Friday, December 31, 2004

Year End 2004

Dear Friends:

Today is New Years Eve. It is a time to look to the future and to look back at the year that has gone by. 2004 has been a good year for this friend house as Malcolm and I have been busy preparing for the new arrival to our family, our darling daughter.
This past Christmas marked our 1-year anniversary of the signing of our adoption agency application. By that stroke of the pen and with the ringing in of 2004 started us in the whirlwind of paperwork, letters of references, social worker visits, more paperwork, police clearances from the US and the UK, FBI checks, more paperwork, fingerprints, medicals, state clearances, more paperwork, a visit to the state capital of Pennsylvania, multiple phone calls to our agency, more paperwork, a very late night call to New Scotland yard, 3 visits to the British Embassy in DC, 4 visits to the State department, 3 visits to the Chinese Consulate in DC and more paperwork. All of this “Paperchasing” came to a finish where I made one visit to the Kinko's/FedEx and copied the completed documents required and sent the originals off to our agency in Colorado. Where they the agency translated all of the paperwork into Mandarin and sent it of to the offices of the CCAA in China. We heard officially that on August 30 we were officially logged into their system and so now we wait. The wait we were warned that it would be the most painful part of the adoption journey. Truthfully I did not believe them but they were right.
How the system works is that the CCAA works by months. In September they sent out the referrals out to those that had their paperwork logged in by March, October. April and so on. Sometimes things have happened which either doubles up the Months and sometimes things out of anyone's control like SARS can happen which can cause months of delay. No one really knows when they are going to send out the referrals next, not even the agencies. It is all down to China and of course Divine Providence. As one seasoned adoptive parents said to another perspective parent who was complaining during the wait, “Just wait till you meet your child you will be glad that you waited because you would not be matched with her if you didn't.” Awe, Divine Providence.
So as you ring in the New Year say a little prayer for our daughter waiting for us in China. We hope to get there as soon as we can.
We wish you ALL a Very Happy New Year. God Bless.
Taney & Malcolm

Friday, December 10, 2004

Referral update: December 10

Taney came into the family room this evening to tell me that June referrals were out and that this also included some from July. It is very early reports and we will know how wide the spread of referrals are for this month.

After the inital surprise, although I had been wondering when June was coming out, the reality that August DTC could be one month away is a real reality check. So mid January we could know so much more...

Keep posted for updates. Both of us are already grinning like cheshire cats at the thought of a few weeks to go.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


The nursery is all but done and Taney & I have had fun putting the room together. Uncle Pearse helped me get a sleeper sofa out before painting the room and Uncle Chris helped with the decorating.

The room is a disney fairy princess pink with white woodwork and trim, a white ceiling and blue carpet. The crib and changing table are white. A bedroom chair given to us by Grandmere sits under one of the two wall lights. The shades a waverly design depict caarousels and a storybook fair from what seems to be the 1930s. The chair complements the coloring of the shades and has flowers in the design.

Following the storybook theme, an Alice in Wonderland clock with the original pen and ink design of Alice, the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit are drawn on the face, while the cheshire cat swings on the pendulam below.

Taney & I attended a small get together of other parents in Dillsburg PA last weekend, hosted by Roy and Carol at their farmhouse. Also attending were Julie and Ross from Baltimore. All of us are working with difference agencies, although we are all along at the same point with our papers in China, hopefully in the matching room for the holiday season. With nothing confirmed at this time we are wishing for a picture of our daughter in the latter part of January.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

October 20

There is a certain satisfaction from painting the nursery…

The last couple of weekends have seen painting activity in the nursery; the yellow walls are now a beautiful shade of Disney Fairytale pink, the wooden window frame now white to match the rest of the trim in the room.

Taney paid a visit to Home Depot and with the help from the man in the decorating aisle purchased everything the novice decorator with a mission needs to decorate his daughters nursery.

From sheeting to masking tape (the best stuff in the world) the room was prepared and on the following day aided by our brother in law Chris completed all the walls with two coats of paint. The following day and for some days thereafter… having used muscles rarely used, I ached from the painting, yet had great satisfaction that I had done a “dad” thing!

