Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Morning at the Barrie's

Well, as you have probably figured out by now I am not as good about updating the blog as I was in China. I guess if I was up at 3am here like I was over there, that would help. I wanted to upload this video of Molly's first Christmas experience. It was quite overwhelming for her. We gave her about 8 or 9 gifts and ended up letting her hold on to about 2 of them. By 10am she resembled a crazed junkie and so we quickly put away the smaller items and left her with her kitchen and her scooter..both which she loves. We woke up...did the present thing and had a nice quiet day...just the family. Rob cooked up a Christmas meal for us and we spent the day playing with our new toys.

On the hearing front we have continued to make phone calls in an attempt to get a handle on where Molly's hearing really is. One would think that this is a fairly simple request for information. My daughter is deaf, what can we do to find out where her hearing level is? The last place we took her told us it would take months and months of testing to determine this..and it would all be based on a behavioral response. We called another audiologist who said that she could see Molly at the end of January back in Birmingham but that she would be running the same behavioral test as well. An ABR is objective but requires testing for her being a sedation risk and hours of no food and water and sedation obviously. An OAE is pass/fail and doesn't really give you any information at all except what we already know...Molly has a hearing loss. So here we sit...home for a month and a half and we dont have any more information on where she is than we did when we left. We have experts in audiology, speech therapy, and auditory/verbal therapy all telling us what we HAVE to do and all experts in their fields and their advice all conflicts with one another. We are more dazed and confused than ever. The A/V therapy calls for a discontinuation of signing as a form of communication but every parent of a deaf child I have spoken with tell me that when they did that it was a complete disaster and quickly went back to signing. Speech therapists have also seconded the opinion that communication is key, signed or verbal.

All we want to know is how deaf she is and so we hope to find someone at some point who can help us answer that question that doesn't take us driving two hours every three months to put Molly in a booth and hope she reacts the right way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Barrie Bunch

Well, it is almost time for Santa to pay us a visit. We are just about ready for bed around here and looking forward to Christmas tomorrow. Poor Molly has no idea what is going on. I hope she doesnt wake up tomorrow and think that this kind of thing happens every month!

Merry Christmas from the Barrie's!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The hits just keep coming...

WOW. Just got a call from the hearing place and they said that they could get us in for an appointment at the end of March for the next in a series of endless tests . Great. Thanks! There is nothing we would rather do then sit here for another three or four months so that we can drive to Birmingham and try to get Molly to react to sounds. Fabulous.


Well, we have been holding our breath for this date. Why? Because this was going to be the day that we found out exactly how deaf Molly is...or so we thought. What did we know before the appointment? Well, we knew that Molly had a hearing loss somewhere in the 60 - 85 db level. That much we knew or at least suspected from living with her for these past few weeks. So after waiting all this time, driving two hours to Birmingham and going through their "intensive" hearing evaluation we now know that Molly has a hearing much? We don't know? Is one ear better than the other? We don't know? Can she or will she be able to understand speech? We don't know? How much do her hearing aids actually help her? We don't know? Is she a candidate for cochlear implants? We don't know. Basically nothing was resolved. None of our questions were answered. We are exactly where we were and have been since we got Molly.

What we do know is that when she hears a sound sometimes she will choose to react to the sound and sometimes she doesn't. We also know that putting a little girl who doesn't speak or understand English in a sound booth and then saying over a speaker "Molly, look over here" doesn't get a reaction either. We are not even sure she knows her name is Molly.

Then they tell us that we can come back in a month to test her again..same test..but the test depends on Molly's decision to turn her head to a sound or isn't based on what she can hear. So...if Molly isn't tired or Molly isn't bored by turning her head toward a speaker or if Molly isn't too engaged in the toy she is playing with during the test, we will get some results....and then again..maybe we wont...then we will wait another month...and so it goes.

What is next is we try to find another audiologist that is closer to home to do this testing. This wasn't much more than what we got in China when the doctor put the squeeky toy behind Molly's ear to see if she reacted. Why drive two hours to do that?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A very LATE update...

Sorry to drop off the planet on these updates...ugh...where does the time go. So lets see...what new party tricks has Molly picked up. She is doing great by the way and completely comfortable here. We are still limiting her access to people and can already see a difference by doing so.
She is very verbal and so far is attempting to say Flower, Mom ( which she says quite well!), Dad, No ( another word she has mastered), and more. Just a few days ago after putting in her hearing aids, she walked up to me pointing to her left ear saying" More, more, more..." I took out her aid to find that the battery had died and wasn't working. Very smart girl! She signs two and three word sentences and her favorite so far is Good Girl. She can read lips really well! If I say Good Girl to her, she will sign it right back to me.

We are not claiming to be audiologists, but she has definite hearing. I dont know how much..we will find out this Friday after our big hearing exam! She responds and signs her name, signs, mom, dad, Robby, jack, school, bed, toilet, more, bath, eat, drink, milk, juice, gentle, silly, play, airplane, ball....and Im sure Im forgetting several more. We are so anxious to get to her hearing evaluation and find out what her future she deaf, hard of hearing, are implants an option, do we just need to get her better hearing aides? A lot of questions are just a few days from getting answers and that will help me sleep better at night.

We will get a good idea on her age once we return for the second part of her physical exam in January. That appointment we will get the results of all the blood work, and everything else they checked out. Her eye exam is tomorrow and we will be heading to the dentist at some point soon as well.

She is doing great with her brothers...she and Jack are starting to compete a bit which is a good sign..and her and Robby are as close as any two siblings can be. She loves her brothers and is constantly signing "Where Jack?" "Where Robby?"

Christmas has been low key for us this year. We have decided to skip all the traditional holiday decorations around the house and just put up a tree and stockings. Who has the time to decorate? Not me!

I will definitely post updates once we get back from the hearing stay tuned. Here are some pictures and video to satisfy you until then! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One month ago today

It is hard to believe that just one month ago today we met Molly for the first time. It seems like we have had for so much longer...yet, here we sit on December 9 and what a transformation we have had as a family.

Molly's progress has been mind blowing. You would never guess that she was raised anywhere else? We are so grateful for her progress and attitude. She loves her brothers, is very attached to mom and has even taken to dad quite well. She runs errands with me without complaint and obeys when corrected. She sleeps through the night in her own bed and has adapted to the boys schedules without a problem. Her communication with us has been seamless. We are all signing and pointing and we havent had any problems trying to figure out what she wants when she wants it. She has completely abandoned her rice/noodle diet and now eats everything put in front of her. Not to say we dont have your typical "2-year" old moments but she is a lot less trouble than her older brother Jack was at this age!!! The great thing is that her behavior IS typical...the deafness has not presented a problem or the fact that we are the third family she has accepted as her it is nice to notice that her behavior is typical of what you would see from any 2 year old who doesnt get their way. We are continually amazed!

The only thing that hasnt gone smoothly is the transition with Maggie, our dog. She is just kind of freaked out by her...but even that has subsided a little...but that is hardly a complaint, now is it?

Anyway, not a whole bunch to report. Molly's grandparents are headed back to San Diego so we are back to following our normal routine from before we left and she has taken to it quite well.

Thanks for visiting the blog!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Update on Molly's big physical exam!

Greeting Sports Fans!

Just an update on our day at the WONDERFUL International Adoption Clinic. How lucky are we to live close enough to such an incredible resource? As soon as we got there a counselor came and talked with me about her much as we know about our time was in China, what behaviors she exhibited there and at home, how she is doing here, how she is eating, how she is get the idea. She was not only a counselor but had two adopted daughters and it was so nice to talk through all of this with someone who could tell us what to worry about and what not to. She, along with the TWO physicians we saw were amazed at how well she had adapted and how outgoing she was. Frankly, we are too! She did see a few behaviors that told her that Molly was using to cope with the loss of her foster mom but that were completely normal. She has some OCD tendencies and she is hyper alert to everything going on around her. Both these behaviors are completely normal for what this girl has gone through and she assured us that we will start to notice how the will diminish over the next three to six months. Her OCD behaviors have already started to do so since I tend to agree with her.

