The Many Adventures of Keira!

This is our page to document our family's adoption journey- starting from when we first started planning for our little one, to when we brought her home. We're also going to keep this updated with all of the things that Keira has been up to since she's been home with us here in the U.S!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Making Travel Arrangements

Well..good news! June received our passports etc today. What a relief! I spent most of the morning going back and forth over the phone finalizing the travel arrangements to China. The arrangements for the In-China travel has already been planned and taken care of by our Adoption Agency, but we have to get the travel to China taken care of. June was giving me the prices for travel and WOW! It sounded REALLY high! I was sure I saw lower prices, so I asked her if I could check flight prices on my own first and I would let her know either way what we would do. First I called United and was given a great price! Someone was trying to call into the phone, so I had to hang up with her and when I called back in about 5 minutes later, the price went up about $500! HUH?!?!? In 5 minutes??? I called back in again to see if it was a fluke and it was actually getting even WORSE! I checked online and the price was the same as when I first called in, so I called back and told them the flights etc. I couldn't book it online because we are buying a return flight for Keira with her own seat and it wouldn't allow me to book her flight separately. When it finally came down to it, booking directly through United was about $40 less than if June did it. I decided to go ahead and let the travel agency do it to save the hassle. Poor Dan....he has such a headache from all of the stress over the past couple days.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

VERY stressful day!

Today, June from Wonderful Travel (the agency that is handling our Visas) called. She was wondering when we were going to send our passports and paperwork so that she could start the process. Uh... Dan sent those out on Friday! Uh oh...
I called Dan looking for a tracking number and the number he gave me was not showing online. He headed over to the Postal place that he sent the docs UPS and they didn't even have the info in their systems. NOW it's time to panic!!! The lady that Dan spoke to headed over to the UPS office to try and track down our package while I headed to the USPS Passport office. The lady in the office was so cold, uncaring and completely unsympathetic to our plight. As a matter of fact, she wanted nothing to do with me since I didn't have an appointment--even though there was no one else there. After her "Oh well, I guess you have to start all over again" attitude, I frankly wasn't sure what to do. Dan called and said that he was still waiting to hear back from the lady that was searching for our package and talked to the adoption agency.
Well, he finally heard from her--they found the package in a bin somewhere in the back without numbers. It hadn't even been put in the system. I was LIVID! Everything was finally mailed off, but I'm still not going to feel comfortable until I have the passports back in my hands.
On a lighter note... I got Keira some Uggs! Pink ones and Chestnut ones like Gigi gave me. :) They are too cute for words!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I have been thinking about Lucy alot lately. Lucy was our sweet, gentle dog that loved being around children. That was the time that she would smile the most. Whenever children were around, she would light up and wag her tail. Dan and I always thought about how much she would love having Keira around the house to play with.

A few months ago, Lucy became very sick with what we thought was Vestibular disease. Normally, after a few weeks, the symptoms go away. With her, she just got worse pointing to something more serious- a brain tumor. Just before Christmas, she took a turn for the worse and started to have seizures and went blind. One of the hardest decisions that we had to make was to say goodbye to our good girl. We wanted her to stay with us because we loved her so much- but we had to stop thinking about what we wanted and think about what was best for her. We still love and miss her very much.

Jackson, our other dog seems a little lonely without her. I think Lucy would have loved Keira...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Our Itinerary!

Checked the mail and lo and behold...there was the letter from WHFC with our itinerary! Here is the plan:

Feb 22- leaving from LAX
Feb 23- Arriving in Beijing
Feb 24- Sightseeing at the Great Wall
Feb 25- Sightseeing the Summer Palace in the morning, then flying out to Guiyang
Feb 26- GOTCHA DAY!!! This is the day that we get Keira!
Feb 27- Registration and notarization
Feb 28- Local sightseeing in Guiyang
Mar 1- Local sightseeing in Guiyang
Mar 2- Getting legal documents
Mar 3- Fly from Guiyang to Guangzhou
Mar 4- Local sightseeing in Guangzhou
Mar 5- Physicals for Keira and Photos
Mar 6- Visa appointment
Mar 7- Swearing in ceremony at the Consulate/ Fly back to Beijing
Mar 8- On our way back home!!!

WOW! That's alot of flying!

