Friday, March 31, 2006

HR 1561

I've recovered fully from my temper tantrum (see below).

I put my energies to better use tonight by vacuuming up two weeks' worth of dog hair, revising my financial statement, and writing letters in support of HR 1561. Before I explain the latter, let me just say that those revisions to my financial statement resulted in a big difference of approximately $500. Whatever...

HR 1561 is the Childhood Adoption Act of 2005. I did a little research on the act, and it was introduced last April and not much has happened with it since then. Here's what the act would do: it would increase the dollar limitation on the tax credit for qualified adoption expenses from $10K to $15K, make the credit permanent, and repeal the five year limitation on carryforwards for unused credits.

As an adoptive parent in the making, I can tell those of you who haven't gone through the process that it is very costly. This revision to the tax code would really help to offset the expense and lessen the hardship and debt that often accompany the adoption process. As a single teacher, I can vouch for that!

If you want to do something to support those of us on this journey of adoption, write your senators and representative to tell them that you support HR 1561.

Next time I'll post some pictures of cute baby clothes I picked up yesterday. This week required retail therapy! ;-)


I have to admit that I'm recovering from a temper tantrum just now. I am p***ed off because I have to redo my financial statement to match the 90-day average bank information I gave the home study agency. I had already completed the financial statement and had it notarized. I had used the most current bank information available.

Moments before my temper tantrum, I had felt joyful because the letter of clearance from the LBPD was in the mail today - notarized as it should be.

I'm still waiting on one reference letter, the notarized copy of the guardianship letter, the notarized letter from my doctor, and a return trip to the doctor that did the physical. That doctor needs to make the home study agency's form and AWAA's form all matchy-matchy. This is not currently the case.

I'm not enjoying the process today. I envy those people who don't have to use two agencies to get the job done. Futhermore, I wish my life was easier sometimes - easier as in happily married to a really good guy and parents to a couple of kids already. Today I'm not enjoying my path.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Okay, here's something completely off the topic of adoption. Today we had a Distinguished Schools visitation. California has this program where they acknowledge public schools that meet the criteria for being 'distinguished'. It all starts with an invitation to apply. Once the application is written, if it's approved, then a visitation team comes to the campus to validate the application.

My school has been distinguished twice before and is a current National Blue Ribbon School, but every four years you've got to reapply and be reconsidered.

It's a hassle...

There's a lot of pressure...

You keep thinking, "Didn't we just do this?"

The outcome is an engraved plaque and bragging rights. No dinero for new stuff we really need - like computers.

Now, I think my school really is distinguished. We have amazing test scores and an API of 925 (that's out of 1000), parents who volunteered more than 13,000 hours last year, hard working students, a terrific principal, outstanding teachers (thank you, thank you very much...), so why don't we get more than a lousy plaque?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Do Overs

Okay, just when I think I'm getting closer to getting all this paperwork in my hands, I have to go back and have a do over! My doctor's letter referred to me three times as Mrs. McKee. I knew that wasn't going to fly when I saw it, but I faxed it to AWAA just in case...

Nope, that's going to confuse the Chinese.

Of course it is.

So, the letter is being rewritten and I've rehired the notary to go back. This is now the $70 letter. That's right folks! SEVENTY DOLLARS! Unbelievable...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Grammy's Gift

I was up so early yesterday morning. It's hard to sleep in when the sun comes up so early. I put the extra time to good use by working on my financial statement. I then took that and a couple other documents to be notarized. On a roll now, I drove down to the LBPD to request a clearance letter. I wish I hadn't followed the directions given to me on the Rand McNally website - they took me through the hood! I should have just gone up Ocean Boulevard - much safer and more scenic.

After all that work, I called my mom to see if she'd go to Bergstrom's with me on Sunday, but she suggested we go right then. If you're not in The O.C., Bergstrom's is like Babies R Us, but I prefer it. I used to think they were expensive, but the more research I've done on what baby stuff costs, I've realized how competitive they are. They carry some things that Babies R Us doesn't, and they have a larger selection of cribs and bedding. We were just going to look - because it's so fun to look at baby stuff. But we lingered over a bedding set that we'd seen there in January, and mom offered to purchase it. My mom is a wonderful and generous grandmother. She is devoted to my two nieces, and she's so excited about Jillian.

I love the set - Vintage Floral - because it has an old fashioned feel to it, and it matches the color - Benjamin Moore, Cedar Key - on the walls of the baby's room very nicely. In addition to purchasing a crib sometime early next year, mom and I are on the lookout for an antique highboy dresser. We'll have it painted white, if necessary, and add some appliques to it. I'd also like to have a ceiling fan and crown molding installed in that room.

