Sunday, April 22, 2012

Care Packages

I have had a number of people ask me if we know whether or not Lia knows that we are coming to pick her up soon, and I always have to say that we don't really know. We have sent two care packages and a birthday cake to her. In both care packages we included pictures of ourselves and our house, labeled in Chinese and a note in Chinese to her caregivers, saying that we hope that they will show her our pictures and tell her that we love her very much and can't wait to come and meet her.

In talking to other families who have adopted from China, it seems to be variable how much children are prepared for their adoptions; some children immediately seem to recognize their adoptive parents from the photos they were sent, and others clearly were never given the photo albums. I am hopeful that someone has at least shown her our pictures, as our friends whose little girl is in the same orphanage, received a picture of their daughter looking at the care package and pictures that they had sent to her.

Either way, no matter how many pictures you are shown, understanding that a family is traveling from halfway around the world to come pick you up and take you away on an airplane, forever, must be an abstract and terrifying concept to a three year old.  And to answer another question I get frequently, as soon as we meet Lia on May 14th, she will stay with us. There is no gradual introduction period. We will go and visit her orphanage a couple days after we meet her, and we're hoping that we'll be able to meet her friends and caregivers at that time and take pictures and say some goodbyes, but there are no guarantees. I just keep praying for her little heart, that God will comfort her in all of this transition, and that we'll be able to meet her needs in this whole transition period.

The first care package we sent to Lia

The photos we sent in that care package

The second care package went sent Lia- Nora giving the mouse some love before we sent it!
A mouse and a blankie going on a big journey

A photo album and candy for the nannies

Monday, April 16, 2012


I had given up hope of getting an update on Lia before we traveled, but I woke up this morning to four new pictures in my inbox and some updated information. What a joy!

Here's some of the things they said about her-

-she has been healthy
-she is very attached to her nanny/caregivers. They mentioned this a couple times in the update. This makes me happy that she is so well attached as that bodes well for eventual attachment to us, but I am also very sad that in less than a month they will have to say goodbye to each other
-she is an active girl and loves running and jumping
-she speaks well, has a good vocabulary and can say complete sentences
-she communicates well with caretakers and is quite obedient
-she loves hugs and attention and being read and sung to
-she loves milk and noodles (not sure if this is one specific dish, or if she likes noodles and still drinks formula, or if something is lost a bit in translation. I didn't think that milk drinking was common in China.)
-she gets along well with other children and enjoys playing with them
-she loves reading, drawing, outdoor activities, dolls and "intelligence improving toys"

We love you Lia Lu and can't wait to meet you!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I've spent the last couple days in somewhat of a daze, feeling discombobulated and as if I am going in 15 different directions. And I don't think that the fact that we're actually going to China SOON and picking up Lia has even fully sunk in yet!

As of Tuesday, our plane tickets are purchased. We fly out May 8- Denver-LA-Seoul-Beijing and then return on May 24 via Guangzhou-Seoul-LA-Denver. Lots of connections with terrible departure and arrival times, but we got a good price on the tickets that helped mitigate the pain. (Although I don't know if I will still feel that way after 15+ hours of flying :)  We will meet Lia on May 14th and our Consulate Appointment is scheduled for my birthday on May 22.

When we started this adoption journey, I never guessed that the the paperwork and referral process would be as long, convoluted and emotionally demanding as it has been. But at the same time, I never anticipated the friendships that would come out of the wait.  I have connected with some kindred spirits in this process who I know will be friends for life.

And, miracles of miracles, one of these friends will be traveling with us to pick up her daughter, from the same orphanage, on the same day we pick up Lia.

So here's the story for how this came to be:

I joined the main China adoption online forum last summer while we were still getting all our documents prepared.  I lurked there more than I posted at first, and I got to recognize a few other people who were also waiting for their agency to get a referral for them. (Special needs adoptions from China follow two basic paths: you can pre-identify a waiting child and then get all the required documents to China or you can get all the required documents to China and have your agency match you with a child. We did the latter.)  I noticed one woman in particular who was waiting because I saw on her blog that we had some things in common, including close-in-age biological only daughters. But I can be shy with people online and I didn't have an active blog at that time and I wasn't even posting much on the message board at that point so I didn't say anything to her.

