Friday, December 14, 2007

Wedded bliss

Today we celebrate eleven years of marriage. Can I just say that again - ELEVEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE! Wow.

Yes, just like Jamie I was a fetus when we married. Just 18 (or if you ask Aaron, "she was nearly 19!"). Aaron was so old and mature, he was 21.

Here is a slideshow depicting some of those years:

Let me tell you a little about those eleven years.
- We lived in Brisbane for the first two years while I finished my Bachelor's degree.
- We moved to Mount Isa to do my 'country service' for teaching and ended up staying for seven years.
- We bought a house.
- Somewhere in those seven years we took off and lived in China for five months.
- I started and finished my Master's degree (I graduate tomorrow!)
- We sold abovementioned house.
- We decided to adopt from China.
- We realised we were too young to adopt from China.
- So we waited.
- I changed my hair from blonde to brunette to red to raven and back to brunette.
- And we waited a little more.
- We had busy jobs with lots of travel.
- We made incredible friendships that we treasure.
- Some of those friends lived with us for periods of time. Others might as well have.
- We had fun parties in the backyard and good times camping in the open air bush.
- We played sport together and decided to learn Mandarin together.
- I coached kids' sport teams, debating teams, and computer clubs.
- Aaron played the stockmarket and golf and developed a love for cooking.
- We took holidays and discovered this amazing country of ours.
- We witnessed most of our siblings getting married, and we became an Uncle and an Aunt over and again.
- We moved back to Brisbane and purchased land in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland, where we are now building a house.
- We started the adoption process and it was the most surreal feeling in the world.
- We were APPROVED to adopt! The official notification and final report is being delivered to us by registered mail today! What a sweet anniversary gift!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Brought to you by the letter W

It's been eight weeks since our final assessment, and still no report! (Can you believe it?!) I emailed a query three weeks ago and was told they would find out the status and get back to me. I'll make contact again this week.

I was thinking today about the annoying timing of it all. I turn thirty on January 30. We were hoping to have everything ready to go so that our file can be sent as soon as possible after that. Files from Qld usually go over in batches of 5-7, so I'm hoping we will be the last couple in a batch, rather than the first. Queensland doesn't have masses of files going over, so sometimes it's a matter of waiting weeks or months to have a complete batch. If we're the first couple in a batch it will mean a bit more waiting.

Chinese New Year starts Feb 7 next year. The whole of China basically shuts down and parties for a few weeks, so it's possible that we could be held up by that.

But we'll get there. Eventually. And we will be placed with a child. One day.

It was some time around the end of 1999 (when I was almost 22 years old and 30 seemed so far away) when we decided to adopt from China, so we know what it's like to wait. We just wish we didn't have to!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

IAFQ Picnic in the park

Here are a few pics from the IAFQ Picnic in the Park today. The picnic was designed to bring a focus to intercountry adoption, particularly issues around fee increases, post adoption programs, and the need for more agreements between Australia and other countries in order to open up new programs. We had a number of guest speakers, including IAFQ's new official ambassador, Deborra-Lee Furness. Deborra-Lee and her husband Hugh Jackman have two adopted children.
Most of the other speakers were politicians, including local ministers and the Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock . I enjoyed most the speech from Jann Stuckey MP for Currumbin. She showed genuine concern and passion for intercountry adoption.

Here's the two of us, just kicking back!If you're in Australia, be sure to watch Today Tonight and A Current Affair tomorrow night (Monday 19th Nov).

**Leisa can be seen in the background of our pic, and she has written an informative post about the picnic - read it here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Aussie adoption books

I bought some new books last night, specifically relating to intercountry adoption within Australia. Kudos to Borders who have significantly expanded their range of adoption books over the past year.

Adopting Overseas (2007), subtitled as A Guide to Adopting from Australia, Plus Personal Stories that will Inspire You. It discusses the history of adoption in Australia, and relevant processes, facts and statistics as well as advice on managing a range of issues. I want to share a great passage from it that had me in tears (though that doesn't take much really), but have to see if the publishers will give permission first.
Adopting Parents' Stories (2007) which is a compilation of stories from adoptive parents and families in Australia. I haven't started this one yet, but I like the way its organised into different chapters, eg. Dreams, Loss & Grief, Hope, Conflict, Journey, Challenge - and that it is real stories and recent stories.

Unfortunately Amazon doesn't stock either of them, but both can purchased direct from the publishers (which I've linked to if you click each title).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Free rice

Go here - get smarter and feed the hungry at the same time. Read the FAQ to understand how it works.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Waiting parents dinner

We went to the IAFQ waiting parents dinner on Saturday night and made new friends and caught up with others. It was so much fun, and there was a good turn out of nearly 30 people. If you live in Brisbane and are in the process of adopting, please come to the next one! Thank you Leisa for organising the dinners all year. We have appreciated them so much.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

No report yet, but the register has reopened!

UPDATE: No, your RSS feed isn't going crazy and I haven't just written thirty new entries. I've just cleaned up some tags, sorry!

No news! (is good news?) We haven't heard back yet about our report. Will wait another couple of weeks before we contact the Dept.

It would have been nice to have been approved before last Sunday so that the new increase in costs wouldn't apply to us for post-placement visits ($1500). Because we're still waiting for approval, we have to pay it. I acknowledge that the Dept has to draw a line in the sand somewhere, but it annoys me that the only reason we're not approved yet and therefore we DO have to pay the extra is because of a hold up at their end (oh yeah, not to mention putting our file on hold mistakenly for six weeks or whatever it was).

