Friday, November 30, 2007

Back from the Land of Enchantment

I’m back from my trip to New Mexico. I don’t travel much for my job (thank God), so Ally isn’t used to having me gone for a few nights in a row. Since it’s my job to tuck her in at night, that part of her routine got perturbed and she wasn’t too happy about it. I left a Mickey Mouse card on her pillow, telling her I missed her and couldn’t wait to get back and see her. The first night she woke up crying and Lauren said she came downstairs holding the card.


You don’t want them to be sad, but it’s nice to be missed. All was well when I produced a small stuffed bear, with a strong resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, which I bought at the Albuquerque airport. Another for her collection.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bizzaro: When Celebrities Adopt

Oh God, please let this be a joke:

Unlikely Britney Rumors: Star To Adopt Chinese Twins & Is Planning Own Funeral
Having been deemed unfit to care for her own children, News of the World is claiming that Britney Spears is so desperate to have children in her life that she's been telling friends that she is in the final stages of adopting Chinese twins.

According to NOTW, friends feel that Britney decided to adopt the two six-year-old twins from China in a frantic bid to fill the void left by losing her sons to ex-hubby Kevin Federline.

Umm, couple of things:

1) At 25, Britney is too young to adopt from China, not to mention the fact that...

2) She's single, which is verboten under the new regulations and...

3) What about all that legal trouble, which would also scuttle any chance of adopting from China?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Texas A&M 38, Texas 30

Saw 'em off.

Try as they might, A&M couldn't find a way to lose this game.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Preschool

Yesterday, Ally’s preschool held their annual Thanksgiving program, complete with songs and food. I took a half day off from work (which, for me, meant I got to leave at 10 AM) and met Lauren at the church sanctuary for the music portion. I got there about ten minutes early and positioned myself in the second row, right behind two sets of parents armed with video cameras. I still managed a clear shot of the stage between them, but I wasn’t as prepared as the guy who brought a tripod (really) and set it up at the end of our row.

Ally performed two songs with her class, which was a remarkable achievement. Usually, she gets inexplicably overcome by stage fright and she just stands there, not singing, not moving. This time she did fine, and I caught it all. Even the part at the end, when they started heading out and she yelled “That’s my Mom and Dad!”, and pointed in our direction. Golden.

We withdrew to her classroom, which became much smaller with eleven kids and most of their parents. We dined on Chick Fil A nuggets, meatballs, fruit (which Lauren brought) and pumpkin muffins, which the kids made. I assume that means they added ingredients to the batter and mixed it, but that their contribution to the project ended at the 350 degree oven. I hope. And of course, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a styrofoam turkey:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sandi and Hannah Come Home

Below is an article from today's Lansing State Journal:

Red tape cut, Lansing mom to return home with daughter
Adoption complicated by husband's death in China

Mike Hughes
Lansing State Journal

A Lansing woman's bureaucratic tangle has been resolved.

Sandi Sheldon is expected home from China today with her new daughter, Hannah, and the cremated remains of her husband, Dennis.

U.S. officials held up Hannah's visa for several days after Dennis Sheldon died while in China. But pressure from the public and congressional leaders forced the government to expedite the process.

"Everyone has been on the phone to make this happen," said Darlene Hill, Sandi Sheldon's mother.

That included the adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, and the offices of U.S. representatives Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids.

"We've dealt with a number of complicated issues involving immigration," said Sylvia Warner, Rogers' spokeswoman. "But never one this complicated - or this heart-rending."

Dennis Sheldon, 46, was head custodian at Pleasant View Elementary Magnet School in Lansing and was a natural for parenthood, said the school's principal, Madeline Shanahan.

"There were a number of children ... he went to extra trouble to bond with," she said. "He was absolutely thrilled when the adoption came through."

The school staff surprised him shortly before the couple left for China with a breakfast and an all-diapers baby shower. On Oct. 30, the Sheldons went to Guangzhou (formerly Canton), finalizing their adoption of Hannah, who is about 18 months old.

Dennis Sheldon died there. Hill said he died Nov. 12 apparently from heart failure, possibly aggravated by diabetes.

The complication that delayed Sandi Sheldon's return to the United States came from the U.S. Citizen Immigration Service, said John VanValkenburg of Bethany.

Hannah's papers were no longer accurate, he said, because they listed both Sandi and Dennis. "In a situation where circumstances change, that requires a change in everything else."

Friends and other adoptive parents flooded officials with phone calls. Rogers' office worked with the Immigration Service.

"We were able to persuade them to expedite the process," Warner said.

Late Thursday night, there was word that it soon would be worked out. Hill received news shortly after midnight that her daughter was coming home; Rogers received an official fax at about 4 a.m.

During that time, Hill said, false rumors developed. There were no complications from Chinese officials, and the cremation was not required.

"That was something that Dennis and Sandi always said they wanted," Hill said.

Dennis and Sandi Sheldon were married for 19 years, and Hannah is their first child, said Hill, who lives in Lansing with her husband, Herbert, and is now the grandmother of 13 children.

