Saturday, December 31, 2005

NASCAR Family.....

NASCAR. I am a recent fan as far as most “modern day racing” fans are concerned. I joined the NASCAR fever in 1993 when my Dad told me about Ricky Craven. From MAINE. Yes, my home State. I love MAINE (my husband sometimes accuses me of putting Maine ahead of him). I plead the fifth!!! is one place I lurk a lot. I love watching NASCAR races (Cup, Busch, Craftsman Truck). I recently had a message from a Ricky Craven fan, TK, who noticed I had a tag line about adopting. He was very supportive and offered to share information about adopting. Great to know so many nice people on the web. I may never meet them, but have common thoughts, bonding, shared experiences with many of you. Whether adopting, watching sports (yes, I love football too), buying on eBay, shopping and more web shopping… we all can still be close by our experiences whether in person or on the web. Thank you for the shared moments.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Salty Dog

Is He A Southpaw?
Posted by Picasa

Salty Is A Southpaw - I Think?

You may have noticed we haven’t posted in a few days. Alyson even commented on the lack of our posting last night as she was walking away from the laptop and preparing for bed. She thinks it may have something to do with my having the “creeping crud” complete with a sore throat, total congestion and a head that will not fit inside a vehicle preventing me from driving. She may be right. I have spent about 40 of the last 48 hours in bed alternating between “hallucinating” that I’m starting to come out of it only to make shuffling noises as I slink back to the bedroom after returning from letting Salty Dog do the hike the leg thing.

BTW, I have a question about Salty Dog.

I have noticed that Salty Dog always lifts the same leg when watering the plants and hosing down our tires. He always lifts his left leg. I have never seen him lift his right leg it is always the left. So, does that make him a southpaw or his he a right legger? He always supports himself with the right leg but the left is the one always saluting. I’ve decided he’s a southpaw. Alyson is a lefty as is her dad. I’ve detected similar personality traits between the three of them. My FIL, Alyson & Salty Dog is each fiercely loyal to family and each is fiercely independent. I’ll leave it at that. Comparing my FIL and my wife to our dog has already crossed some invisible line that is sure to come back and “bite” me. Excuse me for that – remember, I’m sick…

We are still in the downtime mode of waiting for confirmation from our agency (CCAI) that all is well with our dossier and that we are DTC. Surprising, Aly and I haven’t said much about any of that. I think it’s because we don’t want to jinx ourselves in any way. By not talking about the dossier review we’re not forgetting about what is transpiring in Denver but then again we do not allow it to consume us either. Who am I kidding? We think about it all the time but stay quiet just to give each of us a break from babbling about like idiots…

I’m convinced that once Alyson reads this tonight she will have me take it off. It’s the fever. There’s a good reason why we haven’t posted. The above is proof enough.

PS: I’ll try to grab a shot of Salty Dog doing the “left leg” thing and post it for you soon. Oh, that’s going to make Aly happy. I think I need to lie down again. Later…

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saint Augustine Beach Christmas Dinner

We enjoyed a Christmas dinner with the
cousins in St. Augustine today.
Joan, John, Gloria, Rhonda
& Chris (backrow)

Justin - Christmas Eve 2005

Posted by Picasa Our outdoorsman is building quite
an extensive knife collection.

Parents-To-Be Leaa & Jesse

Posted by Picasa Checking out the new music box.
Now they can play all the old "records"
inherited from the parents!

Kelly & Kilee Shae - Christmas 2005

Posted by Picasa
Mom Kelly & daughter Kilee share a
Christmas Eve moment with
a new baby doll.

Nana Joy & Big Pop

Posted by Picasa

Nana Joy & Big Pop once again contributed to the
Christmas festivities. Nana's helping hands
never stopped and Big Pop helped to put
together trikes and wagons!

With Love From Aunt Leaa & Uncle Jesse

Posted by Picasa

Kilee Shae loves her Uncle Jesse & Aunt Leaa
and her new tent she recieved for
Christmas 2005!

Christmas Eve 2005 - Alyson & Salty Dog

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I love you Aly... (Ok, you too Salty Dog)
Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

A very lucky Florida great-grandaughter now has this neat Flyer (gift from her Maine Great-Grandparents - the very same who gave the thoughtful manhole cover to F. ).

We just finished our Christmas gift exchanging with our family (daughter & son-in-law, son & daughter-in-law plus grandbaby K.) and had a wonderful time. Everyone is so loving and generous. Wish we could all be together more often. How is it that families are so busy within their immediate family and less time for the larger gatherings? Well, I have some opinions.....

Wonder what we will be buying for our new daughter's first Christmas next year? Let us know what were the first gifts you gave to your new daughters.
Have a great family Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Gift - 375 lbs !!!

Our Own Electric Man Hole Cover

Our Own Electric Man Hole Cover

Check this out. Our own personal Electric Man Hole Cover from Portland, Maine.

This is a Christmas gift from my FIL. I love it. This is too cool. Thank You Mr. C…

I’ll give the background as to how this gift came about on a later post. I was totally surprised by this.
Now I need help from my brother W-H in Advance, MO to help me complete the set. The pressure is on… Thank you again Ted. You’re good!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Growth Chart

I have to buy ink today for both printers. One printer gave up the colored ink ghost after printing our Christmas newsletter (yes, we send a newsletter in our Christmas cards and yes I’m sure it brings groans from some and smiles from others but it keeps the peace in my immediate family if you know what I mean). The other printer gave up the black ink ghost after spitting out the double set of dossier copies. I might as well replace the color cartridge while I’m at it, there can’t be much left.

You know the website featuring all the adoption blogs over at China Adoption Stories? It’s a great site and we are listed at the bottom as one of the paperchase families. I’ve wondered over these past few months how great it would feel to be able to move up to the DTC group! And you can always tell the ones who have received their referral because the little one’s China province is listed. How great that must feel. Then you look up at all those families who have gone before you knowing that each one of them has their own story to tell. Aly and I like looking through the older stories to hopefully catch glimpses of the little one’s in a recent photo showing how they have grown.

I like the website. It’s like a growth chart for families who have weaved their way through the adoption maze. Application, Paperchase, DTC, LID, TA, Gotcha Day, Home.

I like the sound of Home. One step at a time, one step at a time… we’ll move up the growth chart.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dossier Review

This is how my brain read the email from our agency.

“critical review”
“If there are no errors”
“If problem-free”

So, how did all you experienced veterans handle the dossier review by your agency as they checked for mistakes?

We are in a preliminary yo-yo state with the emotions. Elated that the dossier is completed (we hope) and worried as we wait for the review approval.

Christmas, Christmas Time Is Here, Time For... Alright now, everybody sing it with me….

Dossier Delivered To Agency

Search Results:

Label/Receipt Number: EQ41 xxxxxxxU S
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 11:12 am on December 20, 2005 in ENGLEWOOD, CO 80112. The item was signed for by D K.

We also received this email from our agency:

In a message dated 12/20/2005 5:24:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:

Dear Ford & Alyson,

Congratulations! Your dossier has arrived at our office! We will complete the check-in and critical review as soon as possible. We will contact you after the critical review is complete and let you know how everything looks. If there are no errors, we will then complete the summary translation and mail your dossier to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA)! If problem-free, your dossier will be at CCAI for no more than a total of 10-15 business days! We will be in touch soon . . .

Have a wonderful day,

Saturday, December 17, 2005

STAPLES And We're Not Talking The Store

These are tense times we are living in…

I’m making copies of all our paperwork that will accompany our dossier to our agency tomorrow. This sounds like a piece of cake. It’s not. In fact, it is very nerve racking; and those who have gone before know quite well my reason for such queasiness.

One word: STAPLES

Oh sneer if you must but I tell you true, these are the times that try men’s souls. Ok, so I borrowed that last line from history but nonetheless – this is gut wrenching. You remember just the other day when Johnny ran into his little “staple” incident? I’m telling you, staples are a deal breaker. Let just one of these little buggers fall out or cause the paper to tear away and you can start adding weeks if not months to the paperchase. This is serious business I am undertaking. I am feeling the pressure.

Excuse me for just a minute…

I’m back. It’s just me, the copier and a refilled glass of Toasted Head 2002 pulling this off right now.

We had dinner with friends last night and the subject of making these particular copies came up in our conversation. My friend K made a suitable suggestion of hiring it out. No can do. Not that I wouldn’t trust someone else to do it (that’s a lie) but should a staple come out just WHO do you think would be blamed? Maybe ME for not doing it to begin with? I think so… And therein lies my lose-lose dilemma; if I screw it up I’m dead meat and if I hired it out and they screwed it up I’m dead meat.

