Friday, September 29, 2006

The amazing Chinese women

Tonight I have been researching Chinese women. How they think. What they do in their day to day life. How they view family. Their careers. How they are viewed by their Chinese peers.

Truly these are amazing women. Their history and culture had them placed as home-makers, full-stop. Less than their husbands or other males in their life, even their sons. Certainly not in paid employment.

China and it's women have undergone a lightning speed transformation. When you consider how long it takes for the world to change, China and it's people, men and women, have allowed themselves to expand, contract and expand some more. The contracting may have come from the remains of a few rigid laws and governmental restrictions, or maybe just from their culture and historical background and habitual behaviours.

Whatever the reason or circumstance, with the growth of China's people (and I don't mean the numbers) and the partiality to learning, we shall certainly see more and more amazing examples of Chinese women leading the way with the compassion and generosity that seems so inherent in their people.

So often I find myself wishing more Eastern influence on our jaded Western viewpoints.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Meanwhile we foster ...

Over the last couple of years as Scott and I have talked about how we're going to grow our family (they sound like plants, don't they!) we have discussed adoption, fostering and getting pregnant. Naturally, most of you know that we have chosen the adoption path as it's all over this blog. LOL.

The other angle we're taking is foster caring. Initially respite care (relief care for full-time foster carers) to see how we suit the needs of a foster child in our home. There is actually a longer wait to undergo the homestudy by the foster care social workers and be approved than there is for adoption! It's mainly because the foster care system in Tasmania is called upon to care for a LOT of children and while the social workers are out there retrieving and assisting children there are not enough of them left to do the homestudies required before one becomes a foster parent.

Talk about rock and a hard place.

Anyhow, we will persist and eventually we shall have foster children & our own adopted children to love. With any luck, and a lot of trial and error! we shall be able to assist them to grow into compassionate, independant people with a strong, practical and creative minds of their own and, in the case of the foster children, assist them back into the homes and care of their own parents.

Well, that's what we'll aim for. Anything else that occurs, we can work with.

Monday, September 25, 2006

EOI sent today


It's a very exciting day for us, although it may not mean much to others. We have been given the go-ahead to submit our "Expression of Interest in Adoption" before we get married .. something that we initially thought that we were only able to do once our marriage was finalised! Soon after we found out, I popped the all important form on the fax and 'voila, we're on our way!!!

I know, I know. We're nowhere near 'there' yet but somehow this just makes it all feel a bit more real.

Add to that the excitement of this month's referrals being announced on the CCAA website - so exciting for those soon-to-be-adoptive parents that have been waiting for just on 14 months now.

For those not in the adoptive community, this 'referral' time is the event that all parents adopting from China are working towards and the referrals come about once a month, our very own stork delivery!

Once you have been approved by your country for adoption and then been reviewed, translated etc. by the country you're adopting from, the next step is to be matched and 'referred' to a child. With China, from your dossier arriving in China til referral, this takes about 14 months currently. Adoptive parents live in hope that this time will drop back down to the 'normal' 9-12 months again once things settle down. CCAA had a recent change of premises and training of new staff that may (or may not) have affected the waiting times. No-one really knows.

I can just imagine how we'll feel when it's our turn for a referral :)

For our adoption, in the next two months we will be :
  • Arranging police checks
  • Going for medical examinations
  • Preparing documentation
  • Arranging character references from various people in our lives
... in readiness for our full application to be submitted.

Next stop after that : our next mandatory adoption seminar (all things being equal this should be in January 2007) and allocation of a social worker to complete our homestudy.

Hooray!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Very moving Chinese adoption video



This is a lovely moving Chinese adoption video that I found on YouTube.com ... it focuses on the needs of the child rather than the needs of the birthparents ... now that's a great video!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

China - a background and statistics


Flag ... red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner

Population of China
... 1,313,973,713 (estimated, as at July 2006)

Some background ... For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight.

Ethnic groups in China ...
  • 91.9% - Han Chinese
  • 8.1% -Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities.
Languages spoken ... Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages

It's not always smiles at first meeting.

It is heartbreaking for children who have been abandoned multiple times in their very short lives. First by their birth parents, then being shifted between orphanage and foster homes and finally to their very unfamiliar looking, mostly caucasian adoptive parents.

