Monday, April 28, 2008

Shop till you drop...

That's what we did this past weekend. We are in desparate need of clothes for's starting to get warmer and there seems to be very little to choose from in our Spring/Summer closets. I had gotten a gift certificate from the gang I work with for Ann Taylor so what better way of putting it to good use. We started on Saturday and spent time at the local mall... There were a handful of stores that were empty. The malls just aren't the same as they used to be anymore. Have you even noticed that at Christmas time they aren't that busy anymore? Then on Sunday we headed to the outlet mall. Love it there. So many good buys. It's been a while since we were there so it was fun to look around. Didn't really get much time so we will go back there again sometime. All in all it was a very profitable weekend.

Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency

A little about Nightlight...Nightlight began in 1959...located in Fullerton, CA. Since 1995, the agency has been under the direction of Executive Director Ronald Stoddart. To get further information on Nightlight, their e-mail address is

Statement of Faith...

  • We believe the Bible; the Bible is the complete, inspired word of God without error.

  • We believe in one God, manifested in three eternal and coequal Person: Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

  • We believe that the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ provide the only ground for Salvation for all who believe.

  • We believe that Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God and He can return at any time.

  • We believe in the sanctity of human life. We believe that mankind was created in the image of God and therefore is of inestimable worth and significance in all its dimensions from conception to the grave.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Re-connecting with Old Friends

Winnie and Friends

Friends come in all types

Have you ever wondered how certain people are doing after so many years? I lost contact with some one very special to me a few years ago and have thought about him many times. So I recently decided to e-mail him to see how he was doing. I really wasn't to hopeful that I'd hear back...Most just get too busy. There seems to be many people that you lose touch with and then e-mail/phone them and they never respond....(I've lost contact with a few girl friends and have tried to connect again but no such luck.) :-( Just not sure why...which is why it hurts.

Anyway, yesterday I received an e-mail from this person... It was just so wonderful to hear back from him. Hopefully we can stay in contact every so often. There are just certain people in our lives that are too valuable to lose. Thanks again for your e-mail... :) Hopefully you will read this post. I think so many of us take people for granted and that people will always be around. So if some one does contact you that you have lost contact with...Please be nice and at least respond back, it just might be the last time you will ever hear from that person again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

East Meets West Conference/Baby Shower

This past weekend I attended the East Meets West Conference here in the Chicago Area. It started out with a dinner on Friday at Gino's East. We got there a little late and the room was full so we had to sit in the bar area where they had set up a few more tables. We enjoyed taking to a family that came home in Sept with their precious little girl which happened to be the 2nd referral...the first one they had to give back because of medical reasons. What a hard time that must have been. The pizza was good and we only stayed about an hour or so since it was so crowded and very noisy.
I did get to meet Snow Wu...President of Great Wall. Very pretty women. It was really a good time. The sessions started at 8:00am and lasted till 5:00. I'm really glad I did signed up. I brought a few things home also....a stuffed goat puppet and and table runner along with a CD of Asian Lullabys. This conf. did make it seem a little more real...They did have some positive things to say and that China would not be closing their adoption process. (There had even been some rumors of that.) They can't predict when the referral process will speed up...but we just have to believe it will happen and my little girl is waiting for me to come and get her. The sessions I attended are listed below in purple.
Yesterday, I attended a baby shower for one of the girls in our Fox Valley group that is heading to China in a few weeks to get her baby girl Autumn. There was 18 of us there plus a few of their girls. All really dressed totally adorable.

Here is the Itinerary:
Registration & Exhibits with Welcoming Remarks by Snow Wu. Also Dr. Ochs spoke. I will be e-mailing him to ask a lot of questions.
Session 1*

Session 2*

Session 3*

Session 4*

Session 5

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bowling Tournament at FTP


We have started a bowling tournament here at FTP. We are in our second game team lost the first game and the 2nd game we won by 2 pins. Yikes...that's way too close. It's been really fun though. Everyone seems to be having a good time. The winner will be determined sometime in July. So check back again to see who the winners will be.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Travel Suggestions

