Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First and Last Birthday as an Orphan

This morning we finally received our new pictures of Princess Petals!  Still no smiles - she really looks utterly confused by everything going on around her!  But on the bright side it appears she hasn't had a hair cut in a while!  Still holding out hope that they will let it grow during the cooler weather.  







...really looking forward to February and making that little girl smile...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cabbage Patch Kids & Cake

I have been searching and searching for an Asian Cabbage Patch doll for Princess Petals.  I found one when I first started looking but she had a goofy tooth filled grin so I decided to keep looking not realizing how hard it would be to find another.  We live in an area with a pretty big Asian population so I guess they either sell quickly or the stores just aren't ordering many.  We drove to southern Ohio this weekend which is a halfway point to get together for an early Christmas with Jon's family. I ran out to Target to get a couple of things and hit the doll section like always...I couldn't believe my eyes...SIX Asian CPKs and they were $10 off!!!  I had too many options and not enough time to ponder so I bought three and plan to make up my mind later!  How fun to find her doll on her birthday!  Now I just have to decide which doll to keep and if we should remove its right hand to make it look like her as has been suggested by some other parents of limb difference kids...hmmm...

Happy 1st Birthday sweet girl!!!  We had our own little celebration for you here and hope you enjoyed your special day with your nannies and crib mates!

Friday, December 16, 2011

...refresh...refresh...refresh...

China is 12 hours ahead of us so right now it is 9:30 in the morning on December 17 over there...which means today is Princess Petals' first birthday.  I have been feeling surprisingly a little sad all day for two reasons.  First, I am sad to be missing out on spending her first birthday with her.  I wish that we could be with her and celebrate as a family as we have with our boys.  And second, more than anything, I am sad for the other woman who must also be thinking about Princess Petals today - her birth mother.  I don't know why she was abandoned...we can make assumptions that it had to do with her gender or her limb difference, but really we can never know the true reason.  I have to believe in my heart that this child was loved dearly and that her mother still mourns the loss - especially today.  We are so fortunate to have been able to send her a birthday care package and to be expecting pictures via email of her with the cake we sent.  I am hoping to get a little glimpse of her by Monday...waiting, waiting, waiting... 

So here's some good news: we have completed two more steps towards Princess Petals' adoption! First, our I-800 was approved December 7th by USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) which means that she has been approved to become a US citizen upon entry.  Our USCIS officer forwarded all of our information on to the NVC (National Visa Center) so she can get entered into their system.  

Second, the NVC sent us their approval letter which means she is in their system as of December 15th.  We forwarded that letter on to our agency and they forwarded it to their contact in who will walk it into the US Embassy in China.

What's next you ask?  We were told that once the US Embassy has our packet they will issue our Article 5 in about two weeks.  That is Princess Petals' pre-approval to receive an immigrant visa.  Once the Article 5 has been issued our agency's contact will pick it up and deliver it to the CCCWA (China Center for Childrens Welfare and Adoption).  Once the CCCWA has this document they will issue our TA (Travel Approval) in 2-4 weeks...so many steps but we are getting so close... 

Happy 1st Birthday to our sweet baby girl!  I hope your nannies shower you with love today and take lots of pictures for us.  I can promise you that I will be hitting the refresh button on my email regularly for the next few days as we wait not so patiently for pictures...refresh...refresh...refresh...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Truly Amazing Unbelievable News

Today at church our pastor asked us to turn to the people around us and tell them some unbelievable news.  I didn't hear what he said though because I was daydreaming about my baby girl half a world away.  All of the sudden everyone starts talking and I am embarrassed because I have no idea what is going on!  I admit to the couple behind me that I was momentarily zoned out and the woman said, "we're supposed to tell each other something amazing, we're not sure what to share though."  I smiled and said, "well I was just day dreaming about my daughter.  We're adopting an orphan from China!"  I hadn't thought about it that way before, but it is truly amazing, unbelievable news!  I think back to October 2010 when we first got the idea put in our heads to adopt internationally and all the emotions and fears I wrestled with as we started the process, and now here I am pining away for this child wishing I could get on a plane tomorrow.  I can't imagine not adopting this beautiful, precious, tiny baby girl that is changing my life.  I am so thankful to God for touching our hearts and opening our eyes to see what lies on the other side of our world.  I am thankful for the complete release from my sorrow over infertility and my tremendous joy at discovering the blessing of special needs adoption.

