Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Marin and Tristan...

Yes, I know, I am the worst at posting photos. But I do have a few that I can share (courtesy of my aunt) so everyone can finally "meet" the two newest littles in our clan. So here goes...introducing Marin and Tristan!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Packed and Ready to Go...

Bags are packed and we are getting ready to settle in for the night to catch our bus to the airport just before 7am.  It has been a great trip and the three weeks have gone so fast.  We had wonderful experiences in both Zhejiang and Guangdong Provinces.  The kids couldn't be more wonderful.  They are sweet, ornery, smiley, full of giggles and give the sweetest kisses.

Not sure what the long flight home will bring.  Will they be calm on the entire flight home like William (we can only hope) or will they be the excited little monkeys we've come to know and love.  They are great riding in vans and on a bus so we hope that translate nicely to the many, many, many hours we will be in the air and at airports. 

We will fly straight out of Guangzhou vs. taking the train to Hong Kong.  From Guangzhou we will head for a layover in Narita Airport (Japan) via Nippon Airlines before we catch our long flt. via United into Newark. 

Once we land in Newark and clear immigration, the kids will be US Citizens!!  Here's hoping immigration goes smoothly and we get through in no time so we can make the 1.5 hour drive from the airport.  I'm itching to get my arms around Griffin, Elena, William and Jocelyn.  Missed them sooo much.

Once we get home I will work on getting the photos loaded so you all can see our new beauties and some of the wonderful sights we had the opportunity to see and enjoy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shop, Chop and HOT...

H.O.T  Is the best way to describe Guangzhou China in the summer.  I've heard it referred to as the furnace of China and well, it's a fact.  Hot on most days doesn't quite do the temps here justice.  Melting has become my daily hobby. I didn't know that I could honestly sweat as much as I do here.  As quickly as I drink a bottle of water, it's gone in a sweaty flash.  Note to self (and others who may consider it), check the temps before you go on your group trip the local Guangzhou Zoo.  If it's gonna be 106 degrees, re-think that visit.  It was so hot I do think I could have curled up with the black bear that was on display and he'd of been to dang hot himself to waste his energy eating me for supper.  We were drained (and dripping), the poor animals were depleted and the kids were dizzy from he heat.  It was not one of our favorite outings.  We had decided it was really to hot to explore the zoo and took up refuge (for what good it did) on a bench under a tree.  The only reason I got to see any of the animal displays is  because Miss Marin had to explore the bathroom of the zoo (a new place = new bathroom to visit) and we got turned around trying to find Len and Tristan.  After our 45 minute walk we finally found our way back but by then were thoroughly exhausted from carrying my girl around for that long.

Did a little more shopping for thing for the kid and gifts.  We went back to both the Chen Family Temple to have Marin and Tristan's name chops made and then a 2nd trip back to the Pearl Market to get the Jade we needed for the kids (mom and dad got some too this trip).  We'll head to Shamian Island this afternoon to finish up some shopping and walking the beautiful grounds. Never know just what I must have to bring home with us.

Vaccinations and Visits

The visit to medical wasn't too bad (at least not for us, but the kids,well...).  It was a simple taking of basic measurements (ht., wt., and length) which led to a lot of screaming and flailing from the both of them.  Then off to the examine room where they had their heart and lungs listened to and a check over of their special need.  After the examine it was off to the vaccination room to have the TB test administered.  After a few more tears we were all finished and headed back to the hotel to let the little ones rest from their harrowing experience.  In a couple of days we will head back to the medical facility to check the TB tests.  Hoping for the all clear there (which it was).

The next day lead us on our two hour drive to Zhongshan CWI.  Ms. Zhong met us at the gate to begin the tour of the facility.  After a brief moment in the conference room we headed off to see where and how the kids lived.  We started our tour in the dining hall where the kids not only eat their meals but the older children will use the space for their studies as well.  From there we proceeded to the second level where the children were placed by age and need in day rooms.  Some rooms only had a few children during the day and other very many.  The room where Marin would have played with children her age had approximately 30 little ones ranging from healthy to special needs in one 15x15 room and two ayi's an no toys for them to play with.  Most of the children kept their distance but a few approached for interaction.

