Saturday, June 24, 2006
The first "Emerson dream" that I can remember was last year, I think around September. I was having trouble deciding between very pale pink and soft sage for the wall color of her room. Then I dreamed one night that I was home with Emerson and she was about 9 months old and I was carrying her into her room for the very first time...her room with bright Fuschia walls! She scrunched up her nose, turned her head to me and said (yes, said...it's a dream) "Oh, Mommy, EWWWWW!!".
I painted her room soft sage.
A while later I had this awful dream that a sinister old Chinese man showed up at my door one night and said he was taking her back because it was a mistake to have given her to me!
Took a while to shake that one off.
One night I dreamed I was sitting in the family room after having put her to bed and she was calling out reasons why she had to get up..."Mommy, I need to potty!"..."Mommy, I need to tell you something!"..."Mommy, I need a drink of water!"..."Mommy, I forgot to take out the garbage!"...HUH???????
Then in March I dreamed I was in China for my referral...I suppose in my dream, a "referral" was actually them giving you a baby right then, because a group of people came in with a child and said "Here's your referral, what do you think?" It was heartbreaking because the child was a six year old with extreme special needs and I was wrestling with whether or not there was any way as a single mother I could make this work but finally had to decline the referral and I was crying and devasted not knowing what would happen to this child. But they said, "That's ok, we just thought we'd try. We'll get you another referral." Then a woman walked into the room with a large, pink polka-dotted EGG and said "here's your referral". I said "THIS?" and they said yes, crack it open. So I did, and inside was a very, very newborn baby (cute little shar-pei wrinkled stage newborn) and I said "Oh, my! How OLD is this baby??" and they looked at me like I was crazy and should know this already and said, "Well just check the care tag on her shirt!" So I checked the care tag and it said she was 6.5 months old.
I'm guessing that was my mind trying to prepare me for anything.
And now the latest dream. Apparently they don't stop once you've gotten your referral. About a week ago, I dreamed I was on the phone with my auto insurance company trying to make a change to my policy and the very concerned agent was trying to talk me out of it. I was trying to add Emerson as a 15-month old driver to my policy and she was trying to tell me it was going to be VERY expensive and I should wait until she was older.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I received 2 notarized copies of the Homestudy Update in the mail today and tomorrow I'll send that overnight with a "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO THIS QUICKLY" letter and an overnight return mailer to the USCIS in San Antonio, but I'm fairly certain I'll be taking a drive down there again sometime before 7/10 to get the updated I-171H.
I can't seem to wrap my brain around a final packing list, but I'm trying. I keep seeing Swiss Army Knife on lists, but I'm almost 42 years old and have never had an occassion to need one before, so I don't know why I would need one in China. Any ideas?
I'll meet up with my sister in LA on 7/11 and we'll fly out that night. :) My agency has the groups meet in Beijing a few days before going on to province to get over jet lag and do some cultural touring. My sister and I will go in an extra day early and add a second day of touring, so all in all, before going on to Nanchang, we'll see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and we'll go to the Beijing Zoo to see the pandas! As excited as I am about that, I'll just be counting the hours until I see my little one. :)
AND for a little icing on the cake, several of my very favorite Jitterbugs (JuneDTC05 group members) who have become very special to me during this long wait will be on my flights and in Beijing and Guangzhou at the same times, so our Jitterbabies can be in a group "red couch" photo!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Some good news, though!! The Pediatric Medical Kit came in the mail today! That kit is FULL of just about everything you could possibly need to handle any illness your child may have, including several presciptions. I'm so relieved to be taking that with me.
But if this cough hangs around much longer, I might just have to bust open that Amoxicillin! (just kidding)
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I contacted my SW right away for her to complete my homestudy update and I can hopefully have that off to San Antonio by the end of the week!
Got my sister's passport today and sent hers and mine and the visa applications out right away for delivery tomorrow to the courier. Visa applications in progress!!!
Monday, June 19, 2006
I called the FBI Fingerprint Clearance Center today and confirmed that my fingerprints cleared on the 17th. CHECK!!
