Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Article 5....again!!!

Okaaaay...I had NO idea my kiddos' files were going to be separate the whole way through. This past summer my agency rep said they would catch the one up to the other. Never happened. I received LOAs on different days, Cabled on different days, and now Article 5 on different days. 

I woke up this morning and checked emails and there was another email from China with another notification of 
Article 5, one day later. "Oh yeah, I'm adopting two, duh," I'm thinking to myself. But what about travel approval. My mind raced and I called my rep. Yep, I'm going to be issued  two separate TAs. Ok, I got this. It's all good. 

Now onto packing, the prep work has begun, I'm making my list (3 pages long), and checking it twice. I have to make a list for hubby. He needs to download two translation apps because we just found out our little boy speaks Mandarin and our daughter most likely speaks Cantonese. Ha ha. It's actually kind of funny. I have no idea why it's funny, it just is. Probably because I plan, and plan, and plan. And somehow or another a curve ball ALWAYS gets thrown, and I have to rely on God rather than my "plan." Why won't He let me have my way just once?  Here we have been learning Mandarin and 4 weeks before we leave I find out I should be learning Cantonese as well.

Number 1 and 2 on my list: send a care package TONIGHT to my little ones!! My son will receive pictures of us to help familiarize himself with our faces. Our daughter will receive these as well, but she will also receive a cake because her 4th birthday is on Jan 12. I'm trying really hard not to think about that. I don't know why, but I just loved it when my children turned 4, so to miss her birthday, well, it hurts, to be honest. It'll be alright, I'll have plenty of time to spoil her! :)

The #2 thing on my list is currently in progress.  There are things on my camera I REALLY want to know before China, so once again, I have to overcome my fear of instructions and just read the manual!! 

(But I really don't want to.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Article 5!!!!!!

 Oh yeah!!! Just when I thought all hope was gone for Article 5 today, I received an email a few minutes ago...my Article 5 has been issued!!!! 

Bring on the TA baby!!!!

Ok, me being the planner that I am...I have some stats for you. The average wait for TA is 17 days, so I'm going with that, BUT...a woman just received travel approval after only 8 days...so, I'm just going to be prepared for whatever at this point!!!

Yep, I can tell already this will be a night of not much sleep...my mind is going and so is the adrenaline. So much to do. I gotta clean the house. I don't know why...I already cleaned it...but I gotta clean something. 

Where or where is my Article 5?

I've calculated it. It should be here. But it's not. Soooo....that means it wasn't dropped off in China when I thought it would. The timeline is precise...paperwork is dropped off at the U.S. Embassy in China and exactly two weeks later it's picked up and taken to the final place before I'm issued travel approval. 

What doesn't help is my agency doesn't know the date it was actually dropped off. Ugh!! Let's just say my Article 5 will be here sometime this week (or else).

I trust everyone had a nice Christmas. Honestly, I couldn't wait until it was over with because my kiddos have taken ALL the joy out of it. They are at the age where they know all their gifts. They measure the boxes and everything. 

Here's how ours went down:

My hubby took a picture of Josiah's present at a store to compare the prices. My son is a 12 year old tech head...he checked his Dad's phone, went through all the pics and came in to our room laughing saying it was proof we were getting him exactly what he wanted. My husband explained to Josiah that he was just price checking (which he was when he took the pic). The only problem...the gift was under the tree, wrapped...so Josiah grabbed the gift and felt all the bumps and lines through the gift wrap and excitedly announced he was 100% sure he knew what the gift was. Of course, he was right. Next year I'm hiding all the gifts until the night before Christmas. 

Brianna was a little less subtle. She tore a part of the gift open and peaked, then shut it, came running up to me to announce what she had done, and looked at me like, "I'm so smart! Aren't you proud of me that I'm a conniver and have no patience?"

I also have no patience. 

I want my Article 5!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

She Broke the Board!!


Brianna tested last week for her next Tae Kwon Do belt.




She meant business!



Congratulations Brianna on 
being promoted to green belt!!

Of course, I have pics of her with her green belt...but they're on my phone. It'll probably take me 6 months to get those pics on here. 

For the first time in my life, I wish I was a computer nerd.  I just don't understand these things. Or anything electronic for that matter. Actually, anything that requires instructions is over my head. 

That is why I know it was a God-thing to adopt and it's not just a phase...because it requires paperwork...LOTS of paperwork...which is my greatest fear on the face of this earth. Adoption is full of instructions, paperwork, and computers...all the things in life I despise!! 

Sometimes God requires you to walk outside your comfort zone and try something you're not sure you can handle...but on the other side is a blessing!!!

God can do some amazing things, abundantly ABOVE anything you could imagine to think or even ask!!

More pics to come...I have some great ones of Josiah, but he has now required that I "clear" them with him. I just love this pre-teen age, you know, where he thinks he can have an opinion, tee, hee.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How do you say "y'all" in Mandarin?

Ok, so I just have to post this.  I was discussing the location of my children's provinces and I explained to my 10 year old daughter that her little sister was in Southern China. When she heard this she asked me if she would have a Southern accent. I burst out laughing. My daughter stared at me. She was serious.  Of course, me being the visual person that I am, I immediately started to formulate in my mind what a Chinese Southern accent would sound like. Can't picture it. Do you think there's a Chinese Paula Dean?  If there is, I want to meet her. Seriously. "Have some rice...and butter." "Have some congee...and butter." "Have some tea...and butter." 

Tee hee.  I love my imagination!!

