Monday, 26 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
After shopping we went back to the audition venue, and queued round the building for our turn. Most people in the queue had thought that as we had an appointment time that we would be able to walk straight in - trouble is we couldn't and it was cold and starting to drizzle! We stood in the queue, shuffling a few steps forward every 5 minutes or so for over an hour!! Drama Teen was ready to quit after a few minutes - just like her daddy she doesn't like to queue!! But we persuaded her to stay and give it a chance. When we had almost reached the door we saw the snack stand and I bought us all a packet of crisps - if I'd known they were £1 EACH I wouldn't have bothered!! Oh well we were tired, cold and hungry so we ate every last scrap of our expensive crisps!!
Finally we got inside the building, only to join more queues!! First to register and give in our signed release forms and show Drama Teen's passport. Then another queue to get a sticky label with her number on which was over 52000 - that's how many people they auditioned!!! Wow!! Then we were herded into a pre-waiting room and left to sit down, at least we had comfy chairs and it was warm - a huge improvement on the outdoor queuing lol.
Next we were moved to the 'holding area' which was the waiting room proper. There were TV cameras everywhere filming interviews with different acts, which was quite disconcerting as I do NOT wish to be on TV - never, ever, at all!!! We waited there for, what seemed like hours, before an assistant came over and FINALLY called Drama Teen's number, she and a group of others were next!! Under 16s had to take a parent or guardian into the audition with them, and so LMS accompanied Drama Teen, while I stayed in the 'holding area.' The group went to the exit door, but were then asked to return to some chairs and be filmed being called and walking to the exit!! LMS was much more nervous than Drama Teen, who was very laid back about the whole experience and had sat reading a trashy magazine while she waited!
When the girls finally returned, we made our way out of the venue and chatted about what had gone on. Little Miss Sensible said the cameraman was very smily about the audition. The assistant outside said "Wow that was fantastic" and LMS said she knew her sister could sing, but where on earth did that fabulous, belt it out voice come from?!?!
The tapes of the auditions (they were filmed) will be sent to London to be viewed and decide who goes further. We won't know if Drama Teen has been chosen until the New Year. Drama Teen was completely happy with her performance, and says she did her best - and that's all we can ever ask of ourselves and our children, that they do their best :-)
I am so very very proud of Drama Teen :-) She has overcome a LOT to get to the stage where she can WOW people at an audition, and I'm getting all teary thinking about how brave and fabulous she is. Well done Drama Teen and good luck - you are a beautiful young lady with a fabulous voice and deserve the recognition this show could bring :-) Mummy and Daddy are VERY VERY proud of you :-)
Monday, 19 November 2007
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Once I picked her up after Stagecoach I wanted to know all about it. She was obviously very happy and it was lovely to see :-) She watched the film with her head on his shoulder and his arm around her, and they held hands too, not sure Mr Messy will approve as he wanted them to sit at opposite ends of the cinema!! Young Lad bought a large tub of popcorn and large coke with two straws for them to share - isn't that sweet. Trouble is he hadn't checked with Drama Teen before doing this, because if he had he would have known that she doesn't drink coke lol. Still it was a very sweet gesture :-) And its a good job it was a HUGE tub of popcorn, because not only did Drama Teen manage to spill quite a lot of it down her front and all over the floor, McDonalds had a queue coming out of the door and they didn't manage to get any lunch before their Stagecoach classes!! Young Lad had already told Drama Teen he thought she was speacial (spelling isn't his strong point!) and today he told her she was gorgeous - and he is right. How come she believes him and not me, I've been telling her for years!! He also calls her his angel, although knowing his spelling skills its probably angle!!!
Aaaah love's young dream :-) They are now hogging the phone and will probably chat for hours - just like they did last night when I was trying to get through!!!