My sister is overnighting her passport and visa application to me and I'll have those off to the courier tomorrow. Semi-CHECK!!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I always new I would name my daughter (if I ever had one) Olivia, after my grandmother, but over the years, I began to think of that more as her middle name and settled on Emily as a first name, close to my mom's name, Emma, but still different enough to be her own name.
The years went by and the time finally came that I made the decision to adopt, and that's when I found out that Emily had become the #1 girls name in the US for the past nine years!!! I was one of several Denises each year in school and didn't want that for my daughter, so I went back to Olivia...and found out IT was the number 4 girl's name for the past several years. Good grief!! My daughter was going to be "Hey, you!" at that rate.
First was Georgia, but as much as I liked it (and still do), it just didn't feel right. Next came Piper. Too pretentious. Brielle? Nobody would pronounce it correctly. Collette! LOVED it! I'll call her Coco! But when I put "Coco" with my french last name, I realized I would be responsible for giving my daughter a stripper name and scratched that one off the list, too. Several other names were tested and rejected and I was beginning to lose hope.
And then I was reading an article on Teri Hatcher one day and it mentioned her daughter "Emerson". I'd never heard of it as a girl's name before, but I just instantly knew THAT was my daughter's name. It was not common, but not difficult to pronounce or spell, was close enough to Emma to honor my mom, I could call her "Emmy" as a child (unless she's up to mischief in which case a stern "Emerson Olivia!" might be necessary), and I could TOTALLY see "Emerson XXXXXX, CEO" or "Dr. Emerson XXXXXX" letterhead in her future. :)
It's funny how names cycle, though. In the past year, I've seen 3 other people who've chosen Emerson for their daughter, also, although one family changed their mind and have since gone with a different name. But that's ok. The world can use a lot more Emersons and I don't think it will ever be so popular that she'll be one of many in her class. :)
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Orphanage Fee wired. CHECK!
Stork Goodies (a care package my agency puts together and sends out through Beijing) ordered. CHECK!
Baby Sherpa Diaperbag and Baby B'Air Flight Vest came in. CHECK!
Potential snag: In Texas, the homestudy update needs to be dated within 30 days of travel, so my SW is waiting until I get TA (travel approval) before she'll finish it and get notarized copies to me. BUT because I moved to a new house, that homestudy update needs to go to San Antonio CIS...yes, the one with the re-fingerprinting ordeal...so that a new I-171H can be issued. Now what are the chances of me getting an updated I-171H before I travel WITHOUT having to make another trip to San Antonio?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Ever see on TV where they make mud huts out of dried mud and straw?? Well, the inside of the big AC unit kinda looked like that! I say with some degree of pride that the AC repairman said he'd never seen one choked up that badly before. I suppose that's sorta like First Worst Place and I do like being the best at something.
So my AC ended up getting an acid wash (twice) and I ended up with a $280 lesson in AC preventative maintenance.
But I was blissfully cool while sleeping last night, in stark contrast to the 80+ degrees that it still was in my house at 5 AM yesterday morning.
My homestudy update was done Monday, so I should be receiving the notarized copies in the next few days. CHECK!
Got passport photos for the visa application. CHECK!
Ordered Baby Sherpa Backpack diaper bag. CHECK!
Ordered Baby B'Air vest. CHECK!
On the re-fingerprinting front, they mailed me a receipt over 2 weeks ago for the the payment, but I had not yet received an appointment letter and was starting to panic. There is no phone number to the San Antonio office. None. Anywhere. I called the 800 national number and they had no phone number or fax number either and said I would have to go in person to ask about the letter. I actually had to take off from work this morning to drive from Austin to San Antonio (80 or so miles) to ask a question. (Does anyone else find it as amusing as I do that the SA USCIS office has a Community Liaison Officer but there's no phone number or email address to contact her???)
I had an Infopass appointment for 9:40 AM and was there 15 minutes early. My number was called at 10:55 AM. People in the "No Appointment" line next to me got numbers smaller than me and were being helped ahead of me, so I suppose it was actually first come-first served. I'm not at all clear what good making an appointment actually does, but my advice would be to get the earliest appointment and then still get there to be in line before everyone else! Cover all bases!
