Monday, January 30, 2012

Warning: Very Boring Post

Not to say my posts are that enthralling, but I expect this one to be even more dull than usual.  However, while I haven't been using this to document our daily lives step by step, now that we have a child living a life apart from us, the urge to record all I can is even stronger.  Even the dull (to others) part.

So...Friday Oak and I went out to dinner (Mexican since a friend put the idea in my head) and shopping while the kids stayed with Aunt J.

Saturday, Huckleberry had AWANA Quizzing.  I took him while the others stayed home.  It was fun and our teams did fairly well though they had trouble with the buzzers.  It was great to see all these children so grounded in knowledge of scripture.

Saturday afternoon we went to visit my dad (and for Oak to work on his bills.)  I took the kids outside for pictures...almost all of which I deleted...while Oak and Dad talked bills, then we went shopping because my dad wanted to go buy a new shirt.  We don't do all his shopping with him, but it was something to do.  Then out to dinner at one of the best Teriyaki places anywhere that happens to be near my dad.  It is closed on Sundays, so if we happen to visit on a Saturday we like to go there.  The kids were having a cranky day, so we were glad to finally land at home.

Saturday night I got no sleep as I kept thinking about the steps to travel.  I am still trying to comprehend them because while there are a few sites that list the steps in detail reading the detail at 5:00 a.m. doesn't help with comprehension.  My husband does seem to grasp the steps.  Mostly I was just trying to figure out if we get our I800 approval in nine days like my friend how much sooner can we travel.  I'm hoping for April but the Trade Fair is the last two weeks in April, so if we don't travel before I don't know if our agency will push us into May.  Questions, questions, questions.

Sunday I was oh, so tired, but it was a good, if emotional, day.  Check-in counter at church, talking with a friend, attending second service (oops, I just realized we forgot to take SnapDragon out so he could attend service with us since he was in kids church first hour; it is one of the reasons we stayed for second service though we were so tired.)  I am very glad we didn't skip service.  It was the last service by our current pastor and one of the best.  Grace!  I was crying during the various versions of Amazing Grace and the spontaneous baptisms that occurred.  So happy that God gives me grace.  Still learning and growing in offering it to others.

Then the going away luncheon.  Great food and fellowship, some with people I haven't seen in awhile since they have left the church/area but came to say good-bye to our pastor.  Then two hours of memories, stories, and a funeral for a living person.  Okay, that's morbid, but it really was very touching and a wonderful tribute to all our pastor and his wife have done for our church.  We will miss them but are excited to see what God will do next.  Amazingly the kids did really, really well sitting through it all and I am very proud of them.

Then a quiet evening at home while I played with my kindle, the kids played, and my husband crossed checked everyone in the world's packing lists to create a comprehensive list for ourselves and  filled out the last form we need to send to our agency so the packet can go off to the consulate as soon as we have a copy of our I800 approval and NVC letter.  At least that is what he said.  Now it is in the mail and we are back to waiting, waiting, waiting.  Okay, it may sound like my husband is doing all the work, but someone has to figure out how to use the kindle before we leave for China.  Plus I have been doing some house purging to get ready for another child, really, I have.

Oh, and to me the most exciting thing, we sent a list of questions to our agency that they said they would have their contact in China ask the orphanage.  We plan to send a care package, too, but they want us to get updates through them.  I am optimistic that we will get something as others have gotten updates from this orphanage.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

One More Step

After over 5000 visits from China Adopt Talk, I'm assuming/hoping traffic will start to slow down and I can go back to my normal programming, but if you are here to hear about our referral that post is here.  

I finally added an adoption timeline to my sidebar.  Mostly so I can hopefully grasp the steps a little better, but also for those who are counting along.  It never seemed necessary before when L.I.D. 8/15/2006 was the only thing to put in it.  In fact it would have been kind of a sad little chart that way.


While we were out tonight my husband did get a text that our I-800 application has been received.  Now we are waiting on I-800 approval which appears to take about 2 weeks give or take a few days.

Let us see how much we can get done in those two we accomplished great things by purchasing a Kindle touch.  Entertainment on the plane...check.  We also looked at car seats, ergo carriers, camera bags, crib mattresses, and baby clothes...

It might have been a good idea to start shopping a bit earlier. Photobucket

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I-800 On Its Way!

Referral post is here.

My husband is awesome!  Apparently our agency was only teasing us when they said we would have to wait until next Monday for translated documents.  Okay, they were probably just being cautious.

So I went to my McDonald's playdate with Sunflower and a bunch of great friends with no urgency about getting home.  We came home at noon only to find my husband home from work with the documents printed out, filled in, and waiting for my signature and a letter from our agency.  We signed and double checked everything and took pictures and received the final piece from our agency and now it is all at the FedEx office.

