Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's the Hold Up?

Many people have been asking why no news...Well, we're at the mercy of immigration at this point, unfortunately. A document called the I-600A is without question one of the most important forms to be submitted. It is the form that requests the advanced processing of an orphan from China.

In Washington, it requires a completed homestudy, which was officially done on January 8th...the form was fedexed to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service office on the 9th.

Next, they send us an appointment for getting our fingerprints taken, of which the results (criminal background checks) could take days or weeks. As you can imagine, I'm on pins and needles waiting for that appointment. Once we get that piece of paper, we will most likely barge into the office and try to get our prints done ASAP. There is an office in Yakima that simply can't be that busy except for apple picking season...and we have a little time before that happens.

So...once we have the I-600A processed and the fingerprints done, we'll get a document from INS called the I-171H, which is the "Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Adoption of an Orphan". Once we have this document, we can combine it with the last of our dossier items (final notarized documents, pictures, birth/marriage certs) for our agency.

We are paying them to compile our documents, have the certified, and send them off to China. They have to make a few stops along the way for official stamps of approval, but at that point we'll be free and clear (hopefully). If a letter, signature, or smudge of ink is out of place, they'll ask for a "do-over", but we're hoping everything skates through without incident. By the time that I-171H comes, we won't have much time to waste. Again, April 30th is our deadline!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Half The Sky

I wanted to take a minute and talk about a great charity called Half The Sky.

It is a non-profit organization with one goal: to make sure every child feels the love and security of a loving adult even before they find their permanent home. Through donations, hundreds of representatives in China develop programs that directly benefit institutionalized children by providing physical and cognitive interaction and supplies that they may never normally receive otherwise. They provide medical and nutritional resources, and most importantly the interaction and stimuli that only one-on-one attention can provide.

Because orphanage workers in China are often asked to care for a dozen or more children, the most they can do is feed, potty, change, nap...feed, potty, change, nap... Depending on capacity and work load, kids are often in a crib or play pen for hours on end with one or two toys, and sometimes none. Orphanages are typically kept very cold and children are often bundled to a point where they can barely move their arms and legs. So many kids come home with little muscle tone, under developed motor skills, and without the capacity to understand simple play.

Half the Sky sponsors Social Welfare Institutions (orphanages) and provides them with the above mentioned supplies and resources as well as training for caretakers (aunties), preschool programs, learning programs for older children, and foster homes for children with special needs. It provides these kids with one-on-one attention that they so desperately need at that stage in their lives.

In many cases, kids from HTS sponsored SWIs come home close to or on target developmentally. That's a big deal.

A 10-year old girl mentioned on their website has sponsored 40 kids simply by asking for donations instead of gifts on her birthday since age 4. How cool is that?

The above picture is from their website. I think it is not only beautiful, but communicates the red thread proverb. I've mentioned it in the past, but here it is again...

An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.
-- Ancient Chinese Proverb