Once I was called, they were very nice and gave me a letter for today, but I would have had to wait for hours again and I needed to get back to work for at least part of the day. I had them change it to Saturday and I'll have to drive back down there Saturday morning. But at least that part is underway. SEMI-CHECK?
Now, on to visa applications. :)
Saturday, June 10, 2006
- Scheduled Homestudy Update - Check!
- Overnighted $70 CCK to CIS to request Re-Fingerprinting since old will expire - Check
- Completed/Notarized Vaccination Affidavit - Check!
- Get new passport photos for visa application - 06/12/06
- Tell sister to go NOW for passport photos for visa application - CHECK!!
- Order Pediatric Medical Kit from orphanallies.org - Check!
- Create packing list for checked bag - In Progress
- Create packing list for carryon bag - In Progress
- Eat chocolate and such to help deal with stress of all these lists - Check! Check! Check! Check!
- Buy new shorts/tops since old ones don't fit because of all the chocolate and such - In progress
- Stop eating so danged much chocolate - yeah, right. moving on...
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I painted the room, put the crib together, put the dresser/hutch together, put the glider together, put the shelves together, put the chair side table together, hung the wooden letters that spelled out "Emerson" and accented it with cute wooden butterflies, and so on and so on. I even decoupaged the fanblades in fabric that matched her nursery bedding! Who knew I was crafty or a DIYer? (Pictures below)
I bought a stroller and car seat and high chair and play pen and baby monitor. I hung the 42 size 12 month baby outfits in the closet and hoped they'd fit at some point, leaving the tags in case they needed to be returned/exchanged/sold on Ebay.
And then I twiddled thumbs. No, really. I did. Actual thumb twiddling.
And suddenly, I have my referral and I can only think of all the things I HAVEN'T done and how little time I have to do it!
I have to wash all the crib bedding and some of the baby clothes. I have to anchor the hutch to the wall with those furniture safety things so it doesn't fall over on her!
She needs socks! I only have 3 pair of socks! She has no pajamas. I don't have a baby thermometer or baby dishes or sippy cups or splat mats or fingernail clippers. What about a humidifier? Do I need a humidifier??
Bath toys. Baby shampoo. Diapers. Wipes. Baby Powder. Diaper Rash cream. At 15 months, will I need burp clothes? A walker? What about a toddler swing for the porch?? Diaper Decker or Diaper Genie or Diaper Champ?
Baby Tylenol or Baby Advil? Apparently there's some big debate over that now!!
I am so not ready. Willing, absolutely. Able, you betcha. Still working on the Ready part!
I cannot believe it's already been a week since I got my referral and saw my little Emerson's sweet face for the first time. I can't even guestimate the number of times I've looked at that picture since. It's a good sign that time is passing so quickly though because I just might be able to survive the next 5 weeks or so until I can finally hold her! :)
So we've had a little passport drama. One of my sisters will be traveling with me and was still waiting on her passport to be delivered...except it was past due to be delivered and she'd heard nothing. Since I need her Passport # on the Travel Information sheet that is due back at my agency along with my Referral Acceptance...TODAY...that cause a little anxiety in both of us.
We went online to check the status and major panic set in when there was no record even of the application. After several Chicken Little type conversations ("THE SKY IS FALLING!!!") in Minnie Mouse voices (both of us tend to go up several octaves when we get excited) and a few in-person visits to the Federal Building in LA by my sister, I think everything is worked out. We're assured that the application number she has on her paperwork received yesterday is the same as the Passport # that will be on the passport she picks up this morning. I do not envy the letter carrier who delivered a certified letter from the State Department to the wrong address AND got a signature from a man (of whom my sister has never heard) for a letter sent certified to a woman.
So as I'm actually driving the paperwork over to GWCA today at noon...one copy of the travel information sheet filled out with the application number and another with that space blank in case I have to write in a different number...she will be leaving the Federal Building in LA and calling me to confirm the number!
For some reason, the theme music from Mission Impossible is playing in my head right now.
