Happy Chanukah & Merry Christmas!

It's hard to think that at this time last year we thought that we would have our daughter home at the end of 2006. Now we're feeling like we would be lucky to have her home for the end of 2007. Even so, we have had a wonderful Chanukah, celebrating with friends and family, and enjoying lighting the menorah each night. And we are excited to travel to San Francisco to celebrate Christmas with Jonathan, Margaret, Caroline, & Colin. Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful holiday season. --Lots of Love, Mara & Chris

New Rules to Adopt from China

Even though the CCAA hasn't made a formal announcement, US papers are starting to print the story that has been circulating through the China adoption community for the past couple of weeks. China is looking to tighten rules regarding who can adopt a child from their country. Apparently, this is in response to a huge increase in adoption applications. Some reports say that there are currently twice as many applications as there are "paper-ready" children. (hence, the ridiculously long increase in wait time)

We're lucky - we aren't affected by the new rules. Most believe that families that are already logged-in will not be subjected to the new rules, and even if we were, it doesn't look like we would be disqualified. But the many articles bring to light some of the reasons for the increasing wait. The A.P. article that was printed in yesterday's Washington Post does a good job of explaining the rules and the current situation, as does the article from today's Wall Street Journal (which I'm a little partial to since my cousin is a WSJ columnist!) The New York Times article from today's paper is also pretty good. Finally, if you search on google news, there are currently 293 articles about it...choose your favorite paper!

Review & Matching...How Does it Work?

Well, if the rumors are right, our dossier should be in review now. So what does that mean? There was a great explanation this week on http://chinaadopttalk.com/ ("The Rumor Queen") explaining both the review and matching process (reposted with permission)...

How the Review Room Works...

  • Each agency has their own review person. They know how to put a dossier together based on how their review person wants to see it, and based on the things their review person will approve or deny.
  • Each review person has their own assigned agencies, or maybe their own assigned country.
  • Sometimes one review person has twice as many files to review as someone else does that month, but the next month they may have half as many.
  • This means that one reviewer could be several months ahead of another reviewer, and may stay that way until their agencies have a big month and they get slowed down again. It is normal for one reviewer to still be working on February while another reviewer has made it to April.
  • The review room notice on the CCAA site won’t show that a month is complete until all reviewers are through with that month.

How the Matching Room Works...

  • First, they review the baby dossiers and make sure there are no issues with them. We are told that they then count up all of the baby dossiers that are eligible for matching that month and then look to see how far this stack will go in the parent dossiers without sending out a partial day, and they pull all of those parent files. That is the likely cut-off date. Sometimes something happens and they don’t get this far. Sometimes something happens and they get farther.
  • Next they match orphanages up with agencies. This orphanage has six babies, this agency has six families. These two orphanages are in the same province and have a total of 12 babies, this agency has 12 families. When they are through with this is when (I believe) some agencies start to get information about the cut-off date. Or at least it is when they used to start getting information.
  • And then they start matching individual babies to individual families. At some point during this part of the process most agencies used to hear from their person in the matching room to let them know how many referrals they will be receiving and from what province(s). Some agencies shared this information with their clients. Some chose not to. Recently I’ve gotten the feeling that many agencies are still getting this information but they are being given orders by the CCAA to not share this information with the families.
  • Just as in the review room, each matcher is assigned certain agencies and is responsible for communicating with their agencies. Some matchers tell their agency the cut-off date, some matchers tell their agency “you have X number of referrals arriving”, some matchers give their agency a list of that agency’s families that will be receiving a referral. And some matchers don’t say anything at all to their agencies.
  • The next question that comes up is generally how the matchers match families and babies. I’ve heard from several people who have had the opportunity to speak with someone who works in the matching room. The various conversations seem to all agree that they first look for something that stands out: a matching birthday, a baby who looks a lot like a parent, or a baby who likes music and a parent who teaches music. Several matching people have stated they match by bone structure of the baby’s face and the parent’s faces (this is why they need our passport photos, so they can compare our mug shot with the baby’s mug shot). Some have stated that they used Chinese astrology, also. Once they’ve matched the obvious matches they then start to look at things like age of child requested. The age requested is not a priority for them, they feel they are matching families and not filling orders.

Thank you again to the Rumor Queen for letting me repost this information!

