A New Blog...

So, with all of this extra time, it's hard to know what to do. A lot of our adoption friends are traveling, which sounds wonderful. That is, if you've never traveled with me. Those of you who have know that I'm not a good traveler. Between the motion sickness and the nervousness, well, it's tough! So I'm doing some virtual traveling. In September I joined postcrossing, where I swap postcards with people all around the world. I have gotten amazing cards from people all around the world, and have learned so much about so many countries (I've also learned that the one place where public education really failed me is in geography...I don't know where most of the countries are!). I've posted all of my postcards on my new "travel" blog so you can see too!
I think I've got it up-to-date now with all of the cards I've received - I'll be better too about posting them now as I get them!

I've also just discovered Toy Voyagers. This is where you send your toy voyager (a stuffed animal usually) to hosts around the world for their own adventures. They each have their own travel journal with pictures of all of the places they have been. In January I'm going to send out my own toy voyagers, and begin to host toys from other families. The toy voyager website is http://www.toyvoyagers.com. If you click on "view voyagers" you can read the different travel logs. I will warn you though - I have spent HOURS reading about the amazing places these toys have been! (that, and the pictures are so funny!!) Once I get started, I'll post pictures to my "travel" blog as well!

We're heading to Wisconsin in a few days to spend Christmas with Chris's parents and Martha and Matthew. Then we'll be back home and ready to celebrate New Year's Eve with our annual pajama party at Shana & Stephen's! Happy Holidays!

Referrals...just not for us...

So, the CCAA has sent out another batch of referrals. No, we're nowhere close to getting ours, but at least we're getting closer to 2006 LIDs. I've made a lot of online friends through this wait, and the 2006 LID referrals will mean a lot of my friends will start to see their babies.

So, what does this all mean? (warning...math nerdiness is coming through here...) Well, they referred 6 days of LIDs this time. That means that we have 124 LIDs in front of us "in line." If they continue at 6 days of LIDs a month, we have 21 months to go (so just about halfway there)...that would mean a referral in early September 2009. Now, if they could pick up the pace by 2 days of referrals a month (totally a possibility), that would cut down our wait to 16 more months (referral in early March 2009). This seems to me to be the most likely scenario - that we would get our referral somewhere around the 3 year mark. Now, there are definitely wrinkles with the math theory - there is nothing to say that the CCAA won't speed up or slow down. And many (including me) believe that we will see an impact on referrals from the Olympics (my gut is that we'll see a month without referrals in August, then a speed-up afterwards). And the fact that a lot of families with LIDs after us are being told that they won't wait more than 3 years means that we will have to wait less. And, finally, there's a lot of talk about the April 2007 LIDs. Yes, this is WAY after us. But I'm hearing a 4 year wait for this group...for that to happen, we would have to see our referral in fall 2008. Here's hoping...

Happy December

So, no, there's no news. And yes, we're really to closer to our referral now than we were at this time last year. (since last December we were convinced we would be home by December 2007...now, I'm really praying for December 2008...) Hopefully things will pick up soon, but I don't think it will. It's been a tough few days for me - how I handle the wait kind of fluctuates, and for whatever reason it's been really hard lately.

Of course, there's a reason to continue to wait. And if you don't mind a few tears, listen to this beautiful new book, The Motherbridge of Love.
(ps - please don't buy us a copy of this amazing book...I already own it!!! :) )

8 Slow Steps Forward

Yes, that's right. Referrals for the month came out this week, and they got to December 8, 2005. That's 8 teenie tiny steps closer to our date. Now, we are definitely at the point where any movement forward is good. But the fact that they barely made it past the first week of December '05 isn't great news. Most people believe that December 2005 has significantly fewer LIDs than November did, so the fact that we're still moving this slowly makes me think that 8 or 9 days a month is here to stay. If the CCAA only refers 8 day batches from here on out, we would get our referral late March/early April 2009. I can't say that that would be that surprising, considering that that would put us almost exactly at a 3 year total wait. I know - it's shocking. If they sped up, even by a couple of days (10 days per batch), that could mean a few months earlier - November/December 2008. It's really frustrating, especially considering the fact that we receive no updates or information whatsoever from our agency.