Update: Got the call from my sister confirming the passport number as I was pulling into the GWCA parking lot. Mission Accomplished! Got the confirmation email shortly after getting back to work that my paperwork has been received and my referral acceptance will be on it's way to China in the morning! TAs (Travel Approvals) from China should arrive in 3-4 weeks! Prayers please for speedy TAs. Two weeks would be very, very nice. :)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Thanks to my wonderful June Jitterbug family and their support and various perspectives, I went to bed yesterday having reached some measure of peace. Here's my post to them:
"Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my pain on behalf of my daughter today.
I will admit (please, no flames) that when I first opened "the email" and say her age, before I saw her photo, I felt very disappointed. When I was DTC, my expectation was "average referral age, 11 months". Then over the past 6 months, we've been seeing younger and younger babies and I was expecting 11 months as the OLDEST and was prepared for the possibility of very young baby. At 13.5 months, I knew I'd missed her first birthday, her first words, her first teeth, her first steps, etc.
But the instant I opened that photo, I just melted. So my first gut reaction to the lag in her being abandoned was purely emotional. Through my own life's filters, I was viewing this from the perspective of having such a strong emotional attachment immediately with this child and couldn't imagine being told now that I couldn't bring her home, so how could someone who has actually held her and fed her and comforted her and stroked her beautiful cheek while she slept EVER let her go?
But you are all completely right in that my circumstances are not those of her birthparents and I will never know the extent of the difficulties they faced in their lives that led them to this decision. And knowing how robust this little sweetheart is now, and apparently was at the time of abandonment, I'm finding a new peace and gratitude that she was given the chance at a healthy start at life before she was given up so that I could be her forever mommy.
Thank you all for being such a beautiful source of support and reason. (I promise to be back to my giddy self shortly...or is that more of a threat??) :) "
So this morning I'm off to Louisiana to bring grandma and grandpa a picture of their newest grandchild...and to eat as much boiled crawfish as I can. In several sittings throughout the day. It's the cajun way. :)
I can't wait until next spring to see the look on Emerson's face when she sees crawfish for the first time! LOL!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
THAT my friends was today!!! A roller coaster ride of emotion and although time seemed to stand still for awhile, the rest of the day moved at breakneck speed!
Thank you so much to EVERYONE who posted their congratulations and best wishes today. For those still waiting for their own referrals, the journey does get rough at times but your turn will come and you'll see it's so worth it! :)
A dear sweet person emailed me privately that my baby was the cutest baby she had ever ever seen on any of these boards. OF COURSE SHE IS!! LOL! I responded that I absolutely agreed. Now I know that once she gets her referral (fingers crossed for next month for her!), she will rightfully think that HER baby is the cutest baby she's ever ever seen on any of these boards. That's as it should be and I'm ok with that.
I thought I was all cried out until I came home to the most thoughtful gesture today. I drove up to my home and saw "It's a girl!" balloons tied to the plants just before my porch and a nice pink bow tied to my doorknob with a card left in the door! Thank you so much, Lela. You will never know how much that meant to me. :)
I've joined the Yahoo group for the Fuzhou SWI and ordered Emerson's Finding Ad and I'm just exhausted so I think I'm going to go to bed now and dream happy dreams of my sweet little girl. Tomorrow morning I'll get her complete medical information, growth reports and learn more about her first year of life.
Goodnight everyone. :)
Name: Fu Chuan Yao
DOB: April 3, 2005
SWI: Fuzhou Social Welfare Institute
Weight: 21 lbs
Height 28 inches
She has 4 teeth! And I detect a hint of a crooked smile and a little wave in the hair...just like mommy! :)
I'm overwhelmed with joy! :)
Today, the earth is standing still. The last 2 1/2 hours have taken an eternity! The first person in my agency LID group has posted her referral, so I know emails are going out!! Where is mine?? I even checked my SPAM box just in case!
I know it's coming, but I'm beginning to think that repeatedly refreshing my email inbox every 3 seconds is not having ANY effect in getting it here sooner! :(
And now it's finally morning and I'm up and having to remind myself to breathe! I checked DHL. The package left Wilmington, OH at 3:46 AM on it's way to Austin!
