Friday, 29 February 2008

Off to London

I've spent the day getting jobs around the house done, and catching up on some squish swap making I needed to do. And then I had to pack my bags to go off to London, I'm travelling down on the train, and staying overnight, then attending the BAAF/OASIS conference tomorrow. There are some excellent speakers booked in and it should be a very interesting day. Then to top it all off, I'm returning home in FIRST CLASS!! I'm very impressed that Mr Messy booked me into 1st Class, even if it was only because there was an offer on lol.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Drama Teen's School Report

Drama Teen has been dreading today, as her school report was issued. There was absolutely no reason for the dread - the report was fantastic. Me and Mr Messy are EXTREMELY PROUD OF YOU Drama Teen :-) She received a Level 5 or above in every subject, apart from PE.
Level 5 - very good work and progress, reaching a standard above what is expected for the age group.
Level 6 - outstanding work and progress, reaching a standard way beyond what is expected for the age group.

Here are the edited highlights:-
Art - a very pleasant young lady who has demonstrated a good level of effort and enthusiasm this year. Level 5.8
Resistant Materials - shown real commitment to the subject this year. Level 5.8
Food/Textiles - well organised for practical lessons. Level 5.2
Expressive Arts - continues to make good progress but works well within herself. I am convinced that with a more dynamic approach to the work she would produce work of an even higher standard. Level 5.5
English - a pleasure to teach and has worked hard this year. She is always well behaved and is a delightful member of the group. Level 6.2
French - mature sensible young lady who takes her work seriously...has a good understanding of all topics covered and produces work of an excellent standard. Level 5.2
Geography - shown that she has the ability to do very well and has developed an thorough understanding of the topics covered. Level 6.2
History - possesses good writing skills. Answers are clear and well explained... she can succeed at the highest levels in this subject. Level 6.5
ICT - demonstrated good skills and understanding.
Maths - able and enthusiastic member of the group who takes a keen interest in maths and appears to enjoy all aspects of the work. I have been impressed with her motivation and enthusiasm which, combined with obvious tenacity, provide her with the facilities required for working at this level. Level 7.2 WOW :-)
Music - highly motivated and always works well on a given composition and performing tasks. Level 6.2
PE - demonstrates an enthusiastic approach... she always gives 100% in every activity which is a fantastic quality. Level 4.8
RE - her written work is detailed and interesting and shows that shee has a mature, open-minded approach to this subject. Level 5.8
Science - hard working, conscientious pupil. She has achieved excellent results, which reflect the effort she puts in...progress and attitude are both excellent. Level 6.8
Drama Teen is an extremely clever girl, and this is shown in her report. Once again Drama Teen - me and daddy are very very proud of you :-)

Serious Stuff

I've just seen a message on the big American China adoption list, and in more detail on another list I read, saying that the CCAA has turned down another African American couple (who were logged in in late 2006) solely due to the colour of their skin. This is absolutely awful news for the family, and in my opinion for the integrity of the whole China adoption programme. How can people be treated this way in this day and age?!?! What does this mean for other black families enduring the wait for a referral from the CCAA?? What does this mean for me and my family - we want an ethical adoption. How ethical is it to carry on waiting for a child from China, knowing that the CCAA treat black families this way? This also has personal ramifications, due to Little Prince's background - we could be denied in a similar way. Or we could be allowed to receive our referral, as currently Little Prince's looks reflect mainly his white heritage, but isn't that taking advantage of White Priviledge??? As a current multiracial family I feel it is my duty to try to actively combat racism and not to benefit from systems that harm people of other races. How does this square with keeping our papers in China....

Swimming & Weight Watchers

Little Prince went to his swimming lesson after school, and did extremely well. He listened (mostly) to what his teacher said, he tried so hard to swim as he was told and he managed to keep his mouth closed underwater, so he didn't make himself sick by swallowing half the pool!! That is a fabulous achievement lol.

Rushed home from the lesson, plonked Little Prince straight in the bath (I'd rung Drama Teen and got her to run it while we were on our way home) for a quick wash. Got him in his pyjamas and then made him something to eat. He and Drama Teen stayed at home playing on his computer, while I dived off to Weight Watchers. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I'd lost a pound!! After last week's chocolate pig-out that isn't bad going lol.

Not the best way to wake up!!!

