Monday, March 21, 2011

Trudging through the paperwork

I realized it has been a while since we updated our blog and figured that sounded more fun than sewing. It seems that when we fail to do so for a week or two, people start asking us again what's new with the adoption.

We finished our homestudy 2 weeks ago, but our social worker went on vacation before she could make the necessary changes to it for it to be approved by our agency. She gets back today, so we will likely get the approved copies by the end of the week. We get three notarized originals of our homestudy. One goes to USCIS for approval to bring a foreign-born child into the country, one goes in our dossier, and one comes with us when we make the trip to China. Also, with our homestudy we will be able to apply for some grants.

So what is the USCIS thing? The paperwork that goes to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is called an I800. It consists of some paperwork we fill out and our homestudy. The lockbox (place where it gets mailed to) in Texas processes the paperwork and you get an appointment for a fingerprint check. Then a couple days later you get approval from them. The whole process is averaging about 60 days, so the sooner we get it taken care of, the better. The I800 then goes in with our dossier that will be sent off in June. There are a couple letters we have to write, and we'll have to go through the paper sealing process, but then our dossier will be done! It's strange to realize that we are mostly through it. There's still more to be done, but we are no longer just at the start of it anymore.

In addition to the paperwork, we are doing our 10 hours of parent training. Last night's lesson and test was on grieving. It's not something that many people know outside of the adoption community, but there is a decent grieving period that the children go through (and the parents and birth parents, obviously). While life in an orphanage or foster care isn't the ideal to most of us, it's the only life these children have known. Chinese adoption has the added difficulty of no knowledge about the birth parents, removal from the birth country, and loss of language and culture. They adjust fairly quickly, but the first few days are almost universally filled with inconsolable crying, shutting down, and fear. There are also issues that pop up throughout the life of the child. Our little girl will never know how her birth parents met, how many siblings she has, or why she had to be given to the orphanage. Adoptive children often struggle with feeling like they were chosen, not born, and never fit in anywhere. It's something we've talked about a great deal and feel relatively prepared to deal with, but it's difficult all the same.

Because of the institutionalized care the children receive, they are often a bit behind physically and developmentally. Typically one month for every three months in the orphanage. They catch up quickly, given the one-on-one time. Also, there are issues of bonding. Children in orphanages are cared for as best as they can be, but with the number of caregivers to children being so unequal, they really only get so much interaction per day. As such, they often have a hard time with the concept of primary caregivers. It is hugely important for them to get one-on-one time with mom and dad and be given time to learn that they are the primary caregivers. With that being the case, Kevin and I will be the only ones to feed, bathe, and change her for at least a couple weeks. We'll also need to give her some good structure and routine, without too much extra stimulus for a while. So welcome home parties are a no-go for a while. In fact, we're even going to have to be careful about going outside the house for a bit. I'm probably making it sound a bit strange, but we're just trying to do what is best for our little girl. There is always the chance that she will bond quickly and we can speed the other stuff along. Basically, don't be upset if we don't come over and visit right after we get home from China, is all I'm saying.

Things otherwise have been pretty normal. Bridal season is picking up, Kevin has some side jobs he is working on, and we are going on a road trip to CA next month. All in all, life continues on and we continue making small steps toward China. Not too much longer, now.

Oh, if any of you have Netflix and are looking for some good Chinese movies, we'll post recommendations as we watch them. Here's what we've seen so far:

Lost Daughters of China- a documentary from National Geographic. Should be required viewing. Not only does it show a travel group, but they go into the boys vs. girls issues in China as well as some of the problems that are coming from the one child policy.

Not One Less- Story of a girl who teaches at a rural school while the headmaster is away.

The Road Home- Stars Zhang Ziyi (crouching tiger, hero, every other Chinese movie you've seen that didn't star Gong Li). Girl falls in love with the new school teacher. Story of their courtship.

I should say this. Chinese movies have different pacing than Western films. Crouching Tiger, Hero, all those movies have been Westernized a bunch. Don't expect fast-paced drama from the others. It seems to me like most Chinese films that aren't martial arts movies have a slower pace, are more about mood, and lend themselves to discussion afterward. I look at it similarly to how I look at the language. In English you have so many words and variations on words. In Chinese, there is no conjugating of verbs, and much of a sentences meaning is inferred. You don't say, "Would you care for a drink of something refreshing?" You say "You want drink?" or just "want drink?" Where we might consider it to sound rude and abrupt, many Chinese feel that adding extra words is unnecessary and rude as it adds distance between people. I'm probably not explaining it well, but I'll just say that the more I study the language, the more feel I understand the culture, entertainment, and people. It's just a different mindset, neither better nor worse.