In other news, did you hear my screams of joy last week when the Red Sox won the World Series? It's a very different feel from their win in 2004, but I'm no less of a nerd about it. I have watched more video and read more articles about the Red Sox than I ever thought possible. I watched most of the rolling rally (aka victory parade), hours of tape of Papelbon dancing, and have ordered t-shirts, pennants, books, and back issues of the Boston Globe. I'm also going through some serious baseball withdrawal...with the baseball package this past year, I watched nearly every Red Sox game, and found other baseball games to watch on off days. So I watched at least 7 games a week since mid-March (yes, I watched spring training games...), and I miss it! We also made our way down to Williamsburg for homecoming (which was a ton of fun) and had poker night at our house last weekend. Now we're getting ready for Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday - aside from the fact that Thanksgiving has the best food of any holiday, I love our family traditions. We always have Thanksgiving at my cousins' house, with lots and lots of "Thanksgiving family" - the same family friends that we've celebrated with since we were little! It's only the first week of November, and I am already excited! :)

My Cookies Love Me

So, no, we have no news. It's been a strange couple of weeks for rumors...lots of speculation that things could speed up or slow down...quite helpful, really. :) I've been crunching some numbers, and I'm hopeful that we could see a referral by the end of 2008, but I wouldn't bet on it.

What would I bet on? The fact that cookies love me. Fortune cookies, actually. A couple of weeks ago, we got Chinese food for dinner. And, wouldn't you know, this was my fortune:Yes, you read that right. My fortune cookie is hitting on me. So, a week later, we ordered Chinese food again, this time from a different restaurant (we have two that we love nearby). I joked with Chris that if my cookie hit on me again, I was going to freak out. Wouldn't you know it, this was my fortune:

I couldn't make this up if I tried! It does seem like cookies love me just as much as I love them!

Getting very excited for the start of game 1 of the World Series...GO RED SOX!!!!

Referrals and Red Sox

Well, the good news is that some families got to see their child's face this week. The bad news? How few of them it was. Referrals only went through the end of November 2005. 5 measly days. It's tough news. I've always felt like however many days were referred, at least progress was being made. But the past few months, the progress has been so slow that we're barely making progress at all. The word is that November 2005 was a record month for applications, and that once we finally got through it, things should pick up. I've also heard a lot of speculation that there will be a speed-up right after the Olympics. Both of those things make the possibility of a 2008 referral a bit brighter. But it's bordering on absurdity to me that when we started the process our agency laughed at us when I said I felt like we would be in China for Passover 2007 - they said that we would be home long before then. And now here we are talking about how happy we would be with a referral by the end of 2008. Sigh...

On a much happier note, the Red Sox are headed to the ALCS after a dramatic sweep of the Angels. I celebrated the win of the AL East with my Uncle Stan - we watched together over the phone, and it was a phenomenal night. Then to watch the Sox come out so strong against a really good Angels team? Well, let's just say it feels a lot like 2004. I'm cheering for the Indians right now, partially because Shana is such a big Indians fan, but mostly because I can't wait to see the Yankees go out in the first round. I guess $195 million just doesn't go as far as it used to. And for those of you who are bound to tell me just how inflated the Red Sox payroll is...yes, it's absurd. But the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox payrolls is greater than the entire payroll of the Diamondbacks (who are also in the playoffs), Pirates, Nats, Marlins, and Devil Rays. Crazy, no? Regardless of who we play, I can't wait for Friday night!

Quite the Weekend

We had quite the weekend. We started off in Baltimore at the Red Sox-Orioles game. The Sox lost, and lost big. But we still had a fantastic time. Batting practice was the best I have ever seen. Big Papi put on a show, slamming home run after home run over the fence. He even hit the batter's eye and the giant video board (I've never seen one go so far before). We also got to watch him play around with the pitchers (especially Mike Timlin & Julian Tavarez), and I met Timlin and Javier Lopez. Very very cool.