Excuse me for just a minute…

You can never have enough printer ink or Toasted Head 2002 (Cabernet). Now where were we?

Ah yes, STAPLES.

I am somewhat accustomed to pressure. There have been times when I rose to the challenge and times when I gave a new meaning to underachiever. Once, many years ago, I can still recall a basketball game at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament in which every boyhood dream was suddenly thrust upon me. I would be shooting the free throws that would either win the game or lose the game. We were playing Bell City and they called a timeout to “freeze” me before I was to shoot the free throws. I clearly remember thinking that the point of all that was to make me nervous so I would miss the shot. I made it and the next one. We won. And I remember not being nervous. Relieved but not nervous.

In the progression of what I do for a living I also worked under pressure while in the position of a Control Room Operator. I stood (Ok, I sat) for 12 hours at a time monitoring the screens, alarms, whistles and bells that contributed to your lights staying on and thus preventing you from ever having to depend on your computer’s battery backup power supply. The secret was too make seconds appear to stretch into minutes while you made decisions that depending on your actions could result in review and possible disciplinary action. I developed the habit of singing “If I Only Had A Brain” from the Wizard of Oz as a way of helping me to relax and stay calm when things around me were anything but. Hey, it worked for me. As exciting as that job was, I recall being happy to move on to the next position that required me to watch others act calm while they churned inside.

Excuse me for just a minute…

Which brings me back to STAPLES.

How do I properly express that tonight I am nervous about making copies of STAPLED documents without coming off as a complete wimped out, puny spined, chicken livered girly-man? Maybe by just owning up to the fact that this means so very much to us and I want to do it right. And I don’t want to see the disappointment in my wife’s eyes should I do anything to set us back. This is more important than a basketball game and I’m sure your battery backup power supply will work.

One word: STAPLES

Tonight they help determine a timeline as to just when one little girl comes to her forever home. Wish me luck. I need all the STAPLE mojo you can whip on me. Your prayers would be nice.

Excuse me for just one minute...

Us? Anxious? No Way, We're Cool...

Happy Dance. We got the Happy Dance going…

Ok, so the post office closes at noon and even though our mail is delivered later than that we were virtual slaves to staying home so we could sign for our Express Mail package. Provided we even had an Express Mail package being delivered today. So we did the only thing you could do.

We called our post office.

Oh yeah, we were loaded to the gills with patience today. Add to the fact we don’t have a front door bell only helped to made it look like a turkey shoot around here. First Aly and then my head could be seen bobbing up and down looking out the window to see if the mail carrier had pulled up to the house. So I called.

First the lady says, “It hadn’t arrived at their facility and must still be enroute”. Ok, but my search shows it had arrived in JAX and had left that facility – so, “was it enroute to their facility”? She put me on hold. Back again; hang on again, “We’re going to call your carrier because she did leave here with an Express package this morning”. Things were looking up. I went back to being on hold. Back again. “The carrier will be at your house in 5 minutes”. “How about the Express - Is it ours”? “You’ll know in about 5 minutes. Is there anything else we can do for you”? “Nope. Thanks”….

I do a quick change out of my morning pj’s and Aly shouts out – She’s here!

Out the front door I bolted and I can see our package before she gets out of her van. “Looking for this?” she asks. “ We sure are” I responded. She then proceeds to tell me she would have been here sooner but she was too busy being chewed out on the phone for not having delivered an “Express” package. That would be ours… “Yeah, I said, we did just call. Excited and all you know”… "Not a problem” she says and then tells me this is her last month being our carrier. That was a downer because she has been too good at dropping mail off at our front door and not cramming everything into our mailbox. I’m also wondering if what she is really saying is "I’m tired of people like you bugging my bosses and getting my butt called on the carpet". I think it was at this point that I really tried to be mature and maintain eye contact and not look real sheepish.

Anyway, in an effort to create that community family feeling I opened the package in front of her and showed her our last document in the paperchase and how it was written in Chinese and everything. She wished us well and said she was getting out of the postal business and going back to college. Something about no benefits, no retirement, no…

I wished her well and we said our goodbyes and I casually turned and made a mad dash to our front door to show Aly.

We’re cool. That’s us. Laid back and in control. Smooth…. Is it too early to open a bottle of wine? Forget the wine let’s celebrate. It’s mimosa time! Forget the orange juice - Pop the cork!

Hello Denver, we’re soon to be heading your WAY!!!

It's A Waiting Thing

Search Results:

Label/Receipt Number: EQ46 xxxxxxxU S
Status: Enroute
Your item was processed and left our JACKSONVILLE, FL 32229 facility on December 17, 2005. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

It’s a waiting thing. It’s not like we’re looking out the window all the time. I mean, come on, it will get here when it gets here. No big deal. Really, chill…

So where is our AUTHENTICATED I-171H DOCUMENT!!!

Friday, December 16, 2005

It Had To Be Your Singing Along

Search Results:
Label/Receipt Number: EQ46 xxxxxxxU S
Status: Enroute
Your item was processed and left our HOUSTON, TX 77205 facility on December 16, 2005. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

I had to post the above update.

We’re dragging on this end and heading to bed but first I just had to check out Johnny’s blog and what the heck, I decided to do a results search on our Houston document.

Remember singing Tomorrow, Tomorrow this morning? Well it worked but only because you all came through and provided some great background vocals while others hummed a mean tune. Guess I’ll be looking out the window for the special delivery come:


The Name Game

Search Results:

Label/Receipt Number: EQ46 xxxxxxxU S
There is no record of this item.

Ok, its not like I expected to find the really great news telling us our Houston document was on its way back but there is a certain bummed out, blah, grind your teeth, feeling down, cut us a break, maybe tomorrow, I got the blues kind of feeling.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow. You’re only a day a way…
You will have to provide your own music. I did the hard part and sang it for you.

On a domestic note: Leaa called and left a voice message saying she had read the blog and thought it was cute. I take that to mean she doesn’t have a problem with letting the cat out of the bag. They are having a GIRL! This will be granddaughter #2 in the family. Her brother Justin claims first granddaughter honors with Kilee Shae.

Speaking of names.

L & J are starting to get serious about names now. As of last night a strong candidate in the “name that baby” game of life is Alivia Kate. No, that is not a misspelling. It’s Alivia not Olivia. Alyson and I like it. Then again remember, how many people have you ran into with the name Leaa? What the heck, for that matter, how many people have you met with the name Ford. All this to say, when it comes to names, this line of the family seems to have a penchant for names with their own bit of a twist.

Seriously, all of you family members – You know who you are, don’t try to hide. Do this for me right now. Take a peek at the names of your kids and our cousins. Anything stand out? Check the spelling? Heck, check the names. Go ahead, take a look-see. Folks, for a staid, small town, middle of the road, southern/midwestern upbringing, we have some names. I like that about us as a family. We can accept that bit of difference in each other. Names that is.

Got to go. I need to freshen up for an early dental appointment. Gosh how I look forward to mornings like this. There is just something about the sights, sounds and smells of a dental office to kick off your day. I mean, I can barely wipe the smile off my face just knowing I’m getting ready to open wide and gag/gargle/spit while Curt the dentist has a one-way conversation with me. Sorry. Let me run, I don’t want to miss a minute of this…

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Baby Secret

Leaa & Jesse know what they are having… I don’t know if it is still a secret so I’ll keep quiet for now.

I’m good at keeping secrets. No way am I going to tell you what SHE and Jesse are having.

You couldn’t drag it out of me if you flogged me with a wet HEN.

No sir, my mouth is as shut as a LADIES bedroom curtain.

Yep, the last thing I want is to have my own baby GIRL mad at me for spilling the beans.

I’ll let you all know what sex the baby is just as soon as our DAUGHTER & Jesse give us the Ok.

Not a moment sooner…

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Florida Got Its Act Together - Finally!

Logged in to our First Coast Families with Chinese Children yahoo group this morning and found this great message from one of the members.

Good Morning!

Good News!!!!!!!! As of this morning, the Houston Consulate is once again processing Florida documents. They hope to have all documents that have been waiting at the Consulate to be authenticated processed by the end of the week.

Pam E.
ABC International Dossier Services, Inc.

This is great news. Our best hope would be to have our document back no later than the end of next week. If we had sprung the bucks for a service like Pam’s above we could have had it back tomorrow. Live and learn or should that read live & spend.

