An invisible red thread connects those that are destined to meet,regardless of time,place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.~Ancient Chinese Proverb

Friday, December 28, 2012

Moving Closer!!

Well, we made some big progress in our steps towards bringing our little Miss home!!
Our last Homeland Security was approved back before Christmas and was forwarded to the NVC (National Visa Center). This week we were issued a GUZ number and emailed our file from them, and they have now forwarded our case to the Embassy in Guangzhou, China. This in adoption terms, is known as our Article 5 drop-off. We had hopped it would be dropped off to the Embassy today, but since it is already Saturday in China, and the Embassy there will close for our New Years holiday, it may not be until next Wednesday or Thursday until it is dropped off. It will remain there for exactly 14 days, and then picked up. Think I have that date circled on my calendar???? You bet!!!. Once our Article 5 is picked up in China...we are officially waiting on Travel Approval (which takes another 2 weeks)...Bottom line...we are a little more than 4 weeks away from having Travel Approval!!Insert happy dance here!!
I have been all about the signs along the way in this process..and when I started calculating when we may finally be holding our little girl, I did the math and realized that it will come very close to the 1 year mark, from we first officially began this journey....
This has been a long process, but one that I knew God had his hands on the whole time...guiding us every step of the way. He led us TO it and will see us THROUGH it...and we are so close.
We sent off our last official care package to our girl. It should have made it to her by now and we hope she is getting to hold some of the very things we have held...

We even had a photo collage made with our photos on it for the Orphanage Workers to hang over her crib!
We have met a sweet family who is very close to receiving their Travel Approval and will be traveling sometime in January to bring their little girl home. their little girl is in the same room in the same Orphanage as our little girl, and so this family has offered to take a little something from us and give to her...what a gift!!! They have also offered to take some photos of her, if they are allowed. And so, right after the New Year, I will be packing up some really sweet things for them to deliver to my little girl...oh, how I can't wait for this new friend of mine to lay eyes on our girl!!

Enjoying our Christmas

Well, this post is a little late in coming..but we survived Christmas!!
It seemed like a blur, as I feel very sick with what I'm almost certain was the FLU, a few days before Christmas. It was miserable and I was so grateful for my hubby who pulled it together, ran the house, and more importantly, stalled the out of town guests that were due to arrive 5 days before Christmas--it just WASN'T happening!! It couldn't!
So, with the some uninterrupted bed rest, lots of fluid, some medicine and some time, Momma got better, and Christmas came.
It don't think the Boys seemed to notice the fog I was in, and completely enjoyed every ounce of their holiday...just as little ones should do!!
The family arrived, the gifts mounted and the food was delicious. Way more sweets than one person needs!

Santa even hooked Mommy up for her upcoming trip to China! Lots of wool socks (us Southerners don't wear those much), sweaters, an IPOD for my praise and worship music, a new camera, an Ergo baby carrier and other travel accessories.
Both boys also managed to come down with colds, too..but despite the germs, we enjoyed our holiday and counted every blessing that we are so fortunate to have.!
we took a small break after Christmas and now are enjoying even more out of town family that will be with us until New Years Day......

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Aboard the Toyota Express!!

So, with a little inspiration from Pinterest, I decided to vamp up our yearly drive thru our local Christmas Lights display.
After dinner, I had the Boys PJ's ready, along with a board the Toyota Express..which would be driving them through the beautiful Christmas lights. Both Alex and I have been battling colds, so this was the perfect nightly outing, that would keep us in the Holiday spirit..and warm at the same time.

So, we donned our PJ's , grabbed our tickets, and loaded up in the old Toyota Tundra (driven by our Conductor...Daddy!)

The lights were beautiful, and we each had our own favorites. Mine was the Peacock, Nick's was Santa playing Basketball and Alex's was The statue of Liberty.

After two rides through the lights, we headed home to decorate Gingerbread cookies...and of them!!

I love these Holiday traditions...down to the last bite!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

You Are My Child
by Shawna Fox

Sometimes I sit and wonder how it's going to be.
When I can call your name, and you look up at me.
I don't try to understand why you've been left alone.
But I pray and count the hours 'til I come and bring you home.

I wasn't there when you were born; I didn't see you start to crawl.
I couldn't watch your first few steps, or pick you up from your first fall.
I may not be the one who saw your first sweet smile.
I wasn't there in the beginning; but from now on, you are my child!
Every night I touch your picture before I can go to bed
So that images of you will be dancing in my head.
And although we've never met you, and we've never held you close,
We're so blessed to be your parents; and we thank God we're who He chose.

