Christmas Fun and So Much More

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I have to start off by simply saying that our Christmas was truly blessed...not because of the gifts we gave or received but because we are a family! It's hard to believe Caleb has been home with us over 2 years now. Our first Christmas together was chock full of jet lag. Even though we were home over a month at that point, Caleb's internal clock was still off. *sigh* This year, well, we're just like any other family....trying to get Caleb to sleep past 6am before making a mad dash to the Christmas tree to open presents. It's funny, though, he skipped right past the bike in front of the tree to the train circling it. It was very cute.

For our "family" gifts, Baba got us a Wii. It's been lots of fun to play together. Baba also got us a Gheenoe. I know you're probably wondering what in the world it is. I was also stumped, as I was escorted out to the garage to find a boat looking somewhat like a canoe taking up my parking space. Well, a gheenoe is like a canoe but the bottom of it is designed differently, giving it more stability. Patrick also bought a 5hp motor that can attach to the back, so we can take long day trips and not have to worry so much about time to paddle back. He's had this whole thing planned since we took a vacation to Lake Lure back in August. I loved canoing at summer camp all those summers as a young kid. And while we were at Lake Lure, we rented a canoe one day. And Caleb just loved it. That's all Baba needed to hear to get his wheels spinning. We are really looking forward to cruising up and down the river in our gheenoe when the weather gets a tad warmer.

My sister, Deb and BIL Andy made it over with Leah around lunch time. It was really fun watching Caleb and Leah open their presents. It was Patrick's big idea to get Leah a baby doll and stroller. So guess who had the priviledge of putting that stroller together? You guessed it! Caleb and Leah both enjoyed playing with the dollie in her stroller, as well as the Wii. I can't wait to see Madeline join in on their fun together.

The day after Christmas, Patrick watched Caleb as Deb, Leah and I hit the outlets for some after Christmas shopping. Leah had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo in all the stores. She was really helpful with trying things on, not only for her but for Madeline as well.

Over the weekend, I got an email from Ann at Red Thread China saying that our care package should be delivered this week. That really put a smile on my face. She sent us a picture of our package, which is shown below.

Included in the package is our translated letter along with some questions. We also sent Ann some pictures for her to print off and place in an album. We also included a stuffed animal, as well as some candies, and some hair bows. It warms my heart to know that Madeline will soon see our faces. We also ordered a cake. So we are hoping to soon get pictures of her with her cake, as well as some updated information (which will make my shopping easier! LOL.)

Tomorrow our SW is coming out for our home study visit. This is necessary for our I-800A Supplement 3 application, as our home study addendum was denied. Our house is STILL turned upside down. But at least Madeline's room is cleaned up so that Bammy can stay when she arrives tomorrow, too. The queen size bed we bought (which I will most likely be sleeping in when Madeline comes home) will be delivered tomorrow, just in time for Bammy's visit. Yay!

Then on Thursday, I will be heading to New Orleans with my sister to watch my beloved Florida Gators play in the Sugar Bowl. It will be the first time in over 2 years that I will not spend the night in the same place as Caleb. The first time I told him this, he told me he didn't want me to go to the football game. For a few days after that, he would just tell me he didn't want me to go. It broke my heart. I have said every reassuring thing I can possibly think of to let him know I will be coming back. But he still looked sad. Well, today, I started telling him again. And he seemed so much better about the whole thing. He would repeat what I said without asking me not to go. So I know he's beginning to understand better. I've had dozens of opportunities to leave him for short periods of time since he's been home. And he's done very well. So his recent behavior is a bit unsettling and surprising because he is clearly more attached to his baba. Anyway, I am praying big time for him as he deals with my absence. I'll keep you all posted. And GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We have been so busy lately, I don't even know where to begin.

