Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Of course, a referral will mean it is time for our biggest expense of the entire adoption process. We will not be sitting on our laurels until then. Not only are we saving our pennies, but we are now entering fund raising time. An adoption is an amazing expense. There is a reason some countries have been accused of profiteering off their orphan problems. If we had enough rights as adoptive parents here in the U.S., we would have kept it here and kept our expenses down. But in a way we are doing something for a child who might not even have the opportunities of an American orphan. We would like to take as much of the financial burden as we can ourselves, but this is also an opportunity for others who are not interested in adopting themselves to help bring a family and a better life to an orphan.
On Sunday, Dec. 2 The Potter’s Hand church in Camdenton, MO (at the Lake of the Ozarks) held a special benefit dinner for families adopting orphans. The dinner was hosted by Tupelo Honey’s, my in-laws Tiffanie’s and James’s restaurant. Half of The Potter’s Hand’s proceeds were donated to our adoption.
Tiff’s buffet consisted of Roast Pork Tenderloin with Cornbread Stuffing, Shepherd’s Pie, Fried Catfish, Salad, Potatoes, Green Beans, Cherry Cobbler and Bread Pudding. Several members of The Potter’s Hand acted as drink servers and bus boys. Angie and I joined them. Angie took drink orders (and panicked when her sister told her she wouldn’t need a note pad to remember them) and I bussed tables. We talked to several couples who had either adopted themselves or had sons or daughters who had adopted some of their grandchildren.
Angie’s entire family showed up in support and James gave me score-by-score updates of the Giants game from his cell phone. I was shocked at the end of the evening to learn the Giants had beaten the Bears. Not one of the reports James had given me throughout the evening was good. I’m glad I was doing something other than watching the game. It was much more bearable that way (no pun intended).
At the end of the evening the church had raised over $800 (our portion will cover one tenth of our plane ticket costs), and Angie and I had gained a whole new set of friends and support group for our adoption. Being adoptive parents is like being part of some giant fraternity, and everyone I’ve met from it has been so kind and helpful. I hope after we have our daughter Angie and I will have the same opportunity to reach out to other adopting families in the same way so many have reached out to us to lend a hand.
A big thank you to Craig and Cindy and everyone at The Potter’s Hand and even bigger hugs and praise to Tiffanie and James for their delicious food and a wonderful place to eat, be with and make new friends.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I believe we had our busiest year to date in the Wells Household, Missouri Division. In fact the biggest project of the year involved our house itself. We tore it apart in June... ...and are just now finishing the last details of our renovations.
Everyone lent a helping hand.
Some more than others.
Jude took it upon himself to catch up on some reading while the rest of us worked.
The boys even tried to invent a new sport that they hope to take to the Beijing Olympics in honor of their sister-to-be.
Since the reconstruction took so long, we had to break for things like birthdays and such.
This is Jack’s.
It was during the dog days of summer.
This is Jude’s.
A big thank you to whoever got this one for Jude. The Backyardigans guitar has become cherished by all with ears.
Things got a little out of hand.
I’m not sure handing a deadly weapon to a six year old is one of the smartest things I ever did.
As you can see, fun with the Hicks clan is a community experience.
Jack learned a new skill set.
It took the entire clan to catch this one fish. Get that away from us Gandpa!
Jude tried to make more room in our car for his new sister by eating himself. Hold on there buddy! She’s not here just yet. That may not be necessary.
The boys and their cousins, Alexander and Gabriella, took in some culture attending fine theater.
The boys eagerly followed the Giants for the first half of the season.
Now, that the Giants’ fate of throwing in the second half of the season seems to be unfolding as usual, Jude finds other comforts. There will always be cake.
And with fall there are always leaves, as well. The quality of help in cleaning up the leaves is just as good as it was for the kitchen project.
The boys made full use of The Monolith (their gigantic playset) this fall. So there is no doubt our daughter will have a good exercise regiment when she arrives.
And the Corgi looks on with her frog legs. We hosted our first Thanksgiving Dinner this year in our newly refurbished home.
Uncle James was ready for the task at hand.
And we’ve already embarked on creating a genuine environment for our children for the Christmas season. Yes, this is the first picture of myself I've chosen to include.
