I hear my mommy and daddy received their I 800 approval today and this is a good thing! I've also learned that I don't have just one, or two, but THREE big brothers and they have said that I can't go out on a date until I'm 30!!! Oh my ~ I'm glad they are going to be protective and all but we are really going to have to negotiate the age of my first date!
After years of dalmatians, basketballs, sports themes and nascar we have PINK in our home!!
The dolls are ready to be loved on and are warm and cozy under a very special blanket made by Aunt Jennifer:)
The makeup table is ready for Gabriella to accentuate her princess status.
On a perfectly sunny day this picture came out a little dark ~ I do love her lamp:)
This is my favorite part of her entire room. It is a picture of Emily and Gabriella in their foster home together in China. While the other frame has a picture of Gabriella, it is waiting to be filled with a picture of the girls the first time they are reunited here in the USA:)
As you can tell we are beyond excited as we just received updated pictures of the most beautiful little girl in the world!! Did you notice she is even holding a picture of herself ~ my little girl who loves to play with balls looks like she may even like to wear dresses ~ something is telling me I may just have a little shopping buddy:) Our agency commented that Gabriella now even has hair ~ here comes the ribbon and bows!! I already have a box, similar to one people use for dividing beads and all of her hair bows are divided by colors and are just waiting to be matched with the outfits hanging in her closet. Papa saw her closest last week and mentioned that she already has a good start on her wardrobe ...I believe there is a song that says "we've only just begun" and that's how I feel about her wardrobe:) Gabriella has gained 6 pounds since her last update ~ she is now at 28 pounds and is 34 inches tall ~ she hasn't gained much in the way of height but she has in weight and we are very thankful for that:)
All of our paper work is now completed and we are hoping to have travel approval very soon so we can bring Gabriella HOME to her forever family:)
Courtney this update is for you and anyone else who is wondering how our paper work is going:) We signed our LOA accepting Sun Wen Hao as our daughter on November 18, 2009 and sent it back to our agency:) Today we received a certificate of educational requirement completion from our agency which allows us to mail in our I 800 tomorrow; we will also be mailing our DS230 back to our agency tomorrow as well:)
One of my sweet sisters, Kris, lives in Chicago and hand delivered our Visa information to the China consulate on Monday; well, they have very limited hours only being open from 9:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 2:45 and they were closed when she arrived. Kris returned the next day and gave them our information. Well....we have two issues we need to correct. First, our Visa photo can't be a copy of our passport photo and they need a new, 2x2 original photo for our Visas. Secondly Curtis sent a priority pre-paid return mail envelope and it needs to be an express pre-paid envelope for the China consulate to return it in. Tomorrow we will be mailing Kris two new photos as well as a new pre-paid envelope and a gift card for all her time she is spending helping us to bring Gabriella home:) We are hoping and praying that we receive travel approval for the end of Jan or the first week of February, before China's holiday the week of February 14: our agency feels that this may very well be our time line and we are hoping so as well:)
To summarize how Courtney described receiving travel approval on her blog the last forms that we are mailing in will unite in China; once these forms unite and become "married" they then form a new form which is our travel approval. The travel approval is the LAST form we are now waiting on and once we have this China will invite us to travel to their country to bring Gabriella home to her forever family:)
It's official!!! She is OURS!!! China said yes and our agency received our LOA TODAY!!!!!! We can now tell you all about her:) Gabriella Graces' Chinese name is Sun Wenhao. She is residing in foster care in Taiyuan City and has a WONDERFUL foster family!!! When she was born she was 6 lbs and 6 oz and was 18 inches long ~ such a perfect size for a little girl!!! Our agency is projecting we will travel late January or early February ~ I can tell you I will be working all of Christmas break to complete my next to last MSN class in hopes of having it done before we travel!!! Our family is BEYOND excited ~ I believe the only thing left we need to get is a rocking chair for her bedroom ~ then, the most important of all... is bringing her HOME to her forever family!!!!
