Saturday, November 18, 2006

Skippy, R.I.P.

We had to put Skippy to sleep. Last weekend we discovered that he had yet another tumor on his left hind leg. As most of you know Skippy had to have his front right leg amputated in September, because he had bone cancer. He was doing great after the surgery and recovered well. About a month after his amputation he started limping and not putting pressure on his left hind leg. It was actually funny because he got around better on two legs than three. Within the last month he seemed to be in pain and when you pet him he was becoming skin and bones. So, after watching him face plant for the 1000th time while trying to get up off of his bed, we agonized over it for a week and decided it was time for him to be out of pain. We took him to our vet in the work van. He LOVED the work van. Mark put his bed in the center and he with all his might jumped up into the van. This killed us because we knew what we were doing to him and he thought he was going for a fun ride in the sweet van. The boy's tearfully (and I mean THIS is what killed me) said goodbye to their faithful, loving friend. When we got to the vet he came out and lovingly administered a sedative to him right in the van so we didn't have to move him to a cold metal table in an exam room. Skippy passed away around 6:30pm on his favorite pillow in his favorite place to be, the van. We had Skippy for over 10 years and he I didn't know how much I loved him until he got sick with cancer and through his recovery of the amputation I came to realize how much I loved this dog. Rest in peace my friend, rest in peace. We will miss you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Halloween 2006

I just got some photos emailed to me from our friends Halloween Party. As you can see we went as Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife Beth. The funniest part was when Mark went in to the market to buy some beer and a group of homeless guys sitting in front of the store were like "DOG!". That's cool homeless guys like A&E! Back to the a few weeks before halloween I was at the halloween store buying costumes for the boy's when I get the brilliant idea for us to be Dog and Beth. I find these two wigs. So two weeks go by and because I was knee deep in getting our Dossier paperwork buttoned up, costumes totally took the back burner. Fast forward to Saturday the day of the Halloween party, all I have are these stupid wigs and nothing else. Mark and I cruise over to the Salvation Army and look for bounty hunter gear, nothing....GRRRRRR! We then hoof it to the DAV.....SCORE! Everything you see here was purchased for $23 including the lace up high heel hooker sandals (crap, you can't see them) and the black demin Wrangler jeans Mark is wearing. Then it was off to the 99 cent store for a play cops and robber set. Not to bad for 1 1/2 hours of effort. So what I want to know is HOW in the world does she lug those massive boobs around?!?!?! I had 4 sleep tank tops strategically placed in EACH cup in my bra (a 42dd I got at DAV's). They were no where near what hers weigh and I still needed a chiropractic adjustment and a deep tissue massage the following Monday. I love Halloween.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

So it goes......

Well, today is the first entry in my blog. I always thought blogs were kinda stupid, but I guess it's because I didn't feel what I had to say was 1. interesting 2. enough info to fill up more than 2 sentences, and 3. interesting. For years I have been going along oblivious to the whole "Blog World" but since I have been thrust into this whole new world of International Adoption, seems everyone has a blog to keep up with their trials and tribulations of this crazy journey we are all on. Since I always seem to roll with the cool kids I decided it was time for me to get with it and start blogging.

So here is whats been happening in our life the past few months. Our paperchase officially ended on November 2, 2006 when I got back on my 2 day long hell ride to Los Angeles to visit 2 county clerk offices (San Diego and Orange County), the Secretary of State office and then The Chinese Consulate to have our documents certified and authenticated. Once those babies had their seal of approval that we are in fact legit, I was able to FedEx our Dossier the main office of our adoption agency Childrens Hope International on November 3, 2006. Our dossier was expressed to China on November 10th, 2006. We have hit two milestones, first our paperchase is over and second, we are DTC (for the rookies we are Dossier to China). The next step is for us to be logged in to the China Center for Adoption Affairs in China. When this happens we will have a Log In Date or (LID in the biz). The LID is the most important because this is when we can officially start the waiting process. As of recently we anticipate a wait of about 12-14 months before we get our referral (matched with our baby). This wait is going to be a toughie, but we have lots of things to keep us busy, most of all those stinky pre-teens we call the loves of our lives, Conner and Reed. They keep me in the driver seat of my car and headache wafers on a regular basis. In the spring we are going to start the remodel process of our money pit, (ie: house). So, I assume we will have lots on our mind so the wait will not be so excruciating. Yeah right.

To give you an overview on the adoption process I cut and pasted "How it all works" from a blog I was reading the other day. Apologies to the author for the plagiarism, but I could not have described it better myself. Take a minute to read this it sums up the process perfectly.

