Monday, November 06, 2006

No more TV!!

Well, at least not for a few days... Laura and I are trying something new for awhile... We began to notice that EVERY night we would end up in front of the TV, when we didn't have plans, and just veg out for the night. I used to love to read and would make time to do so, but lately I never seem to be able to focus on reading anything for more then a few minutes... I blame TV for that. SO as a solution, we are not going to watch TV on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays. Day or night. The TV stays off. We have a few shows that we like to watch those days, but we also have TIVO, so we can just watch them later. So... tonight I will be thinking about the book in front of me and trying not to think about the huge TV in the room.... LOL

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Still waiting...

I feel for the people who are LID late last year and they wait and wait and wait. OF course, we have a similar problem. Most of our friends are aware that we have been waiting for a 4 - 5 months now. Back in June when we got our LID we told people, "Oh, it will be another year before we can expect a referral". Now, that 5 months have gone by, we are still saying "Oh, it will be another year before we can expect a referral." It get's old saying that. SO... last day of October... bring on the referrals!! :)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Our Backyard

So, in the never ending battle to get the house ready for a child, we have decided to tackle the backyard... A little history. We moved into this house about 2 years ago, from a house around the corner. We rent from a GREAT landlord who keeps the rent cheap as long as we take care of the place and pay the rent on time. Well, the house we are in now, had a famiily in it that tore the place apart. They had a huge pitbull in the backyard that they used for fighting.. It was so sad. We reported them a few times, but without proof they wouldn't do anything about it. They also used the backyard to grow marijuana... They had rows of corn, and in between the rows of corn were rows of marijuana... NICE neighbors.. We finally convinced the landlord to evict them and then moved in ourselves. We completely redid the entire inside of the house, part of the deal we made for the rent. The backyard was mostly dirt, with some nasty grass towards the back. We spent about a year, wanting to do something about it, but never got around to it. Finally about 8 months ago, I decided it was time, so I went in the back and used round up to kill all the grass. Did that a few times over a couple of weeks, and then used a sod cutter to get all the grass out. SO then I had this completely dirt yard. much better.. LOL The I marked off where I wanted to put the patio, got a shovel and dug a 4" deep 15 X 15 foot area for the patio.. WOW. I am not designed for this type of work.. LOL Well, then work picked up and other stuff got in the way and I just couldn't get to the yard. About a month later the backyard was all weeds. Then a month after that the yard was weeds that are taller then I am. The dogs would run back in to the yard and just disappear. It was hilarious. We would just see the weeds rustling where they were running around. I am sure they loved it, but what we didn't love were the fleas.. They were infested quick, so I had to deal with it. So I got a weedwacker and went after the weeds. It was great. I looked like the Terminator with that huge gun that shoots about 1000 bullets a second... 5 hours later, you could see the backyard again.. So another few weeks went by and I started talking to a friend of mine who does landscaping. He says, "alright, were doing this. Get your stuff together and this weeked we are hitting it.". So over the next month we got the rest of the weeds out , took out the old cement slab (a 6 x 6 2" slab that was just poured on top of the ground. I lifted it up and hit it with a sledge and it broke into about 30 peices..). I borrowed a tiller from a friend of mine and we tilled the ground up and put down some top soil, and then tilled that into the ground. At that point we had a great area for the sod to go down on, but first we needed to put sprinklers in. So in 4 hours we trenched the area and laid all the pvc pipe and 9 sprinkler heads connected to two valves. In the front main section we have 4 sprinklers that shoot about 20 feet. They are in the corners and cover the whole front section of the yard. Then in the back corner we have 5 heads that cover that section. The patio area is not touched... so cool.. We could actually sit on the patio with the sprinklers going without getting wet at all. ( I imagine hot summer days, me sitting on the patio under the canopy drinking a beer, while my little girl runs in circles playing in the sprinklers... ahhh the good life.) In my next post, I will tell you all about the nightmare that is ordering pavers from Lowes online....

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How IKEA ruined my weekend.....

