Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Marcie YangFuJi

These are photos of our daughter,
Marcie YangFuJi taken in April 2006, at 5 months old.

I wish they'd scanned a little better, but you can't have everything in life.

I'm particularly amused by the strawberries in the second photo -- and her little feet sticking out of the jumper.

Where are the pictures you promised?

This is a fair question. We did get two additional photos today in the mail-- and by today, I really mean tonight because it was almost 7pm by the time we opened the Fed Ex package. I forced Jason to sit next to me in front of the video camera because I promised I would videotape everything, no matter how stupid I felt doing it, and I like to keep my word. My favorite part of the video is where Jason and I are looking at the new pictures and Casey comes running into the scene completely naked, of course-- because he prefers to swim in his birthday suit. He keeps saying, "That's a baby sister!" and I keep saying, "That's YOUR baby sister." And I haven't watched the footage, by the way-- this is just how I remember it.

Anyway, Jason had to run out the door right after we opened the package (jiu jitsu class is Wednesday nights), and when he gets home, I'll nag and nag and nag (on behalf of all of you) so that he will scan the photos so I can upload them to the blog.

In the meantime, we have settled on a name:
Marcie YangFuJi. The "yang" part is pronounced "yung." Our son's name, Casey, means brave and vigilant. Marcie means martial or warlike-- seems like we have a theme going. . .

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


We feel blessed and proud to announce the referral of our daughter:
Given Name: Yang Fu Ji
American Name: To be decided
Birthdate: November 15, 2005 (Karen's birthday!)-- 7 months old
Location: ChengXiang Social Welfare Institute in Yunyang County, in Chongqing Province

Her last medical appointment was in April, and she weighed in at 14.3 pounds, and she measured 24.02 inches.

Her favorite activity is to play outside, and her favorite toy is any toy you give her to play with. She is a deep sleeper, and she sucks her fingers when she sleeps.

She can hold her head up when she is on her stomach, and she rolls from front to back and from back to front. She reaches for toys, laughs out loud, and recognizes the difference between strangers and acquaintances. She knows her name, too.

The SWI (Social Welfare Institute/orphanage) described her as both quiet and active, said she likes music, has a ready smile, and can be obstinate.

We'll get two more photos tomorrow, and we'll travel in August!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Chuffy McGruder . . . my second dog ever

So tomorrow is the big day. The word from our agency is that 60 families were matched in this group. They spent all day today translating the information, and they will start notifying families between 9:30am and 10:00am tomorrow (central time). They will start by calling people on the east coast and work their way west. And rumor is that it will take about an hour and a half to get through all the families. Lots of people from other agencies got their referrals today, but we will wait. So, as you can imagine, today dragged on.

When I got home tonight, I went for a run. I am training for a half marathon (which is scheduled for August 20th and is the third of a three-part trilogy called the Triple Crown-- and I've already run the first two half marathons). I didn't want to run in the humidity (who thought San Diego would be so humid?!?), but I didn't want to miss out on the mid-week run. So as I was running, thinking about this new child of ours, I was getting rather choked up. I was thinking about how the thought of having a second child can sometimes be so overwhelming. But then when I was running, the thought of learning about my second child was such a relief. Almost like I've really been waiting for this. And I have-- for over a year.

Anyway, I got back to the house and my husband asked me if I'd checked on the dogs-- which we'd left on the side yard today because the neighbors complained about their barking last week. So this morning, I put their bark collars on, gave them some water, a pillow to sleep on, and put them on the side yard. Jason went to check on the dogs, and he looked over at me--I could hear the anguish in my husband's voice when he said my name. I thought, "Oh no! The dogs must have gotten loose." But that didn't make sense because I'd just run all over the neighborhood and no one had "found dogs" signs up.

As I got closer to my husband, he softly said, "He died. Chuffy died today." And I burst into tears. We got Chuffy from a pug rescue group in Orange County. He came with the name Chuffy, and I dubbed him Chuffy McGruder-- and he was a really good dog. He was getting old, no doubt-- going blind and a little deaf. But he followed me everywhere. He was, without question, my dog. I think he was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. And when we adopted him, we adopted another pug with him-- Pugasus (whom I have dubbed Pugasus LaRoue). Pugasus is smaller and a couple years younger. But he is really Jason's dog.