So the countdown starts 6 days earlier than I thought it could.


Oak had most of it filled out before we received the translated medical report.  He has been working on paperwork, I-800, and Visa applications all weekend.  I am really appreciative of all the work he's done since I've been so ineffective.  If it rested solely on my shoulders it would have taken a few more days...I think.

Because while he was asking the agency questions like "the I-800 says it needs this form, can you send it?" and "How do we fill out this part of the paperwork?"...

I was asking, "How many other families in our LID?" (5, but they are all I-600)  "Can we send a package?"  (If you want.)  "Can we get an update on her?"  (Sure, just let us know what you want asked.)

Funny because my real life friends think of me as detailed and organized, but I'm starting to think I just hide my flakiness better than others.  Or maybe the details that interest me are just different than government paperwork.   Either way I am really pleased one of us can focus.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Only an Extra Week, Right?

Referral post is here.

Part of me knows there is a lot to get ready before we go and that we will be very busy these next few months.  A larger part wants to skip the next few months and just be in China right now.  But it will take time.  Now it will take another week of time.

Specifically, when our agency rep gave us our referral Thursday she said translation will take longer than usual because of the Chinese New Year.  At that moment I did not care what she meant by longer and couldn't even be curious as to why.

Apparently the translation is done in China?  So we cannot expect to get our translated documents until next Monday, Jan. 30th at the earliest.  Wouldn't matter except we cannot send in our I800 until we have the translated documents.

It appears to take between 6-12 weeks from I800 to TA.  I can't tell exactly and nothing is guaranteed.  Then typically our agency says we would travel 2-3 weeks after TA (though it could be even quicker...or longer.)

So that means...1 week for translation + 6 weeks for TA + 2 weeks to travel = 9 weeks at the soonest...and realistically 12 weeks or more.

Ummm, I actually waited relatively patiently and sanely during the 5 1/2 year wait for referral--really I did.  I apparently saved up all the crazy for now.  Because that one is driving me nuts.

Specifically, I have called my husband 3 times (about to be 4), we have sent our agency 8 messages, and I have not done anything remotely productive non-adoption related all day.  I have spent all morning reading different people's timelines and worrying that we will be the ones that take 6 months to travel.

Deep breath.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why No Pictures...

If you are here for our referral post, it is here.

When I wrote my post introducing Sweet Pea I wrote it to the 12 friends who read this blog and I had already warned them I wouldn't post her picture until she was officially in our arms.  But then I linked to China Adopt Talk and had over 2500 visits in the last few days.


The BEST part of those visits have been other mom's with children from Yugan introducing themselves.  Also, we are so excited about our news it is fun to have others rejoicing and celebrating with us.

But it is true that if you look around our blog you'll see I post pictures all the time.  I love photography and photos and I love staring at my children's beautiful faces.  So it is not exactly a privacy issue that is causing me to not post her picture...except it is.

First, we only have 3 pictures of our darling girl.  I have e-mailed them to friends, put them on facebook, and showed them to every single person at church today...the people who have been waiting and praying with us for the last 6 years.  (That is the scanned in and reprinted ones in order to keep the originals safe.)  So I want to share and it is a moment by moment struggle not to just upload them to the blog.

But right now those pictures are all I have of her and a part of me does not want to give that to the world.  I want to keep what little I have to myself and to those who know and care about me.  It is selfish perhaps, but I don't feel bad about it.  When I have more to share, when I have 100 pictures of our baby girl, then sharing 1 or 2 won't feel so much like giving her away to the World.

In addition, even though I use the phrase "our" she has only been matched with us.  She has an orphanage and crib mates and caregivers...she is still theirs (if she was anyone's possession).  As attached as I feel to her little picture and as much as my heart swells with love as I look into her adorable face, they are the ones who KNOW and LOVE her.  A part of me feels that posting her photo for everyone would be like taking a picture you took of the sunset and claiming I took it. 

I don't judge anyone else for posting pictures or fact good for them for being so unselfish and I LOVE looking at other people's babies...but  me...I am selfish.

Trust me.  Once she is in my arms and I have hundreds of photos, I will be sharing.  We'll have 8-10 months of being apart for which to make up.  But some things will always remain private.  After all, my husband would be very angry at me if I posted our social security numbers.

But this is what my family was doing around the time of her birth. We are very excited to have her with us next time.

(By the way, while I am posting this sooner than later to answer a comment, it is something I always intended to write.)

Friday, January 20, 2012


Sweet Pea!  (Sorry, you don't get her real name.)

