Adoption Update

Slowly but surely things are moving along.  Right now we are on day 24 of waiting for our Letter of Approval (LOA).  This is a step that could take 30 days or could take 100 days. I think with Hannah, I described this step as similar to the grocery store checkout line.  Hoping we will be in the fast lane!

Here is a wonderful chart that shows the steps toward adopting in China.  We have completed Step 7, waiting for Step 8.  After this step I will be able to better predict when we will travel to China.  Hoping for October, but it all depends on the LOA!



I recently got this sweet picture of our little guy holding the tiger we sent him. SO ready to have him home!!!

Chu KaiyiDSC_2435 (10)-L

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Spring Photos

2014-05-06_0002My favorite kids.2014-05-06_0001I love them so!


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Saying Goodbye to Parker

I’m not going to lie, this is hard.  I just dropped the kids off at school, and I’m sitting in my quiet house, and my heart hurts.  My stomach hurts. Its a little bit hard to breathe. Thats what grief feels like.

If you have never had a beloved pet then I’m sure that this could seem like an overreaction. Even anyone who knew Parker would know that this time has been coming for a while, so it couldn’t have been a shock.  It wasn’t.  We did know it was coming.

Still, now our family is different.  I’ve never been a big fan of different.

I can vividly recall the moment that I first realized I was a real “grown up”.  It wasn’t when I graduated from college, or grad school, or even got married.  It was the day that I turned to Jeff and said, “let’s get a puppy,” and he agreed, so we did.

We actually spent several weeks visiting shelters, trying to find the perfect puppy for us. On one of these visits, there was a sweet black and brown puppy.  I thought she was adorable immediately.  Jeff had his own requirement though; would she chase a tennis ball?  We took her outside and tried her out.  She immediately ran and retrieved the ball. We were hooked.  That was the one and only time that she ever went after a tennis ball.


That’s okay.  She was meant to be ours.

She wasn’t always easy.  She was terribly afraid of storms.  So afraid that she would try to climb up on top of furniture, including tables to find a place of safety.  Strange, I know. She was so scared of the vet that we had to find a vet that would come to our house.  She was diabetic, and needed 2 shots every day.  She was blind in one eye.

But she was oh so sweet.  All she ever wanted in her life was to be close to all of us, and she was always eager to give love and receive love.


Yesterday Jeff and I knew that her time had come. Saying goodbye was terribly hard.

Our lives were richer because Parker was a part of our family.  We already miss her so much.

2014-04-28_0002I love you Parker Lou!


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First Care Package!

We have now sent 2 packages to our little guy.  Unfortunately the first one disappeared somewhere between here and China.  Luckily the second one made it there. Even better than that, we actually have pictures of him seeing our faces for the first time. Priceless!



2014-04-17_0003Look at that little guy holding the album with his picture on the front with the words “My Family”.  You do indeed have a family, sweet boy.  We are getting to you as quickly as we can!

2014-04-17_0001Here is a beautiful sight.  All but one of the papers for our dossier.  Notarized, certified by the county that each document originated from, sealed from the state, and authenticated by the Chinese consulate.

Our immigration approval should arrive in the mail tomorrow.  I will quickly go through the steps with it and then our papers can finally head to China!!

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Finally- Introducing our Little Guy!!

It has been over 2 months since we got his paperwork, and I finally got what is called Pre-Approval from China. That means that I am now free to publicly introduce our new son!

Meet Kai Yi:

1399371_10152007070544655_1491390266_o (1)

I first saw this little guy about a year ago.  One of the directors of the group home he is in is in my photography class.  She encourages all of her staff to take pictures of the kids. Here are the ones I first fell in love with.

IMG_2485 IMG_2481

I mean seriously.  Can it get much cuter than that?  Still, I am a member of several China groups.  I see a bunch of cute little China kiddos.  At first I thought this was no different.

After several months went by I realized that I was still closely watching the Little Flower blog and Facebook group hoping to see him.  Luckily I saw a lot of him.  I loved watching him grow and hearing about his progress.

photo (24bl) photo (25)bl

Around this time I casually asked Jeff to take a look at him.  He basically laughed in my face.  He was not about to consider adding another child to our circus.  To be totally honest, he sent me an article on addiction (he was joking).

