Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Official!

We got word today that our consulate appointment is set for March 19th which means we need to be in China March 8th!  So a week from tomorrow we will be on our way.  I am in kind of a manic state of excitement, crazy preparation, etc.  At least my pending jury duty for tomorrow was cancelled!  Jer asked me tonight if I'm on crack...that can't be a good thing.  I'm definitely in my "mile a minute" mode.  We have our international flights reserved, and I will book them tomorrow.  Once we get our itinerary and I have two seconds I'll post more about it.  Tonight I got out Leah's stuff that we're taking and packed it then made lists of all the stuff I still need.  It is so fun to see a suitcase full of little girl things.  This is really happening!

Friday, February 24, 2012

We Have TA!!!!

Just when my email checking was becoming compulsive again--we got our Travel Approval!  I am so excited!  When do we leave you may ask?  Well, we don't quite know that yet.  There are two options.

Option 1:  Leave around March 7-9 and return March 21-24.
Option 2:  Leave around March 23-26 and return around April 7.

We don't know the date until they can confirm our appointment with the US Consulate in China.  We don't get to choose, so we have one more short wait.  Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday we will know for sure and can book our flights.  We will fly into Beijing.  You may have noticed that Option 1 is less than two weeks away!  Holy cow.  Now I'll go from being crazy with waiting to being just plain crazy trying to get ready.

Leah we are coming to get you!

P.S.  I stole this cute picture idea from a Christmas card.  I didn't have time to work with it a lot, but I did manage to get all the boys in one place at one time wearing shoes, so we'll call it good.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Still Waiting

I wish I had earth shattering news on the timeline front, but the sad reality is that we are still waiting!  We did get our Article 5 picked up on the 8th, so we are now on day 12 of the wait for TA (travel approval).  Once we get that we actually make our plans and leave within 2-3 weeks to go to China.  So we're getting there but in all honesty this last bit of waiting is the worst.  People have asked me if I'm excited and I guess I am but I really feel more anxious than anything.  Playing this waiting game brings out the worrier in me (not hard to do).  I worry about Leah's development, her health, her safety, if she is being loved, if she is eating, if she is growing, if she is learning new things....if she will love us.  I worry about people welcoming Leah and accepting her.  I worry about being the mother of children ages 7, 4, 2, and 1.  I worry about adjusting to a new, more hectic life with four kids--one who may view us as strangers who took her away from everything she has ever known.  I worry about leaving my boys for two weeks while we're in China.

All that aside though, deep down I am excited.  I know this is the right thing, and though it won't be a cake walk, this process has already brought incredible blessings and increased love to our family.  I'm excited to see and hold my baby girl for the first time.  I'm excited for her to have a mom, dad, brothers, family, friends who love her.  I'm excited for her to experience the love and security that comes from having a family.  I'm excited for her to know unconditional love.  I'm excited to experience some firsts with her.  I'm excited to watch my boys with their little sister.  I'm excited to experience the love and joy that only a new addition to the family--particularly one that is adopted--can bring.

It's now been almost a month without an update and after that flurry of news all at once it's hard to wonder again.  A really bright, fun spot has been receiving the quilt blocks.  In fact, I got a few new ones this past week that aren't pictured here.  Please add to Leah's quilt--I really want family, friends, neighbors...from every part of our life past and present to add to this.  Leah is a little girl who won't have all the memories and souvenirs of her babyhood that most kids do.  This will be something special just for her and no sewing required (for you)!

Check these out...
I'm really hoping to have at least half of the quilt blocks collected before we travel (that means 50)!  Read the sidebar if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Now please keep praying for Leah and our Travel Approval's speedy arrival.  Mentally, I feel like I'm about 10 months pregnant!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mei Mei

We got another update!  After our three month drought this has been so awesome to get new information.  That seems to be one advantage of her being back in the orphanage.  This is by far my favorite picture yet. Is that not the sweetest face?  I just want to hop on a plane and go scoop her up.  The boys were so excited because she's playing with one of the little toys we sent in her first care package.

This update says she's doing well.  Although she's sitting in the picture it says that she can stand holding onto something, so she's making progress!  I'm prepared for the fact that she most likely won't be mobile (we've never received any information that she can crawl) and may still be quite weak on her feet when we bring her home.  She has gained more weight and is 15 lbs. 13 oz.  Her height measurements were shorter, so either she shrunk or they are off.  I've seen how they measure my babies at the doctor here and it's not an exact science, so it's probably not any better in China.  They described her personality as active.  She has five teeth now, and they are feeding her real food.  It says she eats three meals/day and is eating cake, rice, and chicken.  Cake?  I feel like our prayers are being answered though, and she's growing and getting stronger all the time.  It also says they call her "mei mei" which means "little sister" in Chinese.  She's definitely the mei mei in this family.  It turns out she had an older brother in her foster home as well so hopefully she's ready for some brothers!

Now come on Article 5!  It was held up a week because of Chinese New Year, but I'm expecting it this week.  Then it will be on to wait for Travel Approval.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Leah Sightings!

Monday was such a great day in my waiting world.  I saw Leah's picture on the HKI blog (see post below) and then I got five more pictures from a mom who adopted from Nanyang in December.  At the time I checked her blog every few days as she traveled to adopt her baby boy, but I didn't look at every single post or picture.  It was interesting because her itinerary is probably very similar to what ours will be, and she actually had the chance to visit the orphanage which is not common for Nanyang.  At that point I thought Leah was still in foster care, so I didn't even think about the possibility that she might have seen her.

Well, Monday I realized Leah probably was there, so I emailed her to see if she remembered seeing her.  Teresa was so sweet and emailed me right back with five pictures from the Lily Orphan Care Room that all included Leah!  She said I could post them here, so check it out.  Teresa also emailed another mom from the travel group that got back to me right away as well.  She has adopted two boys from China with missing left forearms like Leah, so I would really like to talk to her more.  I have to say that the people I've met online as we've been going through this process have been so incredibly helpful and supportive.  Thank you!

So, here's Leah hanging with the other babies back in December...

 She's the one sitting up in the striped jacket.

 This one was focused right on her.  I think she looks a little bored, but isn't she cute?  The ladies who visited said this LOCR part of the orphanage is very nice.  They said the nannies (who are in their teens and early twenties) are very sweet and loving with the babies.  The room is physically comfortable and nice with toys and real cribs.  At the time there were 16 babies and 5 nannies.  The nannies have all been trained by our agency.  This is such an improvement from several years ago.  Historically Henan province has been way behind in terms of living conditions and child care for orphans and our agency in particular has invested a lot of time and money over the past few years to improve things in this part of China.  I'm so grateful!

 This is the only picture I've seen of her crying.

Look at all those babies!  There's Leah with her back to us...same day/different spot on the mat.  I can't wait until we can hold Leah and give her our undivided love and attention.  After living with these babies, maybe our home won't be too chaotic after all.  It is a relief to me that it seems she is warm and safe and comfortable and all of her basic needs are being met.  It's crazy to think that her whole world right now is within the walls of just a few rooms.  I can't wait to expand her horizons a bit and get her out for some fresh air!  (I don't know if they take the babies outside or not...I'm just assuming since there are so many and it's winter they probably don't.  I could be wrong.)  I think her life right now is a little like Groundhog's Day.  Little does she know we're about to come and turn her world upside down...again.