Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yahoooooooo Groups!!!!

Question - What does one do when they find themselves with nine months to burn?
Answer - Join every single yahoogroup related to Chinese Adoption.

As you can probably imagine Karen and I have been talking alot about China lately. Specifically about our future daughter and the issues related to her adoption. Now I am sure you would love to be a fly on the wall during a marathon discussions about the I-171H processing delay, god who wouldnt. But for some reason our friends dont always share our passion for such thrilling topics.

So where do two chatty future parents turn? Well yahoogroups of course.

For those who have never heard of yahoogroups I will explain. The world is full of people who share common interests (football, knitting, underwater basket weaving) and these individuals long to discuss those interests. Unfortunatly even the best of friends will lose patients after the 150th discussion about the negative effects of clorine on rattan.

However with a computer, internet connection and a fun little log on name you have instant >>interested<< friends. Yahoogroups are interest based discussion forums that exist online. As the name implies these groups are run by yahoo, but moderated by any individual who chooses to create one. The results are thousands of groups covering any interest imaginable, Chinese Adoptions included.

So now instead of watching coworkers cringe at each new China factoid. I simply log on and share with my new found friends.

Shawn -> "Did you know you can pet live tigers at the Bejing Zoo?"

Coworker -> "Ugh, yeah thats great Shawn."

Yahoogroup Friends -> "Oh Shawn that is so interesting and informative please tell us more."

You see the difference is subtle but definately there. For the time being my friends at yahoogroup will be the recipients of these pearls of information. You hate to waste them on an nonreceptive audience.

So a real quick shout-out for Al Gore and his amazing internet machine. You may not have been able to become president, but you have saved numerous friendships worldwide. I just hope yahoogroups have as many forums about raising my future daughter.

Better start looking now.

Friday, October 14, 2005

China, meet the Rowledge

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Finally Here!!!!

After a few phone calls to INS and a hundred trips to the mailbox we finally have it. You may know it as the I-171H but here in Maryland its called the I-797C. Regardless of the name one thing is for certain. The U.S. government in it infinate wisdom feels that we are prepared to be parents.
After months of compiling the required documents it comes as a shock to finally be done. Not too sure what we will do with all our "free time", one things for certain, we will not be looking for a notary.
Over the next few days the last of our documents will be certified and authenticated and then we are DTC. So after a long wait we settle back and prepare ourselves for the longest wait.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Our Life in Ten Pages

Well we've received the final draft of our home study report, a quick little ten page summary of our entire lives. Both Karen and I were happy to see ourselves painting in such positive terms. All we need to do know if finalize a few loose ends and the report is off to INS. This is the final piece in getting our I-171H, then we can finally get back to all that waiting. I am sure however that the wait will not be that long.

You know what they say.

Government Agencies = Speed and Courtesy (Insert sarcastic tone)

Friday, August 19, 2005

I-600A and Fingerprints

Another milestone has been reached, we've submitted our I-600A form and our fingerprints have been taken. This is a pretty exciting step since it provides a key piece to our dossier, the I-171H. Its that little piece of paper that says, "guys get over here, your daughter is waiting for you".
The processing time for this form varies greatly from state to state. This is a detail that apparently is driving my dear wife insane. Currently our state is working on a 3 month processing schedule. This would be easier to except if other states were not processing the same form in 14 business days. I suppose there are benefits to living in a state that no one wants to immigrate to.

So to occupy my time I've created a little To-Do list.

  1. Continue working on daughters room
  2. Learn Chinese (Yeah good luck)
  3. Go to mail box and look for I-171H
  4. Continue with daughters room
  5. Stare at mailbox
  6. Double check mailbox. "You never know."

Yeah that should keep me busy for 3 months, wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Home Study Interviews - Completed!!

Well after two days and roughly 8 hours of questioning our home study interviews have been completed. Day one consisted of Karen and I together talking with our agent, Lauren, about our personal relationship. Lauren really left no stone unturned and appeared to really be trying to get to know us as people. I originally thought that the process would be intrusive and uncomfortable, but much to Lauren's credit it felt more like a conversation.
We talked about how we arrived at adoption, our expectations for our daughter and how we planned to achieve these expectations. She asked us about our relationship and how we went about resolving conflicts. We discussed our hobbies, how we spend time together and how we've grown as a couple. Additionally there was discussion about the unique dynamics of an interracial family. I must admit these dialogs really opened my eyes and left me with numerous questions.
At the end of day one Lauren suggested that we continue with the remainder of the home study on the following day. Since our initial home study agency fell expediting the process was a welcomed idea. So we agreed to meet at the same time on the following day for our one-on-one interviews.
Day two's feel was a bit different, like separating the accused to verify their stories. My wife decided to go first, so I went off to waste some time on the computer. The questions asked on day two were actually more personal then the previous set of questions. These questions had more to do with our upbringing, family relationships, marital dynamics and personal philosophies on life, religion and child rearing. Individually each of us spent two hours answering questions, although the time seemed to go by much faster.
We have been told to expect a draft copy of our home study in a week or so. Were both looking forward to seeing how outside eyes view our relationship. Lauren said she would have no problem writing a favorable report. I'm just wondering if all our little quarks will make there way into that report.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Documents to the Consulate & Embassy

Well yet another step has been completed, we've brought or sent most of our dossier to the Chinese Consulate/Embassy for authentication. This is the final step for the majority of our dossier paperwork and we are looking forward to having it completed. It really is nice to be able to check items off our list and see that progress is actually being made.
The entire document authentication process strikes me as an experiment in trust or lack thereof. Months ago we began the process of collecting our entire life in paper format. Documents such as birth and marriage certificates, medical reports, police reports and employment letters layed across our dining room table. Each of these document were notarized with their spiffy little seals, all looking so darn official.
It was not until I began the process of authentication that I realized what an "official" document actually looks like. You see, an "official" document in reality consists of between 3 to 5 documents stapled together. With each new layer costing between 2 and 20 dollars and taking between 2 minutes and 20 days to obtain.
It appears that before a document can go to China our local county has to recognize our notary. Then the state must recognize the county who just recognized the notary. However being I live in Maryland, the Secretary of State (Condi Rice) needs to recognize the state that just recognized the county which just other day recognized the notary. After that I can finally go to the Chinese Embassy where they will take several days to recognize Condi who recognized Maryland who recognized the county who recognized the notary who just happened to recognize me.
Once this is all completed you have in your hands one truly official looking document(s). Just a few months ago I thought that the paperchase phase was all about ordering documents. Actually its more about chasing down various county, state, U.S. and Chinese officials to say, "Were the Rowledge's, don't you recognize us?"

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