Anyway, we could query it, but are choosing our battles wisely. Some things aren't worth making a song and dance about when there are potentially bigger fish to fry in the future. Don't want too many nasty comments on file next to our names.

In other news, the Queensland register has re-opened (hurrah!) meaning couples can now lodge their expression of interest in the process again.

In a recent letter the Minister for Child Safety outlined that couples applying now could expect to progress in 18-20 months. That is just the Qld side, not the overseas side. Yup, this is just getting approval BEFORE any files go overseas. Slap another 2 - 7 years onto that to get a realistic expectation for most couples til placement with a child. This is a 'dramatic increase' from the process in 2004 where it was not unusual for the process to take three years to get to approval stage. I'm pleased things are speeding up, but I also fear a massive backlog for countries where Qld has a quota of files. We currently only have agreements with 14 countries, and many of them have quotas. I might write about that more in a future post.

So, just dropping in to say we're still here, still waiting, and still reading all your blogs!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Assessment complete

This is Aaron. Post number three for me.

Hooray for us. Our social worker visits are over. The interviews went off without a hitch. We had heard some interesting stories before the first visit about the questions we may be asked and the way the social workers approach prospective adoptive parents. This was daunting for me. I have a reputation for talking very little and keeping my opinions to myself. For some reason I had no issues talking about my thoughts, life, family and all the rest with our social worker. I thought I may have set a record for the longest individual interview after mine took about 3 hours, I discovered that there had been some interviews much longer than mine.

The adoption case workers have a tough gig. Assessing the suitability of prospective parents is a massive responsibility and the future of the children is at stake. We were extremely fortunate. Our case worker is a star. She was easy to talk to and told us right from the beginning that if there were any issues with our expectations or our responses, she would not keep that a secret. At the end of the final interview I asked if there had been anything that we needed to clarify. We were all clear.

I can't wait to see what we sound like once the report is written, but it will be 1-2months before we get to read it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Vote for Jenny

I'd guess that many people involved with adoption from China have heard of Half the Sky foundation. Half the Sky aims to provide a home-like nurturing experience for China's orphans, so that each child has a caring adult in their life. They have some amazing programs with foster families, nannies and teachers, to support children in social welfare institutes.

Jenny Bowen, an adoptive mother, started Half the Sky ten years ago. Jenny is a contender to carry the Olympic Torch, running with eight children from a variety of Half the Sky's programs.

Please VOTE FOR JENNY (click the link and when the page opens click on Vote).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Individual interviews - take 2.

I had my individual interview on Saturday afternoon. Nothing to report on really, just that it happened. I was done in just over an hour and a half, which is a bit different to Aaron's which went for three hours! Our case worker asked us the same questions in our individual interviews, so either I don't waffle, or Aaron does! I think we only have one more interview, which will be a couple one again. Checkity-check-check-checkity-check!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A new game at Checking Boxes!

First of all, check out the new blog header for Checking Boxes!

That's not the most exciting part. Now click the baby.

Woohoo! Now you can play Beat the Paperchase at Checking Boxes! The instructions should appear, including a Play button. You need a score of 1400 to beat the paperwork.

When you've had a play, fill in the poll on the left to let me know how you went. (Poll will be active for 60 days, so if you're reading this through the archives it won't be there).

I should note that I haven't tested this on any machine than my little Mac using Firefox, so it would be great if you would let me know whether it's actually working out there in different browsers etc. It's taken me hours of playing with code to get it to work in Blogger, so I hope it's all functioning correctly!

All credit to my magnificent friend and colleague Kristine (check out a couple of her many websites - like Flash Classroom or Games in Learning). Thanks Kris, love your work and appreciate our new header and game heaps. It'll give our adopting friends something to do during the loooong wait!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gone to a good home

Oh boy. I just finished watching a repeat of Gone to a Good Home, a documentary about adoption practices in Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s. Over 150 000 unwed mothers had their babies taken from them at birth, most never even catching a glimpse of their child. They didn't choose to give their children over to adoption, they were tricked or forced into signing the papers. Most would have chosen to raise their child and would probably have done a wonderful job of it.

The documentary follows Lily's story, and if you didn't know it to be true you'd think she was making it up. The bullying, discrimination and harsh treatment that these teenage girls endured is horrific, and as a result many of them lived sorrow-filled lives.

It makes me question the circumstances surrounding birth mothers/parents of abandoned Chinese babies. We may never know whether they experience the same heartbreak yet feel that they have no choice due to societal pressures and national law. Even though their babies may not be forcefully taken from them (though in cases they are... usually before they are born), the situation that leads the mother/parents to abandon is often a result of social expectations and responsibility. Yes, I'm probably generalising and I'm acutely aware that every case is different, but I can't help but wonder how these women/couples deal with their choices (or lack of) for the remainder of their lives.

We look back on Australia's adoption history and in cases like Lily's story we are deeply saddened. We wonder, 'how could we really have been like that?' because the world is such a different place now. What will China and the world be like in another thirty years, and will Chinese society reflect on it's nation's practices and be equally saddened at the situations that lead so many children to be abandoned?

One of those babies will be ours. And there probably won't be a single day where I won't think about her birth parents. Even though loss is at the heart of adoption, it can also be something so joyous and beautiful, as families are created and children gain parents. Even though adoption is our first preference, we acknowledge that it may really be the second-best option for a child who deserves to be raised in their culture with their birth family. Unfortunately that option is not available for so many children. I think the second-best option is a pretty darn good one, and I'm working my butt off to learn everything I can about parenting transnationally adopted children to ensure that our baby always knows unconditional love and acceptance.

