Saturday, January 29, 2005

Family Background: The Kimber/Brown Clan

Probably useful to outline the family members and friends who have been or likely will be mentioned in this blog.

My mother, Judy Bacon (nee Hyatt), lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband George. George has three children from his first marriage: Robert, Kati, and Niki.

I am Judy's first child, by her first husband, Bill Kimber (see below).

Judy has two other children, both by her second husband, Bob: Catherine and Rebecca.

Judy and Bobby had a number of foster children over the years, including Jeanne, who, with her husband, adopted two daughters from China, Kelly and Brianna. Jeanne lived with us until she got married to her husband John (see below). Jeanne and John are still part of the family and Judy considers Kelly and Brianna as her grandchildren.

Catherine lives in Seattle with her wife Jennifer. Catherine and Jennifer have a darling daughter Sophia, born to Jennifer in the spring of 2003. Catherine is 8 years younger than myself. Catherine's close friend from college, John, lives near Catherine in Seattle. John and his wife Rochelle have two lovely children, Max (now about 4) and Elise, 13 months. John and Rochelle are like family (we joke that John is the brother Catherine never had).

Rebecca lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (where I grew up from the age of 10) and has a darling daughter Julia, who was born in early January of 2003. Rebecca is 10 years younger than myself.

Jeanne, her husband John, and their daughters live outside Coeur d'Alene in the hills above lake Coeur d'Alene. Jeanne is a few years older than I am.

Judy is, as you can imagine, a busy grandmother (and about to get just a little bit busier).

My father, Bill Kimber, lives in Tacoma, Washington. I am Bill's only child.

As you can see, it's a wild, wacky, blended, extended, unconventional family. It's a strange coincidence that Catherine, Rebecca, and I are all having our first children very close to the same time (essentially all within the same year, if you count Yu-Da from her birth date). I would have never guessed, for example, that Rebecca would be the first of us to have a child. Just goes to show you never know....

Daily Baby Readiness Update

We're actually starting to get some stuff done.

We've put together the Ikea crib and dresser/changing table (take that Russell Crowe ). The baby's room is actually starting to look like a child could live in it.

Today we bought a car seat that is airline approved, as well as two baby gates, one for the house and a travel gate for going to Grandma's.

We were literally getting dizzy from looking at all the models of car seat at Baby's-R-Us, so I called Catherine to get her advice. I happened to catch her at the home of her friends John and Rochelle, who have a daugher, Elise, who is almost exactly Yu-Da's age. They were able to give us a solid recommendation (shown here), which we took.

We're also starting to learn the basic baby signs, using the Sign with Your Baby books. Both Catherine and Rebecca seem to have had good success with the baby signing. The Sign with your Baby approach uses American Sign Language. I'm surprised at how easy it is to learn. I learned a few signs just hanging out with Catherine and Rebecca for a few days over the last two years and I still retained them ("more", "milk", "please", "thank you"). The books say that starting even with a child as old as Yu-Da can be helpful--I'm hoping that's the case.

We also loaded up on China guide books, phrase books, and maps. Can't be too prepared.

Friday, January 28, 2005

How We Got Here

Julie and I have been married for over 20 years now
(July, 1984). In late 2002 we decided it was time to
start a family. After a few months it was clear that
nothing was happening. We both got the usual checkups
and we quickly learned that it was not gonna happen
(and quite possibly, would never have happened). It
didn't take us much longer to agree that trying to do
something extreme like IVF just didn't make a lot of
sense so we decided to adopt.

This was the spring of 2003.

We knew people who had adopted from China, including
my foster sister Jeanne and her husband, who had been
some of the first American's to adopt from China.
Their daughters Kelly and Brianna are wonderful kids.
I had been to China in 1999 and really enjoyed it. We
felt like, of the various cultures we could adopt
from, China was one that we felt confident helping our
child get to know and understand.

In my research it became clear that of the top
countries one could adopt from, China's program was
least dicey, being centrally controlled and well
supported by adoption agencies in the states. I read
some journals of people's adoption experiences and
generally got a good feeling about it.

