Apparently it was too high.

Adventures in family-building

May 22, 2006


"Smile for the camera," I said. "Smile pretty so Daddy can get a picture of you in your nice, new baseball jersey." Boys. What is it about them that makes this the preferred pose for a picture? Pleas to give me a big beautiful smile to show someone his adorabe gap-toothed smile result in skeletal grimaces that leave the viewer subtley reeling and scrambling for something nice to say. "Wow, what a mouth," they say. Boys.

I have to take pictures when he's not looking to get actual natural poses.

But those pictures are worth the wait.

This girl thing, it's the same as boys, just more hair, and more pink, right? Right? Do I hear laughing in the back of the room? Evil cackling, perhaps? Do you have something you would like to share with the whole class?

May 19, 2006

What are you going to name the baby?

Wouldn't you like to know! You might remember that when we had Trevor, we didn't find out the gender of the baby until he was born. That was a moment like no other. Incomparable. Wouldn't trade that element of surprise for the world. SO, since with our second child, everyone will know she's a she and even see her picture before we meet her, we've got to keep something a surprise, don't we? So it will be her name. Besides, keeping things secret bugs the bejeepers out of my sister "Matilda", and that's worth the effort right there.

Until then, you may refer to our daughter as "BabyGogo". That's what we call her for now. A few months ago, I asked my then-4-year-old-niece, daughter of "Matilda", so we'll call my niece "Lucinda", I asked "Lucinda" what we should name the baby were are going to bring home from China. She looked pensive for a moment, then looked back at me with complete confidence, and nodded her head affirmatively as she said, "Baby Gogo". So there you go. How could I say no to that?

In the meantime, we are nearly settled on a name, but reserve the right to change it when we see her picture. We will actually have to pick a name before we leave for China, so that we can have it on some of the documents going to China. But we hope to keep it secret until the day we meet her... then we'll reveal it right here on the blog.

If you are one of the people we have told some of our name choices to, and you know who you are, PLEASE do not post a comment that says, "But I thought you were going to name her such-and-such!"

Here are a couple of links for name statistics. If you are on a fast connection, prepare to be entranced for the next hour playing with these, especially the first one:

Name Voyager

Social Security Administration Most Popular Names 2005

Here are some name ideas we have considered, then discarded:

  • Clever Ambrosia

  • Gertrude Ophelia

  • Jezebel Cornelius

  • Flotsam Jetsam

  • Minnie Ipod

  • Chutney Chesapeake

  • Diaphanous Continental

  • I'm sure you're relieved.

    May 15, 2006

    A Blog Primer

    It has come to our attention that we have quite a few readers that are not familiar with online blogs. As we intend to use this space to keep everyone updated with information and pictures both when we receive our referral of our daughter and when we are in China, we want everyone to know how this blog works so there's no confusion later. Here goes:

    The word blog is a shorthand version of Web Log, which is sort of an online diary. The first online diaries were written in the mid-90's, by a few intrepid, extroverted, and might we say exhibitionist souls who poured their secrets onto the internet for the world to read. Now there are "billions and billions" of blogs (in my best Carl Sagan voice).

    Our blog is viewable by anyone in the entire world using the internet. The URL* address (the http:// etc. thingy at the top) is not published anywhere per se, but anyone could come across it were they to randomly type in URL addresses (which will happen right after the monkeys finish writing Shakespeare), and the address can be forwarded on to others by those of you we have given the address to. For that reason, you won't see us mention our last name, or our specific location. We are a little widgy about internet freaks, as there are darn plenty of them, but not so widgy that we refuse to use this effective medium to keep everyone updated about our adoption. (* URL stands for Universal Resource Locator, for those of you who were wondering.)

    No one will get an e-mail when this blog is updated*. You just have to check back now and then to see if there is anything new. When big things happen, like when we get the first picture of our daughter, we'll probably send out an e-mail or otherwise notify our friends and family to look here RIGHT AWAY because the picture is here. And, when we are in China, we are going to try to post on this blog every day. Until then, we'll post on here when we get a wild hair. And since all of you have seen either a picture of me or have seen me in person, you know I have wild hair most of the time. (*There may be a way for you to choose to be updated by e-mail when this blog is updated. I am checking into that. Will let you know if I figure it out.)

