Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meeting Naomi

March 8th:  We (Mom, Dad, 2 kids, and Grandma) left Texas
March 9th:  We arrived in Beijing.
March 10th:  Flew to Nanning, Guangxi
March 11th:  SHOCK!  China was NOT what we imagined! 
March 12th:  We met Naomi.
March 13th:  We finalized Naomi's adoption.
March 14th:  We got to know Naomi.
March 15th:  We went to Liuzhou to see Naomi's orphanage and meet her foster parents.
March 16th:  We got Naomi's passport and final adoption paperwork.
March 17th:  We flew to Changsa, Hunan

Naomi was the oldest child (by far!) being adopted that week.  Children had been brought from different towns in the province to meet their parents at the Civil Affairs Building in Nanning.  She was very timid and shy.  I don't think she spoke at all while we were at the office building. 

We brought her a gift, a purple dress.  (We had gotten a size that would have fit our 9-year was WAY too big!)  She seemed very uncomfortable opening it.  She had brought us gifts--friendship bracelets that she had made.

After we got back to the hotel, she quickly bonded with my other two girls (ages 9 and 7).  They bonded over Barbies and jewelry. 

(They have been together over a month and I still haven't heard any real arguments.) 

It took Naomi a few more days before she trusted her new parents, but she eventually got there.  :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

China Bound!!!

We have our flights.  We leave on the 8th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We pick up our Visas in a few hours. I should be sleeping.

Don't you hate when you wake up with a to-do Liston your mind? Unfortunately for me....none of the items on my list can be done until our agency gives the go-ahead to buy tickets.

Yesterday we received our I-800 approval. For those of you that have NOT done an international adoption, that means that the US has given their final approval for us to bring BOTH girls into this country. There is very little left that I can do other than "nesting".

People have told me that they forget the pain of child birth shortly after the baby is born. The same thing happens with adoption. After one child is in your arms, you forget the paperwork and the stress of adopting her. I don't know about other adoptive moms, but I also forgot about the boatload of Tums I was taking every day, because I was so stressed. I forgot about all of the times I woke up in the middle of the night to make sure that I had packed an "essential" item (stuffed lion, puréed prunes, 2 sizes of nipples, etc).

The only thing I didn't forget was the post-adoption depression. I don't know how much of it was related to the fact that I was 25 years old and had NO IDEA what I was doing and how much was related to the fact that we brought K home and I had hormones going everywhere because I promptly got pregnant....I just hope that I can avoid that this time around.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

As I am typing this, I am in Houston waiting for the Chinese Consulate office to open. (We will have our Visas tomorrow!)

We have 12-days left before we MUST be on a plane and there is still SO MUCH left to do! Other people that have had to rush to beat China's deadlines have told me that I have plenty of time, but I'm still worried about the timeline...

I have to take a second to compliment Kris and Morgan. We were told to submit our Visa applications at 1:00. Since then, I have been in spastic-mode finding hotel addresses and typing Visa applications and getting passport photos for everyone. (Why didn't our agency give me a heads-up about this before the weekend?!?!). While I was doing that, my kids put together lunch and snacks for themselves and their 3 cousins that were over for the day. They even cleaned up footprints after a dog came in muddy! They were totally independent for several consecutive hours--WOW!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I am doing my HAPPY DANCE!!!

I have SO MUCH respect for the people that work in the adoption division of immigration! However...the officer assigned to our family needs to be transferred far, far away! (He has been totally unhelpful with getting our file expedited.)

Fortunately, his supervisor is WONDERFUL! She has agreed to expedite our paperwork herself! (WOW!!!) Yesterday, she called our agency to get the receipt number (from it being checked into their office). She will be getting it from the mail room herself and processing it ASAP!!!

I am over-the-moon happy!

On another husband said that I can tell EVERYONE that we are bringing home TWO kids as soon as we get our I-800 approved.  I am really looking forward to telling my other kids...and making a bazillion phone calls! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How we "met" our girls:

Someone suggested I share how we were introduced to our to-be-soon-adopted-daughters.

With Leina, we recieved a middle of the night email and photo.  The team that searches the shared-list for children that meet your criteria live in Missouri, but works China-hours, so it's not uncommon to be woken in the middle of the night with good news!  :)  The next week was spent rushing to get paperwork to China before their 72-hour deadline.

I absolutely LOVE our adoption agency!

We were introduced to Naomi with an email written by someone advocating for kids that have almost aged-out.  I have a HUGE amount of love and respect for these people! 

