I knew I shouldn’t have!

You know that old saying don’t get the cart ahead of the horse?  Well, I’ve done it. Not sure where that ol’ horse is, I left him in the dust yesterday when I took a look at our agency’s individual list, i.e. the list of kids our agency is trying to place.  (Not a “shared” list.)   And whaddya know I found a couple of little girls on there that may make sense for us.

So I don’t think I have mentioned that there are 2 ways to get matched with a child. The first way is the way we were planning to do it, and we still may.  That process includes sending our Dossier to China (DTC), where it’s logged in (LID) at the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).  After that, we would wait for our agency to match us with a child.  This process is best if we were set on a younger girl with a minor/repairable special need.  The second way to get a match is to peruse our agency’s individual list and essentially pick out a child. The kids on the list are typically a little bit older, lots of boys and many moderate special needs.  Our plan has always been to just go through the process step by step and wait for a referral.  BUT!  But then I went and looked at the list.  I’ll tell you what folks.  It’s nearly impossible for me to look at that list and not talk myself into one of the little girls on there.  There are 3-6 pictures of each child along with their birth date (made up of course), their American name (which I don’t think they even use other than for our benefit) and their special need.  For some of the moderate special needs, there are pictures of a malformed hand/eye/ear, whatever it may be.  It  hurts my heart to look at those.  For many reasons.  Most of all because I know a lot of those kids will stay on our agency’s list until their time runs out, which I think is about 6 months from the time the CCCAA gives them the list to the time they have to place the kid.  After that they may go to another agency.  Or if they’ve already made the rounds, they become special focus and go onto a shared list.  From there it only gets more dire.  The older they get, the more impossible it becomes to place them and many end up institutionalized.  So when I say it’s hard to not find a child on there, I mean it. It’s one thing to discuss this or that special need, but when you look at the little faces and read what their special need is, it’s hard to find a reason you couldn’t work with it.  Maybe it’s more than we thought we could handle, but I think like many things, we can handle more than we think we can, and more than we can succinctly plan for.

I emailed our agency yesterday.  I got one file just as I was turning out the bedside lamp.  I just knew it was coming so I kept checking my phone every 5-10 minutes.  I saw that it came so I ran out to get the ipad to read the medical report to my narcoleptic husband.  He may have heard the first two items.  There wasn’t anything “glaring” in it. Now take that with a grain of salt because this little girl does have a moderate special need that I’m not all too familiar with.  I have a soft spot for her though as one of her issues is something my parents were told about me .. yet it turned out to be inconsequential so maybe that’s the case with this little one as well??  Our pediatrician is reviewing the files now and will give me her thoughts later today.  She may very well tell me that this is a lot more difficult than it seems, or that there is more to it than my layman’s eyes were able to discover.

I received little lady #2′s file this morning.  Same thing, nothing that concerning in her, very uncharacteristically detailed, medical file.  But again, there is something sort of major going on with her so I need medical eyes to review it and shoot back a dose of reality.

Depending on what our ped has to say about this, we may or may not look for further medical review.  Children’s Hospital in Oakland has an International Adoption Clinic. They provide pre-adopt evaluations, etc.  The hitch is that it’s pretty expensive. I’m sure it’s worth it when there are detailed files, and in many cases, video to review.  I’m just not sure it will make sense given how little info is provided.

I am also going to talk to a woman I mentioned in another post.  Parker got together for dinner with one of his college buddies who was in town for work a month or so ago.  He learned during their conversation that night that his buddy’s wife used to be the Waiting Child Program coordinator for the state in which they live.  Parker reached out to his friend this morning and he talked to his wife.  She generously agreed to review the files and give me a call tonight to discuss.  Not sure if I’m more nervous to hear what she has to say, or simply to talk to someone who will have so much insight on what we are going through.

I thought for a bit that it may be too premature to share any of this with you all. But this is a significant part of our journey, whether we move forward with one of these precious little babes, or just keep trudging along the alternate path.  I didn’t sleep well last night … too many thoughts swirling in my head … did I just look at a photo of baby sister?  It’s almost too much to process so I have to try my best to keep a level head and let the advice and help from others, who are much more knowledgable, aid us in our decision.  We don’t have much time though.  Other families are viewing one of the files and even if we put a hold on one of them, we have to make a decision within 72 hours. While Parker is traveling.  Good times!!


Off, off and away

Well, we were right to check the yes box to adopting two children concurrently as well as filling in the number 2 in case we do get referred a sibling pair.  After that little confirmation that our paperwork was filled out accurately and thus ready to go, I packed it up and took it for a ride to the local UPS store and had it sent it on its way.  It should be delivered to the USCIS post office box tomorrow.  Then we’ll be on pins and needles waiting to hear when and where our fingerprint appointment will be.

While my mom was here visiting we also managed to finally, finally go to the police station in town and request our police clearance letters/background check.  I really don’t get all this redundancy but I’ll say it again… they say jump, we jump and jump and jump again.  We should get that back in the next day or two. If it’s notarized, then we’re good to go. If it’s not, we have to attach a statement to it and go have that notarized.  For this paperwork, which is all going into our Dossier, I have a few things that need to be notarized but I’m waiting on this one document so that I can get them all done at once. And if I go in with a bunch of documents for adoption, rather than just 1, it’s more likely that I’ll get a discount. I’m not one to count pennies but these notarizations add up!  Not that baby sister isn’t worth every last one … BUT … I’d rather put those pennies to better use in the way of all the stuff I’m going to have to start gathering at some point. I don’t think baby sister would be all that happy with little boy hand me downs.  Even if she probably will look like a little boy with her shaved head or flat top!

Over the long weekend we conquered the I-800A and got our police clearance letter going, but we didn’t manage to do our additional hours of pre-adopt training. We’re just going to do a couple of classes on line.  Looks like next week’s after bedtime entertainment will be in the form of clicking through pages on the screen. Oh well. I could stand a little break from those trashy housewives that I’m embarrassed to say I watch.