She has been such an easy kid and adapted so well that we were a little "free" with who held her and how much time was spent doing so and this, as she explained to us, was not doing the best thing for her. So from now on until we start seeing some specific behaviors we need to watch for, we will be the only ones holding, carrying, comforting her. Friends and family are not off limits...but play will be restricted to group play with the brothers and holding times will only be out of necessity. The counselor thinks that will really help with her bonding and attachment to us as parents...not that it has been an issue...but Im going to give this woman the benefit of the doubt. We have seen some behavior with regards to friends leaving the room that we would not consider typical of a girl this age so this will be a priority. Other than that they said she is doing AMAZING and that her constant nagging for food will also slow down with time...and just to give her what she wants, with regards to food, when she wants. That is fine, but Im not giving her cookies at 6:30 in the morning!

After the psychological exam, we had the medical exam. The doctor looked at everything and based on her best guess determined that the date chosen as her birthdate by the doctor in China is not even close to being correct. She ordered a bone analysis so that we could try to get a better estimate of her true age. We will get the results as our next visit. We also found that that MOlly has an ear infection...good info to have so we were able to also get her on an antibiotic. We were then off to the LAB for the multiple test tubes of blood that were needed for all the different tests. She didnt even flinch. What a trooper! Rob and I are looking forward to getting the results back after Christmas and praying for a clean bill of health! In just a few weeks we will be heading up that way again for her full hearing evaluation at the hear center.

Well, that is it! That was my day! Big thanks go out to Tracy and Toni for taking care of the boys while we were off getting this evaluation done. Thanks ladies!!!! You are both awesome!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Video

Molly's first Thanksgiving was awesome. We hosted a family who has been kind enough to make us apart of their family for every major and sometimes minor holiday for the past four years. With Robs parents here adding the finishing touches, we celebrated all we were thankful for with a beautiful day outside. Molly was having so much fun that she managed to pee on two of the four Herbst kids. Im sure she is planning to hit the other two this Christmas.

Here is a video shot by Vickie after the kids had had a bath and were enjoying some ice cream...oh and Molly added corn to hers. Thought this was fun.

Hope everyone had a great day! We sure did!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Update from home...

Sorry for the lapse in an you can imagine things have been pretty crazy here...but we are all starting to settle into a routine.

First and foremost Miss Molly is acting like she has lived here for a lot longer than five days. She is absolutly in love with the boys and today would instruct them to come and give her a kiss on her forehead. She has visited both boys schools and had lunch with jacks class today. We went to church on Sunday and she sat right next to me and played with some toys. We had about 3 or 4 nights of restless nights and cranky mornings but feel we have turned the corner on the jet lag. At least she has, Rob and I are still wide awake late and night and tired during the day.

Molly's sleep schedule has seemed to settle down. She took her first nap in her own bed and is sleeping there tonight. Rob and I could tell from the last few nights with us that she was ready for the move and she is doing great.

Her diet has been 90% what she was eating in China...we are slowly getting her to venture out and try new foods..but it is slow going. She is also attempting to copy our speech more and more. She has copied her name as well as Yes, and OK. The signing has stunned us all. We actually communicate quite well back and forth and every day we are seeing more and more signs. Sometimes she just throws out random signs just to see our reaction...and it works! Today she pointed to jack and signed brother and I have only showed her that sign maybe two or three times and that was just a few days ago?

Well, sorry I dont have more info or more pictures. We will be taking more soon!
Thanks for all of you keeping up with the blog!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alive and Well back in the U.S.A.

We have been home a little over 24 hours and Molly has adjusted about as well if not better than Rob and I could ever have hoped. Within seconds of meeting her brothers she was dragging them around the house like she owned them. Robby and Jack are about as proud of her as they can be and are begging me to bring her to school as if she is a new toy to show off during show and tell. She has felt right at home in a new house that is most likely a little larger than where she was living before and has finally figured out that just because she can't see me that doesn't mean I left the house!

The flight yesterday couldn't have gone any smoother. Molly slept an hour or two on the first leg to Tokyo, and then a full eight hours on the 11 hour flight to Atlanta. She was so tired, she even managed to dose for 30 minutes on the short flight to our airport. Last night after getting off the plane and making our way home we found that our friends and neighbors had arranged to get into our house and decorate it with signs and pictures for Molly and the family. The boys and she ran around the spotless house thanks to Robs mom and enjoyed our first stateside meal - homemade spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate chip cookies. We played for awhile at home, opened gifts and then all the kids had a bath and bed. Molly fell right asleep. She did end up waking up about 12:30, gave me the sign for EAT and after having some oranges and crackers, fell right back to sleep and stayed that way until about 7:30 the next morning. Today you could tell she was definitely adjusting to the time change...but after a full day of cruising through the neighborhood with her new doll and stroller I cant imagine her waking up tonight to eat!

Her full checkup is scheduled for early December with her full hearing eval a few weeks later. I am a little bummed that I couldn't get in sooner to the hear center but that is the best we could do. So we will roll with it.

There are no words to explain how happy Rob and I are to be back home surrounded by friends and family. We cant imagine living anywhere else!

Now the real work begins!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And that ladies and gentlemen is a wrap!

Okay sports fans! Thats it...the fat lady has sung! We have the passport..we have the is all over but the crying! We are eating one last dinner with Roseann and Ken ( another living hope family ), coming back to the room, packing and come 5:30am - heading down to the shuttle to the airport. We will be in Tokyo by 1:20pm -then a three hour layover, flight to Atlanta from Tokyo which will take about 12 hours and then a one hour ( and will probably be the longest one hour flight of my life) to Huntsville.

Big sigh. Please pray for us. We cant thank all of you for your generous comments and support. Greatly appreciated!

Signing off from China!

Rob, Deb, and Molly ( who will be a U.S. Citizen the second we touch down in Atlanta!)My hope is that I am not so overwhelmed with joy to be back in the US that I am able to fight the urge to kiss the pilot once we land.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting close to the finish line.

24 hours from now Rob, Molly and I will be on a hotel van headed to the airport! We will not be flying to yet another city in China...but flying home. I can hardly stand it! The trip has been amazing and the weather was perfect. Rob and I were trying to imagine what this place must be like in the heat of the summer...because in November, it is incredible! I was told that Guangzhou was similar to November in the south. That couldn't have been more wrong! This place is like San Diego....warm right now with little humidity. I live in the south and we are no where near this warm!

In just a few hours we will be taking Molly to the red couches for her official White Swan red couch photo. At 1:45 we will be heading to the Chinese Consulate for our exit interview and to pick up Molly's visa and the rest of the day will be spent packing and organizing for the 24 hours we will spend on a plane and in airports. Yesterday we played in the toy room and did a little more shopping. Rob has taken to haggling like a fish to water...personally I would just rather them tell me what the price is and get out of there. I would be more than happy to loan him to any of you out there if you want him to negotiate a car purchase for you...get him while he is still in the zone! It is impossible just to shop in a store without the salespeople following you around and giving you the hard sale. I would probably buy much more if they would just leave me alone and let me look!

Molly has completely transformed since one week ago....we are still in shock how quickly she has taken to us. While she still tends to favor mom over dad right now ( who can blame her? ha ha) she has been seen holding hands and blowing kisses to her dad. I had assumed that much progress was going to take MONTHS! Again, thank you God for answered prayers.