We proceeded to the room where Marin would have slept.  She clung tight to me and shook her head no when we started to enter so we stayed out side.  Before this she allowed a couple of ayi's to hold  her but after this point she denied anyone who wasn't Mama to hold or touch her.  The ayi's were all very excited to see her and each called her name as they saw her.  They seemed to be very fond of her.

After our tour we returned to the conference room where we had the chance to see some of the kids that were waiting for their Z parents to come meet them and also several children who are being advocated for in the hopes of finding them their forever families.  It was a nice visit with there older children.  They were all so wonderful and full of personality.

After our visit concluded we took in dinner at a local restaurant in Zhongshan and before taking the 1.5 hour drive back to Guangzhou.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Goings on in Guangzhou...

Well it's been busy since we've gotten to Guangzhou.  The real excitement started on the 30th of July when we met our girl for the first time.  There are three families in our main group and we were the first to meet Marin at Civil Affairs.  Her ayi carried her over to us and handed her off to me.  She began to cry but settled down fast.  We spent some time with her in the playroom and spoke with her ayi about her schedule, what she likes and dislikes, potty business and her personality.

Personality is an understatement.  This girlie is over the top.  She is so full of energy, talks up a storm, smiles one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen, is engaging, and runs, jumps and plays at warp speed.  She climbs like a monkey (on things, under things and over things).

She had a rough first night, but has been sleeping well since then, only waking once in a while to make a trip to the potty.  She's fully potty trained and is doing great.  Like every other two year old she likes to explore every new bath room in each store or restaurant we visit, often more than one just in case we didn't have a chance to see each stall and wash our hands in every sink.

The first few days Tristan didn't know really what to think of her.  He's so laid back, calm and quite and this new Tasmanian Devil makes her way into his new world so it took a little getting used to.

One of their favorite things to do is get a bath in the big tub and get squirted with the hand wand.  Anything larger than the spa tub (aka as the hotel swimming pool) is not on their list of highlights from the trip (at least not as of yet).

More on our adventure and wrangling our two monkeys tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Well Blogspot seems to have eaten my earlier posts, so we'll give it another try and share all of our trip in Hangzhou all at one time, so here goes...

After all the excitement getting into Beijing (see Baba's first ever blog post about that adventure) and then to Hangzhou, we can consider our time in HZ somewhat uneventful (except for meeting our boy of course!)

We finallyy got in around 10pm on Sunday night (we left on Friday) and got a little shut eye befor the big day on Monday morning to meet Xuan.  One thing I forgot about was the beds of brick.  I'm sore in places I didn't know I had courtesy of the rock hard mattesses.

We met our guide at 9am and began our day.  First to the bank to exchnage USD for RMB, then over to Civil Affairs to meet Tristan.  As soon as we entered the meeting room we could see him sitting with his CWI director and his favorite ayi ( a nice young man).  He was immedicatly handed to Len (and didn't shed a tear) while I started the paperwork.  Paperwork was finished and when the Director and ayi departed, he began to cry.  It only lasted a bit and he calmed down.  We then off for our first ever family photo.  He had a good night at the hotel and slept almost thru the night and we began our new day together.  Back to Civial Affairs for more paperwork processing and a small presentation of our red adoption folder.

That afternoon we struck out on our two hour drive to Ningbo to file for his passport.  While we didn't anticipate being able to visit EnMei CWI, we were pleasantly surprised to be invited for a visit before our appointment at the Police Department for his passport. 

