Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's getting closer!

We have some great news -- our adoption agency has scheduled our first travel preparation meeting for next Thursday. We see this as a sign that the agency expects us to receive our referral soon, because we don't think they'd want to risk us forgetting all the important information they give us! This meeting will prepare us for receiving our referrals and also give us some basic information such as what we'll need to take to China, what we shouldn't pack, things we can expect to do or see on the trip, cultural issues, that sort of thing. We'll have our second meeting after we get a travel date to go over our exact itinerary and other instructions.

Our travel group includes 10 other families whose dossiers were mailed with ours on July 13. We met most of our travel mates at a pre-adoption seminar we attended last fall; we exchanged e-mail addresses and some basic information then. In the succeeding months we have run into each other at events like the agency picnic or the Chinese New Year celebration, and we have exchanged occasional e-mails wondering HOW MUCH LONGER we'll have to wait! Not only will we be sharing a life-altering experience with these other families, but they'll be our support system in the years to come -- many travel groups continue to get together periodically after bringing their daughters home.

One of the reasons we chose this agency, Sunny Ridge Family Center, is because of the support they give adoptive parents during this trip. For one thing, the entire travel group will take the entire journey together. That may sound basic, but many agencies have the families make their own arrangements and meet up with each other after they arrive in China. Another thing we really like is that a social worker from Sunny Ridge will take the entire trip with us. Not only will we have someone with us who has made the trip previously, but he or she will be experienced in helping parents and their babies bond in those crucial first few days together. In China, we'll also travel with a man named Bill who is employed by our agency and lives and works in China.

Sunny Ridge wisely has us spend a few days sight-seeing when we first arrive in the country. This is to give us time to adjust to the time change and to learn more about this beautiful country where our daughter was born. After that, we'll travel to the province where our daughters are living. Often, all the referalls for one group are of children from the same welfare institute, which means we continue to travel together. If the children are from two different places, we'll split up to travel to those two provinces, with the social worker staying with one group and Bill with the other. We will spend about a week in the province, actually completing the adoption there. Then we'll head south to Guangzhou, where we'll do some more paperwork to get visas to bring our daughters home. We'll also have time for more sight-seeing, shopping, and just spending time together as a family.

You can tell we're excited, and we're eager to start our preparations. I'll share details with you as we know them. Most importantly, we should be getting word on our daughter in a month or two, and you'll be able to read it here first! So keep us (and the Chinese officials) in your thoughts and prayers as we await this news.

The photo is from the Chinese New Year celebration on Jan. 29. I WILL post photos of the baby's room, just as soon as we move some extra furniture out of there and get it arranged!

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