Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Filed and Filmed

On Monday October 22, 2007 we received a notice from Americans Adopting Orphans that our dossier had arrived at China Center for Adoption Affairs. The documents arrived in Beijing on October 15 at 3:36 p.m. This is our “Date to Country”. Our waiting process does not officially begin until our Log-in Date (LID). That date should be sometime this week, but we will not find out what our official LID is until CCAA contacts AAO with it in a month or two. Apparently there is a good deal of sitting in a pile this paperwork will go through. Either way, we have officially entered the hardest part of the entire adoption process, the waiting.

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

Pride and Joy

We have received congratulations from far and wide since our article ran in the local newspaper two Fridays ago. We’ve heard from clients, family, local politicians, even a couple state representatives. The response to our news has been somewhat overwhelming. We hadn’t been keeping our plans to adopt a secret since we started the paperwork back in February, so it was surprising to realize that it was news to so many people. It is also amazing to discover just how many people know or are related to someone who has not only adopted, but adopted a child from a foreign country.

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

We’re Famous!

Well, it’s been a bit of a wait, but we have finally made the local paper. We were interviewed last spring for a feature article in our local paper. We had a wonderful evening with staff writer Rachel Harper of the Marshall Democrat-News, talking about family and children and our experiences at the beginning of our adoption process. We had begun to wonder what had happened to the article, but certainly weren’t concerned with it tardiness since we have quite a wait ahead of us. But today was the day that our news story finally saw the light of day here in Marshall, and if you can’t tell, we are very excited about it.

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.

I took the picture from the article. It was taken by Rachel.