Sandi, 42, works part time at a Wal-Mart store, and Hill granted that money could be tight. Donations may be sent by check to Hope For Hannah, Fifth Third Bank, 6446 S. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Hope For Hannah"

Our agency has set up a fund to help Sandi and Hannah Sheldon. Here are the particulars from the web site:

Bethany Christian Services are pleased to announce the Sheldon family has received their visas and are returning home from China this weekend. “We will continue to work with the family to make sure all their needs are met,” said John VanValkenburg, Public Relations Specialist for Bethany Christian Services. “This has been a difficult situation for the Sheldon family and Bethany would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support for this family, including the efforts of Michigan Congressmen, Vern Ehlers and Mike Rogers.”

Due to these special circumstances, Bethany is accepting contributions to support the family until December 31, 2007. Checks can be made payable to Bethany Christian Services and please indicate the Sheldon family on the memo line. Checks can be sent to Bethany's Donor Records at 901 Eastern Ave NE, PO Box 294 Grand Rapids Michigan 49501. Bethany Christian Services will give all donations to the family for their “Hope for Hannah” fund.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pray for the Sheldon Family *UPDATED*

Sandi and Dennis Sheldon, of Michigan, traveled to China to adopt Hannah, a 17-month old special needs child. Tragically, Dennis died from diabetic shock shortly after being united with his new daughter. To make matters worse, Sandi is not able to bring Hannah home because the family's status has changed and the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou is requiring a new I-171.

Appeals have gone out for people to contact the Sheldon's congressmen, but from what I've heard, that's no longer necessary. Now we need to pray for Sandi and Hannah to come home as quickly as possible so that they can begin to prepare for life without their husband and father.

I can't imagine what they are going through right now. This family is working through the same agency we're using, Bethany Christian Services, so I know they're getting lots of support from their travel group as well as the Bethany's personnel in China.

The following is a news story from one of the Michigan TV stations. The picture is not of the entire family, as is stated in the article, but rather appears to be Hannah's referral photo:

*Update: The link to the above news story now contains a video.

**Update #2: According to the Bethany discussion forum, Sandi and Hannah were present at their swearing-in ceremony and are on their way home. What an answer to prayer!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

OT: Car-related Rant

My car’s windshield attracts rocks like Britney Spears attracts bad publicity.

Also, I’ve found that the newer the windshield, the greater the attraction.

Against all laws of probability, I’m about ready to put a second new windshield on my 2-½ year old Subaru Forester. The first had to be replaced when, having bought the car a few months before, it was struck by a rock (I guess it was a rock; could have been a bolt or a hunk of plutonium for all I know) while we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach. Of course I waited until the inspection was due six months later, and I’ll probably wait this time as well.

My current windshield got dinged within a month but the resulting crack was less than an inch in size, so no need to worry about the inspection. A second similar rock/glass interaction soon followed, but it was still inspection-worthy, so, again, I didn’t worry about it. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from work and BAM. It sounded like someone dropped one of the Moai on the hood. I thought it had missed the windshield, but a crack was clearly visible at the site of impact. And it was already more than an inch long. And growing. By next morning, the crack had spanned almost the entire length along the bottom of the windshield.


I really don’t know how to explain four crack-producing hits in two years. I don’t tailgate gravel-laden dump trucks in hopes that one of its payload/projectiles will get squeezed between a tire and the pavement like a watermelon seed and hurled in my general direction. I’m just driving around, minding my own business. Hopefully I’ve used my allotment of bad luck in this area.

Oh, and of course I have the windshield wiper deicers ($$$), which I use about as often as the heated side mirrors; i.e., never.

To those of you who own stock in companies that produce auto glass, you’re welcome.

"Mandy & Pandy" Author: Giving Back

Author Announces Program As A Way To Give Back The Love From His Own Adoption Experience
Mandy and Pandy Announces 10% From Sales Will Be Donated to Gifts of Love

Ann Arbor, MI/November 13, 2007 - Chris Lin, author of the critically acclaimed book, Mandy and Pandy Say, 'Ni Hao Ma?- announces that he will be donating 10% from website and direct sales of the book to the Gifts of Love as a way to support the Anqing, Anhui orphanage in China.

Lin, an adoptive parent whose daughter, Mandy, served as the inspiration for the Mandy and Pandy book series, felt a need to support the orphanage community in China.

Lin wrote Mandy and Pandy Say, 'Ni Hao Ma?- as a way to help parents and children learn Chinese and appreciate the unique Chinese culture.

The Gifts of Love through the Great Wall China Adoption works with the government of the People's Republic of China to find homes for Chinese orphans....

Additional information on Chris Lin and Mandy and Pandy Say, 'Ni Hao Ma?- may be obtained at

Friday, November 09, 2007

Washington Adoption Story

Kris and Jerry welcome newest family member home from China
Kris Crocker drove out to Spokane International Airport Friday morning to meet her husband Jerry and his dad as they come from a three week trip to Changsha, China.

Jerry brought home quite a gift for her: Their newly adopted daughter Gabby.

