Day 2- East meets West

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Day 2- Beijing and the Forbidden City (East to West)

One of my favorite songs lyrically is East to West by Vocal Union.  

(Also available on an acapella training CD created by Keith Lancaster and some very talented vocalists. Shout out here to my Westside peeps!)

It begins with :

As far as the east is from the west
As far as the worst is from the best
As far as the future’s from the past
As for as the first is from the last

This journey has truly taken us as far as the east is from the west. While there are so many things in Beijing that are glaringly different from our culture, I am more struck by the sameness of the people.  The laughter of children, the smiles of the elderly and the sadness of poverty are the same in any language.  As I think about the first few lines of the song, my hope is that our Little Li will experience the vastness that life has to offer as we prepare to move her from her past to her future, from last to first, from worst to best and east to west.  

Today we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square known for so many things historically.  It is nearing its 600th anniversary.  They LIMIT the attendance daily to 80,000 people.  There are people everywhere! Our guide William prepared us to expect massive crowds as we followed him as he carried his flag and spoke into our ear bud systems so we could hear him.  (There are 4 other families from our agency on the same tour.)  

He mentioned that we might be stopped by families for photos who have never seen caucasian children.  Let’s just say that little Hulaloo has her own paparazzi!  At first she asked ‘Mommy, why do they want my photo?’  Now she just stops and pours on the charm for another photo op..

Here she is with a little boy who really wasn’t into the photo.  Notice how far he is standing from her?

Another photo op

 

Forbidden City


Rickshaws

 

Hubby in the courtyard of the Forbidden City

 

Taking a ride with Mom

 

Tomorrow its the Great Wall and one day closer to the completion of our family!

Did I mention we took a four hour nap this afternoon?

Time for rest before our next adventure. Thanks for joining us on the journey.

Your friend,

Meredith
LLI 

 

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Lift Off – Day 1

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Day 1 to China

I began writing this blog just a few minutes into the longest plane ride I will ever take.  (No space flight aspirations at this point.)

We are literally traveling ‘As far as the east is from the west.’  Any further from home and I would be closer.

It’s amazing! As  little girl, I don’t believe I ever imagined traveling to the far east for an adventure as great as this. Surprisingly enough our travel so far has been uneventful. (If you knew the history of my family and vacations, you would realize that this is something to be celebrated in itself.  The Griswolds got nothin on the Swabys!) People have been patient and kind.  Thus far, the staff of United Airlines has been awesome!  (I managed to sweet talk a couple other passengers in allowing us all to sit together.  They were gracious and kind to do it without complaint.  We’ve had several people ask us why we are traveling to China.  Little HulaLoo says ‘To Bring my little sister home’ which leads to an open and encouraging conversation.  One of my first encounters on the walkway into the plane cabin was with a young women who works with some of the orphanages in China.  “I love to see families going to help the orphans there.  It is so needed.’   As far as I am concerned, she had me at hello.

The ride up to Chicago (in order to benefit from the direct flight) went pretty well thanks to Uncle Tony.  The hardest part so far has been the goodbyes to everyone at home.  Pappo and Grandma Patty are holding down the fort and anxiously awaiting our return. Aunt Jenny has provided a an assortment of fun surprises that we are opening periodically to reward behavior and fight boredom which has been a life saver since about exit #10 on the highway! also has a new tablet loaded with games which is the best $50 we have spent in a long time.  I have already been able to leverage it for good behavior!

Mom was concerned because she didn’t carry her snacks on to the plane, but I have assured her that I have packed enough food for a small army to survive for at least a few weeks.  (If they don’t mind a steady diet of Rice Krispie Treats and cheese and crackers..) Our baggage overfloweth… (I even have winter clothes for the orphanage!  Eric was amazed at what I could fit in.  Those vacuum bags really work folks.) I even have the portable baggage scale to rearrange if we need to! (China’s weight limit per bag is less than in the USA.)

I’m keeping my eyes open for opportunity and adventure! I want to say thank you to all the friends and family who have been praying for us and with us on this very long journey.  I got many warm text messages and prayer offerings before we set off on this journey of a lifetime.  You truly find out who your friends and family are when you step out on faith.  Can’t wait to see you all soon!

 

Your Friend,

Meredith
LLI 

 

 

 

 

When are you bringing little Williams home?

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International_adoption__diagram.jpeg

‘When will you bring Little Williams home?’  That’s a good question and one I wish that I could answer.  It has become a question asked of us almost on a daily basis.  

When I gave birth to our oldest daughter, I took for granted that I pretty much knew the exact timeline  of her arrival within a week or two.  When people asked ‘When are you due?’ I gave a specific date.

This time is very different.  As I look back, I’m glad we didn’t share the news with everyone right off.  As we near ‘Gotcha Day’, talking about it has become exciting.  However, I think I may have gone crazy if I had to answer the question ‘Where are you in your adoption’ on a daily basis for two years before we were even matched.  Dear friends, don’t think that I don’t appreciate your concern and don’t stop asking!  Its just that the process is so different from a physical birth.  There is so much waiting and so much out of our control.  It can be almost maddening.

It’s interesting because I have encountered some people that I think may suspect I am intentionally being evasive about the question.  The opposite is true.  I WISH I KNEW.  If Dr. Adoption would give me a due date to arrive at the hospital to pick our daughter up, I would gladly go.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. There are many things about this process which have been eye opening.  The complexity of multiple governments, agencies and paperwork is mind boggling.  (But worth it!)

The Adoption Process
Not for the faint of heart (or the averse to paperwork and killing trees…)

For those of you unfamiliar with the international adoption process, let me try to provide a cliff note version of International Adoption 101.  This post has been in production for quite a while because it took me quite a while to create the graphic.  Bear with me as I paint this  picture for you.  (It resembles a Picasso, not just because of the beauty but because it’s not exactly an orderly process.  You will see what I mean!

There are a few things that affect the length and process for every family:

#1 – The country you adopt from

Every country had different parameters for potential adoptive parents.  (Age, marital status, financial requirements, etc.)   Every country also has different elements affecting the length of time it would take to adopt, such as: the number of children available (which is is also affected by whether or not children with and without medical conditions are available for international adoption), the sophistication of the country’s paperwork and communication system(s) and the passport and visa requirements for entering that country.

 

#2 The Hague Convention

Countries that have signed the treaty known as the Hague Convention, have instilled additional safeguards to ensure that inter-country adoptions take place in the best interest of the child.  There are some additional safeguards and steps in the paperwork process.

 

#3 Your state requirements 

Some states require additional steps or documentation that are unique to the individual state.

 

#4 The travel requirements

Requirements vary based on the country the adoption is originating in.  (Some countries have very limited time frames and constraints for entering with a Visa.)
  

There are a few things that are consistently required for the process of international adoption.

– A Home Study
– An International Adoption Agency
– A Dossier (A collection of supporting documents)-This sounds very covert, but it i not driven by the FBI (although the government does fingerprint you TWICE under  the current process..
– Immigration Approval 

 I won’t go into detail in this blog entry about the complexities of each step, but I will say it can be confusing even for the most organized of people!  I realized early on, that I was not going to be able to push our adoption through the ‘system’ more quickly just by being more organized.  Anything with multiple governments, agencies and people is not going to be a fast process.  There is more waiting than doing. But it is worth it my friends.  So worth it!

Look for more regular updates as we get close to our ‘Gotcha’ Day.  Thanks for joining us in the journey.

 

Your Friend, 
Meredith

LLI  (Live Life Intentionally)