I wonder sometimes at their resilience and ability to trust. From stories I've read and videos I've seen of adoptive parents that have already walked that path and successfully arrived on the doorstep of "gotcha day" and past it to going home ... these amazing little children have the ability to handle so much change and upheaval. And they learn to love and trust in such a short space of time (mostly).

This video is particularly touching as the adoptive parents video the first meeting and their daughter's adverse (at first) reaction to them.

Gotcha day video - Maya Qiuju - China

Candid images of China

Chengdu CWI

Yangxi SWI Video


Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

Friday, September 22, 2006

Oh dear. I'm in love.


I've been looking around at the different 'waiting children's' photo sections of different websites. There is one in particular that I found last night .. it's called New Day Foster Home, Beijing, PR China.

Their site is very well put together with a great description of what they do to help the special needs children that come to them. It also has a lot of pictures of very happy, contented little residents who obviously receive a lot of love from their caregivers.

One particular little guy, Lucas, is a new arrival at the foster home. He has tetralogy of fallot, a heart condition that is able to be repaired (or so it says in a search or two on google). China don't allow pre-selection of a child for adoption but it seems that Lucas has captured our hearts ... {sigh} ... it was bound to happen.

How small can quickly become big.


Perhaps weddings have a mind of their own - you know? We started off on the thread that we'll just have a ceremony with the celebrant, Scott, myself and two witnesses. Simple, meaningful to us. Emphasis on the marriage rather than the wedding.

We invited our parents because, we don't deny, we love them a lot and wanted them to share our wedding with us.

Somewhere very soon after that manifested a wedding 'venue', platters of food for the reception, invitations, flowers, prayer flags, sunset ceremony, candles, flower girls and the accompanying dress, shoes, makeup, hair appointments ... ok :)

Scott and I are not very traditional. Ordinarily. Our wedding ceremony won't be in a church as we're Buddhists. The vows will be Buddhist vows and the decor and setup will be inclusive of prayer flags, an 'altar' complete with Buddha ...

Note to non-Buddhists: no, the Buddha is not something Buddhists "worship". It is a symbolic item that each time you view it prompts you remember to be mindful of the teachings that Buddha gave many years ago. Prostrations - aka bowing in front of said Buddha - are acts to remind us to have a 'servant' nature to all other living beings and to ensure mindful and compassionate treatment of living beings.

Anyhow, with that being said, we now have ourselves a somewhat bigger event than we first planned. Expanding our day to include a few close friends in Tasmania has now, in my mind, made the event more of a traditional one.

Surprisingly, I don't mind!

Woohoo ... looks like we're having a party

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Adoption information on countries other than China.

I realised tonight that this blog is rather China-heavy and doesn't feature much on adoption from other countries.

I'll attempt to fix that :)

Yahoo groups for Australians Adopting Internationally

These are adoption groups specifically for Australian families that you can apply to join. These groups include many, many parents who have completed the adoption process and those who are going through it right now. They are invaluable to assist you through the process of international adoption.

If you know of other Australian groups that can be added here, please send an email or leave a comment.

China

ACT Families with Children from China
(ACTFCC)
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ACTFCC/

Aussies Post Adopt China
This is a post-adoption support group that accepts members who have already adopted from China.
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aussies-post-adopt-china/

Australians Adopt China
This group is for people at all stages of the process of adopting from China.
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/australians-adopt-china/

FCC Australia
FCC-Australia is the website for members of Families With Children From China-Australia,
a support group for Australian families who have or who are in the process of adopting children from the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. FCC-Australia is an incorporated, not-for-profit, non-denominational association of families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting children of Chinese ethnicity. It is run by volunteers and operates throughout Australia. Annual membership fees apply.

Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FCC-Australia/


Ethipoia

Aussieopia
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Aussieopia/

Australia Adopt Korea
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Australia-adopt-korea/

Aus Adopt Philippines
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ausadoptphil/


South Africa

Australians adopting from South Africa
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Australian_SouthAfrican_adoption/


Thailand

Thailand Adoption
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AusThai/


Europe

Australians Adopting European Children (AAEC)
Website: http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/A-A-E-C/


Expat Parents

Australian Expat Adoption
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/australianexpatadoption/


Single Parent

Aussie Singles Adopt
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aussie-singles-adopt/


Post Adoption

Aussies Post Adopt China
This is a post-adoption support group that accepts members who have already adopted
from China.

Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aussies-post-adopt-china/


Other

Adoption Western Australia
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/adoptionwesternaustralia/

AFCadopt
Moderated by: Australian Families for Children Inc
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AFCadopt/

Australian Adoption Campaign
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Australian-adoption-campaign/

Australian Amigas
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Australian_Amigas/

OzICA
Moderated by: Australian Intercountry Adoption Network - AICAN
Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OzIca/

International Adoptions for Aussies

There is a lot of info online regarding international adoption but to make things easier for myself I thought that I might keep it all here on the blog. I can't find my way around my bookmarks anymore!

Anything I find that's particularly relevant for Aussies, you'll find by clicking the Adoption Info for Australians on the site map in the right hand menu.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

International Adoption. How others feel about it.

Now that the plans for our adoption are underway (and by that I mean we're getting married so we can put in our Notice of Intention to Adopt) we've started letting people know what is going on with us.

After reading lots of different forums, blogs and websites about the different reactions people have received throughout their own adoption process, I was particularly interested to see how others reacted to our own decision to adopt.

More particularly, what sort of reaction/concerns/issues/questions arise as a result.

So far, the people who know are our families, some close friends and a few work colleagues, along with the other adoptive parents on the yahoo groups we have joined.

Here are the Top 10 questions/concerns/responses of others :

  • "That's fantastic/wonderful/brilliant ... we're so happy for you."
  • "That's very noble."
  • "How long does the process take?"
  • "Adoption! I know a family who adopted from China {or somewhere else} ..."
  • "You aren't buying a baby, are you?"
  • "Are you able to meet the child before you adopt them?"
  • "Can't you have your own bio children?"
  • "You may get pregnant throughout the adoption process. It happens quite often."
  • "How long do you spend in China?"
  • "Are you concerned about the racism that still exists?"

I was really happy to see that all in all, people are really curious and very aware of what adoption involves. I don't mind if we're asked questions or people express their concerns to us. It shows that, to a large extent, people are concerned about us and, more importantly, about the child we will adopt and how this rather large step will affect all involved.

I thought it might be useful to answer these questions/concerns/statements for those who might be interested.

  • "That's fantastic/wonderful/brilliant ... we're so happy for you."
Thankyou! Your support and care are appreciated and will be much needed throughout our adoption process :) Our child is going to benefit greatly from such a lovely support network.
  • "That's very noble.
Not noble, from our perspective. Every child deserves parents that are able to care for them, give them safety, security and most of all, love. We also benefit by having this beautiful young child in our lives, whoever they may be.
  • "How long does the process take?"
From when you formally begin the process of adoption with the governmental department in your state, currently it is taking around 2 years until you travel to China to meet and bring home your child.
  • "Adoption! I know a family who adopted from China {or somewhere else} ..."
This is the one that makes me so happy that adoption of an international child is commonplace these days. The more acceptance there is of transracial families, the easier the adopted child's life will be from the viewpoint of acceptance in a largely caucasian society!
  • "You aren't buying a baby, are you?"
Sometimes this question comes up as a result of the high cost of international adoption. There are differing costs, depending on the country from which you're adopting, however all costs are an important part of the approval process. There are facets such as the homestudy (being approved by the Australian side of things to even be an appropriate family to adopt a child), medicals, police checks, seminars to attend, more medicals, updating documents that expire (overseas governments have their requirements that docs are at all times as recent as possible) -- and that is just a few things that the Australian government require you to do to be approved to adopt internationally to meet the "Hague Agreement" requirements.

Then you have the complation of more documents, notarization of all documents, application fees for the country of the child's origin to assess, review, translate your dossier and approve you to adopt from their country, match you with a child/children, medicals (child).

And your child isn't even home yet! After you are given "a referral" (a child/sibling group is referred to you for adoption) there are sponsorship costs for your child's care before you travel, more medicals to meet Australian requirements, immigration costs (for the child), visas, passports, donation to the orphanage (for most social welfare institutes in China, for example, this is the only way they have to keep the orphanage running, maintain, feed and clothe the children, attend to their medical needs and provide foster parents for some children), accommodation/translator and travel organiser/in-country flights when you go to bring home your child, airfares for the adoptive parents and a one-way ticket for your child ... as you can see, there is a lot involved.

