear of revealing the grave human rights abuses the one-child policy has produced; surely, watching a parade of well-off foreigners cart off thousands of babies would make the Chinese authorities understandably uncomfortable.

But the answer is not to stop the foreigners from adopting; it is to put an end to their reasons for doing so. My fondest hope, and the hope of thousands of parents who have adopted from China, is for all the orphanages there to close because there are no more abandoned children to put in them. This will be accomplished only when China decides that there is no economic or political justification for the magnitude of suffering that has resulted from the one-child policy. The government must openly acknowledge the problem, in part by publishing verifiable information about the status of its orphaned children, and take real steps to correct it. To do so would go a long way toward building the international trust and respect China seems to want so badly.

China has announced the lifting of restrictions for foreign journalists in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. Perhaps this will allow reporters to look for answers to some basic questions: how many children are there in institutions in China? If there is nothing to hide, why do visitors need approval to visit orphanages? Why are only certain orphanages allowed to participate in the international adoption program, and what is going on in the ones that are not?

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to which China and 69 other countries are signatories, goes a long way toward ensuring against child abduction and trafficking; but it does not include provisions that would require member countries to report such information as the number of children housed in institutions or the criteria used for selecting “suitable” children for adoption.

The treaty states that “for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality,” each child should have the opportunity to grow up in a “family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.” Indeed, it requires that each signatory take “as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin.” One could argue that China’s one-child policy directly violates the treaty by ensuring that many children will not remain in the care of the family but be relinquished to the care of the state.

Under the new Chinese adoption guidelines, the international adoption celebrity Angelina Jolie could not adopt from China (she’s not married, and alas, she and Brad have more than two divorces between them, which is a no-no); nor could the actress Meg Ryan (again, not married). Another person who is not eligible is yours truly. My husband is over 50, so I would have to trade him in, marry again, wait the required five years (another new rule) before beginning the adoption process, and by that time I would be sneaking up on 50 myself.

It is comforting to know that Madonna is still eligible, at least until she turns 50, gets fat (the new regulations call for a body mass index of less than 40), gets divorced or goes broke (anyone with a net worth of under $80,000 is excluded).

The Chinese have asserted that the demand for adoptions far exceeds the number of babies it deems “available,” based on criteria that have never been made public. We can only wonder how many babies will be left behind by Beijing’s new policies — perhaps spending their lives in institutions because of these arbitrary and artificial limits.

Beth Nonte Russell is the author of the forthcoming “Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother’s Journey to Adoption in China” and the co-founder of the Golden Phoenix Foundation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What I did today...

Okay. This morning, in the snow (it doesn't snow here often) I was able to make my way to city hall, and the police station for my clearance. For a mere $10 I now have certifiable evidence that I am currently not a threat to society, at least as far as the City of Bellevue can determine. Yesterday I completed my financial statement, intent doc (looks like what I filled out before, so I'm not sure what the details are on it) and started on my employment verification. Thursday is the updated medical with my doctor, and then Friday everything can go to my agency. Yay!

Becky heads to China!

Another friend is off to China to meet her new daughter, Chloe. She has set up a blog that I'll list on here, but you can also visit it here. She flies tomorrow, and Thursday should be the big day. Very exciting!

Friday, January 12, 2007

I completely forgot

I forgot to tell you - I have new pictures of Xiao Mai! She is not 20 months - almost 21 months - old, and doing great. Her developmental updates look great, and I'm thrilled that she is doing so well. I've gotten most of the dossier docs in, and the rest should be sent next week.

Here is the latest picture!

CNN Jumps in on the change for adoption laws in China

Wow. CNN has an opinion. Everyone has an opinion. The new adoption laws that China is floating around are pretty interesting. No fat parents, no facial deformity parents, no single parents, no young or old parents...

View the video

Friday, January 5, 2007

First embryo bank opens

I can't believe this!

"A Texas company has started producing batches of ready-made embryos that single women and infertile couples can order after reviewing detailed information about the race, education, appearance, personality and other characteristics of the egg and sperm donors."

What next in the realm of trying to look like you have the designer built family that you want! Good grief. I can't say any more right now...

Rob heading to China

A collegue of mine is heading to China to meet his new duaghter! They leave this weekend, and will meet her next week. He has a blog that he has started, and I can't wait to read it and keep up with their trip. It also includes extraordinary video of his new daughter!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

New Day

Well, today I figured I'd stop working on all of the individual emails that I send out on adoption and start something of my own. So here I am with a blog that I have no idea how I'm going to keep up on. But - I'm going to give it a shot.

So, I'm an adoptive mom with two amazing girls from China. Gwenn is 7.5 and from Nanning in Guangxi Province, and Ella is 5 and from Pingnan in Guangxi Province. We recently found out that we have a new little sister waiting for us in Fujian Province, at the Xiamen Social Welfare Institute. Her name is Xiao Mai, and she is just over 20 months old.

I've been waiting for her for almost two years, and it's been a tough road. I've looked at dozens of waiting child files - I was hoping for a 3-5 year old - but most that were available had too significant special needs, and I was afraid that I would not be able to be the parent that they needed. So the waiting continued. My I-600A was done and I was ready to go the "regular" route asking for an older child when I got word from an agency that they had a child that met almost all of what I wanted - except she was younger than I was looking for. That was Xiao Mai. After hustling, I got my LOI (letter of intent) in and sent to the CCAA, and just before Christmas got my present - finding out that I will be able to adopt Xiao Mai when I received my pre-approval!