Last weekend was more of top and tailing, Taney had applied a second coat of paint to the window frame mid week and on coming home one evening found the crib assembled. To walk into a pink nursery to see our crib was a moment but not as big as the one last Sunday. The same day Taney completed the crib we spent time together putting a changing table together, a task easier said than done with 6 screws left over at least the table is solid as all get-out.

We have put wall lights in the nursery, as the room had no overhead lighting. Taney found some wire plastic trunking for the walls to hide the cables and the lampshades with a “Waverly” design of a carousel, bears, rabbits and people fit the room perfectly. The week before we found the lampshades we were caught up with a “theme” and had discussed carousels before looking for lighting and shades.

Last Sunday, all but the closet door was put into place, the curtain rail was put back with new white curtains from the windows and the toys and books we have collected have been put into the room. Taney took care of the detailing and when I walked back into the room all neatly set out it truly took my breath away.

There are two little jobs to complete the nursery, one involving a door the other a chair and these will be taken care of soon.

Despite so much already bought or given to us, there is so much more needed. A mattress for the crib, a pad for the changing table, clothes we are still holding off on until the referral.

We are aware that couples who had their dossier to China in April have recently received their referrals, the best Christmas gift we could get this year is a photo and our referral, time will tell if our wishes come true.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

September Update.

Hi folks sorry for the lull of information of the redthread blog.

What has been happening? We Malcolm and I are DTC August and we have been logged in (LID) CCAA. Now we know we will be in the August batch so now we wait. Hmmmm let me translate that for you all who are not in on the China Adoption lingo.

Translation: Malcolm and I sent our dossier to the Agency CCAI in early August and they went over it then translated it into Mandarin which took about two weeks then it was hand delivered from the agency in Colorado with other dossiers to the government offices of CCAA in Beijing then we waited.

CCAA notified CCAI the agency that they have logged in our dossier in their system which was on August 30th! This Date is known as DTC (Dossier to China). Our log in Date is also August 30 (LID). This date is important because we will travel with other folks who are also August. So until further notice we wait to get our referral.

In the mean time we are decorating the nursery. We will let you know if any news comes up:)

I do thank Taney for writing the update, the paint on my hands confirms the fun I had with Chris painting the nursey a delightful fairtale pink colour. As I write this the work is about 95$% complete, with just a little topping and tailing to finish off.

Meanwhile each day that passes, is another day closer to the completion of the adoption and bringing our daughter home.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Papers flying to China tonight - August 26

Eight months and one day from the date Taney & I completed our CCAI application form (last Christmas Day), our papers tonight are being couriered to be delivered by hand tonight.


We are both thrilled and delighted.

Taney & I hope to hear soon if we are classified as dossier to China (DTC) for August or September. The Chinese categorize this and we wait hoping...

There was one minor glich that a certificate from our home study agency expired August 1, but this was quickly dealt with and did not create further delay.

The additional papers sent to Colorado add more miles to the total length of the paper trail, now closer to 16,000 miles all told. It is still only 8,500 miles to Hong Kong!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Translation complete - August 24.

This afternoon Taney & I both heard from Hilary in the dossier department to inform us that our dossier was translated, the final papers received today and within the week our dossier is due to be sent to China.


Now the waiting for our daughters referral begins.

This call was truly out of the blue as neither of us expected translation to take less than a month.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

August 10, Dossier to Colorado

Taney spent most of the morning, copying everything for our dossier, signing checks, credit card authorizations and sending our completed dossier documents to Colorado with the help of our local Kinko's and Fed-Ex.

Since we started writing our adoption agency application last December 25, it has taken 7 months, 16 days and a couple of hours, minutes and seconds to reach this part of our adoption journey.

When asked the value of the paperwork, Taney commented on the value of nearly eight months of blood, sweat and tears.

Adding up the miles that application forms, home study visits, trips to state capitals, fingerprinting, and Washington DC that have been made to move our mountain of dossier paperwork it is according to my estimates around 14,000 miles. It is only a little over 8,000 miles to Hong Kong from Hatboro and to our daughter. I would say that our dossier is one heck of a detour to China.

Nevertheless, Taney & I are thrilled and delighted that our dossier is heading to CCAI in Colorado where it is to be translated and then sent to China, (DTC) dossier to China anticipated in about a month.

The pressure of paperchasing is now behind us, the process of ensuring each piece of paper is correctly notarized and authenticated by the right people and more importantly in the right order. The confusion of having papers generated from the UK, and two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey adding in the need to work with multiple government departments simply added to "fun" of the paperchase.