OK - well as some of you know, my wife forced me to go with her to IKEA to buy a new wardrobe thingy (called a PAX since IKEA doesn’t name anything the way it make sense... ). So Friday night at 7 PM we left to drive to Costa Mesa (about 30 minutes away) to buy this thing. Now mind you we had our eye on this for more then a year... We just have been waiting to get the house to a point where we felt comfortable buying it. So off we go. Since I was with the wife and since IKEA is designed to make you walk through the ENTIRE fricken store before they let you escape, we were there until about 10 PM. So 3 hours and $450.00 later I am loading 9 foot long boxes that weigh about 300 pound in through the back window of my Hyundai.. We get home at about 10:30 or so and Laura decides that after a year of waiting for this wardrobe that she just can not wait one more night for the wardrobe to be assembled.... OH MY.... Now - here in California, where it is supposed to be 70 degrees year round, we are in the heat wave of the century, like many of you... So for the next 2 hours in a 90 degree house I am try to put this thing together with the instructions they give you with the fat pear shaped guy who visually walks you through with no written instructions... I don’t like that little fat man!!! At about 12:30 AM we have all the drawers assembled and the main structure of the corner unit assembled. I have drunk about 3 gallons of water, and then sweat it all out, and am just about wiped out.. We have all the pieces of our bedroom on our bed and in the surrounding area, to clear space for the wardrobe unit (which did I mention is 8 feet tall) to be assembled. So I tell Laura - "OK, help me stand this thing up." Now - if I were in a movie, I would have paused right there, rewound and spent just another few minutes giving that statement a little more thought. Of course I did not have that option. So we go to lift this thing up, neither of us coherent enough at this point to realize that I had forgotten to put the cardboard backing on the unit. So, let’s spend a moment discussing this cardboard backing. Here is a piece of furniture that weighs about 200 pounds (with out all the accoutrements) and apparently this flimsy, folded, molded, and veneered piece of cardboard is the vital lynchpin to keep the whole unit together. But I digress. We go to lift it up and about half way to being in a standing position the whole thing flattens out and pieces of pressed wood go flying in all directions. The unit is COMPLETELY ruined and beyond salvaging. LONG LONG LONG pause and Laura looks at the unit and then at me and her face reads like I have just broken all the legs of her puppy right in front of her. At this point, I used all the words that my mother used to stick a bar of soap in my mouth for using in the past, and decided that that was a good time to call it a night and go to bed. Of course, as you read earlier, all the pieces of our bedroom are on our bed and in the surrounding area.... So where to sleep? We could have just moved everything, but at this point the only thing that we wanted to do was kill that little fat man from the instruction booklet.... So Laura slept on the couch and I slept in the recliner... Well slept is a subjective word at this point. I laid there a few hours falling in and out of consciousness. Saturday Morning.... As I wake up to the sound of my phone ringing for the second time. It is 7 AM and I have not slept at all. I am not 20 minutes late for a meeting and the phone is likely the person that I am supposed to be meeting with. I let it go to voicemail since I am not sure the sound of me waking up will add to this person’s mood at this point. So I deal with my business in the morning and that afternoon figure I need to have a plan on how to deal with this mess... FORTUNATELY, IKEA has a wonderful return policy and since we have all blamed the little fat man from the directions they tell me to bring the unit back and they will happily exchange it for a new, none destroyed one. So at 2 PM I am off to IKEA again, with a 9 foot long shredded box filled with destroyed pressed pine, which sticks out the back window about 3 feet.. Return process is rather uneventful, although there are A LOT of people who have decided they didn’t like their IKEA purchase, so I am there for at least an hour. When I go to load my new non-destroyed unit into the car, the helpful IKEA fellow that helped me load up, who didn't look anything like the little fat man from the directions, tells me that maybe I should attach a flag on it since it sticks out so far.. After three trips with these things in my car, I tell him, as politely as possible, that this will be fine as is. So, Saturday afternoon at 4 PM I roll home again to start this whole nightmare process over again. Fortunately this time, I ignore the fat little man and his clearly sub par advice, and just build the unit as logic would dictate. Two hours, 3 gallons of sweat, and more curse words then I want to admit too, we have the frame of our new corner wardrobe unit up and standing proudly in our bedroom. Now, we just need to install the drawers, shelves, and clothes rods and the corner piece and we are all set.... Due to my need for beer at this point and our prearranged dinner plans, we decide that can wait till Sunday. Sunday Morning.... Since I didn’t sleep well on Friday night, and Saturday night I was up late drinking beer, and watching the lightening out over the pacific ocean on the balcony of the Belmont brewing company, I was more then willing to sleep in this morning..... My wife had other plans.. Still bubbling over from excitement, she has decided to wake up early and attempt to install the drawers herself.... So for the rest of today, I have been moving furniture, installing lights, drawers, shelves, and other such sundries. Now... I have 6 empty Guinness bottles next to me, and wife who is still Giddy as she organizes all her clothes and makes a new list for what she needs at IKEA.... So help me if that little fat man shows up, he may not make it.

Are we there yet?

You have heard that before.... Since we are done with the paper chase and have started the "wait" for our referral, we will likely be heard saying that quite a bit. So in the next months while we wait for our baby to arrive, we will be remodeling the house, going on a trip (maybe) and redoing our back yard. So in our first step to better our living space we have purchased a wardrobe for Laura to use in our bedroom... I am going to post about the escapades shortly.

Monday, July 17, 2006

We are Logged In!!!!

Just got an email from our agency... We are officially Logged In... So we were DTC - on June 23rd. We were LID on June 27. Woo hoo!!!! You can't see me but I am doing my happy dance right now.. :) My wife, who is coming back from San Francisco as we speak, is on the side of the 5 freeway doing her happy dance as well. So, if we can just get those referrals pumping again, we will be on our way to parenthood....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dossier Approved!