I need to get Parker’s birth certificate sent to the Chinese Embassy in Chicago to get authenticated. Why Chicago?  Because the embassy in Chicago has jurisdiction over the state of Minnesota, where Parker was born.  Mine is easy.  I was born in Washington and the embassy in San Francisco has jurisdiction over the state of Washington so mine will go with all of the other documents we’re gathering for our Dossier, and be couriered to the embassy in SF to get authenticated.  Once we have our I-800A approval and all of these other documents authenticated, we’ll be ready to DTC AKA “Dossier to China.”

Next steps:

Police Clearance Letter
Notarizations – 4 or 5
Fingerprint Appointment
Birth Certificate authentication
and the dreaded list of special needs
Authentication of all Dossier documents

After DTC, we wait for our LID.  Confused yet?  Me too.  Glossary follows:

CCAA: Chinese Centre of Adoption Affairs. These are the folks that oversee adoption in the People’s Republic of China. All adoptive parents must have their approval in order to adopt a Chinese orphan.
Dossier: This is your application to adopt an orphan. It includes a letter requesting permission to adopt a Chinese orphan, home study, police reports, immigration approval, reference letters, medical reports, marriage certificate, birth certificates, letters of employment, and photos of your family and house. 
LID: Log In Date. This is the date that your dossier is “logged in” or received by the CCAA.
LOI: Letter of Intent. This is a letter to the CCAA that you intend to adopt a Chinese orphan.
PA: Pre-Approval. After submitting your LOI, you receive pre-approval from the CCAA to adopt a specific child. Typically, you will receive your PA anywhere from 1 – 10 days after your LOI is submitted.
DTC: Dossier to China. This is a celebration day! You have finally collected all of the required paperwork. This is the date that your dossier is mailed to China.
LOA: Letter of Acceptance. This is the official approval from China to adopt your child. This comes after LID.
NVC: National Visa Center. After USCIS approves your immigrant visa petition (I-800/I-600), your petition is forwarded to the NVC in New Hampshire for immigrant visa pre-processing. This is only for U.S. adoptive parents.
TA: Travel Approval. This is the go-ahead from the CCAA to travel to China to get your child. Your TA has 90 days before it expires, so you better get packing!
CA: Consulate Appointment. This is the date that you go to your Consulate in China. You fill out paperwork to get your child’s visa to enter your country.

I miss the water

I had dinner the other night with two of the loveliest ladies I know.   We met in prenatal yoga when we were all pregnant with our firstborns.  Our group started out much bigger than just the 3 of us.  If I remember correctly there were about 10 of us.  We all had our babies within 6 weeks of each other and if I remember correctly, they were all boys minus one little girl.  At that time, I hadn’t even heard about “mommy groups.”  But a mommy group we became.  It was the best thing I did for myself, for my baby, and for my sanity.  There were so many times when I thought there was no way I could make it to our get together so I would call Parker in tears and he would somehow talk my unshowered, sleep deprived, milk leaking butt into going. And it never failed that I would show up and feel the comfort of not being alone in my squalor. I wasn’t the only one struggling with being a new mom. With the exception of one mom being a super douche who ALWAYS showed up with a beautiful blowout, full makeup, size 2 figure hugging clothes and her baby in some totally stupid getup, complete with pants, shirt, vest or sweater, shoes and a matching hat.  That b*&#h also had the nerve to recommend Spanx to me in a very friendly just trying to help you hide your fat my friend, sort of way.  I almost slapped her in the mouth.  Aside from her, I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t showered. I wasn’t the only one who forgot to eat breakfast.  Or lunch.  I wasn’t the only one who showed up with a kid in pajamas rather than real clothes.  I wasn’t the only one who had spit up down the back of my shirt. Or in my hair.  I also wasn’t the only one who forgot to bring diapers.  For a newborn, seriously?  Yes, it happens.  And lastly, I wasn’t the only one who forgot her boobyliner milk absorbers a time or two.  Circle back to some recurring items – first time mom – sleep deprived – milk leaking.  Sprinkle on some hormones and it’s an absolute effing train wreck. Don’t tsk me.  Babies are tough. They totally suck sometimes.  It has nothing to do with how much you love and adore them. They simply do a number on you physically and mentally.  Anybody who denies that is lying. Anybody who doesn’t confess to this is spineless coward.

We struggled alongside each other in those early, foggy days.  But we had a lot of laughs.  We would spend hours together on our “play dates.”  My favorite memories are of walking along the bay in Tiburon with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We had one epic get together that, if we recall accurately, may have lasted about 6 hours.  We strolled, we nursed, we strolled some more.  We had a long, lazy lunch.  We cleaned up blowouts and spit up.  We strolled some more.  We laughed and we cried.  Sometimes in a hysterical combination thereof.

Those days are long gone, but fondly remembered.  I know having such a supportive group got me up and over that first year hump.  Our group has changed dramatically since that first year.  A few of the girls went back to work. A couple of them couldn’t hang.  Thankfully!  (i.e. super douche) And a couple of the others, sadly, moved away.  (Never a get together goes by that we don’t miss you T.)  As you can imagine, being in different areas, going to different schools and classes, it’s hard to get together as often as we would like.  And now with second children, it’s nearly impossible to find days and times that work for all. So we settle for the next best thing which is getting together, just the girls, a few times a year.  If I could get together with any or all of my girlfriends for dinner once a month, I imagine I would be a much happier, much more resilient person and therefore, a heckuva better mom!  I walked away from our dinner the other night totally rejuvinated. And I walked in feeling pretty darn good to begin with!  But there’s nothing like the love and support of wonderful mama friends to lift you up and set you a-flight.  We caught up as much as we could in the time we had.  I once again marveled at the unbelievable beauty of friend 1s virgin locks.  i.e. She never has to dye them.  Not even never has to . Never has. I know, it’s sickening.  But amazing hair + would never suggest spanx = a good friend to me.  Friend #2 shared her feelings about the moment she met her daughter.  In a hospital room, with the birth mother present.  Eeee gads is right!  She’s one tough chick.  We also compared the exasperation of trying to get out of the house and to school in the mornings.  Amazingly, I’m not the only mom who gets tired of the sound of her own voice while herding the wee ones out of the door and into the car.  I love hearing about what’s going on in their lives.  It makes my life seem simple and boring in comparison, but it also makes me want to tackle my days with ferocity.  If they can do it, doggone it, so can I!  And if one of them has gone through this whole adoption business  and lived to tell the fairy tale, potty training difficulty, end of it, then so will I!