We’re watching all the holiday classics.
As you can see, there is only room on Lucy’s head for the antlers or those satellites of hers, not both.
I hope this one can stay off Santa’s naughty list.
And if we do end up naming our daughter-to-be Zu Zu, here’s a hint as to why.
Friday, November 9, 2007
It goes a long way to explain just what we are trying to accomplish with this adoption. It is a wonderful story, and we could only hope to orchestrate a story just as wonderful for our own adoption one day. This isn’t just about us, or even our daughter. There is more involved in all of this than simply having a daughter of our own. We could just keep trying for that. My brother has proven that there are more than just boys in our genes. But we want someone else to have an impact on a child’s life, just like the social worker in this article did.
In bio-children news, we received an interesting e-mail from Jack’s kindergarten teacher this morning. Here it is:
“I have to tell you about Jack. His morning started off great and he
got a positive action. He turned it in for a piece of sugarfree gum. So
he was chewing (chomping) away. Father Kevin comes in for his visit
and after 15 min. he sees Jack with gum and immediately questions him
why he has gum. I explained why, but while I was explaining Jack looked
so scared. He thought he was in big trouble. Jack was really good at
answering Father’s questions through-out his visit, and he said he should
get more gum. It was so funny. The look on his face. He wouldn't
even look at Father the rest of his visit, but he was sure answering the
questions. Thought you would like to hear about this funny moment.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
To pass the time, Ang and I are beginning to look into familiarizing ourselves with Chinese culture and with adoption culture. As a film critic, I have found that many films deal with adoption. In fact, this week marks the release of a recent film featuring adoption issues on DVD. If you missed the Disney CGI animated film “Meet the Robinsons” in theaters, DVD (or of course for you hi-def freaks out there Disney Blu-Ray) is a wonderful place to check out this odd little film.
As animated features go, this one kind of flew in under the radar. That may be because it is a fairly unconventional film. It has that retro-future look of cartoons which imagined what the future might be like in the ‘60’s and seems to have been approached by its writers and animators like many of Disney’s early animated feature films, with a tilt toward the absurd and down right lunatic. It was blasted by some critics for its fragmented and simplistic storyline, but I found that it embraced a freedom of imagination that is rarely seen in film today and the animated CGI format is well equipped for. Read my review of it using this link: Meet the Robinsons / *** (G).
Friday, October 19, 2007
Angie and I and the boys very much wish to thank everyone who has responded to the article for their well wishes and support. It is thrilling to be involved in something with this much love behind it.
On another note, it is important to remember that we are already the biological parents of two amazing little boys. Better make that “proud parents.” Angie and I attended our very first parent-teacher conference last night with Jack’s kindergarten teacher Mrs. Dierking. We’re still having trouble bringing our selves to refer to teachers by their first names. It doesn’t help that Angie’s old high school principal is now Jack’s grade school principal. Those old school habits come flooding back every time you enter a school, if you don’t do it on a regular basis. Her name is Dodi, she keeps reminding us.
So Angie and I arrive in the school parking lot a few minutes early, having just dropped the boys off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I suddenly panic. Did we have some homework to do? Am I supposed to be bringing something? Is there some sort of bribe we can give her? Angie assures me there was nothing we were supposed to prepare ahead of time.
We walk into the school and see some parents and kids milling in and out of the classrooms. It has that unnaturally quite feel schools always do after regular hours. We peek our heads into Jack’s classroom, with its miniature seats and tables and colored paper plates hanging from the ceiling. The parents in front of us aren’t finished yet. We wander back into the hall. And notice that Angie’s sister had met with our nephew’s preschool teacher earlier in the day.
Mrs. Dierk… um, Dodi comes out of her room with the other parents. I don’t know their names or their boy’s. I’m the dad. I think that’s normal. Angie could probably tell me the kid’s name at least. Wait! Kid? Were we supposed to bring Jack? Surely, Angie would know if we were supposed to bring the kid. Naw! Jack wouldn’t have let us come without him if he was supposed to be here. He would have kicked and screamed. He never would have let us out the door. Unless of course, he just wanted to watch Boomerang!