Little Prince behaved beautifully (for once lol) and I felt like a very smug mummy :-) We did buy him a very nice, well made tractor toy from the shop afterwards as a well done, and he has promised to try not to break it!! Before that though while us grown ups finished our drinks (and Mr Messy finished his dessert) Little Prince went to play in the playground outside, we could see him through the window right next to our table and it was fully enclosed so we let him play. He and another boy and girl seemed to be on a mission to completely fill the slide with sand (much to the witchy mother and son's disgust - they had asked the cafe staff to clean the slide so darling boy wouldn't get dirty!! What are boys for?!?!) and they did a grand job. They then tried to clear the sand by sliding down the slide - how else would you do it lol?? I think we brought most of the sand home with us in Little Prince's shoes, socks, trousers and even underpants!!! He was totally grubby and had a great time :-)
Yesterday me and three other mum's from school went to a huge shopping centre for some Christmas shopping, without the children. The dad's were on picking up duties - which as we didn't get home till about 9.30pm (we set off straight from school at 9am!!) was a good idea!! We had a lot of fun at the shopping centre, stopping every now and again in one of the many coffee shops to have a good natter and put the world to rights :-)
I managed to get quite a few bits and bobs ready for Christmas, but can't blog about most of them as they have already been sent to Father Christmas :-) Although I have posted a picture of a little Summer dress I got from a discount Monsoon shop - isn't it adorable?
It wasn't as hard as I had imagined to keep my 'diet head' on :-) I wasn't at all tempted by the cakes and choccies we kept seeing - I would much rather fit in my slimmer clothes thank you all the same!! I had jacket spud for lunch and when we had dinner at Pizza Hut chose the most healthy options I could - and hardly touched my pudding.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Sunday, 11 November 2007
The following letter is from CAWLI (an American agency) to its clients and contains some saddening news about the continuing slowdown of referrals from China. The wait is expected to exceed THREE years
October 28, 2007
Dear Board and Dear Waiting Families:
I traveled to China with many questions: Did the Chinese welfare systems have children for adoptions? Would the wait extend to four years as many families talked about on internet? What was the Chinese governments’ plan to help American families to adopt faster?
I traveled to eight provinces and provincial level cities such as Shanghai, Chong Qing and Beijing and visited sixteen social welfare institutes and met with government officials at all levels. It has been an intensive six weeks.
When I sit at my desk to work on this report, I recall all these emails and phone calls we received in the past ten months: People reported that they saw many children in some orphanages or no children in the orphanages; 2008 Olympic Games would have some impact on the international adoptions; Increased domestic adoptions and less abandonment etc.
It is all true. As I reported to our families last year, again in this year the abandonment declined and domestic adoption has increased dramatically. This is the trend in China now. The Chinese government continues to emphasize the importance of a balanced female population in society and continues to carry on its nation-wide medical and retirement insurance for all farmers and low income city residents, with for-life monetary and benefit incentives for families who have one female child. The family planning policy has also been loosened to allow more children for each family.
At the same time, domestic adoption has increased. Yes, the Chinese families are adopting. They have noticed for long time that there are less and less girls in kindergartens and schools and there is a serious problem in gender imbalance in China. And, after many years of economic development, the Chinese middle and upper class build up tremendous wealth and now want to have more children – girls of course.
Yes, in some orphanages and provinces, one can still see MANY children. Some orphanage directors have no any incentives to place their children. Some orphanage directors suffered severe punishment in Hunan scandal in 2005 and that hurt the feelings in the community very deeply. Further, the Civil Affairs Ministry tightened its requirements on documents such as police reports for the children’s abandonment status and that caused a lot of work for the orphanage directors and the local police department. They have many good reasons to lace the children in domestic Chinese families: The average “Donation” to compensate the orphanage’s “Child Care Expenses” from domestic adoptions is 50,000 Chinese Yuan, equivalent to about $6,000. (The donations by the foreign families remain $3,000 for 15 years while the child care expenses tripled in China in same period – a visit to doctor’s office for cold could cost 500 Yuan!), no need to do documents on children; easy and quick adoption process with local county governments.
These elements set the tone for adoptions in general.
Yes, there are some orphanage directors who keep the kids there for wrong reasons: keep the orphanages open; keep receiving the government funding, and, and keep their jobs in place. Of course, there are also others who feel more similarly to us. Those orphanages who have discovered, the value of International placements for children and continually send children’s files to the CCAA once the child’s abandonment paperwork and physical are completed.
Many of us were interested in what if any impact the Olympic Games would have on adoption in China. We see that the Olympic Games’ impact is not that the CCAA will stop placing children with our families, but that the Chinese government does not want to force these orphanage directors, who are currently sending children’s files to the CCAA, to have these children adopted. It simply is not their priority for now. Their feeling is; Let us finish the Olympic smoothly without any problems. At this moment, whoever who brings in bad incidents are number one enemy to the Chinese people and the Chinese government. For high risk works such as international adoptions, it is safer if nothing is done.