Several people have asked us about when we would be receiving guests and frankly there is no real time line. Molly has been a trooper through this and has transformed so much in just a week that we are not going to lay down any hard fast rules about people meeting her. We are just going to play it by ear. So far our plan or lack of one has served us well. There will be some major adjustments as we get her accustomed to sleeping in her bed...but she has been sleeping alone in her own bed in the hotel so that is one step closer to getting her to sleep in her room. That will take some time, Im sure as will the time change for her....but we are just going to take it a day at a time and Im sure all will be fine.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We cleared the consulate!

Just got the call from Judy. We are good to go with our paperwork!

The Consulate Appointment


So I am sitting here today by the phone in the hotel room waiting for an "everything is OK" phone call from our facilitator, Judy. I find it extremely amusing that everything about this trip to china hinges on this one date..this one major appointment - the infamous CONSULATE APPOINTMENT....oh and by the way, the parents are not invited to the appointment. We just sit in the hotel room while the facilitator attends for us. Am I the only one that sees that as a little funny? Probably so...its the two weeks in is starting to get to me.

Right now Molly and Daddy are down in the play room having a little one on one time. She is still surprising us with what she decides to do. The "I am not getting my way" tantrums are mild at best and so far as have been able to hold to our guns and show her that unbeknown st to her, we are actually the ones calling the shots. I fear her personality is more in line with Jacks, and not Robby's but it is kind of hard to tell after only one week. I just cant believe the this transformation in just one week? This morning as we are walking, she puckers up her lips and leans over to Rob asking for a kiss? REALLY? This is the same little girl that couldn't even look at him a week ago? He is such a marshmallow when it comes to her...that I fear, will not change AT ALL!

Tomorrow morning the only thing we have to do is go to the Consulate and answer a few questions and get "sworn" in. I don't really know what that entails but I have heard it is a pretty low key event. Then that's it...that and the 24 hours we will be spending on an airplane and in airports. The only thing that will get me through that is knowing that those two little boys will be waiting for me on the other end. We have seen, eaten, toured our way through three cities in China and now it is time to get back to real life. School plays, Thanksgiving day parties, running around in the back yard, fighting over toys in the toy room...oh and the ice...lets not forget about ice hockey. This mom is ready to get back on the ice! In 48 hours we will be back in the air on our way home!

Gotcha Plus Seven - Two more days and a wake up!

Rob and I are sitting here in our hotel room at the White Swan as the Little Empress (Rob's name for her after her first tantrum) naps quietly. While all the other parents creep quietly around their hotel rooms during nap time all we do is take off Molly's hearing aids and then make as much noise as we want. I wouldn't be so bold as to call it a benefit to having a deaf daughter..but it has certainly been convenient while we are on this trip.

Today we ate breakfast as usual and did a little sight seeing. I don't know about the other families here but this mom is ready to tour the inside of her house. I have officially gone longer than I have ever gone without my boys and I am ready to go home. This is the old case of "get-home-itis" and I have a bad case of it. Rob is still enjoying China and being unplugged from real life.

Molly is continuing to find herself and has voiced her opinion when she is not happy as she did yesterday. She is quick to take corrections though and understands more than we ever assumed a little girl who cant hear and doesn't speak the language would. I think we may actually have a leg up on the couples with hearing kids since Molly has had to learn to communicate without speech and is incredibly intuitive. You can ask my boys, when I mean business it shows on my face and Molly has picked up on that quite well.

Tonight we will eat dinner at the infamous Lucy's with another couple we met here in Guangzhou. Tomorrow we sit by the phone as Judy, our facilitator, delivers our paperwork to the consulate and I'm sure we will be making a few trips to the play room and maybe even the indoor pool.

I'm allowing myself to actually think about the trip home and getting excited about seeing friends and family and getting back on the ice too!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

WOW! What happened to our kid?

I dont know what happened or how? I am going to err on the conservative side and give God the credit but we woke up today with a new kid! The last two days we have seen small signs of this child...but today we had a mile long list of FIRSTS!

On the daddy front, he has become a pretty cool guy. Molly spent well over an hour and a half playing alone with him in the play room here in the White Swan hotel while I was up on the ninth floor filling out paperwork. Rob is picking her up and we even had some hand holding today which is normally reserved for me. What gives? On the communication side of the house Rob and I are in AWE! She is signing back and forth to us and copying our signs. Today she actually gave Rob the sign for "toilet" and so he took her to the bathroom. Once there she signed it again and well...was a happy camper. She is voicing more and more. I said the word MORE and gave her the sign and she signed MORE and said "mooooooorrrrrrr" so there is definitely some hearing going on. She is now signing MOMMY and giving me the sign for mom and is signing dad. She is not making the "da" sound..but she mimmicks me with her mouth. She loves to sign "flower" and she LOVES to wave and BLOW KISSES! Yes...can you believe that? Blow kisses? She is signing "what" to me quite often and holds up her finger to me to signify "wait!". When she runs into the hallway she will give me the quiet sign to show me that she is not going to scream down the hall anymore. She is shaking her head NO when she doesn't want anything and also gives the sign for all done.

This transformation is great...but not without its pitfalls. We have witnessed a total of FOUR temper tantrums...nothing major but there is some de-programming ahead for her in the future. I kind of assumed that it would be anything goes during the trip and then we would lower the boom once we got home. Fortunately her tantrums at not getting what she wants has afforded us the opportunity to start treating her just like we do our boys. The honeymoon is over now kid! You have showed us your hand! Our biggest challenge is the sudden running away in the wrong direction and it is difficult to stop a little girl who really cant hear you unless you run after and stop her...which I had to do several times today.

Funny thing today. After she woke up from her nap she handed me her hearing aids. I put the first one in, turned it on, and said "hello". She turned toward me, smiled and started clapping! Guess that one is working!

Today we did all the final paperwork for Molly's immigration to the country, took her VISA photo, and had her medical exam. All were accomplished before lunch. Tomorrow we will spend half a day touring with the other Living Hope Families that are here and then spend some time hanging around this massive hotel. Monday we will await the phone call from Judy, our facilitator, who will take our paperwork to the Consulate, Tuesday is the final visa interview and swearing in and we all know what Wednesday is!

This picture was taken in front of the fish pond in our hotel. When she saw me take out my camera she held up her finger signifing "wait", turned around and got in this pose and waited for me to take the picture! She is now a camera hog!

She loves the bow in her hair and will point to the top of her head when it needs adjusting. She will also stare at herself in the mirror and sign "Beautiful" when she has her bow. The sweetest sign is flower though. We had given her a combination of her first name and the sign for GIFT as her name sign but may need to change it to flower because it is soooo freaking cute!

This transformation has been nothing short of a miracle and while it is completely out of my comfort zone to parent a toddler that Im not completely 100 percent in control of and cant lecture until we are both blue in the face when they mess up, we are finding our way. Thank you God! This was a much answered prayer...well, everything but the tantrums..but who am I to split hairs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Greetings from Guangzhou! Four more days and a wake up!

Wow. Is all I can say when we pulled up in front of the White Swan. I didnt expect this. It is a beautiful hotel. However, the power transformer they have doesnt fit my laptop so I am on borrowed time here. I just wanted to give a quick update. Once I figure out my power situation I will be able to post all the details that my tens of fans have grown to love...what we ate for breakfast....Molly's latest sign...etc. is a picture of Molly on her first plane ride.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gotcha plus four - Pizza Hut is alive and well in Fuzhou!