We also started our fall softball season Sunday. We won the first game, mostly on an amazing amazing catch by Chris! That's right, Chris so would have had a web gem! :) But in the second game, I got hit in the face with a foul ball. It was a high pop foul, I lost it in the lights, and by the time I got under it, it landed on my nose instead of my glove. After 3 1/2 hours in the ER, we found out what I was already pretty sure of - I have a broken nose. Big bummer. It hurts like heck, I'm really swollen, and I have the start of two black eyes. Perfect for Rosh Hashanah tomorrow night. :) (what do you think - should I dress to match my bruises or not?) I'm not nearly as woozy as I was yesterday, but the vicodin is playing with my brain - Chris says it's like talking to someone who is asleep! Hopefully when the swelling goes down it will be a straight break so I won't have to go back to have it set (keep your fingers crossed!).

UPDATE (9/14) - I went back to the doctor yesterday. After getting some x-rays done (I never was x-rayed before...too swollen, and it was clearly broken), he was able to tell that it is broken in 2 places. BUT it is a straight break. The top break is large enough that when I held up the x-rays in the car I could see it!! It should take 6-8 weeks to heal completely, but I should start to feel better soon.
UPDATE #2 (9/21) - Well, I'm getting better, but it's been much harder and slower than I thought. We had to make a trip back to the ER on Monday...I had been feeling more and more dizzy and sick all day, and when I called my doctor, she sent me straight to the ER for a CAT scan. Thankfully, all was normal, but I was sent home with a diagnosis of "post-concussion syndrome" and told to "rest my brain." I know, it made me laugh too. So another week spent on the couch. Hopefully I'll be back to myself soon!

L'Shana Tovah...

The Hard Truth

Well, the good news is that referrals have landed for September, so there are lots of families who are getting the first glimpse of their babies. The bad news is that they only covered through November 25, 2005 (remember, our log in date is April 17, 2006). While I know that things will speed up ever so slightly once they are done with the 2005 LIDs, it's still hard to take. When we started this journey (and yes, I know how that makes me sound like a contestant on "The Bachelor") the wait was 7-9 months. We will be lucky to be home with our daughter in 2008. Looking at things objectively, in the last year, China has referred 4 months of LIDs. So if they keep up this very slow pace, (which I think is a worst case scenario) it will be well over a year before we see our daughter...probably closer to the three year wait that some have predicted (an April 2009 referral). There is word that there are significantly fewer dossiers logged in in January/February 2006, so they will refer more days, but there is no way of telling what will happen. (heck, I though that we would be in China for Passover 2007...now it could easily be Passover 2009).

There has been much discussion on adoption boards and groups about how much is too much - at what point should you cut your losses and pull out of the program. We will not be doing that (I swear, I just heard two sets of expectant grandparents breathing a sigh of relief!!). We are committed to China both emotionally and financially, and I can't imagine pulling out now. But I can see where people who already have a child might seriously consider it. I know several families who have decided that their family is complete. It's just hard. We're so lucky that we have family and friends that are supportive, but I get the impression that our acquaintances (especially those we work with) are skeptical that we even adopting (we are!!).

Thank goodness for distractions like baseball (go Red Sox!!!!), fall softball starting Sunday, and the fact that I have been convinced to play fantasy football with Stephen and Gregg. (exact words as I met some of their friends at the draft..."OH! So you're the girl!"...oh dear...)!

One more thing. My cousins Sherri, Ira, Goldie, and Jacob are spending two years in China for Ira's job. Goldie is keeping a blog of her adventures, and it is a fantastic read. By the time we get there, she'll have figured out everything for us! :) You can read about Goldie's adventures here: http://goldieinshanghai.blogspot.com/

This is the Slowest Ride Ever

Have you ever seen the episode of South Park where the boys go to the carnival? They see a ride with a ridiculously long line, figure it must be a good ride, and get in line. Hours later, they get to the end of the line, and there is no ride...they were on "the line ride." That's what this feels like - we are SO on the line ride. The good news is that we took a few more steps forward yesterday - the next bunch of referrals have landed, and they cover through November 21, 2005. Seven more days closer to our LID of April 17, 2006. It stinks, but I really feel for the people who still have LIDs in 2005 - these are the people who were told their wait would be six months.