Princess Petals' 1st birthday is coming up and we just placed an order through Ladybugs'n'Love for a birthday celebration at her orphanage.  They will receive a cake, disposable camera, candy and nuts and some age appropriate books.  I wish we could have been there for her birthday.  We are hoping for pictures of her with a big birthday cake.  I'm wondering if they've shaved her hair off again or are letting it grow out as the weather cools off a little.  We will be having our own little party for her with Jon's family while we celebrate an early Christmas with them.  Here is what we sent in addition to the cake:
We mailed our I800 paperwork to USCIS on Friday, November 18.  It was received on Monday the 21st and processed on Wednesday the 23rd.  I am hoping, hoping, hoping that we receive our approval sometime next week.  Now THAT would be an awesome birthday present and make our celebration that much more joyous! 

Current time in the US: 2:58 PM 
Current time in Huazhou, China: 2:58 AM

Current temperatures in the US: high 52, low 39 
Current temperatures in Huazhou, China: high 80, low 66

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Step Closer

Anyone who's been through this adoption "journey" and waited and waited and waited for paperwork to arrive from a foreign country knows that when you see your agency's phone number pop up...it's gonna be a good day.
Our LOA (Letter Of Action) from China was stamped on November 14, 2011.  This means our dossier has been translated and reviewed, and we are now officially approved by China to adopt our little Princess Petals.  She's already ours in our hearts of course, but this was an important step.  There are no more concerns that China will stop us from making her our daughter because they didn't like something in our file.  In total it was a 63 day wait to have this beautiful letter in our hands.

I hadn't expected this news to hit me the way it did.  I felt overwhelmed and very emotional - like the joy I felt the first time I saw each of my babies on an ultrasound for the first time.  Princess Petals' wait for a family is getting shorter with each step we complete.  Hopefully she is being shown our pictures from the photo album we sent to her so she knows who's coming for her!

Our agency dropped our LOA in the mail to us today and as soon as we receive it we will send off all of our I800 documents to USCIS.  They've approved us to adopt from China and now we need to get approval to adopt this specific child.  I think they really just check to make sure there's no evidence of child trafficking and that she fits within all of the Hague Treaty requirements.  We expect this approval in about 3 weeks although with the Thanksgiving Holiday coming up we won't be surprised if it takes a little longer.  Disappointed, but not surprised.

I am so happy to have this part of the process behind us!  I am so thankful that I didn't let fear take over and cancel the check back in January.  Wow...what I would've missed out on!  Not only am I gaining a daughter through this process, but I am gaining knowledge.  I have learned about another culture.  I have learned about the rich history of a foreign nation.  I have learned about the needs of the orphans and I have learned about myself. 

In Proverbs 24:12 it says, "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." 

There are no words for my prayer of gratitude today.  All I can do is smile and wipe away my tears of joy...and eat cake.  The boys are really looking forward to our LOA cake.  They think these milestone celebrations are pretty awesome!  :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Toddler's Grace

Usually at dinner our youngest son, W (who just turned 3), digs in while my husband, our oldest son, D (who just turned 6), and I say grace.  Last night I pushed W's plate away, knelt down beside him and showed him how to fold his hands.  To all of our surprise he started in on the prayer all by himself!

"Dear God thank you for this food and thank you for O (a beloved cousin) and thank you for Princess Petals, in Jesus name amen." 

It was rambled very quickly and probably only those of us that live with him had a chance of understanding, but it made my husband and I smile across the table at one another.  I guess it's true that they are ALWAYS watching and listening.  What a reminder about the examples we set for our children - even when we think they are not paying attention... 