Power to the mamas!  Thank you for helping get me going down the road and up the hill.  I can’t wait to celebrate with you as I come barreling down the other side.  Get your corkscrews warmed up.  Mama won’t be breastfeeding this time around.


Speed bump

Or maybe it should be called a sluggishness bump. It’s not like we were moving at break neck pace.. but we’ve hit a speed bump.  I’m incredibly frustrated about it. Not because it’s that big of a deal but I just can’t stand it when people don’t do their jobs.

So we were supposed to get our notarized copies of our homestudy yesterday or today.  But then I got an email from our agency yesterday morning stating they don’t have documentation that we completed additional hours of pre-adopt training that China now requires.  Hmm. Of course you don’t have said documentation because we haven’t done additional training.  Because nobody told us we were required to damn it.  I sent a reply explaining that we weren’t aware of additional requirements and that we’re happy to complete them if we can be pointed in the right direction.  Half an hour later we get an email from another person at our agency that begins with “As you know, China now requires 12 hours of training, blah, blah, blah.”  As we know?  Really?  Well, we do now but only because someone else told us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have known because YOU forgot to tell us.  They’re going to go ahead and finalize our homestudy as this China paperwork blip can be taken care of between now and when we send our dossier to China.

The good news is that we found out that we can do the training on line.  Whew!  So we’ll spend our long weekend doing on line classes and filling out our I-800A application to perfection.  Awesome.

Enjoy the long weekend, or ski week, or whatever it is you are doing to honor George Washington’s birthday. Wink wink!


Creeping steadily along

Alrighty, so our homestudy is done but the finalization part is what we’ve been waiting on.  Our social worker had to submit it to our agency. Agency then finalizes it. I’m not sure what this means but I know the end result will be an envelope arriving at our home with 2 notarized copies along with our I-800A application packet.  I couldn’t stand the wait so I sent a very polite message to the woman at the agency who handles these things.  I played the I’m so dumb and nice and ass kissing that you can’t help but respond kindly card.  It worked!  I got a quick reply saying we normally need 2 weeks and we just got yours on the 6th .. BUT .. I’ll finish it up and have it out to you in the next day or two. Voila!  For all I know it was ready and waiting, but I feel a tad bit victorious.

And she also emailed the packet for the I-800A application.  It was so intimidating to see the little attachment at the bottom of the email. I finally downloaded it and saved it to our computer but I haven’t had the balls to look at it. It’s the next big hurdle and it’s in our hands. Eek!  The I-800A is a big freaking deal.

Purpose of Form:
For adjudicating the eligibility and suitability of the applicant(s) to adopt a child who habitually resides in a Hague Adoption Convention Country.
Number of Pages:
Form:  9; Instructions:  11; Supplement 1:  2; Supplement 2:  1; Supplement 3:  4

We can’t make a mistakes on it or the USCIS will reject, yes REJECT, our application.  Wouldn’t that totally suck!  I think you can rectify it if this happens, but still, it sounds so much scarier if you think you either get 1. approved or 2. rejected.  

My mom is coming to visit for the long weekend so hopefully having her here for entertainment will give us some time to focus on completing the I-800A.  We’ve been told the approval process takes couple of months from the time it’s submitted. We have to send it in along with one of the notarized copies of the homestudy.  (The other copy will go with our dossier to China.)  Sometime after it is received, USCIS will set up a fingerprinting appointment for us and will send us a letter to let us know when and where the appointment will be. This is a little overkill because we already had Live Scan fingerprinting done. Those digital fingerprints go through the Department of Justice and FBI for background check clearances… so it seems a little redundant to have to do it again.  But they say jump, we jump!  So we’ll do another round of prints then wait for our approval which is another lettered, numbered name of a document.  Once we get that, we’re ready to send our dossier to China.  Also known as the DTC.  

Short and sweet.  Love to all.


What made you decide to adopt?

I’m circling back on a question that I just sort of breezed over in the beginning of my blog.  A question that always comes up from acquaintances and even some friends is “What made you decide to adopt?”  I’m sure our family and close friends wonder about this question too but have never asked us, knowing that we’ve pretty much always said we’d like to adopt someday.

The reason I breezed over it is because it was an easy decision for us.  But understandably, for many, it’s tough to wrap your head around it.  When one of my good friend’s was struggling with infertility I naturally, and maybe naively, asked if they would consider adoption. Her answer both surprised and offended me.  It was because her husband didn’t want “someone else’s kid.”  Over the last 10 years or so I’ve often thought about that and I think he’s not alone in not wanting someone else’s kid. Maybe not that they wouldn’t want someone else’s kid.  But rather the uneasiness with taking on a child who is not biologically yours. For us, the concerns are practical. We worry about baby sister’s medical needs and that she may have attachment disorder and the road to becoming fully bonded may be a long and tiresome one. And an expensive one.  But there’s no question or concern about our ability to love her. It hasn’t even come up and the only reason I’m writing about it is that I know for many that concern is real.  How can you love a child who is not “yours.”

I think we all have an immense capacity to love.  I don’t think that’s at all the issue.  If you were handed an orphaned child today and you were the only option the kid had, you would end up loving him/her.  I don’t think it’s an emotion you can turn on or off.  From the outside, from people who will never consider, or have never considered adoption, they simply wonder.  But on the inside, for those of us choosing to adopt or thinking about doing it someday, we hope or we pray for a child. A child to love.

The question is probably deeper rooted. Rather than it being an issue about loving a child who is not yours, it’s probably more about accepting a child whom you know nothing about… you don’t know their ancestry… their genetic or medical background… you don’t know what has or has not happened in their life… how messed up their parents may have been.  Too many unknowns make people uncomfortable. I get that.  But guess what folks, even if you and your partner get together and make a baby, there are a thousand combinations of unknowns that may manifest in many different ways in that baby of yours.  Yes, you can test for this or that or the other. But for all the things you can test for, there are many that you can’t.  You also can’t account for natural occurrences that happen in utero.  You may not know that you and your partner are both carriers of some mutant, recessive gene that is a volatile combination when it comes together in your child’s DNA.   And for us it’s even simpler.  Our kids could have come out with some really messed up stuff given we knew nothing about what may be going on in this body of mine.  We got lucky. They’re perfect.  And they didn’t even get the webbed toes that we know run in my husband’s family!  We knew going into it that it was a crapshoot.  Now we’re rolling the dice for the third time, but this time, we’re doing it with a medical file in hand and our eyes wide open.  And like I tell the boys a thousand times a day “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset!”

