Saturday, June 27, 2009

Critical and Not So Critical Decision Making

Trip planning and execution has reached a fever pitch in the Johnson household. This afternoon was spent making critical decisions like which cute outfit should come along, as well as more critical decisions like what is left to buy in the medicine cabinet of creams, ointments, rash treatments, and vital baby items are left to buy. Other decisions included, how much Ammodium AD is necessary for a 2 week stint in China? Made easier in doing all of this were the nextdoor neighbors who played for endless hours with Eli in the backyard and attempting to cool off in the sprinkler. It is hot, hot, hot in Iowa!
The crib is currently sitting in my kitchen, and it has been a fun afternoon of thinking about the fun of having a toddler in our house again.
This is the first day I have felt like my mind can wrap around this entire process, by deciding it is really not possible!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paperwork and Precautionary Treatments

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity in preparing for our journey to China. Two weeks from today, I will be sitting on a plane bound for Beijing thinking about what lies ahead. This not only occupies my thoughts but humbles me. I have had three years to prepare for this time however feel like the idea was just sprung on me yesterday. Tom, as always, remains calm and has a “what will be will be” attitude.

I continue to scurry around the house taking care of any loose ends for our paperwork. Scurrying because things will and do come up in the final two weeks. Unbeknownst to us, the US Consulate in Guangzhou had not received our updated home study. A quick shout out to the women working at the United States Citizen Immigration Services office in Des Moines for their expedient work cabling the information (yes the word cable is actually used in this day and age). Yesterday, I made all of our flight arrangements. I was shocked at the affordable price tag and connection we received from Des Moines to Chicago and Chicago to Beijing.

Tomorrow is a consult with our doctor to receive all the prescriptions one takes along when traveling to an area which, despite its intense efforts has no disease control. Antibiotics, salves, ointments, creams, precautionary lice treatment for Sidney, and precautionary scabies treatment are only a few of the items on our list. This is not to mention the round of typhoid medicine in our refrigerator a couple of months ago. A quick trip to Cedar Falls to the occupational health branch of Covenant for malaria meds rounds out our cocktail on Friday.

Tomorrow is also day of cleaning with my mom who might be elevated to sainthood after all of this is over. She is helping me do the “deep clean,” prior to leaving and is preparing herself to spend copious hours with her grandson. Eli is independent as ever and seems to take all of this in stride. What a trooper! My mom has many activities planned, and he looks forward to spending time away from mom and dad. We are happy that our trip is only 2 weeks instead of 18 days as we were originally told. During all this, Eli is a stabalizing force and keeps me grounded and most of all makes us laugh!

More to come in the days ahead and during our travels. I purchased a netbook to keep in contact with the Western world during our hiatus.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I woke up this morning and as I came downstairs and looked into our kitchen, I had to make sure that the series of events yesterday actually occurred. After three years of waiting, a baby shower made this entire experience seem very real. Our baby shower is an affirmation of the outpouring of support we have received from family and friends. This does not include only our small circle of family and friends however a greater group of people from our church, community, and other families in the same process of waiting on adoptions on China.

Time to look at my baby items and the cool silver fortune cookie I received from my friend Jill who did a fabulous job hosting my shower! I told her yesterday, I do not think I could have had a more perfect shower!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We were given permission to send a few items to our daughter. Though we would much rather deliver these items in person, there is some comfort in knowing that we can physically send her a few items. One of the items we included was a disposable camera with hopes her nannies will take some photos of her daily life and return it on Gotcha Day. In addition, we sent a couple of light thermal blankets, a baby photo album with pictures of us, and a stuffed animal. Trying to find a stuffed animal without music or loud noise was quite difficult. Most children, even in the best of orphanages, have limited access to toys.

I put together a simple letter from examples listed online from a company which makes its business delivering gift packages to children waiting for adoptive parents, in Chinese orphanages. From what I can understand the owners used to work in the adoption industry. They better understand the culture of the orphanage, so we chose to use their simple example. In addition, I took the letter to a woman in town who owns our communities Chinese restaurant and had her write a message at the bottom of the letter. She advised me that the majority of people know English, so they should be able to understand what was written in the majority of the letter.

Eli has Spanish camp run by volunteers from his school all week, so this will be a great opportunity to get more done!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

We received our Referral Approval on May 21, 2009. This document is the official paperwork, giving us permission to adopt our child. After all this paperwork, the document literally said, “ you are kindly requested to make your decision, sign in the proper place below, and deliver this letter as soon as possible to the adoption organization which submitted your application file.” As if there was a decision to be made!

We signed and returned the document immediately. Tom and I became so excited; we immediately signed the paperwork and returned it to the adoption agency without checking off, “we accept.” This is why we paid for the expertise of the adoption agency. Our coordinator advised us, the appropriate box was checked. If anyone knows me well, it is obvious that I have gone from fumbling and disorganized as a late teen to hyper anal retentive about completing things correctly. Tom can accurately describe me as off my rocker when I found out the proper box was not checked.

What happens next?

We are waiting for our Travel Approval. This document is issued from the Chinese government and gives us permission to travel to the country. We are told this takes somewhere between 2-4 weeks. Then, 3-5 days after receiving our travel approval, we receive our dates of travel. It is so exciting yet bizarre. Exciting to think about our daughter and becoming a parent for the second time but honestly bizarre to think about this from our daughter’s standpoint.

When the Chinese government has issued our Travel Approval, our adoption agency will set our Consulate Appointment. This is dealing with her immigration paperwork and with the United States consulate in Guangzhou. A quick geography lesson: Guangzhou is on the southeast side of China. This all occurs during the last leg of our trip. All our travel dates are counted backward from the Consulate Appointment, to arrive at our departure times and travel in Beijing and our daughter’s province, leading up to the consulate appointment.

This excitement has not hampered my ability to relax or sleep. It has had quite the opposite effect. Tom and I are sleeping soundly for the first time in 3 years. On our camping adventure last week, Eli received the rare treat of staying up past his bed time which allowed all of us to sleep to a whopping 8:30am!