OH YEAH!! The Agency sent me an email today to let us know that our Dossier looked great, and that it would be sent out on the 15th. Very very very good news. So we will celebrating on the 15th!!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

I Love LA!!!

We have all the documents back from the Los Angeles Consulate. 5 days!! With a holiday in there and shipping it USPS.... WOOO HOOO!!!! Only thing that concerns me is that they did not staple they used adhesive to affix it to the back of the Secretary of State document.... So I could not copy any of the documents. We are told over and over "DO NOT TOUCH THE STAPLES!" but there are no staples. Anyway. We immediately bundled everything up and FedEx'd to the Agency and at 9:29 AM PST today..... It was delivered. Our agency officially has our Dossier and is prepping it for delivery. HOPEFULLY, we did not screw anything up and they will be able to send the Dossier with the pack that goes out on the 15th.... June 15th. That will be our day. DTC Baby!!!!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

San Francisco in da house....

Our fine Chinese friends from the San Francisco consulate have pulled through for us. Laura's BC had to be sent up there since she was born up in Northern California. Sent, processed and received in 5 days... :) Very cool. Now - LA. The Los Angeles Consulate. You, my friend, get all the rest of our documents. They were delivered on the 24th of May via USPS. We had to wait since this was more costly then the others and a client, who shall remain nameless, decided not to pay me this month, so now that we finally have that worked out.. LA, like your collegues in San Francisco and Chicago, I trust that you will excercise the same effeciency and precipitateness that I have come to know and love from the consulate offices. So - it is very possible that by May 31st, or June 1st our documents will be back in our hands with very nice looking Chinese Authentication paper stapled to them - DON'T TOUCH THE STAPLES. Then we can FedEx everything up to AAO. AAO sends out dossiers on the 15th and the 1st (I think), so it is VERY VERY likely we will have a DTC date of June 15th. If that holds true we should have a LID of June 26 or so... From the LID date we begin the countdown to referral, which is now officially running 12 months. Hopefully that will speed up, but if not, it is OK -- we are willing to wait as long as we have too.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A shout out to Chicago

I just wanted to say how much I love the Chinese consulate in Chicago. They processed our docs in 5 days. They also FedEx'd them back to me since I forgot to include the SASE. Very very good. Thanks guys and gals.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Almost DTC.... and a new look

Ok - DTC - that means Dossier to China. That is the point when all the documents that we have spent the last 6 months compiling, notarizing, authenticating and certifiying are all compiled and sent to China. A couple of weeks after, or so, that we will be LID. That means Log In Date. That is the date that the CCAA relays back to our Agency that our Dossier has been received and is in line for processing. Now, before you ask, no we will not have a baby next week. Current referral wait times are at 11 months and climbing. Odds are that we will not travel until next June or July 2007. This is OK though. We have waited 13 years, one more is not too big a deal. It also gives us time to get our life back in order before the baby comes. Paperchasing is all consuming and EXTREMELY costly. Now we will have the time and money to get the baby's room ready, the floors in the house finished, and the backyard completed. All tasks which have been started but are languishing right now. Now the blog. As you can see. I have given the blog a new look. The orange was really starting to get on my nerves. Also, we are no longer providing links for people to donate to the adoption. We SINCERELY appreciate all the help we received over the past several months, and now that we are about done with the paperchase, we are not really in need of any money. Thanks again though, to everyone who gave us your support, both emotionally and financially. We will never be able to truly thank you enough. Another addition is that the photo blog is now also open to the public. So go have a look at our various pics that we have up. I will try to add more later. So, Currently we have documents at the Chicago and San Francisco Chinese Consulates, and Monday I will be driving up to the LA consulate to drop off the remainder of our documents. A couple of weeks after that we will be putting everything into a big FedEx box and sending it off to AAO for them to translate and send off. Projected DTC date: June 15.... here's hoping..

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tales of a moron....

Ok so as you can read below, we went all the way to Sacramento to get our documents authenticated, and we were very proud of the fact that we were in and out so quickly. Hurray for us right. So now we move on to the next step -- getting the Consulate of the People's Republic of China to certify the documents. So I spend all day yesterday making copies of our documents and I come to the home study. Our wonderfully worded Homstudy. Our 3000.00 dollar Home Study. The document that declares that we are fit to be parents. The document that is NOT authenticated by the Secretary of State. DOH! Now mind you, after our 6 hour drive to Sacramento, we did not forget to bring this document to with us. We simply forgot to have them authenticate it while we were there. There are not words that can describe the horror, and the pain, and the anger going through my mind at the moment that I realized that we did not authenticate the Home Study while we were there. Thankfully, my wife, my beautiful, wonderful, lovely dutiful wife agreed to drive up and back to get it done today. So - thanks to rising gas prices our authentication, and my stupidity cost us another 200.00. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! It is OK though. We are still on schedule. I fedEx'd our Marriage License to Chicago yesterday and the consulate called and let me know that they received it. Wooo Hooo. Tomorrow I will FedEx Laura's BC to San Francisco, and the rest of our Docs go to LA. Almost there. Almost DTC. Almost LID..... so close.....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Back from Sacramento...

