Friday, November 30, 2007

The dossier has been posted!











Now for translation and notarising and blah blah blah other stuff that someone else does. In a few weeks we will be asked for some more cheques, then our file will be sent to China. Some time after that (could be a couple of months) we will get a LID (log in date) and then everything hinges on that date.

Families who are being allocated currently, have a log in date of roughly 2 years prior. We are expecting an allocation date of up to 4 years past our log in date.

So don't start knitting the booties yet...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Every month, the China Centre for Adoption Affairs refers children to families. The families currently receiving referrals have had their files in China for a bit less than 2 years. The last few referrals have only included a few days worth of families (does that make sense?) To make it clearer, the families referred this month had their files logged in at the CCAA in the first two weeks of December 2005. That's why I believe that we will have a four year wait from when our file arrives to when we are allocated. It used to be quicker than that, but as more people apply and there are more families waiting, it takes longer.

Anyway, if you like to have a cry over the babies allocated this month, here they are at China Adopt Talk.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Now that we have been approved, it's time to start the quilt. My lovely friend Stephanie has been patient for so long but her quilting fingers are itching to get going. So until I find a spare minute to write the letter, you can start browsing fabrics and thinking about what you would like to say. Pop on over to our 100 Good Wishes blog and you can read a bit about why we are doing this, and also learn a bit about quilting in general.

Steph has a way of getting completely average non-creative joes to create masterpiece quilts. It hasn't worked on me yet, but it has on plenty of others.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Progress report:

I have had my police check with fingerprints. (That's a bit embarrassing. You just want to tell everyone who walks past "Oh, I'm adopting... I haven't been arrested... I'm adopting... yes, hello I'm adopting...") For the record the cost for that is $146.70 and I had the certificate back within a week. It just says that I don't have any criminal convictions anywhere in Australia.

Scott and I have both had our medicals ($102 each) and blood tests (bulk billed to Medicare.) Scott has to go back to the doctor as one of his tests indicated something funny in his kidney or liver or something (I always get those two mixed up), possibly related to the medication he is on for his cholesterol.

I have my Certificate of Profession from my employer, but Scott's is going to take longer because he is self-employed and our company tax is a year behind. I will be nagging him about this constantly... oh wait... I already do.

We have to have it all together and submitted by end November because we will be away in December and I don't want us to be the couple who hold up the batch!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Great news! We have been approved! And, despite the delay, we haven't missed any batches.

Now we wait for a letter in the mail to tell us what to do next. I know we need updated medicals and police checks. And I think we have to write a letter to the Chinese government asking to be allowed to adopt, and have everything translated into Chinese and notarised. The paper chase part 2 begins in earnest...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Woohoo, progress!

We got our report through and it is all very positive and we have been officially recommended for approval. I have written to say that we accept the report, and now we just wait for it to be passed by the committee, or something like that, and we will be approved. After then it comes time to prepare our dossier and I believe that is quite a big job. Hopefully we can get that done by December as we will be away on holidays for most of that month. I'd love to see our file winging its way to China before that.

Can you believe it's been nearly 11 months since we did our Education????

Monday, September 03, 2007

*sigh*

I thought it was odd that we had our last interview 3 months ago and hadn't heard anything since then. So on Friday I rang the Department to find out where we were at. It turns out our social worker sent our assessment to the department in early July and it has been lost. Now they are running around trying to find it. Our social worker tells me she has recommended we be approved, so that is great news, but I confess I am frustrated at another 7 or 8 weeks lost. I wish I had chased it up sooner but I really don't know how long these things are supposed to take, and we have been so busy I didn't really realise how long it had been.

Children keep you young, right? Because it's looking like we could be in our 50s before the Panda comes along.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A helpful reader sent me a link to e-petitions, which I forwarded to the organising committee and thus:

"Hi All

We need your help in signing this e-petition (see the link below) in order to rectify a wrong in Qld with the increase of intercountry adoption fees. We would very much appreciate your help in our quest to have these fees kept in line with CPI (2.5%) and not as a cost recovery exercise by the government.

