We had been mired in red tape with the state of Maryland and the background check that can take up to 8 weeks. It finally came in!! We then got a call stating our Home Study was sent to our agency so they can approve it prior to the social worker printing it and having it notarized.
I called the agency and they said our next set of fees were due. We sent a check in for:
CCCWA Dossier Submission Fee (Child 1) 1100
CCCWA Dossier Submission Fee (Child 2) 1100
CCCWA Translation Fee (Child 1) 260
CCCWA Translation Fee (Child 2) 00
Document Processing Fee (Child 1) 1200
Document Processing Fe (Child 2) 1200
Home Study Review Fee 150
For a total of $5010 yesterday (HOLY COW!)
I found out this morning that the director of Social Work for our agency is no longer there. SUPER! I need this approved and moved along with a quickness and this is not good. The office manager said someone requested a meeting about it. What? It is a little late to be concerned about this now. We could travel in as few as 8 weeks and this is not the time for foot dragging at all.
We needed Good Conduct Letters from local law enforcement, we get the first set and the notary stamp was set to expire in February, we needed new ones, we go in and have them re-done explaining everything. We get them back notarized with a date error (China will not accept this) AND with a March expiration on the notary stamp (China will not accept this). Today Paul will pick up another set of Good Conduct Letters and they say the notary stamp has been renewed and they will make sure to put the correct date with no cross outs. This has cost us time and I am not very pleased about it. The letters from local law enforcement need to go into your dossier sets (one for you, one for China and one for the adoption agency). They will all be authenticated at the state level and then again with the Chinese Embassy.
We have the iPad fundraiser going, for $10.00 you can get a ticket to win an iPad mini. I love my iPad! This would be the perfect size to jam into a reasonable sized purse and has a ton of apps available. Once you have an iPad you will wonder what you did without one. We just loaded my old one with a bunch of children’s apps for the girls and we will of course add a few movies for that excruciating trip home.
On the upside if we are able to get to a total of 5K in donations we will post a video of Ethan having his head shaved! Now that will be entertaining! We have an account with Reece’s Rainbow (all donations are tax deductible), checks may be sent directly to Wasatch with “Staley Family” in the memo (also tax deductible) or you can enter the drawing for the iPad mini. Lots of ways to help those little girls.
Pretty great update right?? Hope to have another one very soon!!
As I mentioned in my last post, we both took the Ebags Motherlode Jr backpacks as our carry on. They fit under the seat in front of me (which I did not expect) and I was even able to get my teeny purse mashed under there with it. I knew we would be roaming around a lot so I only brought a small cross body purse.
The packing cubes were SUPER handy! I felt like these really kept my items in check, organized and easy to locate. My feeling is if you are on the fence get a set and give it a go. I was also on the fence and I got a few sets of the Ikea ones just to try. I then bought a set of the Sharper Image ones for Paul but I ended up taking the really huge one (I mean it is GINOURMOUS) to put
all some of my fabric and sewing crap in.
Paul and I made it to California we had a pretty great time and those four days went by so fast it is a blur. We got to visit the San Diego Zoo. What an amazing zoo. We were really lucky and got to see a ton of the animals, most were out and active. While we were at the zoo I managed to stop at pretty much every little shop stand they had an buy all the little composite rubber animals I could find. I was thinking of all the different activities we could use them for. The zoo also had an amazing amount of great children’s books. I only grabbed one because we had just been to Barnes and Noble in the morning and had already bought 6 books. I can’t resist kids books and we want the girls to be readers.
For those of you in the military planning to visit the San Diego Zoo please know your active duty ID gets you in free and onto the bus tour etc. It will also get you a discount purchasing tickets for your friends and family members! That is such a great deal and makes the visit more affordable. You can get a Storipass and have pictures taken at a number of different locations throughout the park. We did buy a picture package that gave us the digital rights (AWESOME) so we could then post or print them if we wanted to. I believe it was 55.00. We had a hard time finding pictures both of us were in for our adoption dossier because I am usually taking the pictures.