Ok, onto adoption related things in my life: Pray, pray, PRAY that I receive my Article 5 on Tuesday! Those of you who have adopted know this is a big deal...those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, ummm, never mind, too long to explain. Shortened version: it's an approval of the approval of the U.S. approval of China's approval on something someone in America approved after someone approved China's approval. Got it? Do you approve?

Ok, that's enough. This adoption process has affected my brain.  I'm going to bed.  :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tired of Hitting Delete

Several months ago I was out of the adoption loop. I did not know ANYONE who was adopting from China. Since then, I've joined adoption forums, and about 6 different yahoo groups. Not to mention, I've taken over the mission's dept. of our church. Now, I've gone from not knowing there was a cause to speak of, to now being overwhelmed with the need. 

And I can't adopt them all. I want to!! For some reason, when I see the faces of these 12 year old boys waiting for a family...well, I just can't handle it. They are my son's age.  Their faces are burned into my mind. One in particular I'm thinking of...he looks like an Asian version of my son. I am destroyed whenever I see this boy's face. He is being advocated for by one of the yahoo groups I'm on...and I have to delete the email. Because I'm already adopting two. A little girl with a heart condition...I have to delete the email. 

People email with fundraisers. They need help. It's not a hoax or a scam...they really need help in order to help change a child's life. And I have to delete the email, because I can only give so much.

At church, we receive tons of mail from missionaries...they need our help. They are IN the orphanage, they are the ones digging wells, feeding children, schooling the poverty stricken, binding the wounds physically and emotionally...and I have to throw some of the mail away, because I cannot support them all.

I'm so tired of hitting delete.

I'm so tired of throwing away the mail.

We give when we can, and yes, we can pray for them. But Jesus said if you say to the one who is hungry to go and be filled, but you don't do anything for them...then where is your reward? And what good did that do?

I want to do more. I want to help more.

In 2012, I would like to be able to help more, give more, pray more.

But I'd also like to see other people's lives changed. Yes, I wish everyone could/would adopt!! I really do. But I'd also like to hear that more people understood the cause of the orphan and were doing something about it.

I would like to see some of these kiddos adopted in 2012, who are being advocated for, and want a family so bad!

Doesn't every child deserve a home? Don't they deserve a family? 

The fact is, several months ago, I found Le Hai's picture on one of my yahoo advocacy sites. People had been advocating for him for a few years. What that also means is that someone else, somewhere hit delete when his file came up. Now he's my son. He will be in my arms in February. 

I'm praying that these little ones (and aging out ones) on this advocacy site will have someone pause before hitting delete, and say, "I think that might be the child for us."

James 1:27  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Forgetting to Blog

What's wrong with me???? I keep forgetting to blog!!! Do you know why? Because I'm reading everyone else's blogs!! I feel like I'm in school and I'm about to take the most important test of my life. I'm reading to glean info from others who are a few steps ahead of me, or in China currently, or have adopted two at once, and so on and so forth. I feel like I have to remember everything. It's complete nonsense, I'm sure. The fact is though, I LOVE reading about other's adoptions and I LOVE talking about it. It's no different than when I was pregnant...all I wanted to do was hang out with other preggers and talk about our weight and cravings. Now I'm adopting and I still talk about my weight and cravings. :)

Concerning adoption this week: not much to report; I'm still waiting on my Article 5, and I'm guessing I wouldn't hear anything until the week after Christmas.

I will post pics hopefully tomorrow of Josiah and Brianna doing their Christmas program at church today. They did a great job. Our camcorder tape ended literally 30 seconds before Josiah's speaking part...good thing we can order a DVD of the service!! 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Hamster Wheel is Going Again

Yes, the hamster wheel is my brain. I don't have a rodent in a cage living in my house. Stay with me here. :) 

My mind is going...and going...and going...
Things to do, things to pack, appointments I need to fit in before China.

We are seven weeks out...or less.

And my mind won't.shut.off.

I don't sleep. While I'm talking to people my mind is in China or going over my checklist for China. It's the little things; all the little tiny details of life. To be honest, right now as I type, I can't think of one thing on my to-do list. That's why I have a list, so I don't have to remember it later. It's just the issue of getting it all done. And I know it will. 

I hate the word "nesting," but that's exactly what it is. I want the kids' rooms done (I'm still decorating them). I want everything in its place. Which is silly, really. My little girl and boy aren't going to walk in this house and tell me I should have more pictures on the wall. For the most part, I'm being completely ridiculous. 

But then there's the other stuff. Items you HAVE to bring. I'm starting to compile a place in my house for all the stuff we have to pack. I don't know how some people do it, but I've heard of a number of people who pack so light that they just have carry-on luggage and no checked bags. Once my hubby heard that, that was it. So now it's like a fun little game to see if we can fit everything in carry-on.

I can't believe I'm writing about packing. It felt like this day would never come. Do you know I have wanted to adopt little Chinese children for over 15 years? Do you know Brianna was 3 years old when I started begging my hubby to adopt? That was 7 1/2 years ago. During that time I have read every blog known to mankind to glean as much info as possible, waiting for my turn.

In about 6-8 weeks, it will FINALLY be my turn!!!!

Now on to my list....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cabled...again!!!

Yes!!!! My son's file was cabled yesterday!!! I have no idea why their file's weren't kept together at NVC, but WHO CARES now!!! Ha ha. The next step is my Article 5 is dropped off and then exactly two weeks from that date it is picked up. I'm speculating that it was dropped off today. For some reason my agency isn't notified of this next step. Some are, so I have no idea why mine isn't notified. 