Mr Messy is working from home tonight, so he got up to get the kids ready and left me snoozing in bed :-) However a few minutes later I was woken up, by an irate Mr Messy and a blue/green Little Prince!!! Little Prince had found the little tablets of paint I'd taken off him yesterday (we don't use them as crayons or eat them dear!) and liberally spread them all over himself!!! What a way to wake up!!!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hard times for Little Prince

I have just finished Little Prince's annual contact letter and asked him if he would like to say anything in the letter. First he went extremely wide eyed (fear?) and then refused to speak about it. I dropped the subject and we carried on with what we were doing. At bedtime he wanted only me to take him and he wanted to be snuggled up with a bottle before bed. He hasn't asked for a bottle (and the reassurance it gives him) for over a year and I think its probably something to do with my mentioning the contact letter. While we were snuggled up and he was having his bottle he said things like "I wish I was your tummy baby" and wanted me to sing baby songs to him. Adoption is such an awfully big thing for a small boy to get to grips with, and I wish I could wave my magic wand and make it all happy, smiley for him - but I know that's impossible and that I just have to be there to support him as his understanding grows and he comes to terms with his past. Love you to the moon and back, no matter what, Little Prince xxxxxxxxxx

Blurbing for today

I took Little Prince up to school, and on the way out of the playground met my friend who invited me to go shopping. Shopping or housework?!?! Well duh!! Who in their right mind would chose housework lol??? We had a really nice day out, we went to a different town than we normally shop in, so the shops were slightly different. And we even found a shop that still does knitting wool and patterns!!! AND fabric (not a huge choice, but still pretty good) and sewing patterns too!! All the shops that I used to go to for those sorts of things have shut down and I didn't think anywhere sold stuff like that any more!! We then drove over to a small out of town shopping centre, where I managed to buy Mother's Day cards - which is pretty organised for me lol (its before the date they are needed!!) now I just have to remember to get them written and posted lol. We stopped for a snack in Costa Coffee, and I thought I was being ever so virtuous by choosing a "less than 5% fat" muffin!! WRONG!!! I checked the WW points when I got home and it was 7.5 points!!!! Aaaaargh!!! That'll teach me to stick to just the diet cokes!! Although by having a small evening meal I still managed to stay comfortably within my daily points allocation, so it wasn't so bad really - I just couldn't believe how many points it was!!!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Peace reigns once more

Everyone was back at school/college today after the holidays, so today was very quiet and peaceful. I managed to sort out some jobs I hadn't done during the holidays so my To Do List is gradually shrinking :-) I'm hoping to get the fabric I need for a group quilt swap I'm in, cut out tonight, and then I'll be ready to get everything put in envelopes and sent out :-)

Little Prince couldn't wait to get back to school this morning, but seems to have forgotten how to ride his scooter sensibly!! He promises he will be more careful tomorrow - we'll see!!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Yet Another Busy Day

Today started early as Little Prince heard Daddy going out (early to attend a photography course) and decided it was time to wake up. Urgh!! Tried to persuade him to snuggle up in bed with me, but once he's awake there's not much chance of that lol. Managed to snatch another half an hour or so, as Little Prince has now mastered the complicated matter of turning on the Giant TV and sorting out the surround sound (he got it quicker than I did lol), and could watch an episode of Power Rangers. He only wanted to watch one episode before demanding Mummy got up and came downstairs though. We had breakfast, then I had to chase up Fraulein as she hadn't sent me an email with directions to her friend's house, and I needed to pick her up in time to take Little Prince swimming. She rang me up and assured me she sent the email last night (but she must have sent it to the wrong address as it never got here) but gave me directions over the phone so we could set off. Little Prince wanted Fraulein to come and watch him at his lesson, but she said she needed to come home and finish her homework ready for college tomorrow. So we dropped her off and went straight back out again for Little Prince's lesson. He managed to swallow a LOT less water this time, so wasn't sick during the lesson!! He grinned from ear to ear the whole time he was in the water, and at the end of the lesson tried refusing to get out of the water. Its lovely to find something that he enjoys so much, and that tires him out a little too lol. He was running in the changing rooms (I did tell him not to) and slipped and scraped his knee, so was then telling me he hated swimming and was never going again - he'll change his mind by next time I think :-)

Me and Little Prince came home for some lunch and a chat with Fraulein, before heading off to the supermarket. Drama Teen should be back from her sleepover at a similar time to me and Little Prince, and she is then being picked up later by a different friend's mum to be taken to the cinema. I was supposed to drop her off, but the lights on my car are playing up and so I can't risk driving after dark!! Mr Messy was fairly sure he'd be back about 7pm ish tonight, so he should be in time to pick her up once the film finishes (fingers crossed!!).