Check out these amazing creations using recycled flip flops! I love this idea. They had different animals at each shop/stand in each area. They also had a selection of local wines, olive oils as well as gourmet chocolates. We did get a souvenir for our travel wall (two small animal tiles). I was a little stuck on the beaded flamingo but I finally decided I should just go with a wall item.
We apparently found the most popular BBQ joint in the area. We managed to eat there three times. In our defense.. the BBQ is amazing! The place is Phil’s BBQ and if you are in the area you can’t go wrong with either the Beefy Ribs or the Baby Back Ribs.
We were harassed by a HUGE waffle at the Waffle Spot. That is totally a Low Carber’s nightmare right there. This waffle was persistent.. I did resist however and ordered the Baja Omelet (I may or may not have licked the giant waffle once or twice). I was thinking this place is a little sketchy since it is The Waffle Spot in the morning and turns into the Amigo Spot in the evening but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was very good and the people were nice, plus it is really close by.
We visited Old Town and had a fantastic breakfast at El Patio de Old Town. I noticed very mixed reviews (depending on the site) about this place just now when I was looking for a web site to refer people to. We had a great experience and the food was very good, we watched the gal make fresh tortillas (actually the smell brought us in), everything was fresh and delicious. We both had the enchiladas. They were offering a breakfast buffet but I am very leery of buffets so this was a better choice.
While in Old Town we had a visit to the Whaley House Museum. If the name seems sort of familiar you may have seen it on a ghost/paranormal show. It is a lovely old home with an interesting history. Tickets were $6.00 and sold in the house next to the Whaley House, this also serves as the gift shop as well.
We found a pizza place and had gluten free pizza. This pizza had a nice thin crispy crust and was delicious! The place is called Project Pie. When I saw the name I was thinking Banana Cream not pizza, so glad I looked it up! We probably paid $25.00 for three personal sized gluten free pizzas. Let me just say this is more pizza for less $$ than the pizza we usually get.
I found a room at the Marriott with a kitchen. This is huge because who can continue to eat all meals out? Ok so maybe I could but I’m thinking the budget would be happier with less of that business. I made Chicken Soup and I think I will put a bunch into bags too for at least a couple meals every week while I am here. The kitchen is small but the fridge is full sized, there is also a microwave, dishwasher and cook top. To make this work we picked up a crock pot (no oven here) at Target.
The bedroom has a king sized bed and its a tight fit in there with the dresser, there is a sink space and a bathroom with tub/shower combo and toilet. Parking is a pain here and will run an extra 13.00 a night unless you are staying an entire month and in that case your parking is free says the gal at the front desk. This is a great bonus. The nickel and diming drives me nuts so I’m happy when that works out.
I made it across the boarder twice now and into Tijuana. I am taking part in a study and this has been pretty interesting. I got the results of my saliva test and it is shocking to say the least. The list of things they found boggles the mind. I will be interested to see what happens. I was able to meet a few other people there for different treatments (not part of the study), one woman was there with her son. The son had suffered an accidental gunshot to the head and was partially paralyzed on one side. After the first treatment he had he could open his hand (which has not been possible since the brain injury occurred). I am coming at a time when a lot of others will be there and I have said I will do my stuff in the lobby. Really its because I am nosey and want to visit with people and see why they are there and what results they have had. So far I’ve not met any other study participants (probably because most of them finished already, I was late or they are on a different schedule). My blood was sent to a specialty lab in Europe to be tested and I will be waiting to see those results too. I love this sort of thing.
I see a lot of folks coming to Tijuana for dental care. I am making a list of dentists to check out.
I have one last restaurant to comment on. I had plans to get out and get a haircut, find a fabric store etc but I felt a little yucky so I came back to the room and planted myself. I ordered dinner from Rays Mexican Restaurant using Eat 24. This is pretty inexpensive when I think of ordering Mexican food at home. Minimum delivery order is $25 an that is a TON of food. Seriously a ton. On the upside I have breakfast all set! The Tamale was sort of odd but delicious. I’ve never had veggies and potatoes in a tamale before, It was HUGE! I tried chicken enchiladas (I will eat that for breakfast) and a beef burrito which is HUGE and very good. This is not that craptastic burritos you usually get this doesn’t have the filler, it is pretty much all meat. Love it! That covers the trip.. I do have another update but I will write that separately.