A Little Bit of News (sort of...) and a LOT of Analysis

So, the good news is that the latest batch of referrals went out today. That means that we move up in line the tiniest bit, and that lots of families are finally getting their first glimpses of their children. Of course, the progress that was made was small...they have matched through September 8, 2005...keep in mind that our LID is April 17, 2006. Depressing, isn't it?

So, here's the really depressing part...the CCAA has matched 14 days of LIDs. If it continues at this pace until we receive our referral (approx. 2 weeks of referrals a month), we will receive our referral in January or February 2008. I can't even believe that I just typed that. Let me pause to cry a bit before I continue.

Do I really think that it could be spring of 2008 before we see our daughter? Not really. There are many "experts" in the Chinese adoption field who feel that China won't let the wait get that long. The current number that people are throwing around as an upper limit is 18 months. That would bring us a referral in October or November 2007. As sad as that is, I think I could handle that. There are also those experts who think that the wait will speed up soon. This is also possible. The only precedent for the wait getting this long is during the SARS scare. International adoptions stopped for several months, then when they started back they were very slow. All of a sudden, the CCAA started referring bigger groups, and sending 2 groups of referrals a month. The bottom line is that no one knows.

So I'm trying very very hard to look on the bright side of things. It has been a very depressing two days here for me. Let's see...

  • If we do have to wait until 2008 for our referral, maybe we will be in China during some of the Olympics...I love the Olympics.
  • It doesn't look like we will have any problem at all making it to Shana & Stephen's wedding in July. I am so excited that I am a part of their celebration, and that we will get to go with our friends to Cleveland to celebrate (and that we are all going to catch a Red Sox-Indians game to kick off the weekend).
  • I will have plenty of time to make our 100 Good Wishes Quilt and scrapbook.
  • Speaking of scrapbooks, I will have time to scrapbook all of our Paris pictures, and maybe even scrapbook our wedding pictures.
  • We will get to go to Ocracoke Island one more time as just a couple.
  • I will have time to paint all of the rooms in our house, not just the nursery!
  • I have made such great friends online in our DTC group (families that all sent their paperwork to China in April)...I am having fun with all the gift & book & postcard exchanges, and it has become a wonderful source of support as we go through the wait.
  • We get to go celebrate my Auntie Edie & Uncle Norman's 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. What an fantastic thing to celebrate, and I am so excited to see all of my family.
  • We get to spend Christmas with Jonathan, Margaret, Caroline, & Colin. There's not much better than spending time with the cutest niece and nephew in the world.
  • We are so blessed to have supportive family and friends...I don't know how we would do this without you all!
Hopefully the next time I post we will have some good news. And don't forget to keep sending quilt squares...give me something to work on during this wait! :)

F.A.Q.s, part 2

Time for a few more questions before the Patriots game...

Have you picked out a name? What is it?

Yes, we've picked out a name - three, actually. We requested twins (though the chances of us actually being referred twins is pretty slim - about 1 in 800), so we've picked out two girl names and one boy name (just in case!). And no, we're not telling anyone our names...you'll just have to wait! :)

What's up with the red bracelet that Mara's been wearing?
There's a Chinese legend that says: "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break." The legend is really prominent in the China adoption community, and has taken on the tradition of the red thread bracelet as a means of connecting with the children who wait to be united with their new families. Moms-to-be generally wear their bracelets from the time they begin the paperchase to the day they meet their new daughter or son. For me, it's a way of showing people that we are "paper pregnant", and keeps our daughter first in my mind. (and way easier than buying maternity clothes!)

Have you started to decorate the nursery? Are you registered anywhere?
Not yet. We've been using our spare bedroom for storage for six years, so let's just say that going through everything has been a slow process! I don't think we'll start to actually decorate or register at least until we are through review. I do have a wish list on amazon.com since we are participating in a monthly book exchange with our online April DTC friends. (and you can never have too many books!)

F.A.Q.s, part 1

Some frequently asked questions…

Have you heard anything?
Sadly, no. And we don’t expect to hear anything for awhile. Chris calls it “hurry up and wait”; we were in such a rush to get our paperwork finished by April 2, and now we are just stuck waiting. There’s a great t-shirt I may have to buy…it says “No, we haven’t heard anything. Yes, it’s taking a long time. Thanks for bringing it up.”