I couldn’t really let it go.  This little guy was just on my heart and I thought we should talk about it.  Around this time we traveled to Chicago, and I showed these adorable pictures too all of his sisters, aunts, and cousins.  That is all it took to have a team cheering for us to bring him home.

It didn’t take long after that for Jeff to come on board.  He started with a noncommittal, “okay,  just see what you can find out.” And within days he was as excited about this possibility as I was.

I reached out to our previous adoption agency.  They were able to find out that his adoption paperwork had not yet been completed in China.  Sigh.

I continued to bug them to check the lists several times a month.  It is INCREDIBLY hard to find one particular child in China.  We knew it would be next to impossible.  Even after his paperwork was completed it would either then be added to the “Shared List” where any agency is allowed to pull children from, and typically grab the files of young children very quickly, or his file could be placed onto an “Individual List” for any agency anywhere in the world.

As the months went by I began to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.  I told Jeff that I was moving on.  Our social worker asked us several times if we wanted to begin an adoption for another child.  I knew absolutely that I didn’t want to do that.

On Halloween, as I was changing Hannah out of her costume she said to me, “You know that little boy in China?”  (The kids had seen pictures of Kai Yi, and knew that we were trying to get his adoption file, but also that it most likely wouldn’t happen).  We had not talked about him in a very long time at this point, so Hannah’s words took me by surprise.  I said, “Your mean Yi?”  Then she said, “Yes… God is going to say yes, and we are going to say ‘yay!’”  Her words still give me the chills.  She re-energized me to try harder to find him.

The week before Christmas I found out that his file was complete and would be sent to a small agency here in the U.S.  I immediately e-mailed the agency and told them that we were passionately seeking this child.  They wrote me back saying that they had given his file to another family the previous day, but asked if we would like to start an adoption for another child.  Ahhhhhh!  It was so painful to think that we had gotten so close.

3 days later that family declined to accept the referral.  He was ours! :)

It was a surreal experience.  I had a couple of days of freaking out and coming to terms with the idea of having 5 (FIVE!) children!  Then I was so excited.

Our new little guy has a birthday on Valentine’s Day.  That was also my grandfather’s birthday.  I love that so much! :)




It is going to be a long, hard wait until the fall when we can go get him.  The good news is that he is in a WONDERFUL place in China.  If you have a chance, take a look at the good work that is done at Chunmaio Little Flower!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!2014-02-02_0001 2014-02-02_0002 2014-02-02_0003 2014-02-02_0004I had a great time taking some Valentine’s pictures of all my favorite kids.  Mine plus my favorite niece and my favorite nephew.  Oh yeah, Clover too. :)  Love these munchkins!!!

Next Valentine’s Day we will also be sharing a birthday cake with a very special little guy. Can’t wait. :)


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“I wish I was your only honey”

Last night as I was putting K to bed, she said, “I wish I was your only honey.” Oh, pain through my heart!  I know this is a normal emotion for a child to feel, but it is the first time I have ever heard one of my children express something like this.

We talked for a few minutes and I asked her, “Are you a little worried about having a new little brother?”  She said yes she was because after he comes no one will play with her any more.  Again, normal emotions.  Just not a normal experience for me with MY children.

I told her that I thought it might be a good idea to have a family meeting today so that she could talk to everyone about her feelings.  I thought maybe her big brothers could give her some encouragement since they have been through this a time or two.  She agreed that that sounded like a good idea, and feel asleep clinging to me tightly.

When I went downstairs I told the boys that K was feeling worried that after their little brother comes that no one will play with her.  Z immediately said, “Well that’s not true. Hannah will.”  Umm, not exactly the encouragement I was looking for.  Then he said, “Don’t worry,  I can talk to her.  I’ve got experience.”  Okay, glad we had this talk.

D, in his way just took in this conversation.  Then you could see those light bulbs go off and he said, “Oh, I get it.  She is afraid she is going to be forgotten.”

My dear girl, you could never be forgotten.


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Paperwork Update

The good news is that everything from the last to-do list for our home study is complete!  We have had all of our required visits, and now we are just waiting for our social worker to put it all together.

There are so many times in this adoption process where the wait just seems agonizingly long. I’m already feeling that.  We have to wait for our home study to be finished.  Then we apply for our initial immigration approval.  Then we wait.  We will be assigned a time to be fingerprinted.  More waiting.  All of this will have to happen before our dossier can be complete.