A deep sigh of relief can be heard from both of us today, August 10 will be a red letter day in the Friend family as the day the dossier was completed.

Now we wait for the call to tell us that our dossier has been sent to China. Then we wait a little longer for the referral of our daughter and our first photograph. Then we go to get Little Blossom!

I am not sure how I will cope with the waiting, at least for the past 7 months we have been active, doing something, getting papers together, making calls, chasing papers, chasing people, motivating others to get on board now we simply wait.

Taney and made it very clear in the last post that we have many people to thank. I want to add to the list a little more. To Taney who has truly managed the papertrail for us both and made sure that "one more day" was not an option.

If Taney has called me her rock, then Taney is my lighthouse who has lit the way along the adoption journey this far. Taney has made an awesome project manager in this part of our adoption journey and has created a binder that contains all our paperwork has grown and be ordered and organized just so that everything is easily to hand.

Thanks also to both our families who have provided an ear and a shoulder when the delays from Scotland Yard and the Homeland Security became unbearable.

Thanks to our friends and family who so kindly wrote such beautiful references as part of our home study.

To repeat Taney, also to Hilary, Manager of the Dossier Department at CCAI who has been a great source of help, advice and motivation.

And finally thanks to my colleagues at MSAA, especially those in my department who have heard the ups and downs of the last months and have been understanding in working with me around personal days used in the process, Terry, Tina and Brenda, not forgetting Gary, Peter and Mary.

August 9, update posted on APC

As I write this I am about to fall over with exhaustion. I woke up today at
3:15am and took the 4:50am train from Philly to D.C. to take the rest of my
paperwork to first the British Embassy then authenticate it (which I had to go
back to do again long story) then to the PRC. I am now DONE WITH THE PAPERCHASE!
I want to thank (as if this were the Oscars of paperchase) APC and
Paperchase2000 for their kind words, helpful hints, and the needed support to get
through this. CCAI who have been so far the most Helpful, always there when I need
them, I am so glad I am with this agency IMO they are the best. A special shout
out to the Dossier team because without Hilary I would never had made it with
my marbles in tact. To Marteen at the British Embassy in D.C. who was always
a pleasure to call, and to the PRC consulate who were so patient with me when
I needed to go get one more thing authenticated. And of course to my DH who
has been my rock when I needed him and who will be the best Baba sniff sniff.
Okay I am going to bed.
I am sending the completed dossier and pics to CCAI tomorrow:)

Monday, August 09, 2004

August 9. Washington DC

With all our paperwork together, Taney headed to Washington DC to visit the British Consulate where she met Martine the delightful lady who has helped us in the past from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, then to the State Department in DC before heading to the Consulate for the Peoples Republic of China.

A minor pothole was hit as although the papers the originated from Pennsylvania had been notarized, and authenticated in Harrisburg the state capitol of Pennsylvania, the PRC insisted on the authentication from the DC office of the Harrisburg authentication.

This instruction did not seem clear from our adoption manual through our agency, although Taney managed to get back to the State Department in DC, return to the PRC and at the time of writing expects to be able to collect all the papers from the PRC before the end of today.

I have my fingers crossed.

The alternative would have possibly been a trip to New York for Taney, but as of this morning we understand that there is an up to three week wait for authentication of papers, so despite the very long day that started at 3:15am this morning, it is possible, very possible that we will have our paperchase complete by the end of today.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I797 received.

Much activity has been going on since the last posting and here is an update that Taney has written on behalf of us both.

My husband should apologize the absence of any postings to the red thread. I am indeed guilty as well for the lack of postings since the Fingerprint appointment. So, what has been happening... Well, we sent in the Homestudy as soon as we were fingerprinted and waited and we waited for the USCIS to send us the infamous I171H (petion to adopt) which name has been changed to the I-797. On June the 23rd we received a letter from the homeland security office being much elated I opened it and to my shock they asked for an addendum to our Homestudy because our SW had pharaphased two parts of the Homestudy ARG! After many panic phone calls to our SW who was on Vacation, we got a hold of her. She sent us the pages which arrived July 2. We sent the addendum to USCIS all the while try to keep a contact between USCIS open so I would know when the I-797 would arrive or at least know if any further problems with the Homestudy addendum. Our package arrived July 6th and at this time the person in charge of processing our paperwork decided to take a leave of absence for one week. What was not told to us that she lengthened her absence from one week to two weeks. When I called the USCIS July the 23rd to see how our paperwork was going I was informed that person in Charge was again away from the office. I immeaditly broke down in tears and demanded a supervisor. I spoke to a very nice lady who first had to find my Paperwork then process it. After much angst and tears the I-797 arrived in my mail box July 30.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

May 5 Fingerprints and I600A

This week has been a good-news highly productive week.

