Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Do you hear that? Oh, I'm sorry its the loud druming of my fingers. Has the I-171H arrived? NO! Am I starting to go crazy? YES!

Whilst we wait, I thought I’d entertain you with some stories…

Do you know what a Foo Dog is?

Foo Dogs are ancient sacred dogs of Asia who guard Buddhist temples. These dogs appear similar to a lion, which is a sacred animal in the Buddhist religion. The Chinese word for Buddha is “Fo” hence “Foo dog” or dog of Buddha. Their first appearance in Chinese art was from 208 BC to about 221 AD at which point they disappeared for about 400 years only to reappear during the T’ang Dynasty from 618 to 917 AD. The Foo Dog was popular during these times as they were believed to be the protector of sacred buildings and a defender of the law. They were commonly placed at the entrances to businesses, homes, and temples to scare away evil spirits.

Why, do you ask, am I bringing this up? Well after we picked up our documents at the Chinese Consulate, we walked around to the main entrance to take pictures and behold there were beautiful huge Foo Dogs guarding the entrance to the building. The Foo Dog has been something special to SJ and me since our wedding.

We were married in Salem, MA and then had our reception at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. I was an art history major and SJ is a lover of boats and all things from East Asia. The PEM is a maritime museum specializing in art and artifacts from East Asia. HELLO! Could the place be more perfect for us??? I think not. So 9 years ago this September we had our reception in the East India Hall at the PEM where our guests were free to wander the museum to enjoy the collection during our event. There are two Foo Dogs outside the East India Hall that stand nearly 1 story tall. In the months leading up to our wedding we became quite affectionate toward “our Foos” as we visited the museum finalizing our plans.

After the wedding we moved to CT and took jobs in NYC. Right after moving in, we stumbled upon a crazy garden shop selling tons of garden statues. We found two little Foo dogs and of course had to have them. They have guarded the front door to a CT apartment, a NYC apartment, and of course the front door to our home now. For those of you who know us well, I will tell you they did not guard the front door to our last house but the back door. I am not sure they were able to fully protect us from the evil spirits.

When I was in NYC at the consulate taking the picture of the kids with the Foo Dog, I felt I was having a “full circle” moment as Oprah likes to coin it. The kids, the dog, the adoption, our wedding so inexplicably linked.

Now the PEM has a Chinese house. No, really, a house from southeast China. A few years back they bought the Yin Yu Tang House, dismantled it, and brought it to Salem. A team of Chinese builders along with local workman reassembled it at the PEM. For those of you interested in art and artifacts from East Asia, if you are ever in Boston, the PEM is a great place to visit. It is about 25 minutes north of the city but worth the trek. Salem was one of the earliest ports in America and therefore was a key participant in trade from the Far East. There is more to Salem than witches!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Announcement?- no, no, I don't want an announcement!

I am usually all for open and flowing communication. Not in this case though!

Still no I-171H and I am getting panicky. Over on RQs site there is word that 2 agencies are now reporting that an announcement will come very soon from the CCAA. I feel like if they were going to speed up the referral process they would just do it without making an announcment. They would just delight us with 2 months of referrals at some point. Telling us there will be an announcement seems like a warning to prepare for a bomb. Here is what I think the bomb will be. My guess is that they will say, due to the increased number of dossiers and the reduced number of available children, they will reinstate a quota for married couples. Yep, that's my feeling. And what really SUCKS about that is we are waiting for one freaking piece of paper. Everything else is done. When I get that piece of paper we will be only about 2 weeks from getting our dossier to China. I just know that we will be one of the people with a dossier just about to be sent off when the system bottlenecks. You know when you were a kid and you get up to go to the bathroom and miss your turn? My 171 needs to get off the GD toilet!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Big doin's in the Big Apple

So last Sunday SJ and I were looking at the calendar to figure out when was the best time for me to head down to NYC to authenticate our documents. All of the sudden my calendar was looking pretty booked up with stuff and I didn't want to get my 171H (approval from CIS) and then not be able to get down to the big apple to authenticate. Yes, I could have mailed everything but the NYC consulate says to allow 20 working days to authenticate documents that arrive by mail. That's a month and if you walk your documents in, they only take 4 days. So after looking at the calendar, I looked at my husband and said "well, I think we have to go this week!". I called my friend A who lives in CT to see if we could stay with her and she said it was actually a good week b/c she was having a birthday party for her daughter M on Wednesday. Plus her husband was traveling that week so she appreciated the company.

Monday morning I tossed the kids in the car in their PJs at 5:30 am and we hit the road. After a few pit stops and some rush hour tangles, we got to Westport, CT in time for the 10:30 train into the city. The kids were very excited about taking a train so that kept them amused for the 66 minutes to Grand Central Station. We arrived on one of the lower tracks and headed up the stairs to the main concourse of the station. Just as we got to the top of the stairs, one of the kids asked where we were. I reminded them of the movie Madagascar and said "do you remember when the little old lady hits Alex the lion over the head with her purse? Well that is we are." Then as if it was all flooding back to their little brains, L shouts as she points to the clock over the center information desk "That's the clock that Melman got his head stuck in!" and promptly let out a hysterical giggle. Man do I love our adventures!