We’ll be putting our dossier together this weekend to get it ready to ship out to our agency just as soon as we get the Houston document back. I’m afraid it’s asking too much to think we can make a December DTC but miracles do happen…

Waiting On Houston


Label/Receipt Number: EQ46 xxxxxxxxU S
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 10:59 am on December 12, 2005 in HOUSTON, TX 77006. The item was signed for by Y WEI.

Now we sit and wait for the state of Florida to make things right with the Chinese Embassy in Houston by sending them the credentials of our "new" Sec. of State. Until that is done the Houston embassy is and will not act on documents from Florida families (only).

Time keeps ticking, ticking into the future....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's On To Houston - BUT...

I stoled from a couple’s blogsite that live in our area. (If they are reading this I can only hope they don’t mind).

It would appear that we each are very close together on our paperchase timelines and each have documents that need to be authenticated in Houston. This couple had received what was not the greatest news to hear but certainly very timely and valuable information to have and shared it on their blogsite. We will be adding their blog to our blog roll very soon.

Even with this bit of yucky news, I zipped down to the post office this morning and did our latest go around of Express Mailers. Our I-171H document will hit Houston Monday and we can only hope that the little snafu referenced below will have been corrected.

Ah, the highs, the lows, the pains and the gains of the ever encompassing Paperchase…

Hi All!

Have some news today, well, we got it the other day...We received an email message from one of our FCC yahoo groups regarding the Secretary of State. This is what the email said:

"On November 21, Glenda Hood resigned as the Florida Sec of State. Governor Bush appointed Deputy Sec David Mann as her temporary replacement. As a result of this appointment, all documents receiving state certifications after November 21 now bear the signature of David Mann. The Houston Chinese Consulate has not recd the credentials package for the newly appointed Sec of State and as aresult, is refusing to process/authenticate any documents bearing his signature.This is causing a huge back log of documents at the Consulate for Florida families.

I contacted the Florida Sec of State today and spoke with a Supervisor in the Certifications Unit to inquire about the situation and they were of no help whatsoever and have no idea whether David Mann will continue to remain in office or if a new appointment will be made by Governor Bush. I have also contacted the Governor's office requesting immediate action to this situation and bringing to their attention that hundreds of families are being affected by this lapse in communication between the Florida Sec of State and the Houston Chinese Consulate.

I have not recd a response from the Governor's office as of this posting. You need to be aware that if you are currently in possession of documents bearing the signature of David Mann, the Houston Consulate will not process your documents until this situation is resolved."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Last Document To Houston

The I-171H certified document is back from Tallahassee. Tomorrow morning I’ll head off to the post office and send it on its way to Houston to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy.

We are getting close. This may (should) be our last document to Houston. Next stop will be Denver with every document we have accumulated from our Paperchase. We will be sending the originals (with copies) and keep a copy of everything for ourselves as well.

Hopefully we go DTC and LID in January. Then we wait for our referral and wait and wait and …

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tallahassee Magic Deed Complete

Search Results

Label/Receipt Number: EQ25 xxxxxxxU S
Status: Enroute

Your item was processed and left our TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301 facility on December 07, 2005. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

It looks as though Tallahassee has performed their magic of certifying. Now it’s on to Houston for the authentication by the Chinese Embassy. Once back from Houston we will bundle up all our documents (along with a copy) and off they will go to our agency in Denver for the hoped for DTC.

We’ve decided to grab some “new” photos for our dossier so our daughter Leaa is coming up Saturday to perform her own bit of photographic magic on the two of us. Leaa D loves to do B&W shoots and does her own developing. We’ll do both Color and B&W and see what happens…

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ever Changing Blog Roll

We’ve updated the blog roll of sites we frequent. As you have figured out by now we do this on a fairly regular basis. You may want to bookmark some of your favorites, as we can’t guarantee they will be there the next time you log back onto our site.

I did drop one blog recently for a purely personal reason. I guess I am more thin skinned than I thought because it bothered me more than it probably should have. A recent post on this particular blog took a pretty ugly shot at some people and towns in an area of the country I call home.

It seems the author of the post will be accompanying her husband to a company Christmas party made up primarily of non-salaried “plant” people in what she considers a remote, backward part of the country. To say the least, she wasn’t too keen on having to fly out and rub shoulders with them.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Tallahassee One Last Time


Label/Receipt Number: EQ25 XXXXXXX US
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 6:55 am on December 02, 2005 in TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314 to SEC STATE BOX 6327. The item was signed for by J SHIVER.

Yes! We get this document back and then ship it on to Houston for authentication and the paperchase COULD be completed. We are so ready for that…

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Forget The First Try Everytime

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

Label/Receipt Number: EQ25 xxxxxxxU S
Status: Notice Left
We attempted to deliver your item at 8:25 am on December 01, 2005 in TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314 and a notice was left. A second delivery attempt will be made. If unsuccessful, we will hold it for five business days and then it will be returned to the sender. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

We have never had a document sent to Tallahassee signed for on the first day of attempted delivery. Never.

Now for the good news of the day.

Alyson received a reply from our agency with regards to a procedural concern we had with a couple of photocopied paperchase documents. Alas – the good news!!!

Hi Alyson,
Don’t worry! ( It sounds like you did both parts correctly! For the other 171H’s, you’ll just take one of them with you when you go to China. The others you can just put in a spot for safekeeping. Hope this helps! Let me know if you need anything else.

Have a great rest of the day!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I-171H Is Notarized & In The Mail!

Mission Accomplished – The newly notarized I-171H photocopy is on its way to Tallahassee. My guess is we have it back by this time next week and then we ship it off to Houston to be authenticated.

Aly emailed our agency tonight with an inquiry regarding the notarization on a couple of photocopy documents. To keep it short – we have a nagging concern that we may have to perform a “redo”. We don’t know that there is a problem but we are trying to brace ourselves for the possible delay it will cost us in completing our dossier should the agency tell us we must push a couple of the documents back through the system. I’ve decided to stay positive and wait for a favorable review – if not, we’ll make it right and push on…

(Thinking Positive)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Just a little bit closer

Two more pieces of good news today! The 11 documents we had sent to be authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in Houston arrived back today. In addition to that bit of good news, I found a lady at work that can notarize our I-171H form so we can begin the last go around of certification and authentication.

I am hoping to Express Mail the I-171H form tomorrow once it is notarized. Provided all goes well we could have everything to our agency by mid December, which means our DTC & LID dates will more likely than not be in January.

Doing a little guesswork projecting:
A 9-month wait for referral will put us into September (add or subtract a month). Following the referral, the travel authorization should take an additional 6-8 weeks; which lines us up for a November 2006 trip to China for Alyzabeth An.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It is Monday - And we are Lost!

We received our I-171H form last Wednesday and by taking time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays we have not started the next step. The I-171H form needs to be notarized, certified then authenticated in Houston. This is the very last piece of the paper chase for us and we did nothing today! Our regular notary is out of town visiting family and so here we sit. Do you think we planned this, knowing she would be out of town and find a "substitute"? No! It just dawned on us to get our fannies in gear. So tomorrow we will find another notary. Also, I need to send a question to our agency - CCAI. We received four "original" I-171 forms and we are supposed to take the original with us to China and have a copy of the original notarized. So does it make a difference having a copy when we have four originals? Does anyone know the answer? All I can say is at least it is almost over!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Paperchase is nearing its end...

This was a HUGE Day – HUGE, as in like - LARGE! Today we received our I-171H form!

What a feeling to see the boxes checked:

1.Your advance processing application has been forwarded to the American Consulate or Embassy at Guangzhou, China.

2.Your application has been approved for one child or twins.

This is our last document to be processed in our Paperchase. Can you tell we are excited? Unreal… This calls for a good red. A very dry, very good red. Pull the cork Aly!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Houston - The Documents Have Landed!

Search Results

Label/Receipt Number: EQ XX0XXXXXXX US
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 9:15 am on November 21, 2005 in HOUSTON, TX 77006.
The item was signed for by Y WEI

Saturday, November 19, 2005

National Adoption Day

Some of you may know that we support and actively seek donations to the Florida United Methodist Children's Home. The majority of the children there are re-introduced back to their families. It is a wonderful "home-like" atmosphere with plenty of services to help the families be re-united. Those children who are unable to go back to their families stay at the home and learn skills to help them transition to being an independent adult after high school. If you are interested, go to For those children being officially adopted - Happy Adoption Day!! Congratulations to those who have adopted children. We have room to love as many as we can - worldwide. Thank you for adopting our kids!

UPS Don't Fail Us Now

Just returned from the Post Office. Our documents to be authenticated should arrive at the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas by 3 PM Monday, November 21.

