Friday, November 30, 2007
Tougher policies in China and Russia are partly responsible
NEW YORK - The number of foreign children adopted by Americans has dropped for the third year in a row, a consequence of tougher policies in the two countries — China and Russia — that over the past decade have provided the most children to U.S. families...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Back row: Mike, Kindra, Nick, Darrell, Wanda, Alex, Kyle
Front row: Braden, Tuck, Evan, Bri, Olivia
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We're going to have ALL NINE OF OUR CHILDREN here for Thanksgiving. It's a real trick to get them all in the same place at the same time anymore, so I'm excited! We'll also get to have my mother-in-law (whom I adore) and 2 of the grandkids. I hope I bought enough turkey!
Just a few of the many things I'm thankful for today and every day:
I serve a God who loves me and proves it to me over and over, even though I don't deserve it.
I've been with the same wonderful man for HALF MY LIFE, who still thinks I'm beautiful even after 20 yrs, 60 lbs., and 5 pregnancies (and you know what those pregnancies do to a body, don't you?).
I have healthy, happy, wonderful kids who make every day worth getting out of bed for.
I don't have many friends. In fact, I can count my true friends on one hand, with fingers left over. But those I do have are loyal, wonderful, and irreplaceable. They truly know me, yet somehow they still love me... Amazing.
God has blessed my husband's work, allowing me to be here with my kids and teach them at home. How many families of 8 are able to do that? God's hand is all over that. Though not always easy or fun, I wouldn't trade those moments sitting around the "school table," discussing God's Word, or watching the light bulb come on in their little heads, after struggling with something difficult. Homeschool has been one of the most overwhelming, difficult roads God has ever asked me to follow, and it has also been the most rewarding privilege I've ever been given. I can't imagine some other teacher getting those precious moments with my babies instead of me. What a gift!
Now, stop reading my list and go make your own...
A quick P.S.: I know some of you reading this are spending Thanksgiving this year separated from family members who are in the military. I'd like to say Thank You! to all the men and women who serve, and their families. As I sit down to count my blessings this year, your dedication, sacrifice and faithful service will be at the top of my list, along with prayers for your swift and SAFE return. May this be the last Thanksgiving you will ever have to spend apart.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I realize that as a plain old boring Caucasian, adopted by Caucasians, and brought up 30 minutes away from my place of birth, I will never completely relate to the transcultural/transracial/international adoption experience. And my perspective may be discounted as irrelevant to PAPs and APs adopting internationally. But, what really struck me as I read these was that my feelings, growing up adopted, were similar in many ways to what was expressed in these articles, even though the specific circumstances and experiences differed greatly. I got the feeling that, from the POV of the authors, they see their thoughts, feelings, and emotional struggles as being unique to a Korean adoptee's experience (or Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.), whereas I see it as possibly being a common part of an adoptee's experience, regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture. The underlying feelings are the same. Of course every adoptee's experiences are unique and I'm not trying to cram us all into the same box. I'm just saying that I was white (and still am, incidentally-lol) with white parents, surrounded by white people, and still felt in many ways that I didn't fit. I didn't belong here, there (where ever "there" was), or anywhere. It didn't take a difference in facial features or birth country to remind me that I was different. I just WAS. I have so much to learn from internationally adopted adults that will help me parent my children, but if I could tell them anything, it would be this... We're not as different as you might think. Just tossing it out there. Go read the articles. They're good.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
A quick adoption update: I called our agency today (I was feeling too impatient to wait for an answer to my email), and found out our dossier did get there, it all looked good, and it is now on it's way to the SF Consulate. Our coordinator thinks it should be submitted to the DIA within the next 6 weeks.
Edited: See bottom of post...
Most of you in Vietnam Blog World have already been bombarded and overwhelmed by everything that's going on in Vietnam recently, which is why I haven't said much on the subject. There are other bloggers who have summed up their thoughts and feelings more intelligently, eloquently, and boldly than I could have done (http://cheersyall.wordpress.com/, Stepping on Legos , and many others). I directed you to Desserich Family the other day, and Our Vietnamese Ladybug or VVAI are always good for keeping up with what's going on. So- with so many bloggers and groups sharing enough information and opinions to make our heads spin... Who cares what I have to say (at least that's what the mean little voice in my head is always telling me)? I figured my 2 cents really isn't necessary, especially since, as I mentioned the other day, I haven't completed my VN adoption, and I'm in a pioneer program with an agency who does not have an established record in Vietnam (WACAP).