    You may notice at the bottom of each post is a link that says "Comments". Some of them say "0 Comments" (*sob*). By clicking on this link, you will be redirected to a page where you can leave a comment on our blog. You can type your comment in the box provided, and choose one of the "Choose an Identity" options ("anonymous" is fine if you want to use that, "other" works well also), then click the "Publish your Comment" button. Your comment will then be viewable by both Paul and I and anyone else that reads our blog. I want to emphasize that - anyone else. I know someone who thought about posting a comment here, but when realizing that everyone would be able to read it, decided not to post it, because she thought everyone would think she was a weirdo. OK, it was my sister. We'll call her "Matilda" since she's widgy about having information about her on the internet. "Matilda" was writing a tongue-in-cheek comment asking why we hadn't mentioned her on our blog since everything is about "her, her, her" in her own words. So here you go: Matilda, Matilda, Matilda. It's all about you, dahling! (She was joking.)

    We don't know if someone in particular has visited our blog. We do know how many times our blog has been visited, by way of the "Hit Counter" on the right side of the page (but I fully admit that about 65% of those hits are me checking to see if there are any new comments. *sob*). But I can't tell if "Matilda" has visited, or if the grandparents have visited, or if the internet freaks have visited. So don't worry if you're stalking our blog, we don't know it's you! Stalk away!

    If there are any other questions about how this blog thing-a-ma-jig works, please don't hesitate to ask us, either by e-mail, or by using the Comment feature.

    May 10, 2006

    The Benefits of an Only Child

    Last night, Trevor fell asleep in his twin bed with his Daddy lying on one side of him, me on the other, and his cat sitting on his tummy purring. What bliss and comfort and security to be a 6-year-old and have everything in the house revolve around you. As our days as a one-child family draw to a close, I ponder all of the pleasures of having an only child.

    We didn't intend to have an only child for so long. Heck, we were planning to have another one before Trevor was out of diapers. But it did not happen. The longer the waiting went on, the more astounding the realization of how lucky we were to have Trevor became. In some ways, we became more appreciative, more adoring, more focused parents to Trevor. We were able to crank out this one incredible kid before one or the other of our reproductive systems went to heck in a handbasket. (Too much information, perhaps, but let's don't pretend you're not wondering... we never had a definitive diagnosis of why we could not get pregnant again. A touch of this, a dab of that, these numbers are odd, this sonogram is peculiar, but no One Big Reason it did not happen).

    But here we are, with a 6-year, 5-month, 15-day old boy as our only child.

    There are no distractions. On Trevor's first day of kindergarten, we came near to hiring a marching band to lead us down the sidewalk to school. (We were instead accompanied by our good friends and neighbors, one of whom has left this earth since then. That first walk to school will always be a precious memory of Kevin for us). His T-ball and soccer and swimming lesson schedules rule our schedule. Don't have to work around anyone else's naps, lessons, playdates, birthday parties, or other activities. It's all about Trevor.

    Whatever age Trevor has been at has been the age our activities are focused on. Never a bored older child or not-quite-old-enough younger child to tote around. Never a squirmy toddler at a concert or a whiny teenager at Chuck E. Cheese. We can go see movies that are appropriate for Trevor without scaring the little one or boring the older one.

    We are the chosen playmates! You should see Trevor and his daddy play Jedi knights together, running around the house doing "Jedi moves" and saying Jedi-like things that make no sense to me. It makes my heart sing! We play board games and card games with him. We throw the baseball or kick the soccer ball around. We ride bikes with him. We play with the glue stick, glitter, elbow macaroni, and black beans on construction paper with him. (Haha! We don't actually do that last one. Anyone will tell you I'm not the artsy-crafty mom. However, Trevor and I have had a good time working our way through the "Fun with quadratic equations" workbook.) We hear the goofy 6-year-old jokes.

    When we get together with the grandparents (either set, he's a lucky boy to have all four), it's all about seeing Trevor - no cute baby to ooh and aah over. No older kid to go out on the back forty and shoot snakes with (inside joke). Paul and I have long understood that we have been demoted to second-best when it comes to the grandparents - it's ALL about Trevor. Our bright and shining star. Our smart, beautiful, sweet boy. Not so much the fruit of our loins (I know that word makes my mother squirm, sorry Mom), but the fruit of our undivided attention. Our focus. Our entire world.