“You didn’t bring your kids either?!” Dodi Dierking exclaimed at us. “I think they were the only ones who brought theirs. Everyone else just dumped ‘em off at the grandparents. Anything as an excuse for a night free from ‘em! That’s great! I know that’s what I’d do!”
“So it's OK we didn’t bring him along?”
“Of course. You need these breaks,” she said. Her daughter is actually in Jack’s class as well.
So we sat down, and she asked us if we had any questions, and suddenly I’m hearing my Theater Styles professor from Hofstra explaining to me that I did not get an “A” because I didn’t participate enough in class. “Um, I d—uh, no? I don’t have any—um anything. Do you, hon?”
Of course Angie is handling all of this like an old pro. “Nope. Why don’t you start things off and if there’s anything you don’t answer, I’ll ask you after.”
So, Do… Mrs… The teacher pulls out this report card and unfolds five pages. What?! This kid can’t even put his own pants on without getting distracted, there’s no way he can score well on something so involved as to require five pages of columns and scores. But score well he did. There were three different letter grades, an S (Satisfactory?) for things had a good handle on, a P (Progress?) for things that needed work but in which he was making progress, and an X for areas of concern.
Well, it was a card full of S’s. I mean there were a few P’s here and there, but as she explained it most of the P’s were for subjects they had just begun to work on. Now, these weren’t subject like Physics of Light or anything. They encompassed things like tying shoes. But still, hey, hey, hey!!! There was one area of concern. He had an X under telephone number. Sadly, I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever tried to tell him his telephone number. But we quizzed him as soon as we got back to Grandma’s house and he knew it without any prompting, so that X was bogus.
I know, I know. I’m doing that whole parent gloating over their amazing children thing, but darn it! if that isn’t my job now! And I take that task on with pride! The bible says pride can be a bad thing, but it is your job as a parent. Am I wrong? Of course not! I don’t think I’ll get any nay-sayers out there on that one.
But here comes the best part. He also had to grade his own progress in class. What a great idea! I love this school thing. So there’s this chart with columns with boxes for “yes”, “no”, and “sometimes”, and there are categories like “Do I pay attention in class?” My kid, the honest little jerk (that is meant affectionately) checks “yes” to the question “Do I listen when others speak?” But then he had crossed that out and changed it to “sometimes”. He’s one of those kids who will never tear that tag off a mattress for fear that the mattress police will discover what he has done and lock him away from 20 years.
A couple of quotations from his fill in the blank section of his self evaluation:
“My favorite subject is recess because I get to pla.”
“My least favorite subject is lunch because I have to eat a lot.”
“I do my best work in patterns” and “I need to try harder in math.”
Incidentally, his two best subjects were patterns and math.
The school is having an auction next Saturday, a big annual fundraiser. And one of the things they are auctioning is a cookbook of recipes made up by the kids. Does my kid make up a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, or cake, or even mud pies. No, Jack wrote a recipe for exactly what Angie would have predicted: corn cakes. They are pancakes made of corn bread. Jack’s favorite dish in the world.
Jack's version of corncakes require “50 pounds of corn, 1 eg, a sprinkle of flor, 1 tabl spoon of baking pwr, bake for 10 min.”
I love that kid!
Friday, October 5, 2007
Rachel plans to do a follow-up article when we get our referral and perhaps another when we have completed the adoption to see how our little girl is adapting to life in the Mid-West in general and in Marshall in particular. That will, of course, be after we complete our world tour with the girl to meet everyone who has followed her progress. You can read the article at this link. And keep up with news here in Marshall at the Democrat-News link I have provided in our “Related Sites” section.
Friday, September 28, 2007
From the point of our login date, we begin our wait for an actual referral of a specific orphan for us to accept or deny as the little girl we wish to adopt. When we began this process more than a year ago, the wait for a referral from the login date was running about 8 months. We are hearing news from other adopting parents that the wait time has gone up to 19 months with some fearing 20 months or longer.
Whatever our wait, it seems most referrals are being born about 12 months before travel dates, the time at which you actually travel to pick up your child. That 20 month waiting period doesn’t seem so bad to me at the moment considering we are currently dealing with the Terrible Twos from our youngest boy, Jude, with those Trying Threes to look forward to. But it might become unbearable if the wait were to increase any more. We have our fingers crossed that those wait times will actually start to decrease next year. My theory is that they will reverse once all the hoopla of the Beijing Olympics is over.