BUT, you know what I was forgetting? I completely forgot that my family members and friends are not plugged into the latest happenings in Vietnam and are completely in the dark about what's going on. Some of my posts, like the recent one about the Desserich blog, make absolutely no sense if you're not on top of all this stuff. When they read my blog or ask me how the adoption is going, they have absolutely no idea about the current grim state of affairs. Yes, I'm admitting I forgot my family and friends. Gee, I'm nice. My apologies to all of you for not doing a better job of keeping you informed.
Here is a very basic recap (for more detailed facts, explanations, and opinions, see the links above and also the US Embassy): Everyone who knows about all this already will want to stop here... I am going to try to stick to what I actually know personally (which is pretty limited, frankly), because the negativity and bashing people are taking, for giving their opinions on their own personal blogs no less, is getting crazy out of hand- just look at all the fur flying over at Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds ...Yikes.
The back story: A few years ago (2003), Vietnam adoptions were closed down due to corruption, and just recently reopened (I believe in 2005 or 06?). After VN reopened, suspicions and rumors quickly started to swirl again about various agencies and questionable practices in certain provinces.
The current situation: Many in the adoption community (including, apparently, the US govt) question some agencies' abilities to "acquire" very young babies, very quickly, when other agencies are giving referral times of 9 months, a year, and more. At this point, let me reiterate that I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these agencies, and since I'm not interested in furthering the spread of Internet rumors that I cannot personally back up, which would not help anyone but offend plenty, I'm keeping my mouth shut about specific agency names. The point here is- we're talking about rumors of baby selling/buying, bribes, birth parents being misled or outright lied to in order to get them to give up their children, etc... Horrible stuff of all kinds. (Rumors, judgements, and accusations are FLYING online, regarding which agencies are involved, who's doing what, and who's most at fault. It's been a regular Peyton Place lately and people are getting Nasty).
My 2 cents: You can certainly understand how agencies promising very quick referral and travel times, and very young babies are obviously going to be a powerful temptation to adopting parents, even when your common sense may be trying to tell you something fishy is going on. To be quite honest, when we first started researching agencies, we were heavily leaning towards several agencies in the hot seat right now, who refer young babies quickly. Why not? Until you start doing some digging, it all sounds great. In the long run, we made what we believed was an ethical and well-researched choice, and the best one for our family, even though it meant (most likely) sacrificing speed, and accepting the uncertainties of a pioneer program. I'm not saying that quick referrals automatically equate to illegal adoptions with unethical agencies. I said before on this blog that I do not believe that. What I am saying is that the speed of a referral should be one of the last things people use as criteria in selecting an agency. The agency's ethical reputation needs to be #1. Unethical agencies will continue to exist as long as people keep using them. The only way corruption will stop is when PAPs stop bankrolling the agencies behind it.
The first steps toward a solution: The US Embassy recently made some changes to the filing procedures to obtain a child's visa and then issued a statement regarding "the number of irregularities appearing in orphan petitions and visa applications in Vietnam." These irregularities are leading to the issuance of NOIDs (Notice of Intent to Deny a visa application for entry into the US) for families currently in VN, with the likelihood of more NOIDs on the way. NOIDs are bad... Very, very bad. Basically, once you get to Vietnam, you have a G&R ceremony (Giving and Receiving). This is when you have officially adopted the child in the eyes of the VN govt. Then, the US govt gets involved- to start the process of obtaining your baby's visa and going home. If they see something in the child's paperwork that raises a red flag, they will issue a NOID. The kid is legally yours now, but you can't bring him into the US. You're stuck in limbo. Sometimes the issue in question is resolved and a visa is given, sometimes not. My heart goes out to anyone stuck in that horribly scary, miserable situation. The statement continues: "The ongoing number of irregularities that we are currently seeing strongly indicates that the adoption process in Vietnam still lacks sufficient oversight and regulation. Specifically there is insufficient control of the so-called child finders and an inadequate regulation of the fees paid to individuals and institutions. Despite its stated intention to do so, Vietnam has yet to publish a schedule of fees. We are extremely concerned by reports of significant increases in the number of abandoned children since 2005, especially in the provinces of Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen. We recognize that a decision to deny a petition is an extremely undesirable outcome for adopting parents and for children, who themselves may be the victims of unscrupulous agents. For this reason, we urge adoptive parents to be extremely diligent in reviewing qualifications and standards before selecting an adoption service provider. Unfortunately, as news stories and blogs often reveal, the glowing report of an adoptive parent who successfully “brought home” a child cannot be taken as evidence that the adoption was ethical or fully legal." The statement can be read in its entirety on the Embassy's website.
