Friday, December 22, 2006

We arrived home on Tuesday and I went back to work on Wednesday so I haven't even had time to think about updating here (although the fact that I am typing this makes that a lie, doesn't it?) but I hope to get to it on the weekend.

To all those people who keep asking, No, we did NOT bring home a baby. That is still TWO YEARS away. But it was tempting. The little kids in China are so cute, all rugged up in their coats like Michelin babies, with earmuffs and whatnot.

I am ashamed to report that we didn't even look at the 50 questions or family profiles once, but since I knew there was a question about hairdressing on the 50 questions, I did (in the interests of research of course) go to the hairdresser for a haircut and a perm. Amazingly enough, I got what I wanted despite the almost complete language barrier. And it cost less than a quarter of what it would have cost here. They don't charge extra for long hair - Australian hairdressers take note.

Anyway, more on the weekend, I hope, and maybe I will work out how to post some photos.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Today we are leaving for our holiday to China. I have printed the family profile questions to take with us and maybe work on on the plane (yeah... right...) We also have to answer 50 questions about the culture we want to adopt from so we will definitely be doing that in China also. Maybe I can set that as a project for the children.... tell them it's a game... ah - what a wicked but wonderful plan!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Today we finished our two day Education workshop and now we have to write a short novel and send it into the Department to move to the next step. The kids stayed with my parents today and on the way home in the car I asked Ben "What do you think it will be like to have a little sister?"
"Annoying" he replied.
This was not the answer I was expecting so I asked him why he felt that way.
"Because she will be little and not able to do anything and she will keep saying 'Ben will you do this? Ben, will you do that?'"
"But do you think you will love her?" I asked.
There was one of those long silences that leave you in no doubt that you have asked a really stupid question. Finally...
"What else?" he said. "You're crazy Mum."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

For your reading pleasure:

I've learned how to add links to my blog and you can see them over on the right there. "Playing with Myself" is not a masturbatory porn site, it's my brother's board-gaming blog. "Checking Boxes" is the blog of another Australian couple who are at the same part of the journey as us, and we will be meeting them at Education in a little under a week. "Bringing Home Olivia" is the story of a Canadian couple who are very close to allocation. I recommend having a look at the You Tube video on the first page of this blog which shows babies in a Chinese orphanage.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

16 November 2006

"I am writing concerning your interest in being assessed as suitable prospective adoptive parents for a child born overseas.

An essential part of the Intercountry adoption process is attendance at an Education Program. Information relating to contemporary adoption practice and the nature of adoption is complex. Attending educational groups is a necessary and valuable part of preparation for adoptive parenting.

The groups provide an opportunity for you to meet with staff of the Intercountry Adoption Unit and other people who have expressed an interest in being assessed as suitable prospective adoptive parents of a child born overseas.

The Education Progra will be conducted over two days, with both applicants required to attend. The program will cover a broad range of issues related to Intercountry adoption and provide the opportunity to address and discuss issues that are of concern to you.


Date: Friday 1st December & Saturday 2nd December 2006
Location: Brisbane

The program will start at 9.00am sharp with coffee from 8.30am. It is expected that each day's sessions will finish by 4.30pm. Morning & afternoon tea will be provided. May I suggest that you bring a picnic lunch to have in the grounds of the facility.

We understand that it is sometimes not easy to arrange to attend a two days workshop; however it is not possible for couples to be assessed until after attendance at the Education Sessions.

As sessions are adult focused, it is requested that you make your own child care arrangements (if applicable) as there are no child care facilities at the venue.

An attendance form is attached. Please complete and return the form to the Intercountry Adoption Unit as soon as possible.

After your registration is received, we will forward a letter confirming the date and a map of the location of the venue. Your timely response in confirming or declining your attendance at the education sessions will be appreciated.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above, please call...."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I spoke to a lovely woman in the Expression of Interest team last week (they are so helpful there) and she told me that they were just waiting on our police checks and if they are okay then we should be invited to attend Education on 1 & 2 December. Now, I know our police checks will be fine (we both have blue cards) so I am biting my nails waiting for the letter with our invitation.

1 December is my work Christmas lunch, and the kids' Christmas play but both will be hastily cast aside if we are invited to Education. The kids understand - they want a baby sister as much as we do. God, I love them. They are beautiful children.