One year ago today this beautiful little girl had her picture taken as she was being prepared to be placed in China's adoption program. A year ago at this time we knew God had asked us to start our paper work earlier than we had planned, and though we didn't understand why and to some degree questioned His timing, we followed His calling and began the paper work. Little did we know He had already chosen the perfect little girl half way around the world to be our daughter. We have now been waiting two months for our LOA. Today we heard from our adoption agency and they said they are now expecting it any day!! They are also sending out a packet with all of our travel information, VISA info among other things...it's beginning to happen we are actually starting to prepare for our trip to China to bring our daughter home to her forever family:) All of Gabriella's important dates have come on family birthdays. We accepted Gabriella's referral on Jordan's 16th birthday. We received our I 800 A approval from the USCIS to adopt Gabriella on July 10, her 2nd birthday. The log in date for our dossier in China's system was September 17, our niece Jayda's birthday. We have three birthdays coming up in our family in the next three weeks so if I were to bet, we will have our LOA very, very soon!!!
As many of you know we had an empty place in our hearts and home that could only be filled with a very special kitty. While we spent a few days looking at kittens, when we opened the picture of this very special little guy we all had a feeling he just may be the one:) We took a drive w-a-y out into the country and met a very nice family. They had two kittens left and this little guy just happened to be their favorite...we can easily see why. On the way home we were trying to come up with a name for him. A few names were mentioned and then out of the clear blue sky Daniel said "I've got it! We've found Nemo". That was it ~ the entire family began to laugh and agree that yes indeed, we have found Nemo:) Nemo spent his first evening at home cuddled up in our jackets and blankets sitting around a bon fire ~ he took turns sleeping and then purring. We can say we think he is just purrrrfect!
Nicholas comes home every day after school and holds Nemo. He did this with our other kitty as well and now he likes to be held like a baby ~ can you tell the animals are just a little spoiled at our house?
Nemo heard something about the boys like to play football...he likes watching out the window and occasionally meows to get their attention. They will stop playing and say hi to Nemo and bring him outside for a little play time:)
Let's just say this takes the phrase of "the cat chasing the mouse" to a totally different level.
I believe I have a very cute, playful and lovable new study buddy:)
The first couple of nights Nemo was home he slept on some blankets in our bathroom. He has the most precious little meow. Bailey, our golden retriever, kept pacing at the door wanting in. He and Nemo had done well together earlier in the day so we opened the door. Within 5 minutes the meowing stopped and the above picture shows why ~ when Nemo is sleepy he will go find Bailey and cuddle up for his nap. Bailey lays with him until Nemo wakes up and wants to play ~ I have to say I don't think the humans in our family are the only ones who love Nemo:)
We had just pulled the tape off the first wall after the stripes were completed.
I can honestly say I find painting extremely relaxing and enjoyed every moment of painting Gabriella's room:)
Nicholas is painting the drawers for Gabriella's "make-up" mirror set that we found for a steal at a garage sale...what a great big brother to actually paint something pink for his little sister!
Here is a sneak peek of Gabriella's room. Curtis had asked that we don't show anyone her room until it is 100% complete. I'm sure no one will tell him we just shared a couple of pictures when we were in the early stages of decorating...there will be more pictures soon to follow as her room is getting closer to being completed.
Simba, our beloved kitty of 15 years went to heaven today. Everyone has their opinions on if animals go to heaven however for this moment in time we believe a cat as special as Simba is. Everyone who knew Simba couldn't believe how happy he was all of the time ~ he truly purred more than any cat we have known. Simba was also a very caring cat. When anyone was sick or upset he knew and he was always there ~ watching over who ever needed some extra TLC at the time:) Simba was hand raised from the time he was two weeks old and a true sweetheart. We gave Simba to Jordan for his 2nd birthday. Jordan promptly picked Simba up, looked at him, then put him in the net of his Little Tyk*s basketball goal that he had just been given. Simba quickly formed a bond with Jordan and every night for 15 years would find Jordan when it was time for bed and go to tuck him in for the night. I have to say he was also the best "study buddy" anyone could ask for! When I began nursing school for my ASN he would sit right next me for hours at a time ~ this continued years later for my BSN and even now during my MSN ~ this cat has definitely earned an honory degree in nursing! While we know he is no longer in pain saying goodbye is never easy. We will always love you and miss you Simba.
