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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sigh.... no TA.....

No Travel Approval today..... but tomorrow is another day to hope.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Potential for a slight delay...

I hate even posting this....but I have to. Yes, we may be delayed a week longer than we had hoped. Originally I was told that the CCAA ( the organization that processes our Travel Approval) was operating at half staff during a national holiday and then found out that they were actually shut down for a week. Not a three day weekend..not even a four day entire week....shut down....$(#*#&@))@)! Because of that there is the potential that our TA will take 4 weeks and not 3. I found out that our LOA was not rec'vd until October 6 so you can basically add 3.5 weeks to that and that puts us around next Wednesday. Now, it isnt 100% that it will take that long..but there is the potential for it too. There were two families that rec'vd their LOA three days ahead of us and got their TA last friday. They were right on schedule. So we will just have to wait and see. Again...out of our control. The good news is that the family that is just three days ahead of us in paperwork processing is leaving for China on October 31 and will get their child on November 2. Hopefully once this TA situation is worked out we will be on a fast time line as well!

Now before all you tens of blog readers think that Im just being immature about the whole time thing and I should just chill out and relax I will let you in on the reason I want to go ASAP! If we can go before a certain date my sister will get to go with us...past a certain date she will not be able to. So that's why we are pushing the time thing...its not just about not having enough to fill my days or me just being impatient.. I want my sister with me when they hand this child to me. If it doesnt happen, obviously we will survive...but to come this close and then miss it by just a few days would be a huge buzz kill. Maybe tomorrow is the day?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amended I-600A

We got the amended i-600A that we needed from INS today. Now I can stop stalking the INS officials in Atlanta and keep my face off the walls of the post office because things were about to get ugly. Now it appears everything is in place for our trip. We have all our paperwork complete and we just have to pack and go. Now the only thing we are waiting on are dates. I did find out that the CCAA was closed for a week and that could slow us down a little..but as the group three days ahead of us got their TA - I feel good about us getting ours next week as well. Keep the faith...its coming!

It's not the's the NOT Knowing... those of you who know me know I dont do well with questions in the air. I dont like not knowing whatever it is Im thinking about and so the not knowing of all the stuff I really dont know drives me batty. If I could have taken an additional test after my initial pregnancy tests to find out what gender the boys were, I would have done it! The not knowing the gender for the first 18 weeks drove me crazy! So in talking to a good friend of mine recently over email ( hi erin! love ya) I figured out that the waiting isnt killing me....its the not knowing the dates that is. As soon as I know our travel dates...than I will calm down. Its having it all up in the air.. .that sort of thing. As long as I have the dates I will be able to come up with some kind of game plan and get the wheels in motion...its not the wait that is killing my MOJO...its the not knowing.

But yes..hopefully next week at this time I will be a different person! Im just ready for the dates...

I was hoping figuring that out would somehow make me feel better... shoot... I dont think it to another week. Im shooting for Wednesday...or at least by Wednesday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No TA for us today...

however, two of the families that got thier LOA just three days ahead of us DID get their TA it stands to reason that we will be between Monday and Wednesday of next week. At least that is what Im going for. Im still hoping that by the end of next week we will have firm travel dates. The people from these other agencies seem to have a pretty good handle almost immediatley when they are going. Both are traveling JUST TWO WEEKS from today. If that happens for us than that would hopefully get us Molly either around or ON November 13...our 9th wedding anniversary. I am TERRIBLE at buying gifts for these kinds of things... so this would work out quite well as handing Rob a three year old daughter would certainly exclude me from having to go out and buy a package of golf balls, dont you think. This is certainly not the date I had hoped for...I was really wanting to go the first week in November...or even the last week in October...but it is so out of my all I can do is just shoot for Monday...and try to start gathering things we will need for the trip. What else can I do?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

$*$&#!%#@!!! I have decided that Im tired of waiting. Thats it. Im just tired of waiting. Im tired of counting weeks...counting heart jumping when the phone rings...tired of the INS ignoring my attempts to find out information and their blatent disregard for any attempts made by me for information. Im tired of guessing when the travel dates are? Im tired of trying to figure out ways to make the system work faster. Im just tired.

It's been 8 weeks...

since we started this. Just 8 weeks...some days it seems like it has been three years and others like it just happened yesterday. Time is weird. I just found out that a family on the deafchina message board ( a message board for people who have adopted or looking to adopt deaf children from China) had their daughter adopted out from under them. Now, they had received a PA but not the LOA and they were months from finishing their paperwork and didn't expect to get her until the Spring...but they are devastated. As we would have been! Now before you ask the obvious question, No - I really dont think that this could happen to us. You cant say you are 100% sure of anything when dealing with the government of another country....anyone that says they know for sure hasnt been on the same roller coaster we have for the past three years... there were a few extinuating circumstances that led to this nightmare for the family...none of which we have anything in common with....but I have heard other adoptive families say..that until they landed on US soil with the child in hand, did they truly relax.

There are other families that have the same LOA date as us who are expecting to travel in just a week or two. Im just tired of trying to guess.... it will be November - Im fairly sure about that. Im thinking anywhere between the first two weeks....obviously hoping for the first week or last week in October...but who knows.

We have sign language class tonight....Im officially overwhelmed with memorizing signs that I only use once a week. It really is true that if you dont use it, you will lose it.

We should start packing...there are all these things you have to think about... bringing clothes of different sizes because most of the time the kids are much smaller than they are reported to be. You have to bring gifts for certain officials and they cant be in white bags because that means bad luck so you have to really pay attention to the details. You have to be sure to bring enough because you cant give them anything that wasnt American made and so good luck finding that in China! Fortunately we dont have to worry about diapers or formula like most of the parents do...but we will have our own issues Im sure.