Rob and I are celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary today as we come to the end of our time in Fuzhou. Just one more night in the hotel and then tomorrow we are off to pick up Molly's passport and an evening flight to the mecca of international adoption in China - Guangzhou. Guangzhou is where EVERYONE who is adopting from China will finalize their adoptions and the last leg of the journey. While we are there we will be staying at the famous White Swan Hotel. If you have ever seen a child wearing their China silk dresses sitting on a red couch, odds are those were taken at the White Swan. We will go from being one or two Westerners in a crowd to being surrounded by adoptive families. I wont miss my rock star status! :)

Today we had a great time. We made a trip to another Living Hope Orphanage. This one is located in the same building as the orphanage that Molly was found in front of. Because they were so quick about getting her into foster care, not only did she not recognize the gate she was left in front of just a few years ago, but the orphanage workers didn't recognize her either.

The best news of the day is that I got FOUR single use cameras back from the foster mom that we had sent her a few days after getting the referral for Molly. Rob and I know have a terrific glimpse of where Molly lived and what a terrific foster family she had. I know that has a lot to do with her periods of sadness. Her foster mom and dad have very kind faces and I see in the pictures the happiness that we are just starting to see in Molly over the past few days.

Molly and I are still doing great. She is definitely a mommy's girl right now but I can already tell that my days are numbered. She has gone from not even allowing herself to look at Rob without getting teary to eating fruit right out of his hand. My days of being the top dog are numbered for sure! Molly is the most inquisitive kid I have ever come across. She wants to test everything she touches to the limit - take it apart - figure out how it works - open it - close it - over and over again. She is also extremely neat. She is usually good for using at least two or three napkins for each meal. So unusual for me to see after witnessing the way my boys eat.

At the orphanage they allowed us to visit the children's rooms and donate a notebook, pen, and candy for each of the children. These kids are all older children and the rooms were all very neat and clean. We were able to meet many of the workers and you can tell just by talking to them that they love these kids. One of the young men we walked by appeared to be in his early twenties and Rob and I were both shocked when he walked into a room and in an American accent as clear as ours said "Hey, where are you guys from?". We found out that Jason was a student who was from Maine and had just graduated from college. He was donating three months of his time helping out in the orphanage before he headed back to the states for gradschool. It was a nice surprise running into him. We also met the lady who took those wonderful pictures of Molly in the soccer uniform that we have shown anyone that would give us the time of day..another full circle moment!

After the orphanage we finalized a little more paperwork and then headed to a wonderful spot where we could learn a little more about the Fujian people. We visited a Tao Temple and got a few wonderful shots of Molly playing with some flowers. We passed by some students taking a class who were all excited about practicing their "hello's" and a young girl shouted at us "USA is best at everything!". The people here have been very sweet. You can tell that there is a lot of pride here. I found the people of Beijing to be a little more closed off....perhaps still recovering from the Olympics. But the people of this city have been wonderful and I look forward to bringing Molly back here when she is older to visit her home city.

We wrapped up the day with lunch at Pizza Hut and was surprised to find that the Pizza is exactly as you would find in the states. Rob, Kathryn, Molly, and I ordered "The American Special" Can you guess what that is? Pepperoni Pizza! Pretty funny! Molly had a moment that she allowed Rob to hand feed her cantelope which is HUGE progress and gives us a small glimpse of the future!

Back to the hotel for a nap. This has been the only sad times I see with Molly...and she tends to have some nightmares while she sleeps but is quickly comforted once I sit with her and hold her.
We will spend the rest of the day around the hotel and get everything ready for our trip to Guangzhou tomorrow. It has been a great time here but this mother of three is ready to move on to the final step and get my family back together!

I have been having trouble with facebook so I am unable to upload any photos there so I will post my favorites from today here on the blog!

The only thing missing from the Guangzhou leg will be our trusty feisty guide Kathryn - clearly one of the most interesting women I have ever met! We will truly miss her and hope we can keep in touch.

On to Guangzhou!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gotcha Plus Three - The Market and Buddhist Temple

Another day and a little more progression into getting into this little girl's head. Not near as many sad moments for her and the few that she had are very brief. We started with our normal breakfast. For the most part it has taken at least half a day to get her to relax and smile..but we had to smiling and playing by early morning....all good signs. I witnessed something today that I had never seen before. My two year old girl can peel an orange...she bites into it...gets it started and then peeled it. Rob and I sat in awe as we only imagined how baffled both our boys would have been at the idea of peeling an orange?

Molly's eating has also slowed down to a regular pace. I think or at least I hope that she has determined that this whole eating thing is something that occurs quite often with these funny looking people so I may as well pace myself. We are baffled with her hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. There is one word that Rob says describes her..INTENSE! When she is working on a toy or puzzle...she is completely into it and it has been a blast watching her figure out these tasks. I gave her a plastic comb and she played with it for half an hour. We handed her Rob's watch..and that was another hour of dedicated play. Truly Amazing.

After breakfast we headed to the Open Air Market. Now, if you ever want to feel like a rock star - be the only Westerner down at this Open Air Market. We were stared at, gawked at, you name it. Everyone wanted to practice their "hellos" with us. One man walked up and started speaking Chinese but it didn't take long to figure out that he was excited about the results of the latest election and had a few choice words about Bush. Unfortunately I have no idea what they were...but he seemed very excited about Obama.

From the Market we headed to a Buddhist Temple and it was 180 degrees out from what I expected. IT WAS MASSIVE! I had always assumed that a temple was more the size of a large church...but this was like a neighborhood. It was very peaceful and very beautiful. Molly fell asleep while we were at the market, slept through the cab ride, and through the entire Buddhist temple so we dont have a lot of pictures of her from today.....but it sure was nice to see these places.

We headed out for lunch and had our first completely non-Chinese meal. We found an Italian restaurant and it was really good. Back to the hotel to say goodbye to Auntie Mary and Auntie Darla who have to head back to reality and Rob, Molly and I enjoyed some quiet time just walking around the hotel. Bath and bed on the schedule as usual. It was a great day...slower pace...and we really enjoyed our time in the city.

Tomorrow we are back at it. Meeting with a notary and visit to another Living Hope Orphanage for older children who are not adoptable internationally. Another couple we met here visited yesterday and said it was wonderful. The kids seemed very engaged and happy there.

Thanks for keeping up everyone! Two more days in Fuzhou and we are off to Guangzhou for the final leg of this journey!

Keep those prayers coming! We have a 24 hour trip home with a two year old who has never flown before and is starting to become quite active!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gotcha plus two - The Panda Zoo

What a faaaaabulous day! No government offices, just touring....SHOPPING....and fun. You know China can be a lot of fun when you are just walking around. Our expert tour guide Katherine and driver Bob really showed us an excellent time. These two are really not required to do anymore than get us to our adoption paperwork appointments but they are out everyday taking us to their favorite spots and getting us the best deals. We really got lucky when we were matched with this pair. I thought I was pretty good with chop sticks....until Bob ate lunch with us and put us all to shame. But you are not really here to read about that so on with it. Her latest changes include talking...babbling really..and pointing. She has a picture book courtesy of Auntie Darla and cousin Wallace and when she is ready for daddy to blow bubbles, will open the book and point to the bubbles.

LOOK! A bubble!

She has not requested to use the bathroom yet, but goes almost immediatley when she is put on the seat. I would have loved to have had her teach Jack!

The Readers Digest version:

Molly continues to improve and open up. It seems when she wakes in the morning or wakes from her nap is the hardest time and she tends to get shy and closed off...but last night we had her trying to pop bubbles and she has started babbling quite a bit. We are all convinced there is some hearing going on...although we wont really know until we get back. She is absolutely...and I say with great humility...attached to me right now which is greaaaat! We just have to continue to prove to her that Rob is as safe as he seems. He is so patient and kind. Much more than I would probably be. Just the perfect dad to this little girl.
Darla and Mary fly home tomorrow which I know their families are excited about. We will certainly miss them and I know Molly was more than just "nice" to have them was essential and Molly's progress has more to do with their trip here with us than I think they realize. Now I always knew that Mary was awesome, but how lucky are we that we have Auntie Darla? Words can't describe. Even better to imagine all the "Auntie's and Uncles" we have once we one week!