Today we are at 56 days of waiting for our LOA.  All of the paperwork for the next step has already been completed, we just need to place the LOA on top and mail it off to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to apply for Princess Petals' visa to enter the US as a citizen.  That process should only take 3 weeks and then the ball will be back in China's court while we wait for an invitation to enter their country. 

It's 10:13 PM here.  My sweet boys are snoozing upstairs and my little angel is eating breakfast on the other side of the world.  I am so anxious for us all to be under one roof. 

Sweet dreams and good morning to my babies!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Surprise

I just received an email from Ann at RedThreadChina.com who is assisting us with our first care package to Princess Petals.  She said it should arrive at her social welfare institute this afternoon!  She said it is a very nice orphanage and she is under the impression that they do give the kids the things we send.  Here is a picture of the final contents:

 

W has been meowing around the house since we packed up Princess Petals' pink kitty.  He loves cats and his favorite color is pink...  Hopefully it doesn't cause too much trouble when she comes home! Today is our 46th day of waiting for LOA...  Prayers for patience requested...




Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Cheeks

We had two great things happen this week and are feeling so blessed!  
1. We sent our first care package to Princess Petals!  We sent our box to Ann at RedThreadChina.com in China.  She will translate our letter for us, add some tea for the orphanage director and a clothing donation to the box, and then send it on to Princess Petals' orphanage.  She'll then follow up to make sure it was received and possibly get a quick update.  Since we just got one two weeks ago we're not really expecting new pictures from them.  Here are a few pictures of what we sent:



The red book pictured above is a baby book that has English on the left and Chinese on the right.  It is full of questions about an adoptive childs life in the orphanage.  We are hoping that the orphanage staff has time to answer some of it.  Even learning when she got her first tooth would be a simple joy!  There are more indepth questions about the day she was found and a list of questions about all of her firsts.  I'm sure she'll be curious about her first year when she's older and it will make this mommy so happy if I have some of the answers.  The books can be found at the following link if anyone is interested:  http://www.sharpbooks.com/questions_book.htm 

2.  Our second blessing came by the way of email.  The angel in the Netherlands that traveled to China in August to pick up her own daughter met another Dutch family online recently.  Through their communication it was discovered that this other family had also taken pictures of Princess Petals!  This isn't truly what made me feel so blessed though, it was the fact that this woman was not just holding Princess Petals, but snuggling her!  After we got our update on October 11th all I could think about was how much time our sweet little girl spent in her crib.  Her hard steel and plywood crib.  To see someone, anyone, pressing her little cheek to theirs with true affection just warmed my heart.  I'm am so thankful for this online community!  I haven't had contact with this second Dutch family and didn't want to post their pictures online without permission so I cropped the gal out and played around with my editing tools... This picture was taken in July so she was about 7 months old.  Who wouldn't want to kiss those sweet cheeks???
I have been thinking a lot about Princess Petals' birthmother since receiving these pictures yesterday.  I wish I could let her know that her baby is safe and that she is going to have a wonderful life in America.  I wish there was some way to communicate with her and provide updates over the years.  I can't imagine the pain she must feel not knowing...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If The Eyes Are The Window To A Soul...

I was playing with one of the new pictures we received of Princess Petals this evening - blew it up and made it black and white.  I was looking at her sweet little face and wishing we had just one picture of her smiling and looking happy.  She usually looks "pleasant," but not happy. 

So I'm staring at these eyes that I will look into for the rest of my life and I noticed something...If you look into her eyes you can see the reflection of her crib bars.  I feel pretty confident that she is well taken care of - her basic needs are being met - I can see that in her chubby cheeks.  But what of love and hugs and whispering sweet things in her little ears?  I wish they had picked her up and posed her somewhere else for the pictures.  I wonder how often she is taken out of the crib.
Day 27 of our wait for LOA (Letter of Action) from China so we can apply for her visa.  Wait times right now are anywhere from 40 to 100 days for LOA...  I wish we could bring her home now and work out the paperwork later.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Buzz Cut

We received our first update on Princess Petals today!  We used a service that called the orphanage and requested updated photos, height & weight and answers for up to ten questions.  Everything we received is below: 

Hi Rebecca,
I received updates for you today!!! They sent me five pictures. She is adorable!!!
Below is translated update:

1.       Is she sitting independently?
Yes.

2. Can she crawl?
Yes.

3. Does she pull up to standing and/or stand with support?
Not yet.

4. Does she have a favorite caregiver or is she friendly with everyone?
All the nannies love her and she is attached to them all.