With the home study complete and a date corrected, our second filing of our I600A is complete.

Taney & I also received notification for our fingerprinting in Philadelphia that we plan to do first thing on Thursday May 13.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

April 28 Home Study completely finished

As I look to the last post almost a month ago, I can't beleive that it has taken a month to dot the i's and cross the t's on the home study and make the language suitable for the CCAA, Chinese authorities.

There have been a number of feverent phone calls between us, CCAI and AHA our home study social workers to button this part of the process up.

Since the last post on March 30, I have been to Washington DC twice. The first occassion was to the British Consulate, the same day as PM Tony Blair was in town. The British Consulate is in the same compound as the Embassy and is sited next door to the home of Vice President Dick Chaney.

Both Taney & I had spoken with Martine, a lovely scottish lady working at the consulate to help with the police clearance report from Scotland Yard in London. She with the direct help of the Consul provided three copies of my birth certificate and three copies of our marriage certificate as these were originated in the UK. The whole process took a two hour personal visit arriving at 8am in the morning, while I waited I sat and watched footage of Blair and Bush in Sedgefield, five months before, and before their meeting today together with the result of the Apprentice TV Program the night before that I was doing my best to avoid seeing at any cost.

My day started at 3am, where I drove to 30th Street Station to catch an Amtrak Train to DC that had started out in Boston at 9pm the previous evening. I don't take Amtrak very often, we have this love-hate relationship. I love taking trains, but hate Amtrak with a passion. To remind me why, you only have to board an overnight train at 5:30am to find bodies, blankets and pillows scatterd around the coach class carriages and little chance of a seat without a limb from the next seat not draped over your seat.

It seemed like entering a world of zombies. I hate Amtrack.

I arrived in Union Station DC around 7:30am. Union Station is one of the most beautiful stations I have ever travelled through, its walls simply evoke the romatic notion of rail travel. (Except at 5:30am).

After Martine had more than helped with the necessary papers, and the consulate charged a small fortune for the pleasure, I had to take one copy of the birth certificate and marriage certificate to the US State Department Authentication Office.

The Authentication Office is located in a small shopping plaza, one simply took a number, filled out a form and waitied for the stamps, and State Department letters to be added with the name Colin Powell added. This took no real time as I sat and watched MSNBC and live coverage of Blair arriving in Washington by plane.

These copies now needed to be taken to the consulate of the Peoples Republic of China for their authentication. Another taxi ride took me to a non-descript office building, no flags and the foyer being worked on by builders. One American asked me where I was going and I replied "PRC?" I was directed through a small door and told few doors down on your left. I passed All State Insurance office, ladies restroom, gents restroom and the next door was the PRC.

Organized chaos! I took a number and realized I was in for a long, long wait. So I sat and watched live coverage of Blair and Bush in the rose garden at the White House with no sound and chinese subtitles.

At 12:30 all four windows closed for lunch, and I was still some number away from my ticket. Eventually after two and a half hours my papers for authentication were taken and I was told to return the following Wednesday for a pick-up.

The best laid plans and all that, I failed at the last fence to get the papers authenticated before returning to Philadelphia. Feeling somewhat deflated i left to find a taxi to take me back to Union Station where I battled with the crowds for a seat back to Philly arriving back at 5pm.

Brother-in-law Chris offered to drive me to DC the following Wednesday for the pick up. It is a three hour car journey both ways and te wait at the PRC lasted about an hour. Nevertheless the papers were authenticated without questions and another part of our documenation complete.

Also completed since March 30, the first filing of the I600A, with the home study complete today the second filing of the I600A can also be made in the next few days. We now await an appointment for fingerprinting which given staff difficulties at the Philadelphia office may set our timetable back. But Taney has a plan to bump our file up the pile.

