Thursday, December 20, 2007

A little news from China

I've joined the Tianjin Families Yahoo group and am connecting with a number of people who have adopted from or are in the process of adopting from Tianjin. It's wonderful to get that insight. We've been following the Lewises blog and are living vicariously through them as they pick up David from Tianjin.

Also through the group, we've come in contact with an American who volunteers at the Tianjin CWI. I got an email from him and he asked about our son at the orphanage. Here's what he's learned:
Wei Jian Tong is in the Jinghai foster care program. Jinghai is a program that has about 200+ kids, split up into 3 kids per family. They are in a suburb of Tianjin, about an hour away by bus from the CWI.
What blessed news. Our Micah is living in a family setting getting love and care. We hope that will help his transition to our family.

We haven't heard any other news since our Letter of Intent was officially submitted to China on December 7. And so we wait. But we've had lots of practice!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tag!

We've been tagged!!! Here are our answers:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Usually paper, but use gift bags when the present calls for one.

2. Real tree or artificial? We have an artificial tree because we leave it up so long a real one would be a fire hazard. (Though tree-cutting with Micah has been recommended for next year).

3. When do you put up your tree? The day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? MLK weekend

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, please. With rum. :)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hubby: electric football game (the kind that vibrates and the men move) Wifey: Close-N-play phonograph (played 45's)

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Several. We have a large wooden set, a ceramic Bumpkins Nativity and a crystal nativity set.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother cuz if he wants it, he buys it himself.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Mom, the only problem is that I see so much I know she'd like, I want to buy out the store!

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Basket of partially used hotel shampoos and soaps.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail Christmas cards!!!!

12. Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life, Muppet Christmas Carol and Holiday Inn (it's impossible to chose just one).

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? December 26

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yep. But not *your* gift, of course.

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Christmas cookies, Mom K's white chocolate covered pretzels.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

17. Favorite Christmas song? Merry Christmas by Third Day; Mary Did you Know

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel. I've almost never woken up in my own bed on Christmas morning.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, more eggnog, please!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? This year we have a bow.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We usually exchange gifts with each other before we travel and have various exchanges with family and friends whenever we are together..

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Crowds and crabby salespeople in the stores.

23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? We pose for one big family picture along with pictures of each family with all assorted children.

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Overkill on the lighted Christmas statuary (you know the house -- there's one in every town -- with 87 lighted elves, Santas and reindeer!)

25. Which looks the best, theme trees or homey trees? Theme trees are beautiful, but we prefer homey trees with all kinds of things collected through the years.

26. What does Christmas mean to you? It's a love story that began in Genesis, was revealed in the Nativity and continues to this day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hello, my name is....

Wei Jian Tong. This is our son's Mandarin name. The Chinese form names differently than Americans. Most noticeably, a Chinese name is written with the family name (surname or last name) first and the given name next, therefore "John Smith" as a Chinese name would be "Smith John". For instance, the basketball player who is commonly called Yao Ming would be addressed as "Mr. Yao", not "Mr. Ming".

Wei is his surname. Often children in Chinese orphanages are named after the orphanage, the region or the orphanage director. The director submitting Tong Tong's file is named Wei, so we suspect this in where his surname comes from.

Jian is his generational name. Jian means strong, healthy. In a two character given name, one of the two characters in the personal name is shared by all members of a generation. We've noticed that all of the boys referred recently from the the Tianjin Children's Welfare Institute share this generational name.

Tong is his first name. Tong means to connect or understand. Often the first name is repeated twice to form a nickname. His nickname in the orphanage is Tong Tong.

When generational names are used as part of a two-character given name, it is highly inappropriate and confusing to refer to someone by the first part of their given name only which will generally be their generation name. Instead, the entire given name should be used. In China our son would be called Jian Tong or Tong Tong.

When he comes home to us, his name will become......

Micah Jiantong Ladman

First Fridays Recap

A little late with my post, but I have to agreed with many that this was one of the most special First Fridays we've attended. Check out the new First Fridays web page for more info on this incredible experience.

The evening started with dinner shared by the Straights, the Christophers, the Perrys, the Hoffmans and the Nolans. As matches have occurred and children come home, our quiet dinner group has progressed to loud gathering with mulitple children. We must be quite a site for other diners to see.

