Saturday, February 28, 2009

Special thank-you

So I have been writing and re-writing this post in my head for weeks now, but I never could bring myself to put it on paper, until now. I'm afraid that things are going to start getting busy with our LSC and traveling coming soon and I'll forget to write this.

I haven't spoken about our adoption agency at all on this site or the people who work there. There's no real reason for that omission -- except that not much happened with the adoption during the first 29 or so months, so there wasn't much to say about them. But that's changed, so now it's time. Our agency is Great Wall - or officially, Great Wall China Adoption - for those of you that aren't involved in the international adoption world. Simply put , we LOVE our adoption agency. Love is a very strong word but it fits here in so many ways. And their love for us also shows in so many ways. I know what you're thinking -- "sure they love you too" -- "this girl is crazy" -- "you are just another customer to them". But they really do. And they love our daughter and all the children in China waiting to be adopted too. This makes me get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Their love is real.

While we where thinking about completing our Waiting Child/Special Needs application - it took us about 9 months to pull the trigger on this - I called and emailed Great Wall a few times just to talk about my fears. I wasn't looking for them to help me make a decision. I just needed a friend to listen without judging, to tell me I was wasn't crazy, to laugh with me, to tell me my thoughts were normal , and to comfort my fears. I got all of this and more. They were there for me when I needed them. They understood.

Back in December there was a 'mix-up' in some paperwork. I can't get into details here, but those who were familiar with the situation compared it to a miscarriage. I'm not sure I agree completely with that comparison, but the emotional impact seemed every bit as severe. And just when we needed them most, Great Wall was there for us. When I literally hunted down the phone number of one of the Great Wall employees at 9:00pm at night and called crying -- she was there. She listened. She cried with me. She had no words for me. But she was a friend. She let me vent, cry, get angry and still she didn't judge me or the things I said. She then called and emailed more GW employees -- and more of them cried with us. Why? Because they really did care about us. They invest there hearts into every family and every child. The next morning another employee of GW called. She called even through she had no words to comfort us, knowing that I needed a friend. Not just any friend but a special kind of friend who could understand exactly what we were going through. Someone just to sit and listen to me breath because I had no words. These 'employees' of GW were never employees during this time -- they were and will always be my friends.

For the next 6 or 7 weeks I got at least one phone call or email a week checking on me, just to see how I was doing. And I made a few extra calls to them too when I needed someone to talk to about the situation or to just have them ease all my fears once more. And they were always there for me. This is what friends do.

And there was another 'friend' of our family that I will never get to meet. A GW employee in China who was also spending a great deal of her time trying to help us through some difficult times. We'll never get to meet this person -- but she will always be remembered. We are forever grateful for her love for our family.

We got 'the call' about Cassie on January 22nd, 2009. The 'employees' at GW actually fought over who was going to get to call us. Why? Because they care -- each of them wanted to be the one to tell us that our daughter that we had waited for and longed for was here. Her paperwork was in their hands. They had seen her sweet little face and knew that in a matter of minutes she would be forever in our hearts. When we got the call -- it was wonderful to hear the news from a friend -- a friend who was just as excited as we were. I could hear it in her voice - she was as excited as we were. Once that phone call was over -- another friend from GW called to give us more details about our baby girl. And she too was excited for us, excited with us. It was such a comforting feeling to know that these friends had been there with us through the worst and the greatest moments of our journey.

So that is why we love Great Wall. I know our journey to Cassie isn't the typical one but it's comforting to know that one of the best decisions we made along the way was to choose Great Wall to walk with us on this journey. We will be forever grateful to our friends there for helping to complete our family.

Think about this for a moment: We live in a world where "customer service" means calling an 800 number and talking to a robot for 5 minutes before finally you are transferred to a human being who reads a script and is pressured by his/her management to get off the phone in 30 seconds or less, so they can go "handle" the next customer.

