Happy Holidays 2008

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It's All About the Numbers

Like many of my friends who are waiting to adopt, playing around with the numbers has become quite the hobby. It's all about how many days are referred and how many days are left in front of us in line. Right now, we have 60 days ahead of us. So, if they were to refer 5 days a month from here on out (not totally likely, since last month was only 2 days worth, and March 2006 is rumored to be a monster of a month in terms of numbers), we have exactly a year to go. There's also the math of weekdays referred...there are 40 weekdays ahead of us (because, of course, no dossiers are logged in on the weekends). So if they could just manage to refer FOUR weekdays a month, we will be home with our little one in 2009. Sigh...what crazy math this is. Referrals haven't yet arrived for December, but it looks like they will go through February 23, 2006. 6 days/4 weekdays. By my math, that keeps us on pace for 2009.

Speaking of numbers, many agencies announced today that the orphanage donation (a mandatory part of the adoption) will increase starting in 2009. The donation has been $3000, and apparently has been so for over a decade. It is now going to be 35,000 yuan, which is just below $5,100 at today’s exchange rates. This, of course, means that not only do we now need to find an additional $2100 to complete our adoption, but because the donation/fee will now be in yuan, it could fluctuate quite a bit depending on the exchange rate. Great. The one upside to this, though, is that because the orphanages will be receiving more money per adoption, they may be more motivated to get babies "paper-ready." In order for a baby to be adopted, the orphanage has a pile of paper-work to do that gets sent to the CCAA. There are many stories of orphanage directors who say that the compensation for getting the paperwork together is not worth it - so babies sit in orphanages. If that's the case, maybe this will help.

In non-adoption news, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. In our annual charades tournament, the men won. I would post a photo from the medal ceremony (yes, I said medal ceremony...we take our charades REALLY seriously!) but it might go to their heads. :) And in two weeks we'll be flying out to California to spend Christmas with entire Surridge clan. 3 kids + 2 aunts + 2 uncles + 2 parents + 2 grandparents = lots of family fun. Be prepared for many pictures of our excessively adorable niece and nephews when we get home. :) And, as you probably noticed, I'm attempting to make our blog look a little nicer. If you know how to fix the strange spacing and the title, please let me know! :)

A Busy Month

Doesn't it seem like every month I have some sort of reason for not blogging more often? Now that we are knocking on the three year mark of when we started this journey (don't stop believing...), it's pretty impressive that I come up with a new reason every month, isn't it? :) This month's excuse? Teenagers. Lots and lots of teenagers. If you don't know, I'm the youth committee chair at our temple. It's not as exciting as you would think (and it doesn't even sound very exciting, does it?), but I'm really proud to do it - we are members of the temple I grew up at, and when I was in high school I was a founding member of our youth group (and it's first president!). It sounds cheesy, but it's really cool to give back to the youth group that gave me so much. And I got to really give back, as our temple hosted NFTY-MAR Fall Kallah a few weeks ago. It's a regional youth group event - from Delaware to North Carolina - and I attended as a high schooler (and LOVED them). We had 210 teenagers attend...so, as you can imagine, I have been very very busy! The weekend was AMAZING - I am SO unbelievably proud of our kids and the weekend they planned!

After sleeping for a week (and trying to get over the really nasty cold that I got), I have been catching up around the house, continuing to scrapbook pictures from our Paris trip (yes, I'm still working on the pictures from 2006...we took 880 pictures...I'll be scrapbooking for awhile...), and FINALLY working on our quilt! After several unsuccessful attempts to sign up for quilting classes (seriously, why won't any of these people take my money??), I really thought I could do it myself (but not totally sure...have you seen how clumsy I am?). Thankfully, Shannon (a friend of a friend) stepped in and showed me how to get it all assembled. I have some "practice" fabric that I bought over a year ago, and she helped me get it all cut into squares! I laid it out tonight, and tomorrow I'm going to actually start to sew! Holy cow! So if you still want to send me a square for the "real" quilt (PLEASE do - I am short a few squares!!), now is the time! :)

Oh yes - you probably want some adoption news, right? Well, I have very little to report. The CCAA did 2 days worth of referrals in November, which is like doing nothing at all. This brings them to February 17, 2006, and brings us to exactly 2 months of LIDs ahead of us. It's all about how fast the CCAA works...it's hard, since when we started this journey (don't stop believing...), we saw them referring full months at a time. So even though we haven't seen more than a week in a LONG time, I know that they can do it. Hopefully they will soon.