    Poor Trevor. He is excited about his baby sister. He talks about her quite a bit! But he has no idea what this little creature is going to do to his life. Oh, it will enrich his life, I am sure. He will not have less love from us, as the parents of more than one child tell me that the love is multiplied, not divided. But, the number of minutes in a day will not be multiplied. The money will most certainly not be multiplied. And personally I am a littled worried that my patience will not be multiplied. We shall see.

    Perhaps this is a good thing for Trevor. No one wants a spoiled child, right? "Onlies" are a spoiled lot, think the world revolves around them, don't know how to share, negotiate, etc., right? That's what They say. I personally don't buy into that theory about Onlies. But, in any event, Trevor soon will not be an Only.

    I am so happy to have had these 6+ years to pour all my motherly focus into my one darling son. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. But now it is time to move on to the next phase of our family, the next phase of our lives.

    We are ready.

    May 8, 2006

    Not the momma.

    "Not the momma. Not the momma!" a quote from Baby on Dinosaurs, a cute but short lived TV show. As you might have guessed this is the initial post from the "DH", Paul to the rest of you. I have never posted on a blog before, so here it is. And I realize exactly why I have never posted on a blog before. Not much to say. At least not much to say that has not already been said probably better than I could say it. Hey, so far so good.

    So, what do I think of the whole adoption thing? I am sooo looking forward to holding our baby girl in my arms. Not that I did not like the process of waiting for hours to get finger printed, talking to a counselor, the money thing "We have to save HOW much?" and consoling Andrea about filling out all the forms. Yeah, I got of easy, she took care of the paperwork. Actually, I suspect, no, I know she did not trust me to fill them out. Oh, and lets not forget the waiting. We chose to adopt from China in part because after years of 'maybe next month' we really wanted a predictable plan. So, I am sooo looking forward to holding our baby girl in my arms, this year, I hope.

    On waiting. I am apparently like most husbands, very resistant to the rumors. The only thing I want to hear each month is, when did the matches get released, how many log-in days were processed and what log-in day are we up to. Then, I pretty much file that for another month.

    More on waiting. The waiting has been good because we saved twice as long as we originally planned. The waiting has been bad as important projects have ground to a halt from the baby room with partially removed wallpaper to the partially listened to Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin book. When we get matched, somehow we are going to turn into different people. People on a mission that has been put on hold for months.

    There I did it. I could probably go on, but my eyes are heavy. It is a challenge to write to a mostly unknown audience. Do they know what a "log-in" date is? Have they ever seen Dinosaurs? Can my boss/co-workers/wife's internet friends/parents/daughter all read this and find it interesting/inoffensive/intelligible? I sure hope so.

    Premeditated Resentments

    I am feeling cranky this morning. This may not come as a surprise to some of you, especially if you are privy to my seething glares at 5:09 a.m. So bear with me as I write this cranky post. I first want you to give it up for my friend Casey, who quoted to me a lovely new saying:

    Expectations are nothing but premeditated resentments.

    Brilliant. Thank you Casey. I will find many uses for that saying.

    The recent experience of a friend has inspired me to write the following post.

    The day will come soon (so they say) that Paul and I will finally get our first look at our long-awaited second child. We will lay our eyes on her picture, a face we have been looking for for nearly 5 years. We are very excited about this - it will be one of the most incredible days of our lives. Paul and I have edumacated (<--- one of my fave faux words) ourselves on what to expect with these little ones from China. As with every human being, they are not perfect. They have kinks in their system, just like the rest of us. And unlike most of us and our children, who have known nothing but the adoring love and attention of our parents since the day we first saw light, they have not had this, and this is not without effect. We are prepared for some of the kinks that "post-institutionalized" children may exhibit. Nevertheless, she is OUR daughter, and in our eyes, she will be perfection.


    When we first share with you her picture, her birthdate, and other information we wish to share, please share our joy. I know you all intend to do this. No one would dream of doing anything different! But sometimes we say things that we don't think is anything but a passing thought, and unintentionally profoundly affect the person we said it to. I am guilty of this. I can wince even now knowing some of the things I've said that just didn't come out right. Even to some of you reading this now. (sorry)

    So, some guidelines:

    • Don't say, "Isn't she older than you expected her to be?" Say, "She's brilliant! She's perfect! She's beautiful! You got the best baby in all of China!"
    • Don't say, "Her ears are kind of low on her head. Could she be mentally retarded?" Say, "She's brilliant! She's perfect! She's beautiful! You got the best baby in all of China!"
    • Don't say, "I didn't know her skin would be so dark." Say, "She's brilliant! She's perfect! She's beautiful! You got the best baby in all of China!"
    • Don't say, "What's that funny rash? Isn't she too small? Does the fact that she's had a lot of colds frighten you? She isn't sitting yet - isn't that abnormal? Are you going to give her back? Say, "She's brilliant! She's perfect! She's beautiful! You got the best baby in all of China!"
    • Don't say, "A boy?!? I thought you were getting a girl! Are you dissappointed?" Say, "He's brilliant! He's perfect! He's handsome! You got the best baby in all of China!"