Once again the Queensland government is making it difficult for couples wishing to adopt from overseas. They are proposing to increase the fees paid to Adoption Qld by 250% to over $5000.00. Below are a few reasons for our concerns

Local adoption costs $500 - intercountry over $5000.00 because the Qld government say they have no responsibility to overseas children or families wanting to adopt from overseas.
This increase is pure cost recovery - there will be no increase in service or post adoption services put in place for our adopted children
No other government department does this kind of cost recovery.
They state this increase won't affect families as adoption is expensive anyway. Some families will not be able to adopt as it is getting too expensive.
Why are we being discriminated against???
Below is a link to an e-petition we have set up with the help of Pat Purcell. If you have not already signed a paper copy of the petition that has been circulating in recent weeks, please follow the link below and these 5 easy steps:

Yes - you want to sign petition
accept conditions
write down number -continue
fill in details including number from previous page
submit

http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/EPetitions_qld/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetNum=885
Thank you for taking the time to do this if you have already signed a paper petition on this issue please do not sign the e-petition

Thank you for your help & if anyone on your email list would like to help please pass it on – the more signatures we can collect the more convincing will be our protest!

Please feel free to circulate this to anyone --- anywhere in Australia.

Many thanks

Mark & Sharon

President & Vice President

IAFQ Committee"

You have to be a voter in Queensland to be able to sign this petition. Please send onto anyone you know who you think may be supportive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


More Trixi...

The old fashioned way...

My baby sister had a baby of her own yesterday. Trixi Emilia Jayne was born at 4.45am by emergency caesarian. It's amazing how few hours of labour Jen had to go through before she acknowledged that adoption looked pretty bloody good in future :).

Trixi is a delightful little creature. I hope that she will have little sister or brother around the same age as our China Girl. Otherwise she can be the extremely cool older cousin that Gemma is going to be to Trixi.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Queensland Government is planning to increase the cost of International adoption by 250%. Given that it's already an incredibly expensive business, and most of us are not Angelina Jolie or Madonna, this seems a bit unfair.

I could get pregnant and give birth in the public system without paying a cent and that would cost the government thousands of dollars.

Here is an extract from an email from the IAFQ (International Adoptive Families of Queensland.)

1/ The department is planning to increase assessment fees by 250% for intercountry adoption assessments to $5060 on 14 October. There is no fee increase planned for local adoption assessments which remain at $486.30. We are being discriminated against because the Department don’t view intercountry adoption as their “core business”.

2/ No one else will benefit other than the Government. This extra revenue will not be channelled into better post-adoption services or efficiency gains - it will be removed from the operating budget for the next year.

3/ Our community is being punished for not taking up fostering. Increasing our fees is a deliberate ploy to play to a group who are so heavily emotionally invested that they will do anything or pay anything to complete their families.

4/ We are not rich people, many people will be tipped out of the process by this increase in fees. Despite the Government playing the emotional card we all have a finite amount of money.


If you are interested in signing a petition to be tabled in parliament, please email me on sandie68@gmail.com and I will send it over to you.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Friday, July 6th was my 39th birthday and it was also the day that our social worker rang our children's guardians (in the unlikely event that Scott & I perish in a firey car crash) to check that they are cool with making decisions regarding our kids, including one adopted one. Luckily, we had checked with them first and they answered the questions correctly :). All going to plan, their services will never be required, but it's nice to know that the department are covering all the bases.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We had our final (hopefully) social worker interview yesterday. You will be happy to know there were no invasive personal questions... other than the regular-garden-variety-invasive-personal questions. Just stuff about what our childhoods were like and how we get along with our siblings, mainly. There was also a part where we had to look at a list of potential problems we could encounter with an adopted child and say whether we thought we could handle them. These included a child who won't show affection, a child who steals, a child who was born of rape or incest, a child with a facial birthmark and numerous other possibilities.

We know there are some things that would be very hard to handle. We are unlikely to face some of these issues adopting from China. The health requirements for Australia are pretty strict so we figure if our baby can get past the Australian government, then we can deal with anything else. We have a wonderful family doctor and we will know plenty of other people who have adopted from China so we will have many supports available to us. And if a situation becomes really hard to handle, then we will take ourselves off to a professional for assistance.

Some of the problems that adoptive children face are the same problems that all children face. Scott & I firmly believe that in the face of an issue, we have to consider whether it is an adoption-related issue, or if it's just part of being a kid.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Interview no. 2 was last Sunday. Once again, it went very smoothly. We talked about our childhoods, the way we were raised and the way we parent our children. She also had a chat with the kids, who both told her they were a little bit concerned about getting Mum & Dad's attention once the baby arrives. That sounds pretty much to be expected. Plus, I think we have prepared them so much for attachment issues, that they thought it would be a few months before they would be allowed to pick the baby up! I had to explain, no it might only be a few days, she will just have to get used to Mum & Dad first.

