Sunday, June 30, 2013

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Thursday was the anniversary of the first awarded Newberry Medal.  I guess I don't talk about books much on this blog, which is odd, since we kind of live and breathe them here.  Both Luke and Katie love books--being read to and reading them (which means paging through them or reciting them from memory).  We always bring books to any appointments we have, and despite their weight, there are always a few favorites that make it on the plane.
There was a time in my life when I actually read too much (according to my mom), and reading non-school books had to be rationed so that I'd finish my chores.  I have many, many old favorites from my childhood, but probably one of my most favorite is Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, the Newberry Award winner from 1956.  This may be the root of my favorite hero type--the one who, by dint of his or her prodigious intelligence and excellent work ethic, succeeds at whatever task has been presented.  It's an amazing story of overcoming hardship as well, and I'm still inspired by him.  I'm looking forward to reading it to my children someday.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More Running

You may remember my somewhat facetious post about running with a jogging stroller.  Although I could go running at night now that it's summer, I still prefer getting it over in the morning.  I get a whole two days to enjoy marking it off my list, instead of dreading it all day and wondering if I'll have enough energy after supper.  Running with the kids has also been a better workout--I think I've lost a few pounds since I started doing three miles with them.  It helps that I've changed my route a little.  I was doing a loop that included a rather steep hill two times, but facing that hill twice was pretty daunting.  Now I head up the street for my second mile, which means my return trip is almost all down hill.  The only downside I've really noticed is that I tend to get stitches in my side more often with the stroller, but it's not too bad.  Finally, I think it's good for the kids to see that staying healthy is a priority, and it's nice to get them outside, even if they're in the stroller. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Biometrics Done

I'm not sure what I was expecting for our appointment yesterday, but I was not expecting it to be so low-key.  I'm glad we left so early--it was pretty far away, and since neither of us is very familiar with that area, it took us a few tries once we were down there to actually find the support center.  We walked into a big room with a check-in desk, chairs for waiting, and a work area at the back.  The officer at the front had us fill out a sheet of information, then sent us right back to the woman who was doing the fingerprinting.  That part was kind of cool because she used a scanning machine to take the fingerprints instead of doing the old ink method.  Then we were done.  There was no interview or anything else; it really was just getting our fingerprints.  Now I think we wait for paperwork to arrive in the mail, get it to our agency in CO, and then we will have everything we need to be DTC!

Monday, June 24, 2013

USCIS Appointment Today

We have our immigrations appointment today.  Unfortunately the location is a good 30 minutes from our house, so I've been a little anxious about traveling there and not being late.  I'll be picking up David at work, then we'll be driving down there together.  I'll try to post an update tonight or tomorrow, but in the meantime, you can de-stress with me by looking at this bounty of green growing things.  First:  I'm not a gardener, and my thumb has historically been black, rather than green.  But take a look at those tomato plants!  I don't know why or how, but they seem to be doing quite well to me.  We have baby tomatoes on all of them, and I can't wait for them to ripen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's Not That Complicated

When it comes to breakfast toppings, apparently I'm complicated.  To me, it makes perfect sense, but I think other people are somewhat bewildered by the following rundown:

0.  Butter, of course, is a non-negotiable.  If you're going to have nice white carbs for breakfast with more white carbs on top, add a healthy dose of animal fat. 

1.  Pancakes = Granulated sugar.  Before you wrinkle your brow, consider that pancake syrup is pretty much sugar with water added to it.  Since the butter kind of soaks into the pancake, the granulated sugar sits on top and adds a nice textural crunch.  If you're feeling special, you can try coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar.

2.  Waffles = Syrup.  The little boxes contain the syrup so it doesn't spread all over your plate, and you get a nice dose with each bite.  I prefer Lyle's Golden Syrup rather than pancake or maple syrup.  For an extra dose of decadence, top with whipped cream.