The final piece of the jigsaw completed in the last week by others are our doctors reports and accomponying letters. We are in the best of health.

Add to this that we have completed our Financial Report and our Petition, our letter to the Chinese officials to request our daughter for adoption is complete.

All of this could not have been possible without a number of people. First and foremost Taney for keeping tabs on absolutely everything, Hiliary and Andrea at CCAI for pushing our dossier along and getting the home study prepared for Chinese authorities, Martine at the UK Consulate for going above and beyond usual consulate help and Chris for the long drive to and from DC and my boss Terry for being very, very considerate in letting me have the personal time for my forrays to DC.

Friday, April 02, 2004

March 30, Home Study Completed.

A scant eight pages long, our home study is complete.

The process of the home study has not been the easiest of processes to personally work through. While I recognize that difficult questions need to be asked and answered, one thing I have discovered is that despite my outwardly open nature, there are some private parts of my life that I would prefer to keep just that, which I have had to address during this process.

Our Home Study process was concluded over six hours of meetings including one three hour meeting at our home.

We now move on with the process, as we have received our dossier from CCAI our agency in Colorado who are really good and working things through with us. It is truly a paper chase now that includes a trip to the British Embassy in Washington DC the week after Easter.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

March 21, Spring.

I have some interesting stories to recount since the last posting.

Both Taney & I have completed the medical reports that we need for our home study. Dr Goisse our new physician, left a note with letter needed to wish us every success in our adoption journey.

CCAI our agency contacted us in the last few days to remind us to return some papers that needed to be notarized. The local bank in the town that we opened our adoption account had a notary who we saw yesterday. Normally their is a fee for this service, but as we have discovered many times already people are only too willing to offer help freely with a smile when they realize they are part of our adoption journey.

Yesterday, the first day of Spring, Taney & I took time-out to enjoy our adoption journey, and visited a couple of new baby stores located in King of Prussia PA and Broomall PA and yes we did a little shopping that we simply could not resist!
The store in King of Prussia was very posh, and somewhat unique in the quality of the baby cribs, bedding and decor that we could only dream about affording. It was all beautiful, one of the crib sets had little doznes of sleeping rabbits in different postures on them in a style I can best describe as 1940-1950 ink drawings. We did make a purchase, a musical mobile that is quite simply beautiful and not much more than one that Baby's are Us might have charged - but far better.

The second store was on a light industrial park, "Baby Supermarket" and we throughly recommend those in the Philly area to visit. We are still looking at cribs and changing tables and this gave a great alternative to the Baby's are Us selection with a better build quality and selection.

We also made a couple of purchases, a "Life Book" that had special pages for adoption. We had been looking for this for a very long time as many Baby books are inappropriate as they focus on the record keeper being the birth mother. We found a great bag that fits on the back of our new McLaren stroller, made by McLaren and also given a little toy free for just showing up. It was a pleasure to visit a baby store that was outwardly adoption friendly.

Next Monday we have our third meeting with our home study agency in AHA in West Chester PA. The meeting on March 3 at our home lasted three hours. We answered many questions together, took Sherie our Home Study Social Worker on a tour of the house, and then she wanted to ask questions of us individually. The process and the questions were one might describe very intrusive into our personal lives, and the time we were children, but they are necessary. In general both Taney & I are very private people, it is necessary however for Sherie to ask questions that may be difficult as this is what she must do and that we had to answer them for the sake of our daughter. Preparing the house fo the home study in March was looking back on the process hilarious. The degree of cleaning and babyproofing the house was insane even by the standards of the home study. But now we look back, pleased that this part of the process is complete and move on.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

February 29, Home Study just days away.

A couple of things happened this week, the police clearance reports returned from Harrisburg on Friday and we are thrilled at the speed of the turnaround.

With our home study just days away, and that yesterday was a wonderful spring day, we threw open windows, got that first rush of fresh air in the house and spruced the house as part of an early spring clean.

A trip to Home Depot we also purchased a number of childproof items for the kitchen and for the nursery. The nursery currently yellow, soon to be painted fairytale pink, now has every electrical outlet baby-proofed. Indeed everyroom has been babyproofed as best we can over the weekend. Including new catches on the cleaning fluids kept under the sink. We also bought new smoke detectors and have working smoke detectors on all three levels of our home.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Moving in the right direction.