It's only 3 weeks until our holiday to China. We will leave on 4 December and have 2 nights in Shanghai, then 4 nights in Wuxi visiting Holly (our Chinese student) who will be home with her parents at that time. Then we are planning to take the train up to Beijing for a few touristy days. As we have a company in the sustainability industry, an industry colleague has offered to take us around near Beijing and show us a demonstation sustainability project. Scott is REALLY looking forward to this, as am I. The Chinese are a long way ahead of us in terms of environmentalism, and I guess this has been forced upon them as a way of dealing with their enormous population. On the way home we will stop in Tokyo for 2 or 3 nights, depending on whether we want to spend an arm AND a leg on accommodation, or just one limb.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cost for two adults & two children to be immunised against:
  • Tetanus (for me & Scott)
  • Hepatitis A and
  • Typhoid
is a total of $772. Now technically, these immunisations are for our holiday to China next month, but since we would have to have them anyway in order to go to China to (eventually, hopefully) collect our daughter, I am including the cost here. I figure some people may read this blog in order to find out what hurdles and expenses we incurred along the way so I think you should be aware of this one!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today is 31st October, my self-imposed deadline for having all documentation back for establishing our eligibility. I knew the only thing that the Dept of Child Safety didn't have was one reference so I sent a text message reminder to my lovely friend Lisa yesterday and she was on the phone this morning telling me that she was completing the form as we spoke, and she was happy to ring the Dept and get their fax number so that they would receive everything today.

Now to wait and see what happens next...

We are planning to be in China for holidays from about 3-18 December so hopefully we will make our next move prior to that.

In the meantime, I am comfortable with several words of Mandarin. The most useful ones include:

Me, I, my, mine
You, yours
He/she, his/hers
don't like
am, is
Thank you
how are you? Well, thank you or Not so good.
and the numbers up to 7.

I like Mandarin. It's a practical, sensible language. So long as you are only trying to speak it, that is, not write it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Quick update - I had my medical on Wednesday and Scott had his yesterday. I just have to get my chest x-rays on Monday and assuming all is okay then our medical part will be all done.

Jeannie from the EOI Team called me to say that we can't use Damien as a referee because he doesn't live in Queensland so our friend Cahrol has come to the party instead. Very impressively, Jeannie received our paperwork on Wednesday and sent the referee's forms out the same day. Cahrol received hers on Thursday and sent it back the same day. yay! Thank goodness, because I forgot she was going to Peru for a month leaving Friday.

So all is going swimmingly at this point. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

It's Gemma's 11th birthday today and Ben's 6th birthday on Monday. Hopefully by the time they turn 13 and 8, they will have a Mei Mei (little sister.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yesterday we got the letter. THE letter. The "we invite you to establish your eligibility" letter. The letter that means we are officially in the process. Woohoo! There are 3 parts to this next step.
1. Health Assessment - We need a complete medical check by our family doctor as well as chest x-rays. I've made appointments for Scott & I to see Dr Julie next week to have this done. I have to confess to how much alcohol I drink. Oh thank god I don't smoke any more. Smoking is a big no-no. They ask about genetic diseases. My mother has MND - I wonder if I have to tell them that? It's not proven to be genetic - it's only a theory, and we are not aware of anyone else in the family having it. I will ask Dr Julie. I have to tell them about the health of my parents anyway so I'll need to admit to it there, but I don't want to write it in the box next to "are you aware of any... genetic predispostion to any medical condition which may affect your life expectancy?" Oh, and I have to have a pap smear. Can't hardly wait.

2. References about your suitability - I have already spoken to two good friends of ours who are prepared to lie... er... I mean... tell them what wonderful people we are. Truth is, there are so many people we could have chosen as referees but we chose two who we think are reliable enough to write back considering we don't know how much paperwork is involved. So thank you to Lisa & Damien who love us and want to help us in The Quest for the Holy Girl. If you read this in a few years time, you can say "hey, look - we were part of that!"

3. Criminal history checks - We will piss this in. Scott has a few speeding fines (which he hates me mentioning) but otherwise we are squeaky clean. Good boys and girls. Consider this children - if you do naughty, silly things when you are little, when you are a grown-up it can affect you in ways you never dreamed of. Like you might not be able to adopt. So be good. Thus endeth the lesson.

I am aiming to have all of this paperwork done and back to them by the end of October. If we pass this stage I think we are assigned a social worker and then have to pay another $2000. Ooh, I am getting excited!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In the next stage of the adoption process, we have to create a Life Book for the child. This is a book that I guess would be similar to the baby books you create when you give birth to a child. It's something precious for that child that tells them a bit about who they are and how they came to be with you. Most of the life books I have seen are scrap books. Mine will be a scrap book too, except that I am going to focus on the words equally and make it a story book that I can read to our new daughter.

Today I wrote the first draft of the story, and here 'tis.