We're Authentic!!!! YEAH! A big thank you to the fine folk at the Secretary of State's office. They were fast, effecient and extremely helpful. Especially when we ran into a problem with the copy of I-171H form. We had made the copy, but since I have been working ALOT lately and sleeping even less, I messed up with the Notary Public. I had her sign that the document was true and accurate copy of the original, when I was supposed to have done that. So the SoS lady told me that I could have another done across the street at the credit Union. Thankfully I had made several copies. I went over the Credit Union and Amy -- she was the best -- quickly notarized the other copy and didn't even charge us!!! :) Even with the mess up and the need to go across the street to notarize a document, we were in an out of there in less then an hour!! That left us the rest of the day to see Ice Age 2, and The Sentinal. We are home now though, and glad to be....

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Authentication ... off to Sacramento

So. We have sent our dossier papers up to the agency and they said they all look great.. Woo hooo. We had to make a couple of minor adjustments, which have been done, so we are full force in to the authentication process. I sent our Marriage License off to SoS in Minnesota and the nice folk (all people in Minnesota should be referred to as folk) told me that they will try and get it done this week and fedex back to us. How nice... :) We decided to drive to Sacramento on Monday - about 400 miles - to walk the docs into the SoS office here to cover all the rest of our documents for California. The turn around time is like 2 weeks to 6 weeks if you mail them in, and I just figure, we both need to get away for a few days and if they will do it while we wait, we could likely have all our authenticated documents ready to go the consulate on Wednesday next week... WOOOOO HOOOO. Then we can walk everything into the LA Chinese consulate and let them do thier thing and if everything works out, we might be able to get this thing sent out in May. Shocking.... It is all coming together and getting more and more real.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New pics have been added in the photo page

Hello all ... I have posted up the potential dossier pics for our lifestyle shots on the photo page -- would love some feedback , so go check them out. Remember you have to sign up to see the pics , it is free of course and your information will never be used for anything else...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Of Adoption and Conception......

WARNING : this post contains words like ovulation and date night, if these words or concepts make you uncomfortable, hit your back button. ;) So... we got our I 171H form... very very exciting for us, but for our friends, well they don't even know what the form is or means, so the question we get everytime we tell someone we got it, is "So do you get the baby now...." NO!!!! Just kidding. I am not upset about it, but I do want to take this time to educate people on my view of adoption timelines and put them into an easily understandable standpoint. OK -- so Parents A decide they want to have a baby. They begin the process of trying to conceive, you know - date nights, candles, soft music and ... well we all know the drill. During this time they may tell thier friends that they are trying. They map out thier ovulation cycles, find the best times to try, and do other asundry tasks to make sure that they get pregnant. One day, the woman realizes that she is late, and take a pregnancy test. It comes out positive. Wooo Hoooo. She tells all her closest friends, but she and her friends know that until it is confirmed by the doctor, it is still "up in the air". Eventually it is confirmed by the doctor, which is great and now family begins to find out. But still everyone knows that for 3 months there is a stronger chance of miscarriage, so there is still a reservation about telling everyone about the pregnancy. Once that 3 months goes by - baby showers get planned, and everyone finds out. Happy day... For an adoption, the time lines are not a whole lot different, but people seem to think that adoption happens like this. Parents B decide to adopt, a week later they are happy parents and the world keeps spinning. hmm. Not so much. In reality - Parents B decide to adopt -- spend a couple of months researching adoptoin agencies and home study agencies. Finally decide on acceptable agencies and apply. Several freinds find out they are going to be adopting (especially those who may need to provide reference letters). The next 3 - 6 months are spent gathering every document that has ever been created with your name on it. Then you request permission from the US government to bring a child into the country (i-600A). Date night and candles are also apart of this process, but for different reasons. After your I-600A is filed and processed you get fingerprinted and then eventually you get the I-171H. To me, this is the timeline equivelent of determining your ovulation cycle and realizing that today is the day. not pregnant, but major accomplishment. You get the I-171H and all the other documents that you need and they get sent around the country to various Secretary of States to get Authenticated. Once Authenticated, they go to the Agency from approval, and then they are off to China. At this point you are DTC. This would be the equivalent of taking the pregnancy test and having it come out positive. Wooooo Hoooooo. Still - your DTC - not LID (logged in). So there still needs to be "confirmation from the doctor". A couple of weeks later your are Logged in by the CCAA. This is the confirmation by the doctor. Friends begin to find out and a couple of months go by and the baby showers start to get planned and nurseries are created and all the other baby stuff happens. So -- to sum up this extremely long lesson in adoption and conception timelines. We are not yet pregnant, but we have determined the day of ovulation and we are ready to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be DTC (pregnant) sometime in May.... Come one May.... Thank you for your attention, we know return you to your normally scheduled programming.