That spring we went to a workshop given by Great Wall
China Adoption (GWCA), which happens to be based here
in Austin. We got a good vibe from the people there.

We decided that we would go forward with it, but we
didn't pursue it right away because Julie was in the
midst of trying to finish her dissertation.

Finally, around Christmas of 2003 we decided it was
time to get serious and actually signed up with GWCA.

In January of 2004 we started doing the paperwork,
getting our physicals, and what not. We pursued it
diligently but not overly so. We were (and are) lucky
that we could approach this process with relative
calm. In reading posts on news groups and whatnot it
was clear that there are a lot of people who enter the
adoption process already seriously stressed, having
tried for years to get pregnant, gone through all
sorts of fertility nightmares, and so on. We didn't
have any of that.

However the process did have it's stresses. There was
the simple annoyance of dealing with all the different
bureaucracies, knowing that everything had to be just
right. There was the home study, which, even when you
know you have a minimum of skeletons, is incredibly
stressful, simply because some stranger is judging
your fitness to raise a child.

But no single part of it was particularly daunting.
The Internet certainly made it much easier. For
example, getting copies of birth certificates was
almost as simple as ordering from Amazon.

I would say that if you can come to this process
relatively unstressed it's not too bad. But I can
easily imagine that if you're already wound pretty
tight that the smallest sort of hitch in getting a
document could be very trying indeed. I'm just
thankful that things worked out for us the way they

Finally in June of 2004 we had everything together and
ready to send to China. We hand delivered our dossier
to the folks at GWCA and waited for a tense few
minutes while the person checked our paperwork to make
sure everything was in order. Which it was.

So it went off to China at the end of June, just
getting us into the June DTC (dossier to China) group.
Then we waited.

When I started my research the typical time from DTC
to referral was eight months or more. And the SARS
thing in 2003 screwed everything up. But by the time
our dossier had gone they were providing referrals
right at six months after DTC, regular as clockwork.

So sure enough, in early December we got our referral.
And things got very exciting.

So far, knock wood, I would say things have gone
amazingly smoothly, save for a few hiccups in the
initial drafting of our home study report.

Now we have our travel arrangements made, flights
booked, cameras bought, guide books in hand. We have
our little pack of 50 crisp, uncirculated hundred
dollar bills.

So the main process, from the time we signed the
contract with the GWCA to when we will arrive at the
Mao Nan Social Welfare Institute to get Yu-Da, will
have taken just about 15 months, which is faster than
I ever expected. If you count from the point at which
we decided to adopt, it has taken just a little less
than two years.

Next up: how we came to be building a house...

Baby Readiness Status

We are slowly starting to get the house ready for a child. Last night we put together the Ikea crib we had bought. Still to be assembled: changing table/dresser, high chair.

We have sacks of baby-proofing stuff that we need to install.

Julie is working on repainting and wallpapering in the baby's room. Peggy will be helping with that when we get back from China.

And of course the Honored Grandparents have already started innundating us with toys and clothes....

Another picture from the orphanage.

The pictures of Yu-Da we got from the orphanage. We think these are at about 7 months.

Let's Go: China

For the benefit of those who don't already know us, we are about to travel to China to adopt our first child, a little girl named Yu-Da ( 雨大 [Literally "rain big". We're not sure if this is intended to have any particular meaning--it doesn't seem to be any sort of idiomatic expression]). She is about 13 months old.

Along with Julie and myself, we'll be traveling with the Honored Grandparents: Julie's mother Peggy, my mother Judy, and father Bill. We'll be in China for three weeks, starting 8 Feb. We'll be in Beijing for the week of Chinese New Year, which should be pretty interesting. Then on the 16th we fly to the Guangdong province to get Yu-Da from her orphanage. Then we spend another week or so completing all the paperwork to make Yu-Da a U.S. citizen and complete the adoption. Then we come home.

And then who knows? It will be an adventure....