(For those families also in the paperchase)
Our damage for today:

11 Documents x $20 Each = $220.00
Processing Fee = $5.00
Money Order = $0.90
2 Express Mailers = $27.30

Total: $253.20

Alyson is gathering up parts of our dossier to fax to our agency in Denver for a review. If anything is not quite right we want to know now; to give ourselves a jump on getting it taken care of.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Next Stop - HOUSTON!

Our next batch of Certified documents ready to be Express Mailed to the Chinese Embassy in Houston, Texas...

Sunday, November 13, 2005


(Blog has yet to be repaired – we are backing everything up in preparation for a “Hail Mary” fix under the able direction of my mentor Johnny)…

The paperchase continues. The Florida Secretary of State’s office has returned our ten documents sent some days ago, all of which are now Certified and ready to be Authenticated.

Tomorrow morning I’ll take these 10 documents along with another one we have been holding and Express Mail them to the Chinese Embassy in Houston, Texas to be Authenticated. Hopefully, the Thanksgiving holidays will not slow the paperchase momentum too much. We are still hoping for our I-171H form to show up by the end of this month. Once the I-171H is Authenticated, we will bundle up our complete dossier and ship it to our agency in Denver, Colorado for final inspection and preparation for DTC. We still are hoping against all hope to be DTC in December. Hey, we like to think dreams come true…

Authenticate?? LID? DTC? What ???

Authenticate? LID? DTC? What are you talking about?

Since we are in this crazy paperchase and keep making references to the steps it takes to get the paper work “China Perfect” I thought I would post some explanations. Also, my Mom asked what did it all mean so that’s reason enough for me to do it!

All dossier documents pretty much have to be notarized. Documents that are sent from the State of origination (birth, marriage, etc.) are already considered notarized due to the State issuing the document. Documents not notarized at the State level can be notarized locally. Once all our documents are deemed “notarized”, we move to the next step, which is having the notarized documents “certified”.

Depending on the document origination, the appropriate Secretary of State must “certify” the documents where the notary is registered. The Secretary of State will verify that the notary whose name appears on the document is a true, current and legal Notary in that state by attaching a certification page to each document (you would be surprised how fancy some of these “certified” documents come back).

Lastly, the documents are sent to the Chinese Embassy/Consulate that serves that particular state. The Embassy/Consulate will verify the authenticity of the Secretary of State’s signature and seal by attaching an additional certificate with a red ink seal and in Chinese writing. China has established this procedure as otherwise, with so many documents being submitted with each dossier, they would not be able to track them with so many state and government bodies in the USA.

Since my birth certificate was from Maine, I had to have it “certified” by the Maine Secretary of State while Ford’s was “certified” in Missouri. The Republic of China then “authenticates” the certificate in the regional consulate, which for me was New York for Maine and Ford’s had to go to Chicago. Our documents that originated in Florida are “certified” in Florida, and then sent to Houston, Texas for authentication.

Clear? Don’t worry if you answered no, we find ourselves going in circles with either blank or the wild beast look in our eyes. It can be maddening to say the least. Did I mention time consuming? All of this takes time and you are always worried that the paper work will be lost!

Here are other common terms used during the international adoption process:

DTC: This means your completed paperwork, your “dossier”, is Dossier To China. This occurs when your adoption agency has reviewed all your documents, translated all to Chinese and mailed it (the dossier) to China.
LID: This is your Logged In Date with China; they have received the dossier and are officially now matching you with your daughter. This is the “pregnancy” time. You are going to get your daughter but you are going to have to wait. You can rest assured it is going to be a girl but that is it. Period. No pictures. Nothing. You wait for the match.
Referral: This is when you are officially notified that your daughter has been chosen. We will receive a picture(s) along with limited information about her. We will get her weight and height at some given age, province where she was born (not a sure thing, they normally will use the province of the orphanage she is residing in) and the name she was given at the orphanage. Generally there is a small write up telling you a little about her personality. The information is limited. Remember, she was abandoned and as abandonment is illegal in China very little information is known. If you are lucky the biological mother may have pinned a note referencing the date she was born (more about the biological mothers in a later post; you cannot believe what these brave woman went through to give birth to these baby girls).
TA: Means Travel Authorization has been officially approved by China for you to come to their country to get your daughter. This follows the referral and begins the true meltdown for myself & Ford as we now have the actual dates we will be traveling and the date our daughter will be placed in our arms. We will not be normal during this time. Please understand and try to ignore our most obvious signs of total parents-to-be dinginess.

So, how long does all this take? Well, since you asked…

The Paperchase can take as little as 3 months or as long as a year. In most cases, you can reasonably expect about 6 months.

The time between DTC to LID can be a matter of a few days to a month.

The timeline between LID to Referral is presently taking @ 9 months (the pregnancy period). This timeline was running around 5-6 months and then crept up to 7 months. This time increase is driving families already LID crazy while waiting for the “stork to fly”. Waiting for the stork to fly is a term used to denote when the “matching” by the official adoption agency in China (CCAA) sends the monthly “matches” (referrals) to all the adoption agencies in the United States.

The timeline between receiving Referral and the actual time you travel to China is approximately 6 weeks, including receiving your TA.

The average time spent in China from arrival to departure averages 2 weeks. Once our daughter touches American soil she is officially recognized as an American citizen.

So we are almost complete with the paper chase and had hoped to be DTC by the end of December. We probably won’t make it, so January is more realistic. We began the paper chase in the middle of July so the expected traveling to China will be nearer to October 2006 (being realistic again; we had hoped for sooner).
We would love to hear about your adoption experiences and how you kept sane during the waiting period; also we are game to talk about our home States, NASCAR, Football, fishing, best toys for kids and anything else on your mind. Just sign up with blogspot and keep in touch!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Ford!!!

Happy Birthday, Ford! Another Day closer to having Lizzy. Love you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Early Happy Birthday To DH

The time is passing quickly; remember celebrating the BIG 50? Key West was fun. I can't wait to celebrate with you on your 55th as we should have Lizzy by then and birthdays will be so much fun. Family gatherings will be great with Kilee, Baby C and Lizzy (plus all the adults). Love to you and may you have a 54th year full of fun, love, hugs, happiness, prosperity and success. Love from "you know who".

6:45 AM - Go Figure!?!

Track & Confirm
Search Results

Label/Receipt Number: EQ25 XXXX XX8U S Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 6:45 am on November 10, 2005 in TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314 to SEC STATE BOX 6327. The item was signed for by TC.

The papers made it. YES! One step at a time…

BTW: Cousin Stephanie & Butch are getting married tomorrow in Burnt Corn, Alabama.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's The Little Things

It's the little things that will get you every time. So I checked my express mail today to see what time our papers were delivered in Tallahassee. USPS said it would be there no later than noon today and they were right - they tried to deliver at 08:24 this morning. One problem however, no one was there at that hour and so they left a notice that a couple of more attempts would be made and then if no luck - they would mail it back to me. Thanks. I feel better (not).

I'll check again tomorrow and if still no delivery, then I'll call the Secretary of State's office and try to work something out since Friday is a holiday and they will be CLOSED!

Still, life is good. It's bedtime. Goodnight...

BTW: Today is my brother Bill’s birthday. Happy Birthday #2. Love you, #3

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tallahassee Bound

10 documents are in the mail headed to the Florida Secretary of State, International Affairs. The grand total today came to $128.20 for the document fees and 2 express mail packets to get the paperwork to Tallahassee and back to us.

A not so funny thing about shipping your paperwork out – it doesn’t matter if you are using UPS, FedEx or the USPS; the resulting feeling once those papers leave your hands is the same. I could get fancy here but the word that best describes it is FEAR. You have spent so much time and energy gathering everything together. Always checking and double-checking. Reading and re-reading instructions. Always wondering if you have forgotten something. Have you forgot to sign something properly? It never stops.

And then you hand it over and pray. Please don’t lose it. The setback would be unimaginable. We have read ugly tales about just such happenings. Ugly tales…

BTW: Today is Leaa & Jesse’s wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Express Mail Time Once Again

Quick update on today’s paperchase activities – the roll continues…

We made it over to the USCIS office this afternoon in hopes of doing the fingerprint thing so as to start the clock running on the I-171H form. I practically dragged Aly out of her office, which did not sit well with her. She kept saying we had plenty of time to get there, that she had tons of work to do, etc. All of it true. Still, the lady is unbelievably loyal to her employer. If you could hire one person to work for you that would give you everything and more – you would be so fortunate to hire Alyson…

So off we dashed through beautiful downtown Jacksonville traffic with fingerprint paperwork in hand, along with appropriate forms of identification of course. Long story short: We were the last ones allowed in the building and the absolute last ones to be called to the back to do the finger thing, which will surely uncover our past heinous lives, of this I am certain.

