Wednesday, June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004, Part II

I've been doing some shopping for the trip.  I bought a bunch of wooden puzzles to donate to the Baby House, some photo albums to give as gifts, some shoes for Melanie (just guessing on the size!  If they don't fit, I'll donate them!)  The "little" pile on her toddler bed is growing daily.  Christian and I went to a bookstore today and found a lovely coffee-table book about North Carolina.

For the uninitiated, we take "token" gifts (souvenirs, mostly) to show our appreciation for all the work everyone in Kazakhstan does to complete our adoption.  We give small gifts to the caregivers who took care of our children for the early years of their life.   They never seem enough ... 

Thought I would add a map of Kazakhstan for the geographically challenged.  For the record, Uralsk (shown as the Russified Oral on this map) is where Lisa was born ... in the far northwest.  Melanie is from Taldy-Korgan (not on this map) which is approximately halfway between Almaty (far southeast, and former capital) and Khorogos.  Also note Kazakhstan's position vis a vis Russia and China.  (Every time I get a blank stare when I mention Kazakhstan, I say, "South of Russia, West of China".  That usually gets an "ooohhhh, I see..."

How do we get there?  There is a flight direct from Charlotte to Frankfurt or Munich; then a direct flight from there to Almaty.  Sounds easy, huh?

June 30, 2004

Here we go again ... I've been having trouble with the old WebPage, so I decided to try again with a new server ... good old AOL!  Let's see if this one is a little more accessible than before. 

Our dossier is supposed to be released from New York today.  Wow.  Now we're truly in the "waiting for travel dates" mode.  We have two more little "chores" to do:  we have to have our police clearances and our I-171-H notarized, certified and apostilled.  This means a trip to the Lincoln County courthouse for a stamp, and then sending them off to Raleigh for apostille by the Secretary of State.  (This is an offical looking document with lots of gold letters and a big seal, saying that our notary was duly qualified to be a notary.  Pretty redundant if you ask me, but standard ops in international adoption!)  This is a recent addition to the list of paperwork we need.  But hey, we jump when we are told to jump!

Oh ... you want to know what agency we're using?  World Partners Adoption,  They are the best!

June 26, 2004

Adoption-wise, not much to report! The other day I went to Office Depot and bought binders and tabs to get myself organized! I have been so lax with the paperwork. I found a notebook that I kept when we adopted Lisa and it was perfectly indexed and alphabetized. I need to be sure not to get complacent with things; I may find myself in trouble!

Out shopping yetserday I wandered into the Mac store at the mall and struck up a conversation with an Asian salesman there. He asked if Lisa was my daughter, and we started talking about her adoption, and the fact that he was adopted himself from Korea. He was 5 years old at the time, but remembers nothing. I asked him all about how he felt about being adopted, etc. I was a little disheartened when he said he had no contact with his adoptive parents. He told me if I just loved my children unconditionally, they would be fine; something that he didn't get growing up. It was a very enlightening conversation! Wish I could sit and talk to him for a few more hours!

June 24, 2004

A little activity: we received our I-171-H, Notice of Favorable Determination, etc., which means that we now have the permission of the Citizenship and Immigration Service to bring Melanie into the country. Beth is sending us copies of our police clearances. We have to have both of these documents certified and apostilled to carry with us to Kaz. We have some new pictures of Melanie, too.

Something to worry about: the Olympic Games are being held in Athens this year, possibly making getting flights to Europe tricky.

I found some inflatable beach balls at the dollar store, and bought a bunch to take for the kids.

June 20, 2004

Our dossier will be released from New York on June 30, so some activity should pick up here shortly. I can't remember how long it was between translation and travel last time; at any rate things have changed significantly since then. Still waiting patiently for our I-171-H, permission from the INS to bring Melanie into the USA.

June 4, 2004 Part 2

A poem I found on the internet, posted anonymously...

is not
head bowed, submissive, industrious
model minority
hard working, studious

is not being
Lotus blossom, exotic passion flower

in no talking
ahh so, ching chong chinaman
no tickee, no washee

is a white man's word
Oriental is jap, flip, chink, gook
it's "how 'bout a back rub mama-san"
it's "you people could teach them niggers
and mexicans a thing or two
you're good people
none of that hollerin' and protesting"

is slanty eyes, glasses, and buck teeth
Charlie Chan, Tokyo Rose, Madam Butterfly
it's "a half hour after eating chinese food
you're hungry again"
it's houseboys, gardeners, and laundrymen
Oriental is a fad: yin-yang, kung fu
"say one of them funny words for me"
Oriental is downcast eyes, china doll
"they all look alike"
Oriental is sneaky
Oriental is a white man's word

ARE NOT Oriental.
We have learned the word all our lives
we have learned to be Oriental
we have learned to live it, speak it,
play the role
The time has come
to look at who gave the name.

June 4, 2004

Last night I was at dinner with friends, and we began talking about adoption. One other girl at dinner had just brought her daughter home from China. I wish I could educate people about sensitive issues in adoption. Here are some things that I have been asked, and how I wish I had responded at the time:

My daughter(s) are Asian, not Oriental. Oriental is a lamp or a rug.