We have now been waiting for our LOA for one month. I have been following many families who are adopting right now and watching their LOA times as well. One family just received their LOA in 39 days ~ we are thrilled for them! On the long side we know of a family who waited 115 days while many families seem to be falling into the 50 -60 day time frame. Jordan is totally convinced that Gabriella is eating cantaloupe in this picture and loves it as much as he does ~ I don't believe it's cantaloupe yet I'm not sure what it is. We love this picture of Gabriella and think it's great that her foster mom is even doing her hair:) I hope she is a patient little girl as this mama has only done the boys hair for the last 18 years ~ it may take a little time to get the hair thing down ~ I think we will start with simple things like bows that clip in and move up from there:) Curtis and the boys think it will be easy to take care of Gabriella's hair ~ they think we should purchase a couple pink or purple baseball caps and that should take care of it ~ boys!!! We're praying we receive our LOA by Thanksgiving ~ we know it's all in God's time however we are ready to have our baby girl home with her family:)
Jerra and I have been friends for a very long time! We met in elementary school and though we only lived in the same town for two years we have remained great friends! During the two years we lived in the same town Jerra's parents lived in the cemetery. Jerra's dad was the pastor of a local Pentecostal church and was also the grounds keeper at the cemetery. Though we were/are both Christian girls we decided that once we went to heaven there wouldn't be a line for the Baptist girls and the Pentecostal girls so, we did what any normal pre-teens would do, we pushed the limits in some areas. When Jerra would come to my house I would pull out a pair of blue jeans for her to wear. We also put makeup on and one day we even trimmed her hair a little. Jerra's parents were fully aware of what would go on when we had our get togethers and would always say "you girls". I always remember Jerra's parents as being so welcoming and inviting. We would have sleep-overs at their house along with pizza parties. During the fall we would take flashlights with us and run through the cemetery. Mary, Jerra's mom would always be close behind keeping an eye on us ~ the things we thought we "heard" in a cemetery at night around Halloween was funny ~ leaves would rustle and we would jump, scream and run more!
When it came to our weddings Jerra was the maid of honor in my wedding and I was the maid of honor in Jerra's wedding. Before Jerra's wedding in PA her parents took us on a wonderful boat ride around a beautiful lake. That evening we had dinner on the lake too ~ it was a night we will always remember:)
Jerra's dad, Jerry was a dynamic man. When he preached there wasn't a doubt that God was in the room. Though he was a very tall man he had such a gentleness about him. He always had such a hearty laugh as well. On October 1 Jerry, who I also called dad in my younger days went to be with Jesus in heaven. Yesterday we all celebrated his life here on earth. Though there were a lot of tears yesterday, one thing that will always stand out is what Mary said as we were hugging each other "we were married 48 years and it just wasn't long enough". Living in a world where 50% of the population is getting divorced it was so refreshing hearing those words and they are words I will always remember.
Mary will be moving back to IN in the next couple of months to be closer to her family. It will be sad for her leaving all the memories in PA however she will be closer to her IN family and friends. Jerra and I will also be able to see each other more often as well as when she flies in from FL to see her mom we can pick her up from the airport and spend some girl time together; as it has been ten years since we last saw each other this is something we are both looking forward to:)
I have many favorite pictures we have received of Gabriella however this is one of my absolute favorites...for a couple of reasons. First the love of the foster mom's face that she has for the girls is very obvious and it comforts me daily knowing she is living with a foster family who loves and cares for her. Secondly, Gabriella is holding Emily's arm as if she is the big sister looking out for her little sister...I find this just precious! Thirdly, if you scroll down and look at the care package we sent her then you look at the shirt she is wearing ~ it's the same shirt and one of the bows we sent is in her hair!!! Our baby girl received her care package and we are thrilled!!! The shirt she has on is a 3T, it is the largest item we sent as we weren't sure of her size with her height being almost 34 inches yet her weight is 22 lbs!!! We are going to have a tall, thin princess coming home to her family. Our boys already have a list of foods they want to introduce her to when she comes home! Nicholas feels that chicken tenders and french fries are a must. Jordan can't wait to introduce her to Mexican food and mashed potatoes and gravy. Daniel loves Chinese food...something tells me Gabriella will really enjoy having dinner when Daniel chooses what we will be having for dinner:)
Did someone say that our family received our log in date? Mommy and Daddy you need to get my room finished ~ this means I'm one BIG step closer to coming HOME!!!! Our official L.I.D is September 17, 2009!!