How it all works

I hear a lot of funny stuff when people talk about international adoption. Funny as in somebody punch me in the mouth funny, as opposed to laughing out loud funny. We haven't told anybody yet, except our references and banker (more on that, later), so I don't always jump to correct people about how the process works, but I thought it might help to write it out, here, because otherwise I am going to punch someone in the face the next time they make it sound like you just write a check and then Guatamala mails you a baby. See how easy it is? You'all should do it, too! Just write a check, or better yet, its probably free, right, and then some country mails you a baby, because they just throw them away over there. Or at least, that is what I have been told. That isn't how it works. Instead, the following is sort of how it works - it is different for every country, and every agency. But this is a good primer, if you are thinking of doing this.Step one: before you do anything else, you have to choose a country. A common fallacy about international adoption is that you pick the country last, but in fact, a great deal of research happens before you do anything else. Countries open and close all the time, and pretty randomly - you could be thousands of dollars and months in, and your country's program closes, and you are out of luck. This reminds me of infertility treatments, actually. NO GUARANTEES, EVER.Step two: You have a country, now pick an adoption agency. Your agency is located in your country, but represents you in the country you are adopting from. You put together a dossier, send it to your agency, sign over your entire savings account, and they translate your dossier, send it to the country you are adopting from, and then lie to you about the wait times. Step three: Your Dossier. This is the fancy pants way of introducing yourself to the adoption officials in that far away place where babies come from for infertile people like us. So what is a dossier. Well, this is the fun part!And by fun, I mean (again) Fun as in somebody punch me in the mouth fun, as opposed to laughing out loud fun. There is no laughing in dossier prep. No jokes, and no laughing. At a minimum, you pick a social worker, who meets with you 4 times and evaluates your fitness to parent. He/She inspects your home, your neighborhood, your bank account, and your medical records. You are fingerprinted a few times in here, have to get letters from the police attesting to your lack of criminal activity, and a letter from your doctor explaining that your cha-cha is broken. Your Social Worker will likely have you write an extensive (30 page) biography, ask invasive questions about your marriage and your life insurance, and that in total, you will likely have to produce about 60 pieces of paper that prove your fitness as a parent, which your Social worker condenses down to 4 pages of HomeStudy.That Homestudy is sent to the US government, along with a petition to bring an orphan into the United States. That petition, the I-600, sits in a big pile of other requests, a pile which is ignored for weeks and weeks and weeks, until one day, like magic, something called an I-171 appears in your mailbox, permission from America to bring a baby into the country. AND THEN YOU CAN SUBMIT A DOSSIER. Did you think you were done? Well, this is just the beginning! That i-171 goes in your dossier, as does a nice letter that reads, Dear China, I am infertile and childless and worthless please help me out, thanks. More police letters, more fingerprints, photos of you, and your house, ideally 8-10 pictures that portray you as June Cleaver, vacuuming in heels and pearls, a wide prozac smile and beautiful flip of hair at your nape, and a picture of your spouse looking natty and trim, possibly holding a tennis racquet. Look Normal! pleads my agency, and I acquiece. No pets in the photos. Very important. More financial letters, more documentation, and then the dossier is together, but then, the fun....every page notarized, and then every notarized page sent to your secretary of state for certification. Each page then authenticated by the China Consulate, and then....then it can be sent to China. And about time, too, since the whole thing probably took 6 months to put together. But You Aren't Done Yet, Missy!Now, you wait, and while you wait, you aren't even sure what you are waiting for, but finally you will realize that there are NO GUARANTEES in life, and China has to review your dossier, all spanky and authenticated, and that right now it is September 06 but China is only as far as reviewing Dossiers logged in last December. That logging in, that date you are logged in, that is your lifeline, and your touchstone. your Log In Date. The Date you are official with China. It is a Big Deal, and when you meet international adoptive parents, it is how they introduce themselves. As in, Hi, my log in date is March 16, and oh, my name is Patty and this is my husband, Chip. Your new name is Log in Dates. Get used to it, because that is how everyone will refer to you. IN one fell swoop, you go from being the Newport Vanderbilts to the March 16LID Vanderbilts. And you like it!And you wait, and you haunt yahoo groups devoted to China adoption and the wait times fluxuate wildly, and who knows, is China going to close their international adoption program? a year ago, the wait time was 6 months from log in date to a referal, and right now, it is 15 months and stretching out, and every month you hold your breathe and wait to see how many days of Log in Dates are processed and referred a baby, and you hope you make it through the referal process, and you hear horror stories about families who are turned down in the referal stage, and are just done. No baby for them! Every day, a new rumor. I heard that they are lowering the age of adoptive parents, which will push me out of the program. They are instituting weight limits, like Korea has. They are not going to refer a child to anyone who ever took an anti-depressive, or had surgery. Every day, a rumor comes out that, if true, will shut you out of adopting from that country, and every day is like that 2 week wait between IVF and your first beta test. Except the wait is 15 months. And every day, somebody tells you to just adopt, because it is so easy, and you smile and say I guess you must be right, you seem to know so much about it, and you walk away, and cry a little, because this christmas, you won't have a baby, and you won't next christmas either, and the dossier process has left you feeling vulnerable and naked and a little ashamed. And the worst of it is, you don't tell people what you are doing, because you don't have any answers to the questions they will ask. Nobody knows how long it will take before you are referred a baby, and nobody even knows if you will make it that far in the process. And how do you tell people when you know the next two Xmases, the next two Thanksgiving meals, will be childless, and the weight of everyone's unasked questions will be as bad as the questions they do ask.

And all that, and it is still worth it.