Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Can You Help?

A wonderful group of people, made up of families who have adopted children from Yunnan (Mei Lin's province), have started a non-profit organization to improve the lives of orphans in Yunnan Province. Yunnan Kids International (YKI) is now fundraising for orphaned children in western Yunnan who are living in very sad conditions where there is not even an institution to care for their basic needs. The letter below was written by a YKI board member and explains what they are doing to help.
(I'll add photos of the area and the children later)

**I would love for any family and friends considering sending Mei Lin gifts when she comes home, to INSTEAD make a donation in her honor to help these children.

Mei Lin is NOT in need of any toys or clothes, but these children desperately need the most basic provisions of food and clothing.

Thank you for any help you can give!
Pat and Cindy
Here's the note from YKI:

Dear fellow parents and friends,

The focus of our first new project will be to help orphaned children
living in Long Chuan County. Long Chuan County is located in the
western part of Yunnan in the Golden Triangle and borders Burma
(Myanmar). You may know that the Golden Triangle is synonymous with
the trafficking of opiates.

Long Chuan County is inhabited by the Jingpo and several other minorities. Luliang village is one of the towns in the county. The situation of children orphaned in Long Chuan is haunting. For most of these children, their fathers got addicted to drugs and shared needles in the process. The fathers have either died from drug overdoses or from AIDS. Some of the mothers have also died of AIDS. Others have left the area out of misery and in doing so leave their children behind because the
local customs do not permit a mother to take her children should she leave the family.

There are almost 500 abandoned children in this county (with a
population of about 170,000). The PRC has reported that 10% of
these children are HIV+. The local government is very poor and
provides very little funds to help these children. There is no
orphanage, no foster program. Children stay with whomever have been
willing to take them in, extended family, a neighbor and others yet
these families do not have enough money to adequately feed and cloth
the children. The only service the county government has provided
is to try to keep the children in school; otherwise these children
often turn to trafficking drugs or prostitution. As of last month,
there were 143 orphaned children in the school. The local
government gives the school a meager amount for school supplies and
12 yuan a month per child for their food; that's about $1.50 (US
currency). Even in China, that doesn't buy much. Each child gets
one bowl of rice each day and meat once or twice a month.
Besides the situation with food, the biggest need is clothing. Each
child has one set of clothing only, which donated by a US non-profit

YKI Board members have decided we would like to start to
improve living conditions, by purchasing a second clothing set for
these children. This would permit the opportunity for the other
clothes to be cleaned. A set of clothing is about $13 (in US
currency). For 143 children (88 in elementary school and 55 in
middle school), the amount need is $1859. The Board members of YKI
would raise $2000 in case clothing for some children costs slightly
more. Any additional amount beyond the target $2000 can be used
for school supplies.

Yunnan Kids International will be partnering directly with Peggy
Gurrad, M.D. ( and Altrusa International to provide
the clothing. Dr. Gurrad, a U. S. doctor, has been working to help
with needs of Chinese orphans since the late 1980's. She has spent
much of her time in the Jiangxi province. I am sure most of you
know about Altrusa but I am attaching their international web
address for your reference:

The logistics for this effort will include purchase of these clothing sets by a trusted coordinator in China that works with Dr. Gurrad. The worker will buy the clothing and deliver them and insure that the children receive the clothing. We have asked for photos after delivery of
new clothing, for accountability purposes.

It is easy, but also heart breaking, to see the despair in their faces. Would you consider helping with this effort? If you would like to help, please make a donation at
CLICK ON: "Please help the children of Long Chuan, some who are HIV+.
Make a donation"

Thank you,
Iris Culp, Board Member, Yunnan Kids International


........months since we sent our Letter of Intent for Mei Lin.....
2 loooong months without a word from China.
Please, please, please, Lord, give us word from China!

When I get anxious I begin putsing, rearranging, and organizing the house. Pat says I'm "nesting".

All this rearranging causes a ripple effect througout the house and now there are 'things' everywhere waiting to find a new home.

