Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bringing Home Baby & Expectations

I am afraid this (LONG) post is going to come off as negative. Please know I do not intend it to be. I honestly just want to be as informative as possible so everybody has some insight since we leave in SIXTEEN days! This is meant to serve as an explanation for some of what we are about to face and some of the actions we will take. I pray this is read in the spirit with which it was intended.

This is from an article entitled “Top Ten List of Things Not to Expect from Your Newly Adopted Child: An Adoption Education Publication”
The following [ten] tips will help the adoptive parent and child adjust during the initial transition period following the child’s arrival in the home.

SLEEP: Do not expect them to sleep well at night just because they slept through the night in their birth country with the foster parents or in the orphanage…. Some (but few) infants / children sleep well after joining their forever families, while others have a very hard time sleeping through the night. Some children will only be calm and secure sleeping in their parents’ beds. In some countries [like Guatemala] many infants sleep with their mothers, and young children often sleep with other siblings in the same bed. Being alone in a bed in a quiet bedroom in a new house can be terrifying.

I include this here in an attempt to avoid negative conversations about co-sleeping and the judgments that often ensue. Most do not mean to be negative but are only offering what they deem to be helpful, good advice. Adopting a toddler internationally, though, is so much different than having an infant brought home from the hospital.

PASS THE POTATO: Do not expect your child to enjoy well meaning visitors / relatives who insist on holding and feeding them. They are often confused enough as it is; make sure to explain to your visitors – even overly eager and well-meaning [ones] – that being fed [and held] by strangers is not good for your child at this point. You owe that to your child.

It is so hard for those who love us and our kids to understand this. We have so many wonderful people in our lives who want to help us. In the beginning, though, holding, rocking, feeding, etc are just not in the best interest of our child. It will come; it just takes some time!

HAPPY CAMPERS: Do not expect your child to be a “happy camper” if you go back to work very soon after bringing him / her home. Attachment and bonding are a long process; having to adjust to a new home, new parents and also to a daycare and a daycare provider is a lot to ask. Try to arrange a substantial amount of time off if you work outside the home; experts recommend a minimum of two to three months. Remember that bringing an adopted child home is not the same as bringing home a newborn infant from the hospital. Even the youngest of babies have memories of their birth mother’s voice and smell, the language they have heard around them and had spoken to them, the people who fostered them, and the world that has surrounded them since birth.

A lot of well meaning friends and family, hoping to assuage my fears, have suggested that since Ethan has been in a foster family, he should be more well adjusted and maybe I shouldn’t need to take three months off. Three months, according to many experts, is the minimum for any adopted toddler. Try to imagine a child who, for well over a year, has lived with the same Mom and Dad. This is his family. Sadly, until we can establish trust and develop a bond, Ethan will in all probability, see us as kidnappers. He is going to grieve and likely grieve hard. Add to that we are taking him far, far away from everything he knows: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and I think three months actually seems like a paltry amount of time to stay home with him. We feel this is the right thing to do for our family. Yes, we know it will have financial implications, but we are willing to face these in order to help our newest member of our family adjust and bond.

DEVELOPING ON TARGET: Whose target are you comparing to? Do not expect your infant or young toddler to be at the same developmental stage as children his / her age here in the U.S. Not unlike many culture’s caregivers see putting infants on the floor as cold and uncaring. Therefore, many babies have had not “tummy time” until they arrive in the U.S., thus they usually start crawling and walking later.

BATH TIME: Do not expect them to love bathing from the get go. Bath time in orphanages or foster homes is typically hurried and done with cold water. It is no use scaring them to death by forcing them into a bathtub or shower……Sponge baths work well with younger and even older children until they are more comfortable.

ATTACHMENT: Don’t expect your child to attach equally to both parents in two parent families. It is not uncommon for a child to be very attached to one parent over the other until they are more secure.

Ah. How well we remember…

DON’T “EXPECT” ANYTHING. PERIOD. Embrace, love, observe, console and cherish this often confused and frightened new member of your family. When you “expect” things and they don’t materialize, frustration and disappointment follow closely behind. No need to burden your already traumatized child with more “baggage.” Just let your child “be” until they adjust to their new home.

