Showing posts from June, 2011

Travel Conference Call

We just had our travel conference call.  Ken and I are so very impressed with our agency, CCAI .  They have been amazing every step of the way and today, hearing from the founder/director himself, Josh, was a great comfort.  He let us know that he and his wife Lily have prayed for us and our kids by name from the beginning.  I'll share some of the wisdom Josh shared with us and that we will take with us on our journey: - Be positive! that won't be too hard for me - Be extroverted, at least for these few weeks in China. naturally - When you arrive at the airport and meet your guide, give them your brain! Your guide will be your social worker, guide, interpreter, advocate and best friend.   Hallelujah! I was hoping I wouldn't need it. - When the going gets tough (you're sick of the food, hot, ready to be home) just repeat, "I'm going to survive my 3 weeks in China!" I am going to survive my 3 weeks in China! - CCAI's goal is for families to have a smoot

Last-Minute Waiting and Thankfulness

We leave in 4 days!! FOUR! In these final days, we are still waiting.  Waiting for our escrow check that should have been here weeks ago.  Waiting for our final travel itinerary and budget so that we know how much cash we need to take to China. As for the escrow check, it's pretty much out of our hands, so if it's not here by Saturday, we just won't have it.  Which stinks, because we really truly NEED that check! Ooh! Just as I was typing this, we got our travel itinerary!  Yikes! Our in-China costs were about $5000 more than we had predicted!  Sheesh!  The boys are worth every bit of it.  Since we finally have our numbers, we have some last-minute shopping and banking to do! Now back to the regularly-scheduled blog: Waiting and being strapped down to our last dime has forced us to depend completely on the Lord every step of the way. He has come through every time , most often in the last moments.  Whether it has been through old friends, family members, or eve

Airport Greeting Crew

Many of our friends and family have let us know that they want to be at the airport when we arrive home with the boys.  We can't wait to have you there to welcome them to the US, to the family, to the amazing circle of people who already love those boys. Photo from an airport "welcome home" of a friend of ours.   There are some "rules of the road" I'd like to share with those of you who will be coming. Have low expectations. Be ready to follow a few rules. Sounds like tons of fun already, doesn't it? DO : Do show up!  The boys won't realize why you're there now , but as they grow up and look at the photos in their lifebooks, they will see the people who had waited with us to welcome them home.  For the rest of their lives,  they can look back over their lifebook and see your faces and know how much they were anticipated and wanted. Do make a welcome home sign!  You or your kids may want to make a sign to hold to welcome the boys home

Friends Matter

Today, I was reminded that friends, yes even if they are "just" facebook friends, matter. I posted (as usual) about being excited to be picking up the boys soon.  Over 40 people responded, even if just by "liking" my status update.  As I read through the names of people who "liked" it, my heart swelled.  Some of these friends I haven't seen in 5 to 25 years!  But when I see their name come across my wall, memories of them pop into my head and cause me to be so thankful for the people God has placed in my life, whether years ago, for a short time, or even just through cyberspace. SO, I decided to go through the list of people who either commented or "liked" my update today and share with you how I know them.  I started to post what memories pop into my head with each person, but there are TOO many! Randi: VCC, Cube homeschool friend and blogger/crafter extraordinaire!  Marni: my most bubbly, happy Dickinson neighbor! Laura: my bestest

China Geography 101

Okay, so you're not going to get a lesson in total China geography, but I will show you where we will be traveling through the month of July. July 4-9: Once we leave the US, we will fly into Bejing (red) and stay a few days.  We plan to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and some other points of intrest. We will meet up with our travel group here. July 10-15: Next stop, Zhengzhou, Henan (blue) to get Tian! July 16-22: South to Fuzhou, Fujian (orange) to get Travis! July 23-27: To Guangzhou, Guangdong to visit the US Consulate. July 28: Fly to the US via Shanghai! As a side note, it was pointed out that it's typhoon season in the Philippine Sea, but where we will be, it's no more dangerous than living in the tornado alleys of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, where I've lived 81% of my life and never been affected worse than having to seek shelter a few times.  There is good weather forecasting and we aren't anticipating any problems.  Fuzhou is the closes


Since we got TA, I've had a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night.  Even when I'm wiped out, I lie down and get butterflies in my stomach thinking about the trip.  Or I'll imagine the boys lying on the bed next to me, sleeping while I stroke their black hair.  That thought makes me cry.  So, I've relied on going to and watching Jimmy Fallon followed by many clips of the show.  The commercial between each clip is normally when I drift off to sleep, unable to keep my eyes open any longer, normally in the 2 o'clock hour. This nighttime wakefulness leads to morning-time sleeping in.  (Acutally, I've been waking up at 6am with butterflies all over again, so I get up, do a few chores, then crash back to sleep from about 8-9:30.) Two mornings ago, I woke to find the Brownies up, having eaten breakfast, working on this countdown chain. We used to make these when the kids were small and Ken began traveling with Sprint. It helped them know how many "s