Just to briefly explain the Article 5 stuff...the short of it is, it's just basically one last approval on all the final documents. All the documents that were in America receiving approvals here, are then finally sent to China so when we arrive, they will all be approved and in order. The Article 5 is the last step before we can receive Travel Approval!!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cabled! And a reality check

Yesterday afternoon I found out my daughter's file has been cabled (emailed) to China!! That's great news; another adoption milestone!! I rushed to email the NVC to check on my son's file, to see if his had possibly been cabled as well. I didn't hear back, so it will likely be Monday. The good thing is I received an email yesterday morning and he is in the system. It's looking like he's just one day behind her. The bummer thing is, I probably could have called the NVC and had them expedite his to catch up to hers, but I was so busy ALL day, that I couldn't. I didn't even have 5 minutes to spare. So instead of catching him up, my agency has to slow hers down. :( My agency rep said they will hold her file until his comes in.

Which brings me to something else. When I don't even have five minutes to spare in my life, something's gotta change. Me not having five minutes just cost me one whole day. And in the world of adoption, it feels like an eternity. I will not be able to keep this crazy pace after China. I will not do it. I have way too many obligations to people and events right now, and I have decided that beginning in January, I'm going to be just a little bit more selfish (sarcasm, of course.) I'm tired of all the running. So my hubby and I have decided we're going to ax some stuff. We're going with a less crazy, chaotic life, and we're going with more family time, more time at home, a more simplistic content lifestyle. I don't think God meant for people to be flying out of their garages 900 miles an hour screaming, "We're gonna be late!" Especially when that's the 3rd time you've left the garage that day screaming the same thing. Or how about leaving in the afternoon, driving your kids to all their "social engagements" and you come home every night at bedtime. You have a house, but you're never in it. I'm done with that life. I don't want to raise my kids in the car while we're flying by the seat of our pants. And I don't want to come back from China and say, "Hi Le Hai, hi Xi Yi, welcome aboard, I'll get to know you on my death bed. For now I'll be your taxi, maid, and teacher. Mom? I don't have time for that. We need to load up in the car. You have a dance class you need to get to."

No way, I'm taking my life back.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Progress

Wow, a lot has happened in the past few days!! It's amazing once the I800 was approved, all of a sudden I hit the fast track. My children's visa's were sent to the NVC (National Visa Center) for approval. Once they are approved, they will be emailed or "cabled" to China. This is the part where I'm at. Once again, everything with my adoption has been bizarro so why would this be any different?  My children's files are to be processed at the same time from here on out...well, most people's, just not mine. So my little girl's file has been logged in at the NVC and has a case number...my son? Well, he's not in the system yet. You know, I'm so used to hearing, "This never happens"...or..."Gosh, I've never heard of that, I don't know what to tell you." I'm actually getting a kick out of seeing how many things can be in the category of "hmmm, that's odd" with this adoption journey. 

So after my children's visas have been cabled (emailed) I wait for something called Article 5. It's basically the last final touch on everyone's approval. That should only take a few weeks and then we wait for TA (travel approval). Once we're issued TA we could leave two weeks after that!! So far, it's still looking like Feb to me. 

Today I should be hearing back about being cabled. Please pray they catch my son's file up to my daughter's!!! I would love to receive an email today that says they are both good to go!!!

On another note, another huge milestone occurred in our adoption journey. Last night we had a phone conference with our adoption coordinator. You might be saying, "Ok, big deal. It's a phone call." In my book: huge. It's something that I've heard about. I've heard other adoptive parents refer to it. It means we're close. So very close!!!

Basically, it was a two hour phone call going over tiny details about our upcoming trip. Very informative and I loved every minute of it. We were able to ask questions which was great because I had a few. :) Needless to say, when it was all done, I was exhausted...just completely wiped out. It's amazing the adrenaline that goes through you while your in the wait, and once something major is finally accomplished, you crash. All energy leaves your body. Crazy. Well, I'm on another adrenaline rush as we speak. I've been up since 4:00 this morning waiting for a reply from the NVC. 

The wait never gets easier, but it's how you live your life while in the wait. Today? Well...I have peace.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Approved!!!!

I emailed, then called, then called again...and finally received the good news...both my I800s have been approved!!! Yay!!

It's hilarious how everyone finds out another step is done and they all say the same thing, "Now you get to go, right?" Uh, not yet. A few more steps to go. Let me break the next steps down:

NVC (National Visa Center)
Cabled (glorified word for sending an email to China)
Article 5 (Umm, I can't remember what this is, ha ha)
TA (Travel Approval)
China!!!!!!

Each step takes about 2 weeks (I'm rounding here) so that still puts me being in China in February.

It's very interesting my official approval date was yesterday...the day after I read that commentary and quit trying to control the process. Don't get me wrong, my motto in this whole journey has been "it is what it is," due to the fact that I knew I couldn't change circumstances or speed up the process. But I kept trying to do it in my own strength. I had peace knowing God was in control, but I was still trying to "help" Him. Does that make sense?

In other words, "let go and let God." 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Busted

Do you ever have times where you feel like God just slapped you upside the head and told you to get with the program?  Last night, as I was reading the Bible to my kiddos, I had one of those moments.  We've been reading in Exodus right at the point where the Passover had just taken place.  I have a study Bible so I was reading the comments to my children. 

Listen to what the commentary said:

"God doesn't always work in the way that seems best to us. Instead of guiding the Israelites along the direct route from Egypt to the Promised Land, He took them by a longer route to avoid fighting with the Philistines. If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don't complain or resist.  Follow Him willingly and trust Him to lead you safely around unseen obstacles.  He can see the end of your journey from the beginning, and He knows the safest and best route."