The workers finally finished up in Madeline's room. They were originally going to do all the interior work after the new year but decided to complete the entire job at once. For anybody interested in (even a short) remodel before a holiday, let me advise you NOT to do it! Two weeks later and our house is still turned upside down. After hurting my back on Sunday from flipping Caleb (all 45 lbs of him) upside down "one more time," I finally felt good enough to put a paint brush in my hand and get crackin' on all this painting. Before the house can be reasonable enough to have my sister and her family over for Christmas, I need to have the computer room closet and doors painted. This way, I can move all of the computer room stuff out of Madeline's I can move all of Madeline's room's "things" out of the dining room and back where they belong! Phew! I've been playing musical rooms for long enough. But the reality is there is not near enough time in a day to get this all done. While the house may be a wreck, at least all the presents are wrapped. And we're as ready as we can be to celebrate our last Christmas as a family of three. Rest assured, Patrick wants to make this one we'll never forget. He also said it would be a few years before he could out do himself. I tried to get him to put that in writing, but he wouldn't. Oh well.

On another note, I ordered our care package for Madeline using Ann at Red Thread China. I have been emailing her back and forth these last few days. She just notified me that yesterday she requested updated information and photos of Madeline. So I hope to receive that information and those photos real soon. While putting together the photos for the photo album, I realized that I don't have very many photos of me and Caleb together. And that's because I'm always behind my lens. So at the recommendation of my friend, Lisa, I decided to set up the tripod the other day just to get one more shot of mama with Caleb. Caleb is totally willing to indulge me when I set up the tripod because I give him my remote shutter release to "play with". And he has an absolute blast taking the pictures. I thought I'd share one with you now.

Introducing Madeline!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Introducing our precious Madeline!!!!

 Birthday: March 12, 2008
Born in Jingmen City, Hubei China

I got my Christmas wish!!!!!   It is with much thanksgiving and praises to God that we announce we have received our Preliminary Approval from China to adopt our little girl.  Now that we have received this notice, we have permission to share her sweet face with all of you here.  We are beyond blessed and can't wait to bring her home.  For now, a care package will have to do.  I am finalizing my letter and photos to send as we speak.  We will be sending her several goodies: a photo album, treats, a stuffed animal, and, of course, a cake!  Although it's not a guarantee to receive photos or updates, we are requesting them and hope to have some updates and new photos to share with you soon.  For now, join us in giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for His Goodness.  We love you, Madeline!  We're coming soon!

Get Me Off This Rollercoaster Ride!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It all started last Friday evening.  I went to the mailbox to retrieve our mail.  It didn't look good.  An envelop from U*SCIS did NOT look like all the others we've received.  Nope, this one had pink paper inside.  My heart sank.  The 3 words on top were ones I dreaded "Request For Evidence".  Oh brother!  The Supplement 3 we submitted a few weeks ago with our home study addendum (because Patrick changed jobs) was not approved pending an updated home study.  When we first submitted our I-800A application, we were approved wtihout ANY RFEs.  And now, well, we just had to join the RFE club (even when I didn't ask for membership.) 

I decided the first person I was going to call on Monday was our new immigration officer at U*SCIS.  I wanted clarification on exactly what she was looking for in our update.  Although our home study had two small changes and was considered by our first agency and first immigration officer to be an addendum, our new officer stated that it was NOT an addendum but rather an *update* and also needed to be H*ague compliant.  Ugh.  She said it would've been considered an addendum had we submitted prior to I-800A approval.  However, we were approved in record time, while we were working on the addendum and didn't have a chance to submit it prior to approval. 

So.....since an update was in order, I contacted our first agency (which we are retaining as our home study agency) because they will have to do the update.  I explained the whole situation to them.  They will get working on our child abuse clearance, as well as determine who will come out to the house for our home study visit.

Next I called our agency and spoke to our C*hina coordinator to get her up to speed.  She did her best to assure me that our addendum (that was included in our dossier) will be fine.  But I can't help but wonder if we will get held up in the review room.  I have had other adoptive parents assure me these are two separate entities and that C*hina will approve us based on what was submitted already and U*SCIS will approve us based on our corrected Supplement 3/ updated home study.

I'm trying not to worry about it all, but that's easier said than done.  I got myself so worked up over all this yesterday and this morning.  But after talking to my friend, Lisa, I'm feeling much better.  Lisa, you rock.  Thanks for all your support and for helping me "keep my hands and feet inside the ride at all times."  Well, here's hoping for a speedy home study update and Supplement 3 approval.....soon soon soon, I pray!