Packing for your trip
Before you step on the airplane, there are several things you will need to obtain and take with you.
Passport/Visa - If you have not already done so, you must obtain a U.S. passport. Application forms are available at most U.S. post offices or local government offices. Processing time usually takes about three weeks. Once you receive your passport photocopy the front page and carry it with two passport pictures in a separate place from your passport. This will make the reissue by the local U.S. embassy or consulate easier if the passport is lost or stolen. Also, leave a copy with your love ones at home as an emergency backup. Visa requirements vary by country so you will need to check with your adoption agency or Travel Agent for further information.
Adoption documents - If you are traveling to bring your child home and/or to complete an adoption, bring copies of all vital documents specified by your agency (e.g. home study, police and medical certificates, legal approvals, etc.). Ensure that they are properly signed, notarized, county-clerked, authenticated, apostiled and stamped plus any other authorization you think might help speed things up. When the legal process is completed, you should obtain several extra authenticated copies of any documents issued. You never know when they may be needed (e.g. naturalization proceedings, social security number application, etc.) and it is easier to get them now than later.
Clothing and other personal items - You do not have to take your entire wardrobe with you. Business attire is only necessary to wear in court, but remember that appropriate attire for everyday wear tends to be more formal in many countries other than in the United States. Shorts and loud sports shirts probably won't do. Take comfortable walking shoes. If you're adopting, it is likely you will be given your child on the day you arrive so bring enough clothing for least the first few days of your stay. You will want to buy clothing for your child from his or her country of birth, so be sure to leave room in your suitcase.
If you are adopting an infant, stretchies are convenient, especially when you are not sure of the baby's size. Also include undershirts, socks, a cap, bibs, and sleeping sacks (especially if it's cold). An adequate supply of diapers is a necessity. Plan on using at least seven to 10 each day. The price of U.S.-made disposable diapers is high in most other countries. Baby wipes are useful but they are not plentiful overseas so bring your own. You will have better luck locating Vaseline, Desitin, and baby powder.
Medications - It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to some of Earth’s most remote and wild regions or even to the next state, lost medications can be difficult to replace. Here are a few smart tips on traveling with your medication (courtesy of MedJet Assist - ask for details about their emergency evacuation insurance coverage).
Take medications in your carry-on luggage. The extreme conditions in the compartments where checked luggage is stored could damage your medication.
Bring medications with you in their original containers so that airport security personnel know that what you're carrying are prescription pills from your doctor.
Keep a list of medications that’s current in a purse or wallet in the event of an emergency.
Camera - A camera is an absolute must! Pictures help to preserve your child's heritage. If you use a video camera, take at least one extra battery. Most of the newer charging units have internal converters, but you will need the proper type of adapter plug. Film and blank video cassettes are available in most countries if you need them. Don't forget that many countries use the PAL video format, which is usually not compatible with our VHS format. To avoid problems with your duty-free allowances when you return home, register the camera with U.S. Customs before you leave..
Money - Whether you will be staying for just a few days or for many months, you will need to have adequate funds. It is risky to take large amounts of cash with you. Before departing contact your credit card company. Explain that you will be traveling and ask for a modest increase in your credit limit. If you are planning to take traveler's checks the most often recognized and easily exchanged are either American Express or Thomas Cook. Keep a list of serial numbers in a separate place.
Other necessities - If you are traveling with an infant, a "huggy-pack" to carry the baby in front of you will come in handy. It leaves your hands free and is great for sightseeing. For a toddler or preschooler, a fold-up canvas umbrella stroller is invaluable. You can use it to carry things when the child wants to walk. You can also "gate-check" it at the boarding counter so it can be used at each of your intermediate stops enroute. Ask the airline representative for details. The stroller usually does not count as part of your normal baggage allowance.