3.  French Toast = Powdered Sugar.  Basically, I like icing on my french toast.  Because the custard tends to form a relative shield against the butter soaking into the bread, if you put the butter on while it's hot and then add the powdered sugar, it all mixes together and tada, icing. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Consulate Complete

I posted a while back about my encounter with the Chinese Consulate in LA.  For whatever reason, they thought our agency didn't have the proper documentation to process adoptions.  Our tireless counselor has been trying to get word since then as to whether they've processed our paperwork, and it sounds like they finally did.  She has received all our authenticated papers from the consulate, so the last item needed for our dossier is the USCIS approval.  We could be DTC (dossier to China) by the end of July! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Time to Think

I mentioned that the adoption has been slowing down, and I think it's going to be that way for a while now.  Even so, I sometimes get this mental picture and thought process that goes through my head.  It's the "Are we REALLY doing this?" one.  We've talked and planned for this, but in less than a year, we're going to be that family.  The conspicuous one, the one where people ask weird/rude/personal questions and I have to decide how to respond that will be best for my children.  The family that will deal with questions about China, and why God put our daughter in this family instead of her biological one, and attachment, and so many other things.  It'll be a wonderful adventure, but it'll be hard. 

The mental picture that often accompanies this is a wave, pushing me towards a cliff.  Despite all the probable delays, we are inexorably moving towards what feels like a precipice--it feels bigger than getting married, or even having biological kids, or moving, or whatever life changes I've experienced.  This is our life now, and after the adoption our life will be completely different.  And there is no going back. 

This is not cold feet.  I'm not having second thoughts about the adoption.  I've absolutely confident that this is the time and the plan that God has give us, and we're walking down His path right now.  But still, it's a little crazy.  I try to remember two things when this picture comes to mind.

1.  The inexorable wave bearing down on me is not the adoption, but life.  The adoption is a big event that will change our lives, one that we've invited and pursued.  But every day brings possible changes--I'm not one to dwell on the bad things that would change our life, but I could wake up to a totally new life without David or the kids or my family or my health or something else completely.

2.  There is only this certainty:  We throw ourselves on the mercy of God every day.  Whether we'd chosen another biological child, or a newborn domestic adoption, or nothing more, He guides our path.  That is how I get up out of bed and move forward, despite the enormous realm of possibilities that could occur.  I'm certainly not drowning in that wave, or falling down that cliff.  I'm running towards it, and I'm going to leap off and fly, carried to a glorious end, guided by the only One who surely can. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Summer Project Update

At the beginning of May I posted about a few summer projects that I'd like to accomplish.  I guess if you look at the summer as a whole, I'm making good progress.  If you think about how long these tasks would take if I just buckled down and did them...well, whatever.  :)

--Bible Memory Passage book:  I'm almost done with finding and formatting the passages to print in my notebook.  Susan brought hers (which she managed to save before leaving the roost...), so I can check my list against hers and see if I'm missing anything.  I also bought the paper and binder, which is a less easy sounding task when you consider that taking the kids in and out of the car took longer than buying the materials. 

--Manipulatives for Katie:  Ha.  The 'progress' I've made is to bring home my mom's stack of felt from our homeschooling days, but I also finally remembered to buy sticky post-it tabs so I can start making some choices about projects and such for the fall.  

--More organizing:  Success!  I bought a little cubby hole shelf with bins, and that's helped a lot in terms of containing and hiding the mess.  But there's always more.  As the fall approaches, I have dreams of making the guest room closet into a homeschooling closet with everything organized into bins. 

The last big project is the freezer/meals, which probably deserves its own post.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Some Distractions

There have definitely been times in the last 4 months that I've wondered what in the world I thought about before the adoption process got started.  At times it's consumed my every waking thought (and many when I should have been sleeping).  I'm sure part of it was dealing with the massive list of papers that we had to collect, as well as all the books that we've been reading. 

This consuming nature seems to be abating somewhat.  Perhaps it's because we're kind of done with the paperwork on our end, and/or because much of it is out of our control now.  I've also had some great distractions.  As you may have guessed, we traveled for a while in May.  I'm hesitant to talk about traveling on the internet, but I guess I should be better about scheduling some posts while I'm busy hanging with the family.  :)  My sister graduated from medical school and my cousin got married, and frankly, even without those things, my family is pretty distracting just due to its size (in a very fun and awesome way). 