At the last minute I found out I would be in San Diego for a month. Cue hysteria, this is not more than 30 minutes after I had set up a sewing class so I can learn to actually use the sewing machine, not to mention we are knee deep in the middle of this whole adoption thing. A really nice gal over at Quality Sewing in Federal Way graciously gave me a quick and dirty lesson and I’ve been working on my felt food for the girls.
I will drag the sewing machine and my fabric with me so I can keep myself busy. I bought the fabric to make pack and play sheets and crib railing covers. I have packed felt to make quiet book pages. We shall see if this gets done! I am not really looking forward to nearly an entire month on my own. I will be really lonely (I won’t even have a dog with me). Lucky for me Paul is coming for the first 4 days. We will have a great time running amok in a new city. I will be in San Diego for our anniversary so we are going to use this as our little anniversary get away. I doubt we will have much time for running amok together for some time after the girls arrive!
This is a little bit of a dry run using the eBags motherlode bag that everyone RAVES about. It will also be the first time I am NOT taking my big computer (laptop).. only my ipad and the surface (which we plan to do in China). I have a few packing cubes (from Ikea) and bought a set of nice ones for Paul (but ended up stealing the big one for all my fabric.. it is HUGE!). I think the Ikea packing cubes will work fine if you are not a big traveler. They are not nearly as sturdy as the ones from eBags, Dot&Dot or Sharper Image. I will potentially invest in some of those for the trip to China and use the Ikea ones for those itty bitty baby clothes!! Even itty bitty babies need packing cubes! I hate the idea that I will be gone an entire month. PPFFTT
On the adoption front: We are stuck WAITING on the State of Maryland and they take EIGHT weeks to do a background check. EIGHT WEEKS?!?! Really? That sort of deadlock for so long is totally unacceptable and completely ridiculous.
The cardiologist and the International Adoption Doctor are both writing letters to expedite our adoption. We have requested that our social worker send the home study in to our agency (before the clearance comes in) so that we are ready to go as soon as it arrives. I’m sure she will do it because she is on top of stuff. I wrote out the I-800A and the supplement (and paper clipped all the requested documents to it). Carl will be opening all the mail and letting me know what is what when it arrives. It feels like juggling or an odd game of Jenga since everything is dependent on something else and I do not want this crazy trip to interfere with our adoption.
Little Snickers woke up with an issue this morning and had to go to the vet. I hate it when our little guys are sick. Of course it would happen the day before we leave! Ok.. I am all packed and we have a car coming at 4am to whisk us to the airport. Man that is going to happen quick isn’t it? Cheers!
Don’t forget to head on over and check out the iPad promotion!! I love, love, love my iPad!
The winner of the lovely green iPod Nano is ANASTASIA MARTIN! An e-mail has been sent to the account you registered with Facebook.
The winner of the $10.00 Amazon card is Ann McCormick Chaloux! An e-mail has been sent to the account you have registered with Facebook.
Congratulations ladies! Thank you so much for helping us get the story out! Stay tuned for the iPad promotion coming up soon!
I have been on the hunt for children’s medications to take on the trip. We have an entire list to hunt down and haul to China JUST IN CASE. We need liquid ibuprofen, acetaminophen, lice treatment, re-hydration packets, allergy meds, motion illness meds, cough and cold medication, antibiotics and scabies medication. It looks like we will be hauling a clinic with us.
Here is the shocking part, I’ve discovered nearly every brand of children’s medication had sucralose or aspartame in them. What kid either healthy or sick needs this crap? Read all the labels very carefully.
We had a call with a doc from the University Of Washington International Adoption clinic first thing this morning. We did have an earlier file review HOWEVER that file review did not come with the expanded service. With this file review the clinic will provide us with prescription antibiotics for the kids as well as scabies cream and oxygen for Gabriella if she needs it.