Still working on the by room it is coming together. Rob has decided to build her a dresser. It will look fantastic as long as she can survive without it for say...the next 6 months.

Off to run errands! Hoping for TA today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still waiting for TA

Hoping to get Travel Approval by Friday/Monday ( really by Friday..but I'm trying to sound cool and collected like it really isn't a big deal). Then two or three days to get the CA and travel dates confirmed. Hopefully will get to travel within the first two weeks of November...hoping...but it is totally out of my control...a situation I don't tend to thrive in...

I was putting together a care package for Molly...but think we will just wait. Planning on taking three pair of shoes...size, 7, 8 and 9 in hopes for finding one that fits!

Hopefully the next time I post I will have REAL news...not just mindless babbling.

In the meantime... here are my two favorite soccer boys! They look quite nice next to their little sister in her soccer uniform, dontcha think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Before you start thinking that this little girl doesnt have anything to wear...

We did some MAJOR work on the house this past week. Fortunatley for us, the boys got in some pretty big trouble which grounded them for the last few days of the fall break so Rob and I got a lot of cleaning done around the house. I love it when a good punishment coincides with some needed time at home. I finally got all of Molly's clothes sorted and hung up/ put away. I thought before any of you faithful readers decided you just coudnt wait to go out and buy something GIRLY for Molly... I wanted to show you what we recently discoverd. This little girl...whom we have never met already has more clothes than both my boys put together. Here is a example of what I mean. Below is a picture of Robby's closet -

Now, he has some pants, shorts and the usual collection of white tshirts and underwear..but this is really the majority of what we will call The Robby Barrie Collection ( formally the Jack Hawkins collection). Even worse is what is currently in Jack's closet. Now you must realize that both the boys wear the same sizes in just about Robby and Jack have lived very comfortably with the clothes you can see in the pictures: now for the shocking part. Below is what you will find in Molly's closet. And before you go thinking that this is EVERYTHING....its not! This is just a collection of the clothes that will fit her RIGHT NOW! Under the bed are three big space bags full of clothes 4T and above. Oh, and the closet photo doesnt include the 10 pair of blue jeans, 15+ pair of shorts, and about 12 bathing suits!

Oh...and the kicker is that out of all the clothes you see here...we purchased NONE of it. They were all gifts from neighbors and friends and sisters of neighbors and friends! Amazing isnt it!

Still no news on the TA....we are shooting for the end of this week or the beginning of the following week at the latest!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ho.....hum......nothing new.....

but the end is going to creep up on me and I will be packing random items in a bag at 4am for a 5am flight... I know that will happen. Only because it always does. There is still SOOOO much I want to get done..find a dresser, get all the TONS and TONS of clothes we have for her put away. She did get a new ceiling fan. The old one looked like it belonged in one of those places that you tend to find near the know what Im talking about, right? Im not quite sure what heavy object had fallen on Robs head when he chose that fan...but it didnt work right anyway so I was glad to see it go.

The carpets have been cleaned and the systematic cleaning of the house has it looks REALLLY bad. On top of that Im workng my absolute hardest to get as much of my work load done...still have a few websites to do before we leave. As much as I would like to just spend 100% of my time on the house and getting ready for this, I have to wrap up some existing commitments before we go.

No sign language class this week...its really kind of getting much to remember.

Thats it for us for now. Waiting on the TA which could come this week...but I would be shocked to hear that it did....would be a little less shocked for it to come next week and the following week we will be sitting by the phone again. Still waiting for that INS update...should come soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Whew....what a day....

Well, we can check another fingerprinting session off the more crucial step closer to getting Molly home. Last night we had dinner at a friends new restaurant ( it was fabulous, by the way!) and spent the evening sorting clothes with our hero Vickie who was nice enough to volunteer to run our garage sale while the family drove to Birmingham. After sorting clothes until 11pm, we woke up at 4am to get everything out in the driveway and then hit the road by 6:30am so we could arrive at the appointment by 9am. We were in Birmingham for about 20 minutes, then we turned around and drove all the way home. When we got back Vickie had sold 75% of everything...we made a killing by the way! We took over and ended the garage sale about an hour and a half later. Now we have a nice little addition to our adoption fund as well as the two crucial stamps we needed to get on our fingerprint form in order to bring Ms. Molly back into the country. All we are waiting for now is the home study addendum to get processed through the INS and the Travel Authorization from China.

We wrapped up the evening at the camp site of the same friends who ran our garage sale and celebrated Jacks 5th birthday as well as their daughters 19th birthday.

Heading to glad this day is over...but not as glad as the poor woman who sold everything out of our garage from 5:30am until well after 11am.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

It takes a have a garage sale..

Well, we have the BEST friends in the world. After hearing about our fingerprint dilemma the Herbst's have graciously offered to come over at 5:30am and sell everything in our garage while Rob and I are driving to Birmingham to get finger printed for the 5th time! That's right... we have been fingerprinted 5 times in 3 years.... it is easy to understand, after all, fingerprints change so often.

Thanks Herbst's! We owe you BIG TIME!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Be careful what you wish for...

Well, we wanted the soonest possible fingerprint appointment and we got it! Saturday, October 4 in Birmingham. Unfortunately, that is the day that our community hosts its semiannual garage sale. Rob and I have been collecting and stacking everything we can find that we don't need anymore and putting it in the garage in anticipation for Saturday. All of the items, 75% baby things we thought we would need for an infant, are now taking up over half the space of a three car garage. Now we find out that we have to be in Birmingham! UGH! I have been trying to reschedule the appointment for the past three days and of course cant get anyone to respond. Be careful what you wish for! We will have to hold another garage sale in the next few weeks if we cant make this one because it is impossible to walk through the garage right now!