We have mentioned in a previous post how blessed we are that Emily's family and our family have been united through a common adoption group. Emily came home from China with her family about two weeks ago ~ her mom and I have been in contact with each other since learning our girls were in the same foster home in China and email regularly. Emily's mama was so kind to email us several pictures of the girls together in their foster home in China. This picture means so much to both of us as the girls foster dad is holding them, and the various pictures we have show the true love their foster parents have for the girls ~ this is something we will eternally be thankful for. Emily is on the left and is doing wonderful at home with her family ~ the relationship we will have with their family is truly priceless as we feel it is nothing short of a miracle from God that our two little girls who lived half way around the world as sisters in China, will be living just a couple states away from each other here in the US. Once we have Gabriella home with us for a bit and have spent some time bonding, our first road trip we are planning is to allow the girls to be reunited ~ just thinking about how much it will mean to them is something we can't even put into words.
We are hoping to have our log in date (LID) which is the date our dossier is logged into the China system ~ we should have the date this week....that's what we're hoping for. After the LID comes the letter of approval (LOA) ~ once this is received we will sign it and send it back to China ASAP. After they receive it we will then recieve our travel approval (TA) and that is when we can take a long plane ride to China to bring our baby girl HOME!!!
We sent a care package to Gabriella and it was quite fun picking things out to send her. Our social worker suggested we go to Build A Be*ar and record our voices in a stuffed animal so Gabriella could hear our voices before she meet us ~ so this is where the lamb came from and has a message from us to Gabriella:) As her weight is only 22 pounds, which puts her in 18-24 months on many charts, yet her height is almost 34 inches that would equal a size 3T we sent a variety of sizes over to her. I think we will have a much better idea once she is home with us and we can try different things on her ~ speaking of clothes, this little girl is establishing quite the wardrobe. Children's Pl*ce had a great sale about a month ago so we started her 2010 spring/summer attire:) Also, if anyone has ideas of items to take with us for Gabriella to play with while we are in China I would value your opinion...the last 18 years have been spent with basketball, golf, football...I think you get the idea so we are in need of ideas of what a very sweet 2 year old little girl my enjoy playing with:)
Jordan and Nicholas are back to school...this post is a little late as they started August 11. Our entire family and community thought this was VERY early to return to school however the school year will be completed before Memorial Day of 2010. Jordan is a sophomore this year and is driving to school each morning ~ he is lovin' that! Nicholas is in the 6th grade and continues to ride "the 50 foot twinkie" as he affectionately calls it ~ he does love Julie his bus driver:) We hope the boys have a happy and healthy school year as well as learning a lot of new things:)
We can't even begin to express our excitement when we received the email Friday evening stating we are DTC!!! We are officially one BIG step closer to Gabriella:) The next step is having our dossier logged into China's system and that will become our log in date or LID. Typically families are traveling within four months of their LID ~ that means that our baby girl still has a chance to be home for Christmas:)
After spending countless hours looking for bedding, in central Indiana, on line and anywhere else I could think of, a decision has finally been made on Gabriella's bedding and this is it:) Once I found the bedding it was noted it was being discontinued...however J C Penny was WONDERFUL in assisting in locating two pillow shams to complete the set ~ they went above and beyond and I couldn't be more thankful:) Though the picture shows green walls , her room will look much different than that and I will post a picture when we have her room complete...this is what we will be doing over Labor Day weekend...I'm beyond excited...Curtis, well, he is excited too, he just shows it a little differently than I when it comes to painting and decorating:)