Who said they wanted details?

We were so ready for this day. No appointments - just a free day to tour this awesome city. It is already my favorite city in China...not a huge contest as I have only been to one other city....but it already is. We started with breakfast down in the hotel restaurant. Our girl who started out eating congee now...wont touch it. Almost as if she has know, I have been eating congee all my life...I think I will just stick with the french toast and watermelon. What is congee? Congee is best described as rice cooked slowly with extra water in it. The people here mix other food in it...almost like oatmeal...but it can also be eaten for lunch or dinner... the China version of grits I guess. The most remarkable transformations we see in Molly are when she is put in front of food. It is really the most amazing thing we have noticed since we got her. She completely loosens up - looks around and loves to eat. She is meticulous about having clean hands and wipes them or rather holds her hands out toward me so that I can wipe them off. Quite a transition for a mom who has boys that given the choice would rather spend a day sitting in a mud hole than anything else.

You can see in this picture that she loves spaghetti but is already concerned about cleaning her hands:

From there we headed to the Panda Zoo. The Panda Zoo is located right in the city and the minute we pulled up the zoo director came out to meet us. I cant put into words how close we were to the pandas. You wouldn't see anything like this in the states. And if you did, the place would be swarming with people. When we arrived, we were the only people there and we just stood and watched the panda's eat, do tricks and sleep. The only thing that separated us was a sheet of glass and a concrete ditch. It goes without saying that unless we travel here again, we will never be this close to a Panda bear again.

Here we are posing for a photo op with the director of the Panda Zoo:

More panda pics:

From here we traveled to the house of the Hero of Fujian who lead the attack on the Opium trade and is referred to by locals as simply "The Hero". We toured his house and then enjoyed a tea ceremony....a once in a lifetime event in it's own right. My favorite was the oolong tea...followed closely by Jasmine. Molly couldn't have cared less about the tea...all she cares about is the endless supply of cheerios that have seemed to come her way. Want to see pure joy? Give that girl a bag of cheerios! Some more touring and shopping followed this where we were able to get the items for Molly that we knew we wanted to leave with. Artwork from her province, a tea set from her province, custom made satin dress that probably wont fit her in a week based on the amount of food she has inhaled, and some jade.

Finished with lunch at a Cantonese restaurant where Rob was introduced and loved a dish called spicy duck blood. I was not brave enough to go there. I stick with the noodles, beef and rice. The rice, which is at every meal from breakfast to dinner is the best rice we have ever had...could be a meal all by itself.

Once we got back, we took out Molly's hearing aids and she fell right to sleep. After a few hours and some warm up time, we headed up stairs for tea and then down to the restaurant where we were lucky enough to run into Katherine and her family celebrating a cousin's birthday. They were kind enough to come and meet us.

Her daughter is an eight year old girl who has decided that her English name is Kitty because she loves Hello Kitty. I cant think of a better reason to pick a name! Absolutely adorable and very gracious.

When we were introduced she bowed to us and said "It is so nice to meet you". WOW! Good luck getting my boys to even look at you when they meet you. Definitely a different world here. What ever they are teaching their kids, it is working! When they left we handed Kitty a huge handful of kit kat bars and Hershey kisses. She looked shocked at first and then started licking her lips. True gratitude for such a small gesture is something that is hard to teach...but Katherine has done it. Giddy-up Katherine. During our tour Katherine has taught us several Chinese words and phrases and in return we have given her some American "Giddy-up" for starters, You are the man, You're the bomb, and more like that. Lets just say her English is much better than our Chinese. My hope is to have her whip out a huge "DUDE!" in Lori Cribbet style before we leave for Guangzhou!

Back to the hotel room for a bath and off to bed for Molly who took about 5 minutes to fall asleep. She has started as Darla puts it "To take up more space" and be a little more adventurous. Every day is progress...slowly it will click that we are not going anywhere without her.

We are here in Fuzhou for three more days...than off to Guangzhou to complete the adoption process, have an exit medical exam for Molly, pick up the visa and head home on the following Wednesday!

Words can not describe how much Rob and I appreciate the prayers and support. We truly can not express how incredible it is to have so much community support in what will be the most rewarding but most difficult life transforming event we have ever experienced. We cant thank you all enough! Keep those prayers coming as the home sickness starts to settle in. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about our boys as they are in the most capable hands of Robs parents...but we do miss them and are ready to have the family all under one roof!

Monday, November 10, 2008

GOTCHA plus one

Click to play Gotcha Plus One

Wow... I can hardly believe we have only had her one day....with nothing to do but spend time with her and just stare at her it feels like we have had her much longer. Today went really well. She woke up with a little of the shyness that she had broken out of the night before. Im sure she went to sleep and fully expected to wake up in a familiar place and then thought..."Oh yeah...Im still with these people". We have found that eating and bath time are two really good ways to get her to smile. She loves to eat. She has obviously learned to eat everything in front of her and for someone her age, she is extremely meticulous about getting every grain of rice that falls from her bowl or falls on her dress. Nothing is wasted.

She has finally ( finally? It has been 24 hours? DUH?) started lifting her arms for me to pick her up. The attachment to Rob has going much better as well. He sat next to the bath tub last night and they played and played....bubbles....pouring name it. She was more verbal than I have heard her since we got her and was attempting to talk to him! You could tell she really thought she was saying something...she has never done that with me. Our in house speech patholgist ...Auntie Darla says that is a really good sign. She does seem to know that we use our mouths to transmit information and even though she cant hear us, there is more going on than just flapping our gums!

She loves her hearing aids as well. We got them both working and is most comfortable wearing them. I am so THANKFUL that the foster family had her wearing these before she was transferred to us. Can you imagine how difficult that would have been on her. The foster family did an amazing job with her. You can really tell that she was loved and well taken care of. Rob and I will be forever in their debt.

Yesterday was a nice light favorite so far! After running through Beijing it is nice just to slow down and hang out. We had to go get her visa processed and fill out more adoption paperwork....then off to a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some essentials....yes, walmart...not a store LIKE walmart...they have an actual walmart here. It is pretty neat! Lunch at a Japenese restaurant with auntie darla and auntie mary. I was curious to see how nap time would go so I closed the curtains to the room, put her in the bed, gave her the teddy bear and blanket and she fell right asleep. Again, thank you foster family! Everything that has come easy to us has been because of them. She slept until about 4:30 and then it was time for dinner at a wonderful restaurant called the purple flower. Full course meal that averages out to cost a little more than a trip to McDonalds..and the food was awesome.

Home for a bath and bed...tomorrow is a day where we have nothing to do for the adoption process so we will be heading to the zoo and a tea ceremony. I really love is a terrific city!

More later!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's all in the details....

Click to play GotchaDay
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Make a Smilebox slideshow for those of you who like they are. For those of you who don't, all you have to know is that this first 12 hours have been a God send. Truly better than we expected. We didn't expect that they would give us her hearing aids...and while they don't fit perfectly, it is nice to have them and she is more comfortable wearing them.

For the detail people - here we go.
Rob and I landed in Fuzhou after two hectic days of touring in Beijing. In Beijing, we were running the entire time...saw and did everything...exhausting but very exciting. In Fuzhou, we look forward to a more relaxing time with Molly. We landed around noon and were met by our guide in Fuzhou, Katherine. She is awesome. After a quick stop at the local grocery store where Rob and I received many curious, but friendly stares, we checked in.