Great Wall doesn't live in that world. In GW's world, the "customer" is the most important person they have ever met. In their world, the "customer" is a close friend who has placed their trust in GW to help them build a family. In their world, the customer is someone to whom you connect with, someone for whom you care. A rare world, that. And a rare group of people, those GW "employees". And we are grateful to occupy a little corner of such a world with them.

So to Beth, Stephanie, Leigh Anne, Corrine, and everyone else at Great Wall --- THANK YOU for everything. You all have a special place in both our hearts for being our friends.

We also would like to thank the China Center of Adoption Affairs - aka "the CCAA". Yes, the CCAA. We know that they DO care about the children, the families adopting the children and the process that they follow. Because of our situation we know first hand that they have big hearts, felt for us as soon-to-be parents, and that they have honor and integrity. We will be forever grateful to the employees of the CCAA for showing us compassion and for understanding our situation. We will never meet these people, yet we owe them a lifetime of gratitude.

Much love,
Sherry & Sonny

Friday, February 27, 2009

Because I can't pass up a gift exchange

and I need a distraction.....

My blogger buddy Lynn has this on her blog and I thought it sounded like so much fun. So this is how it works..... The first 3 people to leave a comment on this will receive a gift from me during this year. When and what will be a surprise. There's a small catch...You knew there would be didn't you? Post this on your blog then come back and leave a comment, telling me you're in. Fun, huh? Remember, only the first 3 comments receive the gift.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nothing new to report

