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Saturday, April 29, 2006
What's a Dossier?

In case you aren't quite sure what goes in that packet we send to China, I thought I'd discuss it. The dossier is the packet of information we send to China that tells all about us. It includes our homestudy, criminal history check, physician letters, employer letters, financial statement, copies of our passport, our letter to China requesting that we be allowed to adopt. We also include photographs of us and our home. Just before I bundled the whole thing up to mail to our agency, I took the photo you see here. It was hard to let that envelope go as it represented many hours of work. It was priceless. Now, it's in the hands of someone on the other side of the world.

By the way, you might recognize the photo of us on top as it's the same one I used here. That's a special picture to us. After attending the informational meeting offered by our agency. Jim and I went out to lunch at Buca's. We discussed everything we had learned and decided that we were going to do this. We were going to complete the application and start the process to adopt. Jim asked the waitress to take our picture. This is literally minutes after we had made this decision.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
CCAA Update
The CCAA has posted an update today stating that they've finished reviewing dossiers through September and matching through June 6.

The rumors have actually been floating around for a few weeks that October and November are in review. We find out because people who've been logged in those months have gotten requests for more information.

I'll be a very happy person when that posting changes to say October has finished the review stage. That means that the CCAA has reviewed our dossier and approved us for adoption. We're very happy with our agency and trust that they wouldn't send a dossier that would be rejected. Still, it's hard to let go of that fear until you know you've passed.

The matching only to June 6th is a mixed emotion message. Early rumors had only May 31st being matched. Compared to that this is great news! But it is still only a few days of dossiers to be matched again this month. If we're going to get a referral in 2006, they will need to start matching closer to a month's worth at a time. That was the standard, so, hopefully, we'll get there again soon. I'm really hopeful that they'll finish June with the next batch and then go to a month at a time. Keep your fingers crossed!

Note to Susan: Thanks for the messages. Hopefully, we'll both get through review quickly and soon!

Sunday, April 23, 2006
Back to School
No, not back to work; back to school. We've been taking Mandarin classes on Sunday afternoons. Between Spring Break and Easter, class has been cancelled the last three weeks. It felt like starting over. Three weeks is a long time when you're learning Mandarin. Okay, that's overstating it. There is absolutely no way I will ever be able to hold a conversation in this language. If I can learn a few words, I will consider myself very lucky.

We have a great teacher. He's been in this country for about six years. He has a daughter who is toddler age so he has first hand, recent knowledge of the songs that appeal to kids, etc... He has been so helpful in telling us about China and what to expect there. Jim and I are the only ones there who haven't been yet. The others have already been to China to adopt. One mother has two daughters, the other mother has one daughter and is in process to adopt a waiting child, her son. The other classmate is actually in high school. Her parents adopted from China and are wrapping up the paperchase for their second.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise, but it's a very difficult language to learn. The main reason it's so hard is because it's a tonal language. There are four tones that can be applied to each word. The tones change the meaning. For example, ma can mean mother, or horse, or if added to the end of a sentence it turns the sentence into a question. Ni hao means hello. Ni hao ma means hello, how are you. Also, even if the tone is the same, it can still have a different meaning. Many times you have to rely on the context of the conversation to understand the meaning.

Because of these tones, it's helpful to have a good ear. Today in class, I compared this to my singing. I can hear when the notes are right, and in my head, they sound right, but when they come out of my mouth, it's nothing like the song should sound. Neither is it like Mandarin should sound.

My main goal is to learn how to pronounce words. I would like to be able to call my child by their Chinese name and have it be recognized. It would also be nice to have some reassuring phrases learned. It also never hurts to learn a few things like: Where is the bathroom? I am lost. Can you help me?

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Bizarre Baby Dreams
You would think I was pregnant or something with the dreams I'm having. Who knew adoption could do the same thing to you.

Last night, I dreamt that China sent two children to us to "tide us over" until it was our turn. They were a 3-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl. They were beautiful and sweet, but something just wasn't right. I finally realized they were robots.

Jim and I had watched the animated movie, Robots, the day before. He blamed it on that. There was probably some deep psychological meaning behind it. All I know is that it made me want to hold our child.

Saturday, April 15, 2006
Happy Easter!
Another week has passed and we are now past the six-month mark in our wait. It was a short week at school, only four days, so it went pretty quickly. I had meetings everyday after school, so that made it go even faster. It's been kind of a rough one, too, with car issues and taxes due. I wrote a huge post mid-week whining about both those issues, but deleted it because I don't want this blog to be filled with my whining.

I'll focus instead on the good parts! On Monday night, we went to the home season opener of the South Bend Silverhawks. The Silverhawks are the single A Minor League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jim and I have been going to their games since we got married, and we really enjoy them. It's a great way to spend an evening. Because we always sit in the same seats, we've gotten to know the people who sit near us. There is one group who sit just across the aisle from us. They are season-ticket holders every year and do attend virtually every game. It was great to see them again on Monday after the long winter and catch up. The Silverhawks were the Midwest League champions last year. Fortunately for them, but not so much for us, almost the whole team was moved up and we're starting fresh. Most of the team had been around a few years, so it was like losing friends. We're so proud when we see their names mentioned during the Major League games. Now, my family and old friends are probably dying at the idea of me following any sport, but I've actually come to enjoy baseball. I like the local games and have fun when we get to see my husband's first love, the Detroit Tigers.

We also had a great Friday! We were out running errands and decided to go out to lunch. Our errands had taken us about an hour from home. After the waitress took our drink order, Jim commented that she seemed familiar and wondered if she had been a former student. When she came back, he asked her. She had! They had a nice time catching up. She is working hard to make a good life for herself and her two children. She had been in Jim's class 10 years ago when he taught in Gary. He is so proud of her. It was good for him, too. It's nice to see a former student who remembers you fondly and is doing so well.

In honor of Easter, I'm going to attempt to attach my first photo to a post. It will be good practice. This came in an email forwarded by my sister. I think it's hilarious.

Sunday, April 09, 2006
What Have We Been Doing?
So, you ask, what have we been doing during the wait? For the most part, just living life like normal. This is my fifth year as a high school teacher, and I have to admit, I had no idea what I was getting into. It's worse than I ever thought it could be, and it's better than I could ever have imagined. It's filled with frustrations: the unbelievable levels of bureaucracy, the inane decisions made, the truly incompetent teachers, and the truly disengaged students. But it's also filled with some great moments: connecting with a student and seeing that they "get it," witnessing some amazing teachers and professionals who have completely devoted themselves to these kids, knowing that, however small, you've made a difference for the better in someone's life.

Talk about going off on a tangent. That wasn't what I was planning to write about at all. I was planning to talk about the great quilt square swaps I've experienced, and my DTC group's Secret Pal program, which has been great fun. And let's not forget the Chinese classes Jim and I have been taking. Those will have to wait for next time.

Saturday, April 08, 2006
Take Two.
It's been months since I first started this blog, but I haven't really been using it. I set it up shortly after becoming DTC thinking that I would use it when we got closer to referral and for our travel. As the wait has stretched out, I find myself reading more and more blogs. This made me think about writing in my own.

When I started this, we were one month into what we thought would be a six month wait for referral. Well, things change. Due to various events, the adoption process from China has slowed down considerably. Though we had originally hoped for an April (yep, this month) referral with travel in May, we are now hoping that we travel in 2006. The waiting is hard, but we trust our agency, and we're trying to be patient. Things happen when they're supposed to happen; not always when we want them to happen. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

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