When we approached the gates of EnMei Tristan became very upset and climbed onto my lap for comfort.  While I hated to see him frightened, I was happy he sought us our for comfort.  We asked our guide to explain it was only a visit to see his friends and he seems ok with that.  We again saw the Int'l Adoption Director and his favorite ayi as well as the overall Director for the CWI.  We were able to visit with some of his friends (he was most happy to see DanQi - as soon as they saw each other they smiled, went to each other and held hands the entire time they were together).  We also got to see his class room and later went to a delicious lunch at a local restaurant hosted by the CWI.  Once all our official work was done it was back on the road for our two hour drive back to Hangzhou.

Tristan has been done very well.  For the first few days he didnt utter a solitary word.  But on Wed. as he sat on my lap he looked me square in the eye and in perfect English said "Hello".  He has the sweetest little sing-song voice.  He has also has a picture book of family, with our help he can say the names of his brothers, sisters, grandparents and his aunts, uncles and cousins.  For the first few days after waking, he would cry for a bit.  I don't know if that was more from waking up in unfamiliar surroundings, grieving or both.  That has pretty much stopped now.  He is a sweet little boy who will now pucker and give kisses.  Says mama and baba when he want our attention and loves to be carried.  Actually he's given up on walking and if we don;t pick him up on depand, he will drop to the group and throw a bit of a fit (ok more than a little bit).  He also won't ride in a coach.  Should be interesting when we get sister on Monday who has a leg condition and very well may need to be carried.

During our down time we spend it walking around the city to take in the local area as well as spending a couple afternoons at the beautiful West Lake.  One thing for certain, Hangzhou is a booming city.  Alot of young men and women are in the area, building is going on around the area and they had many highend stores such as Rolex, Lamborghini, Benz, etz.

On Sat. we we will head out to Guangzhou to start the second part of our journey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Greetings from the PRC

Subject: Greeting fromthe PRC - Inital Report

As smooth as the first trip went, this one has had some glitches.  On Friday, we awoke at 5 am to get on the road at 6.  No problems traveling up the NJTP.  We checked in around 8 and found out that the flt was delayed over three hours getting out.  We left out at 4 pm Friday.  The flt was uneventful until we had to circle over Beijing for about 2 hours due to weather.  We finally landed at 7pm Saturday Beijing time to find that we missed out connector and the last flt ot Hangzhou was canx until the following day (Sunday).  This was due to rain, the heaviest Beijing has seen in 60 years.  I can't get away from this stuff - 10 inches of rain, 40 dead due to flooding, power outages, etc. We stood in line for about 3 hours to book our connector.  Now to find a hotel for the night.  The airport found us a room at a nearby hotel and called a driver.  We wound up going down this dark alley in the rain.  I felt like someone in the movie Bladerunner.  We pull into this darkened alley and I thought "On S*%^!!!  Here it goes.  We are getting rolled and no one knows where we are, including us!!!"  But that was not the case.  It was a rundown hotel, 1/2 stars out of 5 , maybe.  Rain was pouring in from the street.  A couple of stray dogs found their way inside out of the rain.  The lobby was thick with cigarette smoke.  However, a young boy booked us in the room, their "deluxe room."  Scared as to what we would find, I opened the room.  We were surprised.  The room was clean, although a little beat-up.  We stayed the night and checked out at 8 am to return to the airport.  We finally were allowed to check-in at 3 pm, boarded our flt at 6 and arrived at 10 pm Sunday.  So after approx 60 hours, we arrived in Hangzhou.  Today, we get Tristan at 10 am. 
Stay tuned, sports fans!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The trip...

Received our itinerary for our in-country travel.  Hard to believe in only three days, we'll be taking the first (super long, 13 hours in a pressurized tube flying at 30,000 feet at 500 miles per hour trip, did I mention long) flight into Beijing.  So here goes...

