My Little Sweeties

My Little Sweeties

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Showered with love

Tonight we were showered with love at a baby shower for Christian.

This was just another demonstration of the blessings we have in our lives.  It was a fun night of sharing our story of what has led us to this moment in time, a very powerful devotional about parenthood and motherhood using scripture beginning with each letter in the word "adopt," sharing pictures of our son, opening presents, and visiting (and eating) with friends.  Many of the ladies who were there tonight shared in Abby & AJ's showers when I was pregnant with them as well.

We now have some brand new clothes for Christian in what I hope is his right size, a stroller that we can take with us to China, some children's medications to bring with us (we were told to bring anything and everything because if we buy meds in China we might not be able to find what we are looking for and even if we do we might not be able to read the language or convert the weight/ amounts), and so much more.

Marilyn Miller, who made cakes for both AJ and Abby's showers, made a beautiful cake for Christian. 
The letters are actually like puzzle pieces.  The uppercase and lowercase letters fit together.  Isn't that just perfect!?!?

Abby was able to join me tonight, and I think she might have felt like the princess I know she is.  I gave her a little pedicure today (complete with jets/ suds and any grown-up nailpolish she wanted!), plus she wore some glittery make-up AND got a few sprays of my perfume :)  She had fun sharing in the festivities, and it melted my heart to see her so excited to talk about her little brother and to say how excited she is for him to be home with us.  I know she has had some hesitations - about being the middle child, us leaving for so long, and sharing her room, but every day she seems to get more and more excited about having a little brother.  I know she is going to be such a great big sister - she loves playing with little kids and has such a wonderful personality - I can't wait to see how it shines with her little brother!

 This picture kind of shows a necklace one of my coworkers and friends MADE me.  She said the two birds symbolizes AJ and Abby.  The empty nest they are looking at represents them waiting for their brother to come home.  I shared this story and its symbolism the day Cathy gave me the necklace at work with both kids, and they loved hearing how they are a part of this charm and asked for me to repeatedly tell them about it.  Well, today, when I put it on, Abby pointed to one of the birds and said, "Look!  It's me.  I am waiting for Christian!"
AJ and Adam stayed home and did guy things - ordered pizza, played a star wars boardgame, and watched tv :)  AJ has truly amazed me with his deep understanding and support with what we are doing.  Last night we were getting ready for bed and he walked into my room with two dollar bills and about one dollar in coins in his hands.  He handed the money to me and said, "here mom".  I asked him what the money was for, and he said, "For the adoption fees".  (we have been really careful to say that the money we are raising and paying is not to buy his brother, but for the expenses of adoption like paying the people who are helping us, airfare, etc.).  I asked him why he wanted to give us that money, and his answer just flooded my eyes with tears.  He said, "Because I love my brother and I want to help bring him home really fast".  Wow.  I hate to take money from my kids - I make them work hard for their money and we seldom buy them toys because we like for them to understand the value of a dollar and to be a better judge on what they should and shouldn't spend their precious money on, but I felt like I needed to accept this money.  He knew.  AJ weighed whether or not he wanted to give his money, and he chose a very selfless act - one that I am amazed a seven year old did so spontaneously (we hadn't even been talking about adoption stuff last night).  Gosh I love this kid.

Here are a few more pictures from tonight's shower...










Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three more steps...

Of the hundreds of steps we have walked during this adoption process, we are down to three final pieces.  Today I submitted our DS260, which is immigration approval for Christian to be a US citizen.  In about two weeks we will get something called an Article 5 (no idea what this is or it's function yet - one step at a time :)).  Two more weeks and we get TA (travel approval).  I believe this will assign us a day at the Chinese Consulate, which is "THE BIG" appointment.  All travel in China is centered around this appointment.  Two more weeks and we are on a plane.  So, if my math is right, in about six weeks we will be boarding an airplane and traveling approximately 22 hours to China.  The time difference is about twelve hours, so we will have a few days to acclimate and adjust from our jet lag and then we will be meeting our son and holding him in our arms!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Updates

Today we received an email from CCAI providing us with updates on Christian.  Here is the letter summarizing his physical and emotional development along with two pictures :