Individual interviews - take 1.

We were all set for our individual interviews today. Our adoption case worker arrived at about 10.30am and I boot-scooted out of the place so she could chat with Aaron first. Aaron's interview took about three hours, and when it came time for mine our case worker received a phone call about a sick child of hers, and had to leave! So now I get to bug Aaron about what she asked and how he answered. Usually the individual interviews enable the case worker to see whether we agree about important issues and have the same perspectives on things. Hopefully next weekend she can squeeze me in for a catch-up interview.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Referrals to Nov 25, 2005

Go Australia! Yeah yeah yeah! This is the first time I've seen Australia find out referral information before the rest of the world! Usually we find out a good week later than everyone else.

I don't think there are any Queensland families in the latest allocations, but I know that there is one very happy batch from Tasmania!

It's disheartening though to see that only four more days made it through this month. There must be a huge truckload of families logged in with a November 2005 date.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


On Friday we met with our case worker again for an interview. It went for about two and a half hours - so much talking.

She asked about how we reached the decision to adopt, stuff about religion ('what do you know about religion in China?' 'what if your child doesn't want to go to your church or won't accept your beliefs?'), about our support network, about how our families feel, about finances, how we spend our leisure time, and a fair amount of time asking about parenting both bio and adopted children ('what if you have two of one and one of the other - how will the other feel?' 'if you have a bio child straight after adoption, what will that mean for the adopted child?').

There were some great questions and it was a strangely enjoyable chat. She did say that this was the easy stuff, and we'll get stuck into more heavy stuff toward the end of the assessment. Bring it on! We want to progress!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Last weekend

Last Saturday we went to another IAFQ dinner for waiting parents. We caught up with friends, and made some new ones, and had a complete blast. When we were introducing ourselves to a couple we hadn't met before, the wife said, "Do you have a blog? Checking Boxes? Are you Emma?" Hahha! I don't think that's happened to me before. She's happy to lurk and hasn't left a comment before, but checks in every day. Hi L! Great to meet you and hope we can catch up again soon!

On Sunday we met our adoption case worker (social worker), who is doing our assessment**. We have four more interviews and then she writes our report and recommendation. We have a couple of things to think about before we meet next. First, we need to get our wills written. Second, we need to decide who will take care of our child/children should we both die, and our case worker then has to talk with them. Hrmmm. No idea about that one yet.

**After being assigned our case worker and not hearing from her for over five weeks, I contacted the Dept to advise them. It turns out they had our file on hold (remember this post?), and told our case worker that, despite us never asking for it to be put on hold and specifically saying that we were proceeding as normal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The right to live

There's an article in today's Courier Mail that states that there have been 10 million baby girls in India aborted or victims of gendercide in the past twenty years. It's heartbreaking. TEN MILLION. I don't even know how to comprehend a number that big, especially when it relates to human life.

I don't want this to be a morbid entry, but I share it because awareness and education about these issues need mainstreaming.

As most of us know, the same issues are prevalent in China... still. This presentation was shared at the 2007 UN conference on the status of women. It's focus is on the issues related to female abandonment and preference for boys in China. Some alarming facts are presented, but they need to be made known. Whacked out ratios. Steady patterns. Social insanity. And laws that mean if you abandon a baby girl you are punished, but if you kill her it's ignored.

And the wait to adopt gets longer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tagged with a meme!

Blondie over at Doing the Adoption Limbo tagged me with the following:

The meme
*Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
*People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
*At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and they should read your blog.

Here are my eight things (8 is the Chinese lucky number!)

1. I love to read the newspaper. In a perfect world, I would read the paper every day. (online papers don't count. I'm a purist about this one... even though I do read online papers most days, it's not my preference)

2. I'm scared of dogs.

3. I can write shorthand. Really fast. I think I was the last class ever at my high school for shorthand, because it disappeared out of the curriculum after that. Pitman 2000 is the version I learnt.

4. When I listen to the radio, I switch between stations to hear the DJs. If there's a song playing I'll usually flick to another station.

5. I love visiting cemeteries. I'm not a morbid person at all, I just love the historical aspect and wondering about all the peoples' lives and families.

6. I go to church in a movie theatre ('theater' to my yankee pals). Not an abandoned old derelict cinema, but a fully operating one. We have to clear out on time so the movies for the day can start. Comfy chairs, a big screen for multimedia - and the lovely aroma of popcorn.

7. I don't wear nail polish or anything like that which puts chemicals into my bloodstream (I'm even scared of panadol) and I try to only use products that are made from 100% pure oils and organic herbs (shampoo and conditioner, body wash, moisturiser etc.) BUT... I get my hair dyed. I'm a walking contradiction. I know I could buy hair dye that is made from natural ingredients, but I would have to apply it myself and I'm too unco for that.

8. I've kept a blog over at livejournal for over six years - and because I'm lazy I took the first five facts for this entry from a similar meme that I did over there back in January. I was really active the first two or three years, but now I only update on an ad hoc basis. I can't keep up with my online presence!! Facebook, myspace, blogger, livejournal, flickr, youtube, schoolfriends, teachertube... aaaagh!

I have to tag eight people. There's probably only eight people who read this blog, so consider yourself tagged! Ba-da-bing ba-da-boom!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Family planning slogans in China

Three posts in two days. This has to be some kind of record for me.

Those who refuse to use birth control, have a ligation and pay the extra birth fine will be severely punished' - family planning banner in Guangxi

I read an article today that China has decided to update some of its harsh family planning posters and billboards.