Today, I've got to focus on the tasks for my new class - Instruction and Assessment for Diverse Classrooms. Sounds like fun, huh? But my mom said that if I get an A in this class too, then we'll go shopping again!

p.s. I just wanted to mention that my dad is devoted and generous with all of us, too. He doesn't go in for the shopping, but he works hard so that we can. Thanks, Dad!

Friday, March 24, 2006


This week has felt like a marathon to me. I sometimes wondered if it would ever end. Much has been accomplished and I have a grateful heart that things are progressing. I am fully aware of the inconveniences of the process, but I'm learning to tolerate them.

Today my mother kindly accompanied me to the Orange County Clerk's Office so that I could purchase a couple certified copes of my birth certificate. Mom provided her navigational skills to get me there on time and without getting turned around. She even found us a great place to park. I then went back to the medical clinic to have my TB test read and to get the results of the blood work. Everything is normal. Yippee!

Tomorrow morning I'm heading downtown - not a place for a young woman to be heading after dark. As much as I love Long Beach, I don't deceive myself about certain parts of town. Anyway, I've got to get that clearance letter from the PD for the dossier. I've decided that is a 'communist thing'. The Chinese are probably real big on being in good standing with the police considering the little bit I know about Chinese society. I've had my background checked so that I could receive my teaching credential, but I never had to have the police write me a letter. Whatever...

I do feel like I'm being nickled and dimed to death. There is a fee or a charge for everything. I don't mind, because Jillian's worth it, but it's insane.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Just got back from the physical exam at the Walk-in Doc. They actually have a great clinic. If I'd seen my regular doctor for this appointment, I would have had to go to the lab for my blood work, TB test, and urinalysis. This place did it all! I do have to return to have my TB test read on Friday or Saturday, but that's no surprise. They were really accomodating - even notarizing my paperwork without charging me extra. After this experience, it's my opinion that every doctors office should be required by law to have a notary on staff. I've been a notary in the past and it's not a big deal to become one.

I'm still waiting to hear from one of my doctors about whether she'll write a letter without seeing me first. I hope I don't have to make an appointment with her. I'm concerned that I won't get an appointment for several weeks or months to come. That would be bad...

Monday, March 20, 2006


Tonight I went over to the P.D. at Cerritos College to be fingerprinted by Live Scan. I wish they'd had one of those when I got my teaching credential. Teachers have to be fingerprinted, too. So, anyway, I much prefer not having to get ink all over my fingers.

I also got some financial information from the credit union that the SW had requested. Now I have a big stack of papers to FedEx to the home study agency tomorrow after school. I'm making progress.

But, I've found that getting notarized letters from doctors is a big pain in the arse. Neither of my doctors' offices has a notary on staff. So, I've got to find one who will travel (yes, I know, they're in the phone book), and I somehow have to coordinate their availability with the doctors' availabilities. What a lousy nightmare that might be. If you know of a good notary in the Newport Beach and/or Huntington Beach areas, please let me know how to contact them. They all seem a little shady to me...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

First Meeting with Maria

I just completed my first visit with my social worker, Maria. We talked for two hours and we covered a lot of ground. I was really struggling with feelings of inadequacy earlier today before she arrived. You know: She's going to think I don't make enough money, my house is too small, I'm too immature... All of which is nonsense, of course. I was just dealing with self doubt. I experienced similar feelings before I began my master's program.

Anyway, I feel like it went well and I'm ready to move on to the next steps. AND my house is REALLY clean!!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Mom Is the Best!

My mom spent the afternoon cleaning house with me today. We took advantage of the fact that I only had to work a half-day, and used the second half of the day to do some deep cleaning. I'm really a pretty good housekeeper usually, but with the added responsibility of my master's program (and now the paperchase) I have less time and energy for serious cleaning. What will it be like when Jillian comes home? I'm afraid to know! For now, I'm closer to feeling ready for my first visit with the SW on Sunday.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Medical Letters

Oh, I am trying to be proactive and get a couple of my doctors to address an old medical condition before I'm told I have to. I've been symptom free for several years and was told that there was no signs of the condition the last time they checked for it. Sorry to be cryptic. It's really not a big deal, but I don't want to elaborate... Needless to say, I'm in really good health and I take no prescription medicine. I haven't missed a day of work for illness this school year.

They don't make it easy for you though, do they? They don't have notaries on staff, and you have to come in for an appointment so that they can charge you. I'm sure it will all work itself out, but in the meantime it's a source of concern and frustration.

