Happy New Year!

It's nearly 2010 - so hard to believe that it was 2005 when we first started this journey. And, of course, each and every year I have said "this is our year!". This one just has to be ours, right? It's looking good for 2010...this week the very first April 2006 referrals arrived! It was only three days worth (April 1-3), and only 1 business day in there, but some of our April friends have seen their daughters' faces, which is super exciting. And even though it was a super small batch, it came relatively quickly, which gives me some hope that they will be back to doing a batch every month. Hooray! It also means that we will need to start thinking about decorating the nursery! We long ago decided that once the CCAA got started on April, we would get started on the room, so here we are! I have looked at a few cute bedding sets at Babies R Us, and am looking forward to transforming our spare bedroom from "black-hole-storage-space" to adorable nursery!

One more piece of hopefulness...Rumor Queen (my favorite adoption blog, and the source for all things China adoption news...as well as the message board where I "hang out" with all my fellow April '06 LID friends!) posted today that more than one agency has heard that the CCAA plans to have April '06 done by June. THAT means with an April 17 LID, we will have our daughter by JUNE. Let me say that one more time so I can believe it. JUNE. :) Sure, this means that we'll likely have to renew our paperwork one last time, and will make attending the 2 weddings and 1 Bat Mitzvah at the end of May and beginning of June tricky, but who cares. Rob & Anne, Goldie, and Arielle & Steve will understand - that's what makes friends and family so great. :)

Not much else is happening here. December brought one of the biggest snowstorms ever for the DC area, and our house was blanketed with over 2 feet of snow. We stayed home for the holidays this year, as we are hoping to make a much bigger trip soon (and airline prices were ridiculously expensive...$595 per person PER DIRECTION to fly to Milwaukee??? What are they doing on that plane??). And we will be celebrating New Year's Eve tonight with our traditional pajama party and game night with friends. It's crazy to think that 10 years ago tonight we were at a Y2K party, planning our wedding, and hoping that the world wouldn't end. :) 2009 has been a good year for us - we hope that 2010 will be the best yet.

Bye Bye March!

It only took a year , but China has finally finished referring March 2006 LIDs. Referrals through March 31, 2006 landed today, and I could not be happier. Polls showed that March 2006 was one of the biggest on record, and there were rumors last year that it could take a full year to get through. I didn't believe it when I heard it, but, here we are. March 2006 is done, don't let the door hit you on the way out. :)

So, there are 17 LIDs to go. Some of those are weekends (April 1 &2, 8&9, and 15&16 were weekends in 2006), so there are 11 business days between us and a referral. If they could just do 4 business days a month (which, since April seems to be a smaller month, might actually be doable), we'll see our baby's face by my birthday. Keep your fingers crossed.

We had a wonderful wonderful Thanksgiving. The women won the annual charades tournament, and the pie-to-people ratio was fabulous. We ate and laughed and ate and laughed some more. The perfect holiday, really. I just wish we didn't have to wait a whole year to do it again. Chris had a few days off of work, so we also did a lot of sleeping in. And I finished my novel - yes, I am a NaNoWriMo winner! I have another few chapters to add to the end, then I'll start to revise. I wrote some sections out of order, so fixing that is priority #1! I have never written so much in such a short period of time before (50,060 words in 29 days - I finished a day early!), and it's a pretty cool feeling of accomplishment. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We hope that you had a wonderful holiday, full of family and friends, wonderful food, and a double overtime sudden-death charades win! :)

A No-News Update (again)

Yes, it's nearly Thanksgiving and we have nothing to report. Our agency emailed us to let us know that they think we will receive our referral in mid-March (though, they're just doing math - they have no actual information). There were all sorts of rumors swirling around earlier in the month, but still, no referrals have landed. The latest is that an agency in Europe reported today that there will be no referrals in November, due to the new director of the CCAA getting "up to speed." There is all sorts of speculation about this, especially with the already rampant speculation that things are going to stop all together because of H1N1. Just when we thought we were so close, right?

In non-adoption news, I am writing a novel for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. It's basically just what it says - the goal is to write a short novel (at least 50,000 words) over the month of November. You can read more about it on the official website. It's much harder than I thought (and, as Chris says, writing a novel sounds pretty hard!), but I'm writing writing writing - I passed the 30,000 word mark today, so I am well on my way. It's crazy to look at what I've written and realize I've written 70 pages in 19 days! I'm also writing on a new laptop! All of our electronics decided to die at once, so I am the proud owner of a new laptop - the clear benefit of dead electronics. (we also have a new printer and DirecTV DVR, with a DVD player, camera, and dryer to be purchased soon...really) We're also really looking forward to Thanksgiving next week. Even with our adoption wait getting close to the four year mark, we have a whole lot to be thankful for.