5. How would you describe her personality? 
She is extroverted. She has a ready smile. She also likes to play with nannies.

6. What are her favorite foods?
Formula mixed with rice cereal.

7. Does she attempt to talk or babble while making eye contact?
She is not talking yet. But she babbles and giggles.

8. Are there any concerns with her health that we should prepare for?
She sometimes gets a cold, occasionally gets seasonal diarrhea

9. Does she sleep well and have a consistent sleeping routine?
She sleeps very well, from 9:00pm until 6:00am next morning. She takes a nap from 11:00am until 2:00pm.

10. What does the SWI need donated most? 
We need a No. 1027 fiberglass table (8 seats). Specifications: 135*200* 76cm .  Price:RMB880.

11. Her updated measurements:
Height: 69cm (27in); Weight: 8.0kg (17.5lbs); Head: 42cm (16.5in); Chest: 46cm (18in); Teeth: 2/2; Foot: 11cm (4in). 

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great day!
Angela

We are so thrilled to have this update, and happy to see that although she is small for her age, she is growing!  I never thought I'd be looking forward to the excruciatingly long flight to China!  I just want to go over there and snuggle her!  I can't wait to see what she looks like when she's not having all of her hair buzzed off regularly!

It's 10:18 PM right now...she's probably eating breakfast as we start thinking about going to bed...
                                                               ... 9 1/2 Months Old ...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Moving In Slow Motion

It has only been 34 days since we first received Princess Petals' file from our agency but I feel like it's been months!  It's only been 20 days since receiving pre-approval but it feels like several weeks!  It has only been 7 days since we requested an update on her but I feel like we've been forgotten! 

This process requires much more patience that I thought it would!  Hopefully we'll have an update soon - otherwise nothing new to report!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

PA - On Our Way to Princess Petals!

I just received a call from our agency - on conference call because they both wanted to share the news - last night we were Pre-Approved to adopt Princess Petals!  So this is what it feels like...pretty exciting stuff!  Now I can finally post some photos! 

Here are her referral photos and some of the new ones we just received from an angel that was in her SWI (Social Welfare Institute) last month:
                                                                  ... 6 months old ...

                                                                  ... 8 months old ...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reality Check

I joined a new Yahoo group specifically for people who have either adopted or are adopting children from Princess Petal's orphanage in southern China.  After posting a quick intro as to who we were I received an email from a woman  in the Netherlands that changed the course of my entire day. 

First I have to say that our referral photos of Princess Petals are beautiful.  She is in a cute outfit and posed on a professional backdrop of grass and flowers and the lighting is excellent. 

The woman from the Netherlands contacted me because she had just been in China adopting her daughter last month.  While visiting her new daughter's orphanage she noticed a little girl that touched her heart and she took several pictures of her.  She wanted a better description of the child we were adopting.  I gave a few details and a few minutes later I had six photos of Princess Petals in my inbox. 

I was forced to realize that the little girl we are hoping to adopt is not the cute little baby in nice clothes posed on a professional backdrop.  She is a little girl who was abandoned within 24 hours of her birth and hasn't known the love of a mother since.  She is an orphan wearing a stained t-shirt that's two sizes too big.  She is child who sleeps in a crib with steel bars and instead of a mattress she has a piece of plywood.  It was a mixed blessing for us to see the reality of Princess Petals' life.  We've come to realize that although it was tough to swallow, the reality is important to know.  Now we are prepared for her reality, not ours.  Ever so thankful for those photos. 