On another note, the "music" inside the house has ceased, as the workers have finished all they needed to do for Madeline's room!  The rug we ordered will arrive on Monday.  Yay!!!!  So now the fun begins as I get to paint the walls, closet doors and trim.  Oh yeah, we still have to buy her big girl bed....but I'm excited to have the chance to put her room together with time to spare and without tripping over workers or our luggage, like with Caleb's remodel.  Fun times are in store.

What a Man!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My sister just shared this link with me, and I just had to pass it on.  Tim Tebow is such a man of God.  I'm not surprised by this at all.  Looking forward to watching him play his final game in a Gator uniform in January at the Sugar Bowl.  Patrick says we should wear eyeblack to the game.  Let's do it!

Changes & Three Little Letters

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yesterday was music to my ears. Well, it wasn't actually music...more like hammers and saws. But I loved it anyway. It was the sound of the workers coming to fix up Madeline's room and replace the rest of the windows in the house. While Caleb was excited to have them here, at times he became nervous and scared of the noise. He insisted on having the door closed to whatever room he was in or else be on the other side of the house. Believe it or not, he managed to take a nap with all that racket. It was an abreviated nap, but a little nap is WAY BETTER than no nap at all. So I was a happy camper.

Since we temporarily moved the stuff in Madeline's room out into the dining room, it looks like the house had a hurricane blow through late in the season. With stuff all over the dining room, my little sewing spot has been invaded. So it will probably be a few weeks before I can get back to making things. ***sigh***

Well, the hammers and saws are not the only thing to make me smile yesterday. I was informed by our first agency that our much anticipated transfer letter has finally been signed off on. I have been eagerly waiting this piece of paper (and news) since we accepted Madeline's referral back in October. This transfer has taken much longer than I had hoped, but still, I am happy to finally see this day.

Now that our dossier transfer letter is signed off on, our new agency will send it off along with our LOI documents (that were done back in the first week of November.) So very soon, I will get the word that we are officially waiting for PA (pre-approval.) In the meantime, I am figuring out what kind of care/cake package to send Madeline. So that when official word comes, we are ready to bust a move!

Meanwhile, my friends, Lisa & Russell, are "patiently" waiting for TA so they can travel to China to bring home their second daughter. I am hoping they hear very soon and can finally start to make their travel arrangements. It will be bummer not to be in China again with them. But I hope their travelmates have a computer so they don't appear to fall off the end of the earth while they're away. I hope I have great news to share again very soon....

......well, that time to share is NOW!!!! LOI baby!!! LOI!!!! I know. I know. Most people get nuts over LOA. But today, these three little letters are the sweetest ones ever! I called our new agency today to get an update, since I was told by our old agency that they signed off on our transfer letter. Well, wouldn't you know...when I called to speak with our China coordinator, she told me she had our file on her desk and was getting ready to click *submit* on the online system. I had to tell myself to breath because I couldn't believe I was finally hearing that! She told me she was submitting our LOI documents along with our transfer letter....and now we wait for PA! WOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night, I started looking at care package options again in anticipation of the transfer. And I started to feel a little impatient. (I've been dying to send Madeline a care package since we accepted her referral at the end of October.) Well, now that we are officially waiting for PA, I am hoping the news comes before the end of the year. In fact, it would make a nice Christmas present.....being able to send my little girl something would just make me so happy. Getting updated measurements would be nice too so I know what to shop for and what size clothes to make. But just the opportunity to finally start bathing my girl in love is all I want for Christmas.

What a Holiday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent Thanksgiving Day with our friends, Lisa & Shail. We enjoyed fried turkey and all the fixin's, plus Thai tea, thanks to Lily....yummy! Caleb had so much fun having "picnics" with Maggie. We had an awesome time, too. Lisa & Shail, you rock!

The day after Thanksgiving, my sister Deb, brother-in-law Andy, and niece Leah came over. I have been doing some retail therapy for Madeline. And since Leah is about the same age/size we think Madeline will be when we bring her home, I thought it would be fun to have Leah try on some of Madeline's clothes. Much to Deb's surprise, Leah was very cooperative. Because of inconsistencies across brands/sizes, Leah had to try EVERYTHING on. And she did great! She even tried on the first dress I made Madeline. And I have to tell you, she looked absolutely adorable in it. I can't wait to see my girl all dolled up and looking girlie.