We had the most amazing time in Cleveland celebrating Shana & Stephen's wedding. There is nothing like seeing two friends so happy. Their wedding was a party like no other; we were so lucky to be able to celebrate with them all weekend.

No News...

...and hopefully that's a good thing. There's some rather conflicting rumors out there right now...a few that say the next few months will be big ones (and we're at the beginning of a speed-up) and one that says they won't even get to 11-21-05 in the next batch (which would slow things down even further). There's no telling which is true...hopefully it's somewhere in between.

We're working hard on renewing all of our paperwork. I hated doing it the first time, but at least I thought I would do it once and we would have our daughter home by now. This time I'm a bit more jaded, especially since the reality is that we'll likely have to do it a THIRD time before we travel. There's a chance we could travel within a year (so we would travel on this set of paperwork), but I'll admit it - the chance is slim, especially with the likelihood that no one will travel in August next year because of the Olympics. We're meeting with the social worker next week, so at least we're making progress.

This week we're traveling to Cleveland for Shana & Stephen's wedding. We're really excited. A bunch of us are going to the Red Sox-Indians game there Thursday night, we're going to go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and, of course, there's the wedding (and all the wedding stuff!) to go to! :) It is going to be a blast! Speaking of, we had a blast at the beach. Chris got a nasty sunburn, and I nearly got knocked out by a wave, but the trip was phenomenal. The picture is of us at one of our favorite places ever - Howard's Pub. I wish we could go back now! :)

7 More Steps Forward

One more post before we leave for the beach. We're going to Ocracoke Island, and I couldn't be more excited. :)

Referrals have landed, and they cover through November
14, 2005. That's 7 days of LIDs. Since our LID is April 17, 2006, that's 154 days in front of us. While I'm not excited that this batch only covers 7 days, it's still progress, and I'll take progress in any form!

We've had a frustrating week with our paperwork. We have to renew a lot of our paperwork in the next month or two, and we found out that there are new regulations in place in Virginia. It was a VERY stressful day Tuesday when we found out, but after a trip out to our agency Tuesday and a trip to the police headquarters for fingerprinting today, I think we're back on track. I just can't believe we have to re-do so much of the paperwork that we've already done, simply because of time. Grrrr....

The CCAA was in the US a couple of weeks ago, and the overall feeling of the visits was positive. They admit that the wait will likely extend out to three years, though I think we'll wait closer to 2 1/2. The really interesting thing is that they believe that once they get through the 2005 LIDs, they think that referrals will start to come in larger batches (15 days a month instead of 7). Most people believe it will take until the end of 2007 to get all the 2005 families their referrals. Then, if things speed up to 15 days a month, we would receive our referral sometime in late summer 2008. (so we would travel in the late fall...November '08ish) Crazy, especially considering that when we started the process the wait was 7-9 months (and that our agency coordinator thought that we would be home by Passover 2007 for sure. HA!). There's also a school of thought that things will speed up significantly after the Olympics, which would lend further credence to the idea of us traveling late in 2008. If nothing else, since we've been waiting, 173 days of LIDs have been referred. So, even with slowdowns, we're about halfway there. (is it strange to say "14 1/2 months down, 14 1/2 to go"?)

The wait has been really hard, and the notion that we're not quite halfway done is scary too. But at least we know that in the end we will have our little girl. There's a great article on msnbc.com about another family whose experiences are much like ours. You can read it here:
We're off to a Brewers game Saturday then the beach...hope to have some good news when we get back...

FINALLY, some good news!

