Journey to Our Chinese Princess

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last Saturday, we went to a White Sox game against the Minnesota Twins. Although we were in nosebleed heaven, we were able to see really well. Here are some pictures. The first one is really pretty much the view of the infield from our seats. The others I used the telephoto.

We need to get back on track and start working again on the adoption. The money was a big thing, but we had our home equity upped and Kevin has spoken to several people, who have expressed to him that there is never a perfect time to bring children into the world. Always something will come up and if one waits until they know they positively can afford it all;, it never will happen. Also the wait time between DTC (Dossier to China) is increasing and is now up to between 12-14 months and may go up more. About a year or year and a half ago, wait times were about 6 months from DTC to referral. But the time could go down as quickly as it went up. Actually, I guess with a longer wait time, things would not be as rushed to get ready and one can work on getting more money over a longer time. Once we do finally have a home study completed, we can start applying for grants and then once we do have the adoption completed, there is a tax emtion that can be taken for I think up to 5 years or a somewhat over $10,000, which ever comes first.

Work has been as crazy as ever. More & more work - the workload just never decreases, but I guess that is good job security at least. I also finally got the last disc in the 1st season of The O.C. It is surprisingly a good tv show. A little bit more modern Beverly Hills 90210 (which I also loved. I am going to start watching Home Improvement. I never saw the show back when it was on ABC, I think or even later when in syndication. I don't plan though to do it like Prison Break; I think I'll stretch it out. I was really just trying to catch up before the show got very far into the new season. Now I just have to watch the videotapes of the last few shows.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Torrential Downpour

Yesterday, when I was getting off the train a literal torrential downpour had started. I was absolutely soaked. Luckily, a neighbor down the block offered me a ride, but we were drenched before we made it to the car. My shoes, socks, jeans (it was jeans day at work, and top are still somewhere between damp to somewhat wet and it is over 12 hours later. Luckily, I have another pair of gym shoes, since we are going to a Sox game this evening. Hopefully, it won't rain and get me all soaked again. Oh my god would have been priceless; I looked like a drowned rat. But then I wouldn't have wanted to post such an awful picture of me. Well, I better get ready for the day!

Prison Break & Wentworth Miller

Has anyone else watched this series? I just finished the last disc. 6 discs in 10 days; but boy is it good. I think I'm as addicted to this as 24. And the guy who plays Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is HOT!!! When it came out on TV last year, I didn't think I'd like a show set in prison with criminals as the main characters, but boy was I wrong. Surprisingly, even those who are really nasty guys for the crimes they comitted, you find you like or at least enjoy following their story. I had the 1st show of the second season taped and plan to tape the one on Monday; hopefully, I'll be able to watch the first 2 shows over the holiday weekend and be caught up and able to watch the show every Monday.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Separated by birth, united by chance!

I found the following article in the Chicago Tribune and found it very interesting.

Separated at birth, united by chance

Thanks to a Web site and DNA tests, two adopted girls named Mia find they have far more in common

By Russell WorkingTribune staff reporterAugust 20, 2006

The Funk family of west suburban Lyons went to China two years ago to adopt a baby girl who had been abandoned on a sidewalk near a textile factory. They named her Mia.

Last year, the Ramirezes of suburban Miami went to China to adopt a girl who had been abandoned on the same spot a week later. As it happened, they also named her Mia.

This May, Diana Ramirez wrote about her daughter's upcoming birthday on an Internet site for parents who had adopted from the orphanage in Yangzhou.

Holly Funk saw it and wrote back, "Diana, I have a Mia as well and she is almost 3."

A flurry of breathless e-mails followed. Then DNA testing provided evidence of what the families had quickly come to suspect: The girls were fraternal twins, separated hours after their birth.

Friday, the girls were reunited, when Diana and Mia Ramirez flew to O'Hare International Airport.

The girls, whose parents had dressed them identically in Chinese-themed outfits, shyly surveyed each other. Urged a little closer, they finally reached for each other's hand."

I'm just awed," Holly Funk said as she looked at the tiny girls, a little island in the flow of travelers crowding the luggage claim area. "Grateful to God. To me, it's a divine thing. It's a miracle. In the sea of humanity, these kids found each other."

If it is a miracle, it is one that is increasingly happening to families nationwide as international adoptions abound, the Internet reunites people and DNA technology establishes evidence of blood ties.