    To recap, I don't care if the picture we show you has a green-skinned 4-foot baby with 3 eyes and a Brillo Pad stapled to her forehead, we want to hear, "She's brilliant! She's perfect! She's beautiful! You got the best baby in all of China!"

    I promise my next post won't be so cranky.

    May 4, 2006

    Clarified Butter

    I'll simplify the long explanation in the previous post down to this: Based on recent trends, our best estimate of when we will get a picture of our daughter is between the last week of June and the last week of July. Travel to China should follow 4 to 9 weeks after we get our picture, whenever that is.

    May 2, 2006

    So, what's taking so long?

    That, my friends, is the $64,000 question. Paul and I are asked that question over and over and over occasionally. I will do my best to explain it clearly.

    The international adoption program in China is a first-in, first-out process, and every adoptive family around the world and adoptable child in China is funneled through one Chinese government agency, the CCAA. Check out the link to the CCAA on the left of this page. Every non-Chinese family that wants to adopt in China "gets in line" at the CCAA, and when your number comes up, you are matched with a child.

    Although we started the adoption process proper back in February 2005, we didn't "get in line" in China until June 30, 2005. Those first 5 months were spent gathering all the paperwork we had to send to China. In June, our adoption agency sent that paperwork to China, and on June 30, 2005, China logged our family into their system. So, we call 06.30.2005 our "log in date", or LID.

    When a family's LID is finally at the front of the line, a department at the CCAA called the "matching department" looks at our request for a child, looks at the children available at that moment in time, and matches a child to us. They will send the information on that child to our agency here in the USA, CCAI. See the link to the left for our agency. They are fabulous and I have nothing but accolades for the incredible service they are performing. This packet of information about a child matched to a specific family is called a "referral". China sends referrals to the international agencies in batches, about once a month.

    When we got in line on June 30, 2005, families that were currently receiving their referrals had been in line for about 6 to 7 months. That is, there was a 6 to 7 month span between their LID and their referral. That pattern, a 6 to 7 month wait, had been consistent for quite a while, so that's what our agency told us to expect, with the caveat that it could always change. This span of time, the "wait for referral", is completely in the hands of the CCAA - in the hands of China - and neither our agency, the American government, or we ourselves can do anything to influence the length of the waiting time.

    Things moved along as expected until about November of 2005. The line started moving slower. The "wait for referral" started growing longer. We thought it might be a temporary slowdown, but it was not. It continued at this slower pace, then started moving even slower. Right now, the line is puttering along at a mere shuffle. BUT - the line is moving. The line has continued to move forward consistently. Just not as fast as we'd like.

    I know what you're thinking: Why did the line slow down? Why did the CCAA not keep up its previous fast pace? That's the $64,001 question. We don't know. Our agency doesn't know. The only ones who know are the CCAA themselves, and they aren't talking. This is typical of the Chinese government, heck, typical of ANY government - information given on a need to know basis and I guess they don't think we need to know. The rumours ABOUND - from the trivial to the enormous. I won't go into all of the rumours because so many of them are without basis.

    We are able to watch the progress of referrals because the CCAA posts on their website each time they send out a batch of referrals to the international agencies. They will post that they have matched children to families that were logged in by such-and-such date. The most recent post stated that they have matched families logged in by June 6, 2005. So, as you can see, we are close. Whether they get through June 30, 2005 in the next batch, or 4 batches from now, we can't say. But we believe it will be sometime this summer that we will get our referral.

    When we get our referral, we will have a picture of our daughter, and a bit of information on her - basic medical info, as much info as they have on her personality and routine, and where she is living. Over the following 4 to 9 weeks a variety of red tape will be hacked through, and then we will travel to China for 2 weeks and bring our daughter home with us.

    I hope this has helped you understand "what is taking so long"!