Then it was off to meet up with S at our church to notarize 10 documents. Tomorrow we will “express mail” the newly notarized documents to Tallahassee to be certified (at $10 a document & returned express mail at our expense) and then repeat the above by mailing the now certified documents to the Chinese consulate in Houston to be authenticated and then mail the now authenticated documents on to CCAI in Denver.

Then we wait patiently for the I-171H to come back from the Department of Justice (hoping for a 3 week turnaround), repeat the process above and wait for CCAI to tell us every I is dotted and every T is crossed and we are DTC.

This is where I really want to stay positive. This is where I do not want to think about any of these documents getting lost in the mail. This is where we assume the fetal position, cross our fingers, hold our breaths and pray – a lot.

Remember Steven Wright? Remember that line he had about leaning back in your chair and the feeling you got just as you were about to fall over backwards? Remember him saying he felt that way all the time?

We know that feeling…

Dig A Little Deeper - Save A Little Harder

USCIS Fee Increase
CCAI has received confirmation from Immigration (USCIS) their fees will increase effective October 26, 2005.
Applications/petitions, mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed, on or after this date will require the new fee.
New Fees
I-600 or I-600A - $545.00
I-824 - $200.00
Fingerprinting - $70.00 (per person to be printed), this includes the re-fingerprinting procedure.
N-600 - $255.00

Saturday, November 05, 2005

And The PaperChase Moves Forward

After all is said and done it’s been a very good week… Ok, it’s been a great week.
(Johnny: Tonight’s post brought to you by a 2002 Corvo via Sicily)

Let’s begin with the Doctor’s letter that I had to have RIGHT this time. You hate to complain; you really, really do because you want to keep up a positive spirit along with a good game face when you’re battling through this paperchase thing. It is a looong road from beginning to end and after reading countless adoption blogs it’s easy to see that the “wait” between the Logged In Date and the Referral Day is the absolute worse. The frustrating days we are experiencing getting our dossier together takes a huge backseat to those languishing in that excruciating time warp. So, here’s to being positive…

THEY GOT THE LETTER RIGHT! Is that shouting? I’m guess it is. What a relief to walk out of the Doctor’s office and to be able to open the car door and casually hand the letter to Aly like it was no big deal. No sweat. Knew it would be right all along. Who was worried? This time they followed the sample provided by CCAI to the letter. Pun intended. It was great, we had lost time with this miscue and you don’t make time up in the paperchase. You can lose time. You don’t gain time.

Next up was the Guardian Letter from M and M. How’s this for timing? If you remember, they had flown in to Miami to catch a Canes football game and then drove 5 hours north to spend a few days with us. They typed the letter up while visiting and presented it to us. What a gift, one more valuable piece of paper now in our possession. We were on a roll. BTW, here’s a shout of Thank You to the two of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they worried all the way back to Miami wondering just what they had gotten themselves into. M, if you’re reading this – don’t worry, I’m taking my Lizzy pill daily. Honest, really I am.

And then came last night. Friday was a beautiful day in the chronicles of the paperchase for Alyzabeth.

We met for dinner with some dear friends at a new Spanish restaurant we had spied some time back but had never made time to try. This was not one of those knock off chains or bistro fancy places. We’re talking hole in the wall. It looked authentic and our friends, K & P, are the adventurous type and the perfect couple to give things a go. Because of a late business meeting and end of the week planning we were not able to hook up with close friends J & C visiting from Tennessee (when you guys get back down here again you have to stay with us and meet K & P).

Quick restaurant review: Mainly a tapas menu. The food was very good and the service was genuine and friendly. We felt as though we were hidden away in some small outdoor café in Spain. We’re going back. It’s a keeper until others discover it…

So, why was Friday night such a hit, other than the food? We got to meet Lily and her parents, C & M.

The weather was great. One of those hoped for Florida nights where if you’re sitting outside wearing short sleeves you almost need a light jacket. The humidity was nil and the air almost passed for crisp. So, we’re sitting outside enjoying this rarity of weather while most folks are closed up inside when this couple slides in to a table just across from us. Then I started staring. Ok, not staring-staring but it was obvious I had my attention focused on them. The guy looks over and makes eye contact and I had to ask: “What’s her name? She is just too cute.” And that is how we all met Lily. Lily’s mom looked over and smiled and said: “She looks just like us don’t you think”? We all smiled on that one…

This beautiful little girl named Lily who as it turns out had just celebrated her 2nd month as an American citizen captured each of us. The parents could not have been more outgoing and open in sharing their very recent adoption experiences. We ended up exchanging email addresses and we made a promise to contact them with any questions we may have as we continue on our way duplicating their journey. It was awesome. K & P knew exactly what was going through our minds and went out of their way to help us enjoy the evening being captivated by Lily and meeting two people who knew first hand what we were going through and what was ultimately coming our way. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces or Lily’s!

We all finally finished our dinners (Lily’s parent’s were great at explaining what each dish was and which ones we “had to try”) and said are goodbyes. It was past 9 and we still hadn’t been home yet. It had been a long day but we knew that for our faithful canine companion “Salty Dog” it had been an even longer day.

And this is where we got the icing on the cake for what had already been a great week and a fantastic day. In our mailbox was a letter from the US Department of Justice instructing us to call to schedule our FINGERPRINT appointments. Huge. Huge. Huge. We plan to call Monday and get the earliest appointment available so we can get that coveted I-171H form. What a week. A great week. Work was a pain but this was good, very good…

We spent most of this morning sorting out exactly what we still needed to get done. What still needed certified? What still needed authenticated? Were we missing anything? Thank goodness Aly has organization skills. We’re getting closer to a fingers crossed goal of being DTC by the end of December. It’s a stretch but we just may make it… Everything you read recently says the timeline between LID to Referral has grown to 8-9 months putting us in China sometime late fall of 2006. That’s fine. Sooner would be better but at this point we just want to stay in the race. One step at a time. We’ll make it…

This is starting to sound a lot like the “little train that could”….

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kilee Shae

Our GD Kilee Shae

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Halloween 2005!

Happy Halloween Past!

If last night was any indication of what is to come once Alyzabeth is here then we have some fun, fun, fun, coming our way next year! Not to mention – tired, tired, tired!

My sister Mia is visiting along with her husband Mike and children Matt, Michael, & Madison. They flew in to Miami earlier this week so Mike and Matt could attend a University of Miami football game. The “Canes” won so smiles abound (I need to add here that the Gators also won this past weekend, beating the Georgia Bulldogs in a game commonly referred to as the “worlds largest outdoor cocktail party”.) Go Gators!

I digress – back to Halloween. My sister is HUGE into celebrating any holiday that Hallmark has designed a card for. She comes by this naturally – Mia and mom were well known for decorating everything including the dogs to give a home that “festive” look and feel. It was always a spirit raiser to be sure. So, it was no surprise that she wanted to celebrate Halloween while the kids were here in Florida. This was also to be Madison’s first Halloween.

No problem - we all loaded up and headed south to our daughter's home in Palatka, Florida. Leaa D & husband Jesse are expecting their first born in April. Some of Leaa’s teacher friends told her that the place to go was a local church that hosted a “trunk or treat” festival. Aly and I talked this over with Mia and Mike and the decision was a GO! Part 1 of the great Halloween Boo Bash was set. Next came finalizing plans for Part 2 of the 2005 Halloween Boo Bash with our son Justin, who also lives in Palatka. For Justin and Kelly this would mark our granddaughter’s second time out trick or treating and they had an idea about what we needed to do!

Last week we loaded up our trailer and took down some lawn equipment and a pressure washer for Justin and Kelly to use. We left the trailer with them. It was during that time that Kelly envisioned the trailer as making a great HALLOWEEN HAY RIDE for the kids.

I admit I was more than a little nervous about the hay ride thing. With kids and adults hanging off a trailer being towed behind the truck; creeping ever so slowly through neighborhoods swarming with big kids and itty bitty teeny weenie kids, I kept having this horrible nightmare of hearing “squish”.