I reach for your tiny hands, but you're a million miles away.
And I know I love you more with each slowly passing day.
From the moment you entered our lives, you became a vital part.
You may not have my eyes, but you will always have my heart.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Beginning to look alot like Christmas!!

Well, Christmas is in the air around here!! I fought it, tooth and nail, but it's not really that I don't like Christmas...I do!! I just can't handle it BEFORE Thanksgiving. Come on holiday at a time Don't rush it. However, once the leftover turkey is thrown out,,let's get to it! Trees up, stockings hung, cookies baking...IT'S CHRISTMASTIME!!! I really do find this time of year so warm...the sight on the Boys faces makes every backache from putting up our trees, every stubborn piece of glitter that gets stuck in my hair, every Chipmunk's song I have to hear, totally worth it. I hope and pray that my Boys will love and look forward to Christmas, as much as I always did growing up. My Mom always made Christmas so fun for us, and I really hope that my children will take away the same fond memories of the Season.

The Boys get their own tree (in their new bedroom that they are now sharing), and so they decorated it with all of the ornaments that they have collected.

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care...with hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there....

It's not even the middle of the month yet, and we have so many Holiday activities planned.
We attended our Church's annual Christmas Musical last night. It was truly beautiful. As I sat there in our pew, I reflected on our past year. We have been so blessed. We haven't had to say "goodbye" to anyone in our family this year, and next year we will hopefully be blessed enough to say the same. We WILL get to say "hello" to the newest little girl who will join our family. Our God is so great. He is always there, always watching, with a never-ending LOVE that I am blessed to feel in my heart each day.
My hope for any of you reading this, is that you feel that love, too. That you always remember the reason for the Season....

LOA-Letter of Acceptance

We got it!!! On Dec. 4th (almost 15 days earlier than I was thinking it would come), we received our coveted LOA. This was the BIG, BIG, BIG document we were waiting on to proceed with our adoption and take us into the final travel planning portion of our trip. This is HUGE!
I had been texting another fellow Adoptive Momma back and forth that afternoon with just our usual daily "adoptive chit chat". I put my phone down and then heard it beep. I walked back over to the phone, thinking it was her, again, responding. When I saw that it wasn't a text alert, I clicked my email button and saw those precious words....You're LOA is HERE!!!. I started screaming, jumping up and down, and saying some words that I probably shouldn't repeat on here. My husband was so excited too, but quickly reminded me.."Honey...You're scaring the Boys!!". You cannot understand the joy these three letters bring..They mean China wants us to come get our girl. They find us completely fit, have no other questions...and want us to sign YES that we are coming for her. Are you crazy??? What took ya so long, China???
So, our agency told us that they would be overnighting us the letter for us to sign and to return overnight to them. With the email notification of the LOA's arrival, came TONS of emails from our agency. I had heard from others that once this document is received, the pace picks up..Boy, they weren't kidding . I think I had 4 or 5 emails later than evening from the Travel you know how I LOVE to see the words TRAVEL TEAM??  They sent us more paperwork to get started on. Travel releases, vaccine waivers, paperwork to begin her Chinese passport...(for this, I was finally asked to provide them with the name we will GIVE her, once we adopt her). Oh, it felt so good to send them this bit of information. We are rolling!!
We also went ahead and contacted a courier about filing for our travel Visas for China.
Since I had totally checked the Fed-Ex tracking and knew that I didn't have to be there to sign for the delivery, we were not at home when the package arrived (no photo of the Fed-Ex guy coming to my door). (That's an inside joke that all of my other adoptive Mommas will understand!!)
I ripped open the envelope, checked it for accuracy, and then checked the box, HECK YEAH, we are ready to come get her!! We sent the LOA back to our agencies, along with our Homeland Security 800 form overnight mail. The agency received it the next day and forwarded the 800 Homeland Security form off to Texas.
So....what's our timeline now??? Well, we have been asking many other adoptive families from our agency, and they all seem to echo the same thing. They are usually booking their flights around 8 weeks later, and on a plane by the 9th week...that's 2 months!!! For some of you, you may be thinking...2 MORE MONTHS??? But, after 10 months into this journey, and 2 months of having a photo of our sweet girl"s face...we will take 2 months!! We can see the end in sight!!!
And so, I quickly referenced our calendar to see just when this travel may fall. Chinese New Year is celebrated at the beginning of February and during that time, all Gov't offices there are closed, (and no adoptions can take place). Because of this, our agency will send their last approved travel group over around the 24th of January, and will not resume sending families over for adoptions until Valentine's Day. We are hoping and praying that every last step that has to take place between now and when we can book our flights, will get done before then, and maybe we can be one of those families in that group. If not, it will be very shortly after. Either way, we are totally planning on February travel..and that's it...I'm not taking no for an answer..haha...
I am really hoping that these next few months fly by. We really do have a lot to do. Finish up the little touches on her room, but a new Winter Wardrobe for all of us ( you know HOW cold it is in Beijing in February??Here's a hint~ SNOW! And probably lots of it!). This Southern girl will surely turn into a block of ice,buy our Mandarin CD, to start learning a little of the language (we cant totally rely on our guide for 2 weeks!), schedule little Miss's consult for her surgery (once we know exactly when we are leaving), OHHH, and how did I forget the most important thing??? Start shopping for Miss Mia's Easter Dress!!!
I have sworn that once we got to this stage in the process, that I would let go a little and not obsess over what comes next and how long it takes..I mean, after all, we have an idea now... But, alas, here I am , stalking Fed-Ex and Express Mail tracking labels...counting how many days the next step will take. It's not likely that we could travel any earlier than expected, but good Lord, please don't let it be one week later...We are ready!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Her first and last Birthday alone....

