Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm A Dog, And Damned Proud Of It

No, this is not where you get to see a picture of me. Trust me, you don't want that. Instead, you will get pictures from the Chinese New Year celebration G. and I attended this weekend at Washington University. Oddly enough, it is now the Year of the Dog, as was the year I was born. Its also very likely the year our daughter will be born. Now there's a red thread for you.

This is the seventh year the Chinese student association has hosted such a gathering and their biggest crowd yet. I think the announcer guy said there were about 350 folks there. I know, I know. I don't understand why St. Louis doesn't give people that totally cosmo vibe either. It wasn't a huge crowd, but not too bad for our little neck of the woods. Unfortunately, I can't post the majority of my pictures because a lot of the program was performed by other people's adorable children. Somehow I doubt they would appreciate my posting phots of their minor children on a website. But trust me, they were GORGEOUS! On the other hand, I assume the adults are fair game.

Anyway, there was food, music, dragon dancing, costumes, trivia and much, much more. We had a really good time. If only there had been plum wine, I never would've left.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

You Like Me, You Really ....Well, At Least You're Aware of Me

You can't imagine how wonderful it was to check in here after my last post and find that I had commenters. Thanks to Jen and Tink, you guys really made my day. By the way, not only are you two my first commenters, you are also my first sucessful links. I tried to link to Jo earlier, but apparently I suck at the whole technology thing. I think I've got it now. Lord, this blogging idea is sweeeeet.

I've been an avid reader of some of the best infertility/pregnancy/adoption/parenting blogs on the web for a couple of years now. By sharing these very private and often painful moments (with more grace and humor than a ballerina on acid, I might add) in the most public of forums, these ladies and gents have given so many of us hope, strength, encouragement, enlightenment and the ability to laugh at some of the more absurd absurdities that can go into creating a family. I can speak only for myself, but I am eternally greatful.

However, I would hazard a guess that most, if not all of them, began blogging without this lofty goal in mind. Several (and I cannot point to specifics, but I've read it often) have mentioned that blogging started out as a therapy of sorts. A way to untangle some of the twisted strings of life that were clogging up their minds. A way to deal with life's frustrations, unfairness, painfullness, and tragedy. A way to clarify and heal, if only for themselves. This, I thought, was a wonderful idea for a myriad of reasons: I have always enjoyed writing and I'd been away from it for far too long; we were in the middle of a very long paperchase, and I needed a safe place to bitch, and whine, and moan and figure things out; it's much cheaper than traditional therapy and I don't have to include it in my dossier.

I didn't start out writing this for anyone else, but of course, putting it on the internet means taking a chance that others will read what I am writing. If someone should stumble upon my little corner of the world wide web, I hope they can take something, anything, useful away with them. I hope what I am writing will benefit them in some little way. I have gained so much from the other bloggers, it feels a little selfish to not at least be willing to offer something in return.

But like I said, I didn't start this blog with other readers in mind. Even if I had aspired to be the Most Widely Read Blogger Ever, I had serious doubts that anyone would find me anyway (I read a lot, but don't comment very often). So, imagine my surprise when the visit counter started climbing on it's own. It took me a few days to realize I could only account for 12 of those first 17 visits myself. It was a little thrilling and a little scary to realize someone else was watching. (Sort of like doing the deed when there is a possibility of being caught. Cough. Not that I would know anything about that. But I've heard it can be fun.) And then, the great day arrived. My first comments. They gave me warm fuzzies. I've discovered I like being heard. I'm still writing for myself and my sanity, but its nice to not alone out here. So if you're out there, and I know you are, speak up. And Welcome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Over The First Hurdle

It's official! We are DTC (Dossier To China) as of 01/20/06! The Agency sends out their travel guide as confirmation that your dossier was mailed and we received ours today. It covers everything from packing, to etiquette, bonding, and travel vaccinations (Measles and Typhoid and Rubella, Oh My!)

I have to point out that so far, G. has been content to leave the pouring over of materials and information to me. I have been appointed Handler of the Details. I read each handout and instruction sheet, all of the guides, all of the wisdom to be found on various message boards and then relay it to him in what I know must be excrutiating detail. Somebody's gotta do it. My motto is "If I have to read about it, he has to hear about it." Then, I gently instruct (read: nag, nag, nag) him on how best to accomplish the various tasks at hand. He does it or faces the wrath of me. All is well. What can I say, it works for us. Now before anyone... Bueler...Bueler... gets the idea in their pretty little heads that G. is not committed to this adoption, let me alleviate your fears by presenting Exhibit A.