When do you think you may hear something?
If we’re lucky, we WON’T hear anything in the next 3-4 months. Our dossier is either about to be in review or is already in review. Not hearing anything will mean that there were no questions, and things are going as planned.

What do you mean by “in review”? And what happened to all that paperwork you sent to China?
We sent all of our paperwork (our dossier…14 documents, each which was notarized, certified by the state, authenticated by the US State Department, and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy) to China on March 28, 2006. From there, it was translated by our agency’s China office, and delivered to the CCAA (China Center for Adoptive Affairs…the government agency in charge of all Chinese adoptions. It couldn’t be delivered any earlier, as both parents have to be at least 30, and Mara turned 30 on April 2. From there, our dossier was logged in…this can take awhile…our log in date (LID) was April 17, 2006. This is the date that the counting starts (and the date that the CCAA goes by). From there, our dossier waits “in line” to begin the process. It’s been 7 months, and we’re still waiting. From there, our dossier will go into the “review room.” This process takes 1-2 months. The CCAA goes over each dossier with a fine toothed comb, and can contact our agency to ask more questions. They can also deny our application (actually, they can deny our application at any time, and while any dossier being denied is rare, it is EXTREMELY rare to be denied after you pass review). We will breathe a giant sigh of relief when April LIDs come out of the review room! As of today, the CCAA has finished reviewing dossiers with a LID of January 31, 2006. There are rumors that at least a few April dossiers are in the review room right now, so we’re close! (you can see how far the CCAA gets on their home page!). From the review room, our dossier waits some more, then goes to the matching room. This is where we will actually be matched with our daughter! There is a huge backlog of dossiers, so the wait after review can be awhile. Currently the CCAA has matched families whose LIDs were August 26, 2005 or earlier. (yikes!) So we have a ways to go. Referrals generally come out once a month or so…I’ll start posting them here so you can keep track too! After we are matched and we accept the referral, we will wait for travel approval to come to China to complete the adoption. This usually takes 4-6 weeks, and you don’t get a lot of notice…usually you travel about a week after you receive your travel approval! Then we’ll go to China!

How much longer are you going to have to wait?
I so wish we knew. When we started the process, the wait was 7-9 months. Currently it is around 14-15 months. Some rumors say it is going to stabilize soon around 14 months; others are more pessimistic and say it could extend out to 18-24 months. There's also the chance that it could speed up again. We are being cautiously optimistic…hopefully we will get our referral over the summer, and travel in the fall.

I know there are a lot more questions…I’ll type up some more later! And send me any you have so I can answer them for everyone! For now, we’re off to go walk around Burke Lake as part of the 20th birthday celebration of our Temple. And, of course, we have to watch the Patriots-Packers game. Let’s just hope we don’t kill each other over this!

100 Good Wishes Quilt

I have always loved getting mail. Really. To the point that growing up Elana and I had a schedule to determine whose turn it was to get it so that neither of us would get an extra turn. So it has been SO much fun to go to the mailbox and find quilt squares and wishes for our baby girl! We’ve received squares from old friends, new friends, family, and the Boston Red Sox (no joke…my beloved Red Sox sent us a jersey to cut up and use in the quilt!). We’ve received squares from all over the country and all over the world. And with all the squares we've received, no two squares are the same!

It is not too late to send a square and a wish. In fact, I hope you will! We have a bunch of squares (almost 80!), but still have a ways to go to get to 100. Please keep sending us squares!!! No, I haven't started quilting yet...I need to take a class first! There's one close by that starts in January...that will probably work! I have started the scrapbook of wishes...that I know how to do! It is so touching to read all of them - thank you!

Back from Paris!

We had an amazing time in Paris on our "last big trip without kids"! It was also a good test trip for Mara...sure, there's a big difference between flying to France and flying to China, but now I know I can do it! (can you believe this was the first time I ever left the country?!?) We had an amazing time doing lots of touristy things, eating lots of French food, and drinking lots of French wine. The weather was perfect and we got a chance to see almost everything on our lists...the Louvre (picture on the left), Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower (in the background of the picture on the right...pic taken at the Rodin Museum), Versailles...oh my goodness we had a busy trip! It was the perfect way to break up our wait a little, and the best trip ever!


Welcome to our blog! We'll be posting updates as we not-so-patiently wait for our little girl. And this will be the place to go for pictures of our baby once we get them!

About Us

We're Mara, Chris, & Hannah. These are our adventures.