However long the wait, I have no doubt that Jack will be taking it in stride.
Friday, September 14, 2007
We’ve gone through house training for our Corgi. She is now in a training program so we can control her barking and chewing on Angie. She doesn’t chew on me, just Angie.
Jude’s terrible twos have firmly set in since his 2nd birthday in July. He’s gotten so terrible lately. But he's also so awesome. He’s still so cute and full of guile. I’ve started referring to him as “Busey,” after the actor Gary Busey, because he acts so crazy. He likes to rub various substances into his hair, giving him the appearance of a celebrity mug shot.
Jack has grown so much. He participated in his first sport team season this summer. He was in the town t-ball league. He took the term “magnet ball” to a new level, running anywhere on the field the ball would go. By the end of the four game season he actually was beginning to learn to stay in his position. And then our little boy started school this year. I suddenly know why my parents would go all nuts about how they were losing me to each stage in my life. The time goes by too fast.
We placed Jack in a parochial Catholic school. We are not Catholic, but we felt he would stand a better chance of getting the proper attention in a private setting as opposed to a public school. He’ll go to the public school eventually. The parochial is only for the lowers grades. But he loves school. And he finally gets enough activity that he doesn’t wake us up at 6 a.m. every day.
We entered the hellish world of home improvement this summer. We remodeled our kitchen, dining room and living room. We started with a bogus contractor, ended up firing him and going with a much more expensive one and did some of the work our selves. That would be why it still isn’t finished. But we are much happier with it.
But the really big news is that while all of this other stuff was going on, we have finished our adoption dossier. We got the doctors to admit there really is nothing wrong with my liver, so we could finish our home study. We’ve been finger printed by CIS. I don't know what happened to the newspaper article the local paper was supposed to run on us. I guess they decided the town gets to see my ugly mug on the front page often enough.
We’ve had all of our paperwork authenticated and re-authenticated. And just last week the Chinese Embassy in Chicago confirmed that we had everything we needed and it is ready to send off to the Chinese adoption authorities in China. Now, if we just hadn’t blown through our fee to them fixing up our kitchen.
That whole process would have taken much less time if we had let our adoption agency do it all, but by doing it ourselves we saved a great deal of money. Now, once we send our fee and dossier off to China, our real wait begins. I think it is still about an 18 month wait. Hopefully, that will change... for the shorter. We think it would be just great if it would time out so our little girl would be born at about the same time as our new nephew/niece. Congratulations on pregnancy number two Dan and Lisa!!!
Now, in order for that to happen our wait would have to shrink by a couple of months before April. We would still have a considerable time to wait even if they are born about the same time, but if we can get a log in date by the end of the year it would be possible. They wouldn’t get to meet each other until they were each about a year old, but that would be cool.
Anyway, we are very happy to finally be approaching our log in date, the date which our wait begins for the Chinese government to send us through the system and assign us a daughter. I’ll be sure to make a big deal out of the log in date for everyone, so you’ll all know when it happens. It been a long road, and there’s still such a long way to go, but it will be well worth the wait.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
First off, we decided to start practicing our adoption skills early and have already added a new member to our family. She is short and furry and likes to go to the bathroom on our rug.
We wanted to wait a while after our last dog, Helen, passed away before committing to another one. I know some people might think we really didn’t wait all that long (about 6 weeks), but for us it was quite some time. One of the key motivating factors was our oldest son, Jackson. Angie has always wanted to see one of her boys with his own puppy. Personally, I think I could have done without the whole puppy experience again. I say this after having spent half the night outside in the rain with Lucy because she just seems to refuse to move her bowels tonight. But if I left her out in the house, she would loose them the second we looked away from her.
When we explained to Jack what had happened to Helen, his immediate reaction was remorse, then within seconds his mood changed and he asked, “So when can we get another dog?” We asked him what kind of dog he wanted, big or small. Those are really the only kind to a boy who can rule one and be ruled by the other. No surprise for Jack, he wanted a small dog.