Saturday was another great day as the Florida Gators beat the Florida State Seminoles in football, 37-10. It was Tim Tebow's last game at home as a senior. I will really miss that guy wearing orange and blue. Not only has he been a great quarterback, winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophmore and two National Championships (so far), he is such a godly man. I have so much respect for him, both on and off the field. I'm kinda looking forward to the SEC Championship game on Saturday...but not really. I'm not so sure we can pull off a victory against Alabama. So we'll see.

Still no news on our paperwork for Madeline....but hopefully we'll hear something by the end of the week. On a positive note, the Kukunest bedding I ordered for her room arrived today. And I have to say that it is as cute as it looks online!  Unfortunately, the Lantern Festival only comes in toddler and twin. So it will only go on her toddler bed.  I ended up purchasing the Little Friends bedding for her big girl bed.  I think they're really cute together.   We're having some minor work done to her room, most of which probably won't start until January. But her new window should be installed next week, along with our much needed shed out back. It's starting to feel real. Yay.

So Very Thankful

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where do I begin? The Lord's blessings have been poured out on our family since we chose to follow His call to adoption. It's hard to believe that Caleb has been home with us for two years already. Our lives are so much richer because he's our son. We are so thankful God hand-picked him for us.

Although I was hoping we would have PA or confirmation of our dossier transfer by this time, I am still so thankful that we have seen Madeline's face. We know who she is. And for now, this small glimpse into her world fills that part in our hearts that longs to bring her home. We still can't wait to send her a care package and get updated information. But for now, we are grateful for what information and photos we have and hope we can soon share her precious face with all of you here. It's hard for me to blog about something and not share a photo. So enjoy my precious Thanksgiving blessings below.

Patrick and Caleb, my Thanksgiving treasures

Good news

Friday, November 20, 2009

We have spent the better part of the last three weeks trying to sort out the transfer of our dossier from our old agency to our new agency....and today, we got some good news! Our new agency's China coordinator is actually in China right now and has received the "green light" to have our dossier transfered from our old agency to our new one!!! Even though this news has been anticipated, it is exciting to hear it nonetheless. Once she arrives back in the States, she will send our old agency the information they need for the transfer to take place. Our old agency has been extremely helpful during this process, as they have done this before. They want to ensure all "I's" are dotted and "T's" are crossed so that the transfer is successful and goes off without a hitch. We are thankful for how thorough they are being, as too much has been invested to lose over a simple oversight.

On another note, we are still waiting for Pre-approval (PA). This is a preliminary approval China gives families who request to be matched to a particular waiting child. As soon as we get PA, we will be sending Madeline a care package, just like we did with Caleb. I am getting really antsy about this. But I'm trying to sit tight and be patient.

And after three years of collecting dust, my sewing machine has been put back to work! I bought some adorable dress patterns to make Madeline some cute summer dresses. I've already made the cutest little skirt with a flounce. And it just warms my heart to imagine her wearing it. ***sigh*** I'll have to post some photos once I finsih them. Until next time...

Exciting times

Saturday, November 7, 2009

These last few weeks have been filled with lots of excitment. I know I'm a little late, but I still wanted to post about some Halloween fun. Caleb wanted to dress up as a fireman this year. He loved wearing his costume, even though it was so terribly hot! Our little local library put together a nice party for the children. They had games and snacks. Caleb had so much fun bowling and playing bean bag toss. He really worked up a sweat! Baba took him to the mall on Halloween, but he just wasn't interested in getting candy.

As usual, we waited until the last minute to get our pumpkins. Last Friday we walked over to the church across the street and let Caleb pick out two pumpkins: one for him and one for Madeline!

That's for Madeline!!!!!!!!!

