Sunday, August 30, 2009

Creating Our Nursery - Part I

Yesterday (Aug 29) we decided to get serious about figuring out what we're going to do for our nursery. After doing a lot of research using our highly recommended Baby Bargains book (http://www.windsorpeak.com/babybargains/default.html) and a road trip to Frederick, MD almost two months ago to check out a baby furniture store to see what we liked, we thought we knew what we wanted. We intended to go back to the store to make our purchase, but decided to check out the Great Beginnings store (http://www.greatbeginnings.net/) in Gaithersburg, MD to see what they offered. According to the Baby Bargain book, they are one of the top 21 independent baby stores in the country so we thought they were worth checking out. After looking at the web site we were a little concerned that it might just be a high-end baby store, but we decided to go see for ourselves to make sure that we were looking at all options prior to making our decision.

As we entered the store, our first thought was "'WOW". It was a huge store! The whole center of the store has bedroom sets, with most setup in a small room setting with bedding so you get an idea of how it will look together. I would guess that there were close to 50 different bedroom sets, so it was all a little overwhelming at first. We slowly worked our way through the store, picking up brochures and making note of the furniture that we liked. Several sales associates came by to see if we needed any help, but we decided to make one pass through all the furniture before we got some help. After spending about an hour looking at everything, a sales associate (Brian) asked us if we needed any assistance or would like a tour of the furniture. We took him up on his offer. He showed us around, pointing out various aspects about the furniture. The first thing that we noticed is that he was very helpful but not pushy. Several times he pointed out things we hadn't considered and he also let us know about areas where people overspend on things that really aren't necessary. It was refreshing to work with a sales associate that wasn't trying to push all the expensive items and add-ons. He focused on the furniture that was the best quality at a reasonable price, not the real expensive furniture. As he showed us the different lines of furniture, we noticed that he even though he had no idea which furniture we had liked when we did our first walkthrough, he ended up showing us the items that were on our short list. After showing us around for close to an hour, we decided to do another walkthrough on our own to narrow down our choices. By this time it was around 2:00 PM. We hadn't had lunch and needed a little break to gather our thoughts. We went to a local Korean restaurant (of course) and discussed furniture as we enjoyed our bi-bim bap. I had the traditional bi-bim bap with beef and Laura had hers with seafood.

After enjoying our lunch, we headed back to the store, ready to make a decision. In the end, we decided to order furniture from Munire. We went with the classic chestnut finish in the Essex line (http://www.munirefurniture.com/essex_03.htm). As our sales associate was writing up our order, he let us know that every Saturday they offer a way for shoppers to save 15% off the highest priced item of their order. All you have to do is sing a 30 second karaoke in the middle of the store. Laura immediately looked at me and said that I could do it. The only singing I normally do is in the truck when nobody is around to hear me since I know it won't be a pleasant experience for me or the listener. I've never done (or had a desire to do) karaoke. Since I wasn't very excited to expose my poor singing talents all by myself, I told the sales associate that maybe Laura and I should do a duet instead. He thought that was a great idea, but needless to say Laura didn't like that idea. I carefully looked at all the songs they offered, trying to come up with a song that didn't require any signing talent. As I browsed the list, I saw one with potential. I settled on "the hokey pokey" with the condition that if I sang, Laura would have to do the dance with me so that we could share in our embarrassment. With a little pressure from me, she agreed. I sang the first two verses (left foot and right foot) as Laura and I both did the dance. The sales staff was thoroughly entertained, we were slightly embarrassed, but we ended up saving almost $100. It will be a funny story to tell to our child.

Over four hours after we first arrived at the store, we finally completed our order. You think that we would have had enough for one day, but we decided to continue to immerse ourselves in baby "stuff" by walking around the store looking at strollers, high chairs, and other items that we'll need to get some time in the future. On the way home, we even decided to check out another baby store just to see what they had for baby bedding. That will be the next hard choice. There are so many great looking bedding sets. It's going to be tough to choose the theme of our nursery.

As Laura said, we had baby overload yesterday, but it was a lot of fun. Every time we do something like this, we know it brings us one step closer to the day when we have our child.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Waiting Game

Last Tuesday (Aug 4) we went to our monthly Parents in Progress (PIPS) meeting. While waiting for the meeting to begin, we talked with a woman who is adopting a boy from Russia. She had just returned from her first visit to see her son. She travelled half way around the world, spending almost a week in Russia just to see her son for a total of 6 hours. When you adopt from Russia, it normally takes two or more trips to complete the process. This was her first trip. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to finally meet your future adopted child only to say good-bye because you're not allowed to finish the process in a single visit. I'm thankful that Korean adoptions require just a single visit.

As we do every month, the meeting began with the introduction of the newest adoptive families. There was only one family that was able to make the meeting this month. They had adopted a beautiful 3 1/2 year old girl from China just a couple of weeks ago. It was nice to hear about everything they went through and to see how happy they are after waiting 4 long years to complete the adoption process. Thankfully we won't have to wait that long (but I'll explain that in greater detail in a few minutes).

After getting introduced to the latest Catholic Charities adoptive family, the social worker had more great news to share with the group...there were five families that received their referrals from Korea in the past month. Three of the families were at the PIPS meeting. Each of them had pictures of their child that they eagerly shared with the group. You could see the pride in the parent's faces. As we looked at the pictures, we couldn't help but think what it will be like when we get our first picture of our child. The first time an adoptive family gets to see what their child looks like is at the referral. I imagine that the feeling an adoptive family has when sharing the first picture of their child is similar to the feeling a birth family has when they share their 1st sonogram photo with family and friends.

As I wrote earlier, we hope that we won't have to wait as long as the family that waited four years to adopt from China. When we started our adoption journey, we were told that after we completed our paperwork it would take 14-15 months to get our referral and another 3-4 months before we were able to travel to pick up our child. The good news is that our wait may be getting shorter. One of the five families that received their referral last month only waited one year which is a couple months less than previous families. On top of that, the next families that are waiting for a referral have only been waiting since December 2008. If they get a referral in the next couple of months it means that our wait may get even shorter. It's hard not to get our hopes up. Right now we're not sure where we stand on the wait list. Even though we know how many people at Catholic Charities are waiting for a referral, we have no idea how many families are waiting across the country. Since all Korean adoptions go through just two adoption agencies in Korea, there are many more families waiting to adopt then we're aware of.

It's hard to believe that it's been almost two months since our paperwork was approved. We know that our wait time may fluctuate over the coming months, but we're hopefully optimistic that we'll have a referral sooner rather than later. To make sure we're ready, we're going to start decorating the nursery in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates and pictures on our progress.