7/20 - Depart Newark for Beijing
7/21 - Arrive Beijing, catch our connection into Hangzhou, Zhejiang Prov.
7/22 - Happy 3rd Birthday Tristan!! (Free day to rest as best you can with a 12 hour time difference - JET LAG))
7/23 - We travel to Civil Affairs to meet Tristan.
7/24 - 9am to Civil Affairs to register his adoption and at 11am off via van for a two hour ride to Ningo to file for his passport (can you say Dramamine)
7/25 - Shopping day to get the little man some things he might need
7/26 - Site see at Xihu
7/27 - Pick-up his passport
7/28 - An early flight from Hangzhou to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
7/29 - Rest day before we meet our little girl (perhaps a trip to Shamian Island is in order - we will need Starbucks by then)
7/30 - Afternoon trip to meet Ms. Marin
7/31 - Civil Affairs and Public Notary for adoption registration
8/1 - Visit to Zhongshan orphanage
8/2 - Take kids for Visa photos, to medical exam and for TB tests (oh, joy)
8/3 - Visit Yuexiu Park
8/4 - TB test results day
8/5 - Visit Chen Family Temple
8/6 - Pick up Marin's passport
8/7 - US Consulate Appointment and Oath Taking Ceremony
8/8 - Pick-up US Visa for the kids
8/9 - Depart Guangzhou for Tokyo, then Tokyo home

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Almost Time...

Wow!  That's all I can say.  For all the waiting and never thinking we'd get off the ground and to this point, the time has come.

I just four short (hectic, panicked, frantic) days we board our first of several planes to get to the kids.

We depart NJ with a stop in Beijing before we get to our first stop in Hangzhou where we'll spend a week.  From Hangzhou we fly for a couple hours to the exceptionally hot city of Guangzhou.  After two steamy weeks in Guangzhou we'll make a pit stop in Tokyo and back home again with our arms full of little ones.

Prepping the house has been a challenge.  What we pick-up and clean gearing up to go, one of our little darlings follows behind leaving a little more to do.  But the big things have been taken care of. 

The new van (yep the 15 passenger variety - there goes any hopes of me picking up any hot guys - unless they're on their way to the airport and think I'm Rapid Rover) has been purchased.  The bedrooms have been flip-flopped to make room for the new additions.  Three weeks of groceries have been purchased and stored so no one goes hungry while we're out and about.  All the new clothes have been washed and put away.  And a whole lot more still to do.  It always gets done, somehow.

I should be able to share our itinerary tomorrow, there is a lot to do in those three weeks, that 's for certain.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flights Booked...

Well (with a lump in my throat and now emptier pockets), our flights are booked!  One of the last major planning functions that we needed to complete before we can be on our way.  It's hard to believe that the time is so near.  It seems I don't have enough time to get everything done but then it can't get here quick enough.  Funny how that happens, excitement and anxiety can do that.

It will be another three week stay in country and appears we will be flying solo in Hangzhou.  As of right now Great Wall does not have any other families heading that way at the same time we are.  But I'm sure we will run into other "friends" that we made along the way in both Hangzhou and Guangzhou.  We've heard the that West Lake area is beautiful and we very much look forward to taking it all in with our new son.  Oh how I love to hear those two words - New Son.  Makes me smile each time.

We hope to hear soon what our in country itinerary is from Great Wall so we can share that with everyone.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In The Home Stretch...

It is hard to believe but we are just about done with the wait.  Last week the US Consulate in Guangzhou issued our Article 5 which is the last US approval needed and allows us to bring the kiddos into the good 'ol USofA when it's time to come home (it's their US Visa approvals).  On Monday of this week (5/21) the Art. 5 and our signed LOA's were delivered back to the CCCWA so they can process our Travel Approval documents (TA).  The TA is China's final approval to travel into the country and pick up the kids.  Once we have our TA, Great Wall will notify the US Consulate and we will be issued our Consulate Appt. and then.....we book our INTERNATIONAL FLTS. TO GET MARIN and TRISTAN.

While it seems like FOR-EV-ER and a day to get to this point, it's actually only been 10.5 months since we started the entire process to where we are this week.