I was emailing back and forth with this wonderful woman from the Netherlands about the pictures she'd taken and her experience until I realized that the boys and I were still in pj's and going to be ridiculously late for church.  I was rushing around so much that until I opened the car door to get W out of his seat I hadn't noticed that I'd never put shoes on him.  I stared at his bare feet and let out a big sigh in the parking lot.  All I could think about was that little girl staring at me in the pictures, and that I'd come to the right place. 

Who knew that the entire sermon today would revolve around orphans???  I wished Jon had been there with me but he was out of town for work so I listened and tried not to cry - this sermon was certainly not going to be a distraction.  It was more of a call to duty and an answer to any doubts. 

Today has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster but I'm heading to bed feeling truly blessed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Tummy Full Of Butterflies

This past Monday, on August 29th, a new list of special needs orphans in China was released.  The list was very short again and there seemed to be some technical difficulties.  Our social worker said she'd try again on Thursday night when all the files that were returned were re-posted.  I wasn't holding out much hope for a match from the second round because our preferred needs were so minor that I figured someone would only return a file of a child that appeared minor if there was something "scary" inside the file.  So Thursday was a day like any other...until 10:37 PM when our SW called.  She had locked two files for us - as we were approved to adopt two and had been giving it serious thought.  One child was a LID (Logged In Dossier) only, meaning China considered her easier to place.  The other was a special focus child, meaning China thought she may be more difficult to place.  We read through both files and Jon's first response was, "let's just bring them both home."  I sent him to bed and went to work.  I knew bringing one child home would be tough but if we were going to consider both I wanted to be fully prepared.  My tummy was full of butterflies and I was up until 4 AM reading and re-reading their files, looking things up on the internet and joining Yahoo groups that discussed not only their special needs, but the cities they are currently located in. When we woke up a few hours later, the butterflies were still fluttering and we went to work on the files.  I contacted two pediatric cardiologists to review the first child, I'll refer to her as A.  Both doctors said she needs open heart surgery, and although the actual surgery is simple the true outcome will be unknown because there could be damage to her heart from waiting so long.  Then after having an international adoption doctor review both files, some praying, and much discussion we decided that child A was more than we could take on at this point in our lives with a potential job change and move in our near future. 

Now on to child B - a sweet little girl who was born without one of her hands.  Back up to Tuesday when our SW saw her on a photolisting web site agencies use to advertise their special focus children, Rainbowkids.com.  She had seen her on Monday night's new shared list from China but thought her need was a little more than we indicated on our preference list so she had waited to see what other children would pop up.  Another agency locked the file.  We're not sure how she ended up on Rainbow Kids because the file should only have been locked if she was being matched with a family, thus no need to photo list, but when our agency saw her posted she called me and told me to take a peek at her so I did.  When Jon got home I told him about her and he was interested in learning more.  We told her that if B popped back up on Thursday we'd be interested in seeing her file although we didn't really think it would happen.  But it did, and she was able to lock the file for us. 

The International Adoption doctor we hired to review her file has a reputation for being extremely negative and only giving worst case scenarios, but that's what we wanted - we wanted to know the possible truths.  We were shocked when we hung up with her.  Yes, she gave us worst case scenarios, but each time she followed up with, "but I don't think that's the case here."  Overall it was a very positive review.  Meanwhile we had been reading about kids with limb differences and after posting on one of the Yahoo groups we joined, we received several wonderful letters from people that have adopted children with limb differences, even one from a 7 year old child who was born without her arm.  Slowly this special need didn't seem so scary and the initial discomfort faded, even in our 6 year old son.  What did we learn?  These kids can do pretty much everything.  Yes, there will be struggles with physical activities and mean kids and adults that stare, but we'd be crazy to turn down this perfectly healthy, beautiful child. 

So long story short...we received a referral Thursday night and sent a Letter Of Intent to adopt Child B today.  After much thought and prayer we've decided that we will not pursue a second child for this adoption.  We are, however, very open to going back in a couple of years... 