Wow! It was as if that were written just.for.me. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Ok, God. I get it. I've had a long journey. Every part has been in the slow lane. I will not complain (I don't want to wander in the desert for 40 years, ya know?) So I will trust you and realize there's a purpose in taking the long route at this time. 

The reason God didn't want them to fight is because they were "newbies." They hadn't fought, and God didn't want them to lose faith right out of the gate. 

Technically, I'm a newbie when it comes to adoption. I've never done this before, and although I've been a Christian for two decades, I trust there may be some things God is trying to spare me from...I just don't know what they are.

Sometimes it feels good to get busted by God.  When He shows you He's bigger than you it takes the pressure off. 

And He may be leading me around "unseen obstacles." I love that. Because I know Him and how He operates in my life. Usually, I find out what those unseen obstacles are. Believe me, it may be months or years, but eventually I find out.

Ok God, my hands are officially off the wheel.  
I surrender.
We'll go to China your way and in your time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pictures From His Past


As promised, here are some of the pics of Le Hai from when he was younger. He's about 4 1/2 in these pictures.

Isn't he just a doll?



I'm so thankful I was able to assume his sponsorship so we could receive his past updates and pictures!! I'm not sure how many more of these we will receive before we travel, so they are a huge treasure to me right now. When I am bogged down with the process of adoption, or the torture of the wait, I pull up these pics of Le Hai and Xi Yi (along with her video) and it gets me through.

Soon I will be sending a care package to my little ones, which will include photos of us, so that prayerfully it will help them bond with us a little easier when we all meet, as well as help calm their fears on that day.

For now, while I'm waiting on the arrival of my I800 approval, I'll just stare at these pictures and remember it will be worth the wait!!!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Throwing Slippers

I called my USCIS officer yesterday, only to once again, get her voicemail. So I hung up and sent an email instead. Ten minutes later I received an email back saying she JUST received my I800 and was in the middle of processing it. WHAT??? It has been at the lockbox this entire time????
Ugh!!!

I put the computer down and just started bawling. I don't cry people, I'm not a cryer AT ALL!! I don't cry at weddings, I don't cry at funerals...I just don't cry. Well, I did yesterday. For about 5 minutes. That's all I could muster up, sorry. 

And then the temper tantrum...I wanted to just throw a massive fit...so how do I throw a fit? Listen to this, it's so impressive...I picked up a slipper and threw it. It didn't even make a noise when it hit the couch. Yeah, I'm bad. Then I was ticked at myself because I'm a sissy throwing slippers. I can't even get ticked off the way most normal people do!!

After I sat for a bit, I realized none of this does any good. What I need to do is file a complaint. There are some things that are just unacceptable. When THEY are the ones who said they would rush it through and even gave me the slip of paper to go on the paperwork which says to expedite, and then they end up taking LONGER than the normal process, it's time to file a complaint.

I have decided I will file that complaint once my approval is in my hand. I'm not stupid. I'm not going to jeopardize my approval by complaining about it while it's in their hands. 

By the way, would you like to know what I did after I threw that slipper? I went and picked it up, placed it by the other one because my house didn't look nice and tidy with one slipper not by the other one.

I'm a wimp.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Beautiful Journey of Adoption

I have been reflecting this week on the journey I'm on, and more specifically, this little thing called "the wait." Honestly, yes, the journey (ANY journey) can be difficult. It has its highs and lows, peaks and valleys...it truly is a roller coaster...but I'm ON the journey!!  I'm IN it!!  It's what I wanted, what I begged my hubby for, begged God for.  I WANTED this!!  I don't know why, but the pictures I received of my little guy just did.me.in.  Here in about two weeks time, I received pics and a video of my girl, pics of my son along with his past updates, and it just put me over the moon.  I love the description of his personality in the foster care reports, and I can't wait to meet these two little people who are about to change my whole world!!  

Many times throughout the day I look at the clock and wonder what they're doing at that moment.  I wonder what their hair feels like. I think about brushing my daughter's hair and getting them all dressed up for church. I wonder what their voices sound like, what does it sound like when they laugh?

I want to enjoy the journey! So many people are looking for the end result and never enjoy where they're at in life. They never calm themselves and look around at all that God is doing and has done for them. 

21 years ago this month I asked Jesus into my heart. I cannot believe what I was before that moment. When I look back at these past two decades of walking with Him I am amazed at the life He has given me.  I certainly didn't deserve it!  I am so thankful for my husband, children, and church family that God has blessed me with.  And I'm thankful for the journey.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Raining Updates!!!

I just received an email with more updates on little Le Hai!!  He was being sponsored through Chinese Children Charities and I was able to take over his sponsorship this past month.  So the email I received are all the updates and photos they've taken of him for the past two years!!  I will post these pictures as soon as I can so you all can see how much this little guy has grown!!  I love the description they give of his personality.  It sounds like he's headstrong, but sweet...I love him already!!

I have so many reasons to be thankful!  These pictures were perfect timing in my book!  Have I heard about my I800 approval yet?  No!  But it doesn't take much to put a smile on my face...just a few pictures of the cutest little Chinese boy in the world and I'm one happy camper!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Updates on Dang Le Hai!!!!

Look what I woke up to this morning!!!!

Could he be any cuter?????

Lord, get me to China!!