Happy Halloween!

No real question who carved which pumpkin, is there? Happy Halloween! :)

A Long Overdue Update

I know, it's been awhile. And to be honest, none of us can really be surprised. :) But I have the tiniest bit of news to report, so a new blog post it is. Referrals landed today in Europe (I think they probably landed here as well, it's just that everything is closed for Columbus Day), and they cover through March 28, 2006. It's a bummer for a few reasons. First, there were rumors that these referrals would go through at least March 29 - in fact, several agencies told their March 29th families that they were in. I haven't heard from anyone who had this happen, but I hope that their agencies give them a good explanation. It's hard enough to be waiting this long, but it's a million times worse to think you're in when you're not. Going through March 29 would have not just meant an extra day, but meant a much larger batch numbers-wise - the polls show that a large number of families were logged in on the 29th. It's also been a long time between batches - the last batch was posted on August 21 - that's nearly 2 months ago. The CCAA was closed for the first week of October, but most people thought that the referrals would be sent before they left. No such luck.

So, what does this mean for us? Well, I wish I knew. No one knows what the CCAA will do next. They could send another batch in 2 weeks or 2 months. They could refer two days or twenty two days. I have long since given up trying to guess, since I am almost always wrong. I do know that we are 20 LIDs away from our LID. That includes some weekends in there, and the polling data shows that there are a lot fewer April LIDs then March. There is also the whole attrition thing - people who have dropped out or switched programs. That polling data is running at about 44%. Yes, you read that right - nearly 44% attrition rate, and we're still moving this slowly. And if you just want to look at number of days referred, in the past year the CCAA has matched 41 days of LIDs. (I know, it's shocking to see it written out like that to me too) So if they kept their pace about the same, regardless of the lower number of families remaining, we would have 6 months left. Hopefully it will be less - much less - but at least we are in the home stretch, right?

Is That a Light?

It's faint, but I think that we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Referrals for August arrived at the beginning of the week, and while they covered a measly two days of LIDs, they were big days (a lot of families logged in). Even with the two day batch, however, it is looking like we could see a referral in December or January. The projections are just that - projections. They are NOT in any way based on information from the CCAA. They're based on how many days of LIDs have been processed over the past few years and poll data on Rumor Queen (the best China adoption site ever). Keep your fingers crossed that the CCAA can keep up their current pace (number of referrals, not number of days), or, even better, that they can pick up the pace. When we started this process we thought we would be home with our little girl at the beginning of 2007...now, getting home at the beginning of 2010 sounds heavenly.

In other non-adoption news, we were so lucky to celebrate the naming of my Goddaughter Emily over the weekend. She is so beautiful, and her Hebrew name fits her perfectly. Now, I know that I'm a little biased, but isn't she the cutest ever? :) Also this week, our niece Caroline started kindergarten! It's so hard to believe that she's already in school - it seems like just yesterday that she was born! And last week Chris wrapped up our insane home improvement project - our floor is finally complete! It looks AMAZING! I am working on putting the first floor back together, and will take some pictures when I finally get it done.

It's July...

Yup, it's the end of July, and we still have no real news. Referrals landed last week - they covered a measly two days of LIDs. Blech. The good news is that they were big days (lots of dossiers logged in), so if they keep up the pace of number of referrals, we'll see more days in the coming batches. It's hard to believe that I have been doing this for three and a half years now - each month trying to figure out how the tiny batch isn't as bad as it looks. I still think we will see a referral in December or January, but you never know.

We've been keeping busy...TOO busy. Our softball team made it to the playoffs, so we spent a weekend playing softball - we came in third place in the tournament! We celebrated Chris's birthday with a surprise visit from his brother Jonathan (who had the best timed surprise 1 day business trip to the east coast ever). And we have taken on far more in the world of home improvement than we shoud have. We finally are pulling up the old carpet & lineoleum on our first floor and installing laminate. In a stunning display of us overestimating both our skills and speed, we thought that I could paint the kitchen on Saturday while Chris installed the dining room floor, and then he could do the kitchen on Sunday. Well...the floor takes MUCH more time then you would think to install. And the kitchen took two days to paint - two days, two coats of ceiling paint, 2+ coats of primer, and 2 coats of green paint. Not sure what was on our walls before, but it ate the paint. Our little townhouse kitchen ate nearly 4 cans of paint and primer. Really. It looks PHENOMENAL though. Chris has been working on the floor every day after work and the kitchen is pretty much done. Hopefully he will have some time this weekend to finish up the dining room and start the living room. And hopefully the new floor will be in by September! :)

A few steps closer...