What To Expect When You're Expecting

Before I gave birth to each of my children, I knew their gender and had an inkling from the ultrasounds that they were reasonably healthy, but otherwise, had no idea what to expect, especially with our firstborn. From the moment the kids were born, Ken and I would talk, sign, and sing to them.  I can't tell you how many times I sang the Alphabet Song to those kids!  We played with blocks, signing the colors every. single. time.  We read picture books out loud and signed the names of all the farm animals over and over. At only a few months of age, each of our kids began to understand our words and signs.  "Milk" and "eat" were two of the first signs/words they recognized, of course! Somewhere between 10 and 12 months, they began to first sign, then talk.  Our oldest's first signs were "more" and "dog."  The other two first signed "more" and "milk" and "daddy." That first developmental year is full of

Travel Itenerary

These are our dates!! For the most part, this is accurate, but we may have a few changes here and there.  The one date set in stone at this point is our US Consulate appointment on the 26th. That's THE date the entire trip is based on. We will be leaving for China July 4!! July 4 : Travel 20 hours! DFW to Chicago, then to  Beijing , China. July 5-9 : Sightsee, sleep, adjust to China time and prepare for the boys!  July 10 : Travel to Zhengzhou , the capital of Tian's province.  Our last day as a family of 5! July 11 : Gotcha Day for Tian! July 12 : Adoption Day for Tian!! Exactly one year since we "found" him! Paperwork filled out. One-year marker of first seeing Tian via email. July 13-14 : Wait for paperwork, medical checkups, touring. Tian's bday!   Get all official docs back in our hands. July 15 : Fly to Fuzhou , the capital of Travis' province. July 16-17 : Weekend in Fujian July 18 : Gotcha day for Travis! July 19 : Adoption day for Travis!! Pape

Travel Approval

Yes!! TA! We have official travel approval! We will have verified dates at the end of the week, but for now, it looks like we'll be out of the US July 6 through 30.  That's a LONG trip, but we are SO very ready! I'll keep you posted about the details of the trip and will be posting information for those who want to meet us at the airport when we come home at the end of June. For now, we are simply celebrating!!!!

Father's Day

I found this I posted on Pappy's (my dad) Facebook wall April of last year: "Hi, Pappy! I just listened to a Focus on the Family broadcast on which they interview James Dobson re: his new book "Bringing Up Girls". His overwhelming findings after 3 years of research was that girls need to know they are loved by their dads and dads have to constantly tell them, hug them, kiss them, etc. especially during the "awkward" stages when many dads shy away from their girls. Everything I heard made me realize yet again how BLESSED I am to have a dad like you. I never ever once doubted that you loved me and thought I was pretty great, even when I was behaving badly and felt down on myself. You always showed us affection (funny, but I vividly recall car trips where you would reach back and pat us on the knee) and gave us unconditional love. Your love made it easy to understand that God, too, loves me even when I'm at my ugliest. May the Lord richly bless you for t

Pressed, Not Crushed

I'm pressed, but not crushed; Persecuted, not abandoned; Struck down, but not destroyed. I'm blessed beyond the curse because His promise will endure and His joy is going to be my strength. Though sorrow may last for the night His joy comes in the morning. -- Trading My Sorrows, Darrell Evans Down. Weary. Dismayed. Disheartened. Weighed down. Worn. In my years, I've learned not to use the word "depressed" lightly.  When I'm feeling down, I don't say that I  am depressed.  I won't say it here today, either, but I feel like I'm certainly feeling  physical  as well as emotional effects from being "down." Over the past few weeks, I've been unmotivated to get up, get dressed, and get out.  I'd rather stay home and in my PJs.  I feel like a fat blob, which doesn't help the getting dressed and getting out. Since this time last year, I've successfully dropped every outside obligation other than church and immediate

A Friend

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  -Proverb Last night, I was Google-searching for photos of the Sanming SWI (my actual search was "Sanming City orphanage") and happened upon some photos of a girl I recognized from pictures with Travis.   The pictures linked to this blog from the Olson family.  (The Olsons blogged about our connection here: .) A quick scroll through the blog and I recognized the parents as well.  Just the night before, I had spent hours surfing every corner of the Sanming City SWI 's website and saw a video of this family visiting the SWI and getting their daughter.  (I had skipped through it though, and didn't see the photos of her with EnEn.) They linked to a Picasa album of the orphanage and there was our little EnEn, playing with Yi Hong, now named Madelyn.  As I scrolled through thirteen photos of those two playing together, I was laughing out loud!