After 14 months, we finally got some good news - we are out of review!! HOORAY!!!! If you don't remember, in the review room, 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). Now that our dossier has FINALLY passed through review, our dossier goes into a new place to wait 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. (remember, they just matched through November 7, 2005...we're April 17, 2006, and most are predicting that we'll wait a total of 24-36 months) So while we have a ways to go, this is finally (and happily) a step in the right direction. We'll be celebrating...

Referrals and Some Math

Ok, first a little bit (VERY little bit) of news. Referrals for this month have landed, and it appears that they cover through November 7, 2005. That's 6 days of LIDs. Sigh...

Now for some math. I like to look at things logically, and this makes sense to me. We sent our dossier to China on March 28, 2006. Since that date, there have been 166 days of LIDs referred (5/25-5/30/05 were referred on 3/27/06). There are 160 days of LIDs ahead of us. So...if the CCAA maintained their average pace, we're about halfway there. Of course, there's nothing at all to say that they will maintain this pace. Most people think that things will slow down even further as they work through the November '05 LIDs, but will speed up a bit once they hit the '06 LIDs. (hopefully, that will average out) And if they keep referring 6 days of LIDs a month (like they did this month and last), we're looking at two more years of waiting. I'm really hopeful that things will speed up, and that China won't let the wait go much over two years. Of course, I said that about the wait not going over 18 months, yet here we are. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll see our daughter's face before 2009!

Other than being frustrated with the wait, we have been keeping busy. We got away for a one day mini-vacation to Williamsburg over Memorial Day weekend. We've been playing a lot of softball (though not always well...let's just say that we're in a division with teams that are a bit more competitive than us!) and planted lots of flowers in the backyard. And we're doing some traveling - Mara is going to Williamsburg this weekend for a girls' spa weekend (to celebrate our friend Shana's wedding...a grown-up bachelorette party!) and we're both going to Delaware next weekend for our cousin Emma's Bat Mitzvah. We'll also head down to the beach sometime this summer and out to Cleveland for Shana & Stephen's wedding.

Hope to have some more news soon (especially about that darn review room)...

No News But Lots of Rumors

So, we hit the 13 month point in our wait last week, and still we have no news. There are, however, lots and lots of rumors out there. They're all just rumors, so who knows if they're right or not. But it's all the information we have, so I'm pretty happy to have anything! What the rumors are saying right now...

  • April is close to being through review. I will breathe such a sigh of relief that you will all be able to hear it when it happens. Yes, even in California.
  • The next batch of referrals might be bigger than expected. It could cover two weeks, maybe more of LIDs. If this happens, I will be ecstatic.
  • November 2005 (what they are working on matching right now) is huge. And even with a big batch this time, it could take 3+ months to get through all the Nov. '05 LIDs. Really.
  • The CCAA is apparently in Australia, and has supposedly told officials there that the wait is expected to go out to 3 years. While this is disheartening, it doesn't surprise me. I don't think we'll wait 3 years, but for those who were logged in recently, a 3 year wait would actually mean a speed-up.
  • At the same time as the 3 year prediction, the word on the European boards is that the wait won't go much past 18 months, and they are talking about more SWIs (social welfare institutes...Chinese orphanages) being able to submit paperwork for international adoption. I would love to believe that this is true, but there would have to be a major speed-up for this to happen.
Phew. That's a lot of rumors. And I'm sure that there will only be more and more in the coming weeks. Get ready for the rollercoaster ride that is adoption from China!

A Year Ago

One year ago, we thought that we would be home by now. We were wondering how we would do Passover in China. We picked out names. We asked our friend (and rabbi) Shana if she would do the baby naming. One year ago it was inconceivable that we would still be waiting. But here we are.

