I am pleased to announce that we have accepted the referral of a little 5 1/2 year old girl named Jing Ju. She is from Beihai City in the south of Guangxi. We have sent a Letter of Intent to China, and are now waiting to receive a Letter of Acceptance. After that, we wait for our Travel Approval. Our social worker thinks it's possible I will be going to China in about 3 months! When I read the following passage from Jing Ju's record, I knew we'd found our daughter:
"In May 2005 Jingju participated in the little sisters’ class in Social Welfare Institute of Wuzhou. In Aug.2007 when she returned to Social Welfare Institute of Beihai city she went on to participate in the little sisters’ class. By the excellent education of the teachers she looks very active and cute all the time in the activities and is a kind-hearted girl. Jingju participated the little sisters’ class and have a happy group life. Led by teachers Ju went to the zoo and open country for many times, met the tigers taught in textbooks and observed moving ants carefully, as well as drew pictures by herself. In class Ju is always attentive, has good receptive ability, can finish cutting paper and jigsaw with both hands. Ju speaks lightly, has sweet smile and fair complexion, always brings happiness to peers around her. Whenever the caretaker allocates snack food to the kids, when she gives food to Ju and Ju finds that the kid beside her does not have it, she will share it with the kid, sometimes Ju can be jealous when other kids ‘occupied’ her teacher."
So, it's happening. I'm finally going to be a mother!
As I've posted before, the wait to adopt a child from China is long and growing longer. I've been following various China adoption blogs, and I've come to fear that Kevin and I are in a very precarious position. I estimate our current wait to be about another 4 years. Yup, you read me correctly. I'd like to have a child before I'm 50, and we're concerned that by the time we're given a referral, CCAA will deny us, due to our ages and the added issue of Kevin's MS diagnosis. We could very possibly hang in for the next 4 years and then be denied at the point our dossier finally makes it to the matching room.
So here's the new plan. We've decided to switch to China's Special Needs program. China designates adoptees who have one or more medical conditions as well as children over the age of six as special needs. Many of these medical issues have already been treated or surgically corrected. By switching, we can very likely reduce our wait time, and possibly have a referral come to us at any time. We've submitted a list to our adoption agency of medical conditions thatwe feel we'd be able to handle, and that generally have a good prognosis. So, I'm figuring out how the process works as we go. From what I've learned so far, CCAA sends a monthly shared list of waiting children to all adoption agencies participating in the special needs program. When the list goes out, there's a kind of scramble among the agencies to match children to their prospective parents. When they find a match, they have to lock in that child so no other agency has access. They can hold that child for 48 hours to give the prospective family time to decide if they want to move forward with the referral. After 48 hours a child's file can be locked for 48 hours two more times to give more time to review medical records and make a decision. This month's list apparently came out last night. I've had my phone in my pocket all day, hoping it would ring. It's now 9:30pm and no call. Most likely our social worker was unable to find us a match today. So..., this is the drill that we will go through each month until our agency finds us our match!
Here's a few other details. We are now connected with the Yale International Adoption Clinic. We met with a doctor who helped us make our decision about what special needs we can comfortably handle. When we get a potential referral, we'll take the records there to be reviewed. If we accept, we then have to send CCAA a Letter of Intent, and then we wait for a Letter of Approval. If we're going to be denied, this is when I think it will happen. If we're approved, the current time frame for how long it will be before I go to China, is about 4 months.
The following is a list of the special needs we've said we can accept:
There's a website called China Adopt Talk that I visit daily. It's hosted by the Rumor Queen who posts information about the latest news in China's adoption program. She recently took a poll among us followers of her site to get a sense of the number of people withdrawing their applications from China due to the long wait. The results indicate that about 29% have given up. Here's a quote from RQ's post:
"As has been pointed out, the numbers for the “planning to leave” survey are likely low, as some who have their Plan B coming along nicely are no longer checking in with this site. I think it is fair to say at this point that somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of those who were logged in during 2006 are planning at this time to accept their referral when it arrives. We are edging very close to half.
At what point does this massive amount of attrition begin to show up in referrals? It seems that as people pull out the CCAA just refers less babies, keeping the days referred continuing on a downward trend."