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Peace and quiet at last :-)

I had to drop Drama Teen and Fraulein off (at completely different places, miles apart) so they could both have a sleepover with their friends. Drama Teen is being delivered back home tomorrow, but I have to pick Fraulein up. Luckily it is early enough that it doesn't clash with Little Prince's swimming lesson!! Anyway when I finally got back from my chauffering duties, me and Mr Messy decided we would take Little Prince out for a meal. Well Little Prince decided he wanted to go out to eat, and we just agreed lol. We went to a local Frankie and Benny's and had a lovely time, it was nice to go out and both be able to focus on Little Prince. Being the youngest of three he doesn't often get that much attention all to himself, and he seemed to have a whale of a time :-) I managed to chose my food fairly sensibly and don't think I went too far over my WW points for the day!!

LMS has gone to meet Baby Sis and they are going out clubbing to celebrate Baby Sis's birthday earlier in the week. I hope they have a good time - but NOT that good!!!!

Disney is sorted :-)

I rang Disney again like they asked, and it turns out that after all the faffing earlier in the week, the payment DID go through and its all paid for :-) Now I just have to sort out the girl's transport and hotel near St Pancras for the night before and they are all set to go and see Mickey :-) I'm soooo jealous!!!!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Bit more positive

I've spent yesterday and today chasing up every avenue I can to try and find definitive answers to whether or not we can continue with our Chinese adoption application. I fear I already know the answer and can feel myself disassociating from China, which is sad. However, one of the new avenues I'm exploring is starting to look pretty positive. It will probably be possible to adopt a child that fits the profile (age, gender and health) we would like. It also looks like it could be a very quick process, and it could be as early as the middle of next year when we adopt. And to top it all one of my friend's in our village is from the country we are considering, her little boy is a year younger than Little Prince and they are friends!! How cool is that?!?! I'm not ready to say where we are considering publically, until we are totally certain this is what we want to do. But watch this space...

Bit of an update

I've now spoken to someone in the ICA community and got some ideas of things to try. One of which was to contact an American agency and see if they will ask CCAA some questions for us, as American agencies generally have staff working for them in Beijing it can be easier for them to get answers than for us in the UK. I've also emailed BLAS and asked for clarification on their statement that people switching to SNs will only get their referral 2-3 months faster - I've asked 2-3 months faster than what?? Faster than the current wait time of about 24 months? Or faster than people applying for NSNs with the same LID?? I've also banded together with the (pitiful few) other UK adopters who are either already Logged In for SNs or who are attempting to switch, perhaps we can use our collective knowledge to work out what is going on?? I am also trying to research other countries that it may be possible for us to adopt from. I feel a bit better that we are actually doing something now. But I feel that I'm probably just satisfying a need to feel we've tried every avenue possible with our China application, rather than feeling it could actually succeed. If (more like when to be honest) we have to shelve our China adoption application, it would give me some kind of peace to know that we had tried everything and not just quit at the first hurdle.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Probably the END

We got back late last night from a lovely trip to see LMS at her university. We managed to have lunch together and then spend most of the afternoon with her too, which included taking her to the supermarket to stock her up, despite her protests!!

As soon as I'd got an already zonked Little Prince to bed, I checked my computer and got the shock of my life on one of my yahoo groups. It seems that UK adopters who try to change from NSNs to SNs will only get their referral 2-3 months (or 3-6 months from a slightly different source) faster than they would if they stay in the NSNs programme. When the wait is looking to exceed 5 years, that doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference!!! The source of this info is adamant that it is because the UK declined to sign an agreement with China - bloody typical of our govt!!

I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach. I couldn't sleep last night, and then couldn't wake up this morning. I've been ratty with Mr Messy (working from home to recover from the mammoth drive yesterday) and the kids and keep crying. We can't carry on with this adoption given the facts we have available. It just will not work. I am going to contact one or two people in the adoption world tonight to see if they can say anything to refute this latest news, but am having to face up to the fact that MeiMei will never exist except in my heart.

Monday, 18 February 2008

NOTHING is simple!!!

