Thursday, December 16

Why we need another bathroom

The kids had a snow day today. Freezing cold outside and everyone in pj's watching cartoons this morning, so I thought I'd take a shower.

It went something like this:

Shower starts, and I'm enjoying the steaming hot water.

2 minutes in, Caroline enters.
Caroline: "Mom, the outfit Grandma gave me won't fit."
me: "What outfit?"
Caroline mumbles something I can't understand.

me: "What??" (straining to hear as I brush my teeth. Yes, I brush my teeth in the shower. Don't go there.)
Caroline(yelling): "The outfit for my American Girl doll."
me: "Okay, I'll check into it when I'm finished."

Two SECONDS later
Caroline: "Mom, it fits."
me: "Great. Now please leave." (Yes, I know. You can give me my mother-of-the-year award later.)

Two minutes later
Norah: "Mommy, Caroline won't let me play with (fill-in-the-blank-here)."
me: "I'll take care of it when I get out.

Two minutes later (see a pattern here?)
Will rips back the shower curtain and peers at me, erasing any shred of calm and decency I had left and hollers "HEWWO!"
me: "Hi Will. Shut the shower curtain please."
(He proceeds to use the restroom and then flush. TWICE. I holler, scalded from the hot water.)

Two minutes later
Caroline: "Mom, I know you said to leave, but is it okay if I come in to use the bathroom?"
me: "Sure." (I'm thinking....why not?)
Before I can say anything, she flushes.

No kidding. We *SO* need another bathroom.

Friday, December 10

Brave girl.


Despite the fact that neither of her siblings wanted anything to do with meeting Santa, she was determined to see for herself.

When asked what she wanted, she very softly answered, "nufing (nothing)". LOL!! That's not what I hear!

Wednesday, December 1

Date Day


Today I'm writing over at 5 Minutes for Special Needs about our tradition that we call "Date Day." Click here for the whole story.

Tuesday, November 30

Special Exposure Wednesday


Just one of the many perks of having a brother with special needs. Sensory swings in the basement.

Thursday, November 18

Happy Belated Halloween!

Yeah. I'm so behind, it isn't even funny.

But I had to share these three cuties:

a wizard (Hermione, perhaps? She says no - she's Jenny Weasley. Love this girl.)


a doctor (Fitting, considering her time spent in the hospital.)

Wall-E (No comment here except that it was a victory that Will kept on a costume AND let me take a picture.)



The best news this year was that ALL THREE of my kids went trick or treating and enjoyed it. Now there's a huge accomplishment, and not something I take for granted. Norah, of course, had to keep up with the big kids. Will rode in a stroller for the first half and then, after feeling brave enough, got out and went to houses with dad. All in all, it was a good time!

Tuesday, November 16

He's ours!


Yesterday we got the call that our LOA reached the doorstep of our adoption agency. Today, we received a package from FedEx with an embossed document from China stating that our paperwork was in line, and they officially referred him to us. We signed it, accepting his referral, and off it went.


Next step was sending a copy of this document (along with many others) to immigration here in the US so that they can give us approval to bring Eli home. (Prior to this, they had approved us to adopt a 3-5 year old boy from China, unspecified. Kind of a preapproval, so to speak.) Their approval will travel back to China so that China can approve a visa for him. There's a few other documents along the way, but this is the gist of the rest of the process. Eventually, we will receive travel approval when all of this is finished, and then we travel approximately two weeks later. These small steps we have left will still take us to about February.


All of that aside, today we are celebrating! Eli is ours, maybe not legally adopted, but ours...waiting for us to come and get him.

Tuesday, November 9

Saying Yes

It's been a heck of a week around here. My two youngest kiddos have had a level of crankiness that has shaken any ounce of patience I had left.

So last night, when my oldest asked about using chopsticks with dinner, I was ready to say no, bark orders to sit down and start eating, but something stopped me. I got out the chopsticks and let the girls attack their food. By the end of the meal, we had gone through several mini lessons on how to hold the chopsticks and how best to pick up the food.

Norah preferred the two hand grab.


Caroline almost had it mastered. I was impressed!