Shana Tovah!

Happy 5769! We had a wonderful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We had nice dinners with my parents, and enjoyed break fast after Yom Kippur with friends. Holidays always make me a little sad that we don't have our little girl, but thankful that we have such wonderful family and friends. Hopefully 5769 is the last year we spend without kids!

In the middle of the holidays, China did send a batch of referrals - they got through February 15, 2006. So, a little movement forward. And there were some random referrals sent last week for February 16 (but not every agency got them). Hopefully next month will bring a huge batch, but if this pace keeps up we have less than a year of wait ahead of us. Some basic math...if each of the next referral batches (all the way up to ours) is only 6 days, we would get our referral at the end of August 2009. If they slowed down to 5 days a month, we would be at the end of October. But if they did 7 days a month it would be the end of June! Hopefully they can do at least a week of LIDs a month, and we can travel before Sherri & Ira leave Shanghai! :)

Not much else going on with us. I have been very busy working on Fall Kallah, a big regional youth group event that our temple is hosting at the end of the month. I am the chair of the youth committee, and it turns out that planning an event for 225 teenagers is more work than I thought! I'm really excited about it though, since I went to these events when I was in high school! We are also having a great season in softball. Our team is 7-3, and Chris has made a couple of spectacular plays in center field this season (and we are both hitting much better!). And, of course, I am losing sleep with the Red Sox in the playoffs! (TOTALLY worth it though!)

Tropical Storm Hanna

Well, the good news is that we are dry. The bad news? Tropical Storm Hanna hit our neighborhood hard. There is nothing quite like seeing your street on the news, or hearing that the news of what happened in your neighborhood was broadcast around the country. We are lucky enough to live by a lake. Lake Royal is a man-made lake that was created by a flood control dam. It's really lovely - a couple of miles around - and is a nice part of our neighborhood. Well, yesterday's storm (and over 7 inches of rain) was more than it could handle. The lake flooded, the dam didn't totally hold, and the county rushed in and created emergency spillways which saved the bottom part of our neighborhood. There was a voluntary evacuation of the bottom section (we live at the top of the hill), but the country spokesman said on the news that they were very close to a mandatory evacuation, which may have included us. What an adventure! Chris and I went for a walk today to see what it looks like, and it was incredible. I'm posting some of the pictures below, along with a screenshot of an aerial image of our neighborhood from google maps (with some labels from me) to give you some perspective. It's very very strange to see the fitness trail and path that I like to walk on under several feet of water. But we are dry and thankful to be so.A view of the new waterline from the path in our neighborhood (the old waterline used to be beyond the trees):The "big tree" (see the map above to see where it is!):

And see where the old spillway and the tractor is on the map? This is the spillway now - full of water!

9 Days

Well, in what seems to be record time, the CCAA has sent out another batch of referrals! And...they cover 9 days of LIDS! Now, before you go jumping out of your seats, it's really only 4 business days, but I'm pretty pleased. I was worried that there would be no referrals at all this month, as the CCAA was closed for at least a day or two because of the Olympics (and work was likely slowed for more than that). The speed with which they arrived is also encouraging - 22 days in between batches means that even if they continue with small batches, an extra batch or two for the year would be a bit of a speed-up. And 4 business days certainly isn't the smallest batch we've seen. So, not such horrible news.

Other than worrying a little if they would impact our already slow adoption process, I loved every second of the Olympics. Chris and I stayed up way too late to watch the live events the first week (yes, it was 2 am before I went to bed more than one night!). And thanks to the magic of tivo (and a day of temping at an office that had MSNBC on next to my desk all day), I watched it ALL the time. I saw nearly every sport, watched every preliminary heat of the swimming events, and am still humming the music they played while they handed out the medals. (a side note - did you notice how the girls holding the medals looked the same at every site? They practiced for SIX months to look like that!) I was fascinated by the fact that Michael Phelps was front page news here every day while he was swimming, but in China he was a secondary news story. (and yes, I became an even bigger "Phelps Phan" than I was before!) It was amazing to see the different venues in China, and it was really nice for me to see the beauty of China without thinking about the excruciatingly long wait. (especially during the road races - I can't wait to see all those sites!) I'm sad that they are over, but glad to be getting back to a normal sleep schedule, and hope that the CCAA gets back to normal too.

Happy August!

Well, after much struggling with blogger, I am back in the blogging world. Not quite sure what made blogger think that an occasionally updated blog about the trials and tribulations of our adoption was spam, but maybe it is just as frustrated with the wait as we are.