Answers to my questions:


1. Q. Does he speak any English?
    A. No, he does not speak any English.
2. Q. Who are his friends?
    A. He Chong (or He Zhong. The Chinese character has two different pronunciations.             Not sure which one he goes with.) And Dang Jian Lei
3. Q. What are his favorite foods?
    A. Fruit and bread
4. Q. What is his personality like (is he a talker?)
    A. He is fairly extroverted.
5. Q. What are his favorite toys? What does he like to play with?
    A. Blocks and toy cars.
6. Q. What comforts him when he's upset?
    A. Pick him up, hold him, and kiss him.
7. Q. What causes him to get upset?
    A. When other children grab his toys from him.
8. Q. What makes him happy?
    A. When he plays with other children and when he gets praised.
9. Q. Does he know he's being adopted?
    A. His teacher has told him about it.
10. Q. Is there a possibility of getting a video of him as well as pics?
     A. (not at this time.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Still not in the system

Today I called the USCIS as planned and asked for the status of my I800...I'm still not in the system.  I don't know what the word "expedite" means to the USCIS, but when I hear that word it generally means things are going to go faster, you're going to go through the process a little  quicker than usual. Apparently not. Perhaps it just means  "this is a nice green piece of paper that's going to make you feel good and make you think we're paying extra special attention to your case." Do you detect a hint of sarcasm? Good. I'm laying it on real thick. I'm supposed to hear back from my personal case worker (hopefully tomorrow) with a little more info that should shed some light on what the deal is with "all things expedited."

Also, the same lady who was able to get an update on my little girl said she was going to try my son's orphanage again to see what info she could get on him. 

I also have something else in the works. My son is in a foster home program which is funded be a sponsor. I contacted the program directer to inquire about taking over my son's sponsorship, with the intent of receiving all his monthly updates, both development-wise as well as current pictures. In doing so, I would receive ALL his past, current, and future updates until we travel to China. This is a really neat idea which was suggested to me by another adoptive mom who had done the same thing. I've emailed the coordinator several times and it's now all set up! The updates should begin coming in December! 

I can totally feel right now how I'm on the down-hill journey, heading in to home plate with the adoption time-line. Even though all things are pointing to February as my month for travel, it really is closer than I think! The holidays are always so busy, I know the time is going to just fly! Before you know it, I'll be on a plane to China and all this chaos of killing trees for more of my paperwork will be a distant memory.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My son's new talent

Josiah has always had a thing for all things technical, and I had a feeling once he was shown a few things concerning editing, he would eat it up. Well, yesterday the stars aligned, the Heaven's opened, and Josiah unleashed his new talent, which until yesterday, was completely hidden. Now ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to say, my son is a true nerd. 

My hubby found an editing tutorial which would be easy enough for Josiah to follow and the rest is history. He walked away with the computer and later came back with clips from his video set to music and with Star Wars looking screen crawlers, etc. 

I asked Josiah if I could post it on my blog but he said my readers wouldn't probably want to see the blood and guts of his video game clips. I kind of agree. I'll spare you the grossness, ok? 

Obviously, he has a long way to go, but he is sooooo proud of himself and beyond thrilled with the idea of editing. (Maybe he can help me with my wretched pictures I seem to keep taking.)

I'm excited to see how this new love of his develops. Maybe I'll have him work on a less disgusting project to post on here in the near future. 

Oh, and by the way, I haven't heard anything concerning my I800. I'm planning on calling tomorrow to see if there's a chance it might already be approved and I just don't know it yet. I'm so in the mood for some good news.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sleep

It's amazing what sleep can do when you're having a bad day (or a bad attitude!!). That's all I needed and my rotten attitude from my previous post was history.

For some reason, I just hit a wall. I threw my pom-poms down and walked away from the game. To be honest, I thought I had had so many "this is the last straw" moments in this journey, but this one was the worst. I didn't rant to anyone, I didn't vent...I just walked away...literally. 

I received the phone call from the USCIS lady about 2 hours before our Wed. night church service and I was just heart-broken. Usually, I can work my way right back into my smiley little self just by being around other people...not that night. I don't know whether it's right or wrong...but I went home right after church without saying a word to anyone. I just snuck out the side door and went home. I know, some of you are thinking, "That's it?" Yeah, that's it.  Honestly, for the first time, I needed to be alone. And I needed sleep. I woke up the next day, and I'm on top of the world again...go figure. 

Even though these two little children on the other side of the planet seem like dangling carrots in front of me, I know I will get there. I've said it a million times...I do NOT know the bigger picture in all of this. I know it will all make sense someday. 

Don't worry everyone, my pom-poms are back in my hands and I'm a happy camper again. Thank you all for your prayers concerning this process! Now...please pray someone at USCIS has mercy on me and expedites my I800 paperwork!!! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On the rollercoaster...again.

I finally called the USCIS (a gov. office) about my I800 approval (or lack thereof). After much typing on the other end of the phone, the nice lady told me I wasn't even in their system. What? My paperwork is still stuck at a previous location called "the lockbox." She said it will take 10-14 business days to complete that step. THEN it moves to the nice lady on the phone. I slowly started to piece it all together. I asked her, "Are you telling me I am starting all over...from the beginning?" "Yes. I'm sorry." "So, how much time did I lose with my paperwork being sent back to me...two...three weeks?" "Yes, probably. I'm sorry." My heart sunk, and I hung up the phone in utter disbelief. 

EVERY part of this adoption process has been double. Every part. My homestudy should have been 2 months, it was 4. My LOA wait should have been 2 months, it was also 4. Now this. Having to re-send paperwork and start the I800 approval wait all over again...salt in a wound. It's brutal. 

 I was supposed to be in China right now. Literally. So today I'm kind of pouting. I know I shouldn't. But sometimes this process just messes with a person. I have been telling everyone I'm traveling in 3 months. I have said that for 4 months. It's getting old. Now I'm looking at possible travel in February. February. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Can't quit looking at her pics

I haven't wanted to post anything on here for a few days because I wanted to have Bao Xi Yi's pics and videos to stay on the front page for as long as possible!!  I haven't heard anything yet concerning my son's update.  It may take a bit as he is in a different province. I have probably watched the video of my little girl no less than 50 times. I'm so thankful and grateful for that update!!