Last Friday, we accepted our precious daughter's referral. We still have some kinks to work out because she is not listed with our agency. That is the reason we have been so cautious about announcing our acceptance. But we are hopeful during this next week that we will have everything taken care and we can proceed quickly with her adoption. Otherwise, we will have to re-do all of our paperwork. We certainly hope it doesn't come to that, but we're willing if we have to.

So.....about Madeline....we can't post her photo yet until we have preliminary approval from China to proceed with her adoption. But I can tell you a little bit about her. She's almost 20 months old and waiting for us in Jingmen City, Hubei. She was born missing her left arm below her elbow and is just as cute as can be. We hope to travel late spring/early summer to bring her home. We are so blessed to be adopting her. Caleb is as excited as can be. He's already talking about all the things he's going to show her, like how to buckle her seatbelt and put on her bike helmet. It's just precious.

I can't wait until I can post her pictures, but for now I will share with you some from last week.

My little fireman

Caleb enjoying hot cocoa with Baba

Pondering in the pumkin patch

Caleb with his and Madeline's pumpkin

My Little Man

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Well, I thought I would finally upload these photos to share because my precious son is growing up son fast. Earlier this summer, Caleb had some fun with Daddy at the beach. The two of them headed over there with Uncle Ham and Spencer to do some surf fishing. Caleb was mostly interested in watching the crabs moving about. But believe it or not, he was the only one who caught a fish...a baby tiger shark. He was pretty excited about, but I think mommy and daddy were even more so. Daddy called me at home and told me I had to rush over there to capture the memory of Caleb catching his first fish. I was more than happy to to drop everything on a moments notice and see my son's precious, smiling face.

Little Fisherman
{A fisher man...just like Little Bear}

Also, earlier this summer Caleb had the opportunity to attend a special party with Mommy and Daddy for Daddy's job. He needed to get dressed up, which is something he TOTALLY LOVES to do. When we go out to dinner as a family, he frequently asks us if he can wear his jacket and tie. Unfortunately, we have to tell him that he doesn't really need to wear them to all dinners. Well, as long as he can wear a button down shirt, he's all smiles. Seeing him all dressed up and looking so grown up makes me miss those first three years of his precious life that he spent apart from us. He's growing up too fast. ***sigh***

Little man

Just last night, he was out shopping with Daddy while I was getting some things done around the house. When they got home, I could hear him making his way toward me in the computer room. Then I heard him tell me to close my eyes because he had a surprise for me. Well, I opened my eyes, and what do you think I saw? My precious 4 year old son holding a huge bouquet of flowers! He said, "These are for you mommy!" And I just melted. Patrick followed into the room and told me the flowers were all Caleb's idea, and then I was beside myself. He is just so thoughtful and loving, it's hard to believe he lived in an orphanage for 3 years. I know marriage is a long way off, but boy, I can't help but think of how blessed his wife will one day be. I love you, Little Man.

A Long Time Coming

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Well, I have been meaning to put together this photo montage for quite some time. And I'm excited to say, that it is finally done! It's been almost two years since we brought Caleb home from China...but it's better late than never. I've included some photos that highlight our trip, as well as a tiny piece of video from our Gotcha Day. I had some issues with the music and Youtube, so I've had to re-work it. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for watching.

China Travel Group Reunion

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I have to begin by saying that this post is another one that has to be back dated. Back in August of this year, our China travel group had it's first reunion. We adopted our children from the Guangdong Province in southern China almost two years ago. Only two of the other four families that were with us the entire time were able to make it. Bob, Pam, Emma, Sandi, and Little Hannah....we missed you greatly and hope we'll all be able to get together next time.

For our first reunion, we planned a week long Disney vacation. Lisa, Russell, and Analise drove all the way down from Carrollton, Mississippi while Rebecca, Jay, Ben, and Hannah flew down from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Because of Patrick's busy schedule, he decided that he wanted to have a bar-b-que at our house for everybody over the weekend. It was the first time we had all seen each other since we said good-bye at the White Swan Hotel in November 2007. Ben, Hannah, and Analise had grown so much since that time. We were all filled with so much joy at seeing all the children flourish with their forever families.