"How much did it cost?" is not an appropriate question. I usually say something like, "Not as much as your last new car ..." to emphasize how most people wouldn't think twice about plunking down $20K or so for a new vehicle. Isn't a child more precious than a car? And no, we don't have piles of money lying around our house (people have said, "wow you must be rich!) We used creative financing. That's all I will say about that.

"Do you know anything about her real parents?" We are her real parents.

"Gee, why would you go overseas to adopt when there are so many kids here that need homes?" Well, in our case, we wanted to travel overseas to find our daughter. I grew up in Southeast Asia, and studied Russian language and history all through college. I felt very connected to a Russian-speaking country, and knew that our daughter was Asian. Hence, we found her in Kazazkhstan.

May 18, 2004

Not much to report, other than David had his fingerprints done last Friday. He was in & out in less than 20 minutes; timing is everything!

May 31, 2004

Nothing to post, really ... just wanted to put something on here to note the passing of time. It's hard to believe that it's June, and travel will be "next month" if all goes well. We were happy to hear from a family just returned from T-K that some of the more remote areas are still waiving the post-court waiting periods, and furthermore are waiving them for medical reasons. So either way we may be looking at a shorter trip. Nevertheless, we can't expect that; we still have to be prepared for a long stay.

April 28, 2004

Received our completed, apostilled dossier from the agency today. I'm not sure if it has gone to Kazakhstan or not. Our adoption coordinator is out on maternity leave, so I'll email her and find out what our status is. We are supposed to have heard from the BCIS (INS) by this week ... if not our social worker is going to "nudge" them. Other than that, there is no news.

May 7, 2004

Happy Mother's Day! Earlier this week we received notice from the BCIS (formerly INS) of our fingerprinting appointments. I am going to be in Louisiana with my family on the date they gave me, so I decided to just walk in today. It was so interesting to see the different nationalities represented. Most of them were there for their Green Card interviews, or fingerprinting to GET their Green Card. There were brightly printed flowing gowns of the women from Africa, with their matching head wraps; silky saris on the women from India or Pakistan ... lots of Asian folks speaking rapid-fire Chinese or Khmer; and elegant Russian men & women chatting with each other. I was dying to know how they all got here, and what their stories were. I felt a touch of pride in my little blue US Passport, but a little sadness, too, that I had such a valuable document, and these people had probably been through hell & high water to come to this country, and are starting at the very bottom to work their way up in society. I felt extremely fortunate and a little uncomfortable at how easy our lives are here, and how much the rest of the world struggles on a daily basis. Hmm.. guess I had a real United Nations experience today!

Anyway ... I was printed without incident, and David will go next Saturday the 15th to have his done. Then it should be fairly quick that we get our I-171-H, approval to bring Melanie into the country.

April 19, 2004

No real news. We did get our final, correct homestudy in, and Fed Ex'ed it off to Atlanta (to the agency) on Wednesday. So we are officially, finally, paper ready! Now we just wait. And prepare. I ordered a new toddler bed for Melanie, and it arrived already! I know, why a toddler bed? Because it doesn't take up as much room! Room is at a premium around here, and hopefully she will sleep in it for a couple of years. It will fit nicely in Lisa's room. We do still have the boys' crib, so if she is still in that, she can sleep in that for a while too. We're ready either way.

April 12, 2004

Happy Easter! Friday we received our final drafts of our homestudy. I was all set to rush to Fed Ex to send it to the agency, but found that there was a minor typo, so have to wait to get corrected pages.

Also heard today that the laws in Taldy-Korgan (where Karina lives) have changed, and we will be in the country for three weeks rather than two before David can leave to come home. <sigh> That is the nature of the beast, unfortunately. Actually, we will both be coming home for two weeks before taking custody of her, as they are requiring that families take two trips. Should make for an interesting summer!

April 7, 2004

Minor glitch ... the language in the homestudy was not quite right. Beth had to "tweak" it a little bit. No big deal.

Today we're leaning towards the name Melanie. David has a cousin named Melannie but we'll spell it a little differently. This is today. It may change tomorrow. Who knows? This is very hard! We're naturally excluding all the "botanical" names, like Rose (Branch) and Olive (Branch) and Lily (Branch). That would just be too cruel! Although David's nickname as a child was Twig.

April 6, 2004

As of right now, our dossier is complete, except for our homestudy, which was done by Beth Krissel, of A Way for Children ( Beth did our homestudy for Lisa's adoption, so it was just an update from then. The report is done, but in the process of being "county certified" and then apostilled (state certified). Lots of red tape and gold seals are involved in international adoption! The paperwork looks pretty impressive when all is said and done, I must say!

Our new daughter was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate. The surgery to repair her lip has already been done in Kazakhstan, and they did a phenomenal job. We will be using the cleft team of Dr. David Matthews here in Charlotte, for her palate repair and any other surgeries she may need in the future. The sooner we get her fixed up and into speech therapy, the better!

We are kinda stumped about what this new babe will be named. Her Kazakh name is Karina, but we will re-name her and keep Karina as her middle name.  Too many "K" names in the family already!  I will be tripping all over myself if there is another one!  Not that Karina isn't a beautiful name.

So ... we are in the "hurry up and wait" stage. Always the most frustrating and nerve wracking!!