I wish we had good news to share. But we don't. It has been a rough couple of weeks. We officially hit the one year mark in our wait last week (yes, I bought a new DVD - Peter Pan...a bit of trivia about it - Mara played Wendy (along with a bunch of other girls) in her kindergarten production of Peter Pan...really). Judging from the size of the last referral batch (only 2 days of LIDs were referred) and the supposed numbers of LIDs in the rest of October and November (HUGE numbers in those months), many are predicting that it could take until the end of this year to get through the backlog of 2005 LIDs. Remember, our LID is 4-17-06. Where does this put us? Well...realistically, we are hopeful that we will be able to travel before the Olympics. Of course, if we have to travel next summer, part of me really hopes that we will be able to see some of the Olympics while we're there. Most agencies say that the wait will soon extend to 24-30 months; I am hopeful that we will wait less than 3 years, but a 3 year wait is certainly a possibility.

We also have a better idea today of where we are in the process. We are now positive that we are NOT out of review. Without going into too much detail, our agency was asked for an updated copy of our I171-H (INS approval) yesterday. They say that their China contact called CCAA to ask about another client's file, and was given a heads-up about the typo on our form. We got the form fixed back in February, so there was a short turn-around time, and we're hopeful that this won't delay our referral even further. They say that this wasn't an official question, but I am feeling very cynical that they're just covering their own behinds (since they didn't catch the mistake in the first place, then didn't send the updated form last month). Chris is far more optimistic (yes, I know it's strange for him to be the cheerful one) that the woman in China actually did us a huge favor so that we could get the corrected form there before we're actually being reviewed. Who knows. But we do know that we are far from being through review.

On a MUCH happier note, Aunt Marf (Chris's sister Martha) has already begun to spoil her niece. For my birthday, Martha knitted me (ok, not me, our daughter) moose booties. If you don't know, I LOVE moose, and these are too cute! We have also had quite the week in sports. We went to the Red Sox-Orioles game last night in Baltimore. The game rocked as the Sox won 6-1. Saturday we went with our good friends Jim & Bridget to see roller derby. Not the movie (seriously, how many people will ask me that?), but real live roller derby. It was stranger than you could imagine, but really a lot of fun. If I didn't bruise like a peach, I would so want to try it! And Sunday night we had our first softball games of the season. We lost both, but it was so much fun to play again (and fun, too, to go out afterwards with the team and watch the Red Sox hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs!).

well....at least baseball season's started...

So, there is at least one piece of good news this weekend - baseball season is upon us. And in a couple of days, we'll get to see Dice-K pitch to Ichiro at Fenway. Set your tivos now.

Baseball was kind enough to give me opening day for my birthday, and Chris and I spent the afternoon watching the Nats get crushed. The upside was that it was in the 70s, we got to see Dontrelle Willis pitch, and we had a bet going with the guys in our section about whether or not the guy in the Teddy Roosevelt costume would get seriously hurt ziplining off the roof of RFK. Really.

The other exciting news is that I recently launched my own store, selling baseball & Red Sox themed shirts for kids. It's called Baseball Baby, and is at http://www.cafepress.com/baseballbaby. Tell your friends!

Ok, so enough good news...there's little to celebrate coming out of China. The run-down...April is not through review, nor do I think we'll be through any time soon. While it is entirely possible that our dossier has been reviewed, we won't know for sure until the CCAA updates their site. And at least one person from April was asked questions this week. So no sigh of relief there. There is word that referrals have either landed at some agencies or are about to land any day now. This is great news for the people included...the horrible news is how few people appear to be included. This isn't official yet, but it appears that this batch goes through October 26, 2005 - an underwhelming 2 days of referrals. Part of the small size can be attributed to Chinese New Year (remember, everything was closed for 2 weeks), but I can't even begin to explain the rest (nor am I in the mood to right now). The bottom line is that since we submitted our application over a year ago, the CCAA has gotten through just under 5 months of log-in dates. At this rate, there is the distinct possibility that we will be in China for the Olympics. Really.

Another Month, Another Movie

So, we officially hit the 11 month mark over the weekend. And yes, I bought another Disney movie - The Little Mermaid this time. I like Sebastian the crab. :) It's hard to think that at this time last year I was running around getting all of our paperwork finished (we actually sent the paperwork on March 28 last year), and that at this time next year we still might not have our baby home. Sigh...