Every child adjusts at different rates. If we seem to be coddling Ethan, please understand we have to respond to his every need so he begins to understand that WE are his parents. If we don’t discipline the way you would anticipate, please know we will discipline him when the time is right, but he needs to know our love and patience before we can discipline him. We really do appreciate the advice and help that so many are willing to offer. Our friends and family are generous to a fault and we love you! There are, however, so many differences between international adoption of a toddler and bringing home baby from the hospital. I hope this helps explain some of those differences and why we react the way we do sometimes. Again, thank you to everybody who helps us in so many ways. We couldn’t do this without you!

Friday, July 27, 2012

In My Possession

Guess what we got?!?!

It was delivered at 11:23 this morning, Friday, July 27....

That's right! TA baby! Travel Approval. In. My. Hands!! Seventeen days until we leave. Twenty-three until we are holding our little boy. We're almost on our way!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

General Itinerary

I cannot promise this post will be coherent. Skip this next section for the short version {Last night I was pretty worked up and couldn't get to sleep right away (as evidenced by my late night blog). I finally went to bed around 1:00 and still sleep was elusive. The last time I glanced at the clock? 1:45. *SIGH* Shortly thereafter, though, something woke me up. It was the absence of sound. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I simply canNOT sleep without white noise. Well, the fan stopped -- probably due in large part to the fact that the electricity was off -- so I was awake. So was Troy. On an amusing side note, Troy thought he'd gone blind. :D He said he freaked out because the stopping of the fan woke him as well, but when he opened his eyes and saw NOTHING, his first reaction was, Oh no! I lost my sight because I didn't take my contacts out before I went to bed. Oh Troy! We roamed around the house with flashlights, noting that our block was without electricty (still don't know why), called the power company to notify them, and finally went back to bed after locating my white noise machine. Once again, sleep evaded me. Finally at 5:15 (almost precisely the time Excel indicated power would be restored -- interesting) the power did come back on. Sleep at last - until 9:00. That's the long version of why this might not make sense.} I didn't get much sleep last night!

Here is our itinerary:

LV: FSD Tues, Aug. 14 @ 10:14 A.M.
AR: ORD Tues, Aug. 14 @ 11:50 A.M.
LV: ORD Tues, Aug. 14 @ 1:37 P.M.
AR: HKG Wed, Aug. 15 @ 5:55 P.M.

We will be in Hong Kong for two days to acclimate to the 13 hour time change as well as the take in the culture. We will leave on August 18 and head to Changchun, Jilin, where Ethan is! On August 20, we will get him!! After adopting Ethan, getting his Chinese passport and completing some other paperwork, we will go to Guangzhou to get his visa to go to America. We go Guangzhou on August 24. Our consulate appointment is August 28 and on August 29 we will get the visa. That night we will return to Hong Kong. We will leave Hong Kong and return, as a family of FOUR on August 30.

LV: HKG Thur, Aug. 30 @ 11:10 A.M.
AR: ORD Thur, Aug. 30 @ 12:35 P.M. -- ETHAN = U.S. CITIZEN!
LV: ORD Thur, Aug. 30 @ 5:20 P.M.
AR: FSD Thur, Aug. 30 @ 6:52 P.M. -- HOME!!!!!!!!!

More details to follow, but we are one step closer to going over to get our baby! <3