Such discoveries--made possible in part by Web groups centered around orphanages--are pulling back the curtains that separated previous generations of adoptees from their past and their biological kin.

The news can change children's lives, linking lost family members and perhaps even providing a lifelong soul mate.

One Web site geared toward linking adoptees with their biological kin is maintained by Jim and Susan Rittenhouse of Lisle. The site has a membership of 137, with 15 sets of twins and seven sets of siblings who have been confirmed. Members have adopted from Cambodia, Nepal, Guatemala, Russia and China.

The Rittenhouses themselves are on the list. In 2004, they discovered that their daughter, now 6, appeared to have a twin sister in Alabama, a matter strongly indicated by DNA tests. These twins also were independently given the same name: Meredith.

"They're best friends, in the deepest sense imaginable," Jim Rittenhouse said. "I didn't believe in twin bonds until I saw these two together."

The relationships provide a fertile area for observation of child development, said Nancy Segal, director of the Twin Studies Center at California State University at Fullerton.

"This offers us a wonderful window into so many questions about nature and nurture," Segal said, "because we can see the perspective unfolding of development in genetically identical and non-identical kids in their different homes."

Abandoned outside factory

Mia Diamond Funk first became known to the world at 6 a.m. June 14, 2003, when workers found her on a broken sidewalk outside a textile factory in a poor district of Yangzhou, a city near the central coast.

The factory is a shabby building on a narrow street crowded with linen shops, taxis, street vendors and the tricycles that peasants use to haul loads. In China, with its one-child policy, boys are preferred and girls sometimes abandoned.

Officers from the Fuyunmen District central police substation, who picked up the baby, concluded she had been born the night before. They took her to the 200-bed Yangzhou Children's Welfare Institute.

One week later, Mia Hanying Ramirez was found on the same spot. Whoever abandoned the girls may have thought it would be less conspicuous to drop them off separately. Mia Hanying also went to the orphanage.

The girls were made available for adoption. But because Mia Hanying had a correctable heart defect, she went onto a separate special-needs list.

Far away, in a middle-class neighborhood in Lyons, Holly and Douglas Funk were preparing for a baby. They had five biological children, ages 6 to 21, but they had been touched when they saw a TV special on orphans.

Holly Funk recalls her husband telling her, "I feel like we're supposed to adopt a little girl from Asia."

She agreed. And she felt she heard the Lord tell her, "You're going to name her Mia."

The Funks are not wealthy. He is a machinist and she occasionally performs as a clown. But an inheritance allowed them to buy the bungalow next door for their older boys, and so there was room for another child at the family compound. With the help of a second mortgage, grants and a 401(k) loan, they came up with the $22,000 for Mia's adoption.

Holly Funk cannot say why, but before she adopted Mia, she found her thoughts focusing on the number "two." They applied to adopt twins, and she bought everything in twos: two cribs, two blankets, a tandem stroller, two fuzzy musical lambs that play "Jesus Loves Me."

After a home screening and months of waiting, they were told they had been approved for one girl. They got rid of the tandem stroller and extra crib. But for some reason, Holly Funk kept the second lamb.

They decided to call their new daughter Mia Diamond, and in July 2004, they traveled to China to pick her up.

They returned to Lyons overjoyed by their new treasure--their diamond--but nagged by the feeling that something was missing.

"I always felt there were twins," Holly Funk said. "Even when we brought her home, I felt led to pray for the little girl that was left behind. I thought, `This is silly, but I'm supposed to do it,' so I prayed."

There was a twin, of course, who stayed in China.

Longing for a girl

In Pembroke Pines, a Miami suburb, Carlos and Diana Ramirez were living happily with two sons, now 13 and 10.

But Diana Ramirez, who had had her tubes tied years ago, found herself longing for a girl. She was the only female in a house where ESPN was constantly playing and boys' basketballs, baseballs and karate outfits were underfoot. A girl would change the mix.

"We had always talked about it," Diana Ramirez said.

Carlos Ramirez's business, Amazing Pavers, was doing well, and in February 2005, they decided to apply to adopt a Chinese girl with special needs.

Last October they brought the family to Yangzhou to pick up Mia Hanying. More than a year after Mia Diamond came to the States, Mia Hanying arrived in Miami. She was 28 months old.