Making airline reservations
Your airline reservations should be made as soon as you have determined tentative departure and return dates. The cost of a round-trip airline ticket is dependent upon a number of factors including departure date, advance booking requirements, days of the week you are traveling, and the estimated duration of your stay. If you are traveling to adopt, we are usually able to obtain waivers for many of these airfare rules. Most tickets will be issued as e-tickets (electronic tickets) that will be picked up at the airport. Be sure you have the flight information and confirmation number (record locator) to speed up the check-in process.
Infants under the age of two will require a ticket (usually a paper ticket because the airlines have not yet developed the technology to produce infant e-tickets) between the international departure city and the point of first U.S. entry. It costs approximately 10 percent of the adult one-way fare plus all of the various taxes. On domestic flights within the United States, the infant travels free. Each child age 2 to 11 years requires a ticket between the international departure city and home that costs approximately two-thirds of the adult one-way fare plus all of the various taxes. Depending on the regulations of the destination country, these tickets can either be issued in the United States as e-tickets or carried with you as paper tickets or set up as a prepaid ticket for pickup in that country. Certain countries require the purchase of the infant or child's ticket there. We can advise you which option will be the least expensive.
Learning about the country
You will enhance your trip and your understanding of the culture if you read, read, read before you go. Start by locating information at your local library and through your Travel Agent. Ask for pamphlets or other general information from the country's embassy or consulate. Also inquire about the addresses for government tourist offices and trade organizations. The government tourist office can provide maps and specific country and city information. Ask for lodging, sightseeing. and other details. There is also a wealth of information available on the internet. In addition, learn some of the native language. Don't worry if your pronunciation is not exactly right because it will become better with practice. Take language classes, listen to tapes in your home or car, or read a book. You have no idea how much this will help to open up the doors to the country.
Customs and Immigration
After you've landed and collected your luggage. follow your fellow passengers to Customs and Immigration. Don't panic!
Immigration - Once you arrive at your destination, you will present your passport and Tourist Card (if required you will usually receive it on the aircraft). The officials will check you against their list of "undesirables," ensure you have the necessary visas and entry documents then stamp the passport with your entry approval. Make sure you hang on to the Tourist Card if it is issued because you will be required to surrender it when you depart the country.
When you return to the United States with the children you have just adopted, turn in the necessary papers (the big, thick packet you have guarded with your life on the trip back) to the U.S. Immigration officials. The documents will be processed and your child will be issued a temporary permit (a stamp in their passport) allowing entry as a legal resident alien pending receipt of the permanent "Green Card", a first step toward naturalization or confirmation of their citizenship.
Customs - In many countries the Customs inspectors have two lines: The green "nothing to declare" line and the red "something to declare" line. Normally you should use the green line. The officials may inspect your luggage, but normally they won't. Be certain you do not exceed any of the incoming allowances for cash or other controlled-entry items. When you bring back a child to the United States, U.S. Customs will ask why you were gone so long, what you bought, and whether you brought back fruits, vegetables, or anything illegal.
Taking in the culture
Ask about tours through a local tour operator or your Travel Agent. Go shopping! Find out about the handicrafts for which the country is known. Go shopping! Use your driver or strike out on your own to the local flea market or shopping district. Go Shopping! You never know what interesting things you might find.
If you are a member of a service club such as Rotary International, attend the local chapter's meetings. The members will be willing to help you in any way they can and the interchange of cultures is so very important in fostering the cause of world peace and harmony. When we were in Santiago, I regularly went to the Rotary Club de Providencia's weekly meeting. From the friendships we made we were invited to the club's Christmas party and to a member's home for dinner. Overall it widens your horizons and helps you to feel more at home.
Culture Shock
You first notice it when you walk out of Customs and Immigration. You can't put your finger on it, but the feeling is there. It's more than just a language difference, a physical difference, a clothing difference, and a difference in physical features of the people. It is a different culture, a different set of values. You are a guest in someone else's homeland and you must conduct yourself accordingly.
If you have done your homework, you will know about the customs that are different than our own. For example, in Central or South America the word "Manana" does not necessarily mean tomorrow - it just means not today. If you know this and accept it, then you should not get upset when things are not done according to the U.S. timetable.
Don't let the culture get the best of you. If you are uncomfortable, just think that many of the people would feel the same way in our country too. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance. Almost everyone will be glad to help and you never know what interesting friendships you might strike up.
Traveling home
As your trip comes to a close, it will be easy to think about relaxing. But, you must reconfirm your air flights at least 72 hours prior to departure or the air carrier may cancel your reservations. Request bulkhead seats from the gate agent for extra comfort. Then, once you're through the exit formalities, enjoy the flight home knowing your trip was a success because of the advance planning you did.
Timothy D. Swanson is an adoptive parent of 2 daughters from Chile and Paraguay and president of Federal Travel & Cruises; 3170 North Federal Highway, Suite 205, Lighthouse Point, FL 33064.
Contact Information - Let Us Give You a Quote!

Information and Fare Quotes: (954)942-8666 Reservations and Ticketing: Toll-Free: (800)551-8666 Fax: (954)942-4047 Address: Federal Travel & Cruises, 3170 North Federal Highway, Suite 205, Lighthouse Point, FL, 33064 USA E-mail:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kyrgyzstan Dossier to Agency - Paper work Complete!

Just an update to say that the dossier was sent to Nightlight yesterday. Yippee. It was certified yesterday downtown and sent overnight. So...all the paper work is completed until further notice. Now we just wait to see what goes next. Anything can happen. So keep checking back. Found out I am #6 on the wait list for a baby girl referral.