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


After eleven very long months, we got the good word today. We are headed to China! Today has been pretty intense. I was supposed to sit in on interviews, but that was delayed. Troy asked me after he took Aiden to daycare, "Are you going in to school?" I replied, "You know as soon as I do, we'll get the call that we got our consulate appointment, and I will have to start the intense work of QUICKLY finding airfare, trying to get the appropriate lodging, and locating the right in-country transportation -- among other things!" Somewhere around lunch time, I started to think I had underestimated the amount of time from TA to CA, and thought I should get my butt in gear and head in to school to work on lesson plans. No sooner had I made that decision (and posted a question on facebook to my Dossier to China Winter group questioning when I could reasonably start to freak out about not hearing any news regarding our travel dates) I got an email from our travel guru at our agency. It read,
"Dear China Family: We are happy to announce the confirmed travel dates for your adoption trip."
I screamed at the top of my lungs, probably something incoherent, to Troy. I'm pretty sure, however, that he knew immediately what I was bellowing about. The gist of the email was, there are four families going to the same province as we are (luckily our Omaha support-couple will be going at the same time) on the same dates. We will leave August 14 and will be returning August 30. I can't believe it. I'm still a little stunned. After that email, the day kind of became a blur. I contacted a travel agent about airfare (Oy! Turns out airfare to Asia on 3 week's notice is NOT cheap), emailed our in-country travel agency about our dates, sent text messages to pretty much everybody I know who owns a cell phone and posted on facebook for those to whom I did not text, looked into redeeming our pathetic one free night with Marriott, discussed with "E" the likelihood of staying at an alternative hotel in our get the idea! And, somehwere in there, I got a hold of Jeffy G and informed him that, since he was with us to celebrate our first CA, he had to join us for this one. And join us he did. Naturally, we went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate our imminent travel to China. :/ Then, it was back home to work on travel plans again, make supper for my boys, and see Troy off for some big boy time, and go for a walk with Aiden. Then, as a nice capper to an incredible day, I got to go see my Aunts Ethel, Sheila, and Polly and Uncles Bill, Walt, John, and Ron.
Now, here I sit, updating my blog instead of getting some much needed sleep. Turns out I may still be a little hyped up. I'm ready to go get Ethan today!! But, if you can believe it, we WILL be leaving in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!!! As Aiden would say: Howy Tow! Tomorrow I will post our tentative itinerary and other (ir)relevant information. In the meantime, I am off to bed as there is still SO much to do -- sign up for webinars and conference calls, book hotels, contact in-country travel agents to confirm hotels and people for flights, work on airport transfers, get credit card information to another set of travel agents, exchange money, make doc appts prior to leaving, arrange insurance..... If this was audio, my voice would be fading out as dramatic music rose in the back ground, but it's not, so I'll say, that's all for now. More later!!! Oh yeah. And. YAY!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seven Months

A random bit of information: today marks seven months since we saw Ethan's face for the first time. Seven months ago we got his referral. At times (maybe my less-than-lucid moments), I look back and actually think, "Wow! That much time has already passed?" Of course, more frequently it feels like time has slogged by: the pain and fear of wondering if we'd get our dossier logged in time to lock Ethan's referral; the excrutiating 105 day LOA wait; the eternal paperwork, organzing, and preparation -- seven months in the making. Now, God willing, we are down to less than a month before we see those kissable, adorable cheeks. Prayerfully it will be about three weeks when I can look into those gorgeous brown eyes in person. Hopefully, on the one year anniversary of starting this process, I will be holding my beautiful little boy in my arms. The timing seems harmonious, and I pray it works. I'm ready for this wait to be over! Fortunately, we have our TA and are almost there.

Above are our pictures from our Friday TA "celebration." I know the quality is poor and I look awful (keep in mind I'd been outside playing on a waterslide for about 5 hours that day on a scorchingly hot day -- oh, and I'm OLD), but that was the extent of our festivities. After my screaming and jumping up and down subsided, Dad and I had an N/A. I guess we'll doing something more profound once we receive our CA dates, right...??? ;)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Two of the Most Beautiful Letters...


Yesterday morning (Friday, July 20) I woke up feeling tense, excited, nervous.... The first thing I thought of was, "We got our Article 5 last week. I know it would be fast to get our travel approval, but I just KNOW today is the day." I was out of sorts all day and felt a litte, well, off. We got Aiden to daycare, albiet late, and I eventually went over to Jenny F's to celebrate her birthday. She had gotten a 19 foot waterslide for the weekend, and who am I to turn my nose up at "children's games?" It was fun, but I kept checking my phone. My confidence at getting our approval was starting to wane. I may have texted a fellow Changchun adoptive parent a couple of times. It may have gone a little something like this.

Me: "Ach."
E: "Ummmm. What?"
Me: "No TA? It's noon. I was waiting for a call from you." "AND no update? Really? Ach!"

I was advised to partake of some liquid patience / calm. It worked. To an extent. However, as most people know, the more you try to put something OUT of your mind, the closer to the forefront it moves. Aiden came to play with the other kids (and me) around 3:30 when my mom and dad, down a night early so we could attend the Blue Angels Saturday, and Troy brought him over. It helped to distract me, but my mind kept returning to the prospect of a VERY long weekend with no TA. Around 4:00 I got a text from my fellow email / telephone stalker and mom-in-waiting.