Yesterday, I received a new information sheet on a new Chinese baby girl that I'm sponsoring through Half the Sky. The other little darling was adopted according to the letter I received with the information sheet. That made me happy. This little girl, Wang Zi, is amazingly beautiful! I'm not exaggerating. She is so lovely. I want her! I really do! She's almost 10 months old and I'm sure she'll be adopted in the next couple of months, but I'm telling you, if I could choose my own, she'd be the one. She's gorgeous. Out of respect for her privacy and her soon-to-be adoptive parents' privacy, I won't post her picture. You'll just have to take my word for it - she's a beauty! Sigh...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm Booked!

First, let me say that this post is sort of like "note to self". So I apologize for it's list-like quality. For starters, this weekend I've got to get some sort of filing system set up for all this adoption paperwork. Right now it's just in a loose pile on the kitchen table. Okay, then next week is going to be SO busy - adoption-wise...

Sunday - First meeting with the SW

Monday or Tuesday - Walk-in fingerprint "appointment" (it's not really an appointment if you don't have to have an appointment, is it?)

Wednesday - Physical with some random doctor at the walk-in clinic near work

Friday - 4 p.m. appointment at the county courthouse, so that I can have the fancy-shmancy, razzle-dazzle birth certificate instead of the two plain-Jane, run-of-the-mill birth certificates I have already... Whatever...

Oh, and my next class starts next Wednesday, too.

This week has been all about Parent Conferences. They've gone very well, but I'm so tired of talking to parents at this point. It's exhausting for an introvert like me to talk to people I don't know very well all afternoon for four days in a row. And, people really approach conferences so differently. Some parents come in and stare at me and hardly say a thing. While others want to analyze every aspect of their child's progress and take notes (really!). Some are so appreciative and treat me like family. Others act as though I'm the enemy and they are so defensive and guarded. It's an interesting study in human behavior.

Anyway, I'm SO ready for Spring Break. I can't even begin to tell you...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Grades are in...

I earned an A!


Monday, March 13, 2006

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

This Sunday afternoon is my first visit with the SW, Maria. I just got off the phone with her and she seems really nice and knowledgeable. I guess I'm going to have to get this house cleaned one way or the other!

I also made an appointment for a physical today. I've been trying to reach my doctor's office and no one ever answers the phone. I finally got through this afternoon, and the woman on the other end said that she and the doctor are the only staff right now. That seems a little strange to me, but whatever... She wasn't going to be able to give me an appointment for a physical until May 9th, even when I told her why it was urgent. That just wasn't going to work for me.

So, I called the home study agency and they told me to use a walk-in clinic. There's a reputable one close to my school, so I stopped by on the way home and made an appointment for next week. They even have a notary on staff. I've been sending away for records and documents like crazy since late, last week. I want to check things off on my checklist so badly!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

So Long, Block One

Maybe I shouldn't be saying goodbye just yet, as grades aren't posted. But, I have submitted the last paper for the first block of my master's program. Four more blocks to go...

When I started this block, I was totally overwhelmed. I thought it was going to kill me - that I'd have no life whatsoever apart from working and studying. It turned out to be much more manageable than it first seemed to be. And, assuming that I've earned a good grade, I'd have to say that I recommend the online degree experience (if I haven't passed then I have nothing nice to say...). I don't have to go to class after working all day, and I don't have to endure boring lectures or long-winded, whiny classmates, or GROUP PROJECTS! Those are the worst, aren't they?

The aftermath of Block 1, however is a very messy house that I have no desire to clean today - maybe I'll muster the strength after church tomorrow. Tonight it's P&P - the new one, not the one with Colin Firth. I'm skeptical, you know, because Colin's brooding Mr. Darcy was the best! And, while I don't know the name of the actress who played Elizabeth in that version, she gave a great performance, too. So, I'll just have to see if this one's a thumbs up or thumbs down for me.

Later... thumbs up, BUT I still prefer the BBC version.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Compare & Contrast





As winter turns to spring, it's out with the old furniture and in with the new. They even smell new! Let's call that Eau de pre-Labrador. If you have dogs, then you know what I mean. No matter how often they go to the groomers, in three days they smell like 'dog' again. I wish I could figure out how to keep them away from the new furniture. Buffy liked to rub herself on the old sofa, and they both like to be near me when I'm sitting on the sofa. They don't realize that they are dirty and stinky.

Anyway, I'm very happy with the new sofa and chair. I've got to finish my monster paper so that I can go out to the living room and enjoy them. Later this weekend, after I've submitted my assignment, I'm going to watch the Pride & Prejudice DVD while sitting on the sofa. It's going to be a rainy and cold weekend - just perfect for being a couch potato.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Moving Along

Monday's mail had an envelope from the HS agency. It contained a checklist of items that I'm responsible for, and more paperwork - of course. I sent off the form letters to my friends who are writing references for me, and I sent the employment verification form and a request for health insurance verification (and how it will cover my adopted child) off to HR. I also sent the HS agency half of the HS fee, and I had to send AWAA money for the post-placement 'stuff' (I honestly don't really know what it's for). But, I do know that if I do 'it' (whatever 'it' is), they will give me that money back. I sent that in now because they're doubling the fee later this month. That was motivating!