While we are waiting for that part of the process, this is my current to-do list for our dossier. Each vertical line is an original document that we need.  Even our birth certificates have to be newly issued.  Then each thing is notarized, then sealed by the county, the state, the U.S. government, and the Chinese Consulate.

photo (22) copy

I wish we could speed this up a bit.  All these are things that have to happen before the BIG wait after our paperwork arrives in China.  Sigh.  We just want to hold our guy.

We will try to be patient.



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Paperwork frenzy!

I was hoping that the next time I blogged that I would be sharing pictures and the whole story about our new little guy.  Unfortunately we have not yet gotten our first approval from China, but as soon as we do I will be showing off his adorableness!

Right now I am in over my head with paperwork.  Unfortunately when you adopt from China, you only have one year to re-use your documents.  Since it has been 2 1/2 years for us it was back to square 1.

The good news is that I have done this before and I know what I have to do.  The bad news is that we have done this before and I know what I have to do!

Here is a list of things that my Social Worker has requested for our home study.  Our home study is just one of about 15 things that will eventually be sent to China.

-Copy of your current  water bill or if you have a well then an inspection report/letter dated within the last 10 months
-Copy of your current sewer bill if you are on a public sewer system; if you have a septic tank please provide documentation from the last 10 months that your system is in good working order
-Copy of your pet’s vaccinations
-Directions to your home  from closest interstate
-Floor plan of your home (hand drawn is fine)
-Copy of birth certificates for each household member
-Reference form-Please give the attached form to three  or four references and ask them to snail me the completed forms back to me. One of these references should be a relative that does not live in your home.
-Health form- to be completed by a pediatrician for each child in the home.
-Behavior Management Form- Explaining methods of discipline used in your home
-DHS form- This is for a GA child abuse clearance to be completed- please complete one for Jeff and one for Emily
-Copy of your health insurance cards
-Autobiography for both Jeff and Emily
-Prior Work with Children form – if you have worked with children in the last five years as a teacher, coach, mentor, tutor, etc please  also list a reference for me to contact.
-Safe Home Checklist- we will go over this together at our visit
-Residential History form- Includes listing every state lived in since the age of 18 in order to obtain child abuse clearance reports from each of these states
-Guardianship form- Detailing the guardianship plan for your adopted child
-adoption petition- Letter detailing your plans to adopt this particular child
-Copy of your Letter of Intent (LOI)- A China requirement in order to convey to the Chinese government the plan of care for the potential adopted child
-Letter of Employment/job verification letter for Jeff
-Non-employment statement- Emily
-Physical exam form for both Jeff and Emily
-Police clearances for Jeff and Emily
-Financial statement

Phew.  If you are waiting for me to do something for you, or return a phone call, etc., I’m sorry if I am behind.  This is why!

But here is a good reminder of why we are doing it!

2014-01-18_0001So very worth it!


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Our Christmas Miracle

We had a truly wonderful Christmas at our house.


The Christmas pageant always brings tears to my eyes,  I love it.  This year we had a little rogue angel who was admiring the baby Jesus in the manger rather than saying her line with the choir of angels.   We also had D as an excellent reader, and Z as a little star, doing his part as an excited shepherd.

Christmas morning was full of childhood joy, and we had lots of these priceless faces:

2013-12-27_0004Of course we all loved our first Christmas with this gorgeous little lady:


My kids said a few of my favorite things, including K saying, “Hugging you feels like Christmas”, and D saying, “Sometimes I’m so happy at Christmas, my heart beats”. :)

All of these moments that come together to make memories are incredible and wonderful. This Christmas was extra special though.  We had a Christmas miracle in our house.

Next year, there will be another stocking hanging on our mantle.


All year we have been trying to find the file of a certain little guy in China.  He touched our hearts, and although we had not exactly planned on having 5 children, this guy just seemed special. We knew it was going to be close to impossible to find his file.  The adoption process is just not set up that way.

We included him in our family conversations, and prayed that he would find his family.

The week before Christmas, we found him!  After multiple conversations with the adoption agency, we found out that he can be ours.  We told the kids on Christmas Eve, and the rest of our family on Christmas Day.

I can’t wait to tell more, but we have to wait until we have our first approval from China.  Stay tuned!

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