Some of the existing slogans on walls and billboards say things like:
'Raise fewer babies but more piggies'
'Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected'
'One more baby means one more tomb'
'Better ten graves than one extra birth' (there's a human rights book by this name)

The slogans which have been approved to replace the questionable ones include:
'The mother earth is too tired to sustain more children'
'Both boys and girls are parents' hearts'

While searching for photographs of such posters, I came across this site which shows the population policy propaganda posters over time.

I also learnt about the incredibly sad case of Jin Yani in China, who is suing family planning officials due to the ramifications of a full term forced abortion seven years ago. Ugh.

"Adoption heartbreak" article

Adoption has been making the news more than usual around here. In today's Sunday Mail there's an article about how Deborra-lee Furness and husband Hugh Jackman returned to the US to adopt their children because the Australian Government's 'anti-adoption culture' and overwhelming red tape was making it difficult for them.

The paper version (ie. not online) has another article which provides some interesting figures. In Australia in 2004/2005 there were 410 babies adopted in Australia, from 25 countries. In comparison, the US had 21, 000 during this period. Australia rates as the lowest country in the Western world for its rate of intercountry adoption.

Debora-lee has called for Prime Minister John Howard to meet with her to discuss overhauling the adoption process.

I have mixed thoughts. I agree the process here isn't easy, but I don't think it should be. There have been many improvements in recent years, and it seems much of the wait is due to country quotas and long queues once a couple is approved. I believe Australia needs more agreements with more countries, and for current quotas to be reviewed and increased.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Zhang Empresses

I just ordered a documentary called The Zhang Empresses, which is about some Chinese girls adopted to Sweden who go back to China after ten years and visit their orphanage. The first ten minutes of the documentary can be viewed here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

International Day 2007

We went to International Day on Sunday. International Day is hosted by IAFQ and is an annual celebration of our state's adopted childrens' birth cultures. I think it would be safe to say that it's the biggest event each year on the calendar for international adoption in Qld.

We saw the beautiful children parade in their country groups wearing traditional costumes. Supreme gorgeousness. We could take our pick from all the different cuisines for lunch (Aaron chose Korean, I was a little unwell so just had a drink and a nibble of Aaron's rice - otherwise I probably would have sampled some Ethiopian sold by Leisa!) We got to catch up with some great friends we've made through adoption, and also had the pleasure of meeting Blondie.

The minister for Child Safety did a bit of a spiel and announced that the Qld adoption register will reopen in October for two years! I believe this positive outcome is a result of the lobbying of IAFQ and other support group members.

There were a couple of seminars on offer during the day hosted by teen and adult adoptees through ICASN. I love listening to and learning from people who have experienced what our children will be able to relate to - we can learn some things about what to do and what not to do.

There was an article in yesterday's paper about one of the families at International Day. One of these years I'll be blogging about how our beautiful baby enjoyed International Day... until then we'll just enjoy all the other children!

Whoops, long post and lots of links!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Psst... did you hear?

I just had a phone call from a good friend, ringing to find out the goss. She goes, 'So... you're pregnant!'. She had been talking to someone else who said, 'Next time you talk to Emma, congratulate her for me on her pregnancy!'. What the?

It's a Chinese baby, people... not Chinese whispers!

It's a bit odd because everyone we know is aware we are adopting. Maybe they thought we had given up or changed our minds, or were trying to squeeze a bio child in before the adoption.

I do need to admit that when the wait began skyrocketing and the Dept. announced at a recent event that there would be a 30 month wait, we did enquire about whether we were able to stay in the process and have a bio child while waiting. The Dept. made it very clear that this was not an option and we needed to be 100% committed to the adoption. They didn't seem to understand that having a child wouldn't alter our adoption plans, and that we are 100% committed to having a blended family. All we were wondering is whether we could change the order our children came to us so I don't end up being reallly old by the time I give birth, if things work out that way.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, followed by an email the next day saying they were putting our file on hold until we had decided what we were going to do. I wrote back and said not to put our file on hold, we never requested that, and that we wouldn't do anything that would jeopardise the adoption process. And then life went back to normal.

Maybe my phone is bugged and someone heard the conversation and thought we must be trying for a baby, and spread the news. Sorry, folks... it's China or bust for the meantime.

Friday, July 06, 2007


A couple of months ago I requested to be sent some language cards for travel and adoption by Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. In the pack was this gorgeous handmade charm of a baby in swaddling. It's so sweet and little, and I can't get a close enough photo to show the detail:
Jane, the founder of OCDF has one of the very best yahoo! e-groups around, called Ask Jane in China. I'm always learning new things from her.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Adoption register

Queenslanders can't just apply to adopt whenever we choose. We need to wait until the state adoption register is open. The register closed again on Monday, with no word on when it will re-open.

Last time it stayed open for 8 weeks, then closed for 18 months. I stalked the Dept during that time asking when it would reopen, and they could never say. This time it was a bit better - it stayed open for a whole year. We got in real early with our expression of interest (last August), because we had been watching and waiting for it to open.

It's very sad for people who make the decision to pursue adoption while the register is closed, with no indication of when it will reopen. There are no other options available, either, as all adoptions in Queensland are managed by the government (ie. no private agencies).

Our local support groups had been lobbying for the register to close overnight only, opening immediately the following day. That didn't happen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The long road ahead

The Dept contacted us today to advise that we are now required to pay for our assessment. Assessment is where an adoption case worker (social worker) interviews Aaron and I over a period of time and writes a report on our suitability as adoptive parents. Pretty darn suitable, I hope!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Workbooks and profiles submitted!