This post is for all the mom's out there who have boys ~ you will understand; those who don't have boys...well you can just "enjoy" our stories:) Jordan, the one in the black shirt is our basketball player ~ we have visited the ER with him at various times for sprained ankles , possible concussions etc from playing ball ~ luckily each time they have just been sprains and we have told him that though we "sort of "understand why he "likes" to take the charge in basketball to draw the foul, please just keep your head OFF the floor. Nicholas too is all boy and luckily he hasn't had any ER visits due to injury...that's a record I hope he keeps. Then there is Daniel. On fathers day, when Daniel was in second grade, he thought he was super man and could fly...so he tried. Yep, he was swinging as high as he could on the swingset and for some unknown reason jumped out of the swing...well, gravity prevailed and he landed on the ground...with a broken arm and "bruised lungs" ~ that trip to the ER was made via ambulance as his breathing was not so great and his color left a little to be desired. Needless to say, he learned that he couldn't fly like superman. Tonight, at the age of 18 he was out riding the four wheeler at the barn. The four wheeler had been over heating and he thought he could fix it...well, he was trying and for some reason he felt compelled to open the HOT radiator cap, while it was smoking...radiator fluid then sprayed up all over his face and upper body and filled his mouth. He was very smart and immediately flushed his face with water from the hose, took off his shirt and hosed himself off and then called Curtis. Curtis immediately drove to pick him up and we all met at the ER. Thankfully he only has first degree burns and didn't ingest enough fluid to hurt his "insides" and he will be ok. Well, as we were sitting in the ER waiting for our discharge paper work Curtis looked at Nicholas and said "Nicholas, you wouldn't believe what I found in the tree down by the pond...fishing line. When I was mowing the yard and riding on the ZTR all the sudden my upper body got tied up with fishing line...you wouldn't know anything about that would you"? Nicholas grinned from ear to ear and said "oops, I was trying to cast my line and it didn't work to well....it went backwards instead of in the pond"....I believe the saying I have seen for years "Moms of boys work from son up to son down" it is soooooo very true....but I wouldn't trade it for the world...we just hope we can keep them healthy and safe and enjoy being able to watch as they may one day raise boys of their own:)
As life can become crazy with raising three incredibly busy, active and athletic boys; then add to the mix a hubby who owns his own business, a mom who works as a nursing instructor and is a full time grad student (just three classes to go) and an international adoption to bring home the most beautiful baby girl from China, I have decided to at least try to post on Fridays. With the Friday Favorite post it can be from a variety "favorite" things. It may be a favorite recipe, memory, restaurant, vacation almost anything that is special to our family.
The picture above would be that of my two grandmas. They are as opposite as can be! Nanny, on the left is my maternal grandma. She is as sweet as can be. She eats lots of healthy foods, taught me how to play euchre at the age of 4 and wouldn't hurt a fly. Gaga is my paternal grandma who just celebrated her 90th birthday today (Nanny has her by a couple years:). Gaga can be just as sweet as Nanny and turn on the charm in a heartbeat...then there is the other side where she can tell you exactly what she is thinking in no uncertain terms ~ I'm convinced I'm a blend of the two:)
Last night we took Gaga to one of her favorite restaurants. It isn't a fancy place by any means and would remind you of a little "Ma and Pa" type place to eat. She indulged with a double order of fried potatoes, her favorite, eggs and a pancake...she ate until her "full alert" button came on and she boxed up the potatoes for her midnight snack.
Today we celebrated her birthday with friends and family. Families came that had been friends with her for over 60 years and a very good time was had by all:)
This morning our family attended church and we listened to a wonderful message about patience and perseverance. Have you ever tried to talk to an adoptive mom who has a daughter living half way around the world and told her to "just be patient". Be patient when you are finally ready to send your dossier to China and you find out that 5 of your 15 documents have "just" expired and they need to be renewed even though all the info is the same... Be patient when you hear of typhoons, flooding and earth quakes that are happening in her country and you just want her to be home where you can love her and protect her. I also know that Emily, a precious little girl who has been living with Gabriella in the same foster home will be leaving next week with her family. We are sooooo very excited for Emily and her family yet we know Gabriella will miss her.