Today is the 11th day since we got our PA. I don't expect to hear anything more until at least next week or the week after. But I'm still not losing hope that we'll get a surprise call this week.

~~~ I'd love to hear your voice this week Stephanie -- hint, hint.

So below is something I have read on may adoption sites and blogs and came across it again today on a blog -- so I thought I'd share it with everyone. I have lots of friends that are either getting home from traveling, in China now or getting ready to travel -- so I thought the timing was right to review the basics again. We have shared all these topics with our family and friends over the past three years but it's always good to review them again. You'd be surprised at how once people hear you are adopting they all have advise for you on what to do. And this mostly comes from people who have never adopted international, domestically or sometimes don't even have children. And a lot of the times it's from complete strangers -- like when you are at the grocery store buying extra bottle nipples to pack for your trip and the cashier asks if you have a new baby and you say 'yes -- I'm adopting a baby girl from China'. Then the advise on raising my baby girl comes flooding out. It's kind of funny in a sad twisted sort of way. I just try to bite my tongue and smile.

So here's some dos and don'ts:

1. Offer household help (running errands, preparing meals that can go right from the freezer to the oven, etc.) so the mother can spend more time holding the child.
2. Trust the mother's instincts. Even a first time mother may notice subtle symptoms that well-meaning family and friends attribute to "normal" behavior.
3. Accept that attachment issues are difficult for anyone outside of the mother to see and understand.
4. Be supportive even if you think everything looks fine to you.
5. Allow the parents to be the center of the baby's world. One grandfather, when greeting his grandson, immediately turns him back to his mom and says positive statements about his good mommy.
6. Tell the baby every time you see him what a good/loving/safe mommy he has.
7. When the parents need someone to care for the baby for a night out, offer to babysit in the child's home. (After the child has been home for a substantial period of time.)
8. As hard as it may be for you, abide by the requests of the parents. Even if the baby looks like he really wants to be with Grandma, for example, he needs to have a strong attachment to his parents first. Something as simple as passing the baby from one person to another or allowing others, even grandparents, to hold a baby who is not "attached" can make the attachment process that much longer and harder. Some parents have had to refrain from seeing certain family members or friends because they did not respect the parents' requests.
9. Accept that parenting children who are at-risk for or who suffer from attachment issues goes against traditional parenting methods and beliefs. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.
10. Remember that there is often a honeymoon period after the child arrives. Many babies do not show signs of grief, distress, or anxiety until months after they come home. If the parents are taking precautions, they are smart and should be commended and supported!

1. DON'T Assume an infant is too young to suffer from emotional issues related to attachment. Babies are not immune.
2. DON'T Underestimate a new mother's instincts that something isn't right.
3. DON'T Judge the mother's parenting abilities. What looks like spoiling or coddling may be exactly what the child needs to overcome a serious attachment disorder. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.
4. DON'T Make excuses for the child's behaviors or try to make the mother feel better by calling certain behaviors "normal". For example, many children who suffer from attachment issues may be labeled strong-willed by well-meaning family members. While being strong-willed can be seen as a positive personality trait, this type of behavior in an attachment-impaired child may signify problems.
5. DON'T Accuse the mother of being overly sensitive or neurotic. She is in a position to see subtle symptoms as no one else can.
6. DON'T Take it personally if asked to step back so the parents can help their child heal and form a healthy and secure attachment. You may be asked not to hold the baby for more than a minute. This is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to help prove to the baby who his mommy and daddy are. Up until now the child's experience has been that mommies are replaceable. Allowing people to hold the baby before he has accepted his forever mommy and daddy are can be detrimental to the attachment process.
7. DON'T Put your own time frames on how long attachment should take. One mother was hurt when she was chastised by a relative who couldn't understand...after all, the baby had been home six months. It could take weeks, months, even years. Every child is different.
8. DON'T Offer traditional parenting advice. Some well-meaning family members will tell a new mother not to pick the baby up every time he cries because it will spoil him. A child who is at-risk or who suffers from attachment issues must be picked up every single time he cries. He needs consistent reinforcement that this mommy/daddy will always take care of him and always keep him safe.
9. DON'T Fall into the appearance trap. Some babies/toddlers with attachment issues can put on a great show to those outside of the mother/father. What you see is not always a true picture of the child. Even babies as young as 6-months-old are capable of “putting on a good face” in public.

10. DON'T Lose hope. With the right kind of parenting and therapy, a child with attachment issues can learn to trust and have healthy relationships. But it does take a lot of work and a good understanding of what these children need.

We are planning for the worst with attachment issues with Cassie and praying for the best. Hopefully we will fall somewhere in the middle of the road. Only time, love, understanding and prayer will help get our baby girl through the tough times.

I'm hoping the next update I do includes a picture of our sweet baby girl.

Keep praying that it's really soon!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More paperwork

We have decided to be proactive and update our I-600a/I-171H for the third time.....just in case. It expires on May 17th, 2009 -- which means we'd have to be on a plane leaving China before it expires -- that's just cutting it way too close for us. We don't plan on making our baby girl wait one extra minute for us because of paperwork delays. Plus, with the trade fair in Guangzhou the last two weeks of April and knowing that we can't travel during that time it's all the more reason to think we'll be traveling in early May. Early May could turn into mid-May really easy and the 17th is mid-May. That's just cutting it way too close. This way by updating it now -- we'll be sure to travel in early April.

Isn't that the way it goes?
It will all work out in the end.
It will just be our insurance policy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One step closer....we have our PA

We have our Pre-Approval. The next step is our LOA/LSC which means that Cassie is ours!!!!

Here's part of what the PA letter said:

The application of XXXXXX XXXXXX and XXXXXX XXXXXX for adoption of XX XXXX XXXX from XXXXXXX Children's Welfare Institute, XXXXXX of XXXXXX province that you submitted was received. It is hereby advised that with a review of the Rehabilitation and Nurture Plan for the Child made by the family, the China Centre of Adoption Affairs agrees to move this application file into the procedure for adoption of special-need children.

Our agency said that it normally takes between 30 and 60 days from now until we get our LSC. Pray for 30.

Right now I think we will be traveling in May. April would be so much better but I'm trying not to set myself up for disappointment. We'll see how that goes in another month or two.

PS -- the call came GW/Stephanie today at 12:32pm.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Comparing China to the US

In weather and size that is.