Speaking of the wait...we are a whopping 5 steps closer this month. The CCAA referred through January 31, 2006. To put it in perspective, when we sent our dossier to China at the end of March 2006, they were working on referrals for March 2005. So in nearly 2 1/2 years, they have gotten through 10 months of dossiers. Crazy, isn't it? To give you a sense of how things have been going, take a look at this chart:

When referrals were released

Dossier registration dates of families that received referrals

Total time covered by the group of referrals

August, 2008

1/26/06 through 1/31/06

5 days (4 business days)

July, 2008

1/21/06 through 1/25/06

5 days (3 business days)

June, 2008

1/13/06 through 1/20/06

8 days (6 business days)

May, 2008

1/10/06 through 1/12/06

3 days (3 business days)

April, 2008

1/5/06 through 1/9/06

5 days (3 business days)

March, 2008

12/28/05 through 1/4/06

8 days (5 business days)

February, 2008

12/20/05 through 12/27/05

8 days (6 business days)

January, 2008

12/15/05 through 12/19/05

5 days (3 business days)

December, 2007

12/9/05 through 12/14/05

6 days (4 business days)

November, 2007

12/1/05 through 12/8/05

8 days (6 business days)

October, 2007

11/26/05 through 11/30/05

6 days (3 business days)

September, 2007

11/22/05 through 11/25/05

4 days (4 business days)

(taken from the Pearl S. Buck newsletter)
The good news is that there was a batch at all - there were some who worried that there wouldn't be an August batch because of the Olympics. And I think that the September batch will be equally small for the same reason. But who knows. Things could stay at the snail's pace that we've become accustomed to, or they could speed up at any time. Just keep your fingers crossed for the speed up.

Other than not-very-patiently waiting, we've been doing well. I am a HUGE fan of the Olympics, so I haven't slept much since they started. How can you not stay up till 2 in the morning to watch Michael Phelps and live gymnastics finals? Ok, I guess you could just go to sleep, but what's the fun in that? :) We didn't go on a big vacation this year. We were hoping to go see my family in Boston, but we have postponed the trip for awhile since things are crazy at work for Chris. And in July we went to Williamsburg for three days for our anniversary. Sure, it rained the entire day we were at Busch Gardens, but a rainy day at the amusement park beats a sunny day at home! :) The biggest news of all is that we have a new nephew - Evan Christopher - who was born last month. Anyone who knows us knows that being an aunt & uncle is one of our favorite things in the world, so a new nephew is phenomenal! We can't wait to go to California to meet him!

Am I back?

This is really just a test-post. Blogger flagged our blog as possible spam, and I've been locked out for awhile. Hopefully this works, and I can post our latest "we have no news" update later...:)

Well, That's Strange...

So, I've clearly had a LOT of time on my hands while we've been waiting. As I sometimes joke, it's a good thing I didn't quit my job...oh...wait... Anyways, one of the many things I've tried to fill my time is writing. I did some freelance work last year (writing web content), I've been doing some shorter freelance stuff lately, and took the big plunge today sending out a manuscript for my first picture book to six unsuspecting publishers. Does this make me a writer? Who knows. But this little discovery might - I started to search for some of the articles I've written in the past year, and I actually found a couple. I'm not credited on any of them - the basic idea of the company I was writing for is that someone contracts them to provide them the writing for their website, and they, in turn, contract it out to their writers. I think that somewhere in my contract it might have even stated that I would receive no credit. I don't work for them anymore, so I don't think I'm violating anything by sharing these links. Anyways, some not so exciting articles that I wrote...
Finding a Beautiful Wedding Gown
Helicopter Skiing - The Ultimate Adventure Sport
The Best Scrapbooking Supplies (not really sure why they went with this title - oh well)
The Look of Modern Interior Design Are Clean Lines
Hopefully I'm not too far away from the day when I'll actually have my own bylines!