On another note, sometimes I feel over prepared for going to China and adoption, because I've had all this extra time (hello, 2 extra months just waiting for that stinkin' LOA) to spend reading other people's blogs.  But then at times I feel completely under prepared.  I wanted to know WAY more Chinese words by now, I wanted to know my new camera inside and out and all the fancy tricks that go with it.  I wanted to have my entire family vaccinated against every disease known to mankind.  I wanted to have my house so organized that Martha Stewart herself would bow down to me.  I wanted to read every adoption book out there so I could be THE most prepared adoptive parent anyone has ever met.  None of that happened.  And you know what? It'll all be ok.  The last time I checked I wasn't wearing a cape. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Updates on Bao Xi Yi!!!

About an hour ago I opened my emails to find my updates on Bao Xi Yi!!! I was shocked as I just asked for the update Sunday night...how quick was that! For those who are in the process of adopting, I used Angela with Ladybugsinlove. I received the answers to my 10 questions, 6 pictures and a video!! When we pulled up the first picture, Brianna said, "Mom, that's not her." Actually, I was shocked as well because her hair was pulled back and at first I thought her head was shaved, as sometimes happens when they are placed back in the orphanage before adoption. I'm glad I got to see what she looks like with her hair pulled back because if she came to me like that on Gotcha Day, I don't think I would have recognized her!! She has grown!! But she still has some serious pudgy cheeks, which makes this Mama sooo happy!

Check out these cute pics!!









Video:


Answers to my questions:

1. Q.  Does she speak English?
A. She does not speak English yet. She can only understand some simple words like "hello," "bye-bye," etc.

2. Q. Who are her friends? (Their names)
A. She is attending pre-school close to her foster home. She gets along well with other children in her class.

3. Q. What is her favorite food?
A. She is not picky, she likes to eat everything, especially fruit and candy.

4. Q.  What is her personality like? Is she a talker, etc?
A. She is outgoing, smart, and she is a talker.

5. Q.  What are her favorite toys she likes to play with?
A. She likes dolls and she also likes to watch cartoons.

6. Q.  What comforts her when she's upset?
A. When she is upset just pick her up and rock her and talk with her, she will be fine soon.

7. Q.  What causes her to become upset?
A. She does not get upset easily. Sometimes when she is sleepy, she gets a little upset.

8. Q.  What makes her happy?
A. If her foster family takes her out shopping or goes downstairs and plays in the park, she would be very happy.

9. Q.  Does she know she's being adopted?
A. She knows she will have Daddy and Mommy, but does not really understand what adoption means.

10. Q.  Is there a possibility of getting a video as well as pictures?
A.  Yes!!!!!

I'm SOOOO glad I received these as the pictures I had of her were approaching almost a year old! I also received updates on her height and weight. 
Now, how in the world do I keep my feet on the ground for another few months...I want to go get her NOW!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I800 Rejection

Ooooh, my title sounds SO suspenseful, right? So here's the deal, two weeks ago I sent in some very important adoption paperwork. And yesterday I had it all returned to me with a big fat piece of paper that said, "rejected." Why was it rejected? Because I didn't send them a check for the second child we're adopting. I still don't know where it said I was supposed to send an additional check, doesn't matter, it's done now. I missed it, my agency missed it, and the agency overseeing them missed it. I sent it off without the check and the USCIS sent it back and said, "Show me the money." (They didn't really say that, but it would have been more fun if they did; beats saying, "REJECTED".) 

Last night I had to fight the "I'm so stupid" feelings. But today is a new day. I've said it once and I'll say it again...I have seen the hand of God all over my life...times when I tried soooo hard to kick a door open, and it just.would.not.budge. I just posted last week how I tried to make my homestudy go faster, and it just wouldn't, no matter what I did. Then I found out two weeks ago, had that homestudy gone according to my schedule, I would have missed out on my son. His file wasn't with my agency at the time. I will not fight this. There's a bigger picture here; I just can't see it yet. It'll all be ok when this whole process is done...I may need therapy when it's done, but at least it'll be DONE!! (How many times have I said, "I hate paperwork????")


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Update Questions

Tonight I was able to send a request for an update on my children, which would include updates on their weight, height, shoe size, etc., along with pictures. I was also allowed to ask ten questions, and prayerfully they will be answered within a week or two!! Yay! (I will post the answers the minute I get them.) So here is the list of questions I asked:

1. Do they speak any English?
2. Who are their friends? (What are their names?)
3. What are their favorite foods?
4. What are their personalities like? (Are they talkers, etc.)
5. What are their favorite toys they like to play with?
6. What comforts them when upset?
7. What causes them to become upset?
8. What makes them happy?
9. Do they know they're being adopted?
10. Is there a possibility of getting a video of them as well as pictures?

I thought these were some pretty good questions, and hopefully will tide me over until I see them in a few months!

One huge thing about this update request is that I ordered it all on my own, without my nerd-sister's help!! Yay me!! Yes, I know, you're probably rolling your eyes like I'm an incompetent idiot. I'll own up to it. My sister has done all my on-line ordering for me for years. YEARS!! I will get five minutes into an order and start yelling at the computer for asking me so many questions. So tonight was a milestone. I called her and told her I was all grown up now and didn't need her help anymore. Keep in mind she's ten years younger than me. Well, maybe just this one time I won't need her help...I do have to order some bedding for my son...hmmm...Andrea? A little help?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Turtles and X-Box

Just a little Mom hint: When you're trying to bond with your 12 year old son, perhaps don't do it while he's playing x-box. I came in to his man-cave and sat next to him. I was reading some woman's blog and she had a picture of one of the teeniest, tiniest turtles I had ever seen (say that 3 times fast.)  I said, "Look at this tiny turtle, Josiah!" He turned his head, looked, looked back at the screen and his character was already dead...because he turned for a SPLIT second to look at my computer screen. I was promptly kicked out of his man-cave. I left in shame.