Lorraine took Dan and I out for lunch for a belated birthday present. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs! We went to Sammy's and I think that we took more food home than we actually ended up eating. After that we went to Babies R Us and did a little more shopping for warmer clothes for Keira. A lot of our wonderful friends and family wanted to know if we were registered anywhere, so for anyone that wanted to know, we are now registered at Babies R Us. I think that it's available online as well!

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Date.....Maybe?

We received a tentative date from WHFC yesterday! We have a bit more paperwork to send in for our visa along with the travel agency working on the arrangements etc, but if all goes well, it looks like we'll be on a plane to get our baby on February 22nd!!! I can't believe that it's so close! It feels like we've been waiting an eternity. The wait time seemed so much easier when we were just waiting for the referral, but it's been agony waiting since we now know who our baby is.
Dan called me yesterday in the afternoon. When I answered the phone, all he said was "Ouch!!!" Guess he got his shots too, huh? :) I STILL have bruises all over my arm. Dan and I were comparing battle scars last night before starting on the paperwork.
I started filling out the paperwork for the travel agency to take care of our Visa paperwork and for the travel arrangements when I noticed that the paperwork was going to be due by January 29th. That is this coming Monday! In order to get the paperwork there on time we would have to Fed Ex the papers today. No problem, except that we needed to attach passport pictures again. We already sent our passport pictures that we had for the dossier and when we were getting our passports, so we had no other pictures to send. Dan got me up off my butt to go to CVS to get passport pictures at about 9. I did a quick hack job on my make-up and we were on our way. The lady pulls down a white screen and has me stand in front of it while she gets out her digital camera. This is very different from when we originally got our pictures from Walmart. There they had a specific camera set up that was a certain distance etc. This time, she was a couple of INCHES away from my face. I told her that I thought that she was too close and she said that she was told that she had to take it that close. She took my mugshot and moved on to Dan's. When we looked at the pictures, we couldn't stop laughing. They looked so distorted from being so close. Have you ever seen those dog pictures called "The Dog" that are so close up and distorted of their faces? Well, that would describe our pictures! We brought the pictures home and Dan started trying to cut them to be the size of our other passport pictures. They were WAAAY too close, just like we told her. By the time he got the pictures down to the size that they were supposed to be, there was nothing left of me but my huge distorted nose! If we weren't so tired and mad by this time, we probably would have laughed. We went back and had her do them again from a further distance. By now, I had already washed off my make-up, so it really did look like a mugshot--Oh well, what can you do? At least it's going on a visa and not on something like a driver's license that I would have to show everyone whenever you did anything. My picture my driver's license is bad enough! I would never show anyone that picture, but to give you an idea of what it looked like, I posted a picture! :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I called Kaiser this morning preparing for the worst. Everyone has been saying that you should get antibiotics etc for the trip as a safeguard in case you get sick etc. It's been a bit of a struggle with Kaiser trying to get things taken care of for the adoption. Most of the time though, things have gone smoothly. I was expecting a fight when I called to make an appointment with my doctor to see him about the trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually have a travel advisory representative that you have to talk to. I called and gave her some info such as how long we would be there and what provinces we were going to. From there, she called in orders for all of the other shots that I would have to take and would send my prescriptions for antibiotics and any other prescriptions that I would need for the trip. WOW! It was pretty easy! The only thing added was since I wasn't sure if I had a second round of rubella and mumps, she wanted me to take blood tests to see if I needed to get those shots as well.

Well, I headed over to Kaiser's lab for the blood work and shots. Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I can't stand needles and beg whenever I can to have the tiny little baby needles. While sitting there getting blood drawn, the lab tech misses the vein and starts moving the needle around to try and find it... all around my arm. After that, he switched and tried again. This time he was able to get enough to do the labs.

If that wasn't bad enough, I then headed over to the nurse's clinic for my shots. I then was shot over and over again in the same arm that I had just had 2 jabs for the blood tests. I now feel like someone has thrown bricks at the same spot on my arm over and over again. I'm a walking pin cushion. It's all worth it though!