I asked myself: how many healthy children are in these orphanages if we could persuade the directors to change their minds? Four thousand or five thousand? Still, comparing to the number of families with dossiers logged in at CCAA, it is terribly low, either way.
My big question in my heart is: Did anybody in CCAA care about the long wait like the American adoption agencies? If they do, what do they plan to do?
Of course we care – they all told me. “It is our job and only job! But, “we are not as powerful as people imagined!” I have to agree. CCAA could not make policies and could not push the orphanage to put their children into adoption track. They heard that some people thought they knew more about how many children were available and how long the wait could be, but were not up-front to prospective adoptive families. The fact is, they told me, “we really do not know much more!” One province official told them this particular province had about 3000 healthy children and promised to send the files Still, CCAA did not get many.
It also is not fair to have certain expectations of China. One director at CCAA recalled the discussions in 1996 when the Civil Affairs Ministry re-constructed the China Center of Adoption Affairs. The government positions were established for a workload of 3000 international placements every year. China did not want to be the number one country in term of adoptions. We had to be less than South Korea! We had to be less than Russia! I can remember the discussion in 1997 with CCAA directors when CCAA placed more than South Korea that year. From 3000 to more than 10,000 placement a year, what a leap of faith in the Chinese government! In recent years the demand for Chinese adoption had been up partially because other countries were not doing well. But, China should not be responsible for these countries. China was not supposed to meet all the demand for adoptions, even though it felt proud that families liked our children!
Another director told me that China was the only country who places mostly abandoned children. All other countries place children who have known birth parents or extended families. When China became more industrialized and developed, the adoption may evolve into a system similar to that of other countries. It may take awhile, but it would come. We have good reasons to be optimistic: Just see how other things have changed in China over last ten years! China is a big country and there will be children who need good homes!
To put a footnote on this thought, I did see some changes in the adoption system. In Jiangsu Province, the government is trying to regulate the hospital related domestic adoption practice that is out of government supervision. Some provinces are looking into the possibility of placing real orphans (meaning the government has custody of the child, who has extended families members) in the public facilities for adoption. Most provinces agreed that the children placed into orphanages by police for kidnapping investigations should have the chance to grow in their adoptive homes if no birth families were found after certain period. And, some cities and provinces have been placing real orphans successfully over the years.
If it is a direction we will all take, it is a big challenge to all adoption agencies and prospective adoptive families: Are we ready to adopt children who might be older than we hoped for? What would entail from these “Open International Adoptions?” If we put together a training workshop on this subject, how many families would be interested in just listening?
One CCAA director asked me to pass this promise to our waiting families after a long conversation: for families who sign up now, with a wait that, sure, could be four years in worst scenario. However, if they do not mind waiting(however long or short), they will get assignments. This is [their] promise.
I trust this promise. Still, it does not feel comfortable just to trust something. It will be a very difficult and long adoption process for our waiting families! Four years would feel like life time in adoption work, seeing as 2 years already does! How many times would we have to renew all these documents? How many times we have to look into mirror to tell ourselves that we are not that young anymore? How many families would face some challenges in job, health, etc.? As an adoption agency, what options we could offer to our waiting families? Open some other country programs? As our board discussed before, there were not a lot good ones.
We need to do something. If our families are open to orphan (again; a child with known relatives) adoptions, we will start a training program on this possibility. We have started sponsoring some provinces’ orphan adoption programs and will look into the training on the children and their extended families. There are about half million orphans in the government welfare system now and at least one tenth of them physically residing in the orphanages. Most provinces do not want to open this gate but sooner rather than later this group of children will get attention from the society.
There is also hope that the Jiangsu program would work. If the hospital system could not place children directly into domestic adoptive homes, some children might end up in orphanages. If the American families are willing to make more donations, it sounds like the orphanage directors would be more willing (have greater incentive) to send more of the children’s files to the CCAA to be placed Internationally.
CAWLI will continue to support all families wherever they are in the process and encourage the CCAA as well as the orphanages to work with us to support the children and adoptive families.
We know it can feel discouraging when there are only a few referrals a month, but we hope that you can all find the support you need during this time and have faith that in the end it will have been worth the wait.