We submitted our workbooks and profiles to the Dept today. What a relief! They were a long time coming, not that there's a great rush - still 8 months til I'm thirty. In any case, we completed graphs, charts, responses to readings, family trees, financial statements and our life stories.

Some of the questions we each had to write about included the following toughies:

How has your position in the family (eg. youngest/third/middle child) influenced your roles and attitudes?

Describe your most recent disagreement with your partner - what was it about and how was it resolved?

Can you identify any patterns in the way in which you manage stresses?

What three things do you like and dislike about your partner?

What do you look forward to most as a parent?

In what circumstances could you see yourself allowing a child to win an argument?

and the absolute corker:

Why do you want to have children?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

One Year

I just finished that last post when I realised that today celebrates 1 year since starting this blog!
I must have a thing for May, because my other blog (a LiveJournal not about anything specific, just general life stuff and nothingness) will reach it's 6th year anniversary on Tuesday. A good reminder for myself at how fast time really does go.

50 Questions

I was gathering our stuff together to drop off at the Dept last week ('the Dept' is our state government's Department of Child Safety: Intercountry Adoption Unit) and going through the checklist to make sure we had everything, when I realised that we hadn't finished our 50 questions. One of the requirements at this stage is to answer fifty questions that the Dept has set about our chosen country.

You would think we'd have finished this by now, afterall, we got the questions in December. I've googled heaps and found some awesome websites... which often take me off on a tangent and then after an hour I've only found half an answer to one of the questions. I've also asked Evangeline, a Chinese friend, some of the more difficult ones, which was great. Many times I've intended to take them to our Chinese teacher to ask, but always forgot. Anyway, despite our efforts, we still have more unanswered than answered ones right now!

I think it's because some of them are so random that it's not as easy as looking it up. Here are some examples: 'If you were invited to a party, who would you expect to find among the guests?', 'What kinds of television programs are shown? What social purpose do they serve?', 'If, as a customer, you touch or handle merchandise for sale, will the shopkeeper think you are knowledgeable, inconsiderate, within your rights, completely outside your rights, or other?'

I worked on them this afternoon for a while, then we worked on them together a bit, but I kept getting annoyed and quickly bored. Not bored with learning about Chinese culture - heck, I have a mild obsession with that - but bored with frustration at trying to find out things like 'how long a hairdressing appointment should be made for' in China. Aaron said, "if you're gonna whinge, just let me do it". So he is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Adoption buddies

One of the special things about the adoption process is the new friendships and relationships that can be made.

We recently had the pleaure of meeting Leisa and her hubby Brad, at an IAFQ waiting parents dinner. Leisa and I have been reading each other's blogs for a while, and she is even more lovely in person. I'm excited to follow her family's journey adopting from Ethiopia, as they become an 'Aussieopian Family'.

We also spent some time on the weekend hanging out at Scott and Sandie's place. These guys are cool. Funnily enough, we first met online and then ended up being invited to the same Education session with the Dept last December... when we got there, we discovered we lived only a few streets apart.

I believe in the importance of connecting with others and walking this path together, so I'm glad to get to know these girls!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Halting new dossiers

The latest unsubstantiated rumour (that would be rumor to my American friends) is that China may be considering stopping accepting new files for perhaps 3 years (yup, I read it at RQ). This wouldn't affect anyone who is already logged in and allocations would continue as normal for those people. The response so far seems to be that people think this is a great idea and necessary to allow a catch-up. I might think that if we were already logged in, too.

We are paperchasing and trying to meet all of our local requirements as well as the CCAA's requirements. The only thing slowing us down is my age - I turn 30 in eight months time (January 2008). We've been waiting eagerly since our early 20s to turn 30 so we could adopt from China. Aaron's 32 this year, so no probs now with his age.

If the CCAA stopped accepting new dossiers before I turn 30, that may change our plans a little in terms of birth order of our future children. Then there's always that fear that if we did have a bio child first, could the CCAA introduce a rule that only childless couples could adopt?

In the meantime we'll just keep plodding away at the process. Aaron finished his family profile a few weeks ago (wahoo!), so we're ready to submit our next huge lot of paperwork. We're grateful that our state government has allowed us to do all the preparations and have our file ready to go as soon as I hit 30, rather than having to turn 30 first and then begin the paperchase.

If anything did happen with halting new dossiers, then that's out of our hands. At this stage it's a rumour only (and the rumour being that the CCAA may be considering it, not that they will do it), but certainly one that we'll be following with interest!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Name Game - Part Two

Naming a baby can be a complex craft. Naming a child who has been adopted from another culture can be even more complex.

The topic of naming adopted children is raised every few months on various discussion boards, with many schools of thought around this... particularly with regard to China adoptions, where abandoned babies are often named by the orphanage director.

Some people believe that the name is the only thing a child brings with them from their birth culture, so it must be preserved.

Some believe that because the name is given by the orphanage director, often as a required task and not as an act of love or genuine consideration, that it does not hold great meaning or significance, so it shouldn't be kept.

Some believe the child should be given a new Chinese name, picked by the adoptive parents.

Some believe that if a child looks Asian, their name should reflect that.

Some believe that their child is beginning a new life, so they should have a new name.

Some believe that their child is now [insert nationality] and therefore should have a name that reflects that nationality (eg. American, Australian).

Some say that with the identity issues an adopted child goes through, they usually want to fit in with their peers, who have 'regular' names.

Some say that it depends on the age of the child at the time of adoption and whether or not they know their name yet.

It seems (not based on any statistical research, just my own observations) that most children adopted from China are given their first name by the adoptive parents and keep part of their Chinese name as their middle name. Some suggest that this gives the child the option for which name they may choose to use later in life.