Let me tell you, things went great. The church festival was a hoot. They were serving a sit-down dinner out on the church grounds. They had a stage with music and tons of games for the kids everywhere. The neatest thing however, had to be the “trunk or treat” thing. It was awesome. A bunch of the church members had backed in their cars and trucks in a huge circle around the activities and on a cue from the stage the kids all lines up and began trunk or treating. The car trunk lids were open and truck tailgates were down and the whole thing was just so well organized. It was nice not having to worry about the kids running out into the road and you felt more relieved about not having to worry about “bad things” in the candy. It was great. Thanks Leaa D…

Then we headed over to Justin and Kelly’s and loaded up for the Hay Ride! By this time it was dark and I kept imagining every horrible thing that could go wrong – everything from being ran over from behind to kids falling off under the wheels. You name it I was worrying about it.

Justin and Kelly had the trailer decorated with the hay bales and a glowing pumpkin, we hooked up to the truck and off we went with Justin following behind us for “protection”. Folks, things could not have gone any better. The neighborhood Justin and Kelly picked out was perfect. Everyone who walked by kept pointing at the “hay ride trailer” and saying what a great idea it was. Little kids wanted to climb on for rides. (Sorry, we had to say no).

We crept up and down the streets with the kids and adults climbing off and on so they could run up to a group of homes and then it was on down the street to the next candy tart & chocolate bar we would go. The kids had fun, the parents had fun, the grandparents had fun and NO ONE GOT RAN OVER! (Ok – so I worried too much, I confess). Thanks Justin & Kelly…

Needless to say, the kids were all tired along with the grown-ups by the time we got back to Justin and Kelly’s place. I’m sure the kids slept well last night, I know we certainly did. Something tells me that as the “candy sugar rush” kicks in, a lot of hyper kids will be the norm for the rest of this week!

Happy Halloween Past Everyone !!!

Boo Bash 2005 With GD Kilee

Granddaughter: Kilee Shae
Halloween Boo Bash 2005

Boo Bash 2005

Halloween Boo Bash 2005
Front Row: Madison & Michael
Back Row: Mia, Mike & Matt

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thoughts On Johnny's Blog

*Note to Johnny: As you read this – please know that the pure sulfur enriched waters of the Florida aquifer bring these thoughts to blog.

Actually, I (we) would much prefer a dry red such as Toasted Head but we have made the decision not to consume any alcoholic beverages on Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s & Thursday’s. We are however, good to go on any other day of the week. I should fess up right now and tell you that we do refer to the first day of the week as Champagne Sunday for the reason most obvious in the title description. However, reds are our favorite, especially those rich in tannins and as dry as a desert breeze. And cheap. Cheap ranks high…

Enough already, (as I sip the cool natural waters of Florida with the distinctive boil eggs bouquet). I am trying to type out some thoughts on the language, culture and the melting pot thread you have going over on your blog

I had commented to you that the First Coast Families with Chinese Children are very active in our area. We got an email a couple of weeks ago announcing that language classes were forming up once again and to get you and your child signed up if you was of a mind too. Nothing hard sell. Just a notice, more of a friendly announcement. Which got Aly and I thinking more on the subject of how much of our daughter’s native culture, which she will know nothing of, do we foster (uh, how bout’ we use the word shepherd) into her life?

Quite frankly, we don’t know. Egad! Admitting to not having the answers to all of life’s questions…. Shame and ruin are sure to follow. Seriously though, our first thoughts were to jump on it as soon as we got Alyzabeth and to do it as a family. And this thought hit us, by doing the class thing, she would get to meet and interact with other children with similar beginning of life experiences. Why, we could see it plainly – she would be making a special, unique bond with some other little girl that would almost certainly end with each of them serving as the other’s bridesmaid 20+ years down the road!

OK – maybe not that far but you get the drift. We also thought that by our being a member of this cultural adoptive support group (read that as other folks who have adopted from China) it would serve as a virtual cornucopia of insights, tips, tricks and overall “if you remember one thing I’m telling ya, remember this” advice team of experts. And then these thoughts drifted in…

We hate joining things we know we will not continue with. First of all, because it makes you feel lousy for not doing something you said you were going to do. (I still plan to lose that extra little 100 pounds) We have the excuses – we get up each morning at 4am, we get home on the good days around 7pm and the phone can ring at anytime of the night or weekend and its back to that which puts money in our bank account. Which, without the check – no adoption. *Disclaimer Notice: Before the Dr. Laura crowd starts calling for our heads, we are making arrangements to have one of us home with Alyzabeth (and by the way, we admit to listening to Dr. Laura. We don’t always agree with her but that comes as a surprise?) I mean come on, how long do you think the Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday wine free days are going to last? We have had wine with our dinners for as long as I can remember. So far, neither of us has shown signs of needing intervention or a membership in AA. Of course, if you don’t drink, it is much like if you don’t smoke; I don’t therefore you shouldn’t. But I ramble, back to the language, culture and melting pot.

Will we acknowledge and promote Chinese culture in our home? Yes. The same as we do for any and all other cultures that we have either an interest in or a connection to. Still, as stated in our opening introduction on our blog – Alyzabeth is to become an American with Chinese ancestry. First and foremost she will be an American. Please, please simmer down - those of you wondering if the flag waving is slapping me in the face. We love our country; we love our diverse makeup that makes us uniquely American while easily embracing the richness and individual patriotism found in folks from each country throughout this world. Ours included.

So, are we signing up for Chinese immersion classes?

We were thinking more about how we plan to fund her prepaid college tuition plan. How big a bite the medical insurance deductible is going to be and whose check is it coming out of? Are we going to put her in St. Johns Country Day School (private) or save the big bucks and go the public route? How much extra term life insurance do we pick up in case we check out before she gets out of college and meets Mr. Perfect? Oh, and the big one staring at us down the road – Do we spring for the upgrade and get the business class seats on the plane going over and back or just back or not at all? Do we buy 3 seats or just 2?

I’m thinking business upgrade with 3 seats coming back. And American Sign Language. My sister teaches American Sign Language and taught each of her children how to communicate what they needed before they could even speak. Unreal – it works. Learn Chinese or do the American Sign Language thing?

Got to go. It’s time for our American Sign Language flash card study session…(now where is that Toasted Head bottle from last Monday?)

Monday, October 24, 2005

The White Swan - The Rest Of The Story

On our 20th Wedding Anniversary I presented my wife with an ivory necklace of two swans intertwined. For those of you who have read our journal you will recall the significance of a particular swan in our ongoing efforts to adopt Alyzabeth. With that as a background, I began looking for an anniversary gift that had a “special meaning” for the two of us. As easy as that sounds, finding a necklace or bracelet of a swan proved to be anything but. I was quickly running out of time to find such a gift. Alyson and I were soon to be leaving for Maine to celebrate a series of family events, a mix of anniversaries and birthdays. I simply was not finding the “swan” locally and the timeline to buy online was slipping away since it would have to be mailed and received before we left for Maine. I was down to pretty much my last day to either find the swan or forget it.

Then this happened. I arose early before Alyson was up and typed in swan – ivory – necklace on the infamous Google search. I must have had done this two dozen or more times in the previous days with nothing coming back that even remotely struck me as the “gift” for Aly. Until that morning, the last morning.

There in front of my eyes was the necklace of two swans intertwined. As gooney as this may sound – to me, those two swans represented Aly and myself. We were the two intertwined swans. We had received our “sign” in the form of a swan and this necklace was to serve as our permanent reminder of what He had done for us. I immediately emailed the Jewelry store with my offer to purchase along with a short note explaining briefly that it was a gift for my wife for our 20th anniversary and that the swan carried significance regarding our adoption hopes of an infant baby girl from China.

Below is the reply I received from George, who along with his wife, own the jewelry store that sold me the necklace. I copied this letter and put it in the box containing the necklace and gave it to Aly while attending the celebrations in Maine. The necklace and this letter from George will always be remembered and treasured. Aly was looking at this letter today and asked if this was something we could share in our journal. Why not… We shared the story of our swan – and as Paul Harvey would say – and now you know the rest of the story.

Our Swan Story; The Rest of the Story

Hi Ford,

This is George from J Jewels. I really felt compelled to write you this email in regard to the Ivory Swan necklace that you are purchasing.

A big part of my life is dedicated to the Lord, I do ministry work and I have a very close relationship with Jesus. About a week ago I listed this necklace on Ebay, it had been at auction for about 4 1/2 days on a five-day auction. That night before the necklace was to end, on my way to bed I always start to pray as I enter my bedroom and ask the Lord where he would like me to read in the Bible. Yes, I do hear Him speak to me in my Spirit all the time but for some reason lately I had felt Him distanced from me and I did not feel His presence as strong as I normally do, I guess I was going through a “Spiritual Valley if you can relate to that. As I was going to bed I cried out to God and asked Him "please speak to me tonight God and let me read with some understanding and let me absorb whatever it is that You would like to speak to me." I heard Him softly speak to me to read the Book of Amos. So I open my Bible and started to read along. I got to verse 15 in chapter 3 and it read: "I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house. The houses of Ivory shall perish, and the great houses will have an end. Says The Lord.