What's in a name?  Both of our sons have family names and if either of them had been a girl, they would've been named after Jon's Great Aunt (who shares a name with a flower).  We were discussing if we still wanted to use that name...no rush to decide as we won't actually meet her for another four months.  This afternoon I was looking at her pictures again and it dawned on me that she was placed on a backdrop of little flowers to have her pictures taken for the file.  That was all we needed.  It was my Godwink.  This child will take the name we have carried in our hearts for the past ten years.  The name we'd always planned to use if we'd had a daughter.  For the purpose of this blog I will refer to her as Princess Petals.

As soon as we're officially approved by China I will post her pictures.  Now on to more "hurry up and wait" as we navigate through new paperwork. 

Oh, and the butterflies have gone to sleep.  After 24 hours of insecurity and anxiety about this decision, we are at peace.  We are excited.  We are going to have a little girl. 

I am so thankful that God placed this path before us and led us to this little girl and a better understanding of this special need.  I am thankful for my husband who has been holding my hand through this process and to my family for being so supportive and excited for us.  Hopefully we'll be posting PA (pre-approval) very soon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Tonight as I was tucking in D, my almost six year old, he looked up at me and said, "mommy, I miss you when you're not with me."  After some snuggling and discussion I reminded him that the trip to China would take two weeks and asked if he still wanted us to go.  He said, "Yes, I really want a little sister, but I'll miss you." 

If he had said, "no, please don't go," my heart would have broken.  He is such a sweet, dear child.  I can't imagine not being his mommy.  I can't imagine all that I would be missing out on if I hadn't had children. 

And then there's W, my almost three year old.  I'm dreading leaving him because I know he'll have a tough time with it.  He is so very, very attached to me.  It will be so hard to leave him knowing how sad it's going to make him because he won't understand why we're leaving for so long. 

I'm looking forward to the trip for the adventure of it, but leaving them will be such a struggle.  I don't know how I'm going to board that plane when the time comes.  I will be leaving half of my heart behind. 

Sweet dreams little ones.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dreams

So the new list came out at the end of July and I was exhausted so we didn't wait up for the call (the list comes out late at night).  I was so surprised, and groggy, when the agency called to let us know we had a match!  I was so excited!  ...then I woke up...  I honestly didn't know if it was real or just a dream... When we got up in the morning I checked my email immediately and discovered the agency had emailed that the list had been very short and they were unable to lock a match for us.  It was just a dream.  Big sigh. 

So we are back to waiting again.  Next list should be out at the end of August...  I am anxious about getting matched, but also trying to remember to be patient. 

Hopefully we'll have news in the next few weeks...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ready To Be Matched

So the last few documents arrived safely at our agency on Monday morning and our dossier was sent to China on July 12!  We were thrilled when we found out only seven days later that we were LID (Logged In Dossier) July 19th! 

Then we waited for our agency to get the notice that the next list was coming out.  I hope, hope, hope all of the people over in China that are responsible for processing paperwork for orphans have been working really hard so lots and lots of children can be matched with their families...including ours! 

I don't remember the last time I was this excited for a Monday to come!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hurry Up And Wait

We finally received our I-800a approval from USCIS!!!  It took 63 days to get approved, and three more days to receive it in the mail on Friday, July 1st.  We copied it and rushed to the bank for a notary.  I ran up to the Secretary of State's office to get it state sealed, and then headed to UPS so we could get it to the courier in Chicago Saturday.  Fortunately I called her before shipping because I learned she was about to leave on a week long vacation!  She recommended we send our documents to DC.  I called the courier in DC we used for our TN documents and got voicemail...no reply all weekend.  I also emailed...no reply all weekend.  It's the 4th of July weekend so I was concerned that she was also on a vacation.  I opted not to send our paperwork anywhere.  I finally heard back from her on Tuesday and ran to UPS after getting new cashiers checks for the DC consulate and Dept. of State.  We also paid the $20 per doc expedite fee "ouch."  I was so happy when I spoke with the courier today and learned our documents were "in process."  Hopefully they'll be ready tomorrow and delivered to our agency Monday morning.  I can't believe we are completely finished with our dossier paperwork!!! 