So we headed out into the NYC sunshine (much needed rays of sun after the torrential rains in the NE) and got a cab to the Chinese Consulate. Luckily the consulate is located at 42nd and 12th so it was a straight shot across town. We got out of the cab and I started getting butterflies not knowing what I was doing and wondering if I had forgotten anything. We are met at the door by security who wanted to see a photo ID and then had us put our bags and coats through the X-Ray and we walked through the metal detector. In the next room we were met by another very friendly security person who asked what we were here for and helped us get a number in line. There were about 10 people ahead of us in line and by the time I got my papers out of my bag and the kids in a couple of chairs, they called our number. We went to the window and I gave them the letter our agency said to write, copies of our passports, our authentication application, and our 12 documents. He ripped the letter and the passport pages right off the pile and handed them back to me without looking at them. He then counted the docs, filled out a slip and said come back Thursday. That was it, we were done. We probably spent no more than 3 1/2 minutes in there.

So back out into the sunshine. B caught glimpse of a city bus and shouted he wanted to ride one. We were headed up the west side to visit a friend so we hopped the M104 up 8th and Broadway to 76th street. We visited my friend S and her kids S and C. We had lunch there and hung around until 3ish. Lots of fun to see her. Then we headed down to Grand Central by cab and hopped the 4:07 back to Westport.

We spent Monday - Thursday morning with our friends in CT. Their kids are exactly the same ages as our kids and they get along famously! Lots of bike riding, swing set play, and sidewalk chalk. Wednesday was the birthday party for M and her mother and I made this cake...

The party was lots of fun. I enjoyed all of A's friends and their children. That night we watched Lost and hit the crib. Thursday morning we were up and out for the 9:40 train into the city.

We took the bus this time across town to the consulate and the picking up of the documents went much like the dropping off of the documents. Easy, smooth, perhaps no more than 4 minutes. They define efficiency and organization.

To celebrate we went down to Pearl River Market, a chinese merchandise store in Soho. I forgot how much I LOVE Soho. Lots of stores and boutiques. We got some cute stuff at PRM and then grabbed some lunch. After meandering around for a while we headed up to Grand Central via subway to see if we could catch a 1:45 pm train. Well as it turns out my watch sort of stopped working and I was completely unaware of what time it was. We barely managed to catch the 3:07 train out to Westport. Got to Westport at 4:13, used the bathroom at the station and we were on the road by 4:30. We got home at 8 pm with a pretty easy ride.

So now you are thinking, "but what about your 171H?" When that comes, we will probably send it down to my friend S in the city and she will run it into the consulate for a same day authentication.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

All 10 fingers...

Today was a big day ...big day. We got fingerprinted today! It was lots of fun. We went down at 10 am and didn't have to wait long. The process was pretty cool- all digital- no black ink. After that, I celebrated with something calorically dangerous at Au Bon Pain followed by a swift walk up the street to the Secretary of State's office. Picked up my packet of certified docs- only thing missing is the 171H! So now we wait. I have heard some good stories about the speed of the Boston USCIS as of late, but I am NOT getting my hopes up. I am just going to wait. When we get the 171H, I will do a lightning speed notarization and certification and then it's ROAD TRIP TO NYC! Going to hand deliver the docs (AKA precious gold) to the NYC Chinese Consulate.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Docs out for certification!!!

Since we got our completed home study report on Saturday, I decided it was time to get all my documents down to the Secretary of State's office in Boston for certification. Unfortunately it was pouring rain today and I had to schlep the two kids down with me, park half a mile away and walk uphill to this office. But we made it. We stood in line to go through security to get into the building (I kept telling the kids it was like being at the airport) and then we made our way to the 17th floor to the public records office. Behind the desk were two huge photographs of families at the White Swan with their newly adopted daughters. It was really sweet. So we handed in our 12 documents that have taken over a month to gather and the very kind woman behind the desk did a visual run through and said they all look good. (Phew- hoping not to have to redo any of them!) She said she thought my kids were cute, asked their names, and then winked at me and said the documents will be ready by noon but really what time do you want them? I asked If I could have them by 11 am so I can pick them up when I am done at the USCIS tomorrow. She said no problem! Love when I encounter such nice people!

As we left we were all in a great mood and L and I made up this song - sung to the tune of ???? but when I figure it out I will let you know.

I'm so happy
I'm so happy
I'm so happy here today.

cause we filed all our papers
for our little mei mei!

L has been singing it all day. I imagine we'll be singing it as we go through authentication and dossier submission!