  • "Are you able to meet the child before you adopt them?"
Adopting from China, as we are most likely to do, you do not meet your child before you are referred. China has a very organised process of matching a child with prospective parents. As a matter of fact, you are not allowed to go to China with the view to visiting an orphanage/social welfare institute if you are in the process of adoption from there. It discourages any potential "encouragement" from the adoptive parents to an orphanage. If you're found to be doing this, I imagine you would lose the ability to adopt from China - they have quite strict requirements with this sort of thing.
  • "Can't you have your own bio children?"
I guess we could, if we wanted to. I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which, I'm told, is quite common with women these days and they still have the ability to become pregnant. We have chosen not to go through the process of "prompting" a bio pregnancy. As we see it, each child deserves a family. If there are children in the world who would like a family, and if we are approved to adopt, then that is the better option for us!
  • "You may get pregnant throughout the adoption process. It happens quite often."
Yes, I guess that could happen ... whatever happens, we are quite involved (emotionally) with the process of adoption so it will still factor into our family plans.
  • "How long do you spend in China?"
Anywhere from 10 days to 14 days, depending on the province in China from which your child originates. For other countries, it varies quite widely. I don't know much about other countries requirements apart from that, to be honest.
  • "Are you concerned about the racism that can still exist in Australia?"
Yes, I guess I am. If it will upset our child, even in a small way, then naturally that's going to be a hard one to deal with emotionally. No-one wants their child to go through traumas! We intend to bring our child/children up to know how valued they are as a person, an individual with their own story - and value is not determined by the colour of your skin or what other people think of you or say about you. Whatever else faces us, we will deal with as a family.

Apologies for the reeeealy long post. I hope you enjoyed reading :)

Dalai Lama coming to Australia 2007

Well, this is fantastic news! Australians will receive a visit from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in June 2007.

When you think that this man dedicates his entire life to the benefit of others and for no other reason than that, it is quite a humbling thought. Many people, Buddhist or otherwise, come to see him at his public talks purely because of that fact.

It reminds you just how wound up in our own little lives we can be when someone like the Dalai Lama comes to town. It's the same as the effect that Mother Theresa had on people's lives. She lived only to benefit others. Lived amongst the very poor and sick so she could help them. A very simple desire to help.

We are far too spoilt in our western lives to even contemplate this kind of simplicity. Well, I know that I am.

Friday, September 15, 2006

New referrals already

It seems that even though there were referrals pretty recently that they are starting to trickle in again.

Could it be that the waiting time will shorten?

WE certainly hope so!

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About parenting an adopted child.



Today I was lent a book "Adoption Parenting - Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections", a book contributed to and written by parents of adoptive children and various other persons experienced in this area.

I'm at page 31 and I can honestly say that this is a fantastic book providing wonderful insights into approaching different issues that each child may struggle with.

It gives clear, concise variations for handling each kind of situation you may face with your adopted child and even, if you please, your bio child.

Needless to say, I think I'll read this one cover to cover many times over in preparation for our own child. We certainly have plenty of time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gotcha day video - Alana - China

This is Alana (baby) and Monica (mummy) ... it's such a sweet union that I had to put it here.



Here's Monica's website with more pics of their first meetings etc.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Babies everywhere.


I was having a lovely chat to a friend today. We don't often get the chance to catch up as she lives in Brisbane and we live in Tasmania so there was lots of news to catch up on.

Namely, *M* is having a baby so it's fantastic timing all round really. That makes it 5 babies due either any day now (P), in the next couple of months (J), in around 5 months (B & M) and Us. Naturally, we're not 'technically' pregnant though when you think about it, our baby will be born in China sometime in the next 6-9 months or so, give or take.

So all of our babies will be very close in age, within 6 months or so of each other.

It's interesting how these things work out without prior planning, don't you think?

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've always wondered.

How to arrange a wedding in one weekend.

We managed to finalise 90% of our wedding plans today. LOL.