Rant alert!!!!
We have arranged for LMS, Drama Teen, Fraulein and my Baby Sis to go to Disneyland Paris in April and today was the day I had to pay the final balance. Simple enough job huh? NOPE!!!! I rang Disneyland first thing and was on hold for 15 minutes, got fed up with that and used their 'ring the caller back' option. After a couple of hours had passed with no call back I tried again, on the number quoted in the brochure rather than the one on the holiday confirmation. I got straight through and chatted away to a very nice young man (all Mickey's people are lovely lol) who sorted it all out for me. However, the payment came up declined!!! WTF?!?! There is DEFINITELY enough money to pay it, the very nice young man said it could be because I was trying to pay a fairly large amount, in GB Pounds to a French based company and advised me to contact my bank to sort it out. Our bank has one of those automated answer machines where you have to press unumerable numbers to get anywhere, and then you are treated to a five minute recorded message telling you all about the services the bank offers before being given the option to 'press X for a customer service adviser.' Once I was actually speaking to a real live person it all seemed so simple, a few security checks later and all was sorted out, I was told I could ring Disneyland straight away. So I did!! Big mistake!! After going through LOADS of security questions (I am paying but not one of the holidaymakers, and that seemed to upset this not quite as nice young man!!!) the payment was declined AGAIN!!!! I was so angry by this time, but got distracted sorting something out for Little Prince, during which time I missed a call on my mobile. I hunted round the house for some mobile phone signal, and once I finally found some checked my voicemail. It was an urgent message from my bank's fraud control centre, asking me to get in touch with them immediately!!! I rang them up and again had to go through the security questions, this was getting VERY tedious!! They then informed me that I hadn't waited long enough for the 'stop' to be removed from the payment, and should have given it longer!! Why did the person on the first telephone call tell me I could sort it out straight away then?? They didn't have an answer!! I then tried calling Disneyland (again!! For the THIRD time!!) and was put through to the very nice young man I'd spoken to originally. He said their system was showing my payment as 'in limbo' neither paid nor declined!!! He said to give it till later in the week and then ring them again to see if the payment has gone through or not. He said they've had this problem many times before, and sometimes it can lead to people paying twice, and this was the best way to avoid that. He assured me that my booking is safe and won't be cancelled, as it is showing on their system that I tried to pay and that everything will be sorted out later in the week. So two phone calls to the bank and three to Disneyland later and I still haven't managed to pay the darned thing off!!! Wish me luck for later in the week (when I try again) - going off today's farce I'll need it!!!

I'm still here!!

I'm not even going to try and do a catch up post, I've left it too long lol. Just wanted to say that I'm still here, still upset and bogged down by the fact we can't get any sense out of the DCSF re changing to SNs. I'm trying to contact a UK based facilitator/guide to talk to the CCAA for us, but even that isn't going well - he hasn't answered my email, and the phone number I've got now says it doesn't accept incoming calls :-( Is nothing in this process easy?!?!?! Obviously NOT!!!
UPDATE: Managed to track down current contact details for the facilitor, and speak to him!! He promised to reply to our email tonight - I've been obsessively checking all afternoon!!! Keep those fingers crossed!!!
Another UPDATE: I've just had an email from the UK based facilitator and he has agreed to contact the CCAA and ask my questions and provide me with a written report of his conversation. I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted from my shoulders now :-) Off to bed now and hopefully I can sleep peacefully, knowing that I should have something concrete to present to the DCSF soon :-)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


I've been tagged by Cristina and Sherri & John. I have to tell you all 7 weird things about myself!! Only seven mwahahaha :-)
  1. I used to be a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat groupie (no I didn't go THAT far!!) but me and my friends followed the touring show all over the country.
  2. I can't stand fish looking at me!! Dead or alive - they aren't allowed to look!!!
  3. I can't do random - I've just played (and won YEAH) Disney Trivial Pursuits, and I had to arrange my cheeses in a nice pattern!!
  4. I left school at 16 cos I hated exams, even though I was fairly good at them!
  5. I have a birthmark on my foot!
  6. When I eat bangers and mash, I still cut up my sausages and hide them in the mash to be found, like treasure - and the kids do it now too :-) The madness is spreading :-)
  7. Sometimes I get slightly obsessive - all our DVDs used to be in alphabetical order (and genre order!!). Then Little Prince messed it up aaaaaaargh!!!!!
I tag Rosie, Suzanne and Lara.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Quick Update