All of the kiddos had a blast running around the house and splashing in the pool. Their laughter just melted our hearts. Patrick prepared a fabulous feast of surf and turf (lobster and steak). And naturally, we had a bunch of different desserts for everyone to share. We had such a nice, relaxing time together.

Since Lisa and Rebecca's families had traveled so far, they really spent their time checking out all that the Walt Disney World Resort had to offer. Caleb and I had the opportunity to join them one day at Epcot. We spent a lot of time in China, naturally. And I have to tell you....I really wasn't expecting to be moved as much as I was. But seeing the 360 degree movie had me in tears. I really felt like I was right back in China. In part of the movie, they showed the Temple of Heaven. And when Caleb piped up, "Mama, look! There's Beijing!" I almost totally lost it. It just felt like home.

One of their last days here, Caleb and I joined Lisa, Russell, and Analise at the Magic Kingdom. We had to leave early and sadly missed getting to see Rebecca, Jay, Hannah, & Ben. They had big plans at Cinderella's Castle in the morning, so it just didn't work out. :( Although somebody took Analise's stroller, Russell and Lisa managed to track it down at one of the stroller parking was a pretty stressful moment. Caleb and Analise had fun on the Aladin ride as well as the steamboat ride. It was so wonderful to see the two of them together. Although Caleb is "all boy" and can be a bit rough sometimes, Analise handled it well.

It was truly so wonderful to see everybody after such a long time. We are greatly looking forward to our next reunion when we hope that all of our Guangdong families can get together. We love you all!

Guangzhou Blessings
First photo together since being in Guangzhou (l to r: Analise, Caleb, & Hannah)

Travel group kiddos
All the kiddos in our travel group, including Ben (Hannah's big brother)

Analise & Mulan
Analise with Mulan in Epcot

Sweet Smile
Analise flashing me a smile while "window shopping"

Caleb & Analise

A Little Kiss
Analise kissing Caleb good-bye

Summer fun in Connecticut

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I was really hoping that I could be a regular blogger, but it hasn't been in the cards for me lately. Consequently, I will be back dating this post because I have so much summer fun to catch up on.

Back in July, we took a trip to Connecticut to visit Patrick's sister, Michele, our brother-in-law, John, and our precious niece, Lydia. John surprised us with a VIP tour of the ESPN facility in Bristol, CT. What a huge campus! Being an avid sports fan, I truly appreciated this tour. We even slipped by the SportsCenter studio while they were filming. I've included a photo below from the studio next door to SportsCenter, maybe Mike & Mike....not sure.

Across the street from ESPN is Lake Compounce, a beautiful amusement park situated on a lake. Although we had some slight drizzle on and off, we had a wonderful time. Lydia enjoyed the carousel, and Caleb went on a kiddie rollercoaster with Patrick. Michele and I even managed to ride on a rollercoaster and had a blast.

A trip to Connecticut isn't complete without dinner at Pepe's Pizza. There's no other pie like it. We also had the chance to roast some marshmallows in the firepit in the backyard at Michele and John's. The kids really enjoyed that. Thanks so much, Michele, John, and Lydia, for a wonderful vacation. We can't wait to see you again.

Caleb and Baba waiting for the tour to begin at ESPN
The studio next door to SportsCenter
Lydia and John enjoy the carousel
Sweet and precious Lydia

Having fun
Bubble fun
Having fun blowing bubbles
Silly boy
Being a silly boy, as usual
Lydia enjoying her marshmallows

Vacation at Hammock Beach

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Well, if it's any indication as to how busy life is right now.... we actually went on vacation a month ago. And I am JUST NOW getting around to blogging about it. Patrick had a business meeting last month in Palm Coast, FL. We were really looking forward to the trip, as neither one of us had been there before. Since condos were the only option for accommodations at the meeting, we decided to get a 3 bedroom and invited my sister, brother-in-law, and Leah to join us.

The Ginn Hammock Beach is a lovely resort situated right on the beach. It has two beautiful golf courses and an assortment of water/pool activities. Unfortunately for us, it rained for 4 straight days. So it was difficult to get around and see much. We decided to take a drive over to St. Augustine a couple of times, just to get out of the condo. When I said that it rained for 4 straight days, I really meant it. It rained from the time we woke up in the morning until we went to bed at night. The only time that the rain managed to briefly stop was right before dinner. So we hurried out to the water park and let the kiddos splash around.