Yes, We're Still Here...Sort of...:)

It should really come as a surprise to no one that I have been such a slacker in blogging. It's hard to keep writing that we know nothing. We still know nothing, but it seems as if there is a little teeny tiny bit of movement forward. Referrals for June landed this week, and they seem to cover till January 20, 2006. (though a couple of agencies think they go through January 22...it's really an inconsequential difference in number of referrals, though it would be nice to cross 2 more days off). So we know they got through at least 8 more days. If they continue to do 8 days a month (which they may or may not...things could stop in August for the Olympics, and will seem to speed up a little when they get to the February 2006 LIDs since there was a week with no LIDs due to Chinese New Year) we will see a referral in May 2009. Yikes. (though that's less than a year away - the first time we've seen that in awhile)

The good news is that we have been busy. Very busy. Probably too busy. But we've been having fun. We've been to a bunch of baseball games - a few at the new Nationals Stadium (pretty stadium, horrible to get to) and three in Baltimore to see the Red Sox. And we were lucky enough to be in Baltimore to see Manny Ramirez hit home run #500 (and #501 the next day!). Chris had the camera (since I knew I would be too excited) and got some great pictures of the event. We attended my dad's retirement reception which was really nice, and did Race for the Cure over the weekend in spite of the crazy heat. And we've been playing lots of softball too - our team is actually in first place right now (though who knows for how long!).

Some Cool Non-Adoption News

So, for those of you who don't know, I LOVE to scrapbook. I'm a member of a couple of scrapbook groups, and my goal for this year is to be a published scrapbooker. Well, I'm pretty close! I was published this month on www.pagemaps.com - an extremely popular site for scrapbookers. It features sketches (or Page Maps) to help you plan your pages, and I created one of the samples this month. I'm pasting the screen shot below, but you can see the actual page at http://www.pagemaps.com/may08sidemaps.htm (scroll down...mine is the 6th one) or in the May newsletter (click on "May Newsletter" on the home page). I'm super excited about it, especially about the picture I used. It's of my grandma, my mom, me, and my sister, and it's one of my favorite pictures in years. (it was taken in 2004 at my sister's engagement party)

Two Years

That's right - we have been waiting nearly two years. We sent our paperwork to China over two years ago (March 29, 2006) and we were logged in nearly two years ago on April 17, 2006. Never in a million years did I think we would still be waiting - in fact, I thought by this time we would be getting ready to send in the paperwork for a little sister.

There is a little bit of news - and I do mean a little. Referrals have started to arrive for April, so there are families who are starting to see their child's face for the first time - that's wonderful news. The not-so-wonderful news is that it looks like the cut-off date was January 9, 2006...4 measly days of LIDs. They're moving forward, and this batch is traditionally the smallest of the year, but still...it stinks. There are agencies who are saying that it will continue like this until the Olympics. This doesn't surprise me at all; I have felt for a long time that once we get past the Olympics things will get better. Hearing it from sources that are more "in the know" doesn't make it better, but it confirms my gut feelings. Hopefully the "post-Olympic" speed-up will be a big one.

In other news, I had a nice birthday. Chris took me out for Japanese food (YUM!) on my birthday, and my mom made me spaghetti & meatballs and a strawberry pie (my favorites!!) on Friday. And I got the most wonderful pictures from my niece Caroline! Last weekend we went into DC to see the Cherry Blossoms - I completely underestimated how crowded it would be, but it was BEAUTIFUL. And, of course, baseball season has started! The Nationals have a beautiful new park (which we will hopefully go to in the next week or two) and the Red Sox are defending World Champs - life is good! :)

2006! Finally!

Referrals for March arrived last week, and they cover through January 4, 2006. That's right, we're finally into our LID year! It was a pretty small batch of referrals, but I'll take any progress at this point, especially progress where our year is the one that they are working on! The number of people who think we'll see a referral in 2008 is dwindling down to almost no one, but every way that I crunch the numbers has us in China in spring 2009. That means that we'll wait almost exactly three years, and that my gut feeling that we would spend Passover in China might be right. Sure, my gut thought Passover 2007, but still...:)

Not much else going on in our lives. I attended a "cyber-shower" with a bunch of my April 06 DTCers - an online baby shower for each other, and a chance to reveal our secret pals. Hard to believe that I have been sending and receiving secret pal gifts for nearly two years! The shower was tons of fun, I won a few prizes (yay!), and I'm really excited to be able to email with Lisa M (the wonderful woman who has been sending me gifts) and Megan (my pal who I have been gifting). Megan and I actually have a lot in common (husbands named Chris, teachers who resigned to be mommies, etc). It's been really nice getting to know others in the same boat as us, and the cyber-shower was a great chance to chat with them live!