This subject also brings me back to something that occurred in junior high. Catty, immature, ridiculousness.  I was at a sleepover and a few of the girls taunted me with “how does it feel to know your parents didn’t want you?”  Much like the question that started this post, I had never given this one a thought either.  IT doesn’t feel like anything because IT is irrelevant. I think it feels pretty much the same to be adopted as it does to be biological. At least in my case. I’m sure other cases are different because every child is unique as are family dynamics. When I got home from school I didn’t greet my parents with “Hi adopted mom.  Hi adopted dad.”  Nope, my parents were just plain old mom and dad and they’re all I had ever known or remembered. They loved me from the moment they met me and I’m sure I fell in love with them pretty quickly as well. Infants needs are pretty simple and if you meet them, it’s just a natural progression of feelings.  We will be coming at it from a slightly different angle this time by becoming parents to a little girl who already has established relationships and feelings so we have our work cut out for us but at the end of the day it comes down to creating a comfortable, safe environment in which all of her needs are met.  Consistently.  Rinse and repeat.

And I’ll share something funny that my dad said to me in response to the above situation. It was supposed to be a sleepover, so he knew something was wrong when I called to ask him to come pick me up.  When I got into his truck he asked me what happened. It took me a while to say anything because I didn’t want to cry and I really didn’t want to make him feel bad.  When I finally got the nerve to tell them what the girls had said, his response was “You tell those little brats that at least we got to pick you out. Their parents got stuck with them.”  How do ya like them apples?  I know it was a totally inappropriate response but it made me feel better and we both laughed about it as a result.  And if you’re wondering, no, I never told my friends that because the next day we were all back to normal, passing notes, swapping clothes, ratting our bangs, typical, junior high stuff.  I probably said something equally as catty, immature and ridiculous to one or all of them within a few days.  Teenage girls!  I’m sure baby sister will be sweet and drama free as a teen.  As if….

I also think there are a lot of you out there who have never even really thought of adoption and that’s why you wonder wow, how in the world did you guys come to the decision to adopt.  Maybe you don’t want kids at all. Or maybe you have enough bio kids. Or maybe it’s simply never come up.  Some of you have pondered adoption a bit but maybe not knowing how to even begin the process or being an adoption outsider altogether makes it that much more overwhelming.  I think this is where the majority of the interest comes from.  It’s sort of a fascination with a process that has such low visibility in the mainstream.  We often get “I know someone who knows someone whose cousin adopted a child from Mozambique.” And then the litany of questioning begins.  

So for all of you the long and short of it is this.  We were both fortunate to grow up in small towns where we spent a lot of time with our families and enjoyed big family celebrations for birthdays and holidays. Some of my fondest memories were of being crammed into my grandparents home with all of my aunts and uncles and cousins… stealing olives off the little crystal dish on Mamo’s table while we waited for dinner to commence and sneaking as much cinnamon and sugar lefse as our bellies could take, and acting surprised when my same age cousin and I got the same gift, in different colors, year after year, after year.  We want nothing else than to give our kids those sorts of memories, but since they don’t, and probably won’t, have any cousins, we need to add some more kids to the mix. We also realized that we love being parents. It’s made us better people and a stronger couple.  To us kids = joy. And when we’re old, kids = company!  So we set out on this path to our forever knowing we wanted a big family and that we (Parker) would consider adoption after having our own bio kids.  Parker wanted to test the parenting waters first, and I don’t blame him. He’s a boy. With boy brains. I can’t make him think like me. 1. I’m a chick. and 2. I’m an adopted chick.  It’s like we’re from two different galaxies, not just two different planets.  So it wasn’t really that something made us decide to adopt or that we had in depth discussions to help us come to this decision, but rather that for us, it was really just a question of when.  Every adoptive family arrives at this place in a different manner. I think it was easier for us than most because I am adopted and to me it’s second nature.  For others, maybe it’s God’s calling. Maybe it’s because they’ve exhausted all other ways of having a baby.  But I guarantee, none of us ever worries about loving a child who is not our own. Because orphans don’t have parents. They don’t belong to anyone. They are simply children who are waiting for someone to love them and call them their own.



Now that we’re back on track and making progress with the adoption process, it’s time once again to tackle the dreaded special needs checklist.  I haven’t slept well the last two nights.  The first night was because we had our sick kid in our room.. on a cot.. on the floor.  And every time I heard him move I jumped up to make sure he wasn’t throwing up again.  I must have gotten up two dozen times.  Last night I kept waking up thinking about who baby sister is going to be.  We read the story The Seven Chinese Sisters last night at the boys’ bedtime.  We talked about things they noticed about the sisters.  They all have black hair.  They all have black eyes.  They all have “Chinese” clothes.  And so on.  I think that, and the excitement of being one step closer, got me thinking a lot about baby sister.

One thing that’s been heavy on my mind is making sure we’re doing the right thing by raising our family in the community we are in.  I went to the city a couple of times this week, and for those of you not familiar with the bay area, we now live in Moraga, which is a 25 minute drive to San Francisco if you time it perfectly, which I’ve gotten very good at!  When I was in the city on Tuesday I started getting anxiety wondering what in the world have we done… we traded all of this diversity and opportunity for a sleepy little town with much less diversity and not much else aside from fantastic public schools and big lots. But is that the right thing for baby sister?  There are huge differences between the city and Moraga.  Would it be better to raise baby sister in the city where she will see more people like her, where she doesn’t look different than a majority of her classmates, where it will be easier to cultivate her identity as a Chinese-American.  I spent the good part of 24 hours totally stressing about it. I know, I know, I know, those of you (really just my husband’s family) who already like to poke fun at how much we move are getting a big kick out of this.  But every move has had a purpose and if the housing market hadn’t crashed, we would have been 3 moves fewer at this point.  In all honesty though, this is a BIG deal.  Raising a comfortable, confident young woman from another country is a huge responsibility and before we bring her home, we need to have our feet firmly planted.  As much as I wanted to talk to Parker about what was on my mind and distracting me, I didn’t want to say anything until I had thought through it enough to come full circle. I thought through everything.  Who would the city be good for?  Us, baby sister, the boys?  Who would it negatively impact?  The boys.  The boys.  The boys.  What are the benefits of staying in Moraga?  Quality of life, more $ in the bank.  And the overall financial implications.  Selling another home.  Moving costs.  3 private school tuitions.  By last night I was ready to talk to Parker and before you gasp at what the result may have been, I will save you the shock.  We are not moving.  Yet.  Ha!  The yet part – we’ve always said we would move back to the city.  Maybe the kids will want to go to private high school in the city.  I doubt it as the public high school they are slated to attend is one of the best in the state.  So if not, we’ll high tail it back the day after baby sister graduates from high school.  How ticked will she be when we’re packing up on graduation day.