Once we arrived at the hotel we had a few minutes to get all of our stuff camera, camera, paperwork, gifts for the officials ready. They arranged to bring Molly to the hotel and we were scheduled to get her at 3:15 on the 18th floor. Mary, my MUCH OLDER sister and our MUCH YOUNGER friend Darla (a speech pathologist) were already in Fuzhou and we had our loud American reunion right there in the lobby of the hotel. Darla brought a book with pictures of basic survival signs for Molly...toilet, eat, drink, and most importantly..CANDY. This book has been tremendous and a major first step on our road to being able to communicate.

Around 3:15 we all met in the lobby and Katherine led us up to the 18th floor. There was only one other family that was getting their child that day and we arrived at different times. We did some preliminary paperwork basically stating that we are honored to adopt a child from China, that we will always love Molly, and that we will never abandon her. Then we signed a temporary custody agreement that will be in effect until we finalize the adoption.

The adoption officials thought it would be a good idea for Molly to have her picture taken prior to the hand off and that way she would be calm for her photo. While we sat kind of hiding in a lounge next to the room we got our first glimpse of her as she was escorted off the elevator and taken into the room for her photo.

The orphanage is careful to select escorts that Molly does not know which makes it easier during the transfer. A few moments later Katherine came into the lounge...yes, that's right, we basically had our third child in a hotel bar and walked up to Rob to hand her over. Okay, white women are rare in Fuzhou....white men are even harder to come by....and tall light haired white men are non existent, so the initial hand off to dad was a little much for our girl.

What happened next can only be described as a miracle - I swooped in and she came to me...with very few tears while she continued to check out the rather handsome white guy beaming at her from ear to ear. We walked back in for more paperwork and were able to meet with the orphanage director and give her our gifts and the cleft palate nursers we brought with us from the states. She seemed VERY VERY appreciative of the bottles for any of you out there about to travel and want to bring something to the orphanage. I ordered ours at I believe.

I digress.

We spent the next 20 minutes or so finishing up some paperwork and I just held on to Molly while she checked everything out. The foster family sent her album that we gave her, the doll, and returned the disposable cameras we sent..all which appear to be used. I cant wait to get home and get them developed! It should give us a nice glimpse of Molly's home life prior to us bringing her home. We also found out that the foster family has received another child since Molly was removed from the home and while they are sad, are happy that Molly will have a better life.

We made our way back to our hotel room and slowly over the next few hours, our girl started slowly coming out of her shell. She knew that if I put her on the toilet that she should try to the kid is potty trained quite well. We played with bubbles and she was obsessed with the magnetix toys we brought. I don't think, however, she seemed more happy than when she had her first french fry and her first taste of spaghetti with sauce. She really started to loosen up and we started getting some guarded smiles. About 8:00 we gave her a bath which she also LOOOVED and put her in her new PJ's. I put her in her bed...she crawled into the covers..held on to her new teddy bear ( she has no interest in the doll we had sent her a few months ago) and she fell asleep...but...are you ready for this...not before she reached out for my hand! She has been sleeping with her foster mom from what I have been told...but if that doesnt make you want to thank God...well, than I dont know what to tell you!

To my surprise, not only did we get the clothes she was wearing...but her hearing aids as well. She was dressed in two sweaters, a pair of pants, socks, shoes, and underneath all of that was a pair of pajamas and her underwear. The hearing aids are not the greatest fit...but from what we can tell she prefers to wear them. So it is great that the foster family was able to get her accustomed to the aids prior to us sweeping in and taking her home. The Hear Center in Birmingham will evaluate the aids and if they are not working as they should, will give her a new pair.

Oh...and we also gave her the first chocolate she has ever had. Obviously...that was a hit!

It has been truly the most phenomenal experience and without Mary and Darla here it would have been so much harder. Rob, who is nursing a fairly intense headache from either the food or the stress of being handed a human being to take home, has been a trooper as his daughter gets accustomed to his face. Tomorrow we have more paperwork and then the rest of the time is ours. We have trips to the Zoo planned as well as paddle boats and some more shopping.

I cant thank all of you enough for all the prayers and support! Keep it up as we still have another 10 days here in the country. We are enjoying China and look forward to coming home!

Oh... a few more random details. Molly was EXTREMELY well cared for. She is tiny..but healthy. Her name was given to her by the doctor on duty they day they found her. Zhu coming from the fact that she was born in the year of the Pig..nice..and Mi is for honey....because they want her to have a sweet life.


OK, I am standing here in the dark..cant find my power cable for my computer and down to 29 percent of I have to type quickly. Most importantly, Molly is doing great. She has already transformed dramatically since 3:15 when they handed her to us. She was first REALLY afraid of the big tall blonde guy smiling at her but within a few hours was sitting on his lap. She is a very sweet girl and very cuddly. She fell asleep very easily holding my hand. We are not out of the woods by a long shot..but we haven't had any problems with the bathroom yet...and this girl likes her food! She tried french fries for the first time and LOOOOVED them. I promise to post pictures and video as soon as I can. This will have to do for now!

My sister and Darla are here and let me tell you what a total blessing that was. I have thrown the attachment manual out of the window and we are just enjoying being her family. We are all playing with her and having fun..although Rob and I will be the ones sleeping with her, bathing her and feeding her...but all this junk about eye contact and holding we are going to let her decide. She is doing great now with everyone and I cant wait to have fun with her tomorrow. She has a million expressions and every time she starts to smile she hides her head...very cute!

Best part is...she has an attitude...I haven't seen it yet...but it's there.

More later! Promise!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Beijing - Day one

We started our trip with an all day tour. With us are two other families from our adoption agency. Both are wonderful and it has been fun getting to know them before we all head our separate ways on Sunday morning. David is our tour guide in Beijing and also has a job as a travel agent and teacher. He is very nice, and always has something funny to say. The weather couldn't be nicer. A little brisk...and a lot of sun. We started the day with a trip to The Forbidden City and a trip through Tienanmen Square.

The Forbidden City is ancient China's version of Buckingham Palace. Housing over 9,000 different rooms we were told that if you were born in one room and slept in a different room each night, you would be 27 years old before you could make your way through all of them.

Tienanmen square was MASSIVE!

That bit took all morning. We then visited a local family's house in a huton village north of Beijing where they prepared an authentic Chinese meal. This was the real deal one but our guide spoke a word of English. They were warm and welcoming to our group. All of the families in this district lived in houses and shared public bathrooms. This family also had a special license to feed Westerners as we are affectionately called.

This is the view from the third floor of the family's house we visited.

From there we had a rickshaw ride through the village. Our tour guide was a 20 year old girl who had just attended a vocational school to learn English so that one day she can be a tour guide in a different province.

We traveled from there to the a silk factory and picked up a few small items. Then back to the hotel for a quick one hour rest before heading to dinner in a very long dark alleyway. Our tour guide, David, has been wonderful. It has been interesting to hear his take on the cultural revolution. Beat and tired, we made it back to the hotel room and crashed out.

Tomorrow we will see The Great Wall, an acrobatics show, and have a Peking Duck Dinner. Then we will be up and early on Sunday morning for the big day! We will leave Beijing at 8:00 am - arrive in Fuzhou at 11:00 and just have enough time to get to the hotel room...get a few things organized before heading to get Molly.

I will get some pictures posted soon.... more later.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Whoooo Hoooo...We made it!

We are here. We got on an airplane at 8:30 am and got settled into our room about 7:30am Huntsville time...yeah..that's right..its been 24 hours of non-stop excitement. How much do I dread getting on an airplane in a few days.

Okay...we have to crash now...the big tour starts tomorrow morning an 9am...

We will catch up with pictures soon!