Since our home study part one, we have been quietly working through some of the paperwork and some other "fun" stuff as we continue to move in the right direction.

Our three cats (Jaffa, Truffles and Kiki) have all been taken to the vet to bring their shots up to date.

A trip to Home Depot was on the list last weekend as we headed to pick out a paint color for the nursery. Long gone are the days of pre-made paint colors, today it is mixed by computer. What color is our nursery to be, - well as we are only going to to this once, we selected a Disney color, Fairtale Pink.

While baby sitting for Glenn, Tommy and Siobhan on Monday, we both sat and completed our Police Check and Department of Child Welfare forms that were sent to Harrisburg PA on Friday. We were both required to complete a form each, total four forms and needed to submit a money order for each. When Taney went to arrange this, the kind lady processing the request on hearing that the money orders were for our adoption waived the processing fee. Glenn who is interested in word puzzles now was very interested in the government word puzzles we were completing, as the grids to enter phone numbers and such looked like something he could play with.

When I arrived home on Friday, I found a giant panda in our family room. As part of a major sale at the foodstore this afternoon Taney picked up a panda for $3, bearly (no-pun intended) a tenth of the full cost. Who could say no. We have named this panda, Laura, the other panda we have in the house at christmas we called G.W.

Finally, this week, and after I had posted this entry, Taney and I have been asked by our home study social worker to answer a number of questions in writing before meeting with her for Home study - part 2, tour of our home. I thought as a matter of record I would list the questions for your information.

1. What are your feelings about adoption? What are the feelings of your extended family?

2. Is non applicable as this is an international adoption.

3. What are your goals and expectations (educationally or otherwise) for your child?

4. In what ways will you handle the situation if you child has emotinal problems, learning problems, physical problems?

5. What causes stress in your life and how do you handle stress?

6. What was the greatest dissapointment in my life? What were your short-term and long-term reactions and responses to this dissapointment?

7. Name your strengths and weaknesses?

8. Explain how you manage you anger?

9. In what manner do you and your significant other resolve conflicts?

10. Under what circumstances would you consider counseling for yourself, your marriage, or your child?

11. Have you ever been abused physically or emotionally? Explain.

12. Describe any history of addiction in your family.

I am sure you will agree these are probing questions. Now I am off to answer them.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Home study - Part 1.

This morning Taney & I met with Sheri at our Home Study Agency, licensed to conduct homestudies in the state of Pennsylvania.

The meeting lasted a little under two hours and we were both questioned on questions we expected and other we were not. In conclusion it was a good meeting and we have a new pile of papers to pull together for the home study, and a target date for Home Study - Part 2, at our home on March 3.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Where are all the Dads on APC?

The following is a posting added to the Yahoo Adopting Parents from China APC boards tonight and also to my London Chimes blog page.

The subject is where are the Dad's who are adopting from China and why do the rarely chime in on the subject matter posted on APC.

This is my tonge in cheek response.

Good evening to Kurt and all the guys on APC who lurk quietly and read these posts.

The question has been raised "Where R the Dads?" in the APC and similar message boards. As one of the above "lurkers" and occassional (very occassional) contributors, I have decided to chime in on this topic.

My dear wife (DW) Taney is a frequent contributor to APC and established my access to APC and Paperchase groups. Both I have to add are excellent, testiment to the great people who are at one stage or another in the process of bringing a member of their family home.

As thrilled as I am to be a Dad-to-be, my personal email account is deluged each day with the many emails on great topics. I would like to say that I have the time to read them all, but hey-you-know, the small matter of working hours and commuting actually prevents me from reading more than a handful of topics that grab my attention or have my attention grabbed by DW telling me of the latest must-read, must respond subject in the evenings.

Kurt, in your original email you wrote:

While walking back to the office from the post office yesterday afternoon, I passed one of our many shops that sells kids clothes and things. From window shopping, to stopping in the doorway and finally asking the big question, "Do you sell baby clothes?" I found myself being ushered by the owner to a corner of the shop. 50% Off All Clearance Items. Wow, nirvana. Paydirt, The holy grail. Geez, I'm in this shop with a bunch of women, and here I am kneeling down to pull out some small dresses - Hawaiian print (having lived in the islands for more than six years, I prefer the spirit of Aloha) - and then the owner begins firing off a bunch of questions, with the first being, "What size is she?" "I have no idea," and feeling a bit stupid over that answer I clarified that we were adopting out of China. That's when the conversation got heated!