Pat installed a closet unit in the girls' bedroom closet and it's given us a lot more room for all the clothes that need to go in there. My sister gave back Miyah's old clothes PLUS Brielle's old clothes and needless to say Mei Lin will never have to wear the same thing twice.

To pass the time, I've also begun "packing" (really just collecting things) for China.

I have nearly $300 worth of OTC meds sitting on my bedroom dresser. No, I'm not starting my own pharmacy. When you're neurotic (like me) this is what it takes for you to feel comfortable traveling to a developing country with your family of soon-to-be six.

I will not soon forget Chinese medicine and the patch of herbs on Miyah's belly button to stop diarrhea; or the stories told by our travel companions who visited the Chinese doctors.

We have enough Tylenol, Advil, Immodium, Pepto, Benadryl, and Cough medicine to supply a small hospital. The woman working at the pharmacy gave us a strange look when we unloaded our cart, but thankfully the man behind us asked if we were traveling overseas so we were able to share the whole story (Mei Lin pictures and all), without suspicion that we were starting our own meth lab.

Okay, hopefully my next post will be real news from China!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"The Mystery of the Chinese Baby Shortage"

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times on the supposed baby shortage in China.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Photos ~ Jan '07

Miyah at the zoo

Miyah in the meerkat "burrow"

Mei Lin's Birthday.

Megan hiding from the camera (as usual)

And Matt no where to be seen.....

"Adoption Is Not For.....

.......the faint of heart".

That's what Ann, our wonderful CHI China Program Director, often reminds us.

She's right! But it's amazing the amount of will and determination you find for that little one you've never met but whose face graces the refrigerator door.

I'm sure you've all heard about the new regulations China has imposed on families seeking to adopt. We were given a preliminary list of these before the November Waiting Child list came out because China was implementing these rules for the waiting child program in November.

There had been rumors about new regulations for some time and they were all over the place. It left everyone uneasy. When the announcement came in December that China's new regulations applied to everyone whose dossiers were submitted after May 1, 2007, emotions were flying.

It saddens me to think of all the wonderful families who are now ineligible to adopt from China and even sadder to think of all the children that will never have a family.

In spite of that sadness, it was a relief to know that none of these new rules affected our adoption.

But then China didn't stop there.

The day before Mei Lin's 1st birthday (an already emotional day), China sent down even more requirements for the waiting child program. Nothing that prohibits anyone from adopting (THANK GOD!), but just more stinkin' hoops to jump through.

You may remember me mentioning the three page handwritten Letter of Intent we wrote back in November. Well, even though we detailed everything imaginable about our plan to care for and raise Mei Lin, they wanted us (and all families that didn't have specifics about their special needs child in the original paperwork sent to China - the dossier) to rewrite a Letter of Petition (almost exactly like the Letter of Intent only one page instead of three or so) and update our homestudy and have them certified and authenticated. Can you say REDUNDANT?!!

We needed to do this before we could pass review and be given travel approval.

I was SO not happy! Certifying and authenticating just stinks, in my opinion. Each document needs to be notarized, then the notary's stamp certified in the county (two separate counties, in my case, since our agency's document was notarized in another county), state certified at the Secretary of State, then overnighted to a courier in DC for authentication at the Department of State and then onto the Chinese Consulate and then sent back to the adoption agency. Some things need to be paid for by certified check and everything needs to be "just so".

After whining for an hour or so, I got off my butt and got it done. I think I made eight or nine stops at different places that day, including two stops to the notary because she forgot to sign her name to match her notary stamp (arghhh).

Then that night, after running around all day, we received word that China is also asking all families adopting waiting children to sign a Seeking Confirmation Letter before they'll issue travel approval.

S i g h...another hoop...another possible delay.

Of course China has the right to ask and do as they like. I totally respect that. Still, all of the changes to a historically rock-solid adoption program begins to feel unsettling.

Why the changes? Why is the wait 16 months and growing? That's the million dollar question. China has given their reasons and then there are a lot theories out there. None of them satisfy me.

The important thing is...God is still in control.

And there has been some good news! Some of those who've already signed their Seeking Confirmation Letter received travel approval a week later!