We received a call from our agency at the end of June that they were going to try to match us off the June list if there was a child available that fell within our comfort zone.  Wow, talk about a lot of anxiety!  I was so nervous waiting to see if they would find a match for us, and then slightly relieved that they didn't.  Now it's has fully sunk in that we're REALLY doing this!  It's no longer just paperwork, but a little girl is about to get involved!  I'm still nervous, but also very excited! 

We are hoping to be DTC (Dossier to China) early next week and LID (Logged In Dossier) shortly thereafter so our agency can try to find a match for us when the July list comes out. 

I can't believe we're going to have a daughter soon!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lump Of Clay

I found this the other day and wanted to put it somewhere I wouldn't lose it... 

Lump Of Clay
Take a lump of clay,
Wet it, pat it,
Make a statue of you
And a statue of me.
Then shatter them, clatter them,
Add some water,
And break them and mold them
Into a statue of you
And a statue of me.
Then, in mine, there are bits of you
And in you there are bits of me. 

-Kuan Tao Sheng

Two Phone Calls

Phone Call #1
USCIS received our I-800A application April 27.  I called yesterday, day 47, to see if we had an officer assigned to our case yet and learned we are still waiting.  I felt pretty disappointed because I thought we'd have our approval around day 50 as that seems to be the average time people are seeing right now...hopefully we'll get an officer this week and have our approval, the I-797c, next week...then it gets notarized, sealed by the state and authenticated by the Chinese consulate and mailed with the rest of our Dossier to China for translation.  Once they've entered us into their system we'll be considered LID (Logged In Dossier).  Our plan has been to wait until we were LID to get matched with a child so she will be as young as possible when we bring her home...  So that was the plan...

Phone Call #2
Our agency called today to ask if we wanted them to match us off the new list that should come out in six or seven days....and if so, we need to nail down the special needs we are open to.  Of course getting matched before being LID limits us somewhat on which children we can be matched with as usually the younger more minor needs require LID.  

I knew the day of matching would come, maybe in a month and I was getting so excited, but in a week...are we ready for this?  It's getting so real.  More than just paperwork and writing checks and reading the blogs of other adoptive parents and Wow.  I can't decide if what I'm feeling is excitement or fear but am going to switch myself to autopilot to get the agency what they need.  Off to finish researching cleft lip/palate, congenital heart disease, limb differences and birth marks...

I could potentially have a file in front of me a week from now, with a picture of my daughter staring back at me.  Again, wow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First post...warming up

If I did this correctly, this blog is private...a diary of sorts just for me and my thoughts about family and adoption. Soon I'll open it to friends and family when life is a little more..."exciting," isn't the right word but it'll do for now.

I am the wife of a wonderful man, Jon, and the mother of two boys (D is 5 & W is 2)...two awesome little boys. I thank God that he gave me this gift of motherhood. A mother is who I am now and who I will always be, even after I'm gone. I am so happy that I will always carry that title.

Last spring after being told my window of opportunity to have more biological children was closed (which wasn't a surprise), I spent months in quiet mourning. I felt silly mourning children I'd never have, but it's what happened. I loved being a mommy so much that in the fall I brought up the idea of adoption to Jon. He was satisfied and happy with two kids, but also completely open to the idea so I started requesting information online... That was followed by packets being delivered in the mail and agency and law office personnel calling me...some almost pestering...leaving messages while they were clearly chewing food...and as I began to read through all of the information I'd received I was hit by how much negativity all of their packets contained. Not telling me why I should use them for our adoption, but why I shouldn't use anyone else. I started feeling overwhelmed and confused and like something that initially seemed so right was maybe not the direction I wanted to be headed. I prayed for something different, some guidance. For weeks I felt utterly lost. I thought I knew what I wanted but the avenue was unclear.