Calendar Girl

Giving adoption a face
Eight-year-old Aimee Rothschild is featured on the cover of a calendar that will raise funds to help orphanages in Yiyang, China.

Aimee Rothschild was born in Yiyang in the Hunan province of China. She found her home in Salem.

No more than 3 feet tall, Aimee is as gentle as a breeze. But the 8-year-old has a major role in a global movement to aid children in her home country.

She will become the face to represent tens of thousands of orphaned children in Yiyang after a 2008 fundraising calendar is released with her picture on the cover. The calendar, internationally distributed, will be used to fund educational projects, nurses and activities in Yiyang orphanages.

For more information, visit

Pennsylvania Adoption Story

A brother for Noah
A family is trying to adopt their adopted son's friend from China.

Noah, who has spina bifida, lived most of his life in a Chinese orphanage before the McClymont family, of Manchester Township, adopted him about two years ago.

Since then, Noah has talked of missing his best friend - a little boy who also has spina bifida and is wheelchair-bound - with whom he lived at the orphanage.

Donna McClymont, her husband, Lee, and their other three children have been trying for about the last year to adopt Noah's friend - a 9-year-old they plan to name David. Unfortunately, the process is slow and complicated in David's case.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Orphanages for China

China to build more orphanages
The Chinese government plans to build 83 new orphanages in 2008, as part of the effort to improve child welfare infrastructure, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday.

The State Development and Reform Commission plans to allocate 130 million yuan (US$17 million) for the construction, while the Ministry of Civil Affairs will use 200 million yuan (US$26 million) from the income of the Welfare Lottery.

The funds would mainly be spent in building the new orphanages, said Zhang Mingliang, director of the ministry's department of social welfare and social affairs.

Efforts would also focus on improving the facilities and functions of orphanages, so as to provide orphans with fostering, medical care, special education, rehabilitation, and vocational training, said Zhang.

By the end of 2006, China had 249 orphanages with 30,716 beds, which accommodates 72,000 orphans, or 13 percent of the country's total.

The government plans to set up orphanages or open orphan's departments in local welfare houses in all prefecture-level cities by 2010.

So just over 30,000 beds for 72,000 orphans? I guess they assume two children per bed. Also, if 72,000 orphans represents 13 percent of China's total, where are the rest? Some type of foster care, I hope. Or with relatives?

From the NYT "Relative Choices" Blog

A very touching article by Jeff Gamage, author of "China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood":

Finding Zhao Gu
At about 10 a.m. on June 19, 2003, in the western Chinese city of Wuwei, a man named Ma Guoxing was walking across town, intent on a pending business appointment.

But as he neared the Wei’an Health Center, he noticed a crowd of people at the front gate, and he interrupted his journey to go and see what had so captivated their interest.

On the ground was a newborn baby, a girl, crying loudly.

Ma Guoxing did what no one else would do: He reached down and picked up the child. Then he turned around and began to walk back the way he had come, the baby in his arms.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day 2007

Yes, it was Election Day here in Virginia. Ally agreed to walk with me to the local high school to vote, but only after I told her she'd get a sticker if she did. I got to explain the democratic process to her and how we should all be informed citizens and vote in every election we can, etc.

In our precinct, we have the optically scanned ballots, where you fill in the appropriate oval with a felt pen.

"Can I do it?"

"No, I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Why not?"

I tried to tell her only one person can vote at a time. Unless you live in Chicago. Anyway, I flipped the card around to fill in the back half of the ballot, the part where it asks if you want the county to issue bonds for this, that or the other project.

"How come you're picking 'no'?", she asked in a voice loud enough to be heard by just about everybody in the room.

"Because, honey, I think they should just pay cash for everything they want, like they're supposed to."

So I voted "no" for all the proposals. Except for the library. I think I said "yes" to that one. Eh, they'll probably all pass anyway.

Our civic duty completed, we collected our "I Voted" stickers and walked back home. Or rather, I walked and she rode on my shoulders as the breeze seemed to drop the temperature a few degrees. It finally feels like fall is here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Q&A with Beth Nonte Russell

Trip to China alters lives
Beth Nonte Russell went to China in 1999, accompanying a friend who intended to adopt a baby girl. Through a totally unexpected chain of events detailed in Russell's book, "Forever Lily," she ended up adopting the girl herself.

The Jasper native's story was published earlier this year by Simon & Schuster. Russell, 44, an Indiana University graduate, lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Randy, and their daughters, Lily, 8, and Jaden, 3, both adopted from China.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Virginia Adoption Story

Adopting a way of life
After close to 10 years of marriage, Mike and Melissa Hartzler still had not realized their hope of becoming parents.

For many couples, this would seem a harsh reality. For Melissa Hartzler, it was a push into a long-cherished dream.

“I had wanted to adopt well before we were even married,” explained the Waynesboro woman, recalling how the idea came to her while watching a program about the plight of girls in China. “I thought, ‘Gosh, I’ve got to get one of those girls. I’ve got to get one of those babies.’ Your whole thought is that these children need to be saved. It’s overwhelming, and that feeling just sticks with you.”