Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The waiting begins!

It's official! We confirmed today that all of our paperwork is in place with our agency and the only thing left for us to do is wait.

Ok, that's not quite true. As always, there may be just one more thing to do. Apparently, my physician failed to sign the three copies of the documents required for my physical. There must be an original floating around in his office somewhere, but I don't even have one, let alone THREE. Instead, I naively sent three copies of his copied signature to my agency, not realizing that they were copies. Why should I have suspected? After all, I had a professional notary NOTARIZE his signatures!!! Aren't those guys supposed to authenticate the signatures?! And, they were notarized at great inconvenience, I might add. The traveling notary charged me an exorbitant $30 travel fee (to travel about 1.5 miles), plus $10 per copy to notarize what weren't even original signatures. That's a grand total of $60 for doing a VERY bad job. If the documents get rejected based on the negligent notary, you can bet there will be a traveling notary providing some complimentary services to me. For his sake, I hope the papers pass. I can assure you I will not be pleasant if I have to make an appointment to inconvenience myself and my physician one more time.

So...back to the wait. It turns out Taiwan is becoming a much more popular adoption program that it has ever been before. I think we largely have China to thank for that. As China's program slows down and timeframes continue to stretch out, people are finding that Taiwan offers a wonderful alternative. The children are of Asian descent; you can get a boy or a girl; the children are well-cared for; and the timeframes have been much shorter than those for China.

That said, as Taiwan becomes more and more popular, the timeframes for Taiwan are stretching out as well. We are lucky to have hopped on the waiting list with our agency when we did (a few weeks ago). I was told today that those completing their paperwork for Taiwan currently are facing a likely referral time of about 6 months from now! For us, we should receive our referral in about 5 months, which should be somewhere around February or March. From there, we will have another 4-5 months of waiting before we can bring our baby boy home.

It's funny...had we decided to adopt from Taiwan when we began the process in June, we would likely have already had our referral pictures in hand, and in just a few short months we would be parents. Our detour to complete the paperwork for adoption from Kazakhstan meant that instead of bringing home our baby in time for Christmas this year, we will be lucky to have our baby by the end of summer next year. It's funny how things work, but this is the path we were meant to take and we know the wait will be worth it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Think that dossier is finished? Think again!!

It was a very proud moment when we packed up our remaining dossier items last week and Fedexed them off to our agency. We were so excited!! We had spent several days and countless hours selecting the perfect photos for our photo requirement. Then we spent several more days and countless more hours refining the layout and captions. Believe me, being the perfectionists that we are, we could have spent much more time, but we wanted to get that dossier in!! After wrangling with the printer to get the margins just right (a task that was surprisingly more difficult than it should have been), we packed it up and shipped it all off to the agency, believing that all we had to do from there on out would be to sit back and wait for our referral call. Not so, of course! That would have been far too easy. Instead, we get to go back to Parker Center for the second time in our lives to get one more copy each of our police clearance letter. Think I'm kidding? Oh, no.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book 'Em!

Parker Center was, until today, a bit of a mythical place to me. As the home of the LAPD, I associate it mostly with the LA riots. Not a great association, to be sure, but it was during that ugly section of LA's history that I remember being introduced to Parker Center (literally, not figuratively!). Well, today we got to visit Parker Center to obtain the penultimate checkmark on our dossier checklist for Taiwan: the police clearance letter(s).

As we arrived, I noticed that the building didn't look nearly as monumental as I'd imagined. It was simply another building - a bit nondescript. Inside, I was surprised to stroll freely past the front desk where a group of officers milled about. (On our way out we noticed that no one was supposed to stroll freely in to the building. Woopsy! So much for heightened security.) We exited the elevator on the second floor and were greeted by a very nice gentleman who was happy to begin processing our letters. How odd. I was expecting to elbow my way through a motley crowd of people waiting for a variety of less savory types of paperwork. We were the only "customers" in sight, so we signed in just below a group of five that had been in in the wee hours of the morning for "criminal processing". Hmm.

As we waited, we noted that "digital mugshots" could be taken just down the hall in room 213, while "registration" was at the jail (which we assumed was close by, although we were in no hurry to find out). The only challenging part of the exercise to get our clearance letters was in finding a notary who would meet us at Parker Center to notarize the signature of the city employee preparing the letter. We had been concerned that the letter wouldn't be ready and that our "traveling notary" would have to wait and might charge us even more. As it turned out, our traveling notary was quite tardy and we ended up waiting for him. (I briefly considered charging him a late fee.)