I started making dinner and G. arrived home just a few minutes later. I showed him the letter confirming out DTC date and practically danced with glee. Although I am looking forward to perusing the travel guide, our current wait time to referral is estimated at 10-12 months, so we have time. G. seemed pleased that our documents have officially left the country, but then he noticed the travel details and you couldn't have pried them out of his hands for all the Toblerone in Switzerland. And let me tell you, the man loves his Toblerone. He spent the next hour reading it like it was the bible. But, maybe that's a bad analogy for us. Let's try again. He spent the next hour reading it like it was the first and only copy of a "Superman Meets Godzilla Who Just Battled The Silver Surfer" comic. Did I mention he really loves comic books. More than Toblerone. He's such a geek. Everyone knows that chocolate laced with honey and hazelnuts could kick Superman's and Godzilla's AND the Silver Surfer's ass any day of the week. He quoted, and he pointed, and he looked at average daily temperature charts for various cities in China. God, I could see the packing lists in his head. It was cute I tell ya.

Like the rest of us who have suffered through it, infertility has left it's scars on G. as well. It took him a little time to get used to the idea of adoption, but once he did he's been excited about it in a quiet kind of way. Like he didn't really believe it was going to happen. That travel guide made it real for him. I could see the realization come into his eyes that someday, there really will be a little person in our lives who adores him as much as I do. Who counts on him, and plays silly games with him, and pulls on his beard and his heart strings.

I heart the travel guide.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Great Dossier Debacle of January, 2006

Notice, gentle readers (I assume there will be at least one...someday. See how optimistic and shit I am??), the title of this post. I started to name it the Great Dossier Debacle of 2006, but decided not to tempt Fate. If I had named it such, the Universe would have laughed at me and said "So you think this is it for the year, do ya? Well, let's just see what we can do about THAT!" And clearly, not only would there be future debacles, but each new debacle would be suckier than the last. I figure it like this: If I bow down to the Powers That Be, and acknowledge that I have no control, maybe They/It will go easy on me. Sounds reasonable, right??? RIGHT???

Now, on to the complaining (read: detailed, objective explanation of why our dossier did not go to China, as it should have last week).

Tuesday: I turned in our dossier to R., the dossier coordinator for The Agency. She was busy with some translating and it was late in the day, so we did not do a full review. Instead, she glanced over it for any glaring error, and low and behold she found one. As part of my medical information, my doctor had written a note on the back of the form she filled out, stating that I have no active depression at this time, and that said depression will not affect my ability to parent an adopted child. Despite the fact that our social worker, (the lovely, friendly, but apparently young and inexperienced J.) declared that note suffiecient 3 months ago, R. said it need to be on letterhead from my doctor's office. OK. 3 days before the dossier is mailed. I can do that. And off I went.

Wednesday morning: I called the doctor's office to have the letter written. Doctor is not there, nurse is not there. Neither will be in the office today. Spoke with a very nice receptionist, explained what I needed and was assured that all was well. She has adopted before and knows the drill. She'll get it done and faxed to me first thing Thursday. Great. All is well.

Later Wednesday morning: R. calls. G.'s letter from his doctor (and we did already have his in letter format) isn't really good enough. China will want a more detailed explanation of his medical issues. Despite the fact that our social worker, (the lovely, friendly, but apparently young and inexperience J.) declared the letter sufficient 3 months ago. Annoyed now, but it's doable (I think). Also, one of the pictures of the house we sent with our original application (some 6 months ago) seems to be of a closet and could we please take a picture of something else? HUH?? I finally figure out that she is talking about the picture we took of the empty room we plan to use as a nursery. Mind you, it's not a large room, but she's a baby and, in case no one else has noticed, SHE'S NOT HERE YET, hence the emptiness (in more ways than just home decorating). But fine, I have a lovely new camera and printer and that night I commence to cleaning the kitchen and snapping pictures of sparkling sinks, since that is apparently what China would rather see. I only hope they don't think we're planning to have her sleep in the sink. Whatever. I write up some new language for the medical letters and e-mail them to R. for her preapproval. I don't hear back from R. the rest of the day.

Thursday morning: I call the doctor's office about my letter. It's done as promised. Wonderful! R. calls. By the way, the same lanuage I told you 2 days ago was ok to put in letter format...really not. China will also want a more detailed explanation of your depression (infertility, miscarriage, medication, etc) so could you have the doctor write that up too? Please tell me you're joking, I plead. But, alas, it is not so. I call the doctor's office again, to inform them of the latest developments. Needless to say, they are less than overjoyed to hear from me. But Friendly Receptionist says she'll get right on it. Friendly Receptionist is now my bestest friend forever because just a few hours later, she faxes me a wonderful, detailed, descriptive letter.

Thursday afternoon: No word yet from G.'s doctor's office. We're both trying not to kill someone. Anyone. That would certainly require an addendum in the home study. We have until tomorrow morning. Surely, his letter will come in. All the doctor has to do is sign the thing. He's a family friend, of course he'll take the 12 seconds necessary to help make our dream of a child come true.