There are worthy arguments and reasons for all the above thoughts. I don't think there are any easy answers. I don't even know yet what I believe most or what we will choose to do when it comes to naming our baby. It's an area I'm trying to learn more about.

There's an extremely thought provoking post over at Twice the Rice called Naming, Renaming and Reclaiming. She talks about growing up as a Korean adoptee in America with a name that is obviously not Asian. I'd like to read more from adult adoptees about this topic, reflecting on their own thoughts and experiences. Sure got me pondering...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Chinese Super Ball for Kids!

I found this video on YouTube. It was filmed at Green Lake in Kunming, China. We walked to this lake plenty of times because it was close to where we lived - but I never saw these! I wanna have a go!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Celebrity influence?

The Sydney Daily Herald has an article suggesting that it may be Angelina Jolie's influence that more Australians are adopting from overseas. I wonder how shallow they think adoptive parents are. "Wow, celebrities are doing it, let's do it too! Yeah!"

Speaking of Angelina, looks like she's lining up for adoption number 4 - a baby girl from Chad. Woah!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Name Game

My friend at work is about to go on maternity leave; she'll be giving birth to her first child in the coming weeks. She's not letting anyone in on the name game, which is quite funny because I remember saying to her about a year ago that I didn't understand the concept of withholding baby names.

I know that if you tell people the names you're thinking of in the lead-up to the birth (or in our case, referral/adoption) that they'll likely tell you straight out what they think, but if you just surprise everyone after the birth they generally wont tell you if they don't like it. Not sure why, maybe people think that they can save a baby from a sucky name before they are born, but afterwards it's just too late. Maybe parents have a fear of being offended if they tell a name and get a not-so-pleasant response. Maybe they just want to keep it personal, because it's so exciting and special. Anyway, I truly do respect the right of parents to not tell before the birth/referral, even if I don't fully understand it.

We are waaayy off a referral, as we're still paper chasing and checking boxes for the next ten months or so before our file can even go to China to begin the wait, so we haven't seriously discussed names... however cruising baby name sites is a bit of a hobby for me. I've spent plenty of time over at the Baby Name Wizard checking the popularity of names throughout history. I recently came across a discussion forum called Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing, which is a bunch of name purists strongly opposed to any 'tryndee' names that 'mummeighs' give kids. Heh.

Anyway, at the abovementioned forum I came across a link to this post about what not to name your child, from a fellow Aussie blogger called redcap. She cruises the birth announcements in newspapers for what she considers inappropriate names. Anyway, I did think twice about whether to share this link, as some people could be offended if their chosen baby name is pooh-poohed, but hopefully you're all big enough to handle it and can appreciate her wit. I like a couple of the names she deems inapproriate, but for the most part it should be compulsory reading for all expectant parents. I'm sure my teacher friends would have a few to add to the list!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I've been away for work for a few days in Melbourne. It is such a beautiful city, I'm totally in love with it. Of course, I checked out Chinatown. I had dinner at a place called Post Mao Cafe. The master chef is 93 years old and used to cook for Chairman Mao. Hrm. Not sure how true that claim is, or why he'd still be working at 93, but I'm pleased to report that there were no false teeth or stray grey hairs in my meal.

At the airport before I left, I bought a book to read on the plane about an Aussie journalist who spent a year in Beijing. Wow, that's another city that blows my mind and I look forward to going someday. It's too late now, but I would like to have visited it before all the preparations for the Olympic Games began. The only city we have experienced in China is Kunming (Yunnan province) - and it's considered to be 'out in the countryside' by most Chinese, so I'm pretty sure life there is drastically different to Beijing.

What about you? What city do you love - and why? What city would you really like to visit?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

the rainbow family

Congratulations Angelina Jolie on your precious new son! I hope the world leaves you alone for a while so he can get to know his new family.

All in this together

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of adoptive parents: those who cannot have biological children, for whatever reason; those who already have biological children; and singles who aren't waiting around for a partner to become a parent.

None of these is better or worse than the other. There is no heirarchy of eligibility, and none of these are more 'deserving' of children than the other. We all arrive at adoption from different pathways. How we get here is important, but also kind of irrelevant. We all need to support each other, regardless of the reasons for arriving at adoption.

Having said that, it is also important to connect with others that have journeyed a similar pathway. There's something special about the 'understanding' that can only come through shared experience. You can say, "I know how you're feeling / I know what you're going through", because you really do.

The value of this connection has been heightened for me this week, after reading multiple email posts to our local support group discussion list. There's a stronger link and greater empathy when you have walked a similar path to someone.

This is where we feel out of place. We don't have that connection with others like us. Is there anyone out there? A couple who don't know if you can have bio kids cos you've never tried to become pregnant? The truth is, people don't understand us. They simply can't. It is so beyond the realm of what is normal for so many people we come across. This is clear whenever someone finds out we're hoping to adopt. "oh, can't you have kids?" "don't know, we're choosing to adopt" *blank stare* *blank stare back*

We cherish relationships with all adoptive and prospective adoptive families and know that in the end the pathway is just a detail, yet we would still love to connect with others like us. Anyone?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

China Photos

Like lots of bloggers, I use Bloglines. As well as subscribing to the blogs I like to read, i also subscribe to any photos uploaded to Flickr that have been tagged 'China'. There are so many beautiful photos to look at each day. Today I came across a set of 93 photos called 'CHINA in Red and Black' by kurtvansteelant. Just lovely, check it out!