I'm just getting over the weirdest bug ever!! I started off with a few days feeling like I was coming down with flu, and totally losing my appetite (even for chocolate, so I knew it was dire!!). Then after forcing myself to eat something during the day, I threw up during the night!! Next morning I nearly fainted just going to the bathroom, and once I was ok-ish again, I noticed my skin was bright red (all over!)!!! I had absolutely no energy, kept bursting into tears for the slightest thing (or over nothing at all) and ached like I'd run a HUGE marathon (no I hadn't I can assure you!!). If I stood up and stood still for more than a second or two I got excruciating cramp like feelings in my lower legs and hands. I could only get comfortable if I lay down and was dosed up with Ibuprofen. Very very weird!!! Luckily today I felt a whole lot better, although trotting up to school trying to keep up with Mr Messy tired me out and sent me back to the Ibuprofens!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Latest Bright outlooks forecast

Our prediction for LID 2007-Aug-16

If China did all future referrals at the exact same speed as they did this month: 2014-June-04

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-September-22

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-Oct-24. And if they slow down: 2018-Dec-26.

Interesting Email from DFES!!

Yesterday I ranted about how the DFES/DCSF changed their story about seeking confirmation from CCAA about what 'new home study' means (update or whole thing redone). Last week they told me they were seeking confirmation, and yesterday they told me they were too busy to seek confirmation and denied ever having said that!!!! Then today they send me the following message - so obviously someone, somewhere is LYING. I hate being lied to, and this is so important, that it is ridiculous that such petty lies are being told about it. ARRGGHH!!!!!

I understand that you spoke with my colleague, recently about changing your application with the CCAA to ask referral of a special needs child. I acknowledge receipt of some paperwork which already confirms this request.

As my colleague informed you, we have now received some information from the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) about the paperwork needed where prospective adopters request a change to a match to a child with special needs. In response to our enquiry we have been informed that: "Applicants should prepare a new home study report and write a new application letter, stating in detail why they have made such a change and how prepared they are and also a recommendation by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).“ The paperwork should be legalised and notarised.

The CCAA has asked us to stress to families that the change has been carefully considered and that prospective adopters are fully prepared to adopt a child with special needs and what kind of special needs child they are able to support.

We have been informed that the waiting time for a child with special needs is likely to be 3 to 6 months shorter than the normal wait.

We are currently seeking confirmation from the CCAA as to whether the home study report is a full new report (including updated references, guardian statement etc or whether an updated report is sufficient and also confirmation about CRB, medicals and additional fees.

Once we have received this information we will update the DCSF website but we will also get back in touch with you about this.

Monday, 4 February 2008

DFES rant!!!!!!

I rang the DFES again today and I don't know why I bother!! I spoke to the same Team Leader I spoke to last week, but who now denies that they ever said they are getting back in touch with the CCAA to ask if a 'new homestudy' means an addendum or a whole new homestudy! Apparently they have been too busy to get back in touch with the CCAA and probably aren't going to either!!!! So between November and now the position seems to have changed dramatically!!!

November - homestudy addendum and letter of support from LA and DFES needed.
December - just letter of support from LA needed (as per our LA after speaking to DFES)
January - not sure waiting for clarification from CCAA.
January - still not sure. CCAA say 'whole new homestudy' waiting for clarification of what that means
February - never said they were waiting for clarification!!! If we want to chance sending an addendum then they will!!!

Update: Spoke to our LA Team Leader and let her know what is going on (not that I know lol). She is going to attempt to get clarification from DFES about what they/CCAA want and will get back to us.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Updates from Half the Sky

The following website address is giving updates on the conditions in the Chinese Orphanages affected by the severe weather at the moment. The weather is set to continue to be extremely cold/snowy for another (at least) 10 days.

I went to Chenzhou in 2001 - the older children affected could be ones that I saw as infants/toddlers.

PLEASE help if you can

Friday, 1 February 2008


Hello again,

Welfare institutions in south and central China are having the hardest
time dealing with the weather disaster. This part of the country is
simply not equipped to deal with extreme cold or heavy snow and ice. The
most common critical problems are power outages, lack of safe drinking and
cooking water, lack of fuel, diapers and public transportation. In many
places where buses have stopped running, our Half the Sky nannies have
been walking hours (in one case, 4 hours) along icy roads to get to the
children. As conditions worsen, our nannies and teachers are remaining at
the institutions day and night. They have given up the idea of going home
to their own families for the holidays. They need quilts. They need warm
clothing. They need coal, water, disposable diapers and food.