An update on our quilt...I've had several failed attempts to sign up for a learn-to-quilt class (really...these people don't seem to want my money...). But I met a lovely woman in line at the fabric store who took 10 minutes or so to draw out exactly what I need to do to complete the quilt. Really. I feel bad that I didn't even get her name. So with her directions and a book from the library, I am feeling somewhat confident that I can do this. I bought some cute "practice" fabric, and am planning on making a small practice quilt with it over spring break. Hopefully I can really do this myself...otherwise, I will have to start begging these quilt people to actually teach me! So...if you haven't sent a square yet, it's not too late. I really would love some more squares...we're very close to 100!

Other than being bummed out about the wait, we're doing well. Softball is starting soon - we have our first practice this weekend, and games start on April 22. I had coffee last week with a friend I met on an adoption board (how fun is that!), and we also attended our first "waiting parent" meeting from the local FCC (families with children from China) chapter. And in less than 2 weeks we'll celebrate my birthday at Opening Day for the Nats! Hooray baseball! :)

The Next Batch of Referrals Has Landed!

Happy March! So, the good news is that the next batch of referrals has landed. The bad news? Oh dear...where to start? First, it appears that the "official" cut-off date is October 24, 2005. (remember our LID is April 17, 2006) This means that they only got through 11 days of LIDs this month. It seems on the surface that it is a slight slowdown, though word is that October and November had a huge number of dossiers, so it may just be holding steady. No one knows for sure.

Speaking of things that no one knows for sure - there's a reason that I said this is the "official" cut-off date. When the CCAA announced their new rules a few months ago, one of the other things they announced was that agencies would now have to pay to receive cut-off information. Yes, you read that right. So it appears that this month is the first that they are not updating the information on their website; only on a private website that agencies who pay for the access can see. It doesn't appear that our agency either is paying for this or is sharing the information. The speculation on a lot of adoption sites was that the smaller agencies wouldn't subscribe; this now appears to be the case.

**update on 3/7 - the CCAA did update their website last night - referrals through 10/24/05. They also updated the review room - they've reviewed through 3/31/06...we're getting closer on review at least!**

The other strange thing with this is that even though the cut-off date is October 24, there are agencies who received referrals for a few days past the 24th. Again, there is a lot of speculation about this. Some think that these "surprise" referrals were for families whose LID was wrong (i.e., they were told their LID was 10/31, but it was actually 10/24). Some think that the CCAA might be starting to process further than the cut-off date for some agencies (for whatever reasons...there are about a million floating around there).

So I know that the bottom line is, "what does this mean for us?". I wish I knew. I know that we are definitely going to need to re-do our paperwork with USCIS & our homestudy. It's a pain both with the time it will take and the cost of re-doing it all. And my best guess is that we could be looking at this time next year before we get to travel to China. Crazy, I know. It's beyond frustrating. But I had the most wonderful conversation last week with my friend Carmen, who adopted both of her children. She reminded me that even though the wait STINKS, I'm not just waiting for any child - I'm waiting for MY child. And I think I can wait another year for that. :)

恭賀新禧! Happy New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! Gung He Fat Choy! (in Cantonese) It's actually the only thing I know how to say in Chinese so far, because my grandpa taught it to me when I was little. He loved to be able to go into a Chinese restaurant (one of my grandparents' favorites) and wish them happy new year in Chinese. Who knows, perhaps my grandparents' love for Chinese food is one of the reasons we were so drawn to adopting from China. Even so, I'm glad that the one phrase I know so far is such a happy one.

In addition to it being Chinese New Year, yesterday marked the 10 month mark in our wait. Double digits...oh joy. I celebrated by buying "Cinderella." Why? Because yesterday was also our niece Caroline's 3rd birthday (Happy Birthday Caroline!!), and there is nothing she loves more than princesses. Her favorite right now is Sleeping Beauty, but Cinderella is also high on her list. And since Christopher went through a bit of princess withdrawal when we got home from visiting them at Christmas, we now have our own bit of royalty to watch. Here's hoping our little girl loves being a princess as much as Caroline does.