Friday, March 24, 2006

WOOO HOOOO!!!!

So we're sitting at the house tonight watching the tube, when a friend of ours called -- now that phone call was fairly meaningless. Questions about some party this weekend. Of course, because of that call, Laura remembered to check the messages on the machine. One of the messages was from our Home Study Agency, Partner's for Adoption, --- drum roll please.... Our I-171H form has ARRIVED!!!! Well they got a copy anyway - we haven't gotten anything yet, but since they got a copy, we will be getting our official copy tomorrow or Monday... WOW!!! So exciting. Very happy tonight.. :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I-600A form and Fingerprinting

Yippee! This is the sound that my wife makes when we receive mail from the US Department of Justice. In case any of you were wondering. That sound is not because we are being contacted by the DOJ, but because that contact is to inform us that they have received and processed our I-600A and our Home Study and that they request that we go to a local office to get fingerprinted. For those of you not adopting, this is another milestone. We have had to wait for 2 1/2 months to get this. Which is not too bad considering that we filed our form during the holidays. From the way it sounds, if I had filed about a week sooner, we would have had our fingerprinting appt about 1 week later, back in December. Well , that is just the way it goes some times. Anyway - we are going today to get our fingerprints taken at the federal level. Normally this would scare me, but we are one step closer to our daughter and therefore I only feel excitement. Oh yeah, and Laura has already called me a few times to remind me when the fingerprinting opens, when it closes, that they may be at lunch around noon.... just kidding, but she is obviously excited as well.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Still Going

Sort of.... We are in one of those very long waiting periods that all adoptive parents have been through. It is difficult since this our first. Everything was moving at light speed for awhile, but now I have to remind myself that we are still in the process... not really, but it is easier sometimes to focus on something else, which is why we haven't been here much. At this point we are patiently awaiting our fingerprinting appointment for our I-171H form. We also have a few documents to get re-notarized..

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I popped the clutch ... so to speak

Ever been driving down the road, with a manual, and popped the clutch and the cars stalls.... That is what I have done to our adoption process. You may have been wondering where we have been, and why we have not been posting, and when I say we, I mean me, since Laura has posted on here once -- hmmm, hint hint. Basically, we are still waiting on our Home Study report, we are waiting on our fingerprinting appointment, which I do not imagine will come until after the HS has been submitted and we are waiting on some paper work to get done for the dossier. We also submitted a grip of paperwork to the agency which has kindly asked that we redo some of it. OK -- so we have to have our medical paperwork redone since the doctor did not completely fill the form out. Hmmmm, I distinctly remember asking him to do that completely. It is really not a big deal since right now, we can not move forward anyway. We have had some unexpected financial things arise and we promised ourselves we were not going to take loans out in order to keep the adoption process going, so we are on the side of the road waiting for triple A. Anyway -- for now, everything is slightly on hold. Nothing major, hopefully just a few weeks or a month and we will back in the race getting it done. --- Stephen

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I-600A form

WE finally got to a point where we felt comfortable submitting this form to the USCIS. They cashed our check for 685.00, so I assume that means that we are currently being processed by them. I am hopeful for a quick turnaround as I have heard of a couple of people in the last couple of weeks getting 10 days or less turn around. I figure it will be at least after the 1st of the year though. We are also waiting on the home study which will slow tthe processing down a little. I hope we see that by the end of the week, but this is a busy time of the year, so I am not getting too stressed about things coming or not, since most people are less occupied with work. We have also compiled our dossier paperwork and we are sending that off to the Agency today. Woo hoo. We still need some passport photos and lifestyle photos. We also need to get Laura birth certificate that we ordered a few weeks ago. Anyway -- so much to do, so little time...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Photos

I updated our photo page with more recent pictures of us.. Remember you have to sign up to see the pics, or log in. Thanks

Friday, December 02, 2005

Whew!

That was a loud sigh of relief that you heard around 2:30 PST time today. We had our final HS visit -- yep, you know which one I mean. The one where they come into your house after you just got done spending 3 days cleaning and 5 hours of super fast deep cleaning just before the SW comes into the house so you can say "Excuse the mess, we've just been so busy". Well our SW was just great, and she was very inintrusive. She simply focused on the list of "requirements" for the house - Fire Extinguishers, Smoke detector, No Firearms, No pools. Not to say that firearms and pools are forbidden, they just make for a more interesting visit. We talked for about an hour about follow-up stuff from the first interview and that was it. It was so much easier then I thought. And to think ... I spent the last 4 months stressing over an hour and half that was actually more like conversing with a new friend then anything else. Milestone completed -- next step on the way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Jitters