Chuffy had bad breath. And he snored when he slept. But he was really a very gentle and very faithful dog. And he loved to give kisses. He licked and licked and licked. If I didn't want my feet licked, I had to keep them tucked up with me on the couch. Chuffy was super patient. Just last night, when Casey was trying to ride him like a horse, Chuffy didn't even whimper or wine. And this morning, when I caught Casey uncurling Chuffy's tail for the millionth time, Chuffy wasn't making a peep. He was a really good dog. In the photo above, which was taken a little more than four and a half years ago, Chuffy is the dog on the left.

Casey asked about Chuffy a million times tonight. "Where's Chuffy?" I tried to explain that Chuffy went bye-bye, but then I worried Casey might wonder why Casey wasn't coming back. So then I said, "Chuffy went bye-bye and he's not coming back." Casey said, "Bye, bye, Chuffy." But I don't think he understood. My bet is that first thing in the morning, he'll come running into the family room, wondering what the heck happened to Chuffy.

So today ended up not being such a good day. But I'm certainly hopeful that tomorrow will be a little brighter . . .

Package Delivered!

The package containing our referral was delivered at 8:48am this morning (Central time) to our agency in Colorado. That gives them all day today to translate-- and we'll find out tomorrow about our baby . . . check back for an update!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The package has landed in Colorado . . .

You may be wondering why it's a big deal that our referral is in the DHL facility in Englewood, Colorado. Well, our agency is located in Colorado. That means the package really will be delivered to our agency on Monday. Which in turn means we could receive our referral call on Tuesday. I'm still prepared to wait until Wednesday for all the referral details, but I sure wouldn't mind Tuesday. . .

You can see, here to the left, how I know our referral is in that package-- the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA), which is the agency that places children for adoption internationally, has stated that they have placed children with families whose application documents were registered with them up to June 28th-- and our documents were registered on June 20th.

So this is how I feel at the moment:

Friday, June 23, 2006

Maybe we will know something on Tuesday . . .

Up until now, I've been perfectly happen in the notion that our referral won't get here until Friday the 30th. But this morning someone on our agency discussion board said she'd called DHL and they said the package with our referrals was scheduled to arrive at our agency in Colorado by noon on Monday. I didn't believe it.

But guess what? I just checked the DHL tracking number, and our package has arrived at the DHL sorting station (is that what they call it?) in San Francisco. That means our baby's information is now on U.S. soil!

Even if the package doesn't travel tomorrow, I'm thinking it can get from San Francisco to Colorado by noon on Monday. What do you think?

We still won't know anything, then, until Tuesday at the earliest. But it's kind of neat to think about.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Me? Obsessing?

So in thinking about this DHL package with the referral information, I am not actually convinced it will arrive on Monday. I finally took a short break to check out the tracking information, and it doesn't actually say it will arrive on Monday. Others on the agency discussion board think it will based on past history. Plus, they reason that even though the agency said it wouldn't arrive for 2-4 business days, the planes don't stop flying on Saturday. I'm not sure of that, actually. I mean, obviously planes fly on Saturday-- but if our agency is giving us an estimate of business days, I think that means business days. And Saturday is not a business day. Plus, I am counting tomorrow, Friday, as day 1. Others are counting today as day one because the package left China, Chinese time, yesterday. Again, I think our agency's estimate is based on a timeline from today, not from yesterday, because they gave today's date as the date of the announcement.

In any case, we will get our referral next week, probably by Friday. And that's good enough for me. Don't get me wrong. I'll obsess. Obviously. But I'm okay with Friday for our referral phone call. And I promise if I learn anything new, I will post it-- when we know, we'll post it.

Oh! One last thing . . . I'm thinking we'll wait on the full package of pictures before we select a name. I'd hate to name her Gladys only to discover she really looks like an Enid. (And I hope you know I'm kidding about both those specific names-- they are not on our list!)

