Friday, March 28, 2008

Skype

If this is any indication of the level of enthusiasm from our family about our trip to Thailand, I've gone from having no one in my family on Skype, to having nearly all of them on Skype.

This is just the most simple way to connect with home, and the possibility of getting video from us while we are in Thailand seemed to seal the deal.

If you haven't used it before, it's very simple, and best of all, it's free.

-Kyle

Forecast

This is just what we were hoping to hear.

From the Bangkok Post:

Meteorologist warns hot season is approaching

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flights

While we await travel approval, I've been trying to get prepared for the day we get the call, so we have a plan for what we do after that. That means looking at possible flight scenarios.

Both of us have spent some considerable time online researching this issue. We've booked many flights in our day, but this trip is very different: we need a one way ticket...we need flexibility in scheduling flights...we care about how many lay-overs we have...and we want to take advantage of any benefits airlines extend to adoptive families.

Complicating the issue is the fact that we would prefer to fly on an Asian airline, namely Thai Airways. We've heard glowing reviews, particularly when compared to many domestic carriers. Ideally, we would like to fly to one of the coasts, and fly to Bangkok from there...but we're open to all ideas.

I know many of our readers have gone through this before, so I'd be curious to hear what you did, your rationale, and how it worked out for you.

-Kyle

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gifts

Robin and I each got bracelets like this in an Easter care package from my mom. It's a thoughtful gift that keeps T with us all day.

T also got some gifts. He got a toy and a great outdoor hat (it's so cute!)

Now, to find out how to eat this candy without doing it all at once...

-Kyle

Thursday, March 20, 2008

175 years of Thai-US relations

From the Bangkok Post today:

The Thai government has received a letter from US President George W Bush congratulating Thailand on the 175th anniversary of bilateral relations.

The letter underlined the appreciation of him and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, for ties based purely on trust that was first documented in 1833.

Not a lot of countries can celebrate 175 years of working cooperatively.

What a warm and fuzzy feeling.

-Kyle

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Webcam

You may have noticed the "Web cam" on the Web site.

I came across the camera recently, cleaned off the digital dust, and got it running again.

We'll just be using the Web cam to show some of the changes around the house as we wait for T to arrive. At some point we'll take it down.

It's a toy. I'm a geek.

-Kyle

Thursday, March 13, 2008

USCIS and the Hague Convention

We're encountering some minor snags with immigration paperwork. We sent our I600 (to classify T as a relative) to the immigration office that processed the I600A (advance processing). This was the instruction we received from our agency. The form was returned to us, telling us we need to send it to Thailand to be processed. Hmmm.... Our agency contact isn't sure why this would have happened, but seems to think that if we do this, we'll be at best: delayed in Thailand for a few extra days, or at worst: delayed in Thailand for a few extra weeks. We're doing some research on the USCIS website to see if we can contact someone else for more answers before we decide how to handle this.

While on the USCIS page, I read some interesting information related to the adoption of the Hague Convention. For families who are adopting through a Hague Adoption Convention country (Thailand is one of the 74 who have adopted the convention), the I600 will be replaced by the I800 beginning on April 1st, 2008. We're in a sketchy gray area of in-betweenedness. Since our I600A was already approved, the U.S. will allow us to complete our adoption with an I600 (instead of filing an I800). However, they don't guarantee that the I600 will be acceptable to the sending country. So, if Thailand requires it, we may need to file the I800 anyway. Unfortunately, I have no idea how we determine if this will be the case. The USCIS doesn't list which countries will require this (as they probably have no idea, either). I am glad that the adoption convention is being implemented to better ensure ethical adoptions for all involved. I just wish I understood what is expected of us!

Click here to read the USCIS Fact Sheet re: new forms and centralized review of forms. There's also a handy "Questions and Answers" link along the right sided of the page with good information.

-Robin

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More update info

The pictures and info in this update are from November (age 6 months). He weighed as much at 6 months (almost 20 pounds) as I did at one year! He doesn't look overly cheerful in his pictures, but here's what his report said about him:
T is an active and good-natured child. He smiles in response to people. The baby can recognize the voice and face of his foster mother. He enjoys being held. He can laugh, squeal and turns to the direction of voice. He can roll over from back to stomach and stomach to back. The boy can bear some weight on his legs when being held. The baby can crawl very well. He can work for toy out of reach. He can sit without support steadily.
I can't wait to hear those squeals and see his smile! It's mind-boggling that this update is dated more than 2 weeks before we even received his referral! What does he look like today? I have a feeling if I could see him now, I wouldn't recognize him. Apart from his sweet sweet eyes! And his eyebrows. Did I mention I love his cute expressive eyebrows? Forgive the gushing. I'm finished now.
-Robin

New pictures!

We got an update today on T. It sounds like he's doing well. He's obviously continuing to eat well!





Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lifebooks

Robin has been working on creating a Lifebook for T. (A lifebook is a book with detailed, age-appropriate information about a adopted/foster child's entire life, starting at birth. A lifebook has many purposes, including to preserve their history, make the child feel cared for and important, identify feelings of loss, address identity issues, connect to their history and culture, help build trust and attachment, and cope with feelings of loss.)

She's mostly been researching the topic and trying to generate ideas.

She mentioned to me that she was thinking of creating a binder, so that we could have the ability modify and build on his story as he grows older.

I suggested we take a look at an online service Robin discovered at Christmas time. She used a Web site called Blurb to create a book for me as a Christmas gift. It contained all the highlights from our blog from the past year. It's great! I love reading it. It's amazing how enjoyable it is to see your own words in print.

It's relatively inexpensive to print these books, and since you can save your work, it's easy to go back and reprint. So, without having done all the homework on it yet, this would appear to be a nice option.

The clincher for me is that I am not very good with hands-on handicraft type things. I'm much more proficient at Photoshop.

-Kyle

Note from Robin: While researching lifebooks, I found a website with online adoption courses. Adoption Learning Partners has 10 interesting-looking courses on various topics related to adoption that may satisfy learning credits for PAPs. Most courses cost $30-$45, but 3 are available free of charge after registering (at no charge) on the site: Becoming your child's best advocate (Help for adoptive parents), Lifebooks, and Adoption tax credit. The Lifebooks course is very thorough and offers lots of concrete examples of information to include and age-appropriate wording to use. I've only gotten through about half of the course so far, but it's easy to use and I'll refer back to it. If you check it out, make sure to click on the occasional little icons along the left side of the lessons to open windows showing examples of lifebook pages and wording samples. I almost missed them and they are the most helpful aspect of the course, in my opinion.