Friday morning: Did I happen to mention that G. and I are essentially naive schmucks? No letter. Dr. Family Friend didn't sign it last night, and won't be back in the office til Monday.

I just cried. I couldn't help it and I didn't care what the nice attorney across the hall thought. G. was pretty teary-eyed too, which doesn't happen very often. It's been a very long paperchase, and we really just wanted it to end. We were counting on it ending. We needed it to end so we could feel that we had made some progress. That our daughter was even a little bit closer to coming home. Closer to being in our arms. Closer to her family. I know one week or the next shouldn't/doesn't/won't make a big difference in the grand scheme of things, but this whole mess was just one big frustration that didn't have to happen. Sometimes, it seems she is just getting further and further away.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Needless to say, we are not DTC 01/13/06. It didn't happen today. It's not the end of the world or anything but I am really pissed, and sad, and disappointed. I don't even have the energy to complain about what went wrong at any length. I'll tell you later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Happy Post

You can't beat puppy pictures for happy, right? And so I oblige as promised...

Meet Oliver. The three years G and I were married before we bought a house were the longest time I have ever been without a dog in my life. We finally bought a house, and about a month later, I couldn't take it anymore, and we went on a search. When we went to store doing, of all things, pet adoptions, all the other dogs were barking like crazy, trying to get us to notice them. Not Oliver. He's much to sneaky for that. He rolled over on his back, and stuck one paw through the wire of his crate. A truly pitiful and oscar-worthy move. He looks much like a beloved dog from childhood (Freckles, I still love ya!) and needless to say I was a goner.

As it turns out, soulful and pitiful, just isn't his thing. He's uber-friendly, totally stubbern, very vocal about his wants and needs, and has possibly the best wag of any dog I've ever seen. His whole body goes from the shoulders down. Now that he's gotten a little older, almost 9 (they grow up so fast), he's started to settle down a bit.

And this is our girl, Greta. Or Greta Mae Gumpus, as she is sometimes known. Or Mae Mae. The nicknames have gotten outa control for this dog. Pie, Pie Pie, Lumpus, Grumpus, Sugar Lump...please stop us, we obviously can't help ourselves. About a year after we brought Ollie home, we decided he needed a friend. So back we went to the same rescue. We explained that we wanted a dog that might be a calming influence (as if anything or anyone could be) for Ollie. Perhaps a slightly smaller, slightly older (he was about 3 then) , slightly better behaved model. Instead, we fell in love with her. Bigger than Ollie, and only about a year old, Greta came home. She crawled right into my lap, and hasn't moved much since. She is just the sweetest dog and yet, she doesn't hesitate to kick Ollie's ass when he needs it. She turned out to be exactly right for us.

These two miscreants are Beauty (the lab) and Bitsy (the sheltie/whatever). Mom and Dad adopted them a few years ago. For years, before their last dog (Homer, we miss you) died, Mom insisted there would be no more dogs for her. She loved them, but it was just too much work for her. Within 3 months of Homer's death, she was missing the companionship and starting to think about another dog. These two came as a set (they've been together all of their lives) and Mom, softie that she is, couldn't bear to separate them. After seeing them together, I don't know how they would have survived without each other. She did the right thing. Beauty charms everyone, loves everyone, and is possibly just the happiest, most content dog on the planet. Bitsy, on the other hand, is psycho, in the most adorable way possible. She spent the first 3 years at my parents house trying her best to keep dad from so much as looking at her. He of course, fell right into the trap. He spent day after day trying to win her over. Watching them flirt with each other was hilarious.

See, I told you there would be happy!


It is now exactly 50 minutes PAST my birthday and my mother has yet to call and relate for the 36th time the story of how she almost delivered me in the middle of an ice storm.

God, I'm whiney. A nice post next, I promise.

Boy, It Sucks Being Right All The Time

I thought that maybe one of the reasons I am going bonkers was that I don't have anywhere to go with all the adoption anxiety. I mean my husband can only listen to me discuss (read: whine, obsess, cry) it for so long every day. One of has to stay sane, after all. Hence, this blog. I thought that writing it all down would help get it out of my head, clarify it, get perspective on it. Little did I know, that my worst fears and crazy ramblings would become reality.

After re-reading my last post, I decided that I was being silly. Of course, none of our documents had gone AWOL. They are after all locked in the best cranberry colored vinyl/cardboard document holder Office Max has to offer. Of course Elvis' birth certificate had not replaced my own. He was born 2 whole days before me in another state and even Missouri officials can't screw up that much. (I don't know where or when Garfield was born, but I'm guessing that I'd know if I turned into a cat, my husband being allergic and all.) Of course the dog hadn't puked on the homestudy. I forgot to feed him last night (THAT doesn't bode well, does it?) so there was nary a scrap to be regurgitated. The blog had served it's purpose, I thought. I was rational again. I checked everything over, dug out the one photo we were missing and called it a night.