DW and I are in the paperchasing stage we expect to be DTC in June or July 2004, and have our first homestudy meeting next week on Friday the 13th. Yet in the lead-up to the holiday season last year we were prompted by family members to register for gifts that we would need eventually.

As a Brit married to an American, the whole concept of registering for anything is to put it mildly an alien experience. I may have well as been a Mars Rover walking for the first time into Baby's R Us and being handed that gun thing. Good-grief, couldn't they have given me a pad and pen? But this is all computerized and as many readers on APC will know Baby's R Us are slowly being dragged into an adoption-friendly age. Again thanks to APC we were warned in advance that registering with them more than nine months ahead threw their computer into error mode. Resulting in me facing off with the store manager and accusing the company of discrimination. (I totally digress).

My first visit to Baby's R Us with Taney was like landing on Mars. "Do we really need most of this stuff?" And confronted with a wall of bottles, liners and other feeding related implements I asked the dumb question, "how do we know which ones to register for?" If there is one thing I have learned is that I have much to learn!

Half-way through our four-hour visit to register in Baby's R Us we "arrived" in the area for car-seats and strollers. Safe-ground I thought. - Wrong! Even the simplest strollers I could not fathom how to collapse and reading the small print on the sizes and weights for each car seat simply made me dizzy. DW and I agreed that if we could not work out how to unfold / fold a stroller in thirty seconds, then we would find a different model that would meet our needs.
As if I was not brain-fazed enough, we drove to our local Zaney Brainy and registered for the other stuff we could not find in Baby's R Us.

Christmas Day was great, we ended up with the stroller we wanted (McLaren Triumph - its made in the UK), the Eddie Bower car seat we selected, and a ton of other smaller items including bedding. My birthday was last week, add to the list the high-chair, bottles, liners and a Baby Einstein musical toy.

Before the guys reading this think I am a complete woose, hey I also got a bottle of liquor from one of my sister-in-laws.

To be serious for a moment, bringing my daughter home is the single most important thing in my life today, even with the daily distractions of my family, my work and my friends. Originally I was the reluctant spouce, not so much avoiding the subject of adoption, but unable to commit to the concept of adopting. That was about a year ago. My taking the time to sit and read and understand as much as possible about adopting helped me catch up with my wife on the subject and fully commit to this.

Heading off to the baby stores is not as an alien experience that it once was, (but I have yet to walk in alone) so who knows. Its all that other stuff sitting on our registry that confuses the heck out of me. I guess we need it all, and more besides.

The whole adoption journey is a real adventure for me, at least that is how I see it, and to be honest how I approach life in general, as an adventure. I enjoy the opportunity of taking the road-less-travelled, and if my path takes me from Britain to America to find my wife and to China to find my daughter then it is to be.

Another contributor to APC recently mentioned if there are any adoption bloggers out there. Please visit which I have set up to record the Friend Family adoption story.

I thank you for the opportunity to write this posting this evening, and wish everyone a great weekend.

Malcolm (41)
DW - Taney (29.5)
DTC expected June/July 2004.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

The first of the homestudies.

On February the 13th we are going to have the first of many homestudies. To explain to those who don't know the adoption process well I will explain.
When you adopt from China you are required to have a series of a homestudies. A home study is not just an examination of the home but more importantly it is an examination of the family. Questions are asked of those living in the home and sometimes of people for whom the prospective child will be in contact with. To see if the family is stable in every which way. To see if these perspective parents would be "good" parents. The first of the homestudies is for the state to say, yes I believe these persons mentioned are approved to be parents. The next are at the end these are called homestudy follow up. The part of the homestudy is required by the CCAA not to be confused with the CCAI (our agency). The CCAA is the adoption organization of Chinese government. This is to make sure that the child is settling in. What one needs to keep in mind as you continue to read The Red Thread is that we are dealing with 5 different departments continually to make this adoption happen.
1: Adoption Agency (CCAI)
2: Homestudy agency (Adoption Associates)
3: The State of Pennsylvania (
4: The US Government (BCIS)"Which is constantly changing its name it was the INS."
5: China (CCAA)
Okay today's lesson is over.
Getting back to our news. Like I said on February 13, which is a Friday is our first homestudy. I don't know if we should be worried about the visit because everyone even the most perfect individual is a little worried when it comes to the homestudy. I am not too worried and I know Malcolm isn't but it will be Friday the 13th. I will let you know how it goes...