I seem to get those a lot lately. Between the Home Study appointment on Friday, the seemingly unending paper chase that we are doing, and the sheer fear of actually becoming a father I would say that it is pretty well par for the course. It's ok though, it makes me realize that I get it. I understand what we're going into, the commitment Laura and I are making. I have no idea what it is going to be like to have this little person who is completely dependent on me, but I know that I will be there for all of it. I know that my little girl will never stop and wonder where her father is. Me .... a father -- see there's the jitters again. :) I am on this new email group for dad's that adopted from China, or are going to be adopting. It is really interesting to read all the stories they post and little bits that they have been through. It has made the whole thing just a little more interesting. There is a dad on the list named Doug and he has a little girl he adopted named Eliana. There is a picture in the files section of the group that has really affected me. Positively of course. It is a professionally taken photo where he is sitting and she is standing behind him with her arms hugging his neck. It is beautiful. It is loving. It is not so much the picture. It is the expressions on both of their faces. Doug's expression clearly shows he knows his picture is about to be taken, but Eliana just look content and happy to be leaning against her daddy, and she doesn't even look like she is aware of the camera. Just unconditional love and happiness. I can't wait to have that. You can check out a touching moment between Doug and Eliana at the Dadbloggers website that he started up. A lot of adoption lists and forums are "controlled" by women. They post the most and the talk the most and the share the most. Not a lot of men abound. I am very happy to have found a list where it is a groupd of Dad's and Dad's to be. It helps me to see a better picture of what it will be like to have a little girl that looks up to me, and loves me as much as I already love her. For right now, all of this seems to be a distant thought. Something in the future. Each time I think that we are getting closer, it seems to go farther away. The journey makes the destination all the more sweet. When we go to China and we get our little girl, I know that all the fear, nervousness, anticipation, excitement, joy, heartache will all flood through me at one time while I hold this screaming terrified little girl who has no idea that she is in the arms of the people who will do everything possible to give her a life full of love and happiness.... -- Stephen

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We've gone public....

Yep - our blog is now open to the public. Nothing has really changed. I just wanted to make sure that our blog didn't seem like a pay only type of thing. While it is true that we are accepting gifts, we never intended that our blog be a pay only read. We want to share the experience with everyone. We allowed anyone to sign up and read the blog and the gift was optional, but I was afraid that people would have the view that they had to give us money to read the blog. So -- now you can read away. We would still love to hear from you if you are reading our blog, and we love to know who you are... So.. if you want : sign up here. This is still required if you want to see our photo blog, which I KNOW I haven't updated recently. I am working on it. :) Also -- we still could use your graciousness. :) So if your feeling a giving mood coming on go here : Give a Gift. To all of you who have signed up, we are glad to have had you along for the ride so far. And for those of you who have given to our cause, words can not express our gratitude. We still have a LONG road to go, and we will have lots more to tell you all, so keep coming back as often as you can. Thanks Stephen & Laura.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

December 2nd -- coming soon.......

On December 2nd, we have our final Home Study visit -- the dreaded "come to the house" visit. I am not too concerned about it, but of course there is a biut of nervousness surrounding the event. Christi seems very nice though and I know that she will work hard to help us get through it as painlessly as possible. I just got back from a 10 day business/personal trip in Chicago, IL and Blue Earth, MN. The personal part was 4 days in Blue Earth seeing old friends. It was a very very long trip, but nice to see old friends again, and even relaxing -- at least while I was in MN. Anyway - we also got our document gathering kit from the Agency this week, A LOT of stuff needed. More on the medical front, all the certs showing we were born and married, and of course enough financial documents too sink a ship. Moving forward .... ever slowly pressing on. :) -- Stephen

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Home Study - Round One

Complete... Wednesday at 1 p.m. we arrived in Lake Forest. That is about 45 minutes south of us. This was the office the social worker that we were meeting with... Cristi. We had sent an email a day or so before to confirm the appointment and had heard nothing back, so we were a little concerned that maybe she would be a no-show. Even when we got into the waiting room we were a few minutes early so no one was there from lunch yet. So we sat and waited.... getting more and more nervous. I told Laura "We are probably being watch via video to see how we interact". I was half-joking. Cristi arrived though and we went into for the interview. 2 and a half hours -- WHEW!. It was good though. Cristi is VERY nice. It was easy to talk to her and we went through so much information about our childhoods, our relationships with our family, Laura and I's relationship. It was a lot. I was tired when we were done, but very relieved that it was over. Anyway - she sent us a very nice email about the visit afterwards, she said that she thinks that we will make good parents and is looking forward to writing a us a good home study. YEAH!!!! It gets more and more real everyday.... -- Stephen