Dinner turned out to be a whole lot of fun as well as the highlight of my day. Which made me think....How often do I tell our kids "no" when the answer can really be "yes"? Does anyone else struggle with this?

Saturday, October 23

I haven't disappeared

Just been really busy since Norah finally came home from the hospital after 2 WEEKS. Sheesh.

Right now we're still waiting on the next document from China, celebrating Will's 6th birthday (pictures to follow), administering meds in a PICC line three times a day, celebrating an anniversary, and finishing up a soccer season. October is always our craziest month!!

I'll be back soon. ;)

Friday, October 1

Log In Date!!!

Exciting news! We have a log in date - September 20, 2010!!!

One step closer to Eli. Not much longer now, kiddo! We're working hard to get to you!!

We're now waiting for our LOA which could come 4-6 weeks after the Log in Date (LID). Then another 6-8 weeks for travel approval, and of course, we're in holiday season, both here and in China. So, we're looking at February, though we'll take something sooner, of course. ;)

Tuesday, September 21

Weary turns into worry.

Have mercy. I should not have complained about being weary, clearly.

On Monday of the week I last posted, Norah was admitted to the hospital for her high fevers and swollen glands. After treating her for Kawasaki's Disease, she wasn't getting any better and the doctors began looking for other causes. Some of them feared a bacterial infection in her body and started her on IV antibiotics. Meanwhile, she had blood drawn for a variety of viruses, blood cultured, a chest x-ray to rule out a tumor, and two ultrasounds to look for an abcess (infection) in her lymph node. By Saturday she looked like she was responding to the second IV antibiotic they tried, and we went home. (All tests were negative for the things I mentioned.)




On Sunday night, she was readmitted. The lymph node had grown larger and developed a red streak over top of it. The fever came back. Today she had an MRI which showed an abcess in her lymph node and there is question as to whether or not the infection has settled in her bone as well. Tomorrow she will have surgery to drain the abcess, culture the bacteria growing and decide whether or not she should be treated for bone infection as well. She will likely be in the hospital for another 2-5 days following the surgery. She will come home with a PICC line so that she can receive IV antibiotics for possibly up to 8 weeks.

But you will not catch me saying I'm weary. I'm tired, I'm worried about her, but at the moment, I'm just thankful that she's okay and that we are going to get to the bottom of what's been going on for the past two weeks.

Sunday, September 12

Today I'm weary.

A two year old going on four days with a temperature over 104 degrees.

A seven year old who enjoys annoying said two year old while sick and whiny with a fever.

A dossier stuck in California, making it feel like forever until we meet the three year old.

A five year old who thinks it is super fun to be naked. AGAIN. (I thought we passed this stage?)

I love being a mom, but tonight, I'm tired and weary. Good night.

Tuesday, September 7

Tennessee Girl


We recently went to Tennessee to visit family. Norah's cousins took care of "Tennessee-ifying" her, as her dad and I put it.

If you know our extended family, this totally makes sense. Bows in her hair, riding a quad. This says it all.

We had a wonderful time.

Monday, September 6

Hope does not disappoint us

Having a child with special needs is a journey unique to each family who deals with it. Our family handles much of our struggle and journey through faith and through community. We are fortunate to be surrounded by a community who carries us when we need it most.

I've written and rewritten this blog post in my head, and maybe later I'll expound on my beliefs, but for now, I wanted to get some thoughts down in print.

When I have times that I can not deal with what's going on in the daily grind, or when things hit me like a ton of bricks like they did when I received the results of Will's psychological testing two weeks ago, I fall back on my community and on my faith.

One of the verses that I have posted in a special place is from Romans 5: 2-5.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

While I would never choose to suffer or see my son suffer, my life and my character have been shaped by our journey with Will.

I am a better person because I am Will's mom.

Saturday, September 4

We're ready!


Or, at least his room is.

Hope he doesn't mind that all three of his siblings have been in there to make sure the bed is comfy.

Friday, September 3

With every season change....