Monday, October 24, 2011

What Did I Do Before...

I have been pondering this question today...what did I do before I began my adoption journey?  I can't remember.  What did I talk about before?  What did I THINK about?  People talk and blah, blah, blah all around me, but my brain is on adoption and little orphan's (which I secretly want to go get...you know...ALL of them.)  It has become my life and kind of HAD to because the process is like a part-time job, honestly.  

But then there's another question I'm pondering...what will I do AFTER adoption, what will I talk about, think about?   Hmmm.  I'm not sure I want to go back to the old "norm."  My life has been changed, not just by my own journey, but by the journey of others, books I've read, children's faces I've seen.  My eyes are wide open.  If I turn into a happy little camper who turns her eyes away once I get back from China, then I think I would have failed the purpose of this journey. The old me was just ignorant of the plight of the orphan (which isn't good either), but if I willingly choose to close my eyes and turn away AFTER I know the truth, well, that's the worst thing a person could do, in my opinion. 

So how can a person help after their adoption is complete? Pay it forward.  Sponsor an orphan, or their surgery, or help someone financially who's adopting.  Or email encouraging words to the one adopting.  Do anything. Just don't ever forget your journey, or the purpose behind that journey.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What If?

Last week or so, I joined a Yahoo group concerning adoption.  This particular group has pictures of children who are waiting to be adopted.  I love looking through those kinds of pictures, as I often see these kiddos later on in someone's blog after they've been adopted.  Well, I was sitting in my chair just lazily browsing through the pictures when one pic caught my eye...it was my son.  I just stared at it.  I had no idea he was on a photo listing sight somewhere.  

Then I began to go over all the info listed about him.  The agency that he was listed with at that time was not my agency.  It was an agency that has an odd name, but for some reason (I now know why) I had been drawn to their photo page over and over since I began this process about a year ago.  Sometimes I would go to their photo page daily. I kept thinking I would find my son on that page...little did I know he was with that agency the whole time, but I needed a passcode to see his particular photo.   

Next, I looked at the date my little guy's pic was posted...April.  I remember doing EVERYTHING I could to get to China by spring.  I did everything I could in my power to move my adoption faster, but the process would not budge and I couldn't figure out why...now I know...my little boy was not listed with my agency yet.  I had to receive my little girl's referral first to give his file time to make it's way to my agency.  I remember people asking me why I was asking for my little girl's referral first and I remember saying, "I don't know why, I just feel led to get a referral for a girl first and then wait for a referral for a boy."  That's called your inner witness, your gut instinct.  It's a knowing that you have in your heart, and you're led by peace. 

Had I tried to force "the timing door," I would have missed out on my son...that cute little treasure at the top of this page.  I now understand the waiting "game" with adoption and with life.  Now that I understand why that process took so long, it makes the memory sweeter in my heart, rather than the bitter feeling that was there...the lingering "why."   These are the little bread crumbs; the trail God drops in front of me to lead me on to China.  

Some people may call it pure coincidence.  There's no such thing.  If you have not seen the hand of God in your life, then perhaps your ignoring the bread crumbs.  They are there, whether you acknowledge them or not.  We will all stand before God one day and give an account of all the signs He posted along the way...and whether we followed them, or ignored them.  


Friday, October 21, 2011

Fried

Guess what happens when you spend your whole entire ever-lovin' minute of your week doing adoption paperwork, reading about how to do your paperwork, consulting and emailing people concerning your paperwork...and then you take your pre-teen daughter shopping where all you hear is, "I want, I want, I want!"....your brain FRIES!!! Not french fries people, I mean it's fried, gone, hasta la vista, bye-bye, see-ya-later, adios, sianara. It's gone. My hubby keeps coming in and out of the room and talking and I swear I feel like I'm in some Twilight Zone episode. 

I thought the forms for my LOA were bad...I met my match with that Visa form. Are you sick of me still ranting about this paperwork? I don't care, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.  Just an update...yes, I did dream about paperwork again last night. The horror is still fresh in my brain. 

But tomorrow is a new day, no paperwork awaits me, just my hubby and kiddos. I plan to make the most of it. Even if it means laying in a fetal position because I had more nightmares about the dreaded Visa app. I shutter when I even type that word. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Visa App...another paperwork nightmare!

Oh yeah, BABY...I sent that thing packing today!!!! Out.the.door. GONE.  (Please, oh please, God, let everything be right on that thing!!!!!)  Of all the paperwork I've done, that was THE.WORST.THING.EVER!!!!!! 

Understatement.  Want the low-down?  Briefly...I hand-wrote four Visa applications (duh, for all four of us), then messed mine up, so re-wrote it...found out there's a new rule, has to be typed, so, typed four apps, printer cut off tops of ALL of them.  Re-typed  one, computer erased all info, re-typed again, four more.  Something was messed up on mine...re-typed mine.  Brianna's had an error...re-typed hers.  When I was all done, I wanted to address it to 666 Satan Avenue.  I just could NOT believe how that dumb thing kept coming back to haunt me!!! 