Friday, November 04, 2005

Holding Patterns

Have you ever been on a flight and you're close to your destination, you got all your stuff packed away for landing and your all set. You've dug your cell phone out and your ready to call your ride to make sure they are waiting for you outside baggage claim, and then ding. You know the ding. The ding that says the captian is about to speak. "Good Afternoon, this your captain speaking. We are currently 10 miles out from our destination city, but we have been asked to maintain a "holding pattern" until we are given clearance to land." That is when you know your going to be in that seat at least another hour. So you dig everything back out and get comfortable. Adoption is a lot like that. Except that you are flying into dozens of cities and everyone of them has thier own brand of holding patterns that you have to deal with. Right now, we are in a holding pattern. We are supposed to be doing our interviews with the Social worker. Actually supposed to have done the first set last Wednesday. She got sick though. Not her fault, still annoying. This is really just the first Holding pattern as well. I know that when are done with the interviews we need to submit our i-600A to the CIS and then it is another holding pattern. Those are the worst too, since they are the government -- no complaining allowed, no dirty looks, I will probably not even be able to blog about it.... Worst case scenario i will pass out the duck dodgers decoder rings and we can go that route. Anyway - I am quickly learning that the holding patterns are going to be the hardest part of this process. It is like watching a pot of water, waiting for it to boil. 2 minutes seems like an hour. Next Wednesday, barring more illness, earthquakes, terrorists "incidents", or tsunami, we will have our first SW interview. She seems nice, I hope she is. We need nice. :) -- Stephen

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Babies, toddlers and pre-teens - OH MY!

So, we got a taste of parenting the other night. We have some close friends that have 5 kids - 5 great kids. Ages 10, 8, 6, 3, and 13 months (i think). 4 boys and the baby girl. I love these kids - I always tell Laura that if we could be gauranteed a kid as cute as any of these guys, I would be the first one on board to have a bio kid. Anyway, having that many kids means that you are ALWAYS dealing with some sort of virus, or injury, or massive all consuming school project, and for Scott and Angie, the last few weeks have been even worse. Sadie, the baby, had an infection in her foot and spent 5 days in the hospital, meanwhile the boys were dispersed among family. The oldest boy ended up getting sick during that time as well. So suffice to say that they were ragged by the end of the experience. So Laura and I wanted to give them a night to themselves. So, all five, and of course I think that the baby and the toddler count as two a piece.:) We went to thier house and spent the evening. It was SO MUCH FUN! WE played video games and rough housed and I felt like a kid again. Sadie, who usually won't have me near her, was following me around while Seth rode on my back. I even got her to go to sleep while I rocked her. I let Laura take care of the dirty diaper thing though. It was fun - and a lot easier then I thought it would be, of course it was just for a few hours, one night. And I slept like a baby that night. I didn't realize that I was so tired. They are great kids though. Getting ready for the full-time position.... -- Stephen

Home Study continues....

We have a social worker assigned to us - we have not heard from her yet, but it has only been a few days so I am not overly worried yet. Her name is Christi. Kathy told us she is very laid back and experienced, so that made me feel a little better. So far for the home study - we have : 1. my voe (verification of employment) 2. birth certificates and marriage license 3. We have chosen the people that will write our reference letters. WE are still waiting for those to come back -- get on it you guys -- you know who you are. :) 4. I have completed my Autobiography, Laura is still working on hers. 5. I am in process of pulling my financial records together, which is, well .... embarrassing. 6. We have completed our medical exams and on Thursday will have all the lab work back and all medical paperwork filled out. 7. Thursday we also have our appointment to be fingerprinted. This is not the main fingerprinting for the i-600A, this is the state required livescan fingerprinting. But in the immortal words of Willy Wonka "So much time so little to do - wait - strike that, reverse it". -- Stephen

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Home Study Begins!