TA's can take anywhere from 7 days to be issued to several weeks to show up at Great Wall's office.  So we do have a little more waiting to do, but in the grand scheme of things it's not too bad.

Can't wait for the TA call from Jenny.

Monday, April 16, 2012

1800's Approved...

12 days!! That's all, only 12 days from receipt at the USCIS lock box to approvals being issued on our I800 applications for the kids. Friday the 13th is indeed a lucky day at the Clarks. Like the kids would say Holy Moly Macaroni!

So now we gather a bunch of other information that needs to be sent the moment we receive the approval notices in the mail (I don't want to waste a second). This is what we need to send to our agency in this package:
  • Original, signed LOA/LSC's with acceptance box checked off
  • Signed Letters of Intent
  • Signed Referral Agreements
  • Copies of I800A Approvals
  • Copies of I800 Provisional Approvals
  • Copies of Letter from Bureau of Consular Affairs
  • Completed DS-230 applications and fee (x2) C
  • Children's passport size photo
  • Completed LSC Checklist
  • Parent Information Sheet
  • Travel Information Sheet
Some things I have done, others I've not yet figured out (passport photos for the kids) and other we wait for.

Once Great Wall receives the package, they will forward it to their staff in China the next business day. Then the DS-230 applications will be delivered to the US Consulate. The Consulate will verify our approvals and then issue an Article 5. The Article 5 is then delivered to the CCCWA where they will begin processing our TA (travel approval)

I think I need a paper bag and to put my head between my knees to catch my breath. This moving at rapid fire pace, I just hope I can keep up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Most of us don't like to wait. (Waiting in line at the grocery, waiting in the lobby for a dental appointment that's running behind,waiting for that train to finish as you’re already late). Waiting is ANNOYING
and not one of us will disagree as we sit there tapping our foot and muttering under our breath.

Now, if you've ever been part of the adoption world "waiting" takes on a whole different meaning. Not to say that we aren't tapping our foot or muttering under our breath, but it's painfully different and hard for those outside our circle to completely understand.

Why is it so different? It's really quite simple and one word can explain it: L-O-V-E.

Love and complete devotion for someone you've yet to meet, a little someone who you've only seen a few photos of and read a few pages of vague information about. For me, the feelings are intimately similar to when I was pregnant. The hopes and dreams and complete feeling of awe that I had for the unseen, unknown child(ren) I had I carried within my body are the same for those that are born in my heart.

Adoption is waiting. Everything is a deadline and a count down. Do this, copy that, mail form D-E-F, but not until you receive document A-B-C.
Await this approval, file this government form, notarized this, authenticate that. USCIS, CCCWA, NBC, NVC, Secretary of State, I-800, Article 5, I797, US Consulate, Chinese Consulate. The list goes on and on.
Submit a form and await your approval. Count the days between submission and approval then start again with another part of the
process. Tens of hours of work turn into weeks, weeks into months and sometimes months into years.
Around the world a child waits for their family, OUR children wait. Our children wait for someone to love them unconditionally, to hold and comfort them when they need it or simply to the give one-on-one attention where they've never had. This wait keeps them from the opportunities they may never have in their birth country.
Our children are "taken care" of to the best of the ability of the ayi's (nannies) with sometimes scant resources and we are forever indebted to them for this care, but it's not the love of a family that children need and deserve.
As I sit here in the comfort of my home, with running water, electricity, ample food and the love of my family I begin to feel very selfish, no I am selfish. I am spoiled and lack patience. Where else can I be channeling this wasted energy for a greater good? The process is what it is and I need to find peace in it, I am not in control.

YES!!! I want my kids home but my wait is nothing in comparison to theirs. I need to recognize that before I delve into a case of "woe-is-me" and rant about why it takes so long. I have to step off the pity train and remember this isn’t about me no matter how I spin it; it’s my sense of entitlement that’s annoying, not the waiting.