....comes shoe shopping.
As if the money I spend on three kids' shoes and the torture of taking kids shopping weren't enough, Will hates the change. At the beginning of summer, I buy him sandals because he doesn't tolerate heat as it is. It takes him a couple of weeks of trying to take his shoes off every waking minute I have them on him, and then all is okay.

THEN comes my favorite season....FALL. Favorite except for shoe shopping where I go to Stride Rite because the worker knows the shoes cost too much is kind enough to wait while I wrestle socks onto my son's feet and then shove shoes on faster than he can blink. The worker might get kicked a few times, I say I like the shoes, I pay the bill and we're on our way.

If you are looking for me, I'll be the one repeatedly putting the shoes back on my son's feet while enjoying the apple cider.

Monday, August 30

not quite DTC

DTC = Dossier To China

Adoption is full of twists, turns, and delays. I know everyone wonders why the wait is so long when I tell them we are adopting a child who was waiting for a family. I mentioned the steps we still face in an earlier post. We are currently waiting for our dossier to be sent to China. Unfortunately, right now, it sits waiting for a piece of paper to be added. The second agency we are working with found out that China now requires this piece of paper, and so our dossier sits waiting for another week or two. Frustrating at times, but there's really nothing that can be done about it. So, we sit and wait some more.

Hopefully, sometime next week, I can tell you our dossier is headed for China. For now, we have plenty at home that needs our attention, and I am remembering that there are lessons to be learned in the wait.

Wednesday, August 25

Grant Approval!!!

We recently found out that we are the recipients of a $2,500 grant from a local church that has an adoption ministry! We are so excited! The church that awarded it asked us to let them know when travel arrangements are made so that they can send the check, so this will help pay for the big expense of traveling (almost a third of the adoption cost) when the time comes. Hooray!

Tuesday, August 24

Back to School!


I'm coming in a little late on this one. Getting the photos off of my camera lately is not too easy when you have someone climbing on your back asking to use the computer. ;)


Will's school is year round, so I don't have any "first day of school shots". He had a couple of weeks off in July and then back he went. I need to take some of him in front of his school here soon...perhaps when it is a bit cooler since he got a super cute back to school outfit from my neighbor and her mom.


Caroline started second grade last week. I can't believe it! I'm enjoying the time I have in the morning with just the littlest one, but man, my big girl is growing up too fast.

Monday, August 16

Approval!!!

Finally, it's here! We received our I-800A approval from USCIS on Friday.

I called my husband immediately who had the good sense to leave work was very thoughtful and came home so that we could get it notarized right away. After an entire afternoon of driving to the county and then to the state capital, it is now in the hands of our adoption agency! Hooray!!

For those who are curious about the process, the next steps look like this:
  • Currently, we are waiting to hear about our DTC date. (DTC = dossier to China)
  • From there, we've heard the LID comes quickly. (LID = log in date, a receipt of when China logs the dossier in)
  • There are countless blogs telling family stories of waits to adopt from China. The current timeline seems to be 30-50 days from LID to LOA. (LOA = letter of approval; We received pre-approval from China, however, this would be official approval after reviewing all of our documents.)
  • After LOA, we wait for TA. (TA = travel approval; I've heard there are a few, minor things that happen in between here and there...this part of the wait can take anywhere from a short time to a few months, it seems)
  • From TA, it is usually 1-3 weeks to travel.

All of this puts our best guess at getting Eli in January. Well, January-ish. We'd love for it to happen more quickly, but trying our best to realize that it will happen on God's time, and not ours. In the meantime, there's plenty to do here!

Friday, August 6

Wednesday, August 4

Progress is good, right?


That, my friends, is my basement floor.....

.....after Will dribbled the whole way to the bathroom. We arrived home and came inside through the garage. Will immediately began the potty dance and started pulling anything on his lower half down.

The end result was what you see with a bit of something making it actually IN the potty.

I admit, I had a good laugh about this one.

waiting....waiting....waiting

We were fingerprinted for USCIS on Monday. This was a blessing as my appointment was actually on Monday, but Jim's was not scheduled until next week! The people at our USCIS office are really kind and helpful....the same folks were there for Norah's adoption. They allowed Jim to get his fingerprints done anyway, and we are now waiting on our approval (I-797 for those in adoption land) so that we can send our dossier to China.