On May 27, 2005...almost exactly one year ago...my paperwork left my agency on it's way to China. Sometime today, my daughter's paperwork will arrive at my agency.
I guess this is what Oprah would call a "Full Circle Moment". :)
Midmorning update: Package is out with Delivery Courier on it's way to GWCA office. Hurry, hurry, hurry,hurryhurryhurry!!
The first referral has posted on the JuneDTC05 site! Congratulations, Rademacher family on your new baby girl!!! :)
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
My agency will definitely be emailing rather than calling, but they'll follow up with a call on Friday to answer any other questions we may have. I can live with that. As long as I can get her picture and know who my baby is, where my baby is, how old my baby is...I'll be one content mama. For now. :)
Am I supposed to be able to sleep?? If I could just go to sleep, tomorrow would be here when I wake up and I'd be just HOURS away from referral. But I'm afraid sleep is just not going to be happening tonight. :)
Since I live in the same city as my agency headquarters, I can pick my information up and not have to wait on the Fed-Ex delivery, so I'm deferring to what the rest of the group prefers.
But I have to say I've daydreamed about "The Call" for a year now and the mental shift to "The Email" is going to be a hard one.
And now I feel really silly about the cell phone charging. (Right. Like I didn't before.)
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Wow! What an incredible day! Ok, first, a little about who I am and how I got here...and where "here" is! :)
I'm Denise. A single 41 year young woman who finally decided to start a family last January. After years of waiting for Mister Right, I decided that I'd rather find my little Miss Right for now...my daughter! If by chance Mister Right comes along later, well that'll be a nice bonus to an already full life, won't it? :)
I've never really considered pregnancy as an option for me as a single mom. My ache is to be a mother, but giving birth isn't so important to me. And since my genes aren't so great for passing on anyway, adoption was always my first choice. There are so many children in this world without a mom...and here I am a mom without a child. What could be more perfect?
I rarely do anything impulsively (not counting those dreaded late night infomercial purchases), so this too took lots of thought. After a few years of scouring adoption websites and reading about the challenges of single parenting, something finally clicked in January of 2005 and I just knew. I was sure in every fiber of my being that I was meant to do this, COULD do this, and it was the right path for me. And I knew without a doubt that I would find my daughter in China.
And so my Journey to Emerson began. :)
My timeline so far:
01/21/05 Decision made, I called GWCA looking for a spot on a singles waiting list and through the grace of GOD and the beautiful heart of the GWCA employee who answered my call (who I won't name to protect her from possible repercussion), I was offered a spot that someone else had just released. What a miracle! (My apologies to anyone who had missed out on a spot during their 2005 selection!)
01/25/05 Application signed and submitted.
02/11/05 Contract signed and the paperchase is ON!
05/27/05 Paperchase is complete, dossier is on it's way to China. I'm DTC!
06/09/05 CCAA logs in my dossier! I have an LID!! Current referral wait...only 6 months! Referral in DECEMBER!!??
09/05 Uh oh. Late September, rumors circulating that next batch will be smaller, the first indications that things are going to take a BIT longer than expected.
10/01/05 CCAA begins sending 1/2 month referral batches instead of full months.
09/05-04/06 Delays, delays, and more delays. During this time, CCAA announces that referral waits could grow to 12 months and beyond due to decreased number of paper-ready babies and increased number of dossiers being logged in. Batches continue to come monthly, but batch size shrinks from 1/2 months to only 5 or 6 days per batch.
04/27/06 Referrals arrive covering 05/31-06/06/05 LIDs. SURELY this means I should receive my referral in the next batch!!
05/23/06 It's finally happening...Referrals for 06/09/05 LID are in the air! THE STORK IS FLYING!!
So that's a little about how I got "here"...to this point where I'm only a few days away from finally knowing who my baby is. :) In future posts, I'll share more details about the journey; specifics about the paperchase process, getting Emerson's room ready, things I've done to pass the time and books I've read to prepare myself for this new life that's about to begin.