I've had another family distraction for the last few days, but now it's happening here in NM.  And it'll be long term!  My sister decided to do her residency here, and the program put her on their match list.  Despite the fact that I've known about it for months now, it's still a little surreal and unbelievable that she's moving into an apartment and actually living in the same town.  We'll be attending the same church (when she's off).  I've lived at least a plane flight away from my immediate family since I got married almost 10 years ago.  Anyway, she's here now, so I'm having lots of fun helping her get settled. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

In Preparation

We've read a fair amount of books in preparation for this adoption.  If you know David or me, I'm sure you're not surprised--we're both preppers.  :)  A lot of the books cover worst case scenarios, talking about the effects of being in an institution, the problems with lack of stimulation in the first year, sensory disorders, attachment issues, and the list goes on.  It's best to be prepared for the worst, I suppose, but I also hear plenty of stories where the family integration and attachment is not so bad, or even pretty good.

And right now, about all I can do is pray and ask God to let that be the case for us.  As someone pointed out yesterday, He's the only one at this point who knows the identity of our child.  It's very tempting to do a bit of negotiating in my prayers, something along the lines of:

"You know we're adopting with small children, right?  And we think this is what you want for us perhaps for this first adoption, the one with small children, could we have an easier one?"

"I know that to him who has been given much, much will be expected.  And you've given David and me so much...but maybe for the adoption, could you not expect too much?"

It's more difficult to ask God for the adoption scenario that brings Him the most glory, whether that be a wonderfully smooth one or a very difficult one.  Whatever happens, at least He is in control, and as I tell myself often, He will give us the strength to face it. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Another I-797C!

I can imagine that some people would be very nervous to receive a letter from Homeland Security, but I knew what this one was before I opened it.  We now have an appt at USCIS Albuquerque to get all our biometrics taken! 

I've recently joined a group for other families in the China adoption process, and it's been really fun to share with them too.  I've been learning more about the lingo and all the little steps involved in the process.  The next big step for us will be DTC, or dossier to China.  I'll be checking in with our counselor on Monday to see where we stand with the Chinese Consulate.  That process seems to be concurrent with, but not related to, our immigration stuff, but it all has to be done before we can send things off to China.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Let the Games Begin

Yesterday I fielded a call from the Chinese Consulate in LA.  They informed me that our agency was not accredited with the Hague Convention, and that 'all' I had to do was switch agencies and fill out a new application form.  To be honest, there was a fair part of the call where I thought it was some kind of weird adoption scam.  But he never asked me for money, and at some point I realized that this Chinese man I was speaking with was probably actually with the Chinese Consulate.  I'm not sure how much he understood from me--I kept trying to tell him that there must be a misunderstanding between our agency and the consulate--but I managed to convince him not to send everything back to us and made a quick call to our agency in CO.  Our counselor thinks they didn't get the Hague accreditation paperwork for some reason, so she faxed it over and tried to call them back.  I guess she couldn't get through to check with them, so we're still a little in limbo.

This isn't the current bottleneck in our process (that would be US Immigrations), so I'm not really worried.  It'd be nice to hear back from them at some point, though.

Note to adopters:  If you get a call like this, best to ask for a reference number!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Form I-797C

Imagine my excitement when we arrived home to discover a letter from Homeland Security in our mail pile.  Although our counselor said it's best to have no expectations on the timeline for receiving our immigration paperwork, there was a tiny part of me that wondered if our application would be the miraculous 'we received it in a week!' paperwork.  Ah, no.  At the very top of the Form I-797C is the following statement:  THIS NOTICE DOES NOT GRANT ANY IMMIGRATION STATUS OR BENEFIT.  However, we do know that they have received our application (on May 21) and have sent it on to the Hague Adoption Unit, which is something.  :)  They estimate 10-14 business days for delivery from the received date, so that means our application could be at the Adoption Unit right now.  They've even put a handy 'Next Steps' on the notice, which says our next step is to wait (of course) for a biometrics appointment.  I'm trying to remember the last time I waited for something this exciting to arrive in the mail...possibly my college acceptance letter?  What was yours?