This file review was a little more in depth than our earlier review but did agree on all the main points. This clinic will coordinate with Gabby’s cardiologist and refer us out to all the resources we will be needing for both girls.
The most important thing they are going to provide is peace of mind of having someone to call if there is an issue in China. I’m not talking about a critical emergency but if I think there is an issue, a rash, a behavior that I am not sure about we will have someone to call and not be flailing around. Someone will have out back if we need it. Of course as I had mentioned before I also have a wonderful group of parents in the FB groups who have either been there or are in the same point in the process all providing an amazing amount of support as we travel down this road.
It is scary, you have no idea what waits on the other end of this. My strategy is to plan for the worst and be thrilled if it isn’t that bad. You have no idea what condition your child will be in when you arrive. The things I have seen/heard recently are enough to make your hair stand on end. Two moms traveled recently and both ended up with a pretty serious medical emergency. One knew she was traveling for a girl that was in pretty rough shape but one mom was totally blindsided.
You have to take a number of gifts for the orphanage people, the orphanage director, the nanny, a provincial official. I am told you need 6 in each province. I’m sure I have been over thinking it but I ended up buying 14 travel coffee mugs from Starbucks and thought I’d put a small (one pot) worth of Starbucks in each one. Maybe a travel size American Whiskey in the mugs for the orphanage directors and officials. The nannies would probably prefer EOS or lip balm or something of that nature. I figure all the space these travel mugs occupy will be crammed full with souvenirs on the trip home.
I know we will buy MANY pairs of the squeaky shoes on Shamian Island, some traditional silks and a Christmas ornament for each girl for the next 10 years. We plan to do the rubbings and have our pictures taken on the Island after the consulate appointment. At least that’s the plan right now, we will have to see how it goes and if everyone is up to it. We want to take the kids to the Safari Park on the outskirts of Guangzhou. I believe it is on the subway so I think it will be an easy trip.
The sheer tonnage of gear toddlers need it astounding. We have done a lot of research and I finally chose a double stroller. We ended up with the Baby Jogger City Mini Double Stroller. I was looking for the lightest (26.5 pounds) side by side double stroller that will carry 50 pounds per child, has a five point harness and a good bit of storage underneath. The stroller needed a large shade to keep the sun off the girls (especially Isabella) and full recline for each child in case a nap is needed. This stroller also features a quick fold handle. I remember wrestling with the stroller when the Carl and Bethany were small and this is MUCH easier! It was quick to put together and is easy to steer and push. I really wish I could have had this in plum. The average price I’ve seen this advertised at is $449, I was able to snag it at $329 during the sale at Albee Baby. Head on over and check them out, they are always having great sales.
The other big item that arrived was the second crib. We purchased it from Amazon. It is a white Delta Children’s Products Winter Park 3 in 1 convertible crib. This is an affordable simple sleigh style crib. Carl and I put the crib together and when we were to the last piece, the last side had a gash in the rail. They had painted it so it is clear that they knew about the defect. I am so very annoyed but I have decided that I will just purchase a crib rail cover because I do not want the hassle of shipping the crib back.
The second Diono RadianRXT Convertible Car Seat arrived – another one in plum because I want to be sure no one has a hissy fit over a certain seat etc.
The last larger purchases we need to make are for the Boon Flair High Chair (waiting for a sale) so we can get a second one and a Tula standard front carrier (Paul will wear the green more manly Ergo).
We still need to order a large all in one cloth diaper package. I figure we will start there and see if we need more or if we can start with training pants. If Gabby is still in diapers (and with her heart issue I am not going to worry about it) we will just order a second package after they come home.
I do want to get a couple Cozy Coupes, a kid size table and chair set and of course the play kitchen (this might end up as a Christmas gift along with all of the felt food I have been making). I will gather more toys and books as time goes on but we have a good start. I purposefully did not buy very many stuffed animals (those things just multiply when you aren’t looking anyway). I need a second “My Pal Violet” because I figured out they can be personalized. LOL! I had no idea. They are on the list of Most Played With Toys so I guess I can’t pass it up.