Now that we are close to sending things, the timeline is out of our hands and into the hands of Eli's birth country, and I have been looking at the average wait times lately. It looks like most are cases are taking about 4-6 months from LID (log in date) to traveling. The LID will come when we send our dossier to China and they send us a date saying that they've accepted it. We're hoping this will come this month, but could possibly come next month.

At this point, we're praying boldly and asking anyone who is willing to do the same along with us. We're praying that our approval comes very soon, as some have, and that our dossier gets logged in very quickly once it is in China. Above all else, we're praying that somehow, we fall on the short end of the estimated time frame so that Eli can be home for his fourth birthday on January 8th, or, at the very least, we will be with him on his birthday.

Thank you for praying with us!!

Saturday, July 31

the potty training roller coaster

So, Will is doing really well with the potty! (Yay!)

However, he is still doing number two in his pants. (Boo!)

He's figured out that we don't want it in his pants and chooses to then put it in the potty himself. (Yucky. Double boo.)

His medicaid will cover his night time pull ups! (Yay!)

He's been waiting too long to go and leaves a nice large wet spot on many days. (Boo.)

He's learning how to aim and has been hitting my shower curtain less. (Yay!)

However, tonight at his grandparents' house, he managed to wait so long he wet every outfit I brought him while trying to get to the potty. (Boo.)

Seriously....is it any wonder I'm exhausted by the end of the day????? One day, hopefully soon, this roller coaster will end!!!

Thursday, July 29

Someday...

I dream of being a photographer who takes pictures of kids, especially those of kids with special needs. (Because let's face it, a photographer who really gets our kids and is willing to work with them is hard to find!)

Anyway...just something I think about from time to time. Even if it never happens, I love taking photos of my kids and hope to take a class someday.

Meanwhile, here are some shots of Norah when she's being really sweet. ;)


I made the hair bow for her. For directions, click here.



To put the vignette around her on this one, I used Picnik, my all time new favorite easy software. (and free!)

Wednesday, July 28

Yeah, what she said.

"God doesn't give children with disabilities to strong people: He gives them to ordinary, everyday people, then He helps the parents to grow stronger through the journey. Raising a child with special needs doesn't TAKE a special family, it MAKES a special family."

-Author Unknown

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Can I get an amen?

Loads of people have told me how strong I must be, how God knew I could handle this or that God knows what we can all handle. Maybe. I do believe that in the end, my life was designed by God for a purpose, and Will is a part of all of that.

These people who say these things are well meaning, and I'm never upset with them. But I want them to know.....I wasn't given Will because I was strong, but I was made stronger by the journey, and only by the grace of God.

Thursday, July 22

In Defense of Hope

I wanted to share this post at Hopeful Parents from over a month ago. The writer puts it so much more eloquently than I can, but I found myself nodding my head in agreement the entire time I read it.

Having a child with autism as well as a child who is from a different cultural background sometimes draws curious questions and looks. I know this. I'm aware of it.

The bottom line is that my response is what really matters here. I can choose to teach my girls kindness and grace, or I can retort with a not-so-nice look or comment. Our family chooses to hope for the best in others' intentions. That is not to say that my feelings don't get hurt at times by comments or that I can always let the stares roll off of my back so easily. (I am human, after all!) Nor do I think less of anyone who chooses to show the hurt feelings differently.

However, I am reminded that my girls are watching my every move and are learning from me. Therefore, I choose HOPE. Sometimes, I pray. For me, it is better than the alternative.

Wednesday, July 21

best 15 bucks I've spent this summer

video

(This is called a Stomp Rocket for those who are interested. Every time he'd set it off, Will would yell "Oh man! Amazing!" LOL)

Sunday, July 18

a special gift

When we adopted Norah from Vietnam, we traveled with three families also picking up children in the same orphanage. One was a single man who brought his sister along as support for the majority of the trip. My husband was the only other man on the trip, and so frequently, when we went shopping, the men talked as the women walked along, chatting. During one of these shopping trips, we checked out artwork, looking for something to hang on our living room wall.

