Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Moving Right Along

We are scheduled to have our social worker visit later this week. Our home study agency has been very solicitous, especially after they found out about our deadline. They told our SW to get on it by a certain date or they would do it themselves. I still had to email several days later that I had not heard anything yet from our SW, but if that's what it takes, okay. I know SWs are overworked anyway, so I was nice about it. And now we have our appointment and then our update should be right along.

Now all we have to do is track down all the little details in the home study that will have to be changed, e.g. any new addresses and all ages of various people. My work status has changed--I have started working part time--but they say that they can address that in our update with a couple of sentences. But it's all picky little details to update, nothing major.

* * * * *
We are noticing the stress of the uncertain state of IA on all related agencies. Our home study agency is fairly small and personal. I know they have been feeling the slowdown--the adoptions programs of two of their main countries have been closed down or slowed to a crawl. They've been sending out fund-raising letters and informational documents to keep their clients informed. They have even laid off several people in the last month, which is really too bad. And they were so small to begin with that it sounds like they are down to the bare bones of the staff now.

Despite fundraising letters, I am not inclined to send them *more* money. Still, I can appreciate their uncertain position, so when we accidentally overpaid on our latest update, we had them hold that as credit for future updates rather than send the $400 back. As M says, we can afford it even if it's not ideal.

It's also a possibility that if they don't weather this slowdown that they may go under within the next few years... neccessitating our REDOing our home study with another agency (ack!). So yeah, we thought it was a "good faith" thing to to do to have them hold our overpayment while they are cash-poor.

* * * * *
Hey, I told a few more people about this adoption thing recently.

One was a college friend with whom I have started writing to more frequently. We live in different countries, so we see each other only rarely (it's been years now), but we are good about writing. I am also friends with her husband and like hearing about their kids and their lives. It's been really fun to renew a regular correspondence.

Since we've been sharing more of our lives recently, I was telling her some of our IF and IA stuff, and a couple of months ago, I finally sent her a big long saga of the adoption proceedings and the slowdown and all those frustrations. She sent me a very encouraging, sensitive and supportive response, which really touched my heart. I was also relieved that she was as gentle as I had hoped when I took the gamble of sharing more. I guess sometimes it's not just the sharing but the response that makes it worthwhile. I know she has had some hard times along the way, so she's not innocent of how things that can go wrong. It's just the stuff of life, isn't it?

I also recently ran into people we know who had just recently brought their daughter home from China! They had been in that massive LID that took 6 months to place, waiting about 2.5 years or so. We live on opposite sides of the state and of course, we had had no idea that they had been in the same process that we were in until we saw them with their daughter and guessed the situation. I didn't leap at them immediately... haha! But later when I remarked that her LID must have been in Dec of 05, she knew we were in the same boat, on the road to China!

It was really wonderful to see them with their daughter. It was also a pleasant surprise to know someone in real life who had undergone so many of the same challenges and understood what we are going through! It was very moving to me to see them as a family. It also, silly as it sounds, gave me concrete hope that we would be parents someday. I know how people like to say that you forget the wait after you have your children, but it's not much comfort when we still have *years* of waiting ahead of us, so this was a concrete example: someday that will be us.

It was great to talk and share/commiserate a little with each other. It sounds like we have a new connection--yea! :) And their daughter was such an engaging cutie. I really loved watching them interact, like when she and her Dad would wave at each other from a distance, or taking her Mom by the finger and taking her to explore something or somebody. She would sometimes giggle or hand her shoes to other people... the kind of baby dearheart that people just gravitate to. I wasn't the only one who thought she was a dear!

I did try to say a few things in Mandarin depending on the context (hi there! oh,are you thirsty?), but it wasn't clear if she understood me! Sometimes the non-verbal works better at that age. I was tickled to recognize some signing going on. She reminded me of my youngest niece when she was just learning to interact and communicate. Anyway--it all felt happy to me. :)

* * * * *
These days I am more optimistic about learning Chinese again. I'm not optimistic about the *wait* at all, but as my friend said, I have all this time to practice my Chinese! Okay, okay, I'll give it another go.

* * * * *

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Update Number One

I know I haven't been around much recently.

Last month, we set about compiling a pile of paperwork to start the process of getting a homestudy update so we can reapply for the Citizen & Immigration Services 171h form via the I-600a.

When I saw the amount of things we would have to do just for an update, I was very grouchy and depressed.

Medical updates, financial updates, criminal record checks, and something about a "Responsible Individuals List" which seems to be an database tracking child molesters. And we had to fill out a new application (12 pages worth of info and legal agreements), although they have a wealth of detailed personal information about us already. Oh yes, and send them about $800 for the whole update.

It turns out that after the big push for our dossier, I have run out of *all* patience for *any* paperwork. I had just started to feel pretty good about being able to ignore the wait, and being reminded of the massive amount of paperwork *just to stay in line* shook me up. I felt exhausted just thinking about it, and here we had *another* stack to deal with.

M was just "eh, whatever." Lucky for him, I've been doing it (as usual, the paperwork falls onto me), but I haven't been cheerful about it. So I spent some time wailing and complaining and feeling glum at the aggravation ahead of us.

It took us more than a month to gather all this together and deliver it. Now we have to get an appointment with our social worker so we can have her visit and have her spend a couple of weeks writing it up and.... If I don't hear from them within the next couple of working days, I will call and bug them for a social worker appointment. It might have escaped their attention that we are working under a deadline.

Yes, our current 171h will expire in the middle of May. The federal agency has decided to lighten the financial burden for couples having to wait so long that they have to renew by waiving the *first* renewal if the application arrives before the old one expires. Notice that's the *first* one. With the wait extending 4-5+ years, we'll end up having to pay out a few more times anyway, but it would be nice to save a little bit of money, eh?

In any case, the thing weighing on my mind is that if for some reason we don't get the whole bigger application (incl. homestudy update) in to the CIS before the middle of May, we'll have to pay another $800+ for apply for renewal, not including the fingerprint renewal, which we'll have to pay for anyway. That's running about $80 a person. In the grand scheme of things, it's not really a big deal, but the thought of having to do this repeatedly.... *sigh*

So it would be nice if the social worker did not sit on her hands like she did the last time. I am dreading the possibility of having to Fed Ex our application overnight to try to make the freakin deadline. *sigh*

* * * * *
We still get the occasional question from friends or family about "How are things going with the adoption?" My answer is usually the same: "Well, our paperwork is still sitting there in China..."

I am making an effort to educate the people who need to know, for instance our doctor (who is shocked by the slowdown). To avoid misplaced pity or ideas, I try to be as straightforward and cheerfully matter of fact as I can. It doesn't help us to get dragged into someone else's emotion about it.

However, I was somewhat taken aback by my MIL's recent cheerful "So, how is the baby-making going?" Ahhaha... "Well, our paperwork is still sitting there in China..." I'm not sure what she was thinking... that we were adopting on a whim, or that we just hadn't "tried hard enough" to "make" "one of our own." *rolling my eyes* Well, she already has *grandchildren* popping out great-grand-babies, so it's not like she's heavily invested in our outcome. For most friends, they either know about the slowdown or they know nothing about our situation at all.

On a happier note, I am actually feeling overall, well, happy. Professionally and personally, I am forging ahead and doing interesting things. We are certainly not putting our lives on hold (anymore) while we wait to become parents. Definitely a good thing for our mental health.

Labels: ,