It looks like China is not going to "catch up" from that batch they send in the middle of May. Remember, it got sent a few weeks late because of the swine flu scare. We were hoping that they would catch up...send a batch at the beginning of June and get back to sending them at the beginning the month. But the last batch arrived the third week of June, so it's looking like this might be the new normal. Referrals went through March 20, 2006. Ever so slowly, we are moving closer to our date. Our agency keeps telling us that our LID is 4-17-06, and hopefully they are right. I think (hope?) for the first time in this ridiculous wait that we are about 6 months away.

We've been really busy lately. Well, busier than usual. The Red Sox came to town last week for three games against the Nationals and we were, of course, there for all three games. It was so much fun seeing the Red Sox in our "home" stadium though I think we're both feeling the effects of the heat & three nights of eating Five Guys cheeseburgers! (yes, the same Five Guys that Obama went to on the Dateline special...Chris is not pleased about that since it made the line twice as long!) I spent Friday and Saturday at the Great American Scrapbook Convention, an annual tradition for me! And tomorrow we're heading up to Baltimore for, you guessed it, another Red Sox game! Chris is taking a few days off of work, so it will be nice to have some time to catch up on sleep and relax at the pool!


Hello! We are back, tan, and relaxed from an amazing week in Cancun. I am so glad that we went, in spite of fears about the swine flu. Other than the fact that there have been exactly the same number of cases of swine flu in Cancun as there have been in our house (zero), the fear that caused nearly everyone else to cancel was our gain. Our flights in and out of Cancun weren't even half full (love the extra space!) and the resort was no more than 20% full. The weather was perfect and it truly felt like we had the place to ourselves. As we walked around the resort, we kept noticing how many chairs there were - all empty. I imagine that during busy times every single one is full. Not for us. We had a "busy" trip...HA! We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, and barely left the property! We ate breakfast on the terrace each day looking out over the ocean. (I know, rough life...) Then we picked out the perfect lounge chairs to spend the day on (on the deck of the pool looking out at the ocean)...laid in the sun, drank way too much (we would order a drink, and once they saw that we were getting close to finishing it, a new one would appear!), swam in the pool, swam in the ocean, played a LOT of pool volleyball, and lounged on the edge of the infinity pools (made to look like they go on out into the ocean - they had a ledge you could sit on that overlooked the ocean...it was AMAZING!). We ate way too much too - the food was amazing and ridiculously plentiful. And everyone we met was so nice - from the staff (we LOVED the activity staff & bartenders!) to the other guests. I have more pics posted on my facebook page, or you can email me for the link! :)

As for adoption news...well...not much to report. Referrals did come in while we were away - they covered through March 14, 2006. It's a strange sort of situation...we're so close, but we have no idea when referrals will come again, and how many days they will do at a time. I really do think we'll see a referral in 2009, but who knows. The other good news is that we finally got our USCIS approval - third time's a charm, right? The best part of it, though, was the form letter we got with it. The letter states "congratulations on completing the first step of your international adoption..." HA!! If only they knew! :) Hopefully I will have some good news to share soon!

Swine Flu? Really?

Well, I certainly didn't see this coming. If someone had told me three years ago that we would still be waiting for our daughter, I would have been shocked. But if someone had told me that we would be impacted by swine flu? Well...I can't say that I would have believed them. But here we are. No referrals were mailed this month (the last set of referrals went through 3-8-06 and were sent at the beginning of April), and every agency has a different explanation. Some agencies are just saying that they are late this month, and that the swine flu won't impact anything. Other agencies are saying that the CCAA has told them that they will be holding referrals for 20-30 days. Still others are saying that the CCAA is holding things until June. And yet another sent out an email yesterday saying that no referrals will be sent until September. Yes, you read that right.