As "celebration" for finishing my shots, I headed over to Baby Depot to buy some clothes for Keira! Normally, I'm more of a gift certificate person, so needless to say, I am ashamed to say that I don't have much baby clothes buying experience! Boy was I overwhelmed!!! Keira will be 14 1/2 months by the time we go to pick her up, so I wasn't sure what sizes to buy for her. I've heard that you should buy smaller clothes since the babies are all much smaller, however, I've also heard that I should buy clothes for 12 months for her since she has been in foster care. I decided to buy clothes for 12 months old along with a sprinkling of clothes for 9 months old. I bought clothes, shoes, socks, bibs. I used to LOVE Max's (my nephew) little rompers that he used to wear, so I found some very cute ones for Keira. I couldn't find any nice thick jackets, so depending on what the weather looks like, I might have to get at least one from somewhere else! Hopefully in another color than pink since that is what color I bought everything in. You can't tell that I'm excited about having a little girl, can you? ;)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More Paperwork

We received a Fed Ex package from our agency with lots and lots of paperwork to fill out! Amongst the paperwork are Keira's original referral pictures, her original medical exam paperwork along with the english translations and all of the paperwork that we need to fill out for the referral. We also have to fill in the paperwork accepting the referral and send in the payment for the agency fees etc. I went to the bank and got a cashier's check. We're really close!!! By the middle of next week, we'll have more info I think on the exact dates etc. I started looking around for carseats, strollers etc, but I decided to let Dan come with me and be part of the decision making on it. Safety Safety Safety is the main concern--but of course it still has to be cute ;). My friend Thao told me about Britax carseats. They are a little pricey ,but I know that Thao always does lots and lots of research on things and chose that carseat for a reason. I think I'll check if they have any good deals on them on Ebay as well!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're almost there!!!

Today we got the call that we've been waiting for! Our agency called to let us know that we received our TA! Up until now, we were matched by our agency for Keira, but were waiting for the approval from China for the adoption as well as to travel to get our baby- well we finally got it! We sent in our Letter of Intent (LOI) on 11/22 and it's been about 57 days of waiting since then. The wait times have been all over the place lately for TAs that there is no way that I could have predicted that it would come today.
They are still working out the particulars with the travel arrangements and visas etc but the estimated time that they think we will travel will be either the end of February or the beginning of March. That's 1-2 months earlier than we thought! We'll find out the exact travel dates by next week.
One bummer out of it is that because we thought we were not going to be traveling until April or so, we went ahead and redid our homestudy and renewed our 171-H since it was going to expire by April 4th. Now it looks like we will be home before then...although cutting it close. It possibly cost us an extra $1800 to do all of the updates that could have gone towards the trip since it looks like we'll be going before the expiration. It's sooooo close though that I'm ok with it. Better safe than sorry- besides... I wouldn't trade anything for the fact that we'll be getting our baby girl sooner than we expected! We're so excited!
I went to the bank a little while ago to see how long of notice they would need to give me crisp, clean bills for giving as part of the final payment. You would think that I was the only person in the world that ever asked them that by the looks on their faces!
Now I have to figure all of the things out that we will need for traveling as well as making the arrangements for work! So much to do- so little time...
What was I doing all of the time that I've been waiting for about 18 months??? SHEESH!

We're coming to get you soon Keira!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What's in a Name?

Although our baby had a note attached to her clothes with her birthdate, she had not been named. The orphanage named her "Hui Xiao Wen". "Hui is a Chinese ethnic group and according to Wikipedia, it is from an ethnic group in China typically distinguished by their practice of the Islamic religion. They are one of the ethnic minority groups that are officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. The breakdown of the name Xiao Wen according to my friend John from work is this:

Xiao means to understand, be brilliant in or an expert of
Wen means Literature, Academy and Culture

The summary then of what her name means that she will be very smart! On the description given by her caretakers, they describe her as Smart, Lovely and Lively. Yes she is :)

Monday, January 8, 2007

CNN on International Adoption

Although I personally missed the broadcast (not much of a CNN watcher), there was a big uproar about a show that Paula Zahn had regarding racism and International Adoption. Here is a link to the transcripts :

Anyway, apparently all people adopting from China are racists that adopt babies from there because of their lighter skintone and because we think they will be smarter. Even if it probably doesn't impact Dan and I as much considering that I am part Chinese, I am still VERY offended by the broadcast. On occasion we have gotten the questions on why Dan and I have chosen to adopt from China and not from either the US or the Philippines. I thought I would take a second to answer:

Why not domestic adoption?
I have to be honest in that Dan and I did not consider this as an option. Why?