The DHL Tracking Number

So when China sends packages to the United States, they send them via DHL, and you can contact DHL and find out the tracking number and watch "the stork fly," so to speak. Well, someone (not me), has discovered our referral batch's tracking number. Here it is: 2858794901. The package is schedule to arrive at our agency on MONDAY. In theory, that means we'll know all about our baby on Tuesday. Tuesday! Can you believe it?

A friend of mine pointed out that this knowledge may not be good . . . it's like knowing your grades are turned in, but the school hasn't released them. Or your annual (or semi-annual) review is coming, and you know when, but not exactly precisely when. Or what it'll say. So this wait may be hard. Good thing I have a busy weekend planned-- in fact, we're attending baptism classes for Baby S. this weekend! How's that for timing?!?

Anyway, if you want to track the package, you can go to and type in the tracking number 2858794901. Right now it's en route from Beijing, China.

Stork Alert: The Referrral is IN the mail!

So every morning this week when I've woken up, I've padded into the study to check Rumor Queen's website to see if there has been any announcement about when the next batch of referrals will come out. Every morning there's been nothing. Yesterday on the discussion board for our agency, people were reporting that the agency had told them to expect the referral to arrive around the 30th of the month. (A referral, by the way, is the information about our match-- it will tell us about our baby, if it's a boy or a girl, how old she is, what her current name is, what province she's in, and if she's in an orphanage or foster care. The day after the referral, which is a phone call and an e-mailed photo, we'll get a package in the mail, and the package will have additional photos for us.)

But this morning I overslept. So no check of Rumor Queen's site. But I just took a peek, and guess what? REFERRALS ARE IN THE MAIL. Our agency website announcement, dated today, says that they will arrive in 2-4 business days. They take a day to translate and verify the information, then they call us. Today is Thursday. That means our agency will receive the information between Tuesday (the 27th) and Thursday (the 29th). That means we'll know who our new baby is between Wednesday the 28th and Friday the 30th!!!

Can you tell I'm excited? I didn't expect to be so excited to hear that the referrals are in the mail. For us, later is actually better because I'm at a job that goes through August 11th, and I really can't travel before the 12th. Some people have traveled as little as four weeks after they received their referral. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that for once, this works out for us, and we will be scheduled to travel after August 11th.

Another weird thing. I've been having all these weird adoption dreams lately. Last night I dreamed I asked my mom to write a note to the high school administration explaining that I needed to use a rolling backpack because my law school books were heavy, and I'd be carrying a baby on my hip. What do you think that means? Weird.

Ok. I really should get some work done. If I'm this excited now, though, imagine how un-focused I'll feel when I actually get THE phone call and see the baby's picture!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Update on Referral Timeline

Our agency is now predicting that China will match families whose dossiers were logged in to China on or before June 27, 2005 this month. Our dossier was logged in June 20th, which means it's pretty likely our match will be included in this batch. No word yet on when we'll get the referral. Last month they came on May 23rd. So that means it could be as early as next Friday. We'll update when we get more information . . .

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Cost of Adoption

Sometimes people ask, "Is adoption expensive?" The short answer is YES.

BUT please do not confuse the cost of adoption with the price of "buying" a baby. It's definitely not the same thing. And people who adopt and are adopted find the notion of buying a baby rather offensive (for what are hopefully obvious reasons).

How much exactly is the adoption? Well, it depends. There are financial costs associated with pretty much any adoption:

  • fingerprinting fees
  • physical/medical exam expense
  • homestudy fees
  • agency fees (sometimes the agency does the homestudy)
  • travel expenses
  • court fees

Then, there are additional expenses, depending on your adoption. For instance, in our domestic adoption, we had to make photocopies of our profile, complete with prints of our family photo, and we paid for a facilitator (who more or less connected us with our son's birthmother). Some people also pay for a birthmother's living expenses at the time they match up to 6 weeks after the baby is born. In our international adoption, we had to pay for notarization of all our documents, then we paid to have our County Recorder and our Secretary of State verify the notary, and we paid the Chinese Consulate to authenticate the Secretary of State's seal. We also paid to photocopy the entire dossier (the paperwork that demonstrates we are fit parents, including our employment verification, our physical exams, our proof of insurance, our homestudy, our birth certificates, etc.) before sending it to our agency. We will also provide our child's orphanage a "donation" to help defray the costs of caring for her (or him) until we picked her (or him) up.