We have a referral!  We have a referral!  We have a referral!  For those not in the adoption world...We have been matched with a child!  We have been matched with a child!  We have been matched with a child!  (I thought since I won't be posting a photo I should make it up to you with enthusiasm.)

She is almost 6 months and waiting for us in Yugan County SWI in Jiangxi Province of China.

She has a small mop of soft hair, a sweet round face, and the most beautiful eyes.  It does not appear she has any teeth yet...I keep looking at the picture over and over.  (But nyah, nyah I won't share!)  She does look a little angry or determined; I think she'll be able to keep up with Sunflower no problem.

Because of the snow this week we were all home (though Oak was in the shower) when we got the call from our agency.  We'd made sure on Wednesday that the China Team would call us directly instead of trying to go through our social worker here in this state (who we did not expect to be at work anxiously waiting to get our information for us.)

So our China Team rep called at 12:15 p.m. our time.  I was just pouring a coke that I found 3 hours later.  I immediately asked her if it was bad news while I ran to get Oak.  She laughed and said, "no good news, very good news."  And it is.

After the call they finished scanning in all the documents and put them so we could download them.  Can I tell you when our power flickered taking out the internet BEFORE we saw the picture we were pretty stressed?  We had it back up in 5 minutes and I have many friends who have been without power overnight, so I feel bad...but if we had not gotten that picture... 

So timeline...Monday we knew we were in this batch.  Tuesday our agency confirmed the "referrals would be landing later this week."  Wednesday we had a conference call about next steps and travel.  Thursday we got the call.  Today we expect to have the hardcopy of all the paperwork in our hands.  

Next week sometime we'll have the translated documents.  At that point we get to start the countdown to travel as we send in our I800.  We are expecting (based on current travel estimates) that we will be traveling late March at the earliest and early May at the latest.  We will have 3 days to 3 weeks notice of our travel we'd better get packing.

Yesterday I printed out the little referral picture they scanned and e-mailed.  I forgot to tell the printer I was printing on 4x6 so it "filled" the paper with the top of her head and eyes.  

Sunflower pounced on the photo and asked if she could have it.  She said it would be a good idea to put it on her tall dresser.  I gave it to her because I knew I planned to print another properly.  But once I had the other one printed Sunflower decided to "trade" with me.  "Here, Mom. You can have this one.  She is MY BABY SISTER."  

I stole the picture back after Sunflower was asleep though I plan to print more as soon as I have more ink.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Conference Call

So we left the kids downstairs for an hour and joined many, many other families to hear all the different steps after referral (which we do not YET have.)  Very exciting...and very dull.

Basically the important points interesting to me parts are our agency arranges all the in country travel though we can book our own flights to China or use their recommended travel agency.  Kind of reassuring really.

Because White Swan in Guangzhou is being renovated our group will stay at the Marriott.  This makes Oak happy to know since he has been researching hotels and will now know which reviews are actually useful.

She said Guangzhou so often I thought for sure I would remember how to pronounce it, but it has already left my head.

Once our agency receives a Travel Invitation (TA in everyone else's language) they'll let us know immediately and we'll know our travel dates 3 days to 2 weeks later.  Our travel dates will be 1 day to 6 weeks after that...usually 2-3 weeks.  

I am not looking forward to THAT waiting game while trying to prepare, packing, and figuring out who will watch SnapDragon and Sunflower on which days without knowing which days need watching. 

Oh, and they had some questions about cost so she said alot about the range of plane tickets to and from and why they might be different for everyone and then ended with "typically around $2000 per adult...assuming you go there and back."  Where else would we go?

After the conference call they had a time for questions, but we couldn't unmute.  So I called back and spoke directly to our China representative at the head office in another state. Nice to connect a voice with the name.  She'll e-mail us the travel packet that we would get after referral anyway but we like things early.  In fact we have a travel packet, it was just prepared in 2006 so not too useful.

We did get the snow predicted, so I better go make some phone calls to cancel my evening plans.  So far we've stayed inside is really cold out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday, January 17th

SnapDragon's school was canceled for Tuesday.  Huckleberry's school was not canceled...though since only 3 of the schools in his district had a school day planned it got a little confusing.  

Specifically we got a hold of his school and took him on time as they insisted school was still in session.  So did 140 other parents.  The other 500 odd students stayed home.

Tomorrow his school is canceled.  So is SnapDragon's.  So is Oak's.  (Well, he works at a college which is closed.)

