Saturday, June 24, 2006

Restless Nights and Crazy Dreams

During the long wait for referral, allot of people, including me, start having trouble sleeping. Your brain won't shut off. You wake up constantly. And you can have some pretty strange dreams! There were so many dreams that I can't remember anymore, but I'll share some that I do remember.

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,'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.

Yikes! :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Checklist update

The courier brought our passports and visa applications to the Chinese Consulate this morning, so I'm expecting to have them back in my hands by next Friday at the latest.

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?

CA Confirmed!!!

My CA will be 7/24! I'll have Emerson in my arms by 7/17!! I can't even describe all of the emotions I'm feeling. Overwhelming joy and mild terror are just two of them. :))

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

Sleepy, Sneezy and...coughy.

That's me, all rolled into one. I've been fighting a cold since this weekend, swollen glands in my neck, soar throat, fever, LOTS of coughing. :( Unfortunately, when I get a cold, they usually linger and this one seems to be settling in for awhile. I'm thinking it's the AC saga of last week (excrutiatingly hot one night, then cold the next) that caused it.

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 received TA today!!!! My agency has requested CA (consulate appointment) for the week of 7/24, and I have a tentative travel date of 7/13!!! Hopefully I'll know by the end of the week my EXACT travel dates and my EXACT day to hold my little Emerson for the first time!!!!

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

Some TAs came in today...not mine. :(

Some TAs are coming in on the JuneDTC group, but I didn't hear from my agency today, so my fingers are crossed for news tomorrow. I just want to know how long until I'm holding my baby. :)

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

The Name Game

Thank you all who have given your best wishes and congratulations. Several people have complimented Emerson's name, so I thought I would share how it came to be.

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

San Antonio - Part Deux

Well, I intended to leave for San Antonio at 6:00 AM this morning so I could be first in line to get my fingerprints redone...but I woke up to major thunderstorms. I finally left around 7 AM instead, after the obligatory Starbucks stop, and it was slow going with the rain and got there around 8:30 AM. The wait ended up being 2.5 hours, but by 11 AM I was done and on my way back home!

Re-fingerprinting. CHECK!!

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 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

"At least it's a DRY heat..."

As if this wait for TA isn't stressful enough, what with expiring fingerprints and a CIS office that has a double top secret phone number, my AC went out day before yesterday on the hottest day of the year so far...triple digits. Ok, SURELY it was SOMEBODY's responsibility to tell me you're supposed to hose down the AC unit regularly or the dirt and grass clippings will clog it up. Where's a husband when you need one to blame. :)

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.

List update:

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

Lists, Lists, and More Lists...

  1. Scheduled Homestudy Update - Check!
  2. Overnighted $70 CCK to CIS to request Re-Fingerprinting since old will expire - Check
  3. Completed/Notarized Vaccination Affidavit - Check!
  4. Get new passport photos for visa application - 06/12/06
  5. Tell sister to go NOW for passport photos for visa application - CHECK!!
  6. Order Pediatric Medical Kit from - Check!
  7. Create packing list for checked bag - In Progress
  8. Create packing list for carryon bag - In Progress
  9. Eat chocolate and such to help deal with stress of all these lists - Check! Check! Check! Check!
  10. Buy new shorts/tops since old ones don't fit because of all the chocolate and such - In progress
  11. Stop eating so danged much chocolate - yeah, right. moving on...


Thursday, June 01, 2006

So much to do, so little time...Emerson's Room.

I've spent the past 6 months in limbo, waiting, waiting, waiting for a referral that seemed to become more surreal as time went by.

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!

Time flies when you're having fun!

I am so not good at this blogging thing! :) Ok, to catch up...

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 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. :)