Liang Yun Peng’s Development Report

            Liang Yun Peng’s personality is extremely cheerful and lively. He usually listens very well to the nannies and is also very thoughtful! He has post-operational cleft lip and palate, Liang Yun Peng’s condition is very good.
            Standing skills: he does not use the handrail to help him stand up on his own, moreover his balance and coordination abilities are also very good. When he assists himself with one hand, he is able to balance on one foot, or if he holds up his hands he is able to maintain balance. Presently Liang Yun Peng can walk very steadily by himself, and he rarely falls. He can also lean to a side and walk, and when he walks both of his arms sway at the same time. Every day he goes up and down the stairs by himself.
            He has good hand eye coordination. When one hand grabs a container, the other hand can take an object and place it inside the container. Additionally, he has the consciousness to be able to take the container with the object inside it and is able to place the container upside down to get it the object out. Liang Yun Peng often likes to draw. Frequently, he draws with crayons and sometimes he will draw outside.
            Liang Yun Peng is now able to take care of himself and is also able to use both hands to hold a water cup and drink water; he does not need any help. Every day, when he gets his clothes put on, he will take the initiative to extend his hands and legs appropriately to cooperate. He will take off his clothes, socks, shoes, and clothes that have a front zipper by himself.
            Liang Yun Peng will respond to some verbal commands. For example, “sit down, stand up,” “come here,” “throw away trash,” “…look at me,” “put the blocks in the box” … Liang Yun Peng is able to understand the meanings of things by combining gestures and sounds. For example: if you point at a shelf, he will take a toy and place it there; if you point at a trash can, he will throw away the trash in the trash can, and so on.
            Liang Yun Peng really likes to play with other children. If he sees them moving about he will be very interested in them. He will immediately go and join them, and imitate their actions. He will explore the surrounding environment, and every so often he will return to the nannies’ side.
            Currently, every aspect of Liang Yun Peng is very good.  



Medical/Development:
His current health is good.


Personality:
He can walk, run, go up/down stairs.
He likes balls and playing with sliding and children swing bike.
They call him Peng Peng.
He is extroverted and outgoing.
He is closest to the nannies who care him.


General:
He is in the foster care.
He use special bottle for cleft lip/palate.
He can eat solid foods.
He likes fruits, yoghurt.
He sleeps in a crib.  He goes to sleep easily.  He does not need to sleep with a specific toy or blanket. When sleeping, the light needs to be off and no sounds.

Medical/Development:
His current health is good.


Personality:
He can walk, run, go up/down stairs.
He likes balls and playing with sliding and children swing bike.
They call him Peng Peng.
He is extroverted and outgoing.
He is closest to the nannies who care him.


General:
He is in the foster care.
He use special bottle for cleft lip/palate.
He can eat solid foods.
He likes fruits, yoghurt.
He sleeps in a crib.  He goes to sleep easily.  He does not need to sleep with a specific toy or blanket. When sleeping, the light needs to be off and no sounds.





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rejoice Together

Are you sitting down?  I wish I was a minute ago when I opened my mail.  I type today's message with trembling hands as I am still in shock. 

Today we received a $3,000 grant from an amazing foundation called, "Show Hope".  The opening sentence of this letter begins with, "On behalf of Show Hope and the donors who make our grant possible, we rejoice with your family as you step out in faith to experience the miracle of adoption". 

So friends, let's rejoice together with this amazing gift from strangers who only know us from hearing our story (through our application) and our friend's references.  All they ask for in return are a few pictures when we return home and an update on our family. 

Thank you for all your continued prayers and support for our family through this process.  I am so humbled and appreciative every single day of the many blessings we are surrounded with.  God bless you all.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Walking down the aisle

When I married Adam, almost 11 years ago, one of my favorite moments was walking down the aisle.  There are many reasons why this moment was so vivid and so magical, but the greatest reason was because I was so overwhelmed with love and appreciation for having all the facets of my life represented in one place.  People flew out from high school and college out east, cousins and family traveled from all over the states, my new family (in-laws) were smiling at us, and the big prize at the end of the aisle was my soul-mate.

Now we are walking down an aisle of paperwork, fees, and hope for a new adventure in our life and once again we are surrounded by the smiling faces of those who we love and care about and are supported and lifted up.  This past weekend we held our big fundraiser event.  It was a TON of work, but so worth it.  Friends came to help sort, price, and organize.  What amazed me is it wasn't only our close friends who were there, but strangers who wanted to share in our love and excitement about completing our family.  While some people had fun haggling us down on the price of an item, many people gave an extra five or ten dollars or told us to "keep the change".  One family, who didn't even want us to know it was them, gave us two hundred dollars of 1s, 5s, and 10s so we could have starting cash for our big event.  Another family donated and American Girl Doll Asian Boy.

The weather was terrible.  It rained the first three hours of our sale on Friday.  On Saturday we closed five hours early when the thunder and lightning were showing they were not going to let up.  But you know what?  It was okay.  We raised $1,342 (including a few presales and the donation).  Today we sold a few more things, raising another $245 with a grand total of $1587.  We still have a full stall's worth of items we posted on local facebook sites and craigslist.  This is enough for one full airplane ticket for us to and from China - possibly even a little extra :)

Poor Abby was sick the whole time.  She had her five year shots on Thursday (five of them!) and ended up getting a fever of about 101 by the next morning (the day of the sale).  I was also tutoring still while my mom and friend worked the sale outside.  Abby's fever got up to 103 and when she was still sick last night on Saturday we brought her in to the doctor's office to find out she had tonsilitis.  She needed meds and today is doing much better.