As I look at photos of Marin and Tristan I know I am not the one waiting, they are, and it gives me the good slap I need to regain my
perspective of the waiting game knows as adoption.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


A short 2 minute 13 second phone call at 2:06pm today has sealed the deal. China has granted our request to adopt our two newest sweethearts. This simple piece of paper (well two) officially makes us a family. But we didn't need that paper to confirm what we already felt in our hearts for Tristan and Marin, they were already ours.

It's amazing how a simple phone call can change your life and a few simple words can, in this case, "congratulations mom" make you weak in the knees.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's in a name (Marin)?

Clark - a nice, super common Scots/Irish last name is what we have. So with a name that spans pages in the telephone directly we wanted to make sure our kids had something slightly off the usual path, but not strange and over the top, won't get you teased in school. Her siblings are: Griffin, Elena, William, Jocelyn and Tristan. If I don't say so myself, I think we did a pretty darn good job name choosing.

Marin (Latin) - Of the Sea
Elizabeth (Hebrew) - God is my vow
HeYi (Chinese) - He: Gentle, Kind Harmonious. Yi: Happy Joyful, Cheerful.

Her names are so peaceful and we know she will bring much happiness, joy and cheer to our family - she already does!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's in a name (Tristan)?

Once again we've needed to find the right name for one (or in this case two) of our children. I find selecting "the" name to be very difficult, almost impossible. For months I pour over baby name books with tens of thousands of names (most way over the top for us) and look up ideas on the Internet. While it's a name we, as mom and dad decide we like, what do the kids really think of it when they are old enough to have an opinion about it? Does it work when you are liitle but also an adult? How does is sound following an introduction such as, All rise for the Honorable.....

And name meanings, holy moly, they can range from wild to weird. So what's one to do when you find "the" name you wish to go with and the meaning isn't what you'd expected? Do you crumple up your list and toss it in the fireplace in frustration or do you go with it? Determining the definition of a name does not define the person, is the way we approached it so this is what Len chose as our names for our little man:

Tristan: (Gaelic/Welsh) - Tumult
James: (Hebrew) - Supplanter
Xuan: (Chinese) - Gorgeous/Colorful

I think dad did a great job and our boy is indeed gorgeous!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Marin's February Photos

Well, it's been a great week for updates on the kids. We got photos of Tristan the past two weeks and now some of our girl. With out further delay, here she is. Love those rosy (since I'm dressed in 18 layers of clothing) cheeks. She is a pretty little lady, isn't she!

Monday, February 20, 2012

February photos of Tristan

We have been very lucky to have so many families offer to and be able to get photos of Tristan when they visit EnMei Ningo CWI to meet their own child(ren). From the last photos we recieved of him just a couple of months ago he already looks different. He's filled out a bit more in the face and his hair is growing in. This is the first batch of photos where he isn't glaring and is almost smiling. He also doesn't look like he's been an cat fight, no scratches or scowel this time. Thanks for our EnMei friends in the Netherlands for taking these photos for us. We are happy to have them and offer our congratulations on the adopton of their child and wish them a lifetime of happiness. So here he is...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Are Logged In...

It's official, our dossier is now in the hands of the CCCWA to review, match and approve our adoption of the kids. Anywhere between 6-9 months until travel, without any bumps in the road that is.

Friday, January 6, 2012

We are DTC

Thanks to a bunch of help from our rockin' Dossier Specialist Diedra, our dossier is on its way to China as we speak. All I can say is thank heaven for GWCA's Dragon Dossier Plan, its been a life saver, used it for William and wouldn't have done without it this time, either. No more paperchasing, certifying or authenticating. What will I do with myself now?

Now we wait for a host of new steps and milestones as we move through the process and with each step get closer to bringing the kids home. With any luck LID will be quick and painless, unlike the anticipated wait for LOA/LSC and I-800 approvals. But good things come to those who wait and what could be any better than those beauties who are waiting for us?