This scripture for some reason jumped off the page at me, and to tell you the truth I still do not understand the meaning. But the next day when I awoke I came out to check my emails and found that Ebay had canceled my listing on this necklace because they said I used the words "Elephant Tusk Ivory" and that it was not appropriate to sell on Ebay. I was quite confused, I didn't really understand what or why this happened, and also because there were about 1200 other items for sale on eBay that were made out of elephant tusk.

And then again I heard the Lord speak to me out of the blue and He said to me "It was I who canceled this listing off Ebay". Many times I do not understand how He works but I try and do as He instructs me the best I know how. I knew there was a significant reason this happened but couldn't figure it out. Then I had to laugh to the Lord and say.... "Lord I ask you to let me read with understanding, but Lord I don't understand any of this." So I listed this necklace onto my shop’s business site.

When I read your email, and saw your offer to purchase, and that you are adopting a little girl from China, and that this was going to be for your wife on your 20th Anniversary... I welled up with tears. I know, that I know, that I know that the Lord did all of this so that you get this Necklace. You must be very special to God and He definitely has your interest and your steps at hand. I felt His presence very strong; this is truly a wonderful blessing. God is going to honor you greatly, and I pray that he renews your marriage with a youthful spring, and that this little girl will bring great blessing, and deeper love to you and your wife. I am so blessed to have been a part of this. I can't stress to you how much for certain I know that He loves you and your household. May He continue to bless you. A modern day miracle for sure. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Thank you so much. A very astounding moment.
George & Evelyn @ J Jewels

Sunday, October 23, 2005

USCIS Second Filing Mailed

One additional step towards China has been checked off. Last night we logged on to our agencies website to see if anything on our personal timeline had changed and lo and behold – we had an UPDATE. The following two items now have check marks in the boxes:

  • USCIS Second Filing information received at CCAI:

  • USCIS Second Filing information mailed to USCIS:

I’m positive Alyson knows exactly what happens next but I’m going to have to go back to our dossier guide and catch up with where we are and where we go next in the paperchase. I was already informed this morning that an afternoon review of our progress is in order (just another reason I need to get up to speed).

It is amazing how uplifting to the old spirit it becomes to see something as simple as two checked boxes on your timeline. We both went to bed last night with smiles on our faces. We feel as though we have been putting together one of those picture puzzles you have layed out on one of your tables and for the life of you it seems you work on it but the picture doesn’t seem to be any closer to being finished than when you first started. And started seems like a long time ago…

Friday, October 21, 2005

Catching Lightening Bugs

I was wondering. How would Americans feel if the rest of the world were adopting our kids? Happy? Indifferent? Mad? Would you feel something or nothing at all?

These weird little thoughts flutter around in my head like lightening bugs, flashing on and off except I don’t have a jar with holes cut in the lid to keep them in. I’m at that point where I find sticky note reminders, already forgotten; in the back pockets of my pants emptied out before putting them in the dirty clothes hamper. Years ago I searched frantically for my car keys sure I was going to be late for work before remembering I had put them in the icebox or as they say in places other than southeast Missouri, the refrigerator. Don’t ask. I had an absolute well thought out reason for putting the keys in there. What I didn’t plan on was forgetting the plan along with the reason.

So, back to the thought about others adopting our kids. I was thinking about this because in reading the adoption blogs of others who have been or who are in China right now, you read about the reaction of the Chinese people when these American families with their new Chinese little one ventures out among the masses.

Overwhelmingly, what you read is positive. The Chinese people seem to respond very favorably to what has to be a very strange and perplexing sight of non-Asian adults obviously parenting an Asian baby. On occasion you will read of a family who encountered the rare incident of disapproval. And that is what got me to thinking. How, as Americans, would we react to foreigners strolling along our parks & neighborhoods with our babies, knowing they soon would be leaving with them, never to return? Raising them to speak a different language, a different culture – a world away…

We’re at peace with our adoption plan. We both are reading as much as we can on what to expect and what is expected. We’re in contact with other adoptive parents. We’ve joined a local group of families who have adopted from China. We want to think that when the time comes, and it will, when Alyzabeth questions how she came to be a part of our hearts, our American hearts, we will have answers that brings peace to her awakening adoption reality.

We don’t have all her answers yet but we’re working on them. We will. Still, there are all these lightening bugs. Flashing on and off…

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Moment of Silence - All Cardinal Fans

The Cardinals lost. This is a sad day for the Redbird Nation. I wonder if my cousin R was even able to go in to work today? A wave of sorrow is adrift over a sea of red. The only thing worse than a Cardinal loss is a cub’s win… BTW - we wish the Astro's all the best.

On a positive note however, our local hippie dippy weatherman says we have a cold front blowing down from the north, strong enough to keep hurricane Wilma from blowing through us. Now understand, we don’t wish harm on our fellow Floridians in the southern part of the state but we also don’t care to rebuild our dock for the third time either. Still, I think we’ll fire up the old generator today and check to make sure the gas cans and vehicles are filled – again…

The paperchase hit still another bump in the road. CCAI says the doctor’s letter explaining how the pill I take to keep my blood pressure below the boiling point & thus makes me an absolute excellent candidate to raise yet another child - does not meet the standards specified by the Chinese government. I’m not surprised. It’s not the Chinese government that’s causing the hassle – it’s my own doctor’s office. CCAI even provided us with a form for the doctor’s office to follow. Did they? No. So, it’s back I go again. I’m just going to schedule another doctor’s appointment and speak to the doctor face to face explaining very politely why I need the form in the like manner we have supplied as an example. I don’t see a problem. No big deal. Piece of cake. Simple form. Routine…

Maybe I do need to see the doctor after all – I’m starting to not feel so well…..

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Visit With GD Kilee

It is still Sunday and we have some news to post (besides the joyous news of the Jaguars winning today).

Justin arrived with grandbaby Kilee (19 months old) so we were able to have a fun afternoon visiting and playing. A couple of pictures to show her off are a necessary part of “Grand-parenting”. We hope you will enjoy or at least understand. Birthing new babies into the family and deaths are something to remember. Our daughter Leaa & husband Jesse are parents-to-be so more “grands” are on the way.

We also have sad news today; we received a call today informing of us of the passing of a co-worker who was battling cancer. He began his battle against this insidious disease in February and leaves behind a beautiful family. We know he will be missed greatly by his wife & children and a soon to be daughter-in-law, along with the whole of his family and many friends. Our prayers today are for the Richard A. family.

Gator Hunt

Earlier this year Florida had its annual "gator hunt".
Our son Justin and grand-daughter Kilee celebrated
their success! Please - no PETA assaults. The hunt
is over and the gator population continues to thrive.
Come down here and go swimming if you have any
doubts about that - just be careful, very careful...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nana & GD Kilee

"Nana Aly" & Grandbaby Kilee

GD Kilee & DS Justin

Grandbaby Kilee & her dad Justin

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Call For Blog Help

I am a blog neophyte. I can admit that. However, unlike the bad rap many males are hit with – I WILL & DO STOP AND ASK FOR DIRECTIONS. So, consider this as a request for help because I am LOST.

I need help from the experienced ones out there!

I added a web counter and a guest book to our site this morning, however, they are not located even close to where I wanted them to appear. The counter is at the bottom of the webpage but it would be nice to have it higher so you can see it when you open up the webpage and if you look to the side where previous posts are listed you will find the guest book – ugh…

I have typed and pasted up and down the template section but it is now plain to me that I am a lot closer to screwing things up than I am figuring things out. (There is noticeable shame as I type this – if you could see me – my head is bowed and my shoulders are definitely slumped. It’s a sad sight of despair, forlorn and defeat).

I like how the guest book shows up under each post like on Gwen’s and in color no less! In fact, I would like to find a way to just simply steal Gwen’s site and slide our stuff in and make like we did that – oh yeah, we have this blog thing down….. (Not).

In advance of your kind and considerate HELP – thank you and thank you again…

Saturday, October 15, 2005


October 14, 2005

We received a message from CCAI concerning checking the accuracy of our home study report. We did not have a copy of it yet, so Alyson sent an email asking whom should we ask for the copy.

In a message dated 10/13/2005 8:01:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Alyson,

I’d check in with your social worker to see if he will be submitting you a copy of the study to review. If not, then you will see a version of the study that will be mailed to you from the FL office after it is submitted to immigration. Hope this helps! Let me know if you need anything else.