What continues to amaze me is how perfectly God is providing for us financially.  After spending our savings, pulling our retirement, using the one loan we qualified for, the money raised from my parent's sale, and the money donated by friends, we were short by $1,800.  Right now, thanks to this sale, we only need about $300 before we travel, which is in about 7 weeks!  We still need to collect some money for while we are in China (we already are budgeted for hotels and food and travel necessary for the adoption) as well as medical expenses when we get home, but I am just in awe at the miracles God is providing for our family. 

So, now that we are almost through with walking down this aisle, we are ready to say, "I DO!" :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Metamorphasis

Cacooning.  That is what the time period is called by adoptive parents when they bring their child home when an adoption takes place.  People do this to help their child attach and bond with the family - to have a true sense of belonging and to find their own special place in our home.  We were told by one adoption agency to plan on a full three months before we even let family or friends hold our child.  Many children in orphanages have multiple caretakers.  People who have eight hour shifts and who go home at the end of their days.  I am not sure, but I believe that is what our son is experiencing right now.  We most likely will not follow the suggested timeframe, especially since after three months Melissa's adoptive leave will be finished, but we will definitely experience cacooning the first month+, as long as Christian needs to know how loved he is and that he is an equal member of our family.

If cacooning is the next phase we will enter, then I believe we are officially entering the phase of metamorphasis.  I can feel our family dynamics shifting and developing.  Our family has been so blessed these past two months by the generosity of our friends and family, and we are so thankful for this.  I can tell that I am nesting.  I keep sorting and reorganizing the clothes we have been given for Christina, pulling out toddler toys, making room in Abby's closet, and purging anything we no longer have a need for.  The dust bunnies better hop away, because once I am done with all this organizing craziness I am looking forward to a full scrub down so our son comes home to a clean and child-proofed home.   

We realize how fortunate we are to have such wonderful people in our lives, but I do find myself savoring a quiet day in and wanting to spend the day with the kids even more than setting up big adventures like we have done in the past.  I always enjoy my time out when we do make the decision to have an exciting day, but more often than not I prefer to just be home.  This must be part of our metamorphasis process. 

Don't get me wrong - we have been keeping super busy.  The first week of our summer vacation was spent wrapping up another great school year.  The second week was spent helping my parents with their garage sale (which also served as an awesome fundraiser).  The third week I went to NY to visit my grandma and family.  The last week and all of next week are now full of garage sale planning.  I can't even begin to describe how appreciative we are of all that our friends and family have given us.  All three stalls are full.  When I say full, I mean FULL.  I have about 12 tables set up with items above and below them, heaping full.  We even have bigger outside toys out on the porch because everything doesn't fit in the garage.  Our friends are helping us set up this week and a few are even helping during the sale itself. 

We have had our 1800 paperwork in Texas just over a week now, so any day we should get that returned in the mail.  On Wednesday of last week I received a text from the USCIS department that they had received our paperwork.  Once we have that returned I can start applying for our visas and the next steps.  In about eight more weeks we should be leaving!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Five Questions

I received this email this morning: 

Dear Adam & Melissa,
 
Congratulations on the arrival of your electronic (or “soft”) LOA!  We’re so excited that things are moving forward for you to bring home your sweet Liang, Yun Peng.
 
At this time, we will be requesting an update on your child!  We’ll of course be asking for new photos, new measurements, and an update on your child’s general health, but this is your opportunity to let us know what else YOU would like to ask!   Please note that this is the last update we will be able to request. J
 
Please respond with FIVE questions you would like for us to forward to your child’s orphanage.  We suggest asking those questions that would be most helpful in preparing for this child to join your family.  Please let us know your questions within one week of this email. 
 
As a reminder, while our staff will do their very best to obtain answers to our questions, we cannot guarantee the receipt of this information, nor how long it will take to hear back.  Rest assured that when/if we do receive new information on your child, we will let you know immediately!
 
I look forward to hearing your questions!  Have a wonderful day!


While I have about a million questions I would like to ask, I can't seem to gather my thoughts together enough to narrow them down to the "best" five questions.  I feel like I know so much about my little man, and at the same time, I know nothing.  Does he have a special lovey or comfort?  What foods does he like or hate?  Can he say any words yet?  What does he like to play with?  Who does he like to play with?  What scares him?  What makes him smile?  Does he like to be held?  Rocked?  Hugged?  Is he hugged?  

There are also those questions that nobody knows the answers to - at least not yet.  Will he love me?  Will my arms bring him comfort when he is hurt or scared?  Will he get along with his brother and sister?  Will he feel safe in our arms?  Will he love and know the Lord?  

I know I have said this before, but I am so thankful for the internet.  I have thrown out a request for friends to help me think of the five "best" questions to ask and look forward to this opportunity to learn more about my son.  I am so thankful for a great adoption agency.  I am so thankful for the orphanage our son is at.  I am so thankful for our son and AJ and Abby.  I am so thankful that this rollercoaster of a journey happened and also that it is almost over.  So much to be thankful for!