Then there is that perseverance word. Yep, we all know it when there is something in our life that we wish we could press the fast forward button and have it behind us. For me that would be school. Though I love school, know I only have 4 classes left and a little thing called a thesis to write, I have to complete it to have my MSN and continue to teach nursing. After 4 years of being in school I'm ready to hear the music playing at commencement and know that my schooling is completed and behind me. Will it be worth it, yes it will ~ however I'm more than ready to use the time I spend studying playing with our beautiful baby girl, enjoying every minute I can with our boys and my hubby and oh the time with friends and family that has to be put on hold because of school ~ let's just say I will be very thankful when it is over:)
As many of you know when I face adversity I always believe there is a silver lining in every cloud and there is:) The Dr. who has had to rewrite and sign forms has been so very patient and to him I would like to say thank you! I now know people at the secretary of states office by name who authenticate our documents and it has been a pleasure getting to know them. Gabriella's foster parents are taking such good care of her in China and we will never be able to fully express the gratitude we have to them ~ they are amazing! China is also wonderful; first in allowing us to adopt our beautiful baby girl from their country and giving us an extension for our expired documents should we need it. And as for Emily who is leaving the foster home Gabriella is in, her mom and I have become friends, share the same nursing profession and only live 2 states away from each other ~ so the girls who are currently living like sisters half way around the world in China will be able to have some play dates here in America:) God is good:)
As the picture reflects Gabriella appears to be chilling out in China enjoying her cake and eating it too:) Her Daddy and I will get the 5 documents renewed that are needed this week and then our dossier will be completed and hopefully whisked away to China ASAP:) I will write another paper for school today and know that it brings me one step closer to graduation and it is one less paper I will have to write when our baby girl is home with her family where she belongs:)
I am extremely thankful for our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella Grace and her foster parents in China who are taking such good care of her. I'm am also thankful and in complete amazement of what God can do. Our baby girl, located half way around the world, and in foster care also has an adorable little girl who is also in foster care with her. The little girls name is Emily. Through an email group for parents who are adopting children from this province a post showed up asking if anyone had sent gifts to a little girl in China ~ the parents had photos they would like to share that had their daughter in them as well. They felt the little girl was "2-3 years old and very pretty". Well, as a proud mama I thought that could be my baby girl so I emailed this wonderful family. They in turn emailed me the pictures and sure enough it was our Gabriella Grace!! I am simply amazed that God can have two beautiful little Chinese girls in a foster home half way around the world and that their parents can unite and only live two states away from each other!! Emily's mom and I have been emailing regularly and are looking forward to reuniting our girls here in the US. God is sooooo very good!!!
This morning I awoke to an update about Gabriella and not one, not two, but seventeen pictures as well!!!! I'm sure you are all just melting like we did when we saw new pictures of our little princess!!!
Along with pictures we also learned some new information about our little sweetheart.
Favorite foods ~ meat, rice and eggs
Favorite color ~ she loves bright colors, especially red (Grandpa and Aunt Tammi's favorite color)
She still takes three bottles a day and sometimes one at midnight ~ Mommy and Daddy are thrilled to hear this and can't wait to cuddle and give her a bottle!
This is a big one ~ she tells an adult when she has to go to the bathroom ~ God is good!!!!
Her favorite things to play with ~ stuffed animals and toy cars, we still have all of Nicholas cars, it looks like he will be sharing! We will also introduce her to baby dolls:)
She wakes at 5, naps at 11, and goes to be around 8.
For breakfast she eats noodles, eggs and soup. Lunch is rice and meat. Dinner is congee, steamed buns and pancakes!
She is a light sleeper ~ just like her oldest brother Daniel.
Personality ~ she is fairly extroverted ~ not shy, she will fit right in!!
She has been healthy and is doing very well!!!
We are thrilled that we received an update this week on our precious baby girl. Lady Bugs & Love provided the information and they are WONDERFUL!! We highly recommend them if you are adopting and want to send a little something to special to your little one!!!
On July 10 our precious baby girl turned 2 in China. This is the same day we drew her name in the sand on our vacation to Myrtle Beach. God also had one other thing in store for this very special day as well ~ we were approved for our I 800!!! We will now get it authenticated and this is our last piece of paper work we need for our dossier for China!!!!
I have concluded that the accumulation of wealth, even if I could achieve it, is an insufficient reason for living. When I reach the end of my days, a moment or two from now, I must look backward on something more meaningful than the pursuit of houses, land, stocks and bonds ~ nor is fame of any lasting benefit. I will consider my earthly existence to have been wasted unless I can recall a loving family, a consistent investment in the lives of people, and an earnest attempt to serve the God who made me. Nothing else makes much sense.