We finally got the letters and admired them for a moment, before heading over to Chinatown for dim sum and to practice our Chinese. It's funny how holding a document that says you have no criminal record with the LAPD somehow makes you feel good even though you knew you had no criminal record at all anyway.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Home Study Update

We met with our social worker today to update our home study with Taiwan particularities. I say "our" social worker, although she is really our second social worker. Our original home study social worker has since relocated to the east coast (through no fault of ours, I'm told). In any case, we had a delightful conversation with our new social worker about our decision to go with Taiwan. Our home study update should be completed within the next 24 hours and will be shipped off to the government agency which will then re-issue our updated 171H. Woohoo!

That's the good news. The bad news is that there is now an extensive wait list at our agency for the Taiwan program. Of course, even with the extensive wait list, we are still only 3-4 months away from receiving our referral.

We're not shopping yet, lest we somehow jinx the process, but we are starting to think about names and painting the nursery. Of course before thinking about painting the nursery, we need to create the nursery from the space that is currently my office. How we will do this, I do not know, but that is a problem for another day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Checklists, Binders and Stars

We received the Taiwan section of our Big Adoption Binder today. When we originally signed up with our agency, we were issued a Generic Adoption Binder (GAB), with an empty tab pending our country selection. For the last few months, the country section of our GAB sat empty. Meanwhile, we learned that our initial country of choice, Kazakhstan, required us to engage yet another agency. Although our agency handles all aspects of China and Taiwan adoptions, Kazakhstan is a little different. So, we signed up with the new agency and began fumbling our way through our new KAB (Kazakhstan Adoption Binder).

My favorite page in the binder is the checklist. This is the page that tells me exactly what I need to do in order to get our baby and let me tell you, checklists are my thing! (just ask my husband or my mom...if it involves a checklist or the potential of earning a gold star, I am unstoppable)

Immediately after receiving our GAB in June, we promptly drove from the agency to the nearest police station to pose for our first set of fingerprints. For the rest of June and into July, we worked those checkmarks relentlessly...fingerprints? Check! Birth certificates (me)? Check! Birth certificates (hubby)? Check! Marriage certificates? Check! Guardianship letter? Check!

Imagine my delight when I received a Kazakhstan checklist in our KAB! My delight quickly turned to frustration as I realized our Kazakhstan agency wasn't nearly as organized as our home study agency. Instead of one clear checklist, they had several and with no obvious correlation or hierarchy. As if things weren't difficult enough! Undeterred, we worked our way through the checklists (yes, ALL of them!) and, miraculously, it seemed, completed our entire Kazakhstan dossier.

That was when we decided it just didn't feel right, so we called our home study agency and gave them the news. We were switching to Taiwan!

It was very exciting to transform our GAB into a TAB (Taiwan Adoption Binder). It feels more complete. More personal. We've got our new (and, we hope final) checklist and we are unstoppable!

Monday, October 02, 2006


Well, here it is...our first adoption blog posting!

Let's cover the basics first:

Why are you blogging?
It seems like this is the best way to educate our friends and family about adoption and International adoption and keep everyone informed about where we are in the process. If by sharing this information we can help others along the way, that will be the icing!

Why now?
No single reason, but if I *had* to pick one, I'd have to say it was the arrival of our 171H. That is adoption-techno-speak for "it's real now!" and there's nothing like learning you're expecting to scare you into action.

Kazakhstan. No, China! No, Taiwan! We had good reasons to go with Kazakhstan. After all, it was 1/2 way between Europe (my family's origins) and China (my husband's family's homeland) and the kids are adorable and might actually look a lot like they could be ours (meaning hapa...that's Hawaiian for "mixed" for those of you thinking, "huh?"). We completed our entire dossier for Kazakhstan (more on that later) which was no small feat and somehow, even after all that work, it just didn't feel right. Instead, we realized that with all the cultural heritage we already have between us, it just didn't make sense to us to add yet another multidimensional background. Not only that, but the wait time to referral for Kaz just got extended and the travel time went from an already daunting six weeks to seven yes, SEVEN weeks in country (or two trips just a few weeks apart - equally difficult!)! Yikes! China felt good, but the wait times there are long and we kind of like the idea of having an older brother around to take care of his little sister. It's a bit rare to find a healthy boy available in China for adoption, so...Taiwan it is!! The care is good; healthy boys are available; and we have a cultural connection. Sign us up!

We've been thinking about adoption for a while and started working on it seriously in June. We'll be posting our detailed timeline soon, but at this point we are simply waiting for a homestudy update - at least we think that's all we're waiting for. After that, we should have a referral (i.e. picture of our child, along with details about his health) within around 3 months and we will travel to pick him up 3-6 months after that. Wow.