While there is tremendous upside to raising baby sister in the city, we also have to balance what is best for our entire FAMILY.  And what’s best for our family is to stay put.  Our boys are happy out here.  They love the slower pace, hours spent playing in the backyard, friends in the neighborhood, and they each love their respective schools.  I love that they’re happy and that Parker is less stressed at home (work is a whole different story).  Parker loves that the boys are happy, our mortgage is a lot less and school is cheap.  It isn’t free.  If we wanted free school, we would have moved to Oakland.  You get what you pay for kind of thing. Hey, that’s a good spin for our school’s fundraising campaign:  ”You want free school, move to Oakland!”  or San Francisco, or Richmond.  See what “free” school does for your kid!  Otherwise, buck up and stop letting other families foot the bill for your kid’s PE, music, speech, etc. Stepping off my soap box now…. moving on.

Of course we can’t change the ways in which Moraga differs from the city.  The upside is that this is a great community.  The people are friendly. It’s safe.  The schools are phenomenal and our basic needs are easily met.  And did I mention it’s really peaceful and pretty out here?  The view from our older son’s elementary school alone is almost worth it.  A far cry from the rooftop playground of a private school in the city.  Sure baby sister will look different than a lot of her peers, but there are some families of color out here so she won’t be totally alone.  Thanks to our son’s kindergarten teacher, we met another family in our town who just brought home their daughter from Taiwan last spring and she and baby sister may well end up as classmates.  And it will be up to us to raise and educate her in a way that her differences don’t define her or make her less comfortable or confident than any of her classmates.  We will also stay connected with the city to experience places and activities where her culture is alive and vibrant and celebrated.  Ways for all of us to learn and develop as a multicultural family.  Our plan is to get an apartment in the city in the coming years so that we can spend more time there and do more cultural activities.  Not just Chinese stuff.  But music, museums, movies, food, celebrations and activities that will provide our kids a well rounded education.  Opportunities neither of us had as kids growing up in small, predominately white, working class towns.  It’s more a case of the tools we will have access to … and they’re all available. We just have to work harder and travel farther to access and utilize them.

The other differences that are concerning me are physical differences that baby sister may have and this is where we need more resources and more tools.  We have to fill out the dreaded special needs checklist.  There are some things on there that, to us, are no brainers.  Cleft lip and/or cleft palate.  They’re easy fixes in our opinion. Surgery and orthodontia.  But hey, if she was our bio kid she would have needed plenty of orthodontic work anyway.  Those of you that grew up with me know what a mess of teeth I had.  Until I was twenty freaking one!  But along with surgery comes a scar.  I know it seems like a really minor issue when you’re thinking about it as a rational adult, but for a young girl a scar on her upper lip may very well be a big deal. And I know a little bit of my heart would break the day she comes home crying because some little brat, most likely a 13 year old girl, made fun of her scar. Much like the night my dad had to pick me up from a junior high cheerleading slumber party because the girls were making fun of being an adopted kid.  Another no brainer for us is a child with a heart defect.  It could be as slight as a murmur or as major as something requiring open heart surgery.  Another case of worrying about a scar.  On her chest of all places.  We have friends who went through this and they provided great perspective, not only on heart defects in general, but specifically as it concerns scarring.  She told us that when she asked the surgeon about the scar, he looked at her like she just asked the most moronic question he had ever heard and he said something to the effect that the surgery was going to save her life, so who cares about the scar.  (another lesson in perspective – like our friend says, this guy fixes tiny baby hearts so don’t go thinking you are doing anything meaningful with your life!)  So there you have it.  I like the simplicity of it.  Well, sweetheart, you do have a big scar on your boob but at least you’re alive.  I hope she says yikes, you’re right, my lucky to be alive scar! Hey, maybe we could use the same approach with the cleft lip scar. Well, what would you rather have, a tiny pink line above your lip, or a gaping hole with a close up view of your summer teeth?  I think I’m getting caught up on the wrong details!

Or it could be a different issue. We may mark yes to malformations.  This could be webbing of fingers or toes. Which, I have to point out, could have very well occurred with our bio kids as it runs in my husband’s family.  So we should mark yes to it.  This would be an obvious physical difference.  Some cases may be correctable with surgery, and a scar on a hand or foot really is minor.   We could make up one helluva story for her to explain it.   If it isn’t correctable then she could have hands or feet that look different than most.  Or maybe she will have a hearing issue. We have friends going through such an issue with their son.  Watching them has been a very eye opening experience.  And a great learning experience. The example they are setting is a great one for us and we know, with their guidance we could tackle a hearing issue.  Part of that package would include a hearing aid.  I will punch the kid in the mouth who makes fun of her hearing aid.  And his mother too.

There are plenty of things that we will unhesitatingly mark no to. Things that would give us a baby sister who would be so different from us that she wouldn’t be able to be an active participant in our family life.  These aren’t limited to just physical issues, but also mental, emotional and social issues as well.

I’m not really sure how to sum all this up other than this is just another peek into the thought process that goes into adopting a special needs child from another country. If I was pregnant, I’m sure I could write just as much about my thoughts and concerns about my unborn child, but the real difference is that when you’re pregnant you don’t have to make choices about what your child will look like on the inside or out.  It’s those choices that are proving to be the toughest part of this entire process. I have read about many families who adopt from the special needs program and don’t struggle with any of this and I applaud that.  It’s noble.  I wish I could just open my heart and mind and not worry so much about the differences.  But it’s who I am.  It’s who we, as a couple are.  But like one of the women from our agency told us, we don’t need to feel guilty about it because there are thousands of kids who fit the bill for baby sister so it doesn’t matter if we check yes to one box or five boxes.  Saying yes to one is changing the life of a child who otherwise has no future.