When the trip was over, we all said our goodbyes, knowing that the four of us lived in separate corners of the country, and exchanged emails and addresses. It is hard to describe to many who haven't had this experience, but we shared a common bond with these families, and they will forever share a special place in our hearts.

Not long after we arrived home, we received a large package from FedEx. Inside was a beautiful painting and a note from the man we met on our trip, thanking us for the time we spent with him and for the friendship we made.


18 months after we arrived home, we finally had the painting framed and hung it on our wall. It was a very thoughtful gift...one that we will cherish forever. I know that each time we look at it, we are reminded of our trip to Vietnam and the friendships we made during our time there, and for that, I am very thankful.

Check this out!

I discovered an article this morning about "Sensory Friendly Films" being shown at AMC movie theaters! Unfortunately, we just missed July's showing, but there is one per month, and there is an AMC movie theater nearby us, just across the river.

We've taken Will to the movies before as he LOVES to watch movies and generally is pretty good. However, we always try to go to the cheap movies because they are less crowded and I never know if he is going to want to wander the row we are sitting in, or if he will make noise that would disturb others. Also recently, he has really started to show some fear during movies and wants to hide if someone is getting in trouble or hurt.

We don't necessarily need the lights turned up or the GFCF snack allowances (both part of the "sensory friendly" deal), but we would love to go and allow Will to be his own person, rather than stressing about keeping him quiet and sitting. I can't wait!

Saturday, July 17

some new pictures



We received some new pictures of Eli this morning! :) We feel SO lucky to have these to share with him as he gets older and looks back on his history.

Friday, July 16

in China today


Today, a little boy's parents will be leaving their home in our city and traveling to China to begin their trip. On Monday, they will have him in their arms. He is a friend of Eli's and has waited a very long time for his forever family. A couple of weeks ago, he had to travel back to his orphanage to wait for his parents to arrive, which meant leaving enough food, adequate medical care, and his friends and nannies behind. (He is the one sitting in the picture. Eli is on the right. Another little friend, waiting on his family, is on the left. All three of these boys have a special place in my heart after getting to know them and their families!)

Please say a prayer for him that he will sense that his parents are coming to get him soon, and pray for a safe trip for his parents.

Sunday, June 27

I want to always appreciate this.

We are on vacation at the beach, and it is lovely.

Last night, as we played on the beach as the sun went down, I looked out over the waves and watched the two year old splash around with her sister and her grandparents. I reflected on her year and a half with us.

At the same time, I glanced the five year old splashing in the waves and going out just far enough for daddy to have to real him back in.

The seven year old was busy chasing crabs with her cousin, flashlights in hand. (They saw none. :)

Two years ago, at the same beach, it was honestly not such a great time. Will couldn't tolerate the heat, wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep, and was generally miserable. He had just started on something called carnitine - an important amino acid that he was bottomed out in, and we hadn't gotten the dosage quite right. He was crashing during our vacation. My sweet boy laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling a lot of the vacation, mostly unresponsive. We wondered if we'd ever have a decent vacation again.

Last night I watched as ALL 3 of my children enjoyed the beach. Played like kids should. It was a feeling that I want to remember forever.

I don't ever want to stop appreciating where we are or the blessings we've been given. It would be easy to fall into a trap of dwelling on all that Will can't do, but instead, I try to dwell on all that he CAN do. It makes a big difference.

Wednesday, June 23

that special mom guilt

picture from Wikipedia


Last night I walked in from a meeting at church to find my seven year old holding a very bloody paper towel.

"I've lost another tooth!" she says.

We celebrate, and before bed, we realize that the tooth is lost. Daddy and I reassure her that we will write a personal note to the tooth fairy and all will be fine.

We fall asleep after talking about Will's potty training and filling out an adoption grant for Eli. Morning comes, and I'm awakened by the sound of my seven year old sobbing.

