Thursday, December 01, 2005

Baby Shower, Part 2

Here's another picture from the shower at the church. The head table where we were seated was decorated with two creative bouquets of lilies (how appropriate) made of pipe cleaners and cut paper. Thanks to the artistic girls (and moms) from our congregation! Posted by Picasa

If you'd like to see more pictures from our shower, click here.

In case you were wondering, I'm feeling a lot better after my recent bout with pneumonia. My energy level is increasing, but I still have a pretty scratchy voice. Now, I just have to avoid the bird flu when I finally get to China!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

First Baby Shower

Our church gave us a baby shower last Sunday. Here's a picture of the cake. Thanks to all the gracious people at Messiah Lutheran Church! You can click on the image below to see a larger version.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Referral Update

Last week we heard from our adoption social worker. It looks like the referral time has now lengthened to 8-9 months. To refresh your memory, the referral is when we receive the official paperwork from China with the name, age, history, of our precious daughter. Originally the referral time was around 6 months from our log-in date (May 24th). That put us at Thanksgiving. Then it moved to 6-7 months, and now we just heard it is 8-9 months. This means we may not get our referral until January or February, and then not travel until March or April. Evidently there is a huge backlog of applications of people wanting to adopt from China. This is a good thing for all of those little girls, but it's hard for us to be patient at times.

Well, at least we have more time to prepare. Kurt has come down with pneumonia this week, so this gives him more time to fully recover. We know God has everything under control, and so we pray for patience as we eagerly await our Lily.

Why China?

Hello, this is the mommy-to-be's first post. Kurt has so wonderfully started this blog to keep everyone updated. It also serves as a diary for us and for Lily to read someday.

It's kind of interesting that we have chosen China because my original college major was going to be East Asian Studies. I took several classes that were related to Chinese and Japanese history, and I took two years of Japanese. As many of you know, my major ended up being Spanish, but I have always had interest in East Asia.

Many people have asked us, "Why did you choose China?" Choosing to adopt domestically or internationally wasn't a hard decision for us. We were told that Bethany Christian Services, our adoption agency, place their babies born in the U.S. in the homes of Christian parents. When we found this out, our hearts turned to other countries around the world. We know that in many countries, children are at least exposed to the saving message of Jesus be it in their orphanages or later when they grow up. China tugged at our hearts because Christianity isn't allowed to flourish and much of it is underground. By deciding to adopt from China, we hoped to share the Good News with a child who wasn't as likely to hear about Jesus in her birth country, especially in a state-run orphanage. As many of you know, due to traditional values and government policies, Chinese orphanages are overflowing with little girls. The tide is turning relating to the value of women in Chinese society, but there are still a lot of little girls who are placed in orphanages. We also hoped to give a child a home in a free, democratic country where she would have freedoms not found in China.

We are all God's children, no matter where we are born. There are so many children around the world that need forever families to love them. We thank God that He has given us this opportunity to begin a family this way and to receive a beautiful daughter to love.

P.S. China only requires one parent to travel, and of course that helped with our decision since I don't fly well at all. :)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cross-Cultural Parenting 101


Well, I now know how to say "Where is the lavatory?" in Chinese. I also can say "Where is the bus...taxi...restaurant...hotel?" All handy traveler's questions. Now the question is: how will I understand the replies once I ask those questions? Thankfully, there will be a translator with the group of prospective Bethany parents traveling together. But I'm still working on learning a few more helpful words, like "The lavatory is at the end of the hallway" or "Around the corner."

For Lily's sake, more important than my learning Chinese, of course, is learning how to be a good parent...and learning about the specific issues involved in a cross-cultural adoption.

This will be our first parenting experience, as most of you know. (By the way, the symbols you see above are the symbols for "father" and "mother.") How do most people learn how to be parents? I suppose it's primarily from the parental models that they had in their lives. After that, there's probably a bit of "shooting from the hip." But before Julie and I strap on our holsters, we can always look to the wonderful examples our own parents set for us. Both of us were blessed with stable family environments. That will go a long way toward establishing that same type of environment for Lily. And advice is just a cell phone call or email away.

As you can imagine, there are some unique things about our situation. Our child will not look like us. Questions from others will abound. We will be stared at in the mall. We will have to sensitively teach our daughter about why she was in an orphanage in the first place. There may be no background information about her birth parents.