E: "You know....I did not get my loa call until 5 pm. Just sayin"
Me: ":) How well I remember! Fingers crossed!" "PS our first TA for Aiden was around 5 actually."
E: "Well just keep busy on that slide and perhaps we will get the Call...A watched pot never boils!!"
Me: "I HAD forgotten it but thanks for brining it up :P"
E: "Happy to help!" (One does have to wonder why I want to travel with this sadist...)

At 6:00 I brought Aiden home to have pizza and spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. Obviously we weren't getting our TA; I did my best to forget about it. We ate and settled in to watch TV, or at least Troy & I did. Mom, Dad and Aiden were playing. My phone dinged once and I ignored it. It dinged again. I again failed to respond. Troy was rubbing my neck, and I was loathe to interrupt that. On the third notification, Troy made some smart remark about my "popularity," so I finally got up to see who it was. One of the notifications had been a text.

It was from E: "....Check your email. I did not get a call!"

So, check my email I did. Apparently, one of those notifications had been an email. From Holt. This is what I found.

Subj: Travel Approvals Have Arrived
Fri 7/20 6:23 PM
Dear China Families:

We are happy to let you know that your travel approval has arrived. Travel approvals do not come with travel dates but we are working with our staff in China to arrange your schedule as soon as possible

So, to make a short story long, we have been approved to travel to China to get Ethan and bring him home. We can't know until we get our Consulate Appointment -- the LAST step in this arduous process -- when that will be, but we are praying to leave in the August 15 travel group. Inconvenient in regards to school and finances? Yes. Do I care at this point? NO! It's time to go get our son!

A side note. If we make the Aug. 15 group and get Ethan on the 19th, it will be one year to the day since we started this journey. :) We filled out our application to Holt on August 19, 2011. Seems to me that would be Apropos!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Officially Awaiting TA

Yesterday we got the following email:

Dear Sturgeon Family:

Congratulations on receiving your Article 5! You may already have received notification directly from the U.S. Consulate that the Article 5 was ready but our China staff confirmed today that they sent it to Beijing so the CCCWA can process your travel approval.

Your travel approval, sent by the CCCWA in duplicate to our Eugene office via express international mail, should arrive within three weeks and we will notify you immediately when it does.

Even though the average time to arrival in China from getting the Article 5 averages six weeks, now is the time to start travel planning. We strongly encourage you to contact Lotus Travel now so they can start a record for your family to make arranging your trip easier when your travel approval arrives.

In a nutshell, our Consulate has said everything is in order for this adoption and now we are waiting for China to say we can go get Ethan. It. Is. HAPPENING! The timeframes given above -- 3 weeks to TA and 6 weeks to actual travel -- are actually on the very conservative side! Now, that's not to say we won't wait the maximum for both, but many TAs are coming in 7 - 10 days, and that gives us very real hope to be traveling in the mid-August group. Before I had stated that that would be a very inoportune time to go (start of school, missing in-service money, higher airfare costs, etc), but then I got to thinking. Inoportune time? To go get my son who is waiting in China? Who we have been waiting to go get since we first saw his face December 22, 2011 -- and before? Like when we started this whole crazy process back in August, 2011! I got to thinking, who am I to second guess His timing anyway?! If we get to go August 15, I will be ELATED!!!! Freaking out, but elated! **Have I mentioned I don't have my lesson plans started for my substitute yet.....**

Ethan, my beautiful little boy, we are almost on our way!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Waiting on our A5

As of June 27 / 28, we started waiting for our Article 5 pick up. What does this mean? Well, it means once that is done, we only have, essentially, 1+ step to go! I say 1+ because after A5 pick up, we are waiting on the PRC to give us our travel approval (TA) and (kind of) along with that comes the consulate appointment (CA). I am hopeful that our Article 5 will come on Thursday, July 12, but suspect that because of the 4th of July holiday, it will come Friday, July 13. Then, if the trend continues, we could possibly get our TA inside of 2 weeks!! :-O That would mean we'd be approved by the 27th of July. If it comes that early, we can assume we would be headed to China by the middle of August! Ho. Ly. COW! Want to know the irony of this whole process? It feels like everything. D R A G S.....A L O N G. Then, all of a sudden? It's here. Well. It's very nearly here!!! To make it even more real, we got our visas in the mail the other day.

Ethan, honey, we are getting so close!! Hold on little man, we're coming to get you! <3