I was going to post this last Friday, but decided to wait till today, since FedEx is dropping off the retainer and the check to Partners for Adoption today. We got all the money together, finally, and sent off a cashier's check. I waited until Friday so I could get the cashier's check. I did not want to have 2400.00 dollars sitting in my account waiting to have a check come through. I am so paranoid about that kind of thing. Any way, I was anxious this weekend about the whole thing, so I re-arranged the bedroom. Put the bed in a different spot, moved Laura's "wardrobe" over to the corner, and got rid of the dresser that I wasn't using anymore. We also got rid of the TV and DVD player that we had in the bedroom. Laura has been bugging me for awhile about not having a TV in the bedroom, so now she has her wish. I already miss it. I think that from the SW's perspective it is probably for the best. Who knows whether she would even care though. I also moved our "security camera". We have a small little radio shack camera that plugs into the back of our TV that I salvaged from an old office that worked at. For fun, I put the camera up by the front door which, if you have ever been to our house you would know, that that is stupidest place to have the camera. So I moved it around to the back so I could see the side of the house. We have a church next door to us with a big parking lot, and the kids are constantly harassing the dogs and making them bark, so now I will be able to see what is going on without having to get up every 20 seconds. I have been reading more about the HS process trying to figure out what we should do. We subscribe to Adoptive Families magazine, and they had a section this month where people wrote in about what they did to prepare. One stuck out -- "Deep clean the bathroom and kitchen, and clean the clutter. Make a meat and cheese dish, and relax." I think that I can do all that. Except the relax part. :) I know that we are making way more of this then we need to, it is just hard to shake the fact that this person will be judging whether we will make for fit parents. Everything we do or say, will work for or against that perception. I have grown up with the mentality that what other people think of me is unimportant. That makes it difficult for me to accept that with the stroke of a pen this person can make or break our adoption. I keep thinking, "what if they are having a bad day, or someone irritated them before they come to our house." I have finished my autobiography though. It is a bit on the negative side though, so I think I will be making some edits to it. As humans we tend to focus on the negatives sometimes. I think that it is good for the SW to know what Laura and I have been through on the negative side since I believe that has a greater impact on your thinking then the positives do. As I read and re-read the autobiography, with the mindset to remember more positives, a lot are coming to mind. With my past the way it was, it is difficult to see past some of the worst, and fish out the good things that happened. When I think of my daughter, and fast forward 10, 15, 20 years I hope that her good memories are easier to pick out then the bad ones. I wonder if she will remember being in an orphanage, if she will remember her bio mother, even if just on a strictly emotional level. I wonder if she will wish that she could have stayed in China. I wonder if I will support her enough , or if I will support her too much and not properly equip her for life. Will I be able to handle the challenges of explaining why she was abandoned, how we can love her just as much as anyone loves their bio child, how even though she doesn't look like us we are her family. In the autobiography, one of the questions was "How do you anticipate the addition of a child will affect your family?" For me that was the hardest question. I hate the way I answered it and I will be changing it, but I have been thinking about that question a lot. I really don't know. I have been thinking about what we will do about certain, specific things. Taking her to work with me, or out in service with Laura and I. Trying to come up with schedules to allow both of us to have some alone time. Will she sleep through the night? Probably not, so who will get up to take care of her. Changing diapers, that will be a new one for me. Seriously - never done that before. Not ever having even one minute where I do not think about where she is or what she is doing, and not seeing that as a bad thing. Having her fall asleep on my chest while I lay on the couch. Having her scream non-stop for an hour because I am too dense to figure out what she wants. Helping her learn Chinese, and having her help us learn Chinese. I think about being away from her, and how great it will be to come home and see her waiting for me. Staying up all night, worrying because she has a temp, or a sniffle, or a cough. So have I considered what our life will be like after the adoption, yes. I still don't know how to answer the question. I anticipate that the addition of a child will be the greatest thing to happen to Laura and I since we found each other. I think it will bring great joy and sorrow, and anxiety and happiness, and love to our house. I think that it will make me an adult and a child all at the same time. It will drive Laura and I apart and will bring us closer to each other then we have ever been. Everyone keeps telling me how my life will change with a baby, and everytime they tell me some "horror" story, I just keep thinking, "Yeah, but I will have this precious baby, so who cares". I think that really sums it up for me. I know that things will be hard sometimes, and sometimes they will be easy. I know that it will forever change our relationship, our free-time will no longer be free. We can't get up and decide to go for the weekend and leave out cares behind. We can't go to any movie we want, can't spend the day playing video games, or watching TV, just to unplug, or "take the day off". The loss of that type of freedom will kind of suck, but you know it doesn't matter, because I know that when I look at my baby for the first time none of that stuff will matter. I will have this precious life, that completely relies on me. I will have this person who will unconditionally love me, and that I will unconditionally love. Why wouldn't I give up my "free-time" for that. I think that is a small price to pay. -- Stephen

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Been a few days -- sorry

It has been awhile since I posted anything here. Here is a quick run down of the last couple of weeks. We were accepted by the Home Study provider and we are currently going through the retention contracts and still trying to pull the money together. I am confident that by the 16th when I get paid, we will have it all together. Such a headache though. Laura is back from her visiting her family in Minnesota and she was happy to see the changes to the house. It seems like it has become a tradition that whenever she leaves the house for a few days or more, I remodel. Gotta do something when your bored. :) We have been thinking a lot about a certain topic that is going to come up in the Home Study -- who will parent our child should something horrific happens to us. That is a hard quesiton to answer and for those of you who are reading this who were not offered the job, don't be offended. We thought for along time about what we wanted in an alternate parents and I feel like we made a good choice. I just hope they are up for it. It is a weird question to ask someone though. With those things in mind, I picked up a term life insurance policy to make sure that if I die, Laura and the baby will be taken care of, and if we both die, it will give our "alternates" a chance to raise her without the hardship that taking on another person brings. Still working on the autobioigraphy and finding it very difficult to focus on it. I am probably going to have to do a Starbucks sit in with my laptop this weekend and get it banged out. There is alot that happened in my breif existence on this planet and a lot of it is hard to put down in words. So hopefully in a few weeks we will be knee deep in the Home Study and getting all the dirt sucked out of our life for the world to see. :) --- Stephen