Thanks for all the support...more to follow!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Signing off from the USA

Well we are about to do this thing...guess I should start packing...nahh.... I have a few more hours to procrastinate before I actually commit to putting things in a suitcase. I just wanted to take a minute and thank everyone for all the support! It has been truly fabulous to meet people who are genuinely as excited about discussing the adoption as we are to talk about it. We have the boys in quite capable hands and we are ready to take the next step. The Web Cams are in place so that we not only get to call each other..but we get to see each other too.

So this is me...signing off for now! I will be back once we hit Beijing! Prayers people...we need 'em!

Monday, November 3, 2008

We are getting close....

The in laws are here and have received a full briefing. We have played our last hockey game..okay that part is kind of sister has left for Korea and will be waiting for us in Fuzhou after Rob and I spend a few days in the hot spot for BEIJING! Im sure to run into Brad and Angelina as they come to pick up a child at any orphanage they choose unencumbered by paperwork or other requirements. Now I have to figure out how to put three suitcases full of stuff in one suitcase and make it weigh under 44 lbs. DOH! I have more stuff that I'm bringing to China...cleft palet nursers for the orphanage, gifts for the officials, snacks for molly, peanut butter crackers for me so I don't feel like I'm on room for clothes? Should be easy to figure out what I am going to wear...because I only have room for about three pair of pants and a few shirts. And the great shock of all my girly girl friends...Im going to make it through two weeks in China with ONE pair of can be done ladies!

Today is a flurry of last minute errands...web cams for the gparents so we can see everyone during the trip...last minute copies of some important paperwork...back pack for Rob....

In less than a week we will have her... its amazing....and really hasn't truly hit us. It is more the excitement of our friends and family who obviously GET IT...but I'm in the zone...and feel so much better just knowing dates. A true control freak to the core! Just give me my timeline and I will sleep well at night. It is so awesome having in laws that are so great with the boys that we know we have nothing to worry about...other than running out of room from all the trips to the toy store!

We have turned another corner and are one step closer to this three year journey....and then the fun really starts!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Grandparents have landed!

Just a heads up for those who may be monitoring their progress across the country. The inlaws have and sound! The trip has officially started for us! More details to follow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The last halloween with just two kids...

Halloween was great. We left about 6:30 to trick or treat and were gone for what felt like HOURS! We walked and walked and walked...finally I told Rob, we have got to get has to be REALLY late and I'm beat! Lets get we finally get to the house...walk in and glance at the clock knowing it has got to be at least 9:45.... and the clock read 7:30. WOAH!

Anyway, we had a blast. We had anikan, darth, and if you look closley Maggie was dressed as Princess Leah...but only for about 30 seconds. Poor dog! We rescued her from a shelter...we provide her food, and warmth and love...but she is required to wear a costume once a year for 30 seconds and I think she has got to be thinking that it just isnt worth it!

Just to be are the other kids with their costumes! The boys were so tired they were begging to go home and go to and dad are right behind them!

The last shots are pictures of Jack from "community helper day". The kids at his school are not allowed to dress up for they get to dress up as their favorite community helper. Whatever?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just me and my boys...

So I'm innocently standing in the kitchen talking to R and J while they eat their dinner when it hits me...tomorrow is the last day it will be just me and the boys as a threesome. Grandma and Grandpa will be landing soon and with Rob here on the weekend tomorrow really is it. So I made the command decision and am keeping Robby home from school tomorrow. Me and my guys are just going to hang! I have some laundry and cleaning to do...but not so much to keep us from visiting the mother ship and spending the $5 bill that grandma and grandpa sent the boys for Halloween...yep, that's right people. Halloween is a holiday in our house! Its just about candy and trick or treating and did I mention candy.

I have received so MANY emails and phone calls and posts from friends and family...the support is amazing!!! I have tried to explain to Rob why this place is so different than any place we have ever lived...but I have never been able too. What we have been a witness too over the past two months is why! This little girl is already adored by hundreds of people who have never even met her. It is one thing for us to be crazy about her...we get to bring her home...but the outpouring of support and excitement from even the most casual of acquaintances is truly humbling.

One more day down! Tickets are purchased..paperwork is complete and passports and visa's are ready to go. It is time to put on your game face...but not until after one more day with my boys.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boy, did I pick the wrong day to stop sniffing glue... not really. I mean, I have never sniffed glue...but today would have been the day to push me over the edge and start. I spent over EIGHT hours on the phone attempting to book tickets to China and back..... I wont go into the gory details...but it was more painful than childbirth. Finally, I got hooked up with the right people ( the right people meaning people who actually knew how to do their job) and mission complete. Our dates confirmed, and tickets are purchased.... now I am going to go skate around and try to hit as many people with my hockey stick as I can.

Visa's and Passports will be here tomorrow....

We have Confirmation.. flights to China is a night mare...let me just say that! But our dates are confirmed and we are going as scheduled! More details to follow!

Wish I was sleeping...

So the fact that Im blogging at 4am really has more to do with getting just enough sleep to get up and my son waking me up than it does excitement over the trip. I hate it when that happens. I have never really required that much sleep and tend to do just fine on 4 - 6 hours per night. Sure, I have probably shortened my life span by 5 years...but its not like I don't try to sleep. Anyway, there is always that point when I have crossed that invisible threashhold of "enough" sleep and when Jack will wake me up for...water, ice cream, guitar hero...fill in the blank.... and when that happens...well, its 4am and Im blogging. Wouldnt be too bad except for that fact that I play hockey on Wednesday nights and am usually out until very late and I really do want to get some stuff done today.

Yesterday I got the gifts for the officials. I went to Interior Marketplace and my good friend Mary Nell helped me pick out some very nice American made candles ( all red of white as I have learned that the color white is bad luck) and a very nice hand towel made in Alabama. I also drove by the mother ship...aka - Tar-get and picked up a few things to entertain the little princess in the hotel and plane. Stuff like playdoh, crayons, puzzles, paper dolls ( who knew they even made such things), and combined with a cute little doll and a lace and trace game given to us by our friends Lou and Linda we should be all set!

I am looking to borrow a digital camera. We have one and it does okay..but after Jack was done disassembling the lens from our video camera he decided to move on to the digital camera. It will work as long as I manually open the lens cap with my two fingers and honestly, I just dont want to trust it to take all the shots I want to take during this trip. strange as this request is..if someone has a digital camera that they wouldnt mind loaning us...something powerful and compact...we will be forever greatful. Obviously, if it falls into the hands of my 5 year old we will have no problems replacing said camera. I just dont trust this experience to our existing camera and since our friends Jaci and Steve were nice enough to loan us their video camera - I dont want to take their camera too.

The travel confirmation will come this you see how confident we are now...not "SHOULD come"...but will come. Thats right...we have travel approval...we are extremely confident now. Watch out China!

Need to continue to work on our packing list....still hasnt really sunk in that we are going. Maybe it will sink in on the plane?

More updates later!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Starting to sink in.....GULP....

We are going to China. We are going to China. We are going to China. WILD! And when we come back from China we will have an extra person with us. Even the three year wait cant prepare you to walk into a room as a couple and walk out with this person that is basically yours... FOREVER.

We couldn't be more excited...Rob is thrilled and not even worried about missing a work trip to DC that is now not going to happen for him. Rob, who is not prone to being excited about anything outside the occasional win from the San Diego Chargers, is walking on a cloud.... a very manly cloud...but a cloud none the less.

I am thinking about everything that I need to do to go. Getting the boys schedules and information ready for my very capable in-laws ( and Im not just saying that becuase I know you check the blog every day!). Getting the gifts we must present ready. Making sure we have our paperwork all ready to go... clothes? Coats? hats? Shoes in her size? What toys can we fit in our bag? Computer equipment? We are borrowing a video camera from a friend ( thanks Jaci) because Jack thought it would be a good idea to take the lens off of ours. Just a million things... but it will all be fine...