Then came a batch of referrals; I think I knew she had gotten one and then we received Lia's a couple days after hers. She posted on the forum that she was putting up a password protected blog to share the news of her new daughter since she didn't want to publicly display her pictures. For some reason I decided to write to her and ask if I could have the password even though I rarely do this with people who have private blogs, as it always makes me feel like a stalker when I don't really know the person. I think I introduced myself and mentioned some of the things we had in common when I sent her the email. She sent me the password- and there was her daughter with the same last name as Lia, standing in the same room of the same orphanage in her referral pictures. So then we had one more big thing in common!

So then through the rest of this process it has been like watching a sporting event with our paperwork running the race to the finish; her Letter of Acceptance came first and she was weeks ahead of us, then suddenly her paperwork slowed for whatever reason and my paperwork caught up. Near the end she was a few days ahead, then my Travel Approval arrived unexpectedly and then hers came the next day, and then suddenly, graciously, it all worked out that we will share the same Consulate Appointment day- and so it's a big tie for the finish!

And she has another friend from her same city who will be in Guangzhou at the same time as we will so that will be another huge blessing.

So now I am off to attempt do something productive rather than just spin my wheels as I go in a thousand different directions not knowing what to do first!

Here are a couple pictures- one of Nora holding our Travel Approval- and then a less than nicely staged Easter photo- as I was lazy and just took a couple very quick shots out front before church- but I know the grandmothers wanted to see one. That pink headband rarely leaves Nora's head!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Travel Approval!

Nora and I were in the Pediatrician's waiting room today- I had taken her to get her 5 year old immunizations a little bit early since I want her to have them before we go to China- and my phone rang. I was debating about answering it, since Nora was rightfully feeling anxious about having to get four shots all at once and was wanting to talk with me, but I was glad I did answer, as it was our agency calling to say we got- a very quick-  Travel Approval!

Nora got her shots (she did GREAT), we came home and discussed timing with Erik; as much as I wanted to go ASAP, we decided that it would work better for his work schedule to ask for a May 22 (my birthday) Consulate Appointment in Guangzhou, which means that we'll get to meet Lia around May 13th (Mother's Day) and probably will leave here about May 8 or 9th. We'll fly to Beijing for a few days, then we'll have several days in Hefei, where Lia is, then we have to go to the province of Guangzhou where the American Consulate is located in order to get Lia's medical exam, finish her visa processing and get her passport, which takes about a week.  We should hear back tomorrow if our Consulate Appointment is confirmed- and then we'll be booking tickets! I don't think it has fully hit me yet...not sure I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Good Friday

Wow- this week flew by! For most of the week we were busy with friends who were visiting us from Minnesota- we had lots of good food, good beer and good conversation together.  And Nora loved her time with these cuties, who are just a bit younger than Lia:

We are one week into our wait for Travel Approval. We could get it anytime now. I just can't believe we are that doesn't seem quite real yet. I have been trying to get an update on Lia for a couple weeks now- I have been getting pretty frustrated at how the update system has changed. I am praying that I can get some questions answered before we travel and get a new sets of measurements.  And of course I would love a picture or two...

Happy Good Friday- and I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed. 
Isaiah 53:5

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Six years ago today...

Erik and I got married! Apparently no one else wanted to get married on April Fools Day, so we were able to book our dream venue on a Saturday in April (in Phoenix). We didn't mind the meaning of the day as humor has always been a cornerstone to our relationship. Our only trick of the day was provided by a friend who served up chocolate covered cotton balls to completely unsuspecting guests.

In adoption news- we're now waiting for our Travel Approval to be issued by China which usually takes about two or three weeks and then we can book our tickets to fly there-- I can hardly believe it!