At the end of it all, I was begging God for mercy.  Brianna came out of her room and said, "Who are you talking to Mom?" "I'm begging God to have mercy on me before I check myself into the psych ward." 

So, it's all done.  I hope.  Pray that thing doesn't have anything wrong on it, people...PLEEEEEEEZE!!!!  Or they will send it back to me....I REALLY do not want to post one more paperwork nightmare.  Btw, you DO know, I've dreamt about paperwork all this week, right?  I'm soooo not making this up when I say I have an issue with paperwork.

Want to know what else I have an issue with?  Words that get on my nerves.  Want to know what words I despise?

Scamper, scrumptious (haaaaate that word!!), delicious (makes me cringe)...ok, I REALLY hate the word scrumptious. Want to know one more? Paperwork, I hate the word paperwork. 




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Celebration and Melt-Down

Yesterday I mailed out my adoption paperwork which includes all the forms with "titles", titles like LOA, I800A, blah, blah, blah...more like title of NIGHTMARE!!   To just say, "Oh yeah, I mailed out my LOA and all the forms that go with it", well, that's an understatement.  I would rather have fire ants eat my face off than ever do that again. I took a picture of it all laid out on the floor because I knew I would someday forget, and I want to make sure I always get a pit in my stomach if I look at it 10 years down the road.  I am not a paperwork kind of person...I will post more on that when I'm in a more serious mood, because, honestly, it's not funny anymore.  Which leads me to today.  

My paperwork nightmare wasn't over...I have to send in our Visa applications, which would have gone out today, except no one told me I needed 20 passport photos to complete an adoption, so we headed off to Wal-Green's to take more stupid pics and I ran out of time to get it all in the mail.  So my nightmare awaits me tomorrow.

In other news, last night after sending out my LOA, I forced my husband to celebrate at my favorite steakhouse.  How did I force him, you ask?  I threatened bodily harm, of course!!!  So, we all went out as a family of four to celebrate becoming a family of six!!  Wow, that sounds weird!!  (Hubby doesn't know I'm already concocting a scheme in my brain to become a family of eight!!)  Tee hee. Don't know if it'll work; it's easier to get a thumbs up from God than it is my husband...remember the cheap thing?  Apparently kids cost money, who knew???   

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Here!!!!

11:30 on the nose...Fed-Ex truck pulled up and I took pics out the window while screaming, "It's here, it's here!!!" I'm going to go over all my paperwork now to make sure it's complete, sign the LOA and get it out the door. Pray that I have everything filled out correctly!!! I'm not kidding; pray people!! I will post later when it's all done.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pinch Me

I am still in shock that I finally received the call that our LOA is here.  It will arrive tomorrow by Fed-Ex, and the minute it does, I need to get it signed and sent right back out the door!!  

So currently, I'm numb.  I think the whole process just wears a person down emotionally...and with the LOA wait being double what it normally is, well, it can mess with a person.  Honestly, Friday was an amazing emotional high...the CALL...and then, right at about 8:00 p.m. I got sooooo tired.  I have gone on one year straight of a massive adrenaline rush, with very little sleep, and it took it's toll.  I normally go to bed at about midnight and get up anywhere between 3:00 -7:00 a.m.  (Yes, I get up that early because my brain is ALWAYS going...because of adopting).  So for me to be done, and I mean ready-to-tip-over tired, that's saying something.

I have decided the celebration does not happen with the LOA phone call...it happens when I send that LOA back out the door along with all the paperwork required.  I am NOT a paperwork kind of person.  Adoption paperwork about put me in the nut-house.  So tomorrow night, I intend on celebrating (and NO, it will NOT be McD's)!!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Celebrating Our LOA

So, I know you're all wondering how our family celebrated our LOA.  Did we go to a fancy steakhouse?  Nope. How about a Chinese restaurant in honor of our new children?  Nope.  My dirt cheap hubby said, "Let's do McDonald's drive-thru."  I told him he's the cheapest man alive, which back-fires on me, because he takes that as a compliment.  Then he goes off about how he's such a genius when it comes to finances, blah, blah, blah. (Honestly, he's right, but I'll never tell him that.)

The thing is, somehow or another, most of our major events in our life are celebrated with McDonald's.  After our own wedding twenty years ago, we left after the church service and swung in to get a cone.  Last year, when my husband said yes to adoption, we celebrated with a McD's cone.  Perhaps we should just have weddings at McDonald's and instead of cake, everyone gets ice cream.
I wonder if that would work for funerals as well.  
Probably not.

Friday, October 14, 2011

LOA #2...IT'S HERE!!!!

OH.MY.GOSH!!!!  Freaking out here, people!!  Yes, it's here!!  My mind is swimming.  My agency called...I saw the number on caller ID and thought...nothing...because I'm in the land of make-believe with this LOA wait.  I started to wonder if they really even exist and if Chinese children are just a figment of my imagination.  So I answered the phone and she said, "Guess what?"  That was all it took.  I lost it bawling.  I was done.  All that pressure that I did NOT even realize was there....broke.  I.was.a.mess...I told her to keep talking because I could not speak.  She said both LOA's would be here by Monday (they were holding the other one for me).  My mind is racing...I'll post more when my brain re-boots, k?  Thanks for all the prayers guys!!!! God is faithful, always!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bad News Is...There's No News

I went as high up as I could without getting on a plane to China, and I have NO answer.  My agency has inquired probably four times in three weeks on my LOA and they cannot get a response.  I don't get it.  I hear of others who press their agencies to get an update, and they finally call China AND GET AN ANSWER!!!!  Ugh! 

I would say I've passed the patience test.  I'm pretty much a pro at the waiting game here.  It's just the silence... 
 it's deafening.