Next week we will talk to her individually. Scott thinks she will ask us about our sex lives and I really don't want to have that conversation. He, like all men, thinks that something must be wrong if we are not swinging from the chandeliers on a regular basis. I think it's perfectly normal for the woman in the relationship to go "oh chandeliers... now I have to clean them..."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

PS Not only did I not clean up a thing, she arrived early so I had only just arrived home and hadn't even finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast. Let me assure you, she didn't even blink at the mess. She said she couldn't care less and I believed her. Even when she sat on the couch and got one of Ben's toys in her bottom.
It went well. She was really nice and it was really comfortable. Luckily, some of the issues that have to be covered don't apply to us (dealing with infertility, knowledge of parenting) so we may be able to get through our interviews a bit more quickly than some other waiting parents. This interview was only about an hour and was just an introduction. Next interview is 20 May and will be a half day.

The only issues we may have today is that our house might not pass the safety test. We are not fenced down one side and we might need to have that fenced before we can be approved. We have a high hedge though, and hopefully that will be enough. Also, we may have to move a low shelf in our bathroom and put a lock on the shed. These are all things that we have never worried about but the social worker has to dot every i and cross every t.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Slight change of plan... Thursday 10th May will be our first appointment.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wheeeeee!!!!!

Gosh it's been an up and down week. May 4th is our first social worker interview!

Mind you, the expected wait time now from when your file goes to China to when you are allocated is about 3 years. Can you all stick with me that long?

We are just going to do what we can and get on with our lives. As Max Ehrmann says in "Desiderata":

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My mum died yesterday morning, some time around 5am. She had been very sick for some time with Motor Neurone Disease (AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease, AKA ALS)and was seriously not having fun any more. My sister Jen and I went and saw her today. She wasn't there, of course, only a sort of wax doll that looked a lot like her, but peaceful and beautiful. I felt a bit silly talking to her when it was so obvious that she wasn't in that shell anymore, but heck, I couldn't see a better option. The funeral is Monday.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Finally... received a letter yesterday saying that we have been assigned a social worker and our assessment period starts 26 April. That means that the social worker has 3 months from that date to have our assessment ready for submission to the department (I think.) We should hear from her shortly to organise our first interview.

Apparently some people clean their house from top to bottom and spend hours baking elaborate Chinese-style snacks for their first interview. That won't be happening here. I might ask Scott to shave though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Grrrr....
Had a call on my answering machine this afternoon from Adoption Services saying that we were asked on 19 Feb to send our $2000 assessment fee and they are still waiting on it. I called back but of course they were closed, and left them the details of the RECEIPT they sent me dated 22 Feb for the fee. I am so annoyed. I wonder how much time has been wasted by this error?

A lovely couple who we met a few months back had put their EoI in one month before us, and they have already finished their assessment and been batched and here we are still waiting for Adoption Services to find our cheque that I sent them the very same day they asked for it.

Cranky cranky cranky. (mental note - delete this post if Adoption Services ever start reading my blog.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Today we went to a function put on by the FCC (Families with Children from China) support group. It was great that it was the week after Chinese New Year so it didn't clash with other commitments. They had someone come in from the Cathay Club to speak to us about what Chinese New Year means and the children could paint a lantern or a pig mask, and some of them painted lion heads so they could all do a Lion dance. The little Chinese children are so gorgeous! It mad me so clucky except that I confess the idea of going back to nappies and whatnot is a little intimidating. Gemma & Ben are so easy to look after these days! Oh well, I remember feeling the same way when I had Ben because Gemma was 5 by then, but you get past it.

It was great to speak to people who have been through what we are going through, and many of them are very happy to help us out by answering our numerous questions. It was also fantastic to meet some people who are at the exactly the same stage us, so hopefully in the future will be our batch buddies.

I asked Gemma & Ben what their favourite part of the morning was and they both replied "The food."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yesterday I got a phone call from the Dept of Child Safety to say that our file looks all fine and we should send $2000 to cover our assessment fee. I have that ready to send today, and apparently we should start our social worker interviews in the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our holiday to China - still in Wuxi

We spent the next couple of days sightseeing & shopping in Wuxi. We bought coats and other warm clothes for Beijing and we visited the Tai Lake. The lake was beautiful but it was so cold that we didn't hang around to look for long. Holly also took us to a place where movies are made - there are lots of movie sets - apparently the Japanese TV series "Monkey" was filmed there. (And I know you are all going "ha! Monkey!" in your best Pigsy voice now.)