This is just too sad for words, and so complicated in terms of how one should feel. A part of me was feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time that attrition rates might speed up the process for those of us still in line. Those feelings are in conflict with the sadness I feel for those giving up their dream of adopting from China. Then there’s the news that attrition may have no impact on referrals and I think of all the children who may be spending years longer than they should growing up in orphanages. Does it all come down to Orphanage directors having no incentive to make their children available for adoption? I imagine it’s more complicated than that (or at least I hope so). As a social worker, I have seen how the mission of helping people can get mired in a myriad of issues; funding, policy, lack of resources, competing agendas, etc. I work with young adults who have aged out of our child protective services and I see the impact on my clients from years of institutionalized living. I have to believe that no one thinks that’s acceptable.
I also am constantly checking in with myself and asking if my own need to have a child is also what’s best for her. My husband has MS and has become more disabled since we started the adoption process. I am aware of the potential ways a child might be affected by having a disabled parent. I keep coming back to all the positive things both I and my husband have to offer a child. I’ve lost the point of my rambling, I think. I guess I’m trying to make peace with the overwhelming uncertainties inherent in this situation. China is our only option and the clock may run out on us at some point. I ‘ll try to have an “if it’s meant to be” kind of perspective, but the truth is, this is a painful, anxiety-making, gut-wretching, journey were on. I wish I could jump ahead and read the last chapter to see how it all turns out… wouldn’t that be nice.
I've been thinking lately about how I’m going to handle the long wait ahead. My husband is disabled, which has added a whole other layer of anxiety to this experience. First we had to get pre-approved, a “no guarantee go-ahead,” which basically meant, “send your dossier to China, it’s worth a shot.” We then spent the next year making logistical changes to make life easier. We sold our condo and are now renting a single level apartment because my husband can no longer climb stairs. At the same time, we went through a year-long wait for his electric wheel chair to be built and approved by the insurance company–not quite as painful as waiting for a child, but close! I’ve been working extra hours to get us more financially secure and though I’m tired all the time, I tell myself it will be so worth it in the end. Two weeks ago we were told our dossier was in review and that CCAA had some questions they wanted us to address, mainly about my husband’s health. So now, I guess we are waiting to hear that the review of dossiers through March ‘07 has been completed, and if we haven’t been rejected, we can assume we’re now waiting for a referral. At a recent Waiting Families meeting at my adoption agency, a staff member kept saying that even though the wait is hard, we will all get a child in the end. To me however, she said, there is no guarantee. This waiting would be so much easier if I could know for sure that I will have a daughter in the end. The thought that we might wait another two years (or longer), and then be told in the end, sorry, no child for you, is a thought I am constantly pushing out of my mind. Because of our special circumstances, we have no other options than China. So I am resigned to seeing this through. A waiting father at that meeting reminded me that waiting doesn’t mean stopping. That was helpful to hear. Now I just have to give some thought as to what that means for me… voice lessons maybe?
Peru, my Havana Brown, doesn't seem to think it's a good idea I keep a blog, or maybe he thinks I need his help. If I can get him to settle down, and nap in my lap, I'll be fine. Havana's must be the center of attention, always.
I thought it might be helpful to keep track of my thoughts while I wait to adopt my someday daughter from China. The wait is getting longer, for reasons that are difficult to understand, and I struggle to keep hopeful. Perhaps this blog will help me to feel connected to my daughter, who lives a world away and doesn't yet know she has a mother who's waiting to bring her home.
How I Stay Sane While Waiting To Adopt A Child From China
My husband, Kevin and I, are adopting a child from China. We submitted our paperwork (dossier) over a year ago and it was given what's called a "Log In Date"(LID). Think of the LID as the date the clock starts ticking for our wait to be given a referral for a child. Our LID is March 19, 2007. When we first started the adoption process, the estimated wait time from LID to referral was about 15 months. Currently the wait is approximately 30 months and getting longer. My best guess, which is really wishful thinking, for when our referral might come is sometime in 2010. Right now the February '06 families are next in line.
Enough of that. We decided to adopt an older child, 3-5 years old, as we have some complications that make having an infant more challenging. More on that maybe at another time.
To make the wait bearable, I started knitting toys for our daughter. Since I won't know her age and size until the very end, toys and non-clothing projects are all I can really do. Let's see how many more get added to this site by the time we receive our referral!
This blanket was knit over two years ago when we were compiling our dossier for China. It's packed away in a box right now. I've held off getting our daughter's bedroom ready until we actually get a referral. Once we're matched with a child, it will be several months before we get our travel approval, so there'll be time. For now, I'm collecting things, trying to keep myself collected, and of course, knitting.