Once upon a time, in China, there lived a little girl. She was a bright, smart, happy, beautiful little girl and she lived with lots of other little girls at the orphanage. It was fun to have so many other children to play with and the people who cared for the little girls were very kind, but sometimes they told her that one day all of the little girls would go to live with a family.

A family is a wonderful thing to have. There are people who love you and care for you and want to be with you for the rest of their lives. You have a mother and father who look after you and brothers and sisters to play with. Sometimes parents in China have little girls and they are not able to care for them so they send them to the orphanage so that the little girls can find a new family. We don’t know why this little girl’s parents had to send her to the orphanage. We only know that it must have been the hardest and saddest thing they ever had to do. I’ll bet they think about her every single day.

Meanwhile, a long way away in Australia there lived a family. There was a mother and a father and a sister and a brother. They were a happy family but sometimes they felt something was missing. They just didn’t feel complete.

One day the mother read an article in a magazine about little girls in China who needed families. She spoke to the father and the sister and the brother about it. “I think,” she said, “that what we need to be complete is a little girl from China. I would like to ask the government if we can have one of these little girls to come and live with us and be part of our family.”

The father and the sister and the brother thought that was an excellent idea. A little girl from China was exactly what they needed.

So the mother and the father started the very long process of being allowed to have a little girl from China come and be part of their family. There were about a million interviews and about a trillion forms to fill in, but eventually the government said that yes, they would be allowed to have a new daughter from China.

But which little girl would it be?

Back in China, there are people whose job it is to look at all the families who need little girls, and all the little girls who need families, and match them up. They have to decide which family will be just perfect for each little girl. One day, one of these people was looking at a picture of a baby girl in one hand, and a picture of a family in the other hand. “Aha,” she said. “This is the perfect family for this little girl, and the perfect little girl for this family.”

In Australia, the mother received a phone call to tell her that there was a baby waiting in China who was just right for her family. The mother was so excited, and she couldn’t stop crying. All of the family was very anxious to get to China and bring their new baby girl home.

The next few weeks were so busy! There was so much to do but eventually the family flew on a plane to China and went to the orphanage where the little girl lived.

It was a little bit scary, meeting everybody for the first time, but straightaway they all knew that everything was as it should be. They were all just right for each other.

Of course, you know the rest of the story because that little girl was you. Now you live in Australia with Mum & Dad and your sister Gemma and your brother Ben. We’re all so happy to have each other, and none of us would have it any other way.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Now that we have joined a couple of support groups, I find there are plenty of families who are much further down the journey than we are who also have websites or blogs.

This website belongs to Lee & Donna who are meeting their baby daughter Xiao tomorrow. I wish them the very best and looking forward to the day when we are in the same boat.

Next weekend we have a Chinese student moving in with us. Her name is Holly and she is 17. Holly is here to learn English but we believe we also have a lot to learn from her. Our hope is that over the next couple of years we will acquire a greater understanding of Chinese culture and some basic Mandarin.

My brother has recently become close friends with a delightful Chinese woman, so if he plays his cards right then our Chinese baby might have a Chinese auntie and cousins. That would be wonderful - I don't want to hope too hard in case the Gods notice how well things are going down here.

Now all we need is to be invited to apply...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Today I posted the first paperwork so I guess we are now officially in the process. That was the Expression of Interest form. From here, we will be either given the flick, or invited to apply.

On Sunday at International Day we met lots of people who had their children within 2 years of starting the process so I hope that will be the case for us also.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yesterday, through work, I met a woman who is adopting from Ethiopia. She and her husband have been going through the process for five years! Her file has been in Ethiopia for two years. Now they are just waiting for the call. They have asked for a sibling group so it's lovely to think that a family will get to stay together because of them.

She tells me that the process is tedious and frustrating and you will be expected to jump through any hoop that the Child Safety department thinks is a good idea at the time. However she also says that it's good to see that not just anyone can adopt.

She also tells me to hang in there and not give up. I think I'll need to remember those words in a couple of years - I'm still all starry eyed at the moment!

I'll see her again on Sunday at International Day - the family fun day for the International Adoption support group.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

...drumming fingers impatiently...

Still no sign of the marriage certificate. For the last 12 years I've managed to get by with using the thing I signed at the church on the day but now I need the real deal.

I've found our birth certificates and I've printed out the multi-page Expression of Interest form. I think I can handle the questions... but it feels oddly like an exam.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

As at 3rd July, the list is open and we can now put in an Expression of Interest. For further info on what is involved, see here -

I've applied today for a copy of our marriage certificate ($25) and when that arrives I can pretty much go ahead and fill in the forms.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Big news! We got a letter in the mail last week that confirms that the process opens on 3rd July! That's when we can put in an Expression of Interest. There are also information nights to go to, and hopefully we can go on 8th July. Must line up my brother for babysitting...

