Monday, July 18, 2011

The Waiting...Empty Strollers....Both Ends Burning

We are still awaiting news of our Preliminary Approval (PA) from China.  We are waiting much longer than the "usual" but we hope that is b/c they are taking their time with our PA that the next approval from China (Letter of Approval - LOA) will go a bit faster. Then on to the "US wait".

On the topic of waiting...

I have a friend online who is going to DC in late August for the "Empty Stroller" march on Washington. Families are marching for their waiting children that are sitting in orphanages around the world. The march is being organized by the Both Ends Burning Campaign, a global movement to transform the broken system of international adoption. During the march, protesters will be pushing empty strollers wrapped in red tape to represent the bureaucracy that prevents children from being with families.

For more information, see two videos below...the first provides a horrific impact of the broken process in Vietnam.  The second provides an overview of Both Ends Burning Campaign and their objective.

And if you need another reason why --

Emma will sit in either foster care or orphanage care for months longer than is necessary b/c of the delays during the process (on both the US & China side). While the process is required to keep adoptions "legit" by the Hague convention (the international body that governs adoptions), the time delay to complete each step due to staffing levels, lack of automation, etc is something that is frustrating beyond belief. I truly believe that if the people that process this paperwork and/or make these decisions had to look at these children's faces, the process would be radically different. 

As an example of the process... our I-800A took less than 2 hours to be approved once an agent was "assigned" to the file but it sat "in queue" for 49 days prior to being assigned.  It also cost us $1,000 to USCIS to be processed.  For <2 hours of work. While we didn't have a child referred to us yet, many other families do! Their children sit in orphanages for months longer than necessary.  

Many ppl point to the adoption credit as a step in the right direction for the US.  While the US gov't has done miracles for the adoption community with the most recent tax credit (it will rebate families ~40% of the costs of the adoption), it doesn't fix the underlying problem of WHY it takes so long for adoptions to be processed (and why its so expensive). I can't help it, I have done tons of business cases at work before and the process of international adoption is ripe for opportunity.

Anyway, for those of you interested, please sign their petition here!  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Name Selection: check!

We wanted to drop a note to everyone to formally announce our dear daughter...we are absolutely honored to be able to parent her and so excited to bring her home!!

Emma Jean Chunxiao Lillie
  • Emma – two meaningful inputs...
    • Emma comes from the name "emmanual", meaning "God is with us".
    • Emma means "strong", which we know she is, she is a fighter!!
  • Jean – two meaningful inputs....
    • Jean is a family name on both of our sides. She is named after Grandma Lorna Jean Scheid, Grandma Glena Jean Lilley, Aunt Catherine Jean Weber (aka Lilley), Great Grandma Norma Jean Clough, and Great Grandma Linda Jean Ballantyne.
    • Jean also means "God is Gracious", which he is! We gave Lexie the middle name Grace for this same reason. We feel so lucky we will be able to parent both of these girls! :-)
  • Chunxiao - means "Early Spring".  As I mentioned in my last post.. Chun means "spring" and Xiao (pronouned like "shower" minus the "er") means "early morning".  Since she was born in the city of perpetual spring and was born early, we think this makes perfect sense!
  • Lillie - of course!
We are absolutely excited to share her picture with everyone...its just not going to happen today. The CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) wants some more information from us before providing us with Provisional Approval (PA).  Our agency has assured us its nothing to worry about and that this is common.  We still *hope* the pre-approval comes in the next week or so but it could be a while longer so we thought we would share the name now!

On the positive side, we got an update on Friday morning from Emma's orhpanage! At 8 mos she has continued her phenomenal growth and is actually getting herself onto the American growth charts, even without adjusting for her prematurity! I didn't initially realize it but apparently the American growth charts are always larger than the international ones, b/c Americans are "large", ha!. :-)   Also, we were told that at 8 mos she could roll over & sit up unassisted!  This is great news for any baby in an orphanage but even more phenomenal given that she was born so small.