Who Do You Think You Are? is on Pick Your Plum today!! I got the girls’ names done so I can hang them from the oars on the wall. They are on sale for 6.99 per name!! WHOO HOO what a deal! You know how much I LOVE a deal!?!
You can spray these any color and add sparkles or crystals or whatever floats your boat. You could do other words too for your gallery wall or travel wall, maybe words for holidays like Love, Spring, NOEL, XOXO.. etc. I should go back and order FAMILY. I love the gallery wall we have and look at it often. I like that it has all sorts of things included, not just pictures.
Head on over to Pick Your Plum and get this deal.. only 13 hours left to snag it!! GO GO GO
It seems like we submitted out LOI (Letter of Intent) a long time ago and I was getting a little edgy about the wait. Did it get lost? is something wrong? Are they going to say no? I mean they can’t say no now right? I already have court dresses and jammies, enough sippy cups for an army of little people (and I’m sure it will never be enough).
Fu Chen You welcome to the family! Some of you may remember her as “Elsa” on the agency website. The sweet little girl with the sad eyes, the one that didn’t have enough energy to remain standing in the video. Her name will be Gabriella.
Gabby and Izzy will have the big bright room at the top of the stairs. No longer will they have 30-40 other roommates, but they will have each other. It is going to be a hard process adjusting to this new life in a new place with strange people, strange smells, strange language and strange food. I’m sure they will be completely terrified of the dogs, I’d bet that neither girl has ever seen one before. The amount of turmoil and grief coming their way makes me really sad. I really hope that the transition will be easier on them than I think it will be, but I won’t count on it.
If you are considering adoption, get hooked in to the adoption groups on Facebook, not only are they an incredible amount of information and support but the people are amazing and go out of their way to help you in any way. I found both Isabella and Gabriella on an advocacy blog. They were both designated as “Special Focus”. There are groups for the different provinces (some for the different SWI’s themselves), groups for individual special needs and some for the travel dates. When you are getting close to DTC (Dossier to China) you want to join the group close to your estimated time frame, you may end up in China with some of the other members and its always nice to have support.
The Hauge Hold was FINALLY lifted (it should have been over January 21st) and we had our first Home Study visit. I can’t tell you how nervous and stressed out we were beforehand. Of course our social worker was really nice and it was no big deal… but maybe she is lulling us into a false sense of security and will pounce next time. Bamboo under the fingernails and all that. I would guess she might not have kids at home, our social worker was well dressed with cute shoes and perfect makeup, clearly she has not been beaten down yet. I think its a win if I manage to brush my hair.
The dogs were in the pen in the guest bedroom and were infuriated that we had company and they were not in the room. They were all naughty, even Tinkerbelle! I heard her in there all indignant getting the boys whipped up to a froth. Somehow I do not think it would have gone as well if we had let the Galoot rocket into the social workers head, or even worse pee on her (and this can happen, Ginger has an excited piddle). That would have been mortifying.
I can only speak as to what happened with our social worker for our home study. We put out a veggie tray, meat and cheese platter with nuts and 2 types of crackers. We had coffee and just visited. She had questions to ask about background, health etc. It was pretty informal. She toured the house making notes on where the fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors were. She made notes on the size and layout of the house (bedrooms/bathrooms). She asked how we had prepared so far, *snort* in the interest of time I gave her the short version. She did not look in closets or open drawers. It was very low key. I admit, I have no idea what I was expecting but I was really a mess, super stressed out. Everything was good. We’ll see what she has to say in the end but so far so good. We paid $1550.00 total for the homestudy.
The social worker did tell us a particularly disturbing story about a family that also adopted another little girl with Albinism. There are cultural superstitions and beliefs surrounding that sort of obvious issue and it is seen as a curse on the family. The child’s orphanage had an affiliation with Half the Sky. Generally you are really glad to see that, if your child’s orphanage has that affiliation you are thinking the kids there would get more attention, have better therapy etc. Well apparently this little girl was left in her crib the entire time and at 2 1/2 had never ever been given even one piece of food, all teeth were green, she has serious attachment issues from the lack of human contact and stimulation. The pictures they were sent had all been staged. This has me really riled up. The thought of little Isabella (Zou Bing Jie / Paisley)being left in her crib day in and day out makes me crazy. I hope this is not the case, but I guess I will just need to plan for it.