So where does that leave us? Well, aside from the stress of not knowing anything (and the ridiculousness of the worldwide reaction to the sniffles), I am hoping that we won't really be impacted. The precedence that the CCAA has set from the SARS scare is promising. During that time, all referrals stopped, but the CCAA continued to make matches. Once all of the travel restrictions were lifted, they sent out huge batches of referrals (and more than one batch a month) to "catch up." We weren't going to get a referral this month anyways, so if they send out a larger batch next month, we would be in the same place. But I don't know. The not knowing is horrible, and the number of agencies that say that they have talked to someone at CCAA and have wildly different information is absurd. As Chris often says, we are adopting from a country that doesn't give out information, but this stinks.

As for the two of us, we are laughing in the face of swine flu, and flying to Mexico for our vacation on Monday. Really. Even after United cancelled our flights (would you believe that United has canceled nearly every flight to Mexico until JULY??), we have rebooked and are planning on spending a blissful few days on the beach in Cancun. No internet (so no monitoring the referral situation) will be a good thing. And hopefully we will come home to some good news.


It's been a crazy crazy month. REALLY crazy. First, no real adoption news. But we do have quite a bit of hope for the future. While the last month had the CCAA only refer 4 days worth of LIDs (so we're now up to 3/6/06...our LID is 4/17/06...), many agencies are saying that things will start to pick up in the next few months. The biggest reason that they are giving is the increase in the required orphanage donation. A few months ago, the donation was raised from $3000 to about $5000 (the new donation amount is in RMB, so it fluctuates a bit with the economy). That's a huge incentive for orphanage directors to get paperwork submitted. More paperwork means more babies available for international adoption and more referrals. So many agencies are reporting this that I am allowing myself some hope that we will finally see a speed-up and a 2009 referral.

In other craziness, we are redoing our kitchen. So it has been construction (and dust) central. A few weeks ago the KraftMaid cabinet truck pulled up to our house (the same truck that delivers to the houses on Extreme Makeover:Home Edition!) and we now have brand new cabinets and countertops! Our kitchen isn't quite put back together yet, but it is amazing to have beautiful new cabinets that aren't falling apart! :)

In even BIGGER news though, two of our closest friends, Shana & Stephen, had a baby at the end of February, and I became a godmother!!! Emily Talia is simply perfect (even those people who aren't her godmother think so!), and I was lucky enough to hold her when she was only 10 hours old! I am in awe of her, and so thankful that we live close enough that I can get my Emmy fix whenever I want!! :)

Other than that (which is quite a bit!), I have been super busy with work - I am working for a CPA during tax season (the same CPA I worked for last year). I really like the people I work with (and the office dog, Harley), but between that and teaching Sunday & Hebrew school...well...you get the idea! And Chris has been working long late hours a lot lately as well. We're also getting ready for softball season to start, as well as Opening Day.

No News...Just More Paperwork

Well, no news. Not even any rumors about the next cut off date. What a bummer, right? :) The upside is that there have been a few rumors about the wait and process as a whole. More than a few agencies are reporting that the mood is good at the CCAA, and several are reporting that things will pick up in the next few months. So while we're cautious about any rumors, we're cautiously optimistic about this one.

The other interesting thing is the website chinadoptionforecast.com. I've played with it some for awhile now, but there are a lot of reports that it's been extremely accurate lately. If we truly are close enough now for the site to make an accurate prediction, then 2009 truly will be our year. It's predicting a September referral, which would mean we would travel before the holidays. I'm hoping that it's wrong - that we'll travel before then, but anytime in 2009 is good enough for me at this point!

On the home front, we're been working hard at renewing all of our paperwork. We meet with the social worker tomorrow for our home study update - once that is done and sent to USCIS, we will have to be fingerprinted again as well. But at least we're in the home stretch of this set of paperwork (it took a LONG time to put it together again). We're enjoying the nice weather while it lasts (it was freezing here at this time last week, and today was in the 70s...supposed to be back down to the 30s by Friday...it's a wonder we're not more sick!). I'm excited to be heading to NFTY Convention on Monday as part of the Youth Workers Conference. And, of course, I couldn't be happier that spring training officially gets under way tomorrow! AND the Red Sox play the Nats for three games here in DC in June - I am ECSTATIC to see my team in my home town!!

Hope and Change

Tuesday was an amazing day. Sitting on my couch, a mere 16 miles from the Capital (yes, that's right, I live 16 miles away, but stayed in my toasty warm pjs!) we witnessed history. There are no words to describe the feeling of watching our 44th president be sworn in. I keep thinking of how our daughter will live in a country where the color of her skin will not be a barrier to her dreams. And I am full of optimism for our country. It truly is cool to be an American again.