Here are the reports I have thus far, while in-flight. I will send more
soon. Where you don't see a report, either all is well or I don't yet
have information. I will tell you when we've heard from everyone. We've
also given all the directors an emergency number to call when/if the
situation changes.

Hunan Province –

Chenzhou has had no electricity or water for six days. They are relying
on coal for heat and cooking. The supermarkets and banks are closed.
Staff is using personal money for baby food, diapers, coal and water.
Costs are rising due to shortages. They have a natural well which,
thankfully, is not frozen. Even the older children are helping to fetch
water. They have perhaps six days of food remaining. The local
government is overwhelmed by the disaster and is unable to help much.

Shaoyang has seen heavy snow every day for 20 days. There is sufficient
water and, for the moment, there is power, so the children are warm.
However, 5 of 6 power poles have been downed by weather. Only one stands
and the institution fears it will fall as well, leaving them without
electricity. Much of the rest of the city is already dark. Children and
caregivers continue to work and play together. High school students are
cramming for exams and trying to ignore the cold. Everyone prays that the
power pole will continue to stand.

Yueyang also has no electricity. The one functioning power generator is
being used in the children's dormitory. They are relying on coal heat but
the price has tripled in recent days. They are running out of food and
have applied to the local Bureau of Civil Affairs for funds to buy more.
Our HTS nannies have been walking for hours to get to work, often slipping
on the ice, "even though they try to be cautious."

Xiangtan has had snow for the past 10 days. The main water pipe is
"broken again." There is no water for cooking right now but they do have
electricity, coal and blankets. They are still able to buy food but
prices have gone way up. Not all of the HTS nannies can get to work every
day. They are keeping the programs going as well as they can and make
sure that at least five nurturing nannies are there with the babies every
day, along with the institution's caregivers.

Jiangsu Province –

Changzhou has seen some heavy snows but the director reports that the
children are fine. The director says that he's doing his best to ensure
that the children do not suffer. Public transportation is crippled by the
snow and HTS nannies and teachers are waiting for hours to catch a bus for
home or even walking home in the snowy dark.

Nanjing reports no problems at all despite the heavy snows. I tried to
fly into Nanjing yesterday but it was not possible.

Anhui Province -

Chuzhou has both water and power. Only public transportation has failed.
HTS nannies and teachers are walking to work. They are leaving home extra
early to be there for the children.

Guangxi Province –

Guilin has two broken HTS heater/air conditioners in the Infant Nurture
rooms and they've asked us to replace. The rooms are very, very cold.
They ask for more soft matting for the floors and also snow boots for our
HTS nannies who've been slipping and falling in the ice and snow as they
come to work. They are so ill-equipped to handle severe weather.

Jiangxi Province –

Fuzhou lost power for a few days but now it is back to normal. The snow
stopped a couple of days ago but now is falling again. The directors and
HTS staff have gathered all the children into one big room to keep them
warm. They've bought New Years clothes for the children and will have a
party no matter how bad the weather. This year, however, the foster
parents will stay home to keep the children safe. The institution has
enough food and water. They want us to focus on those in more serious
trouble and ask us please not to worry.

Jiujiang says they've never faced such bitter weather. They desperately
need disposable diapers. Washable diapers cannot be dried. They need
warm clothes, shoes, gloves hats quilts and warm mats for the floors.
They need medicine for infant coughs and colds.

Hubei Province –

Wuhan suffers heavy snows but they still have power. Heaters are working
but there is no water for bathing. The local community has offered to
take children in for the Chinese New Year and the institution feels this
may be the best decision to keep them safe.

Huangshi reports that the freeze is so severe that all heater/air
conditioners have stopped functioning. They need quilts and warm clothes
for the children. They need disposable diapers. Several HTS nannies have
fallen on the ice on their way to work and they need medicine to treat
cuts and bruises.

Gathering these reports together makes me think about how careful we have
always been at Half the Sky to maintain our focus on nurture and education
programs. Ours is not a medical or relief organization. There are many
wonderful groups who do that work. Probably the primary reason we've been
able to accomplish so much and reach so many children is because we've
maintained our focus on our core mission -- providing nurturing care for
children who've lost their families..