I finally got the last couple of things together for Gabriella’s backpack, now each girl has a bag with goodies all ready to go. They each have crayons, paper, color book, stickers, books, the magical stacking cups, a doodle pad, a snack holder, a dolly, flash cards, neck pillow and headphones (not pictured). If we need anything else we can buy it there I think this is more than enough to get the girls started. We might need a sticker restock, apparently you can not use electronics on domestic China flights. We will have bubbles, bubble bath, pipe cleaners small plastic slinky and a beach ball as well. Each child has a couple of small baby toys that can be snapped to the stroller, car seat or carrier to keep them amused. We are going to load both the ipad and surface with movies, cartoons, toddler apps and games.
We both had our medical forms, blood work and vision testing finished and everything was notarized right there at the clinic. PRO TIP: Use the China Medical Form not your Homestudy Agency medical form, either that or do them both. Often the HS agency will accept the China form but more often than not China wants their own form. Be sure to inquire.
The cardiologist over at Children’s Seattle says Gabriella (Fu Chen You/Elsa) needs intervention for her heart condition ASAP and is writing a letter to state this so we can try to expedite our adoption and get the girls home as soon as possible.
If you can help the girls in any way we would appreciate it. Enter for the Ipod on Facebook, like the page to be notified when the drawing for the iPad happens. Head on over to the fundraising page to see what we are up to now. Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to our agency! Just indicate “STALEY FAMILY ADOPTION” in the memo and mail to:
1140 36th Street #204
Ogden, UT 84403
To date we have spent over $6,000 toward the adoption of these two orphans. We refinanced the house and are using every dime towards bringing them home. I have sold a number of things on Craigslist, we do still have a new Advantium Oven, a new SnugaMonkey Swing, a new Bumbo with play table and a few other smaller items.
Ginger’s nicknames also include Defect dog and The Galoot. Ginger is a Lhasa Apso (supposedly) and is supposed to be stubborn but calm. Ginger can’t read so she has no idea this is how she should be acting so instead this little creamy fuzzy dog, (the best snuggle bunny when you are napping) is total chaos when her eyes are open. She randomly jumps up and zings from one end of the house to the other, she barks at nothing, everything, a leaf, her reflection, a squirrel (okay so the squirrel is annoying) and the other dogs just stare at her. Miss Ginger had eaten on several of our chairs (really we feed her) to the point that I was worried for anyone to sit on any of our kitchen chairs. I hid them all in the dining room for a long time and our little kitchen table sat sort of lonely for a long time.
She did all that damage and she eats elk antlers like they are nothing. FYI Elk antlers are stronger than bone people… We get the antlers for a 40+ pound dog. Ginger thinks she is the Cujo of the Lhasa Set. So THIS HAPPENED:
Yes indeed those are metal chairs. Go ahead Ginger.. gnaw on those! I suppose we will have to start working on replacing the dining room chairs next. I’m sure Paul won’t go for the yellow and orange combo in there. It’s really happy and it matches my Yellow, Orange and Red Fiestaware!! Too Cute! I figured we were going to need chairs for the kitchen soon anyway because we will be eating at the table when the girls get here. No more living room dinners. We found them on Overstock and paid under $250 for the entire shebang!
I won’t even tell you how many toys she has eaten. Paul says I can’t replace any toys until the “overflow” box of toys upstairs is gone?!? They do have three toy boxes downstairs and one upstairs. They LOVE toys! Just like a little kid Snickers will prance around with his new toy. Its so funny. Tinkerbelle brings toys on the couch and hides them under the pillows. Fu really liked that big Halloween spider toy until Willie came to visit and defiled it. Fu doesn’t like the spider any more.