The wait is about 24 months from log in date. We do realize that the wait time is growing each month. Truthfully, we would predict that the wait time is likely to get longer but, we do not know exactly how much longer it will get.
Our understanding is that the CCAA is doing all that they can to match as many children with families every month. There is no specific information about what the expected wait time is, although we(as an agency) can recognize there is potential at this point for the wait time to be more than 3 years; particularly for those who will be submitting applications. Yet, we can only determine the true/current wait by the referrals we get each month, once we have received them we can figure out how long the next group can expect to wait. We do not get advanced notification of when referrals are coming, the only information that we have is either when they arrive in the office or when the CCAA changes their website. We would again like to stress to all our CAWLI families that as soon as we have valid information from the CCAA or otherwise we pass it along to you. While, we are not walking even a day in your shoes; we are also anxious and feeling stressed while waiting for information and hoping for more. It may not feel like anyone can feel the same way as you while you wait for your child, please know that we are here to support you and experience our own feelings as we work as hard as we can to make your family complete. We want you to know all that we know, as soon as we know it.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
While Drama Teen was at Stagecoach me and Little Prince shopped for the new baby of one of Mr Messy's friends - loads of fun :-) We had to visit Little Prince's least favourite shops - Next, as I LOVE the baby clothes there :-) He managed to behave in there as I promised him we would go to Game next if he was good. What is it about looking at computer games that is SO fascinating to little (and not so little!!) boys?!?! I just don't get it, and was losing the will to live after 5 minutes!! Then we visited Lush to get some relaxing bath stuff for the new mum, and I found they do baby stuff (Ikkle Baby Baff) too :-) Its difficult to take Little Prince in Lush as he can't understand why everything looks edible, but isn't!! I did catch him sticking his fingers in the jelly and licking them - he only tried it once though!! But be honest looking at the picture, you'd be confused too wouldn't you?!?!
We set off to pick up Drama Teen in plenty of time, but got stuck in horrendous road works and were 15 minutes late! Luckily I managed to surreptitiously send her a text so she knew we were on the way. After sitting in traffic for 3/4s of an hour (journey should have taken 10 mins!!!) I was in no mood to come home and cook, so we went to McDonalds for tea!! Luckily I'm getting better at this Weight Watchers counting points game, and managed to stay well within my daily points quota :-)
Little Prince wasn't happy to be put to bed, as we'd told him he could stay up till daddy got home (not sure if its daddy or the promised present that he wants most?!?!) but their train was delayed and they won't be back until much later, and Little Prince was already bog eyed!!
Friday, 9 November 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
So that's 1/2lb down 37.5lbs to go - at least I'm still on the 'losing' side lol
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Monday, 5 November 2007
Our prediction for LID 2007-Aug-16
Our best guess - a weighted average of recent CCAA velocities, guessing that CCAA will perform about as well in the future as they are performing now, but might return to previous trends: 2013-July-06
That's our best guess for when you might receive your referral. Just at a guess, we can suppose that the CCAA either speeds up or slows down significantly, and show you those dates. If they speed up: 2010-Aug-24. And if they slow down: 2019-Jan-29.So according to this mathematical referral prediction we will most probably receive our referral in 2013 (6 year wait). If there is a speed up 2010 (3 year wait) and (please please no) if there is a further slowdown 2019 (22 year wait). What is the point of this?? Three years I can just about fathom, four at a push - but SIX YEARS??? OMG!!!!!!!!
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Mr Messy has gone off with American Student to pick up Fraulein from her friend's house, where she went to join in with their bonfire. She was slightly perturbed to hear that English people throw a guy on the fire!!! I hope her friend explained what that meant lol. And the American Student thinks we are barbaric mwahahaha :-)
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Today started a bit abruptly!! Our mobile hairdresser was due to come at lunchtime, but he'd rung up last night to say he'd be an hour early - fine I can deal with that. Trouble was he was half an hour earlier than that!! I was still in my dressing gown eating my breakfast, feeling like a right plonker!!! I made everyone else go first so I had chance to get ready, and I quite like my hair at the moment. Its a bit shorter than it has been and quite feathery, looks ok for once :-)
This afternoon Mr Messy, Little Prince, Fraulein and American Student went to our friends (who are also our local HOST organisers) for an English afternoon tea. It was apparently chaos, as some other visitors were late arriving and threw all the timings to pot. And to top it all our friend's are part way through a complete kitchen renovation and only had half kitchen!!! Everyone still managed to have a lovely time, and it tired Little Prince out and he went to bed as soon as they arrived home.