When the two families found each other by e-mail in May, they compared photographs and biographical details. Then they swabbed the girls' mouths and sent the samples off to a lab.

DNA testing established that there is an 85 percent probability that they are at least half-sisters. (To reach greater certainty, they would have had to test a parent, an impossibility in this case.) Given all the parallels and their ages, it is most likely that the girls are fraternal twins.

Diana Ramirez was stunned."I was in shock," she said. "I was like, `OK, well, now, this is for real.'"

In one sense, it should not have been a complete surprise. The Ramirez family lives two blocks from good friends Tony and Carol Requejo, who adopted a Chinese daughter in 2001. Two-and-a-half years later, the Requejos found that the girl also has a sister living in California--apparently a twin, according to DNA and other evidence.

"Wanna play?"

The unlikeliness of such discoveries, even the nature of their relationship, is still beyond the 3-year-old Mias. Mia Diamond calls her twin her "special friend."

The Funks have since adopted a 4-year-old boy from Taiwan. Holly Funk hopes to visit Miami with her Mia in October, and both sets of parents say they are committed to visiting and staying in touch--becoming extended family for the girls.

The mothers often let the twins talk to each other on the phone. A few weeks before they met, they chatted, unaware that a reporter was listening in.

"Wanna play?" said Mia Hanying.

"What do you want to play?" her twin replied.

"Baby doll. Want to play with my baby doll?"

But on Friday, when the girls saw each other at O'Hare, they hung back, suddenly shy.

Mia Hanying brought two baby dolls, one of them for her sister. And Mia Diamond had brought along one of the musical lambs as a gift.

Then, finally, the girls took each other's hands. Mia Diamond fingered her sister's outfit, then her own. Mia Hanying played with her twin's fingers, as if recognizing something.

And they would not let go. For the half hour it took Diana Ramirez to claim her bags, the sisters stood clutching each other.

"Are they twins?" an airline worker asked.

"Yeah," Holly Funk said. "It's their first-time meeting."

"First-time meeting?"

"Yes," the mother said. "They were separated."
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Weird no music

The music doesn't play today wonder why? Another nice day. It's suppose to rain, so the humidity is really up. The windows will stay closed tonight. It should be eally nice temperature-wise for the rest of the week & the beginning of next. Just found out that both of my attorneys are out until the middle of next week. I have more than enough to do though, but at least I won't be getting any new assignments. Also found out the case that was approaching trial that I had to do trial prep on will be moved out at least 90 days, since the plaintiff is treating with a doctor again, so that gives a little breathing room until I have to prepare for trial and can get some of the other stuff I have done, namely medical records.

Have watched the first 2 discs of Prison Break and I must say I'm hooked. I have the 3rd disc coming tomorrow hopefully, just sent back 2 DVD's so here's hoping they are received tomorrow and the 4th & 5th disc is sent and arrives Saturday.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another Beautiful Day!

Today seems like it will be another gorgeous day. Low 80s during the day and upper 50s or lower 60s at night It was even a little chilly this morning waiting for the train, so glad I grabbed a sweater before I left. Even have a little bit of a sore throat from having the window open last night with the cool breeze. I took Airborne this morning so hopwefully that will knock any sickness out of me. It's hard to believe that about 2 weeks ago we were sweltering in a heatwave with heat indexes in the 100s for almost a week for almos6t the first time this summer.

I've been back to work for the third day since vaction. I've been pretty productive and got quite a bit done, but still have a ton still to do. Had to get a Starbucks this morning since I was up late watching the 1st DVD of Prison Break. 5 more disks to go; I guess the new season starts Monday. It seems pretty early tro me compared to past years. I know I won't get the whole season 1 watched before Monday, but I'll tape it and by the time Netflix has sent me the whole season on DVD's, it should be late next week, as long as they keep sending everything as quickly as one promised and two as they have been doing lately. I'll hopefully get the 2nd disc today and since I sent one back this morning, they should send me the 3rd on Friday and the 4th on Saturday and if Kevin lets me use his selection as mine, then I may get the 5th disc on Saturday also. Which would just leave the last disc for the following week. I better get back to work and continue my productivity.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I can't believe my vacation is nearly over. Monday, it will be back to work and no more sleeping in until 8:00. Instead, my train will have just got into down Chicago. I'm sure by the end of Monday, it will feel like I never was on vacation. One of my attorneys is suppose to have a trial I think at the end of August or September, so I will be busy with that as well as all the medical records summaries and discovery, I have to answer. I'm feeling tired and stressed already. Tonight, we head over to another couple's house from church for a get-together with a couple others. So that should be relaxing. I should jump in the shower (Okay, I'll step in, we don't have time to go to the ER for a broken leg.), eat some lunch and go thru the food ads, it looks like Jewel has some good sales and today is the last day on some of the specials.