One of them put together a brief you-tube video about her: 

At this point, Leina is a done-deal.  Depending on paperwork processing times, we might not be able to hold her until April, but she's OURS! 

Naomi, is still going to be down-to-the-last minute.  I am hoping like crazy that immigration approves our I-800 by Friday.

Losing Hope...

Two weeks ago, my husband shocked the bajeebers out of me by telling me we were going to adopt Naomi / Kate.

Tonight, I read him an email about another child that was aging-out. He didn't even want to hear that child's info.   He gave the typical "Josh" response that I had expected him to give about Naomi.

This young boy has had his time run out. A family needed to commit to him by today. He is no longer available for adoption. He will go through the rest of his life without a family. It breaks my heart!

It amazes me how God works on people's hearts at specific times.  I know HE has a plan, but sometimes, I would like to see the basic outline.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Story of your Sister...

My girls have always enjoyed hearing the story of how they joined our family.  Morgan's story begins with a positive pregnancy test.  Kristina's story begins with me walking into her orphanage. 

They know bits and pieces of Leina's story.

Tonight, I told the girls Naomi's story.  I told them about how she was found, alone and sick.  I told them about her medical problems.  I told them how she wants a family, but nobody has chosen her. 

I did not tell them we are adopting her.  Josh doesn't want them to know until our I-800 has been approved.  I wanted them to at least begin praying for this girl, even though they don't know she will be their sister soon.

It is exactly 1-month before her birthday.  She has 29 days to be adopted.  I can't imagine how scared and alone she feels right now!  I am allowed to contact her as soon as we have I-800 approval.  The letter is translated, the family photos are printed, and the envelope is sealed.  I hope it gets to her before we get there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Because people have been asking....

Here is the timeline for bringing our girls home:
   August 1, 2011:  Saw our first picture of Leina (AND her 1st birthday!)
   August 3, 2012:  PA for Leina (means China gives tentative approval)
   September 2011:  Mailled dossier to China
   October 2011:  China rejected our homestudy
   November 2011:  NEW homestudy completed
   January 26, 2012: Dossier mailed to China (AGAIN!)
   Febrauary 4, 2012:  Saw pic of Naomi  (We have 50 days to adopt her!)
   February 5, 2012:  Put together paperwork to accept Naomi's referral
   February 8, 2012:  PA for Naomi
   February 10, 2012:  All paperwork went to USCIS
   February 15, 2012:  LSC (China TOTALLY approved us for BOTH girls!)
   **Feb 29 (approx):  USCIS approval**
   **March 7th (approx):  Article 5 Approval**
   **March 10th (approx):  Get on a plane!**
   **March 14th (approx):  Meet Naomi**
   **March 20th (approx):  Meet Leina**

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Name and an Introduction

Child #4 has a name--Naomi!

Tonight, I wrote her a letter.  (Someone is translating it.)  I will mail it to China with photos. 

People have told me stories about how their 13-year old children didn't know they were being adopted until the day before they met their new parents.  I can't imagine how scary that must have been!  I know a short letter can't possibly calm all of her fears, but I hope it will make her feel at least a little bit more comfortable with our family!

The girls still don't know wer're adopting two children.  I am committed to doing this, but I worry about how upset they would be if USCIS (immigration) didn't finish the paperwork in time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Child #4?!?! Really???

Josh told me before we got married that he only wanted ONE child. I'm grateful that he has agreed to bring three children into our family, but he knows I would like more kids.

Friday, he reminded me that this will be our FINAL adoption. I don't know what prompted him to tell me again, but he did....

Less than 24-hours later, someone sent me an email about a 13 year old girl in China.

Chinese children are not eligible for adoption after their 14th birthday, so I get emails periodically about children that are aging out. Each one pulls at my heart strings! I usually forward the emails on, hoping that they will reach someone that will adopt that child, but this particular email, I read to Josh:

This beautiful and innocent child will age out on March 18th. So
far her family has not stepped forward. If they don't, and soon, she will
not only lose her right to a family but she will also lose the ability
for the monthly blood transfusions that she so desperately needs to
live. Please look into your heart!  We are right at the deadline for a
family to grab her! If you try hard enough, you could make it there in
time!  She deserves her family.
(taken March 2009)
Josh immediately told me that we might be able to adopt her and to get some more information. I spent a LONG TIME talking to the gal that sent the email.
Then, I got on the phone with my agency...500 phone calls later, I still don't know much. All of our paperwork has been emailed to the right people, but it would take a miracle for her adoption to be finalized in the next 40-days.
The financial side of completing ONE adoption is intimidating...doing two adoptions simultaneously is SCARY! There is no way that we can afford to travel to China for twice, so both adoptions need to be finalized by March 17th.
Please pray for her!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Name

The name she currently has was given to her by the orphanage.  Her last name is the name of the city where she was found.  Her first name is the name given to all children abandoned that year.  Her middle name is the only one that is unique, but it sounds like a noise an animal would make as it dies.  She needs a name that is chosen with love!