But life goes on. I brought my oldest son to pre-school one mid-October morning and while I was dropping him off I noticed there was a new little boy in the classroom, playing by himself. I asked my son to invite the new boy to play, and that turned out to be a pivotal moment. The moment I go back to when people ask, "why?"  The little boy didn't speak English and his mother, who was standing nearby, approached. In the days to follow I learned about the local agency that this family had used for international adoption and I was surprised I had never heard of them before. I requested information and then the mother of the new boy encouraged us to go to an adoption meeting the agency was holding the following week. It wasn't a convenient time for us to leave the boys, just before bed time, and our only sitter up to that point had been my sister-in-law and she already had plans. But, as much as I felt like God had put that little boy and his mother in our path, I believed he provided a sitter at the last minute as well; a coworker of my husbands whom we were both very comfortable with and was cool with being paid in ice cream. We went to that meeting with domestic adoption in mind and left with international adoption from China in our hearts. Learning about the special needs path to adoption was all new information. Discovering that many of the children have very minor and/or correctable needs was eye opening. Our conversation on the way home was about the number of people waiting to adopt domestically and the number of children in China waiting to be adopted. The babies here have homes before their born, and I realized I was okay with missing out on the newborn stage. And in the end, I truly felt like this was the path being laid out in front of me. All I had to do was choose to walk it.

So now comes the hard part. A mother who has never left her children more than two nights, flying to the other side of the world for two weeks. How do I do that?

It took me until mid January to mail our formal application. I sat in the car at the post office for 20 minutes, engine off, freezing because it was snowing outside. I was looking at a family picture of us and wondering if I was making a mistake. Could I really leave my boys for two weeks? What if something happens to me? Or them? Am I being selfish in my desire to have another child? All the questions I thought I'd put to rest before leaving for the post office. I finally told myself that I could mail the application and always cancel the check if I changed my mind in the next three days.

Three days later, sitting at the kitchen table with Jon, openly crying (not something I normally do) because I didn't know what to do. The agency was about to open and once they cashed that check, the first really big check, we'd start walking this path. Jon is a pilot. In an effort to offer some comfort he says, "people fly back and forth to China every day, hundreds of people, and they're fine." I knew that of course, but hearing it out loud, matter-of-fact, made a difference. Knowing he was offering encouragement because he was really on board made a difference. And then I was okay...comforted. I didn't call the agency and I didn't cancel the check.

Homestudy went quickly. We had a meeting with both of us together, individually and then here at the house. It was funny listening to the social worker discuss the adoption with our five year old. He told her it was all his idea! I think what he meant to tell her was that adopting a little girl was his idea but he got the details confused. Early on, prior to our first home study meeting, I asked him if he wanted a little sister or another little brother. He replied immediately, "a sister." Then after some hesitation, "no, wait, a brother!" When I asked him why he'd changed his mind I learned that he thought we were going to trade his little brother in for the new child and he wanted to keep the brother he already had. I explained this would be a third child and he went back to wanting a little sister. So that's what he thinks was all his idea. Although we were already planning on a little girl, I like that my son feels he was part of the decision making process.

Immigration. So this is where we are now. We sent our I-800a to Homeland Security only to receive it back ten days later because it was missing a page. I printed out the missing page, wrote "N/A" in all the blanks and mailed the packet back in for an April 26 arrival. This past Wednesday we walked in early for our biometrics appointment (fingerprinting), although as of yesterday an officer still hasn't been assigned to our file.

And now we wait for our I-797 (USCIS approval) so we can send all of the documents we've been gathering since February to China. And then we will wait for our agency to find us our daughter.

I admit I still have pangs of fear about traveling; about something happening to me and my boys losing their mother; about something happening to them while we're gone and not having their mommy by their side. I still rely on Jon for comfort, but I also try to comfort myself now. When I met Jon, I knew he was my future. I believed that God put us in one another's paths at the perfect times in our lives. I tell myself now that if I truly believe I am walking the path put before me that everything will be okay. If I just believe that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I just need to trust. So here I am leaning on faith... and faith has allowed me to get a little excited...