A Much Overdue Update

I know, I have been such a slacker about blogging lately. Part of it is that I am trying not to think about the fact that we have waited 22 months for our little girl, and we easily have another year or two to wait. It's inconceivable, really. But part is that we have been really busy too. I started a new job in January - I am doing temp work for an office company. Yes, for those of you who watch "The Office," I am Ryan. :) The first place they sent me was a great experience. I worked as a client services rep for a large office company for a month. It was really interesting, and I met some wonderful people. It also annoyed Chris that I had my own office! Last week I did some receptionist work for a law firm, where I became increasingly thankful that I did not go to law school (sorry!). And while I'm taking this week off (more on that later), I'm excited for the new adventure that I'll likely go on next week.

So, why didn't I work this week? Well, on my second to last day at my first job, I demonstrated just how clumsy I really am and slammed my elbow onto my desk. HARD. Enough that it partially dislocated my shoulder, and sent me to the ER the next night. And after another trip to the orthopedic surgeon, I know now that not only did I rub the nerves in my shoulder the wrong way, I hit my elbow hard enough (right on my funny bone) that I damaged the nerves in my elbow as well. I know - I couldn't make this up if I tried. I'm feeling much better, and should be able to get back to work next week. Chris has had his share of bad luck as well. Last week we had an unexpected ice storm, and during his 2 hour drive home (that's right, with the 1/2 inch of ice, it took him 2 hours to get home) he was rear-ended. In his new car. He's fine, and is feeling very thankful that it wasn't worse, considering the number of accidents he saw on his way home (there were 20-30 car pileups throughout the area).

So what's up on the adoption front? Referrals came out right before Chinese New Year, and covered through December 27, 2005. It's a small batch, but fairly commonplace as far as the past year or two has gone. There was a rumor over the summer that once they hit the 2006 LIDs, the batches will get bigger (maybe even 15 days a batch, though I find it hard to believe). And there is a rumor on French board that March 2006 will be finished by the end of 2008. Both of those would mean that we should see a referral in early 2009, which I think is about right. But we'll see how the next couple of months go. There are also rumors that the CCAA will be having a press conference in the next week or so; if that's the case, whatever they announce will be VERY interesting. I'll (try to) keep you all posted...

Oh yeah - if you are around tomorrow (2/21) or have the time to set your tivo, check out "A Baby Story" on TLC at 2:30 pm. It features a family from one of my China adoption groups, and will make you cry! It also gives you a better idea of how the process in China works. They filmed it in 2005 in the Guangdong province. Check it out!

Please Help

I'm not one to normally go around asking for money. But, sometimes, situations call for it. As I'm sure you have seen on the news, many parts of China have been hit by a winter storm that has essentially shut down parts of the country. (if you haven't, you can click here for the latest) Many have been without power and water for a week. This includes the orphanages. Aside from the very obvious fact that our daughter might very well already be born and be in one of these orphanages, there are so many other children that we know are affected. Half the Sky Foundation has set up an emergency fund to help these orphanages. For those who don't know, Half the Sky is an amazing charity that works with orphanages around China. You can check out their website at http://www.halfthesky.org Please consider matching my donation to their "Little Mouse Emergency Fund" to help these children who are really in dire need of our help. You can read about the fund and donate here, or click on the Mouse below. Hopefully some referral news will be coming out soon, but this is clearly the most important thing right now.


This holiday season, China is experiencing its worst weather in 50 years. The world has heard about millions of workers struggling to return home to family to welcome the Year of the Mouse. But for those who have no family to come home to, the situation is also dire. Half the Sky is setting up the Little Mouse Emergency Fund. Your donation to this fund will provide immediate relief to children living in welfare institutions during this difficult time. The needs are diverse and enormous: water, diapers, infant formula, coal, quilts and warm clothing and food. Any excess funds will be used to stock up for future catastrophic needs. Please help the little ones and their caregivers have a warm and safe New Year.


New Year, Same Results

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. We had a nice trip to Wisconsin and a very laid back New Year's Eve with our friends. Of course, we were snapped right back to reality with the latest batch of referrals. Yes, you saw it right - they referred 5 measly days of LIDs. It stinks. That's all there is to it. In the past year, approximately 3 months of LIDs have been referred. Which means we are looking at a 2009 referral. Blech.

I'm trying to keep busy to keep my mind off of the wait. I had a lot of fun taking my toy voyagers with me to Wisconsin (click here to read Chocolate's travel log). I've been scrapbooking a lot too. And since a lot of people have been asking me about my scrapbooks, I set up yet another blog to share my scrapbooking layouts with you. You can check it out here. And, of course, I'm cheering for the 16-0 Patriots! (and getting very excited for the first round of the playoffs!)

About Us

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