Maybe this means the new regulations are for our benefit...could it be?

Oh, I hope and pray it is so!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday, Mei Lin!!!!!!!

January 11, 2007

Sweet Little Mei Lin,

We love you SO much and can't wait until you are home to celebrate with us! We hope you had a special day.

H A P P Y * B I R T H D A Y !

Daddy, Mommy, Matt, Megan, and Miyah

(You can click comments below to leave Mei Lin a birthday message)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More holiday photos

It's taken me a while, but here are the pictures from my sister's visit shortly after Christmas. It was SO great to see her and her family. They are always so much fun! Miyah and my new niece, Brielle, had fun together. We planned to take the girls to have their pictures made, but as you can see Brielle was sporting a black eye. she wasn't fairing so well around the coffee table. She's so sweet! And, of course, we always enjoy time with Brittany and Brant.

My parents came a day later and we pretty stayed around the house, played games in the evening, and even went to a movie one afternoon. Puzzle addiction seems to be a family problem. The first day together a puzzle was opened and almost every family member was drawn to the kitchen table. Even Levi got in on the action and chewed a piece!
(My sister, Tracy, and her family ->)

The beginning stages of Puzzle Addiction!

We had a couple of warm days so we were able to get out and walk around downtown and play at the park a bit.

This Christmas, instead of the cousins exchanging names, we did a "Favorite Things" exchange amongst all the families. Each family collected a boxful of their favorite things or items special to their area and we sent a box with photos and a letter explaining the contents to each family. What fun to get a little glimpse into the lives of each family! We got delicious recipes, music cds, snacks, games, crafts, and more.

Matt and Papa playing football

Whew, that was a lot of pictures!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas 2006

M E R R Y * C H R I S T M A S !

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!
We did!
Pat had some time off and it was so wonderful to have him around. Pat and I were both battling a virus, so we took turns getting up with Miyah in the mornings so we each had opportunity to sleep in. Pat even brought me breakfast in bed a few mornings! What an incredible husband I have!!

While he was off we had time to get some things done around the house. We got the kitchen painted (no more wallpaper!!) and even found some time to have some fun together. What kind of Christmas would it be without bowling? It had been a while since we'd gone bowling (and Pat wanted to practice up before his bowling outing with the guys), so we took the kids one afternoon.

Matt beat us all both games!

Miyah LOVED baking cookies this year. Actually, she pretty much played in the bowl of flour while we rolled the dough and cut. But she was thrilled when she was given icing and sprinkles! We caught her licking the icing more often than decorating the cookies, I'm afraid. There must have been more saliva on those cookies than icing. Sorry to our extended family who ate some of those cookies (just kidding)...we did separate her cookies from the other (edible) ones.

Hands in flour...

Hands in mouth....

Christmas day was quiet; just our immediate family. Miyah was SO excited to wake up and look for baby Jesus. One of our favorite traditions is that Christmas morning baby Jesus is hidden under a new star oranament and the kids have to find him. The first one to find him opens the first present. Well, don't tell Miyah but the kids let her find him first...they're a little old for that tradition. You can see where she found it. The star this year was made by a woman in Yunnan (Mei Lin's province). It was our way to remember and "include" Mei Lin in some way.

Megan woke up at 6 AM on Christmas morning. She was dressed and ready before the rest of us were awake. I think she was a little excited.
For some reason, Miyah told every Santa whose lap she sat on that she wanted a Dora and Superman game and skunks...yes, skunks. I have no idea where that came from, but when she stuck to her story up through Christmas Eve it was time for Daddy to head to Target for a Dora game and Superman toy. The skunks seemed unlikely so we didn't even try. We rarely talk about Santa at our house so it wasn't a big deal. Just sad that she wasn't going to get the only things she'd specifically asked for.

Daddy to the rescue. Here's the Superman toy......

Miyah in the tutu Nana gave her....

My sister, Tracy, and her family and my mom and dad came to stay a few days after Christmas. We had so much fun. I'll post about that visit later when I get a chance.