A few more steps forward...

Last night, the CCAA updated it's website as another batch of referrals arrived in the United States. And we take a few more steps closer to meeting our daughter. 16 actually. (16 days of LIDs were matched this go around) At this pace (16-17 days a month) we would probably have our referral in January '08 and travel sometime in March '08. The strangest thing is that when we started the process, I kept saying that I had a feeling we would be in China for Passover. It isn't too much of a stretch to think we could be in China for Passover 2008. Sure, I thought Passover 2007, but my magic eight ball isn't that specific.

The bigger news is that the CCAA also updated the part of the box about the review room. Dossiers through March 22 are out - that means we are in review right now. I'm nervous. REALLY nervous. Our adoption coordinator just found a typo on our INS approval (don't even get me started...), and I am working right now to get it fixed. Since it is highly unlikely we will even be able to travel on this approval (fingerprints are only good for 12 months; the approval is only good for 18 months), we will have to go through the process again anyways. (Not only will we have to do all the paperwork again, it will cost us approx. $1000 to file all of it. If you want something to do, write to your congressman to support a bill that was recently proposed to extend how long the I171-H, the approval form, is good for) But I am worried that they will want a corrected form before we can get through review. The real problem is that this could set us back a month or two in receiving our referral. There's no way to say for sure it would happen, but even the possibility is making me sick to my stomach. Here's hoping that the CCAA misses the typo too, or understands that it doesn't really matter.

16 down, 186 to go.

A Neat Blog to Pass the Time...

No, there's no news. But I came across a really great blog. A Chicago Tribune reporter is currently in China adopting her baby. You can check out her blog at www.chicagotribune.com/adoption. For those of you wondering how the whole things works, this is really well written blog. Hopefully some actual news by the end of the week...

LID Anniversary

So, yesterday we hit the nine month mark in our wait. Blech. Elephants have shorter pregnancies than I'm having.

Anyways, I've been trying to figure out a way to mark our LID anniversary each month. Something that's fun and helps with the wait. One of my online friends buys a new outfit each month, another buys something for the nursery each month. The best idea I heard was going to a movie each month on your LID anniversary. It's hard to wrap your brain around waiting for 12 more months, but going to see 12 movies sounds a little bit manageable. So I'm marking our LID anniversary by buying a Disney DVD each month. For this month, I bought "Robin Hood." A great movie, and a special movie for me and my dad. (he used to take me to see all the Disney movies when I was little) I'm glad that I'll have a great library of movies for our daughter (and yes, I'm going to enjoy them until we bring her home!), and buying 12 more movies seems like something I can do.

Inching Ever so Slightly Closer...

So a little bit of good news...referrals came out this week for those who were logged in on or before September 27, 2005. The CCAA got through 18 days of LIDs this month...a few more than the past few months. So this could very well be a good sign. It definitely means that we move up in line just a little bit. Sadly, they didn't update the review room stats...hopefully they will do that soon.

I came across a really cool adoption website as well called Bright Outlooks. If you click on their referral calculator, it will do the math for you about when you could possibly get your referral. If the CCAA could keep up the pace of 18 days of LIDs per month, we would get our referral 12/27/07. Sure, it's another 12 months of waiting, but it would mean a referral in 2007. You can play with numbers though...for example, if they could pick up the pace by just 2 days a month (20 days of LIDs a month), that would get us a referral a full month earlier. If you want to play with the math, our LID is 4/17/06...just remember to set it to "just playing" so your guess doesn't get figured in to their data.

Happy New Year

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
'Cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
And desire and love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
'Cause everyone is forgiven now
'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again
--Goo Goo Dolls

2007 will be our year. I can just FEEL it. 2006 ended with a bang. We had a fantastic trip to California...have you ever seen a cuter niece & nephew? :) And after an eventful flight home, we celebrated New Years Eve with friends in what we hope will become a new tradition...jammies, party games, and root beer floats! (we're wild, I know!) Keep your fingers crossed for us...hopefully by 2008 we'll have our little girl home!

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

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