1. Although we do know some families that have gone this route and had great experiences, we also both personally know people that have attempted domestic adoptions that have failed- multiple times. The process is very different in the US with trying to adopt where there is not a "waiting list" and where a referral is made after a period of time. In the US, you are competing with other families in hopes that a birth mother will choose you to adopt their baby. In other words, you could be waiting a short amount of time...or a LOOOOOOONG amount of time depending if you happen to be chosen over another family. The birth mother may also change her mind even after choosing you as the adoptive family for a period of time. This was such a scary thought for us. There was just too much uncertainty
2. Many times, although the birth mother has relinquished rights, there may be a birth father that was not aware of the baby that will now fight for custody with a very good chance of winning. You could have already adopted the baby and after a period of time, have to hand the baby back over.
3. Most of the babies and children available for adoption in the United States are African American. We would still be last in regard to consideration because we are not of African American descent- In China, although attempts are made to match a baby as much as possible to facial features and background, most of the waiting period is according to the time that your documents have been in China. There aren't priority levels given according to your race.
4. Heard of the recent case of the woman charged with kidnapping the twins that she put up for adoption after they were already placed and adopted by a family? Think that is the only time that an adoptive family has had to fight this? It is tragic for someone that has to give their children up for adoption for whatever reason. It is tragic for the families that have taken the children in as their own and adopted them. It is especially tragic for the children torn in this battle.

Why not the Philippines?
This was an option that Dan and I considered. As a matter of fact, this was our first path that we chose when deciding to adopt.

1. The wait times at the time when we were starting the quest were anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. This was shortened slightly if one of the parents is of Filipino descent- but not much. At the time, Chinese adoptions had a wait time of 6 months. Dan and I aren't exactly spring chickens now! We won't lie about it--We wanted to start our family as soon as possible and the 6 month wait was VERY attractive!

2. The cultural differences for adoption are vastly different in the Philippines than in China although there are always exceptions to the rule. In the Philippines, with the strong religious background, the general consensus is that your family stays together no matter what. Even if the family is deathly poor, they still try as much as possible to keep the family together. Because of this, the children that are available for adoption are usually a little older and were given up for adoption because of various reasons such as grave poverty or illness. The mother may have been a prostitute or raped causing alot of psychological issues. These of course aren't the only reasons, but they are some of the reasons. In China, the main reason why children are put up for adoption are simple--- they are girls. Because of the 1 child policy in China, many families give their girls up for adoption in hopes that the next child will be a boy- much of this being very painful for the birth mother. Boys are highly regarded in China because they generally are the family caretakers when their parents grow old. They are more "valuable". Boys are given up for adoption as well if they have health issues. Is it ALWAYS the reason and are there illnesses and other issues why children are put up for adoption?....SURE! The main reasons though are for correctible issues or because of their gender.

No, it is not because they are "smarter" than other children....No, it isn't because of their skintone. All in all, Dan and I have been through too much heartache in trying to start our family. Enough to where we wanted to protect ourselves and our baby that we adopt from as much pain as possible. That is your job as a parent. Everyone chooses the route that is best for them when it comes to adoption. These were some of the reasons that we chose the route that we did. Many people like to tell you what they think is best for you. I think that those people should pay attention to what is best for them and let others make the decisions that they make for themselves- Besides ALL children need homes and families to love them. All children, no matter whether they live here in the US or Internationally.

Dan will tell you it is because he wanted a baby with a nose like mine. I'll tell you he's crazy ;)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The New Year

Here we are! 2007! This will definitely be our year. We started the adoption process in 2005 around June when we first send in our application to our agency (Wide Horizons for Children). At first the wait time was about 6-8 months, so we thought that we would be bringing Keira home in 2006. Obviously things didn't work out that way. This will definitely be our year though!
With all of the extensions in waiting timeframe that have occurred (I believe currently the wait time is up to 15-18 months and growing to possibly being 2 years), alot of our original paperwork has expired!
Last night, we had our homestudy update. After that, we will get our new 171H and continue with the wait. Hopefully we will be traveling either by the end of March or sooner...hopefully!
I realized that I never really wrote alot about the information that we have for Keira.
She was born on December 20th, 2005. On December 23rd, she was found abandoned in Baijin Village in Huishui County and was brought into the Baijin police station. She had a note attached to her stating just her birthdate. Soon after, she was brought to a foster home to be raised. The decription that they give her is that she is "smart and lovely". She likes to listen to music, likes to sit in the cart outside to play and is a lively and lovely girl.
From what we know now, she is currently in Guiyang- still in the same Province of Guizhou.
We can't wait to see her...