An unexpected day home together.  I'm not sure we'll actually get the snow they are predicting, but I'm not complaining.  It'll give me a chance to practice taking pictures in the snow...something I don't get very often.
The best thing about everyone being home tomorrow is there is a conference call with our agency for all families logged into China to have the steps after referral explained to us.  This is fantastic because USCIS, NVC, TA, ART, and RA are all just letters in the alphabet to me right now.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kids Make Me Laugh

Our modern times certainly changes how children view things.  Today we had a 4 year old boy over.  He pushed some keys on the piano...and jumped.

"I didn't know it was on!"  (His family has an electric piano.)


Today Oak was praying over dinner and thanked God for Sunflower and in it he said she is smart and nice.

She piped up, "I'm not nice.  I hit people."


Sunflower spent a happy half hour wrapping up one of brother's notebooks.  Then she carried around her "present" the rest of the day including to her trip to the store with Daddy.

Oak says that halfway there she asked, "Can I open my present?"

"Ummm, sure."

So she opened it.

"Ooooh!  A notebook!  EXACTLY what I wanted!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yes, You'll Get Wet

When the shepherds visited Jesus in the manger and told every one the amazing news that this little baby was the savior of the world Mary's response always fascinated me.

"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."  Luke 2:19

Before I had children I would try to understand this verse and I thought I got it.  In my head she stood in silent awe at being the mother of this amazing child and quiet worship of her Lord.  Certainly I think that is part of it and at the same time so much deeper...more than words can express.

So while I cannot express how full my heart is this week because of my children, that God would honor me with their upbringing as flawed as I am, and at how amazingly incredible they are turning out to be as they grow into the people GOD created...for me this verse explains it as well as anything can.

"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."

Especially as my boys got baptized this last Sunday.

They chose Auntie J to baptize them since they feel she played a big part in their spiritual walk.
And she does:  praying with them when she babysits, having them memorize Revelation (only chapter 1 so far), and exemplifying a compassionate and Christ-like lifestyle.
 We believe children should choose when the obey Jesus in this command on their own and that it is important they understand that they are choosing to follow Jesus.  But while it thrills me that my boys want to have a relationship with Christ, we were worried that SnapDragon could not possibly understand yet.  He had to wait almost a year from when he first asked as we talked and prayed with him.
But I don't think there is any mistaking the joy this gave in obeying his Lord and Savior.   Being so aware of his own sin without any help from others, he is excited to continue to take the steps hand in hand with Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ--to walk in the light.

Now our belief system teaches that baptism is a symbolism of being born again with is NOT the salvation from our sins--that occurs when we accept the free gift of Christ.  But I do know that my Spiritual journey took off after I made this choice in college having been baptized before as a baby.  I believe this is a wonderful step in both my sons' lives, one they made on their own with their own hearts. While it makes me feel proud of them, in the long run has very little to do with me as a parent and everything to do with their own personal journeys with Christ.

And I think maybe that is a little of what Mary felt that day.  Up to that point it had been about her and her teen pregnancy and her purity before God, but as the shepherds came to worship it became about JESUS who is GOD and she, little lowly God loving Mary, was going to given the honor to stand by and witness it. 

And I ponder...what amazing things will I get to witness as I stand by and allow God to rein in my children's lives?

Of course we do still have responsibility to guide our children.  Sunflower also asked to be baptized and we said no.

Specifically when asking the boys whom they wanted to baptize them she said, "I would like...J (age 4)...or E (age 2) to advertize me!'

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back in the Swing

I feel like I'm finally settling into life after vacation again.  I even had a productive morning.  I took a picture of the laundry for Scavenger Hunt Sunday and started folding it.  The dishwasher and the washing machine are running.  The kitchen is torn apart for a deep clean and everything that has crept under the couch this last week is put away.

It is handy to have Huckleberry have a late start on Fridays so he can do so much work.

I also hunted down the last address for Christmas cards and only have one package left to mail.  (My sister's, but I still have 4 days to beat last year's mailing; Captain Awesome's went out this morning...only one week after we wrapped it.) 

I even took SnapDragon his lunch at school...he'd left it at home.  This makes up for the fact that I didn't pick him up from school on Wednesday until the school called me.  In my defense, Wednesday early dismissals that only happen on some Wednesdays is really annoying.

It probably doesn't make up for the fact that I forgot to take Huckleberry to school on Monday at all...SnapDragon and Oak had the day off; I just assumed Huckleberry did, too.  

My friend said, "the word is cal...en...dar."

Yep, I looked.  It is in my calendar exactly right (as is SnapDragon's early dismissal).  I thought I'd double checked, but I must have looked up SnapDragon's info twice. 

Anyway, I'm hoping the rest of this afternoon can be as productive as the morning.  It probably can be since I finished my DS game.  But first I want to play with some Christmas light bokeh before denuding the tree.  We like to get the most out of our tree, but we need the space back for SnapDragon's birthday party on Sunday.