Well, when I got to The Agency today I met with R. , the woman in charge of dossier review, who has the final word on when it will go to China and knows all about what the CCAA will and won't accept. Everything looked good. Except. One document needs to be re-done. Apparently the short note on the back of my medical form will not suffice. It MUST be on the doctor's letterhead. And we have to have it there by Thursday morning. Yeah. That would be the doctor whose already done this form twice. And whose office, when you call, puts you on hold for a minimum of 20 minutes before you can leave a message with an actual human's answering machine. I think it's office policy. I'm sure she'll be oh so eager to put this at the top of her list.

We'll see. But I'm not making any more predictions.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cock-Eyed Optimism

Get you mind out of the gutter, this isn't that kind of blog.

We are turning in our dossier to The Agency tomorrow. My dearest, G, spent quite a bit of time today, when he was already busier than a one-legged man in a ass-kickin' contest, copying the damn thing times 3. We've spent the last 6 1/2 months slaving over every detail - filling out forms just right, having other people fill out forms just right (harder than you would think), getting just the right wording on the notarizations, repeat medical forms from the doctor who couldn't follow instructions, several hours waiting in the secretary of state's office for certifications, and getting the authentications from the Chinese Consulte in Chicago (which I can't read, but look real purty).

So, why can't I go downstairs and do one final check of this absurdly important stack of papers, then confidently go to bed knowing that all is right with the world and on Friday we will be DTC?

'Cause I'm nuts. I keep putting that last final review off, because I know, I JUST KNOW, that if I go look, our financial statement will have gone AWOL. Or my birth certificate will suddenly reflect the birth of Elvis, or Garfield the Cat or anyone other than moi. Or one of the dogs will have puked on our homestudy and rendered it stinky as well as illegible.

By the way, the point of all this paperwork is to convince The Agency, the State, the US Federal Government and the Peoples' Rebuplic of China that I am a healthy, mentally stable individual to whom they should hand over the care and nurturing of a defenseless, adorable baby. 'Cause that would be SUCH a good idea.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Just Got A Brief Glimpse Of The Finish Line

In reasonably happy adoption related news: Our documents came back from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago yesterday. For those of you not in the loop with all things Chinese Adoption (and if that is you, how the hell did you end up here?? Not that I'm not glad to have you), that is the last step of document preparation needed before sending everything off to China. We should be able to get all the little pieces of our dossier (passport pics, pics showing our "family life", blah blah blah) together over the weekend and turn the whole mess over to our agency early next week. We will be DTC (Dossier to China) on January 13. Then the wait begins in earnest. (or ernest, as Jo http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/3780909 might say).

In very happy for others but totally freaking hideously jealous adoption news: Referrals came in this week across the land. Adorable, pudgy, pinchable baby cheeks abound. For lots of other people. In the several months we've been pursuing this adoption, I've begun a strange love/hate relationships with referrals. Truely, I adore reading the new parents make their announcements. They do it with such joy!! and pride!! and excitement!! and really its very cute. And they deserve to gush. And its fun to watch them. And it really helps me to believe that someday, there might just be a baby for us. But its also hard. Really hard. We have (according to all reliable sources) about a year's wait ahead of us before we get to be all schmoozy and cute like that. And another couple of months before we get to actually BE parents.

And it seems like we've already waited long enough.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Adoption Angst and Blogger Envy - What More Could You Ask For In a First Post?

I can't believe I'm doing this....

1. Adopting from China - Yes, we are (the hubby and I). We are still in the infamous paperchasing stage and have been forever. More on this later.

2. Starting a blog - I have been a big fan of some wonderful, funny, snarky (god, I love this word), strong women the last few years (I'll let you know who as soon as I figure out how to link to them). They have really kept me going through some hard times. I wanna be just like them. Also, I used to like to write. It's been many years since I wrote anything more interesting than a deposition summary, so we'll see how it goes.

3. Starting a blog about adopting from China - This terrifies me. Not sure why. I think it may have to do with actually confronting my fears about our adoption. Everything about it scares me and ya know, if you see it in print it must be true. More on all this later as well.

4. Writing this first entry as a cheesy list - As I said, I'm a chicken and it seemed the easiest way to begin.

5. Waffling over whether or not to hit publish on my new blog - I guess I'll give in

So many things about both these subjects seem surreal to me right now. I know I promised lots more later, and its not nice to just hint at a topic and then not discuss it, but can you really blame me? If I gave away all my secrets now, there wouldn't be anything to agonize over later.