All in all, what does that mean, in terms of a bottom line? It's expensive. Non-public agency and private adoptions, including international adoptions, range from a low of about $15,000 to a high of about $30,000. Now, I think don't think I personally actually know anyone who only paid $15,000, but in theory it's possible. I like to think of it as the cost of a car-- without the 5-year financing option. It's really not fair to think of it as "buying" a baby though. I mean, the social worker who sifts through the paperwork, meets you numerous times, and writes the detailed report-- she deserves to get paid. The person who "markets" you by distributing your profile-- they deserve to make a living wage. The social worker who talks to women deciding what to do and who offers lifetime counseling to the child and the birthmother-- she shouldn't work for free. Your doctor won't perform a free exam. More questionable are the ridiculous fingerprinting fees, but everything as a price. It's not the child that costs the money; it's the background check, matching process, and counseling that we're paying for.

And, to be fair, there is a credit. Of course, you don't qualify for the credit until the year the adoption is final-- even if that's three or four or more years after you spent the money. And the credit does phase out at a certain income, even if you met the income requirement in the year you spent the money. And the credit doesn't cover the full cost of the adoption. But it helps. A lot. It's a good thing.

But there are other costs associated with adoption, too-- costs you mostly see on a Lifetime movie. There are emotional costs. It's a giant rollercoster of emotion, and I think that's true whether you adopt domestically or internationally. When we were waiting to adopt Casey, we had the pleasure of speaking to two or three women who were pregnant each month. Some of them we became more attached to than others, and when they decided to parent themselves or selected another family, it was difficult. I mean, it's like interviewing for college or a job-- you are constantly interviewing for parenthood, and you don't know when (or I suppose technically if) anyone will "pick" you. And then there are those unfortunate cases where people are selected by a birthmother and then the birthmother changes her mind. And she should certainly have the right to, but that doesn't make it easy on the prospective adoptive parent. . . And though I find the international process less emotionally stressful, it's not without its difficulties. At least it's a question of when and not if, but that can be stressful too.

This is not to say, of course, that pregnancy and childbirth are not without their own financial and emotional costs. To be sure, they are. Is one harder or worse than the other? I have no idea. But the bottom line is, whatever the cost, once you have your child home with you, you don't really think about it-- because really a child, your child, is priceless.

Monday, June 05, 2006

To Travel with Toddler or Not. . .

So, we're contemplating having our 3 1/2 year old join us on our trip to China. We're still in the contemplation-only stage. We've been stuck in this stage for, oh-- about a year now. Actually at first I was vehemently opposed to bringing Casey. He is not a sitting-still kind of child, and the thought of a 16-hour plan trip with him scares the heck out of me. I know he'd be well cared for back home. . . but then the thought of being away from him for 2 weeks kills me. And I wonder what it'd be like for Mom and Dad to disappear for a couple weeks, only to return with a sibling. Not that he'd understand if he participated, but I have this sense that deep down on some subconscious level, he'd feel better about the whole thing if he got to participate in it. I'm still not sold on the idea and neither is Jason. I'm hoping we just get a gut feeling about it when we get closer.

It seems like a lot of people have traveled with well-behaved toddlers. I've read lots of stories by travelers who took their 2-year-olds. And strangely I've never read a horror story about travel with a toddler to China for adoption. I wonder if that's because regretful people just keep quiet. I wish they wouldn't. I wish they'd shout it from the rooftops! Then the rest of us could learn from the experience. Or maybe it's just that only people with well-behaved toddlers take them to China.

Well, we'll let you know what we decide to do. . . In the meantime, if you have an opinion, post it in the comment section and we'll consider it. If you've already told us what you think, we haven't forgotten!

For now, we're just enjoying our last few weeks as a family of three. Casey is a crack-up. Now that his vocabulary is improving he has started negotiating with us: No more time-out! Five more minutes! I want TV! Sometimes this is exhausting. But mostly, I'm amused. . .