The consequences: So what does all of this mean, both for us personally, and for Vietnam adoptions? The short answer is... I don't know. I don't even have a guess as to how our adoption will be affected by all of this. I'm hoping it's a good thing; that the changes and the increased attention currently being paid to ethics and transparency in adoption will have a positive impact on our adoption and those of other parents in the future. I'm hoping the USCIS will be able to crack down on the bad guys, making the adoption process better and easier for ethical agencies to do their jobs, and for adopting parents to feel more confident that the process is an ethical one. I'm hoping all this light being shed on the subject will cause adopting parents to be more diligent in researching the agency they're about to choose, thereby driving the crooks out of business. I'm hoping. There are also faint, fearful rumblings that things could go the other way and Vietnam could close down again. I'm trying not to think about that right now.
So, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing and thinking about the whole thing, and I'm feeling... overwhelmed and tired, I guess. My feelings fluctuate depending on whose blog I'm reading at the moment. To some, this situation spells hope and progress, while others see it through clouds of doom. For the most part it's been a pretty negative, depressing couple of days around Blog World, and I just want to escape to my happy place for a little while.
So, you ask me... How is our adoption going? It's not! Right now, it's not going at all. Our paperwork is still here in the US and today I feel no closer to bringing our child home than I did 6 months ago. Your guess is honestly just as good as mine as to when our adoption will happen. I've been feeling very restless lately, as I wait to hear if our dossier has been received by WACAP, and also wait for the next step. I emailed our coordinator on the 7th, but haven't heard back from her yet (hoping today's the day!), so I'm just feeling kind of... Well, *Cruddy* is the most appropriate word that comes to mind (it is not however, the first word that comes to mind :D!). Today, I'm very down, drained, discouraged and questioning everything. But thank you so much for asking- lol!
Before I shut up, I should mention- our agency does not work in the provinces called into question by the Embassy. They have not received a single referral yet (I mean in VN. They are well-established in other countries), so they can hardly be accused of anything questionable with their referrals in Vietnam, and they have stated several times that they absolutely will not engage in any bribing or illegal practices to get referrals, and say so on their website as well. We obviously trust this to be the truth or we never would have signed with them in the first place. We truly believe we are with an agency who places the welfare of the child first, which was what was most important to us.
I don't want to leave you all with the impression that every VN adoption is sleazy and corrupt. They're not. We would not continue to pursue this adoption if we believed that. I hope you know us well enough to know we would never knowingly participate in removing a child from his family and birth country, just to satisfy our own desires for a child, or use an agency whom we suspect of doing anything illegal. We are only interesting in adopting a child who needs a home, and following the law to do it. There are babies and children legitimately in need of families in Vietnam. There are ethical agencies working in VN to match those children with families. I hope and pray that the recent uproar is only going to improve things for the children, and the adopting parents. Please keep us in your prayers, as well as the poor families caught in the middle of all this turmoil.
I know I left out a lot of details- I was trying to give the Evelyn Woods version of a long, drawn-out story. If you have a question or feel I glossed over something, feel free to leave me a question in the comments.
Quick advice to new adopting parents: DO YOUR RESEARCH. Ask questions of each and every agency you consider. When you're finished; ask some MORE. Choosing an agency is a confusing and stressful process, but the information is available out there if you keep digging.
Update- A few more blogs to throw at you with more information on this topic than I can give (both posts and their additional comments), and then I'M DONE. I need a little break from all this. Be forewarned: Some of these posts mention agencies by name. If you're with one of the agencies getting negative attention right now, and you're sick of hearing about it, don't read these. If you want to hear more, see:
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Here's what snopes.com says about it:
And this is backed up by Truth or Fiction.com: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/g/golden-compass.htm
I hope these links work. Let me know if they don't.