But a moment like this really cannot be ignored. The tragedy of Hurricane
Katrina in the US taught us that no matter how wealthy a country might be,
its vulnerable citizens (old, poor, ill, and orphaned children) are the
ones who suffer most when disaster strikes. Even as China seems to be
entering the first world, a disaster like this is quite simply crippling.
We know that orphaned children will be among those who suffer the damage

I say this because I think we should break one of Half the Sky's rules
and, if there are sufficient funds raised in the Little Mouse Emergency
Fund, we should offer relief (water, food, diapers, quilts, clothing) to
any orphanage where children need help. Let's see how this goes. If
people are as generous as I think they might be, we will work with the
provincial Bureaus of Civil Affairs in every hard-hit community, and offer
assistance to all welfare institutions where there is need.

Please lend a hand, however you can. You can donate to the Little Mouse
Emergency Fund by calling us in the US at +1-510-525-3377 or in Asia at
+852- 2520-5266 or by visiting us at Once there, you
can click on "Donate Now"\

or go to to
download a form to mail or fax. Donations are tax-deductible in US,
Canada and Hong Kong.

Please forward this message and tell your friends and family.

I will be back with an update very, very soon.

Thank you!


Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation

Tranquility :-)

Me and my friend went off to a spa yesterday, and it was heavenly :-) We had decided to try and lose 2lbs a week for the three weeks before our spa day, my friend made it (6lbs down yeah) and I managed to lose 3 1/2lbs, which I'm quite happy about as the healthy amount to lose is 1-2lbs per week :-) Anyway onto the spa...
We set off straight after dropping the children off at school, and drove through some awful rain, hail and wind to get there!! Luckily it was worth it :-) We booked in were given our bath robes/slippers and towels and shown around. It was very posh!! We also managed to book ourselves onto a treatment each, my friend chose a body brushing and I chose a hydrotherapy treatment. My friend was not impressed with her treatment, it only lasted 15 mins and wasn't really what she expected or worth the over £30 she paid! Mine on the other hand was heavenly. I was shown into the private treatment room, where a large, very deep bath was already full of hot seaweed infused water (looked a bit murky lol). The therapist demonstrated the different powers of the jets, and I chose the gentlest setting and lay there soaking (and almost dozing) and relaxing. The therapist came back into the room and gave me a scalp massage, which was also very very relaxing. I got her to turn the jets up to their full power, as I thought I'd better try and wake up a little lol, and lay there being pummelled, which wasn't quite as relaxing but still lovely :-) All too soon my time was up and I had to leave boohoo :-( I rejoined my friend, and then sat on one of the loungers while she swam a few lengths, then we went for our lunch. Lunch was lovely but the portions were teensy - definitely an 'all plate and no dinner' style place!! After lunch we spent a few hours in the heat rooms, some of which were so hot I felt I could hardly breath!! There were some foot spas there too, and I think I preferred that bit.
Once we had our fill of being steamed, heated and saunaed we decided to set off home and call into a shopping centre on the way. Before we left we were persuaded to take advantage of the offer for a free blow-dry in the hair salon. It was a good job we did as the weather suddenly turned absolutely foul - it was blowing a blizzard outside and I was so glad to be nice and warm and dry inside!! Luckily the weather had cleared by the time we had finished having our hair done, and it was nice to know we wouldn't look like a pair of Sweaty Bettys at the shops lol.
I rang home while we were shopping, and was extremely worried to find out that Mr Messy was feeling very unwell and probably had a migraine. He was supposed to be picking up LMS from the train station (she was coming home to attend a funeral on Friday) but was obviously in no fit state to do so. I persuaded my friend that we could leave earlier and pick LMS up ourselves, which she was very disappointed about as we had planned to spend ages shopping then have a meal and return home later. She was also very very unsure of the route to the station, and despite my reassurances that I knew where we needed to go, she was very nervous about the prospect. She was a complete star though, and got us safely to the station well before we needed to be there, so we were waiting once LMS's train arrived.


25th May 2009 - See New Child again & Court Date

23rd May 2009 - Fly back to Ethiopia

26th March 2009 - Fly to Ethiopia :-)

3rd March 2009 - Dossier Arrived at Orphanage

26th February 2009 - Dossier sent to Ethiopia

22nd December 2008 - Dossier back at DCSF

28th November 2008 - Certificate of Eligibility ISSUED

6th October 2008 - PASSED Approval Panel

7th July 2008 - Homestudy Update Started

28th Feb 2008 - Told LA we wished to change country


Formally withdrew from the China Adoption Programme 17th July 2008

LID (Logged in Date) with CCAA 16th August 2007

Documents to China 10th August 2007

Passed Approval Panel 5th March 2007

Homestudy started 6th June 2006

First Contact with our LA 1st Jan 2006