The babymoon…

If you’ve been keeping up, last week I was distracted by a couple of things.  I’m still distracted by the first thing which is that a classmate of our older son has leukemia.  While her prognosis is good, it doesn’t mean that just because she should beat this thing, be in remission and be back to school next year, that the fight is going to be any easier.  I took dinner to their house last night and I think I hugged the mom an inappropriate number of times and maybe even a little too tightly.  But I had to even if just to pass on a little bit of love and strength to her.  Her little girl is doing okay but her tired, pale face sent hot, stingy tears streaming down my face as soon as I got back into my car.  I drove to the Safeway parking lot to give myself time to pull it together before returning home.  Yep, Safeway parking lot.  You know you live in a boring a$$ town if the best place to dry your eyes is the grocery store parking lot.  Last year at this time, I would have headed right down the street to the bay and calm my nerves over rolling waves and fog horns.  Aww, the good ol’ days.  Well, anyway, I pulled it together and came home. Still distracted but cheered by the healthy, obnoxious faces of my hungry boys.  After we got them off to bed, I started in with this week’s distraction.

Distraction #3 – Babymoon!
Since baby sister will be here sometime in the next 9 months, or so, we figure we better get away for a weekend before that will no longer be an option.  Not that it won’t at all be an option but not sure anyone loves us or our kids enough to take on days and/or nights with 3 OF THEM!

I hate to admit it but we’ve yet to go anywhere, that isn’t within driving distance, without our kids.  I’m totally freaking out about it but we have plenty of life insurance and our dear friends Tommy & Colleen are the named guardians for our kids so we’re covered!  But I’m still freaking out!  I’m excited too though, so it’s strange to reconcile it physically and mentally.  The boys couldn’t care less.  They’re super pumped to spend the weekend with one of their old babysitters who came into town just to help us out.  I think they also know that mommy guilt nets out well for them.  As if having a babysitter, busting the schedule, messing up the house and leaving it that way and doing nothing but goof off and play all weekend isn’t good enough. I also got them some sweet and salty treats usually reserved for vacations and other special times and a few new toys. I almost bought them a new movie but caught myself.  This is craziness. I’m spending more time preparing THEM to stay home than I am MYSELF to travel.  This is what’s wrong with me. No matter if it’s necessary or not, I can’t turn off my mom-ness. It kinda grosses me out sometimes.

Back to the babymoon!  We’re going to Vegas, baby.  This means we have to get on a plane.  And fly.  To another state.  Aahh… nervous!  But funny enough, we went to Vegas for our babymoon before we had our first son so it’s kind of funny to think about what we did then vs. what we’ll do now.  The best part?  I’M NOT PREGNANT!!  So I can get all sorts of crazy.  Well, sort of.  Unfortunately, and probably fortunately, my tolerance is not what it used to be, but I plan to test the limits a bit this weekend.  Why not?  Tired?  Sleep in. Hungover?  Sleep in. Eat greasy food.  Sleep in some more.  And if that doesn’t work, drink more!  You know, the old hair of the dog trick.  Big talking is what this all is.  The whole reason we’re going is for a Brad Paisley concert on Saturday night.  (Our boots are packed and ready – photo above!)  Parker is a HUGE music fan.  When we first met, he was always going to shows around the city, or meeting friends for different music festivals all over the country. He likes a little of everything, but has been getting in touch with his inner hillbilly the last few years so he’s been listening to more country.  I grew up on it, and I don’t have to go far to reach my inner hillbilly.  I can belt out old Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and my 8 year old self’s favorite, Tanya Tucker.  If there’s one thing my brain holds onto tighter than 1970s and 80s commercial jingles, it’s the music we listened to growing up.  Often from the bed of my dad’s toyota pickup with the little sliding window opened up for our listening enjoyment as we sat bundled up in our sleeping bags and blue hanes zip up hoodies to keep warm on our 2 hour drive to the beach.  I took a break from country during after about junior high, poo pooing it because that’s what my weirdo parents listened to.  I started getting back into it about 10 years ago and I’ll admit, I totally love it.

I was going to surprise Parker with the Vegas trip but then a wrench was thrown into my plan.  He travels like crazy for work and he just made companion status with Southwest Airlines.  This means, I, as his “companion,” will now fly for free anytime I fly with him.  Well, I couldn’t pass up using that little perk so I broke down and told him about my plan. He was shocked.  Shocked and stoked!  (See, inner hillbilly. Who uses that word…)  So together we planned our Vegas babymoon. We’re taking the last flight out on Friday night, getting into Vegas at 9:30.  Our plan is to dump our bag at the hotel, and head out for the night.  I really don’t remember the last time my night out started after 7pm, let alone 10pm.  We’ll probably just get some drinks and appetizers somewhere.  Then Parker will hit the tables.  I may shop or play some slots.  Either way, I’ll probably stay out with him to make sure his balls don’t get too big playing blackjack. He’s a great gambler, comes with his crazy math master of a brain, BUT he likes the drinky drinky.  Especially if he doesn’t have to wakey wakey!  So this is what happens when he goes to Vegas: 11pm up a bit, midnight, doubled his money, 1am starting to slur and lose, 2am drunk and totally gonna win it back (balls talking for him), 3am hammered and broke.   If I can stay awake and monitor my IV of chardonnay well enough, I’ll try to drag him back to the hotel before the 1am blur sets in.  For both of us.