In closing, I've included a few crazy pictures. We tried to take a family photo over July 4th but Lexie was not having any part of it! I attribute it to the fact that we did it at the end of the holiday weekend and she was exhausted from playing with her cousin Wesley. In any case, here are a few of the shots (with Emmy's face removed b/c we don't have PA yet!).

Welcome Emmy to the Lillie and Lilley clans, you are in for a wild ride!! :-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tidbits & Friendships

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!  Matt and I had an awesome weekend - we spent it traveling around the state of Michigan...with my nephews/neice in St Joe on Friday, swimming at a cottage up north with Matts family on Saturday, & Grandma Lillie's 91st birthday party on Sunday.  We wrapped it all up on the 4th of July with family and friends at home. Gotta love Michigan in the summer!

We still cannot share pictures of our daughter but I did wanted to share some information about her below:
  1. She was born on 10/5/2010 - the very same day as my good friend Kate Rojas' daughter, Mary Frances.  Amazingly, 3 years ago, Kate and I had our first dear daughters only 5 days apart.  I didn't think it could get closer than that but I guess it can!!  Shamefully, I didn't realize when we got the referral that her birth date was the same as Mary Frances' but Kate reminded me this weekend that they were born, across the world, on the very same day!!
  2. She was found in a public place on her 2nd day of life and was brought to a police station. At that time, she weighed ~3.5 pounds. We are guessing she was born about 8 weeks early (although we will never know for sure). She is a fighter -- at 4 mos. she had already TRIPLED her birth weight, weighing in at 11 pounds!!
  3. She lives in the Yunnan province of southern China in the capital city of Kunming. The province borders Laos, Vietnam, and Burma.  The city looks nice and I am excited for our trip!  A few random facts:
    • The city is at 1900 M elevation – the same elevation as Lake Tahoe  Given it’s elevation, China has their high elevation Olympic training center there.
    • Kunming is located just north of the Tropic of Cancer.  For those of you not map inclined, the Tropic of Cancer runs through Mexico (just N. of Cabo San Lucas), the Bahamas, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India and Southern China!
    • They call Kunming "the city of perpetual spring" because things are always blooming there.  Like other “tropic” cities, there aren’t wide varying seasons. The weather looks very temperate, similar to North Carolina.

4.      The name she was given by the orphanage is Chun Xiao. Chun means “spring” and Xiao (pronounced “sh” & “ow”) means “early morning”.  Given that she lives in the city of perpetual spring and was born early, we think the name makes perfect sense!
5.      The orphanage she is at transitions most of their children at 6 months to foster villages outside of the city. These villages are tiny towns where multiple famlies have agreed to foster children while they wait for their forever family. We *think* this is where Chun Xiao is now, given that she will be 9 mos tomorrow but hopefully will learn more over the next month or two. 
6.   She has ears like her dad, a Mohawk like her mom did at her age, and facial expressions that resemble her Great Grandma Norma.  We are so excited to bring her home!

One other interesting point: when we first started our adoption process we asked 3 families - the Walsh’s, the Yonak’s, and the Clark’s - to write us letters of recommendation for our Home Study.  At the time, we had known all 3 couples less than 2 years -- but we needed local reference letters (no family!) and we felt like we had known these famlies forever.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but each one of these families has been instrumental in getting us to this point…Lana and Marty have helped open our hearts to adoption and continue to support us throughout the process. Nancy and Serdar lead the local March of Dimes chapter -- helping to educate and advocate for premature babies.  Little did they realize that by supporting us they were also bringing another preemie across the world to her forever family! Finally, Chad and Katy -- our dear friends who, over the past 2 years, have reminded us that God is always with us (and given us a laugh in between as well). 

We feel so lucky for all of our friends and family and it seems that all of the above friends (Rojas', Walsh's, Yonak's, & Clark's) were meant to be part of the process of bringing our daughter home - pretty cool!

That’s all for now -- more to come (hopefully pictures and a pre-approval) later this week.

BTW - I apologize for the length of this post, but there was a lot to share!!