I don’t have much affection for most small breeds, but I always liked the Corgi’s. As adults they have short stubby legs but the body of a medium-sized dog. Sounds strange, but they’re cute. And as puppies, well, they just look like little bears at first. Then those ears pop up. It was difficult, even for me, to take home only one. Lucy was one of two Jack hand picked himself, Angie and I made the final decision. Angie liked Lucy because she was “spunky”. We maybe should have gone with one of the calmer ones.
As for our China adoption, well, our paperwork has been going very smoothly, except for one, my doctor’s physical. During my first set of tests, I got two negative marks. My cholesterol was slightly elevated, due to four months of inactivity from my back problems. That problem corrected itself after my return to full time work (and when I stopped eating all that Ben & Jerry’s).
The second negative was with my liver, which was reporting elevated enzyme levels. Upon a second set of tests, those levels had dropped significantly, however were still abnormal. Now, I think my liver enzymes have been out of whack for quite some time. I had mono at 24 and my liver shut down. When I tested for a new life insurance policy in 2001, the levels were elevated. The nurse said it could be a virus, or it could just be that my enzymes are naturally higher; but the doctor won’t sign off on me without a consultation with a specialist.
This stinks in terms of getting our paperwork all wrapped up for the adoption, but I am glad I’ll get the chance to figure out just what is going on with my liver once and for all. My appointment is on May 21.
Other than my doctor’s report, we are all ready to move on to the second step in the adoption process which is the FBI fingerprinting and review of our paperwork by the state and federal agencies. I certainly hope there aren’t any surprises popping up from the FBI.
And finally, this is not the only place where our adoption process will be chronicled. An ambitious young reporter named Rachel at our local paper decided it would make a good on-going feature. She came by this evening to interview Angie and I (Jack put in his two cents worth as well), and we welcomed her with a home cooked meal of ziti. We had a wonderful time, often straying off the subject. Once the article is published you can read it at http://www.marshallnews.com/.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
We are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. Don't worry! You haven't missed anything. We are still in the early stages of the adoption process. We have finished most of our preliminary paperwork and, just this weekend, we had our home study.
A very nice lady from St. Louis named Susan came to interview us last night and see our home. Of course, Angie and I were overly nervous about this whole visit, thinking we were to be judged on every detail of our home. We spent the week cleaning areas that probably weren't even noticed and fixing things we never use. We had been assured by friends that the home study was mostly to make sure we weren't operating a Meth house or something, but we wanted to make our best impression.
Our son Jack was very helpful during the tour of our home. He showed Susan his bedroom first, the Jude's, then Mommy and Daddy's. He wanted to skip unnecessary rooms, such as the office, the living room and the kitchen, so he could show her the downstairs with all of his video games and toys. Naturally, Angie and I wanted to down play things like video games, and we were pleased that he could remember where his toothbrush was for her.
Then I corralled the kids in the basement, while Susan interviewed Angie solo. Solo interviews? Did we know about this before hand? We hadn't rehearsed our answers! You had to get stories like this straight for the police, right?!
Luckily for us, Susan chose to interview me the next day. She found her way back to our home this morning with more ease than her original journey here last night. I told her my life story, which I will now spare the rest of you. Then she interviewed us together. The second part of the interview consisted mostly of questions about our outlooks as parents, as a couple, and as potential parents to a child of a differing ethnicity.
It was really all very laid back, and both we and Susan had a very fun time of it. I think she really enjoyed hearing my stories of my family and growing up in Maine. Considering Angie and I have very similar personalities, I'm also sure Susan enjoyed Angie's stories of her family and Missouri as well. We each had different funny stories to tell about our meeting and engagement, and Susan said she had rarely been so sure of a couple that should adopt from China.
We are very excited about our future addition, and now that we've actually met someone in an official capacity for this little endeavor of ours, it finally seems like something that will actually happen one day. We have a long road ahead of us, of fingerprinting, authentication of documents, and a whole lot of waiting. They are saying the wait time for a child referral from China at the moment is about 18 months from the time that the documents are submitted to the Chinese government. And we a re still a few months away from that.
I hope to update this blog on a regular basis to keep people informed of our progress, and to show off my wonderful family. I hope you'll join us here often.