Above is the Carrefour supermarket, which I believe is a French chain. I just loved the supermarket - the fresh food section was so extensive. If you wanted, say, an omelette, there was a chef making fresh omelettes. It was like buying cold meat at a supermarket here - but SO much better. Later on, in Beijing, I went to the supermarket a few times and bought food to cook in our apartment. Eating out was wonderful, but I do love to cook.

We also visited Holly's dad's textiles factory, and her aunt's clothing factory. We were surprised by the very good working conditions - it's not what you expect from what we hear about Chinese factories.

On the evening of the 10th, we went to Wuxi train station, said goodbye and "xie xie" (thank you) a million times to Holly and her family, then boarded our "soft sleeper" overnight to Beijing.
Here are some more phots from the park in Wuxi. It was stunning when we where there in Winter - I'd love to go back and see it in Spring.





Our holiday to China... Wuxi
We spent the next 3 days in Wuxi being tour-guided by Holly, our lovely Chinese student, and her very generous family. We visited a park with tunnels under the mountains, and in one of the tunnels was a small reptile display. When I say "small", I mean the display was small. The reptiles were not small. They had a crocodile, a big goanna type thing and two enormous pythons. One of the snakes was rubbing his head on his body as though he was scratching himself. After watching him for a little while, we realised that he was actually shedding his skin. We had arrived just in time to watch him. It was the most amazing sight. We could have stayed all day but Holly's mum, Zhou, was waiting outside as she really doesn't like snakes.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm happy to announce that we completed our family profiles and other homework and delivered it to the department on 2nd February 2007. More information as it comes to hand...

Monday, January 15, 2007

You may notice also that I have changed the name of this blog from Ashanti Girl to Ashanti Child. This is in recognition of the fact that since we are not specifiying a gender, we may end up with a son. It's more likely to be a girl, but I don't want to prepare everything for a little girl in case we are allocated a boy.

If you've ever wondered what the word "Ashanti" has to do with a Chinese adoption, I will explain. "Ashanti" is the name of the place where I meet my online friends. I have friends there from the US, Canada, Ireland, England, the Netherlands and more. I chose the name "Ashanti" for this blog because to me it means that the world is a little smaller than it used to be. These places might be far away but the people are surprisingly close. I think that applies to international adoption also.
I have an online friend known as Fionn who I have known for about 7 years. Fionn is a very patient and talented woman with an eye for detail and she has very kindly offered to make me a 100 Good Wishes Quilt for our baby.

The idea of a 100 Good Wishes Quilt is to welcome a baby into the world and it is a tradition from northern China. Friends and family send squares of fabric and the fabric is sewn into a quilt and the messages that come with them go into a scrapbook as a permanent reminder of who has contributed. We will be blogging the process here and I'll put the link over to the side as well.

(and the rest of the holiday story is coming, I promise!)

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Holiday to China - day 3

We decided to be bold and go out for a breakfast for our last day in Shanghai. The problem was however that almost nowhere had a menu in English or pictures of the food so we wandered frustrated for an hour or so until we found a noodle bar. We managed to point at what we wanted but couldn't order a drink. I only know how to ask for coffee, tea or water but couldn't seem to get across that we wanted a drink of any sort. No problem - the noodles come in soup anyway :). After going back to the hotel to pack up we took a train to a local shopping centre where we wandered for a while just looking at the people and the things we don't have at home. That's my favourite thing about travelling - just seeing what people consider normal that seems so strange to us.

After a cafe meal of frogs' legs and other assorted delicacies, including some exotic teas, we went back to the hotel to meet Holly, our student who was picking us up to go to Wuxi to visit her and her family for a few days. Shanghai was generally pretty easy to get around. The only real problem we had was that the train stations were marked on our map, but after walking for ages to get to one of them, it turned out that half the line was still under construction!

Holly met us with her driver at the hotel and crammed our hands full of chinese drinks and lollies and snacks for our drive. She had really been missing chinese food while she was in Australia so she was really excited to have so much to choose from, and to introduce us to so many new delights.

Wuxi is about 2 hours north-west of Shanghai and for most of the drive it was still pretty built up. Holly called it countryside, but by our standards it wasn't even close. After Shanghai though, it looked like wilderness! We arrived in Wuxi at about 5.30pm and Holly took us to the hotel that her family had arranged for us. It was a lovely hotel, right in the heart of town called the Wuxi Jin Jiang Grand Hotel. The best thing about it was the bed! It was the size of two queen size beds and was made up with giant sheets and quilt and pillow that fit all 4 of us in. I want one at home! We got cleaned up then we met Holly's parents for dinner.