On Sunday, our sweet baby girl turned 1.
What a bittersweet day. I think back to the first Birthday's of both of my Boys. Big parties with family and friends. Gifts galore, cake, balloons, the works.
Instead on this little girl's first Birthday, she spent the day in an Orphanage. Where I don't know how much she was held, how often she was fed, changed, and heck..I don't even know if the Orphanage workers even realized that it WAS her Birthday.
I thought about our sweet girl allday long. I prayed for her, that she may somehow feel the comfort and peace that I was sending her through my thoughts. I can't wait to hold her and make up for every single second that she was alone. We have alot of time to catch up on. Alot of kisses to give, alot of snuggles to get, alot of smiles to see and a BIG Birthday to make up for.
Today, we celebrated in our own way. We had a cake made for her. Lit a candle and made a wish for our sweet girl. We hoped and wished that she knows how loved she is and that she has a family coming for her.
We celebrated that night at one of our favorite Asian restaurants. This is the restaurant where I received the fortune cookie saying.." A pleasant surprise is in your future" just 3 days before we got the call about her file! So, it was obvious that this is where we would come to celebrate her special day. We were joined by some close friends who have known and supported us through our adoption since the very beginning. They are like family to us, and can't wait until she is here, in person, to celebrate with.

On this day, like many others, my mind drifted to another woman, on the other side of the world. My Daughter's birth mother. I will never know or meet this woman but yet I am so curious about her. I wonder if she remembered this special day. Did her heart ache? Does she look back on that day with sadness? Does she wonder about this little girl? I can't imagine having to give my sweet, tiny baby up at only a few days old. I don't think I would ever forget that day. I can't help but feel an overwhelming sadness for this lady, but an extreme gratitude for choosing LIFE for her sweet girl. Even though she would be uncertain of her Daughter's future, she gave her a chance..and for that, my heart overflows with appreciation and love.
My hope is that somehow, someway, this woman will feel peace when she thinks of the little girl she gave life to. I pray that she will feel contentment in her heart and believe that her girl has found a family who is able to care for her, the way that she was unable to. This is my prayer as our sweet girl turns 1.........

Happy Birthday, sweet one. Your last Birthday without the arms of a loving family.....

A Day to Give Thanks

This year, just as we have the last few years, we traveled to the Coast to spend Thanksgiving with my dear Grandparents. I grew up with them always nearby, and so to have them a state apart the last 10 years or so has been so hard. I miss not being able to hop in the car and see them in a matter of minutes. I love them both more than anything and can't imagine the day when I won't get to spend this Holiday with them. The Boys adore their G-G and Pop-Pop, and we are so fortunate to have them know their Great-Grandparents. My one hope is that Mia will get the chance to meet them both, and be held by them, too.
The day was beautiful. We played outside, swung, even played a little game of touch football in the backyard. The food was plentiful, and the company was even better.

I hope you all spent your Thanksgiving reflecting on the many blessings in YOUR life!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finding a piece of her past....