Our dear friends live in Vegas. We haven’t yet met the latest addition to their family – a 6 month old baby girl joins her 2 1/2 year old sister.  We’ll spend the afternoon with them, then they’ll head back home to put the girls down for a nap and we’ll all get ready for the night.  They’re joining us for dinner and the concert.  We’re having dinner at Stripsteak, Michael Mina’s first steakhouse. We love Michael Mina in the city so we have high hopes for overindulging at Stripsteak.  Our reservation is at 5:45. How’s that for wild and crazy!   The concert starts around 7. Scotty McReery, yep from American Idol, opens the show, followed by my new fave The Band Perry then the man himself, Brad Paisley.  It should be an interesting night.  Our friends are a showgirl and calf roping cowboy respectively.  Sounds fun, right!  Mister cowboy is hysterically funny and always the life of the party and then some.  I’m sure the night will be filled with lots of laughs. I can’t wait.  It’s a rare occasion to get to hang out with such good friends, sans kids, enjoying good food, good drinks and good music!

My excitement about the weekend is reinvigorated just by typing up this post.  I’ll try to enjoy the kid free moments as I’m sure over the coming year, there will be few to none.

Adoption paperwork update:
Nada from the social worker since I emailed back all the details she asked for.  Not even a thank you.  Shocker!

Made contact with the Assistant Stork to get going on the paperwork for our dossier.  I have to get a FedEx account number, have some documents sent from our agency to the Assistant Stork (from hereon labeled as AS), get our police clearance letter from the town of Moraga, and fill out the financial certificate. The other docs are done or ready.  We were going to get the police clearance this week but we blew it off.  My plan is to get all the documents I have out to the AS next week so she can get started getting them all certified by the state, embassy, etc.  The last piece of that pie will be the notarized copy of the homestudy and the approval from USCIS.  Realistically we’re probably at lest 8-10 weeks away from having the approval as I don’t foresee having the homestudy for at least a week or two.  But from a glass is half full approach, at least we have plenty of time to get all of the certifications without having to rush or pay for anything to be expedited.  It’s been nice to have some other things going on to keep my energy focused elsewhere while we idle in place. I have a big week of workouts planned next week.  I’m hoping to be too exhausted each night to spend any time or energy worrying about adoption stuff.

The best laid plans…


We did it!

We did it!  We pulled off a halfway decent, albeit, Caucasian-laced, Chinese New Year celebration.  I am proud to say we all had a good time, learned a little and got even more excited about plans to celebrate with and for baby sister in the coming years.

This picture is of the bowl of tangerines, the red envelopes and gold coins, and the vase of narcissus for good fortune and luck. The sweets tray was very Caucasian and was almost too much for the boys. They just sat at the table looking at all the treats and talking about how they would divide and conquer.  Or, rather, devour!  Don’t look too closely though as I admit, I used a few things that weren’t exactly traditional CNY treats, nor were they even Chinese.  A few Japanese treats and one or two made in Singapore.  I promise to plan ahead next year and make sure to get it spot on.  But for this white chick’s first attempt, I say, not too shabby, eh!    The boys loved the little lovey pandas and all the tasty, chewy and gummy treats.  The colorful fortune cookies were fruit flavored.  Interesting, but I think I like the more traditional version.  The boys slept with their red envelope/ hóngbāo under their pillows and already have plans on how to put the money to good use.  I wish I could say they want to do something useful or thoughtful with it.  But they don’t. They want to go to this crappy little restaurant in town and spend it on junk from the toy and candy machines in the “game room.”  Oh well, they’re excited.  And the gold coins are now “gold doubloons” aka pirate treasure.  I tried to explain that they’re Chinese coins and to look at the dragon on one side.  Little guy cocked his head and said “Yes, but mommy, there are pirates in China too.” Good point.  Maybe not are, but were.  Close enough.

We also hung a couple of different strands of garland and a big, dragon that the boys giggled at. They thought he looked like some sort of “weird, mustached man.”  He kinda does.  It’s the best I could do in the time I had.  Next year we’ll get something a little more authentic. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll pull out my inner Martha and create one with them.

I mentioned before that I got the okay from my CNY consultant to go out for dinner.  We went to our local Asian restaurant, Asia Palace.  It’s Japanese and Chinese.  A funny little spot.  But so yummy!  We feasted on sizzling rice soup, potstickers, kung pao chicken, salt & pepper prawns, crispy duck and chow mein.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the fish we had hoped/planned to. No cooked fish on the menu and it seemed weird to add sushi to the mix.  So, next year, along with traditional Chinese sweets, and an authentic, less creepy dragon, we will add fish to our dinner.  Maybe I’ll be able to pull off a home cooked Chinese meal by then.  See, it’s a good thing I’m putting all of this in writing. I’m committing!

As good luck would have it, we also heard back from our social worker yesterday.  She needed a laundry list of details.  She said it was due to the new hague requirements but pffft, I know better.  There aren’t any new requirements.  It’s a little offensive that she thinks we know so little about the process.  What a jerk.  A tardy and slow one at that.  The most frustrating part, aside from this keeping us from progressing forward, is that it cost us $3,000.  Yep, three!  Thousand!  DOLLARS!  The least she could do is show up on time, be honest, and turn in her work in a timely manner.  Shoot, I can think of dozens of people who would jump at the chance to do 8 hours of face-time work and a written report for 3 grand.  The worst part, however, is that all of the details she asked for are in the paper chase documents she already has.  Just too lazy to look them up herself.  So, tardy, slow and lazy.  I’m being mean but whatever.  Don’t judge. I may even pour myself a glass of wine and it’s not even 5:00.  Neener, neener, neener. What’s worse, a meanie, or a wino?  At least I’m not a nag!

Oh and she also dangled a carrot that I hope she drops sooner, rather than later.  I have a feeling she’ll snatch it back up before that happens.  The carrot – “You’ll see when you get to proofread it.  :-)  Almost done” and her parting words “Hang in there.  We are getting close.”  You’re killing me Smalls!



Thankfully I’ve had a few distractions this week otherwise I’d be going even nuttier over the lack of communication regarding our homestudy.

The biggest distraction has weighed heavy on my heart and mind since I found out about it a week and a half or so ago. A classmate of our older son has been diagnosed, and is receiving treatment for, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  A beautiful, vibrant kindergartner is now undergoing the battle of her life.  Unfair doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I reached out to the mom right away.  She’s a lovely girl.  So gracious for the support she’s getting from the community.  She’s also a single mom to two girls; the kindergartener and her second grader sister.  She  had to quit her job in order to stay home to take care of her daughter.  Gut punch after gut punch.  I well up just thinking about it.  There is a lot of community support here, thank goodness.  We are all pitching in for different things to help them out.  There will be many meals delivered, a gaming system, an iPad, rides to and fro for the older daughter, along with help getting her a bus pass.  We’re doing all we can as a family to help them out but it still feels insignificant.  Insignificant in that we are doing something so minor and unimportant considering what they’re dealing with now all day, every day. And it makes me realize my issues really are just that, totally insignificant.  So big deal, I don’t know what’s going on with our homestudy or I’m feeling terrible because I’ve had the flu all week (distraction #2), but that’s nothing compared to the shit deal that girl and her family have been dealt.  