Have a great rest of the day!

AC, Assistant Manager, Dossier Department


-----Original Message-----From: [] Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:00 PMTo: dossier1@chinesechildren.orgSubject: Re: Reminder: China Home Study

Thank you for the message.
We do not have a copy of the home study and are not sure when or how we obtain a copy. Once we have a copy, we will review it as you recommended. If you know how and when we will receive it, please let us know. Thank you.

Alyson & Ford

In a message dated 10/13/2005 1:44:21 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Alyson and Ford,

Just wanted to let you know that I reviewed a copy of your China Home Study Report. ( This note is a friendly reminder for you to coordinate with your social worker to make sure that what you have stated in your dossier documents matches to what they have stated in your home study.

Please make sure to compare the content of these two sets of documents carefully! In particular, make sure to check that the information is consistent between the particular items listed below and the home study.

 Your employment information from your employment verifications or non job letters
 Your physical exam information
 Financial information from your financial statement

Let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great rest of the day!

AC, Assistant Manager, Dossier Department


We arrived home from work and had a message from Leon and a copy of our draft home study report. This is exciting (and a little bit scary) to be able to read the report before it becomes final.

In a message dated 10/14/2005 1:43:01 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi, Alyson,

I am attaching the completed report for your adoption home study. I have checked as carefully as I could
to be sure everything matches, but I will appreciate your checking it over to see if you spot anything that
needs to be changed.

As soon as I receive your okay, I will print the necessary originals and send them off to be signed and notarized.
If no corrections have to be made, I can get them in the mail tomorrow morning.

Have a good day!



We both read the report and couldn’t be more pleased at how well L was able to tell our story complete with his observations of our qualifications as parents. The report is nine pages long. We found a minor correction that we will send to L. Reading the report gave us a glimpse of what our referrals submitted. It is overwhelming and very much a humbling experience to know that these friends expressed such caring and loving sentiments about us as individuals and as a couple. Clearly, a simple thank you to them and Leon cannot truly do justice in repaying with words what they have done for us. Please know how much we appreciate what you have done and how much a part of this family you really are.

Now that this phase of our adoption process is competed we have more paperwork to do but each (baby) step onward gets us that much closer to China and Alyzabeth!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Name #2 Found!

Classic name #1: Alyzabeth An (according to Leaa D this qualified as “classic”).

Classic name #2. (We were searching - as in - we didn't have a clue)...

Last thing Ford said to me was it had to be a classic name for our second daughter (we don’t know if we will get a second daughter, but since it is a possibility, we needed a second name). Can you imagine being over in China, possibly tired, exhausted and having a second daughter given to you and no name picked out? I needed a name. Since Delaney didn’t work for us (nor for our daughter Leaa D.), I went through most of our genealogy again and came up with common female names from our family lines. Martha? Jane? Nancy? From my family list of names, I loved “Leighton”, “Apphia” and “Whitney”. Ford’s side had a cute Irish name “Delia”. None of those seemed to fit or sound right.

We recently sent emails to family and close friends explaining about our “blog” and where to read it. On Monday morning at work, J R, one of our friends we sent our blog address to, stopped by my office door and peered in and said “Alexandria”. I asked what was he talking about and he said, the classic name we needed. I said, well, no, thank you, no. I really wanted to find a “family” name that suited both Ford and I. (We also now know that people are reading the blog!)

Here it is Wednesday and talking to Ford on the way home about names, I told him about J’s suggested name. Well, after about 5 minutes, we agreed on a name. Unbelievable as it is, it just sounded right. So here is our second name. We don’t know if it will be used (can you say “twins”) but at least we are prepared (am I a planner or what?). Drum roll please…..

Alexandra Lin

Alexandra Lin

What do you all think? Ford had mentioned using Lin as a middle name as it means “fine jade” in Chinese. Since I didn’t have a first name I wasn’t willing to commit to a middle name. Now that the first name is perfect, the middle name of “Lin” sounds good to us! I didn’t want to commit to it too soon either as it is my younger sister’s middle name. Some how everything works our perfectly! It is a long story but Melissa, my younger sister, was a big part in trying to come up with a strategy for Ford & I to have a baby. It didn’t work out so this will be wonderful to honor Melissa with naming our hoped for second daughter with her middle name too.

We are relieved!! We are delighted!!

ps: This also means that you (J) are on the hook as an un-official God-Parent. Gifts, Money, Baby Sitting - the usual kind of stuff. You'll do great!!! (Thanks to you and L for the name).....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Two Lights State Park - Maine

At Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
We were in Maine to celebrate Alyson's parents 50th
Wedding Anniversary! (We ate lobster everyday :))

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta Motor Speedway - We got to do EVERYTHING
but drive the cars as guest of the race sponsor MBNA.
Our friends, Lee & BeLinda who invited us,
were actually in the Pace car to start the race...

Home Study - FINAL Visit!

Our last home study visit began right on time at 9:30 a.m. this morning. Mr. P basically scanned his report and asked us questions where he didn’t have all the information. We discussed our parenting philosophy relating to disciplining children (I really like John Rosemond’s writings). We also gave him information on our guardians, Mia & Michael. They meet the age requirements and will write the needed letter. We are thankful they are willing to do this for us. We did not get to read any of the home study report so will wait for the official copy to reach us in a few weeks. This is an important step in finalizing the dossier.

We decided to drive to the nearest Barnes & Noble to purchase a few more books to read. We bought one on travel in China that emphasizes the culture and history. Once we know what areas of China we will be traveling, we will purchase a travel guide. We also bought a John Rosemond book on parenting and one on raising adopted children. Now off to do the lawn chores - very much dreaded in a still hot and steamy Florida.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Decision To Share

We have made a decision to open our adoption journal up to family and friends. There was a hesitancy to do this for reasons we are sure you can all understand.

Obviously, this is a very personal account of a very personal experience in our life. The original idea behind our journal was to record the process so that down the road we could look back and relive the ups and downs associated with adopting Alyzabeth. Alyson is excellent at keeping a written account of our day trips and vacations and without that we would soon forget the details that made each trip special and unique. Also, once she was older, we envisioned the journal as a way of allowing Alyzabeth the opportunity to glimpse what “mom & dad” did to bring her home to her American family. The journal would also capture our excitement and love for her.

So why make it public? Well, for starters it makes it easy to share with you – our family and friends, all the fun and drudgery we are going through to make the adoption happen. We have been reading the adoption stories of other families for quite some time now on other websites. You will find links to a couple of those sites on our webpage. It was reading those sites that got us to thinking about building a webpage of our own. Similar to what we did when we had the 50th birthday party down in Key West! The webpage will help us keep you in the loop and share in the adventure and pictures of China once we travel next year to get Alyzabeth.

Secondly, this gives us a way to share with other adoptive families. You cannot imagine the tips, tricks and information we have already gathered from reading the experiences of the families having already adopted or still in the process. We generally will not share with anyone what we paid for a dinner much less what our adoption is costing us. In fact, we find it rude of people to ask anyone what they paid for anything. That’s just us. One of our little quirks. We have however decided to include the fees we have paid and will pay in our journal. Why? The cost associated for Chinese adoptions are fairly similar from agency to agency. However, each agency fee will vary and it is one of the things each family has to consider when choosing the agency they will ultimately place their faith in. The direct cost to the Chinese government is pretty well fixed. The cost on the US side varies from state to state depending on what each state charges for their “paperwork” certifications and authentications. US federal fees are the same for all adoptive parents. We are showing the cost for other adoptive families to use as a way of verifying the expenses in their process.

Allow me to step on my soapbox for just one moment.

Yes – we are buying a baby. If you are adopting you have expenses whether the adoption is domestic or international. If you are having a biological child you also have expenses but rarely is it expressed as “buying” a baby. That’s it. Off the soapbox….

Finally, in sharing our adoption process we would like to thank you for all the kind words and support you are giving us. Our families have been and continue to be an unbelievable support system. If we have written or in the future write ANYTHING that in ANYWAY hurts or offends you – we apologize and ask you to understand that it was and is totally unintentional. In fact, email us and we will edit our website to remove whatever it is that you find troubling. We love you all too much.

Well, that’s about it. Our postings will eventually slow considerably once we have completed the dossier process (we hope to have the dossier completed by December). The time frame between now and Alyzabeth being home will take close to a year and approximately 7-8 months of that time is simply waiting for a match from China and receiving the travel approval.

Thanks for coming along on our China adventure. Eventually – Alyzabeth will be thanking you in person for all your love, support and prayers.