The tooth fairy didn't come. Mom and dad forgot the note to the tooth fairy. She recovers shortly after, when she realizes that she can write a note herself. Mom doesn't recover so quickly....how many times in her life is she going to feel like she isn't getting enough of our attention, especially when we have to give so much to the others? People make mistakes, she will learn, and although my head realizes that we're doing the best we can, my heart isn't getting the message.

I still feel guilty, in the special way that only moms can. Can anyone else relate to this?

Off to help write a letter so that the tooth fairy doesn't bypass us AGAIN.

Wednesday, June 16

How about some new pictures??

I'm working on several new posts about things that have gone on in our house lately, but for now, how about some new pictures of my cutie pie in China?





He's at a wonderful foster care center, as you can see. These pictures were taken on a recent outing. The foster care center is run primarily through donations, and we couldn't be more grateful to the people who find it in their hearts to do so. Orphanage life is dismal at best, but this foster care center for kids with special needs is amazing.

With all of this comes the realization that Eli may have a very hard time transitioning to his new family because clearly, he has developed strong attachments to his caregivers as well as the other children in the center. However, I'm grateful for this because it is important for his development. We can help him transition to our family, but we can not make up for a lack of attachment early on in life. We just know to expect some grieving and give him time to do so.

If you'd like to read more about the center, click here. Bringing Hope to Children is run by the agency we adopted Norah through: IAAP.

Friday, June 11

millions of orphans

There are three little boys at the foster care center who are in the process of being adopted. One of those boys is actually being adopted by a family who lives close to us and has many children with special needs. One of their oldest kids put together a brilliant video for his senior project at the local university.

Check it out. Might want to grab the kleenex before you do, however.

Hope is Fading from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 1

lessons along the way


I have a sweet online friend who I once heard compare having a child with special needs to seeing the Wizard of Oz in full color as opposed to black and white.

Trust me. Not all days are colorful in this house. Not even close.

But for the most part, when I can stop and think, I appreciate the little things brought about only by having Will in my life. One of these happens to be the loss of thinking I can do everything on my own. This is a tough one for me. In fact, if I had my way, I'd control it all. Wouldn't most moms? Don't we relish control?

Just recently, I met a woman named Dynette. Dynette runs a really awesome non-profit called Building Blocks for Kids. BB4K (as it is often referred to) raises money to pay for things for kids with special needs that might not otherwise be met by traditional funding.

Several months ago, it was suggested to me that I might fill out an application for BB4K to see if they could help us pay for Will's out-of-pocket speech therapy. A little over a month ago, we received word that they had already raised enough money to pay for 6 MONTHS of therapy. The picture above shows us with Dynette and a golfer who is a part of an association that raised nearly $3,000 for Will's therapy.

$3,000 because they saw a need and a cute little face in a photograph and decided to help.

Because of them, we can continue Will's therapy as well as make the possibility of bringing another child with special needs into our home a reality. Tonight, as I look at this picture, I am once again humbled and grateful.

Thursday, May 20

proof that she really does listen sometimes

What Norah has learned in church recently....

video

I should probably add that it takes a lot for me to post a video that includes me singing! Never was my talent...

Monday, May 17

slowing down the pace

Yesterday was one of those days.

More of a race than a day off.

More arguing than playing.

More crying than laughing.

Sometimes, on these days, I stop and wonder what is wrong. How I will ever add another child to this family and make it all work. I sat down to pray. This morning, two messages appeared in my email inbox, an answer to my overwhelmed prayer.

The first was from the ScreamFree Institute.

The second was from this blog, Indie Tutes via a friend's facebook page.

The laundry, well, it will have to be done. The bills paid, the children fed. It all must be done. But there is no prize for having the dishes done the same day they were dirtied, or having homemade cookies instead of store bought, or having the toys separated into colour coded baskets. -Indie Tutes

Amen.

Friday, May 14

asking for prayer

Things continue to move along with the adoption as expected. (Well, besides me realizing that I left our entire dossier at the local post office a few days ago. Finding out that it was there and still in one piece was most definitely an answered prayer.)