Friday, February 23, 2007


Aaron had a dream on Wednesday night that a little Chinese boy was standing next to our bed trying to wake him up.

I wish I would have a sweet dream about a Chinese bubba. (Instead the last dream I can remember having consisted of my mother phoning me at work to tell me, through huge sobs, that Britney Spears had committed suicide. It was bizarre. When I woke up I thought, 'why was she crying?, 'why would she call me at work to tell me that?' 'why is she even interested in Britney?' Bah!)

In other news, I got the book I left on the plane back! What were the chances!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chinese New Year

Happy year of the pig! We had a great weekend packed full of celebrations for Chinese New Year.

Saturday night we went to a 10pm celebration at the local taoist temple. There was a lion dance and some kung fu demonstrations. Sunday we went to lunch with other adoptive families / prospective adoptive families. The state newspaper was there and took a photo of the gorgeous children - which made it to the front page of yesterday's paper!

Sunday evening we headed into Chinatown, joined by Aaron's brother and his family. We enjoyed watching a dragon dance and another lion dance, before checking out the markets and having dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We thought our 5 year old neice would be scared of the lions and firecrackers, but she was so excited that she was squealing and wanting to get as close as she could!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The local low-down

Five families in Queensland received referrals last weekend. I'm not sure why we find out a week later than the rest of the world, but it must be torture for the families concerned.

That's it for the 2005 LIDs from Qld, so it's not likely that there'll be referrals for a while now. Hangin' in there for Batch 8 & 9 who are next and have a February '06 log-in.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mandarin Labels

This will probably only be of interest to those learning mandarin - and even then, just those in the early stages. I created some labels to stick up around the house to remind me of what things are called.

I couldn't work out how to add a file for download in blogger, so quickly made a webpage for them. Go here to download them. They are in a Word doc, set up to be printed on sheets of business cards (but will also work fine printed on regular paper or card).

In other news, Aaron bought me a neat book called The Chinese Have a Word For It, about Chinese phrases and culture, but we went away last weekend and I mistakenly left it on the plane! Tomorrow I'm going to phone the airline and the airport of where we went, but I don't like my chances..!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Simpsons Episode - Goo Goo Gai Pan

There was a Simpsons episode showing tonight (repeat from 2005) about adopting from China. Selma adopts baby Ling. It was cute. Completely inaccurate and all that, but all in good fun.

China banned the Simpsons from prime time tv last year (read one of many articles about it here from ABC).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Nì Hǎo Pod-buddies!

Hey, Checking Boxes is famous! We got a shout-out on Chinese Pod's Saturday Show this week. Thanks Aric, Colleen and Jenny.

You can listen here: (it's at about the 20 minute mark, but you should listen to the whole show... afterall, it is the 'greatest saturday show in the world')

周六35 The Saturday Show for February 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just a wee lil tacker

I turn 29 today. Have you ever met a girl so desperate to turn 30? This time next year our file can be sent to China. I think the rest of the process for our local requirements will take about 6 months, so that will take up half the time. I also think we will have to wait a few more months to progress any further, as the Dept is focusing on getting those who will be ineligible after May sped through. It looks like the timing will all work out nicely in the end.

I just scraped into the Year of the Snake. Here's a pic of me in China in 2003 - we found a set of the twelve Chinese zodiac statues, so had a photo with our respective animals.

I learned something when talking with a Chinese friend recently about birthdays in Chinese culture. She said that when a baby is born in China, they are considered to be one year old on the day they are born. Then, at Chinese New Year they become another year older (well, everyone does! New Year is seen as a rebirthing for all, so it's everybody's birthday). Essentially this could mean that if a child is born very close to Chinese New Year, within a few weeks they could be considered two years old already!

If anyone knows more about this I'm interested to hear it. There's only a tiny snippet about it at Wikipedia. I can't find much about it online, though I did come across this informative article about birth rites and customs in China.

Shāng rì kàui lè!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Our new friend Frank Xin

Aaron here. Entry number 2.

Emma registered on xLingo. It's a language exchange website that helps connect people in different countries who are trying to learn the language and want to talk to native speakers. It uses Skype (free internet phone calls using your computer). It is a brilliant idea and I will definitely be doing more of it.

We met Frank Xin today. He lives in Shanghai China and wants to speak English. He has been studying for a couple of years and he puts me to shame. His English is great. My Chinese is not so great. Emma and I will be having another conversation with Frank tomorrow, so now I have to study harder. It is so much better to have a learning goal that is direct. I want to be able to speak to him and understand in Chinese. I have a long way to go.

In the words of our Chinese teacher, 'Chinese is not easy, but not so hard.' I better get studying.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Oh, wow. I've been experiencing sweet serendipity a bit recently. I was at Central Station today getting a train home from work in the city. It was only 11.30am and I wasn't feeling so well, so decided to head home and keep working from there. I usually take a short-cut through the side of the train station, but unthinkingly found myself walking a less direct route for no particular reason, when I heard someone say my name. I turned around and there was Tracy.

Tracy is 17 year old from China. She came over on a two-week study tour four years ago and we were her homestay family. I hadn't been in contact with her since.

Tracy looked at me and said, "I miss you so much. I'm so happy to see you. I try to email but didn't work."

Wow. It's so great. I gave her my business card and told her to call or email me and we'll get together. She thinks she'll be in Australia for about 7 years now (two years finishing high school and then university). At the moment she's living with a family about ten minutes drive from us. This is AWESOME!

Oh, and her English name isn't Tracy anymore. She chose a new one - Evangeline. Isn't that just beautiful?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kāi Dāng Kù

Picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Poagao.
I was reading through my old journal from when we were in China and I found a post about an interesting cultural aspect - splitty pants!