Written by Taney.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Chinese New Year - and the arrival of a package on the 22nd.

Happy new year to you all as we enter and celebrate the year of the monkey.

We hope that it is a sign of good fortune that on the 22nd, we received written confirmation of our acceptance by our agency CCAI and the next pack of papers that Taney & I are itching to start to work through tomorrow.

Returning to the subject of Chinese new year, we were sent the following information that is of great interest to us:
Things to DO:
Greet others with "Kung Hei Fat Choi" which means "Wishing You
Prosperity and Wealth".
Give two Lai Sees to each child as happiness comes in twos. This is
your way of passing good luck to the next generation.
Business owners also give Lai See to employees and associates.
Wear new clothes - preferably in red for luck.

Things to AVOID
No housework or cooking is allowed for the first two days of the
New Year. Sweeping and cutting are especially taboo, because they
represent the sweeping away or severing of good luck.
Don't wash your hair on the first and last day of the New Year.
Don't greet people who are in mourning.
Don't drop your chopsticks.
Don't say words related to sickness and death.
Don't borrow or lend money.
Avoid arguing and using negative language.
Don't slaughter poultry or livestock to avoid any association with
Avoid breaking anything as it is indicative of bad luck ahead - if
you do, you'll have to say "lok day hoi fa, fu gwei wing wah" which
means when you drop something it breaks into pieces like a flower
blossoming bringing wealth and prosperity or "peace for all time" to
make sure the year is a lucky one.

Coincidently, a new colleague working with me, presented each member of our team with a small brown envelope containing something that could be better than a small amount of money, a new jersey lottery ticket that could yield millions. Well I can wish.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Chinese New Year - Year of the Monkey.

One thing that has crossed our minds recently is that given we anticipate our adoption to complete December 2004 or January or February 2005, this means that our daughter is most likely to be born during the year of the Monkey.

We will mark the occassion as this is one of great significance to us.

January 22,2004. This is the first day in the Year of the Monkey. Interesting cultural link here.

The twelve zodiac signs
These are the result of zoning time and direction into twelve blocks, each block being given a name of an animal based on the ancient Chinese concept that all time shifts based on these twelve units. Those individuals born during a particular year were said to inherit some of the personalities of that year's animal.

Monkey (saru) --- People born in the year of the Monkey are the erratic geniuses of the Zodiac cycle. They are clever and skilful in grand-scale operations and are smart when making financial deals. They are inventive, original and are able to solve the most difficult problems with ease.

Tiger (tora) --- Born 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914
People born in the year of the Tiger are sensitive, stubborn, short-tempered, courageous, selfish and slightly mean ... yet they are deep thinkers and are capable of great sympathy for those they are close to and love.

Rabbit (usagi) --- Born 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915
People born in the year of the Rabbit are the most fortunate. They are smooth talkers, talented, ambitious, virtuous and reserved. They have exceedingly fine taste and regarded with admiration and trust.

That all given, a very intereting thing happened at the Chinese Buffet restaurant Taney & I visited last night. As we were about to leave, a family at a nearby table left first and their daughter, a beautiful little american-asian girl not more than three years old, bent down and picked up a penny, a one cent coin and gave it to us.

In England, there is a saying, see a penny, pick it up and all day long you will have good-luck.

We are keeping the penny to bring us good luck.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Application to CCAI in the mail.

It was with tremendous excitement that our application form was mailed off today to CCAI.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Application to CCAI

The i's are dotted and the t's crossed on the application form to CCAI that Taney & I signed on Christmas Day.

The application form was sitting under our tree on Christmas morning and was our gift to each other on Christmas Day. The second gift to be opened on Christmas Day was a Panda for Taney with a special message attached to his arm. We say he as the Panda has been named "G.W."

Today our mail included a letter from our Doctor that is required to complete the additional papers to CCAI. Monday morning the application pack will be copied and mailed off.