We:
  • Confirmed, talked to and booked an appointment with the Celebrant (Maxine, she's a sweetheart!)
  • Booked and viewed the Wedding/Reception Venue
  • Selected the menu for our reception
  • My dress is ordered (ok I admit, I did that weeks ago-should arrive any day now)
  • Made the arrangements for the flowers
  • Sent the "Notice of Intended Marriage"
  • Ordered the wedding invitations
  • Wrote the guest list (immediate family & a few close friends in Tas)
  • Formally invited Scott's 9 yr old daughter to be our Flower girl (and only attendant)
  • Considered flying to the wedding in a helicopter (then discarded that idea as a joke! hee hee)
That will probably do for today, I think. I slept in til 10am so it's a wonder we got anything much done at all. Scott tells me it's wasting the day (hey, don't we Buddhists get more than one life?)

I Love Sleep

I'm sure some are going to think we're pregnant, being that we're having our wedding in 2 and a half months ... we WISH our adoption would only take 9 months. It's a common joke amongst adoptive parents that adoptions involve the longest gestation period EVER! It's also quite common for people to start the adoption process to find themselves pregnant all of the sudden.

We're very involved in the adoption process, after 2 years of talking about it and 6 months of researching, talking to other adoptive parents and the like.

When all is said and done, whichever way our child comes to us is ok by us.

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Walnut Cookies!


I really do have to add this recipe here. Now I'm definitely not one you'd find in the kitchen that often but when I make these, Scott just LOVES them! He's not much of a sweet-eater either so I figure this recipe is a winner ...

You'll find it on Vegweb ... some ingrediants are from the USA and we can't get them here so I've written the Aussie substitutes beside them. This is a pretty forgiving recipe so substitute different nuts, leave out oats etc if it suits you. Enjoy!

Jennys Famous Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Coconut, Walnut Cookies
Ingredients (you can use vegan versions or non-veg):

1 cup margarine (use butter, normal butter from the tub, not cooking butter. Margarine makes them too greasy)

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar (or white sugar)

Ener-G Egg Replacer (= 2 eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour (plain)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I don't add this in at all)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup choc. chips (if you're like me, you'll use 2 cups!)

1/4 or 1/2 cup (to taste) oatmeal (dry)

1/4 to 1/2 cup ( to taste) coconut(shredded)

1/4 to 1/2 cup( to taste) chopped walnuts

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit (about 220C). Cream together first 5 ingredients. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, then add to the creamed mixture. Then stir in the choc. chips, oatmeal, coconut, and walnuts. Drop by tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes then turn sheet and bake for another 4 minutes. Cool well before removing from cookie sheet. Make sure you keep an eye on the cookies as they're baking, mine have a habit of burning if you don't take them out at the right time - very hot oven.

Serves: 2 dozen

Preparation time: 20 min

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The wedding date is set!


It is now official ... we're to be married on the evening of Friday the 24th of November 2006!

Da-dum-da-daaa. Da-dum-da-daa. Oh, that's right, we're not having a wedding march ;)

The pic to the right is where we'll hold our wedding ceremony and small reception afterwards ... it's a beautiful cafe in the mountains of the Channel area, south of Hobart. Absolutely gorgeous spot :)

A small affair.


Well, that was the intention. Erm, yes. Oh, did I forget to say what I was talking about? Sorry.

We hereby announce that we are getting married!

Yes, I know, for those of us who know us personally this was rather unexpected. Well, little did you know that we had actually considered doing this at some point in time however were in no hurry! Now we are in a hurry because somewhere our baby waits.
It's still in the planning stage but will happen within the next 3 months (probably Nov '06) ... we're taking care of the details this weekend (date, time, where, who, what) but all in all, it will be a simple Buddhist ceremony here in Tasmania with our Mums, my Dad (Scott's Dad passed away several years ago), our brothers and sisters (if they can come) and a few close friends.

So we'll soon be Mr & Mrs M....th. Not a bad name, 'eh :)

I don't believe it.

It's hardly believable ... now Peter Brock has died. What a week for us Aussies! I've never been one to be a huge fan of anyone just because they're well known, but naturally I knew of Peter Brock and Steve Irwin.

A big shock to see Peter Brock pass away in the Targa race today. So sad for his family and friends :(

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

So sad to hear today that Steve Irwin has passed away. I can't even begin to think how his wife and children are feeling.

Despite the fact that people die every day, it is quite shocking to hear of such a well-known person passing away. Like Steve, like Princess Di, Mother Theresa. Still makes you do a double-take inside while you digest the facts.

Death, just like taxes.

RIP Steve.