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The (WHOLE) Timeline

Below is a list of the dates and what piece of the papework was completed. It took us almost three months from the time our homestudy was finished for China to receive our completed paperwork-- ah! The joys of bureaucracy. . . Anyway, this doesn't cover everything we did, but it's most of it:

11/3/2004 Submitted application to CCAI for adoption
11/3/2004 Sent away for birth certificates and marriage certificate
11/4/2004 Homestudy began
11/05/2004 Application accepted by CCAI
11/17/2004 I600A Petition to Adopt submitted to USCIS
11/19/2004 Employment verification for Karen completed
11/24/2004 Application for passports completed
11/24/2004 Clearance letters from the County Sheriff's Department
11/24/2005 Application for I171H filed
1/12/2005 Karen's physical completed
1/13/2005 Jason's employment verification letter completed
3/9/2005 Jason's physical completed
3/21/2005 Homestudy completed
4/5/2005 I171H issued
4/8/2005 Notarized all the paperwork
4/15/2005 Re-notarized all the paperwork
4/20/2005 Karen's certified birth certificate mailed to Danielle in NY (whose husband walked it through the consulate to authenticate it for us)
4/22/2005 County Clerk certification of the documents completed
4/25/2005 Secretary of State certification of notarized documents
4/25/2005 Submitted paperwork to Los Angeles Chinese Consulate for authentication
5/20/2005 Received paperwork from Consulate
5/21/2005 Photocopies of all paperwork for CCAI (our agency)
5/23/2005 Dossier received by CCAI (our agency) for review and translation
6/9/2005 Dossier mailed to China (DTC)
6/20/2005 Log-in Date (LID)-- this is the date China logged in our paperwork!

The Title of this Blog

So naming this blog was actually kind of hard. We haven't picked out a name for the baby, so we couldn't call it "Journey to ________." And I didn't really want to put our family name out there. Well, I enlisted the help of my trustee study group friends. We just finished our third year of law school May 13th, and one of my "team" is heading off to Sacramento today to work at the State Franchise Tax Board for the summer. We're all part-time students (with other full-time comittments during the days), so this will be our last summer of "fun" before we hit the ground running (assuming we all get jobs after graduation). Anyway, we were celebrating the completion of our third year, and we got to talking about the adoption. Well, I got to talking about it. . . I'm starting to obsess actually--

Anyway, I was telling them I'd decided to put up this blog, and though I didn't have time to do it during the school year, I thought it'd be now or never. So I enlisted their help in naming it. This was the group's consensus. Lest you think I'd ever seek b.s., it stands for Baby S.-- what we'll call our child until we name her (or him).

Now that it has a name, it's ready to go live, and I'll be sending out an e-mail to friends and family shortly introducing it. Here we go!

Our Family of Three

This is my family in November 2005, almost one year after we began the quest to expand our family through an international adoption.

Friday, June 02, 2006

First Post

Welcome to our blog! I've never had one of these before--I'd like to say that's because I staunchly value my family's privacy. But that'd be a lie. It's laziness, or lack of time-- or something more along those lines. In any case, welcome! I'm setting up this blog to document our journey to adopt a child from China. This will be our second adoption; our first adoption happened in January 2003 here in the U.S. We weren't yet old enough to adopt from China when our son Casey was born, so we went the domestic route. We were so lucky. Casey's birthmother let us be in the room when he was born! We cut the umbilical cord, gave him his first bottle and his first bath and picked out his name. We have an open adoption with Casey's birthfamily. He has two half-siblings living in Ohio, and we try to visit with them about once a year. He's only three now, but we've visited with them four times since his birth. This adoption was much more paperwork, and it's been much more waiting. Our application was accepted by our agency CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International) November 9, 2004. Our paperwork took quite a while to complete (which I blame at least partly on the "public notary" who lied to us about having an expired license-- a story for another post), and our paperwork landed in China finally on June 20, 2005. At the time, the wait for a referral, which is basically the information about the child you've been matched with, was 6 months. But, my, how it has stretched! Here we are, 11 months later-- and still no referral! For now, we are hopeful we will receive our referral at the end of June, and we're planning to travel to China in August. That could be off by a month, of course, so I wouldn't want anyone to get their hopes up! In any event, once I figure this thing out some more, I'll post the official "timeline" and maybe add some links.