Chinese babies do not generally wear nappies (diapers). Instead they wear kāi dāng kù, which translates as 'open crotch pants'. Oooh all those cute little bottoms!

To traditionally toilet train a baby in China you 'ba' him or her. This means holding the baby gently by the hips and whistling softly in his/her ear. This conditions the baby (hello Pavlov) that whenever s/he hears a whistle they go to the toilet. We found this so fascinating! It was not unusal for us to walk down a street and see a baby being held over the footpath being ba-ed.

I'm just not sure about the implication later in life and how whistling might affect them as adults. Heh. Maybe when we go back I'll start whistling a tune while on a bus and just see what happens. Niao niao (wee wee)!

Anyway, I was just reading about splitty pants on a few websites to see if I actually had my facts right when I wrote about this in the first place, and it seems that it's becoming more fashionable to go for disposable nappies. A China Daily article from 2004 (you can read it here) suggests that modern parents, particularly in the cities, seem to think that splitty pants are old-fashioned and inconvenient, and only really used in rural areas. Disposables are on the rise!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Population stuff

This article (and a similar one here) states that based on the current gender imbalance in China's birth rates, by 2020 there will be 30 million more men in China than women.

Heck, the entire population of Australia is only 20 million.

It also looks as though the forthcoming Year of the Pig could spark a baby boom in China.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tagged - Alphabet Soup!

It's the meme currently doing the bloggy rounds, and I got tagged by Leisa.
Here goes:
A - available or taken: taken
B- best friend: I'll be soppy and say Aaron, cos it's true
C- cake or pie: cake. mmm -Finnish wet sponge!
D- drink of choice: pineapple juice or herbal tea
E-essential item you use everyday: tabasco sauce
F-favourite color: at the moment, probably green
G-gummy bears or worms: bears
H-hometown: Mount Isa- If you believe the marketers, "you're not a real Aussie, til you've been to the Isa!"
I-indulgence: eating Guylian Sea Shells in the spa. Too bad we're in a drought.
J-January or February: January fo'sho! The month of my birth.
K-kid's names: umm.. Cabbage Patch Kids are the only 'kids' I've ever had. They were Priscilla Louise and Cory Brent.
L-life incomplete without: watching the weather every morning
M-marriage date: 14 Dec 1996
N-number of siblings: two
O-oranges or apples: apples. what a boring question.
P-phobias or fears: blood tests... oh the stories I could tell!
Q-favourite quote: "Dinner's ready when the smoke alarm goes off"
R-reason to smile: I have an awesome life
S-favourite season: Spring
T-tag 4 people: you! you! you! and YOU!
U-unknown fact about me: I can say the alphabet backwards faster than I can forwards
V-veggie I don't like: cauliflower. ugh.
W-worst habit: leaving bobby pins on the soap dish in the shower
X-x-rays: I fell down some stairs in '05 (oops), oh yeah, and x-rays for our adoption medical in '06
Y-your favorite food: Vegetarian Jiaozi or Baozi
Z-zodiac: Aquarius

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life Book intro

Aaron and I started work on a life book for our future daughter a few months back. Some of my friends have already heard the story about how Aaron joined the frequent shopper program at a local scrapbook shop, and how when I asked for the card one day he said, "don't go without me!". Aaron claims that he only joined because I wasn't feeling well and he thought it would be easier to just sign up with his details, but I think I might have a closet creative hubby here.

We've had a lot of fun already choosing all the backgrounds and playing around with ideas. Actually it's ULTRA fun when one of us is a perfectionist who wants everything symmetrical and neat (Aaron), while the other is just happy to be randomly creative and slap it all together (me).

The start of the life book actually triggered some action by us to get some of Aaron's own baby pictures off slides and printed as photographs. He was a real cutie baby with his bow legs and outtie belly button.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I recently joined an online group (chinalifebooks) that facilitates participants through the process of writing the text for a life book. I'm so amazed by the sharing and support offered.

Here's a draft of the text I wrote for the intro page. And when I say 'I wrote' I really mean I blatantly plagiarised from everyone else's good ideas.

Dear ---

This is a book created just for you!

It tells you how you began your life in China.

From this book, you can begin to understand your story. It is everything we know about your beginnings.

What is written in these pages is your history, and celebrates who you are, where you’ve come from and how we became a family.

Dad and Mum

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

'Not to deter foreign adopters'

The CCAA has spoken out about the new regulations and how they have been misinterpreted by foreign media in an article today. The article appears in Xinhua, the official press agency of the Chinese govt, reporting directly to the Party's Propaganda Dept.

I like this line - 'The new rules will help shorten waiting times for qualified foreigners and speed up the process for children...' Yee-haw! Now we just gotta hold tight and see how loooong we have to wait for the wait time to shorten!

(not that the wait times affect us personally yet because we're a fair while off being DTC/LID, but we're following along with a whole bunch of cool people in the big long queue for referrals)

I thought the last line of the article was a bit interesting too.

Monday, January 01, 2007

One profile done, one to go!

What's 19 pages long, has 7870 words and discusses a whole lot of interesting questions?

Yup, my family profile - it's FINISHED!

I feel so elated, this was something I really wanted to get finished before I head back to work on Wednesday.

Aaron still needs to work on his profile, but he has spent most of this afternoon completing exercises from his workbook. Now I need to get wiggling on my workbook.

Yay, what a great start to 2007. We are hoping to have our profiles, workbooks and readings all done by the end of January. At this rate that seems very achievable.