We have recieved so much support from family and friends....its overwhelming to think how much this little girl is loved by hundreds of people that she doesnt even know. We have already setup doctors appointments and evaluations upon our return... excting times are ahead for sure!

The next step is to get the Consulate Appoinment Confirmation which will come either today or tomorrow at the latest ...and then we are off. I will write and post pictures as much as I can. Other families dont seem to have any problems doing it, so I am assuming we will be able to as well.

Giddy Up! Molly is coming home!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thats right! We have it! We are going to China. The parents are flying in to take the boys and keep them on schedule and Rob and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary next to the Great Wall! We will spend approximately 5 days in China alone before we get Molly!

I was actually quite surprised to get it today. So much that I didnt even take my cell phone with me while I was out this morning. Mostly becasue I cant seem to find it...but last week I wouldnt have left the house without it... this week I was like... Uh...whatever? So when I walked in the house after picking Jack up from school and saw that there wasnt a message on the answering machine, I didnt give it a second thought. Buuuuuuut...then, I walked over to the phone and scrolled through the calls that I had received and saw that the agency had called us. Well, it couldnt be important because they would leave a message, right? So I just pick up the phone and call them back. I get Elana on the phone and she says "So...are you ready to go to China?"

WOAH! Uh...yeah.... so we are going to China. Im in shock and the best part is that as long as these dates get confirmed... ( and this is really the best part) my sister gets to go with us! I did ask about the chances of these tenative travel dates getting confirmed and we were told that the CCAA had the CA dates WIDE it really looks good!

Thank you God!!!

I guess I should start packing.

Feeling Optimistic about this week...

We had a great weekend...very stress over the TA which is nice for a change. We had our end of season soccer party with the Blue Thunder Sharks. The Blue Thunder Sharks are the U6 soccer team that both boys played on this year. We really lucked out with a fantastic team and fun parents! It was a great time! Then Rob and I had our second game of the season with our co-ed hockey team and we won 8-2. Of course it helped that the other team had a few players ejected because they started fighting... but they were fighting each things kind of spiraled downward for them after that. It was really quite funny from where I was sitting...two grown men talking about meeting each other in the parking lot.... over hockey. Just amazing! That never happens on my all women's hockey team!

Feeling that this is our week! We will get some info and start taking the next steps. We are extremely short on wiggle room for my sister being able to join us...but there is nothing we can do to change that so we just have to go with it.

Looking forward to Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not going to happen this week...

Obviously, this week wasnt our week. I would love to write how surprised I am...but frankly Im not. The delay in the Travel Approval is more in line with what we have been experiencing the last three years and not at all unusual. I would venture to say that getting any news and moving along as we had with the LOI and LOA was an unusual thing.

At one point I was told that we required an amended home study in order to even arrange for the Consulate Appointment so I wrote daily emails to the INS and called them. Tried to call in favors from multiple friends....anything to get that paperwork processed and in our mailbox. So finally this paperwork arrives and I call the agency to let them know that the paperwork I just got looks IDENTICAL to what I already had. I was led to believe from the agency that there would be something on the paperwork that would note that Molly was a special needs child and that we were approved to adopt a special needs child who is older than move adopted girls from China. I was told that without this special paragaraph we would not be allowed to book a CA or get her a visa....but ours looked identical to what we already had. When I told the agency this, they just said" Hmmm...Alabama must be one of those states that dont mention special needs on this whatever you have will be fine"

Im dumbfounded....the hours and time and worry spent on trying to get this form when I was told it was mandatory when actually, it wasnt....not based on where Im living. THIS is what we are accustomed to from our agency as well as the entire adoption process. This is what we have experienced for the past three years and so am I shocked that the CCAA basically just shut down for a week and are now backlogged with paper processing and missed our 3 week LOA to TA time line...nope...not at all. Par for the course.

Hopefully next week will be our week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things COULD be worse...

So I found out that a family that has an LOI ( letter of intent) of September 3 is STILL waiting for their LOA! Thats eight weeks or something...someone do the math. Poor Beth! As hard as it may seem to be waiting over 4 weeks for our TA this poor family has no idea when their LOA will show up and has no idea what the hold up is? So....the only thing we can do is just take a deep breath and step back from this whole thing and let it go. Cant control it...cant make a phone call and fix it... I learned that with trying to deal with the INS. Cant help but feel jealous of those people who were just three days ahead of us and still seem to be moving along... happy for them...dont get me wrong...but a tad jealous. We have been "what if-ing" our selves all week. If only I had found her sooner.... if only the LOA had been submitted sooner...if only it had come on a Wednesday and then appeared in China BEFORE the national holiday.... you can drive yourself crazy doing this and frankly I think I mentally left the reservation a few weeks ago.

There are plenty of things still to do around here...and ideas on what to pack...things to buy...etc. For some reason it is difficult to make any more moves until we get the TA... Im one of those people that like pressure and a deadline...and without a TA, I dont have one.

Robby did ask if we were going to love her more than we love him and Jack...only because he is a witness to the excitement surrounding her and has heard me tell the same stories and updates a million times. I explained to him that obviously we love all the kids and that if he had only seen how much excitement that surrounded him before he was born he wouldnt even ask that question. Of course, we would bypass the first three months when I was sick as a dog because of him... I dont think knowing that would help his self esteem much. "Gee honey, we loved you from the beginning...except for when mommy was sneaking naps at work in the womens restroom and throwing up the $40 fruit plate she ordered in a San Diego hotel"

Sign language class tonight... so far we have learned about 250 or so words....most of them I remember. I dont know that we will get to finish the class prior to leaving for China or when we will be able to move on to the next one. We are going to continue to sign even if she is a CI candidate even though it goes against what some AV therapists would recommend...but I have spoken to several parents of deaf kids who have seen much greater results with their kids with CI/hearing aids AND signing.

What is the plan after we get the TA? Well, then we get an estimate on the Consulate Appointments that are available and wait two or three days for the date to be confirmed. After that we make flight plans, call the grandparents who have been OH SO GENEROUS to fly out here like Delta Force at a minutes notice if necessary! Throw a few things in a bag and try to prepare for something that no amount of time or planning can truly prepare us for...who are we kidding?

Several people have asked what we need in terms of things they can buy us and honestly...we dont really need anything right now. We have more clothes for her than both the boys put together and kept all our developmental toys for her to use. Off the top of my head what we will REALLY need in the beginning is childcare for the boys from time to time as we drive her to Birmingham for her physical and hearing evaluations. If we go the CI route we will be driving to Birmingham once a the childcare would be a huge thing for us. Oh..and if you think you are going to be funny and buy her something frilly - lacey - poofy - cutesy...ect...well go right ahead. As long as you are prepared to see it for sale on EBAY you have our blessing! :)

For those of you that expect the instant bond and stories of rainbows and butterflies...well, dont kid yourself. This poor kid is not going to like us in the beginning and most likly really NOT like me.. she will have been taken from her foster mother and handed off to some weird crazy lady with weird color skin that smells funny and keeps trying to hug and kiss her. What would you do? Remember when you were a kid and that weird Aunt of yours would show up from time to time and get into your personal space and try to hug and kiss you and all you wanted to do was run away and hide...well, imagine that scenario and that is probably what we are looking at. It will pass though and before you know it she will rolling her eyes at me as she storms up the stairs to spend time in her room..probably signing something offensive in hopes that I dont see it..but I know all the bad fact they are the ones that I know good luck on that one kid! back to real life... teacher shopping for Chinese officials...laundry and THANKS TO GOD that I get to play hockey tonight. I have rambled enough here today.