So, now I really need to look through this list and decide what I can do next. Should I make an appointment to have my fingerprints done now? Or, do I have to wait for something... Gotta figure that out.

I also found out that I need to get certified copies of my name change. I changed my last name in 2000 when I was on the road to stardom. I've obviously been detoured... I tried calling the Los Angeles Superior Court to ask how I do that, but they only answer their phones (according to the lengthy voicemail message) for a two hour window in the a.m. or another two hour window in the afternoon. So, I'll try them again tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning my new furniture is being delivered. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And the Oscar goes to...

Sunday night I had the pleasure to attend an Oscar party hosted by some amazing moms from the school at which I teach. Cathy and Carrie have been throwing these Oscar parties for the last eight years to raise monies for the Breast Cancer Angels charity. This is the second year I've attended, and this time I went with my mom, Linelle, and my sister, Julie, and Julie's friend Jodie. We got all glammed up as you can see. That's me on the left, Mom in the middle, and Julie on the right. Jodie was a sweetie and took the picture for us.

Cathy and Carrie thought of everything to make this night amazing. When we first arrived, we had our picture taken in front of a stretch limousine. Inside we received our table assignment and purchased our raffle tickets. There must have been forty different raffle items like gift baskets, dining certificates, overnight stays at very nice local hotels, and a super cool beach cruiser. I won none of them, of course. I am not a lucky person so I did not expect to. If you're not a lucky person then you know what I mean. I never win anything!

Anyway... I was so thrilled to find a pretty dress at Loehman's for next to nothing, and a beautiful, beaded purse. My life as a teacher is not a glamorous one, so I was happy to have an occasion that required more than jeans and a sweater. It was a lot of fun, and I can hardly wait for next year's party.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Here's A Question

I have the USCIS I-600A. The directions say to complete the form (I have), include a photocopy of the BC, a check, and a cover letter. It does say that a notarized copy of the home study is required, but that the home study can be sent later. Should I send the I-600A in now? I would especially like to hear from anyone who lives in Southern California who had to use the LA District Office. Your input is truly appreciated!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

New Shoes

I was at the mall after school yesterday shopping to complete my outfit for tomorrow night's Oscar party - more on that later... While there, I found these cute shoes at Baby Gap on the clearance rack! I'm a sucker for anything that has a rose on it, so I whipped out my debit card! I hope Jillian likes roses as much as I do, because her room is going to have a rose theme, and her middle name will be Rose.

I spoke with Adoption Options yesterday morning. They just wanted to confirm some things on my application - I guess that's standard, but it seems silly to ask questions that have already been answered on the applicaton. Anyway, more paperwork is on its way. Several people on my primary agency's yahoo group were DTC yesterday. I so look forward to that step. It seems far away right now. And three AWAA families received referrals this week. Those were unexpected. It seems they were expedited due to Chinese heritage and/or that the applicants were presently living in China. More referrals are expected later this month.

Gotta go! Busy weekend ahead!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Darn it!

When I checked my messages at home this afternoon, there was a message from Adoption Options saying they had received my application and that they wanted to talk to me before they sent me more paperwork. The person who left the message said that she was leaving it on my home phone because she didn't know if I could take calls at school. Okay... So, I returned the call between 1 and 2 p.m. and was told she was gone for the day. I left her a voicemail saying that I was taking calls during this paperchase, and please call me back at school tomorrow.

I guess I'm disappointed that she didn't even try to call me at school. If I didn't take or make calls at school during this process, nothing would ever get done. If a colleague of mine can conduct her Cookie Lee business at school, surely I can be contacted regarding my adoption.

I've got to get off the computer. I've been on it pretty much since I got home - about three hours! BUT I was paying bills and registering for the next block in my master's program. I can't believe I've only got a week to go with the first block. It's gone by so quickly and I'm doing well. I have three small assignments to turn in by Tuesday night (two of which are completed already), and a big whopper of an assignment due next Saturday night. It will feel so good to be finished!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

There by 10:30 tomorrow!

Well, I took a little longer with the home study application than I had intended to. But that's all good. It was extensive, and focusing on it for two days allowed me to be really careful with it. I had a chance at lunch to stop in at FedEx Kinko's and leave it in their capable hands. Now, I wait to hear back from them.

Something that I found interesting was that I had forgotten to send AWAA's agreement forms to Vista del Mar. I came across them as I was completing the new application for Adoption Options, and I included them with their application. So, I think that's a little sign that I wasn't supposed to work with the other agency all along. Everything is as it should be, now.