I never considered myself having a green thumb, but...

You probably all are getting sick of seeing these. The petunias have lots of little buds still and these celosia are doing really good, but the ones I have a little to the right of the petunias are not much bigger than what they were when I planted them. I think next year, I will plant various colors of petunias in more of the flower bed. Watch , they'll be a total dud then!

The Dog Lover in Me

Of course me being the dog lover, I had to snap a few of these canines.

He had just finished a yawn.

Here's a more flattering shot of him.

(More later!)

Some Photos from the Wisconsin State Fair

Kevin of course had to have a picture taken by a race car.

There weren't tons of cows there that day since they were changing thing over at the barn.

Here's a mama cow and her baby in the birthing barn.

And here's mama piggy and all her piglets.

Even a sheared sheep and her little ones.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vacation Recap

We got home on Tuesday, but I haven't had much chance to update. We left for Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Didn't do anything, but go out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was all right, but nothing special. But I would guess they don't have as big of a Mexican population as we do in Chicagoland. On Sunday, we headed over to the Wisconsin State Fair and spent the entire day walking around. Unfortunately, the cow barn was being changed over and there were very few cows there that day. One of our reasons for going to the fair was to see the Michael J. Smith concert, a contemporary Christian singer. It was pretty good; but I have to say I prefer Steven Curtis Chapman's music anyday. It was a free concert or at least sitting in the grandstand was. Actually, I'd rather be sitting in the grandstand than on the chairs in front of the stage, which you had to pay to be seated there. On Tuesday, we headed over to the Milwaukee Zoo for more walking around. I think we saw just as many or more cows there on the farm. After a few hours. we headed torwards home.

By the time we got home, Kevin decided to call and check on our lawn mower that was in for repairs. It had been taken in on July 29th, sent to the place where it is fixed in another suburb, maybe 40 miles away on Wednesday the 2nd and fixed there the following day, but they didn't expect it back to our store until the middle of the week. Good lord, what were they doing, was someone walking it all the way from Melrose Park to Crystal Lake? It shouldn't take that long. Well when he initially called on Tuesday the 8th; they told him they didn't know where it was. Good thing Kevin called; I'd have probably freaked "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON"T KNOW WHERE IT IS?" They told him they would check and give him a call back . After several hours they did not call back, but Kevin called again and someone else told him to call in the morning that it was probably on the truck being delivered. On Thursday morning, he went over to Sears to check onb it and sure enough, they got it in. Boy, I bet the neighbors are glad we were finally able to cut our grass. It needed it, when the mower was 1st taken in for repairs. Kevin said it still wasn't running that great, but I reminded him how long the grass was. He'll probably mow again over the weekend and hopefully, it will be running normal since the grass won't be so overgrown.

Today, we saw the movie, "Barrnyard". Yes, there were cows in it! I found this theatre a little west of us charges only $3 for the matinee shows and $5 for the evening shows. So both of us saw the movie in the afternoon for less than it would have cost even one of us to see it in the evening and possibly even a matinee anywhere else near here. I'm sure in a few years from now with more and more of this county being built up, the movie prices will be about the same as any other 1st run movie theatre in the Chicago burbs, but right now it is not really considered the suburbs, although Metra (the passenger trains to Chicago) stop in this town.

I have lots of pictures to post, but I'll get some up tomorrow. I just want to watch some of "The O.C." disc I have and then go to bed.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Won't have a chance to update

Sorry about not getting an update. My mom stayed over last night & we have a bridal shower this afternoon & she'll probably stay overnight tonight. We also are going on a mini-vacation Sunday through Tuesday. I'd guess I won't get a chance until the middle of the week.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Going to try to get here tonight & post some pics and do a mini-update. Have to upload the pics from the camera 1st, though.