The speaker for the evening was Amy Eldridge from Love Without Boundaries. It was amazing to hear her stories of children in China. She shared what she has learned about the abandonment of children in China. It's not as simple as the one child per family policy that's in place. Many children with obvious physical differences are abandoned because they are considered to bring bad luck. Parents who cannot afford surgeries to correct problems may feel they have no choice but to abandon the child. Sometimes there is pressure from extended family to be rid of a child with a difference. It's a very sad situation that has led our son to us and us to our son. It's amazing that God can make something beautiful out of such an ugly situation. If you feel a pull toward these orphaned children, please consider a holiday donation to Love Without Boundaries.

We were able to share the news of our match with Tong Tong. It was incredible being the ones with the referral after so many months of seeing others being matched and coming home. Shelby and her family were back from China and it was amazing seeing her in real life. (And I understand she wasn't at her best. When she's well, she's gonna be something!) We got to hang out with Sheridan, who is just a couple of months older than Tong Tong. We kinda got to "try him out for size." What a gift. It will be awesome that the boys will be able to play with each other. Sophia was there for her first First Friday visit. She's beyond cute.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve Sarejevo

Why am I posting this music video here? Because I can. It is simply one of the most amazing pieces.

Next steps

What happens next for us?
  • Today we submitted our Letter of Intent (a letter to the CCAA in China expressing our desire to adopt Wei Jian Tong) to our agency.
  • Our agency will translate and forward our LOI to China.
  • Several weeks later we may receive a pre-approval (PA) or they may skip that step. They will move our dossier to the SN section (I can only imagine finding it could be a challenge with so many dossiers waiting).
  • Then we wait. At least we have practice at waiting! LOL! They will review our dossier and if we're approved, issue a Letter Seeking Confirmation, commonly referred to as a letter of acceptance (LOA). The wait to LOA seems to vary greatly and according to variables only known to the CCAA. It could take anywhere from 2-6 months. We hope to be on the shorter end of that timeline since our file has already passed review in China.
  • Once we sign and return the LOA, three weeks later we'll get our Travel Authorization (TA).
  • After TA we can schedule consulate appointment and request our visas.
And where exactly is Tong Tong?

He's in the Tianjin Children's Welfare Institute, in Tianjin City. Home to 300 children, roughly 90% with disabilities, this is one of the better-maintained government orphanages. It is located in the city of Tianjin, roughly two hours southeast of Beijing by train. The children range in age from newborn babies to late teenagers. They live in comparatively good conditions and have access to facilities such as a performance hall, musical instruments, a children's playground, and a small yard for sports.

We've come across two other families who received referrals from Tianjin this week. They both have been matched with sons with repaired cleft lip and cleft palate. Could the boys all be buddies in the orphanage? Could we all travel together? Stay tuned and check out their blogs: Ladybugs, Motherhood and Other Musings and The Barry Family. And forging the way for all of us, the Lewises leave tomorrow morning to pick up their son from Tianjin. He also has repaired cleft lip and cleft palate. I think it's cool that the boys all share surnames and generational names.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's a boy!

What a difference a day makes. Well, 4 hours actually. Approximately 4 hours and 12 minutes after I posted my last entry, we received word that we had been matched with a very cute little boy. Actually, our agency rep didn't say he was cute, we just noticed that he was. Come to think of it, she did say he was cute.

His name is Wei Jian Tong. He was born Aug 27th, 2005 and has a repaired cleft lip and unrepaired cleft palate. He is currently living in the Tianjin Children's Welfare Institute and continues to get cuter every day. He doesn't know that we are on our way to get him, but we'll get there just as fast as we can.

According to the report we received, "Tong Tong is a very well-behaved child. Whenever it’s time to eat, he always quietly sits on his stool and waits for the nanny to feed him. He never cries. Wei Jian Tong particularly likes to watch TV, and he especially enjoys listening to music. Whenever there’s a musical program on TV, Tong Tong will immediately focus his attention, stare with wide eyes, and quietly watch TV. Sometimes he will hum along to the beat of the music. Sometimes it even seems like he involves himself in the artistic conception of the music, jumping right in and forgetting himself."

How wonderful! He is perfect for our family, and I think he's ready to play ball with his daddy!