Can you say flu shot anyone?  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.  LeveIed for a couple of days then felt a little better on day 3 and resumed my normal hustle and bustle … couple of meetings and errands and maid duties … and woke up the next day wrecked again.  Thankfully I’m finally feeling better but now I’m totally freaking behind.  Behind on where I wanted to be on adoption stuff and behind on preparing for our Chinese New Year (distraction #3) dry run. Figure we have this year to work the kinks out so we don’t totally screw up next year when we’re celebrating it for real for baby sister.  I’ve got the red envelopes.  I will finish cleaning the house today.  I started yesterday but thanks to this damn flu, I pooped out after I changed the sheets on bed #3.  Ugh.  I ordered a boat load of decorations (banners and dragons) and trinkets (Chinese bead bracelets and gold coins).  My CNY consultant, aka my friend Fanny, giver of the Chinese barbies, is coaching me through it.  We’ll set out a bowl of tangerines, leaves and stems attached for long lasting relationships.  We’ll also have a vase of narcissus symbolizing good fortune and prosperity. Thankfully she said it would be okay to go out for dinner.  I’ll toot my own horn to say I’m a fabo cook, but, I have never made any authentic Chinese food. I know, I better get crackin.  And I will.  But I’ve been sick people!  And you can’t just turn a culinary corner overnight.  So, we’ll go out to this funny little place in town. It’s Japanese and Chinese and they give you a bag of produce as you leave.  Anyhoo, we will only order Chinese, which will be a challenge as the boys looooove sushi.  And we’ll make sure to order noodles for longevity and fish for prosperity.  I hope I’m getting all of this right and if not, I apologize and with help, hope to get it right next year!  Pictures to follow. 

Just for fun I posted descriptions of the 12 animal signs of the Taoist Zodiac.  

Gong Xi Fa Cai from the ox, the sheep, the dog and the rat!  

Calligraphy Short Description
RAT is the first sign of the Taoist zodiac. Rat represents the beginning of the winter season (winter solstice) and the seed of new growth. Because Rat is number one, the ability to be first in all things is a Rat trait. This first earthly branch represents December, the eleventh month in the Taoist lunar calendar. December is the time of Sagittarius, Rat’s western counterpart.
RAT YEARS: 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
OX is the second sign. This phase represents the beginning stages of a plant’s growth, the seed’s struggle to break out of confinement and sprout. This determination and perseverance in struggle are Ox qualities. This second earthly branch represents January, the twelfth lunar month. January is the time of Capricorn, Ox’s western counterpart.
OX YEARS: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
TIGER is the third sign. This phase is symbolized by the vigilant new sprout that has just broken free from the earth. People born in a Tiger year share the same positive and upward-reaching qualities as a growing sprout. This third earthly branch represents February, the first lunar month. February is the time of Aquarius, Tiger’s western counterpart.
TIGER YEARS: 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
HARE is the fourth sign. This phase is the beginning of spring. It symbolizes the effortless growth of plants in warm, magical spring light. The gentle qualities of springtime are traits of those born in Hare year. This fourth earthly branch represents March, the second lunar month. March is the time of Pisces, Hare’s western counterpart.
HARE YEARS: 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
DRAGON is the fifth sign. This phase happens when plants are growing and vigorously expanding. The life force, the yang part of the universe, is very strong. This powerful life force is fully visible in people who are born in the year of the Dragon. This fifth earthly branch represents April, the third lunar month. April is the time of Aries, Dragon’s western counterpart.
DRAGON YEARS: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
SERPENT is the sixth sign. During this phase, plants have completed their growth. This turning point brings the outward growth inward, turning vigor and power into wisdom. These characteristics are reflected in people born in the year of the Serpent. This sixth earthly branch symbolizes May, the fourth lunar month. May is the time of Taurus, Serpent’s western counterpart.
SERPENT YEARS: 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
HORSE is the seventh sign. This phase occurs when the sun is brightest (summer solstice) and the plants are strong, having reached maturity. Horse people possess a sunny disposition and are bright, open, and cheerful. This seventh earthly branch symbolizes June, the fifth lunar month. June is the time of Gemini, Horse’s western counterpart.
HORSE YEARS: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
SHEEP is the eighth sign. It is the phase when plants are ripening and all is peaceful. This gentle peacefulness is the core of Sheep’s nature. The eighth sign symbolizes July, the sixth lunar month. July is the time of Cancer, Sheep’s western counterpart.
SHEEP YEARS: 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
MONKEY is the ninth sign. During this phase, crops are ready to harvest. That is why Monkeys naturally have so many developed talents and abilities. This ninth earthly branch symbolizes August, the seventh lunar month. August is the time of Leo, Monkey’s western counterpart.
MONKEY YEARS: 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
PHOENIX is the tenth sign. This phase occurs during the month of harvest and prosperity. Responsibility, duty, and satisfaction for work well done characterizes people born in the year of the Phoenix. This tenth earthly branch symbolizes September, the eighth lunar month. September is the time of Virgo, Phoenix’s western counterpart.
PHOENIX YEARS: 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
DOG is the eleventh sign. During this phase plants gradually disintegrate and return to mother earth while the animals prepare for winter. This ability to diligently prepare and be responsible are qualities of those born in the year of the Dog. This eleventh earthly branch symbolizes October, the ninth lunar month. October is the time of Libra, Dog’s western counterpart.
DOG YEARS: 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
PIG is the twelfth sign. This is the phase when earth is at rest in winter, and a sense of peacefulness is prevalent. Love of rest and cultivation of peace are Pig qualities. This twelfth earthly branch symbolizes November, the tenth lunar month. November is the time of Scorpio, Pig’s western counterpart.
PIG YEARS: 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031