However, we've hit a small stumbling block. Cash flow is proving to be a problem. While I'd prefer not to go into personal details like this here on my blog, we have access to some of the money we will need to complete the adoption, but not all of it. While we try and sort through how we will come up with the remaining money at the end, we are asking for prayer to help us make some decisions or to be patient as God shows us what He wants us to do.

We recently found out that Eli can be part of the Shepherd's Crook Ministries, which is exciting! They will help us do some fundraising as well as pray with us during the journey...something that brings us much comfort. We are also anxiously awaiting the completion of our home study report, which will allow us to apply for adoption grants available for "hard to place" children. Eli qualifies due to his special needs.

Regardless, we both feel strongly that this is something we were called to do, and we know that somehow, the money will be found. In the meantime, prayers are welcomed. :)

Tuesday, May 11

New Pictures

I haven't had much blog time recently...most of my time has been devoted to running around and getting the necessary paperwork finished in the shortest amount of time possible. :) We are also working hard on our house, changing the rooms around so that the girls can share and Eli can be next to our room.

I received several emails full of pictures of Eli recently and thought I would share. We have been so blessed with his adoption so far. He has lived in a foster care center since he was a tiny baby, and the nannies there clearly love the children and work hard to do the very best for them. We realize that there are going to be some bumps along the way and that his transition to our family is likely going to be more challenging than Norah's, but we are so ready to bring him home!






Monday, May 10

blissfully unaware

There are times that I still long for the days when I was blissfully unaware. Unaware the differences between a mic-key and an amt mini. Unaware of how melatonin works (or why it doesn't sometimes). Unaware that syringes made great bath toys. And so on. You get the idea.

I fully realize that part of my journey included becoming MORE aware, not less, and that clearly, the path that God has me on does not include naivety or ignorance.

I was reminded of this again the other day while at an activity for one of my girls. During the activity, I have only one girl to attend to. I find myself very relaxed, carefree even. However, while we were there, I noticed another child that was a part of what we were doing. Suddenly, my heart sank, and my stomach was in knots. Because it was clear to me that this other child had a little something more. Pre-diagnosis, I'm sure....this child's mother was clearly struggling. She remarked how she was always tired, and how her child never stopped. You could feel her embarrassment when her child wouldn't listen, despite her best efforts.

Bah. I hate being aware sometimes. I wanted to hug her, to tell her that she wasn't a bad parent, and that, in the end, everything would be okay. But she doesn't yet know about this journey; about the road she's going to travel. So, for now, I play with my daughter and watch from the sidelines.

Because sometimes the best I can do is to pretend to be unaware.

Thursday, April 22

dossier pictures

We have to include some pictures in our dossier. Here are a couple of the cuter ones:

I found them this way, watching TV. Aren't they sweet???


I have a hard time believing there will be four before long! :)

Monday, April 19

details, details

I wanted to take a minute and answer some questions we've been asked:

What is his special need? He was born with a meningocele, a neural tube defect. It was repaired when he was a young baby, and he's doing very well now. He just learned to walk at age 3, but is talking and trying to potty train.

How old is he? He's 3. He and Norah share the exact same birthday, except that he is one year older than she is.

How long will this process take? The timeline looks to be about 6-8 months.

Isn't adopting a boy from China rare? No, not if you are looking at special needs. Many of the healthy children adopted are girls still, but the special need lists are full of boys waiting for homes. For a variety of reasons, the boys sit on these lists for a very long time, even when there are both girls and boys on the waiting lists. Girls are still generally chosen first.

What will it cost? Honestly, though sometimes stressful, this doesn't matter much. We believe that God will provide for us and we've never been disappointed before. I decided to edit here and take out the real cost. You can always find out on the internet. :)

One other thing.....we realize this type of journey is not for everyone. Three years ago, when we began Norah's adoption, it wasn't for us, either. We actually started in the "healthy as possible" child line and asked for a girl. We later decided that we wanted to switch to a special needs adoption. Norah was originally suspected of having a condition that would affect her right arm and possibly her heart. Turns out that she has just a birthmark.

This time around, we knew if we planned to adopt again, it would be a child that was considered "hard to place". Even a year ago, however, I could not have handled this with Will's needs. It is all part of our journey.