The first night they took us to the Wuxi Roast Duck Restaurant just around the corner from the hotel and we had our first Beijing Duck. Wow, it is so YUMMY. You roll it up in pancakes with spring onions and shovel it in. We were amazed at how much food there was but learned later that that's a standard thing in China - they over-order. Sometimes they take the leftovers home with them, but often just leave it. I've often seen Chinese people in Chinese restaurants with mountains of food on their tables and wondered how they stay so slim, but now I understand - they don't eat it all. I'll never feel guilty over-ordering and asking for a doggy bag in a Chinese restaurant again - in fact I have already done it since we got home.
The Holiday in China - day 2

We found our closest train station, worked out how to buy train tickets (which was thankfully very simple) and headed off to People's Square. This is a big beautiful park, full of people doing Tai Chi and other exercises, and families with small children feeding the white pigeons. The little kids are so cute - all bundled up like Michelin babies. Many of them seemed to be with their grandparents - always the best form of child care! We bought some bags of food and fed the birds with the other families. We were quite a tourist attraction. We've travelled a fair bit but this was the first place where we really stood out as being different. The Chinese gushed over our children as much as we gushed over theirs.

A friend had told us about a good fake market at a train station so we hopped back on the train and headed there. The market was really just warming up, as were we, so we didn't purchase anything except a couple of t-shirts. (Based on the principle of "don't carry coals to Newcastle" we had brought very few clothes with us.) Outside the train station however was the shiny new Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology. We adore science museums so this was a wonderful find. It's not in my (2001) Lonely Planet China so we hadn't been expecting it. It is brand new and still incomplete. It took us a while to work out how to get in but the locals were happy to help (once they understood we had already been to the fake market and didn't want to buy a Rolex or a Luis Vuitton handbag) and pointed us in the right direction.

The museum was great, and once I can remember where it was, I will tell you. It will be better though, once it is complete. We spent 4 or 5 hours there, even having a reasonably priced lunch in the restaurant. The highlight was an interactive kids area with a "battle of the minds." You and your opponent stand at either end of a table with a small silver ball in the middle. You have sensors strapped onto your heads, and the activity of your brain pushes the ball along a magnetic track toward your opponent. Sort of like a backwards tug-of-war but with your mind. I am sad to confess that Gemma & I had our butts kicked by the boys.

We finally left the museum in order to meet up with Champs, an old school friend of Scott's who now runs a ritzy restaurant in Shanghai. We met him at The Bund and he took us to a Chinese restaurant called Shanghai Uncle which he said is a family style restaurant and there are several of them throughout the city. The meal was delicious. Their speciality is roast pork - it's pork belly cut up into chopstick-friendly portions and seasoned - yummy! It had been a huge day and my feet were blistered so it was off home to bed for us. Even the idea of shopping in the Bund area held no appeal by that time.
The Holiday in China (part one)

Okay, after that gentle hint from Emma, I guess it is time for me to update the blog with a bit of talk about our holiday in China. If that sounds about as interesting as coming over to look at our holiday slide show, then you can skip this post and any future ones which I will thoughtfully label "The Holiday in China" for you.

We flew from Brisbane direct to Narita with JL and then took a connecting flight to Shanghai. This is an excellent way to get to China and we felt it was much simpler than going via Sydney. Narita Airport was an eye-opener in itself - doors that open and turn into trains, and toilets that are more high tech than my computer. More about that later though. We took a taxi from Shanghai Pu Dong Airport into the acommodation we had booked - Celebrity Service Apartments. I had booked this hotel on the web and was really pleased with what we got for the equivalent of about $AUD80.00 a night. Also, they provide on their website the name and address of the hotel written in Chinese so you can hand it to your taxi driver. The trip itself was most unpleasant however - it was a van with no seatbelts (as is the norm) and the driver drove very fast (as is also the norm) but it seemed more dangerous than any other trip we took in China. I guess because you are sitting up so high that if anything went wrong, we would have all been propelled throught the windscreen.

The hotel had two bedrooms, each with a double bed, and a bathroom. There was no living area, just two cupboards to put your suitcases in. I wouldn't have wanted to stay there for a week, but for our short visit of two nights, it was excellent. I did take pictures of it to show you but Scott's computer ate all our photos from the first two days so unfortunately they were lost.

We woke up on our first morning in China and raced out to our balcony to see just what was outside. It was quite an eye opener. Everything was covered in a haze and all you could see in any direction was buildings. To our right was a school and we could watch the children going onto parade at 7.30am, the usual time for school to start in China. We took the easy option of breakfast in the hotel for our first morning, then headed out to explore Shanghai.