Kristina was named by her biological mother.  I named Morgan.  (I chose the name before I even met Josh.)  Josh has decided that it's his turn to name a child.  

He wants to name her Leina (pronounced "Lee-nu").   We're still debating the spelling, but she has a name!  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Child #3

We began the paperwork for our next child in February of 2011. We were using the same adoption agency, International Family Services, so I expected the adoption to be very similar to our first...
When we had adopted Kristina, they had told me where to sign, what to get notarized, where to mail things...everything had flowed along perfectly! This time, our luck had run out! Immigration lost our paperwork, our homestudy had to be done twice (by different social workers!), China rejected some of our forms. It quickly became obvious that we would not be bringing home our child by the October date they had told us to expect.
We were finally able to see a photo of our daughter on August 1st, 2011, which happened to be her 1st birthday. She has medical issues, but after all the diagnoses Nate and Gabe had, this is NOTHING!
We have had one delay after another. It was heartbreaking that she wouldn't be home for Christmas. Six months after she was chosen, she is still waiting in the orphanage.
Fortunately, there have been other WONDERFUL adoptive mommies that have been in the orphanage and have sent me pictures of our little girl!
(She is in yellow, falling forward.)
In every picture, she has a "Mohawk". The other Mothers tell me that she is easy to pick out in the orphanage because her hair always sticks up.
Don't worry, Little Girl, I will pack bows and hair gel in your diaper bag!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Funny Story!

The first step in adoption is to gather documentation from every aspect of your life. I have a very poor memory for dates and addresses, so the best way for me to get that was to call my Mom.  

She was very supportive of our first adoption. She even went to Russia with us, when we brought home Kristina.  However, I wasn't ready to tell her WHY she needed to send me all of this info.  My mother is usually the poster child of polite, calm, and proper, but she wouldn't stop asking! 

Finally, she blurted out:  "You're adopting again!  What country and can I go with you?!?!" 
(Seeing mom so excited was the perfect "pick-me-up" in the middle of the stress of adoption.)

Our Family

My wonderful husband and I married in 2000. When we got married, I wanted a boat-load of kids and he wanted ONE. (I figured I would just accept that....)Two years after we got married, we gave up on getting pregnant.  (Having a biological child was never important to me.)   I just wanted A CHILD. Right before Thanksgiving 2002, we started working on our adoption.

We weren't willing to risk a child being taken back by her bio-mom, so we did an international adoption with "International Family Services".
I was working as a teacher at that point. I will never forget how I felt the day the secretary called me into the office, because I had an urgent fax. It was a photo of the most beautiful child I had ever seen! Along with her photo, came a copy of her medical history.

The medical reports were SCARY! Everyone that saw them  told me to pass on this child. (Josh even wanted to pass on her until he saw her photo!) I couldn't let her go--she was MY daughter!

We brought our sweet Kristina home in September of 2003. She was 11-months old and was the most amazing child I had ever seen! All of the "scary" things on her medical report were inaccurate. (The child they described would never have been able to walk or speak.)   She is now a 9-year old gymnast, social butterfly, and book-lover.)
After she had been home for a few months, I took a pregnancy #2 was born exactly 9-months after Kristina arrived home.

Morgan arrived in June of 2004.  She was several weeks premature. It took her awhile to get started, but she is now a healthy and happy little girl! :)

Within a year of Morgan being born, I convinced Josh that we needed more children. Over the next few years we hosted foreign exchange students (China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Germany, Russia...). I loved having those children in our home and I think of them as my kids, but I wanted "permanent" children.

In 2010, we started trying to adopt through the foster care system.  The first children placed in our home were two brothers. "Nate" was 14 months old. His brother, "Gabe", was 8-weeks old and had just been released from NICU. I fell in love with those boys! They were MY children.  However, they both had medical issues. CPS moved them to a medical-foster home in 2011. (They have been gone for a year, but I still think of them every day. In my heart, Nate and Gabe will always be my children.)

Morgan has always loved babies and enjoyed caring for those boys. She took it very hard, when they left. She asked me not to bring more kids into our home unless they would be her "forever" brothers and sisters. The only way I could guarantee that was with international we got back onto the emotional roller coaster of international adoption.