When we accepted the file of our sweet girl, we were given as much information on her past as is known. We know where she was found, who found her, how she was found and how old she was when she was found. While this makes her WHO she is, we feel that some of those details should be kept private, shared with her at a later time. Something that we were told we may be able to locate was called a "Finding Ad". When children are found abandoned, the City issues what is called a "finding ad" in the newspaper. It is exactly what it sound like...a photo of the child, telling where the child was found, how old they approximate the child to be and asks for anyone who knows the relatives of this child to come forward. No one ever does. Because of China's "One Child Rule", parents are forced to give up their second child, or even their first, if it happens to be a girl or a child born with an impairment. Boys are preferred because they will one day work for the family and make money for them. A stigma is attached to those born with deformities or impairments and so those children are also cast aside. While we will never know the reason behind our girl's abandonment, we can assume that it was either gender related or more likely related to her cleft lip.Parents do not have the money it takes to repair this condition and so many cleft babies are found abandoned. Luckily for us, this is a VERY treatable condition, and one that IS afforded, due to the excellent medical coverage provided here in the States.
In my research, I was given the name of a man who was known for tracking down old archives and finding these ads for adoptive parents. While we have very little birth info on our girl, this would be something huge to have. I sent him an email with all of her information...where, when and how she was found...
later that day I had an email from him. He had found her finding ad..and could even provide me with the actual newspaper of that day!! What a gift!
Well, yesterday it arrived.
I'm not sure I was ready for the impact it would have on me.
Holding that newspaper...seeing her face...reading the details (yes, he translated it for me!)
I was overwhelmed with emotion. I hadn't hadn't really "ached" for her until now.
She was abandoned, found, given care, and now she has a family waiting to love her...She NEEDS to come home. She no longer deserves to be alone, waiting to be held, fed and loved on. She needs to be HERE, NOW..

While the way her life began, will not shape who she may offer her a glimpse one day into her past. After all, anything we can find of her is to be, info...anything..
We were fortunate that the City Orphanage had her cleft lip repaired around 9 months old. We feel that they were getting her " ready" to be presented to a family for possible adoption. Luckily for us, WE were the ones given her file in October. While we were told that she had had her lip repaired a month prior, and her photos indicated the surgery, we also received many photos of her before her surgery. While many people would shy away form looking at a cleft baby, I instantly fell in love that sweet big ole smile. I ached for her, because I knew of the difficulties that a cleft can bring, but I loved her just as much. Even though we have current photos now, and the difference is astonishing, I still find myself looking at her earlier photos..wanting to see her baby face. Studying every inch of her tender face. This is how I know that I was destined to be her Momma. Where most would see the imperfection, I see God's beauty at work..HIS design...and the sweetest face that pulls at my soul.I love her...cleft..or no cleft.
I love hearing our Boys talk about her photos. They have seen her baby pictures and know the difference in her appearance now, because of the surgery. I love hearing them point to her baby photo and say..."This is when Xin had a boo-boo on her lip". "And now the Doctors fixed it..But she still has a LITTLE boo boo..right??" They are so concerned for her..How did she eat? Did she hurt? Never judging...only concerned. They see that we are not all born perfect, but are just as deserving of love..
And LOVED, she IS......

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Abundant Blessings

Well, it's that time of year again. Time to reflect on all of the many blessings we have. It is my hope that we are raising thankful, gracious children, who know how truly blessed they are and to never take any of those blessings for granted. One way we remind ourselves of those blessings is by making a "Thankfulness Tree". We gather sticks from our yard, make paper leaves, and then write down our many blessings, and hang them on our tree. Hearing the Boys ramble on about the things that THEY are thankful for is amusing. Nick is thankful for clean water, while Alex is thankful for band-aids. Nick is thankful for healthy food while Alex is thankful for Legos. You can see where age and maturity come into play. But let's not forget...they are BOTH  thankful for IPADS!!!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving at Alex's preschool with a short program. He sang loudly and grinned from ear to ear..definitely this Momma's blessing!!! Afterwards, we got to make a small Blessing Feast.

Sometimes I am amazed at just HOW much God has provided us with. We are so fortunate for all that we have. What are your BLESSINGS??? I am so thankful for my loving husband, my 2 amazing sweet Boys, chocolate, our health, my Church, my Family, our car, our warm home, full bellies, water to bathe in, Girlfriends, Funny movies, my husbands wonderful job that allows us the privilege for me to stay home with our Boys, bountiful food, our beloved pooch, soft beds, the gift of adoption, excellent medical care, the sound of laughter, a loyal partner and most of all..a forgiving, merciful GOD, who is with me wherever I go.

It is my hope that each of you take the time to count YOUR blessings, share them with others and give THANKS to the ONE who makes it all possible....