In the midst of the unbelievable joy of the Inauguration, it's been a tough week in the world of our adoption wait. Our USCIS (immigration) paperwork has to be renewed AGAIN, and we have to re-do our homestudy (and all its parts...medical reviews, abuse clearances, fingerprints, financial reviews, etc.) a third time as well. It's tough - it's a huge time suck, as well as another rather large and unplanned expense. If all this money was going towards helping kids I would feel better about it. But it's going to our government and our agency. In short, it stinks. And the wait is not getting any shorter. Referrals for this month came out today, and after rumors of a speed-up, this batch covered two measly days. March 1 & 2, 2006. That's it. The rumor that spirits are high at CCAA is still out there, and it's possible that when they come back from the Chinese New Year holiday they could do another batch, but who knows. I continue to hope, but it's getting harder and harder.

I'm still sticking with Project 365...these are the next 9 days of our lives. And we are completely re-doing our kitchen. I thought that would make the universe laugh enough to speed things up (because it would be pretty funny to come home to a completely torn apart kitchen, right?). So our new stove arrived Saturday - our 1970s double oven is no more. And we picked out new cabinets and a new counter on Sunday. It'll be a month or two before they are installed, but we'll do the floor after that. Home improvement has never been so much fun. :)

Project 365

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 is to complete Project 365. What is Project 365? It's pretty simple, actually. Take a picture every day for a year. The idea is to capture every day moments - the stuff that I never usually take pictures of. My goal is to become a much better photographer, as well as documenting what a year in our lives look like. I'm hoping that this will be a big year for us, so to see it all the way through will be pretty cool. And I want to be a good enough photographer that I can capture all of our daughter's moments on film (disc?). I will be scrapbooking the pictures as well (hopefully using a Project 365 kit to make it simple), so that we will be able to look at the year for many years to come. As I've been taking pictures, I keep thinking how neat it would be to have pictures like this from my grandparents (I LOVE old pictures - my grandparents' pictures are all over our house!), so I'm hoping that this will be something that our children and grandchildren enjoy. Our first 9 days have been pretty boring. I came back from California with a nasty cold and picked up a stomach bug a few days later, so you can tell I spent a lot of time at home! And yes - those pictures at the top are the past 9 days. My favorite one is day 4 - that's Chris cooking latkes for our annual Chanukah celebration with our friends. That's right - of the 8 of us, the 1 non-Jew is the one who cooks the latkes each year! :)

(a key for those who are interested...1/1 - playing Scrabble with Chris, 1/2 - watching tv in my favorite pjs, 1/3 - Chris playing with Shana & Stephen's dogs, 1/4 - Chris making latkes at the Langels, 1/5 - folding laundry, 1/6 - a beautiful cardinal in the midst of all the rain, 1/7 - 2 cranky rabbits, 1/8 - our backyard in the midst of a 15 minute snow storm, 1/9 - doing dishes in our kitchen)

Happy New Year!

Happy 2009! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. We traveled to California to celebrate with all of the Surridges. We were a little slowed down by a nasty cold that worked its way through the entire family, but we still had a wonderful time. We perfected our skills at Candy Land, learned a lot about trains, read some good books, and truly enjoyed being an aunt & uncle! We had a VERY low-key New Year's celebration, as I am still getting over the Christmas cold, and Chris is working really hard to not let it take over his body. We saw "Marley & Me" and went out for Chinese food with Shana & Stephen, then welcomed 2009 in bed! (we did manage to stay awake until midnight, but just barely!)

On the adoption front, referrals landed just before the calendar switched to 2009. China finished February 2006 - exactly 47 days of LIDs to go. March 2006 is rumored to be a monster month, and we have heard rumors of both an expected speed up for 2009 and of it taking all of 2009 just to get through March 2006 LIDs. Hopefully the speed-up will be the correct rumor, but I truly believe that 2009 is our year. Of course, we said that in 2007 and 2008, but the third time is a charm, right? :) I think that the next few months will be telling...the batch before and after Chinese New Year (at the end of January). And, of course, we need to start re-doing our home study and Immigration paperwork AGAIN in a few weeks. Three times, three ginormous checks to the US Govt...this is the fun part, right? :)

About Us

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