I also want to keep a record of costs on this blog. So far I have spent $80 to attend the support group info day (in August) and $35 to join the support group. It's called International Adoptive Families of Queensland. They also have a family day out coming up, so we'll try to get to that.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I've sent off a cheque to join an international adoption support group, however finances are seriously bad right now so I am terrified that when the time comes, we simply won't have the money to go ahead. I'd never considered finances as a problem but I guess that's the pleasure and pain of being a small business owner.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The author of "Jesse's World" talks about the reactions you may get from your family members when you tell them you are adopting from overseas. Apparently some people get negative reactions - a kind of suppressed racism is the insinuation.

We don't expect any negative reactions - we are pretty confident that our families will be supportive and happy for us just as they would be if we announced another pregnancy (god forbid!)

We told my parents a couple of weeks ago. This was a tough one. My Mum has Motor Neurone Disease and there is not a snowball's chance in Hell that she will live to see this child. I felt a little insensitive telling her about our plans but decided that it was her right to know she is going (hopefully) to have another grandchild and that she still has the right to good news despite her illness. My Dad's reaction was pretty much as I expected - he said "oh great, I love Chinese food" but later on asked for more information. There's nothing Dad loves better than being a grandfather so he doesn't give a rat's arse where the grandchildren are coming from - just bring 'em on!

I'm in no great rush to tell everyone else - I mean, we haven't even filled in a form yet, so I don't want to tell them now and have them wait through what must seem like the world's longest pregnancy. It could still be 2 years before the baby arrives in our home.

I love the thought that this child is likely to be of a similar age to my sister's children and my cousin's son. I worry a bit that Gemma & Ben will be so much older that the Ashanti Girl will feel like an only child, but so long as we have friends and family with children of similar ages I think it will be fine. My sister is 10 years younger than I am and we are great friends now, but growing up we didn't really know each other. Now she has to do her duty and present my new baby with cousins of around the same age - I think she will be happy to comply :).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Scott and I have finished reading Jesse's World ( by Basia Bonkowski. It's the stories of several international adoptions in New South Wales. Some of them are heart warming, some heart breaking, but most of them a bit of both. We already know that this is what we want to do, but reading the book makes us wonder how could we possibly not?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

16th April 2006

A blog.
I'm blogging.

Um... why am I doing something about which I have no idea? I don't even read other people's blogs let along write my own, but there is something important that I feel I need to document, so I am taking this step out of my comfort zone to get it down.

I am here because of Marie Claire. Marie Claire, the magazine. Marie Claire, the magazine that published, god knows how many years ago, an article about women who had adopted babies from China. The story that really got to me was about a single American woman who had adopted an abandoned two year old girl and brought her home to be her family. After being home a few months, she was explaining to the little girl that they would be moving house. Her daughter queried "Can I come with you?"

The thought that there are a) children who are abandoned on the street and b) who have no comprehension of what it is to have a stable family life simply broke my heart. I told my husband about it and said that one day, after we have had the two children that we had planned to have, I would like to adopt from overseas. He agreed that it was something he would like also.

Back then there was no agreement between Australia & China but we simply filed the idea away in our memory banks and got on with our lives. Things ran smoothly... we had a daughter, Gemma, and then a son, Ben. Towards the end of 2004, when Ben turned 4, I thought it was time to look into international adoption. After a short period of research online, I contacted the government department responsible for adoption only to find that we had just missed an intake, and they had no idea when the next one would be, but probably not for at least a year.

This wasn't such a problem for us. I was 37 at the time, and was hoping to have our 3rd child by the time I was 40. The previous intake would have been too soon for us anyway. I had no idea how long it was between intakes though, so after a year I started to get a little nervous.

I sent an email in early March 2006 querying if there was any idea when the waiting list would be opened again. The response was prompt and polite and it's meaning was clear - no idea.

Imagine my surprise when a week or two later we received an official newsletter from the QLD Government Department of Child Safety which said, in part, "Couples with active Expressions of Interest and have not yet been invited to progress to this stage will be invited to establish their eligibility in 2006." We also received an invitation to an information day run by an international adoption support group.

Here is the update from the newsletter on the China program:

"The China program continues to run smoothly. In 2005, 15 children were placed with Queensland families. A further 18 couples are in China awaiting advice of a placement. Currently, 62 couples are in various stages of the assessment process. The Chinese central authority has confirmed that the files sent in the future will be placed with a child under two years of age or over six years of age. The age requirements for prospective adoptors are being confirmed and will be advised once available."