And then there's all the not-so-unique things that every parent in every culture faces as they raise a child.

Julie and I have been reading a number of books for our "coursework" in "Cross-cultural Parenting 101." Some times it feels like drinking from a firehose, but hopefully getting doused with all that information will pay off in the end.

Two of our favorite books so far have been A Passage to the Heart and The Lost Daughters of China. A Passage to the Heart is a collection of newsletter articles from chapters of Families with Children from China. It has a wealth of information about the adoption process, travelling tips, cultural issues, and medical advice. The Lost Daughters of China is journalist Karin Evans' description of her adoption journey, along with a poignant description of the social and political climate that has created such an overwhelming need for homes for so many little girls...and not a few boys with special needs.

Cross-cultural Adoption is a slim but great resource. The subtitle explains its contents: "How to Answer Questions from Family, Friends, and Community." It asks a series of questions, then gives a simple answer geared toward small children, and a longer tactful answer geared toward older children and adults.

We've also read The International Adoption Handbook, Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother, and Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew. Attaching in Adoption is still on the desk, waiting to be opened.

Then there's also What to Expect: The First Year and What to Expect: The Toddler Years. If Lily ends up being close to 12 months old when we bring her home, we may not be spending too much time in the former volume, but the latter will probably be a constant reference for at least a few years. Which will probably feel like a whirlwind. Before you know it, she'll be dating...and then that holster will literally come in handy.

And after all this drinking from a firehose, my question is..."Where is the lavatory?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Learning Chinese


Granted, our daughter will grow up to speak English and will culturally be an American. But we also want her to be exposed to some of the language and culture of her birth country. Plus, I thought it would be fun and informative to learn a little Chinese before our trip. So, I've been learning a few words and simple sentences from a computer program I found at Half Price Books. I still haven't learned the all important traveller's question, "Where is the restroom?" The only words I can consistently remember at this point are "mother," "horse," "hemp," and "scold." Boy, those are really going to come in handy.

By the way, the symbol at the beginning of this post is the Chinese symbol for "love." Click here to see the symbols for a host of other words in Chinese.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Where are we in the process?

Tomorrow it will be one year since we first met with our adoption caseworker from Bethany Christian Services. After prayerful consideration, we decided to adopt a child from China. As many of you already know, we fully expect our child to be a girl. For a variety of social and cultural reasons, that is what is primarily available in Chinese orphanages. She will most likely be between 8 months and 1 year old.

After months of paperwork, home-study interviews, fingerprinting, and getting up-to-date passports, our dossier was filed in China on May 24, 2005. Generally, families receive a referral six months after their dossier is filed. That means that sometime in late November we hope to have a name, a picture, any known medical history, and the name of the city and province where our child was born. At that point, we prepare for our trip to China, which should come six to eight weeks after we receive our referral. Kurt will be travelling with Julie's cousin Jan...an experienced traveller, mother, and great friend.

Our daughter's Chinese name will become her middle name. We are already calling her by the name we have chosen..."Lily." She's out there somewhere. I find myself looking often at the map of China in our World Atlas wondering where she is and what she is doing right now.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Welcome to our new weblog!

Julie and I have finally decided to enter the world of blogging. We've done this in order to give our friends and family a chance to hear what's going on with our adoption journey. This will also serve as sort of an online journal for any other thoughts that we may wish to share with you about our experiences. You are welcome to keep checking back for new posts and updates.

The title "Red Thread to Marysville" is based on something we read in the book The Lost Daughters of China. Author Karen Evans writes about an old Chinese story which says that from the moment you are born, a red string around your ankle ties you to the one you will eventually marry. "Lately," Evans explains further, "the red thread idea has been taken up by the Chinese American adoption community, to include parents and children who are destined to be together--even though an ocean may lie between them initially." (p. 141)

The closer we get to the day we receive our gift from God, the stronger we feel the tug of that "red thread." There is a red thread between our daughter in China and our hearts here in Marysville.

It's also appropriate that we begin this blog today, the day of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. On this day in China, people of all ages stay up to gaze at the moon, eat "mooncakes," and reflect on the blessings of family. Well, Julie and I are not out gazing at the moon...it's cloudy. And we already ate a mooncake at a local supermarket a couple of days ago. But we are reflecting on the blessings of family, and saying a prayer for our daughter for whom we are waiting.