So, here it is....Eli's story begins. We can't wait for him to come home.

have you seen this?

Kisses From Katie

It is a blog, written by a girl who is over 10 years younger than I. Amazing. Inspiring.

Tuesday, April 13

pre-approval!!!


Yahoo! We received pre-approval for our boy in China last night!!! The picture above shows him with a buddy who is also being adopted. Looking at this picture makes me realize he's a BIG boy! :)


Today I spent the better part of the morning trying to put together a package to send to Eli Tao. (Yep, that's his name! Eli is the American name we've given him; Tao is his Chinese name. We *think* we'll be calling him by both for a while, but honestly....we aren't set on anything. Some of it depends on what he thinks!)


What a task....just what do you send your child the first time he hears about you?? We created a photo book with our pictures and will be sending him a small pillow with Cars movie characters on it as well as a small toy school bus like the one his big sister rides. :)


Hopefully I'll answer some questions that we've been asked in the next post. Its been sort of crazy around here!!


Friday, April 2

oh, the paperwork journey

I seriously thought I'd never have the patience or tolerance to go through this paperwork process again. Putting together Norah's dossier was so incredibly consuming for me that I literally got ill at the thought of pursuing another.

However, it is really amazing how knowing what to expect lessens some of the burden.

It isn't without the craziness, though! Thankfully we are working with two really great agencies, who are used to dealing with stressed out parents.

Just when I thought pre-approval was submitted and all was quiet on the homefront for a few days, we received a call today saying that China needs some bloodwork. Like yesterday. Unfortunately, Jim's doctor did not draw for the bloodwork the day we had our physicals like mine did. So my labs are in, and he rushed off to the office to have labs drawn a few minutes ago.
This too shall pass.

As far as the process goes, our timeline to bring him home looks like it averages out to around 6-8 months from now. We have submitted for pre-approval. Once we receive pre-approval, we have three months to submit our dossier or an extension. After the dossier, most are taking 3-4 months for a Letter of Approval (LOA). Following that, we wait a few more weeks for travel approval and then off we go!

I know we've had a lot of questions since we've announced this....I promise to answer more of them over the next couple of weeks.

For now, I'll leave you with just a picture of the cutie pie when he was a little younger.....

Tuesday, March 30

a crazy calling

We know that God calls people to do crazy things sometimes.

My husband and I have commented more than once how much easier things have recently become. Will's school has helped him tremendously, which in turn has made things easier on us. Norah has settled into our family, weathered most of the really awful twos and seems to be coming around to the other side. Caroline, for her part, has always been pretty easy and helpful.

So just when we thought we were comfortable, we heard a calling.

It started with a picture.



And then another.



Until I finally realized that the reason I could not leave this little face was perhaps that MY plan...the one where I adopted again when Norah and Will were in school a full day...the one that included paying off Norah's adoption first....wasn't the plan at all. It became really clear that His plan included this child.

And so it begins. One more crazy, awesome journey.

Monday, March 29

Big girl, fun times


** For those who are wondering, Norah is wearing a shirt from church. We are in the middle of a series about being free, but I thought it was hilarious regardless. No, I'm not giving her away. Yet.**

Norah has decided that she wants to be just like her sister. She follows her around, wants to know where Caroline is when she's at school, and copies her every move.

Since it was spring break for my kids, I decided now was probably a good time to at least introduce the potty, even if she wasn't ready. The first couple of days were....well, um, interesting. As I cleaned her mistakes off of my floor, I assumed she wasn't ready. But all of a sudden, at the end of the week, a light bulb went on and she can now stay pretty dry as long as she wears no pants. Or panties. Or anything really.

So, since Will is still on spring break this week, I'm continuing to let her run around naked or with panties only. So far, so good. I'm hoping that if we continue this, gradually she'll just get it even when she's clothed. That way, this summer, I can concentrate on potty training Will via ABA methods. I'd be grateful to only have one to have to concentrate on!

We are also painting a big girl bed for her since she can climb in and out of her crib at will. This summer we plan to move her into her sister's room. Both girls seem okay with the idea, so we're getting things ready!