Finding Treasure

In my last post, I shared my internet search for info regarding Travis' home.  Well, I was wrong about him living in the Jiangle County.  I was also wrong in my January post showing the "castle" SWI. Perusing the Chinese website for Sanming City SWI, I found photos that are certainly from his home.  I've put out some questions (in three different languages, mind you) to find out where the "castle" SWI is compared to the white building where Travis lives. Sanming City SWI On the homepage, there is a slideshow of 4 different photos.  One of those is our son!  Why wouldn't he be their poster child?  Look at that face! That smile! Rockin' the 'hawk! My heart was racing with each click and I found more and more photos of Travis.  The photos were exciting, but as I continued to explore, I found even more about him and his life over the past 2 years.  I noticed they had a "profiles" section.  Clicking through those, I saw his profi

Zhengzhou SWI

In all my searching for Travis' SWI, I found even more information on Tian's. Here are my favorite pics: Ariel view of ZZ SWI. I instantly recognized the architecture from pics of Tian. Compare these with the pictures below of Tian. These two are of Tian with his foster mom. This is Tian with Xia, who works in Colorado for CCAI.

Searching for Answers: Jiangle SWI

Preface: New Information: I learned that Travis is NOT in Jiangle County SWI. He is in Sanming City, but not in the "castle" SWI.  See my next post for the story.  So the entire blog below is null and void, but I'm going to keep it here for posterity. Way back in January, I blogged about where I thought Travis "EnEn" was living.  Now I am 95% sure I was wrong. Over the past few days, I've been scouring the Internet for some information.  Any information.  Tian's SWI is in a large, well-traveled, urban city in a providence where many adoptions occur.  He was in the Lily Orphan Room that is operated by our adoption agency.  Because of these factors, we have a lot of information about his orphanage.  We know the location, we've seen a lot of photos, heard stories from other adoptive families and travel groups, and even received a video of Tian in his SWI.  Travis, on the other hand, is from a more rural, remote city that isn't often visit


This is an anti-entry because I really don't have anything specific to say, but have a LOT on my mind. We are waiting for TA.  We're at the official "earliest" we could get it, so the jitters have hit!  God has worked everything out in His timing.  I trust that and am also letting Him know the DEEP desire of our get TA tomorrow!!  That would truly be amazing.  The rest of our fellow waiting families are as giddy as we are and also hoping (and shaving body parts/pets, and soaking Reeses peanut butter cups in rum, etc) with anticipation for the TA news.  It's nice to have people with whom we can wait.  I hope we get to meet at least some of them in real life. On another note, I took the kids and a couple of their friends to see Kung Fu Panda 2.  We loved it!  I could totally see why some adoptive parents cringed over a few parts, but overall it was very good.  We all agreed it was better than the first.  We're looking forward to the inevitable KF

Finding Balance Part 2

continued from part 1  After more and more reading, I've found some angry, bitter adoptees.  I hurt for them.  My heart aches for their pain.  While I'll never ever know how they feel, I "share in their troubles".  Reading their stories has opened my eyes and heart to some of what my boys may feel and struggle with.  It's certainly helped me see many things to NOT do, say or even imply as an adoptive parent.  However, I will lead my boys down the path of those who have experienced suffering before them. The boys were born into a culture where a deformed ear is read as a bad omen or misfortune.  Deaf is rarely accepted, therefore a Deaf person will not be allowed an equal education nor job opportunities.  Because of that, their birth families either felt fearful of the bad omen or simply knew they couldn't care for that kind of "disability".  (If they boys had been born 90 years earlier in the US, they may have been placed in a mental institution.

Finding Balance Part 1

Since last weekend after the whole "Kung Fu Panda" posting , I have been thinking much about my overall view of adoption. As someone said so perfectly, I view the aspects of adoption through the filter of my biblical worldview.  While I strongly adhere to the truth that adoption begins with loss, I also believe that God doesn't operate in Plan B.  Those two truths must meet somehow and they do in my theological understanding of who God is. I think of a few Godly examples of people who have dealt with grief and coming from a hard place.  These are people we will set before all FIVE of our kids as examples of dealing with grief.  People like  Nic Vujicic  or my pastor,  Matt Chandler , or a local friend,  Sujo John  or my dad, whose mom died when he was nine. or my  dearest  friend of my life who, as a child went through abandonment, adoption (becoming a multicultural family), eventual removal from her parents, separated from her only sibling, and had to deal with more

Birth Day

Today is June 1, the day we will celebrate as Travis' birthday.  I wish I could feel more celebratory.  The truth is, the boys are always on my mind, so today is no different.  The other truth is that I'm a little sad. I'm sad about the circumstances that surround adoption.  I'm sad for Travis for all the unanswered questions, including what day he was born.  I'm sad for his first family that they felt they couldn't care for a deaf son.  I'm also sad for them as I know they are wondering about him, especially around the time of his birth.  I pray Travis will retain some memories of his first year.  I'm sad that we aren't in China already. Today, at the orphanage, Travis' birthday won't be celebrated.  Not because he's in an orphanage, but because Chinese people don't celebrate a 3rd birthday.  They celebrate only a few select milestone birthdays.  Even then, it's not like our extravagant American celebrations and it's not