Me and Drama Teen went off to Stagecoach, I handed in her resignation letter as she has lost interest lately and has decided to quit. Luckily we got the letter to the principal in time, and we don't have to pay for another half term in lieu of notice. Instead of mooching around the shops while Drama Teen Stagecoached I came home and got some more sorting out done. I prepared some more Squishes for sending and got lots of paperwork tidied up. I got so into my sorting out that I almost left to late to pick Drama Teen up, but managed to get there just in time, phew.
I was in a foul mood as Drama Teen had (deliberately I suspect!!) missed the school bus that morning, so instead of a leisurely morning shower and get ready I had to throw my clothes on and get out the house to take Little Prince to school in about five minutes flat! Mr Messy took Drama Teen to school and went straight to the dentist. Once he had returned home I ignored him and let him tidy up (the house has descended into a tip again!!) and most of the mess was his anyway. We were speaking again by lunchtime and went out to a local cafe for lunch. During the afternoon we finished the tidying up and now have a lovely tidy house instead of a messy tip - so I'm in a lot better mood now :-) I just wish I didn't have to get foul with everyone before they actually pick things up after themselves!!!
Fraulein came home from college saying she had done something stupid!! There has been an ongoing situation with a girl and boy, who seem to have an on/off relationship, and the boy has asked Fraulein to go out with him. However, the girl got wind of this and has been nasty to Fraulein. We've previously advised her to stay well out of it and wait until after Christmas and if he is still interested then maybe go out with him. However, he has now kissed Fraulein, so its probably all going to blow up in her face when the girl finds out on Monday!!! Oh dear!!! I'm worried, that Fraulein, as the new girl and with not very well established friendships will be the one ostracised when her friends find out!!!
We are having another HOST student this weekend and I went off to the train station to collect her. Unfortunately just after I arrived at the station I received a call from her to say she had missed her train and would be late! I rang home and Mr Messy checked on the internet and told me when she would arrive - in an hours time!! If I'd have known I would have taken a book to read or something, but had nothing with me and ended up sat in the car listening to the radio for an hour. Eventually the student arrived and we came home via the supermarket to get the ingredients needed to make Parkin.
Friday, 2 November 2007
UPDATE: I can track my letter to BLAS - Royal Mail say " We have received your item, posted on 02/11/07 and it is being processed for delivery abroad."
UPDATE 2: Royal Mail now says "Your item, posted on 02/11/07 with reference RI blahblah has been passed to the overseas postal service for delivery in CHINA."
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Friday 26th October - Spent the whole morning frantically packing, repacking to make everything fit and desperately trying to finish the Squishes I needed to send to a cyber friend who was off to the US on business on Monday (she's going to post the Squishes while she's over there). I managed to finish the Squishes with 1/2 hour to go, phew!! And Mr Messy and LMS are going to post them to cyber friend tomorrow for me. Mr Messy and LMS took me and Little Prince to the airport - I was so nervous about flying on my own with him, and also about how he would behave once we got there!!! The flight was fine, managed to keep Little Prince amused with a few cars and a magazine I'd bought for him in the airport.
HALLOWEEN - I'm still trying to catch up so these posts are all a bit out of order and disjointed, sorry!! I took Little Prince Trick or Treating for the first time with a group of other mums and kids from school, there were 8 kids in all. Little Prince had wanted to dress up as Winnie the Pooh, but his 'girlfriend' (that's what he calls her!!) told him it was Halloween so he had to be scary - so he eventually went as a skeleton. He had a ball, even though he was one of the younger kids in the group he was usually first to knock at the doors and shout Trick or Treat. He'd then introduce himself, with his full name, but he remembered to say thank you each time and didn't grab more than one sweet at any house, so I'm very proud of him. Drama Teen, her friend from school and Fraulein all went Trick or Treating together, but seperately from us - its not cool to go with your mum and little brother!! All of them seem to have a great time, and Little Prince even accepts his sweets being rationed to a few each day instead of one sick making feast all at once!! And here is the pumpkin Drama Teen, School Friend and Little Prince carved :-)