Looking for Their Children’s Birth Mothers
By MAGGIE JONES
Published: October 28, 2007
Adoptive parents are increasingly trying to pry open international adoptions by searching for the biological mothers of their children. But finding them can turn out to be the easy part.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
BTW- Thank you for the birthday wishes! I had a great day. I got the bunny slippers I've had my eye on, and I say getting old is worth it if bunny slippers are involved. We went to a theme park over the weekend and had a lot of fun. My 7 y.o. daughter wanted me to ride a roller coaster with her, which isn't exactly a "kiddie ride," but it's pretty tame and very kid friendly. Two of my older sons, Mike (15) and Ev (13), wanted to ride too, which I thought was odd. This particular ride is sooo not scary, and at their ages, it's all about the thrill factor. What I was forgetting is that a teenage boy's whole reason for getting out of bed every day is to cause embarrassment to his mother (and also to look at pretty girls, but mostly the first thing...). We got on the ride, right up front, with my daughter next to me, and Mike and Ev right behind us. Almost as soon as it took off, they started screaming (and I mean blood-curdling, horror movie, I'm-being-murdered types of screams), "AAAAWWWWW! MMOMMMMMY, I'M SCAAAAAAAARED, MOMMY! AAAAHHHHWWWWWWWW, MOMMMMY, PLEASE, GOD HELLLLP US! AAAWWWWWW! I CAN'T DO THIS! I WANNA GET OFFFFF, MAW-HAW-HAWMMY! Complete with fake sobbing and everything. It was so incredibly embarrassing, that I couldn't help being impressed by their level of commitment and the quality of their performances. They kept it up through the whole ride. I was embarrassed to be associated with such complete imbeciles. but kind of proud for giving birth to such funny imbeciles at the same time. I laughed so hard, I couldn't breathe. Evan also resorted to his usual tactics of walking directly behind me, doing something really silly and stupid (you know- like spazzy dancing, trying to look like an escapee from the state hospital, or walking around with crossed eyes... that kind of thing), to further the embarrassment for poor old mom. They made sure it was a birthday to remember. Gosh, I love those dorks! They keep me laughing or screaming- one or the other- all the time.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I'll be 41 flippin' years old tomorrow... 41. Yikes. I'm officially "In My Forties" (an expression I suddenly do not care for, BTW).
In honor of this momentous occasion, here are 41 things I recall about my childhood:
1. Marathon Bars (best candy bars ever made)
2. Walking down to the 7/11 for Slurpees and candy cigarettes by myself, and riding my bike all over the neighborhood, because fear of child abductions wasn't a big thing yet.
3. My Mrs. Beasley doll
4. The Waltons (Goodnight, John Boy!)
5. Herbie movies
6. Abba (...dig it, the dancing queen... oh yeah!)
7. Mork from Ork and his rainbow suspenders (yes, I had some)
8. Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman
9. Wonder Woman
10. My dad's Volkswagon Beetle, and Ford Pinto
Friday, November 2, 2007
(I've been told there are waiting PAPs who take offense at being made to listen to the good news of others. I've heard of people receiving nasty, hurtful emails after sharing their news of a referral or travel date online. I don't understand this. I really don't. I guess these people feel the pain of their own troubles and waiting is so great, they shouldn't have to hear about other families' waits coming to an end? It's like having their noses rubbed in it, I guess? I don't know. If things are going badly for one person, should they go badly for everyone to make it more fair? I definitely understand that when your heart is breaking, it IS hard to hear about everyone else's good fortune, but sending out hateful emails- trying to make someone feel guilty for their happiness? Come on! Should people with good news to share really have to stifle it just because there will be others who don't have good news? To me, I think it's selfish to be so focused on one's own sorrows that you can't sincerely share in the joys of others. Isn't that what children do- focus only on how the world revolves around them? As soon-to-be parents, shouldn't we try to overcome our own childish ways? Anyway, I won't open that can of worms or get sidetracked with one of my rants- I'll just say I think seeing and hearing these happy stories is good for all of us. Instead of viewing it as a painful reminder of what I don't have, I choose to view it as a glimpse of what's in store for me. We get to take a moment to stop thinking about ourselves and share in the joy of seeing someone become a family! How awesome is that?)
I'm grateful that these families have chosen to allow us into these personal moments and let us share in their happiness! Thank you! I'm thrilled for you guys and hope you'll be back home soon with your little ones. Congratulations, and blessings to you! And to those of us stuck in limbo, waiting- Our turns are coming. Hang in there!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Okay, okay... Before I get a comment from some sweet, maternal type (yes, that would be you, Anne) encouraging me to stick to my guns and not put myself into a sugar coma , I'll admit I'm just kidding. I ate a handful of M&Ms last night and that was it (of course, *handful* is a relative term). In fact, my daughter has already offered me M&Ms this morning, and I politely refused. I'm being a good girl, Anne. How 'bout you?