Caleb had a blast going down the slide with Baba. And Leah enjoyed splashing around in the zero entry area. One afternoon, we happened to run into an old neighbor/friend of ours who also happened to be at the meeting but we had no idea. He and his wife have two tween daughters who just adore Caleb. So they had a blast going down the slide and making waves. It was so heartwarming to see.

On our first night there, we found this great little Thai restaurant. So naturally when Deb and Andy finally joined us, we had to bring them, too. Caleb loves Thai food, just like his Mama and Baba.

Well, wouldn't you know that it finally stopped raining on the day of our departure. Go figure! Well, at least it made for a nice brunch boat ride up and down the intracoastal. Caleb loves shrimp and ate some much of it, we just couldn't get over it. He is such a seafood lover.

I hope you enjoy a sampling of the photos from our trip.

So Serious
Caleb in St. Augustine
On the boat
Caleb and Baba on the boat

Leah splashing around in the pool
Enjoying the poolCuddle time
Deb and Leah get some cuddle time while dodging the rain

Caleb plays in the yard

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here's a little video I put together of Caleb goofing off in the yard with Baba. He just loves his sandbox and playing sports.

Big Brother

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meet Caleb, Madeline's big brother. Our dossier for Caleb was logged in at CCAA on 1/31/07. We received our referral for Caleb on 7/10/07. We traveled to China in October 2007 and brought him home in November. He was almost three years old at the time we first held him in our arms. He prays for Madeline every night, and he can't wait to travel to China to bring her home.

Here are his referral photos, taken in January 2007 when he was 2 years old. We fell in love with him immediately.

At the Guangzhou Social Welfare Institution

Here he is in March 2009. Our precious little boy is growing up so fast!

Paperchase Timeline for Madeline

Friday, May 15, 2009

8.27.08 Decided to pursue our second adoption
8.31.08 Called our first agency, Bethany Christian Services, and submitted our Preliminary Application
9.02.08 Received approval of our preliminary application
9.04.08 Received China dossier packet
9.07.08 Completed online Hague Adoption course
9.08.08 Mailed requests for birth certificates and marriage license
9.09.08 Submitted addresses to agency for child abuse clearances
10.07.08 Eva's interview for HS and submitted COP documents to our agency
10.20.08 Patrick's interview for HS
11.24.08 Went to local police department to obtain clearance
12.03.08 Had medicals completed
12.04.08 Received word from our SW that she had not received child abuse clearance from Maryland, called MD social services and asked to expedite our clearance
12.09.08 Clearance sent from MD
12.19.08 HS finally complete
1.03.09 FINALLY received signed off and notarized HS
1.05.09 Mailed I-800A to Chicago Lockbox
1.16.09 Received I-797C Notice of Action, our app was received on 1/12/09
1.19.09 Received fingerprint appointment for 1/29/09
1.20.09 Mailed second request for copy of marriage license, since it will be older than 6 months at time of authentication (needs to be less than 6 months old)
2.05.09 Received our "newer" copies of our marriage license; Received a phone call from NBC but missed it! :( Ugh.
2.09.09 Received our I-800A approval in the mail!!!!! We were approved on 2/05/09!! Just 24 days after being logged in at NBC. Woo hoo! Also obtained Patrick's employment letter
2.10.09 Notarized our application letter to CCAA and financial statement
2.12.09 Notarized Eva's non-employment letter
2.19.09 Received the addendum to our home study and overnighted 11 documents to Tallahasee courier for state seals
2.21.09 Received our Florida documents back from courier, all state sealed!
2.22.09 Completed our photos portion of the dossier
2.23.09 Mailed our completed dossier to Grand Rapids for authentication at the consulates
3.12.09 We are DTC!!!
3.31.09 Our social worker called to tell us our LID is 3/26/09
10.29.09 Spotted our little girl for the first time on our "new" agency's Waiting Child list
10.30.09 Reviewed her file and accepted her referral!!! We finally know who Madeline is. Praise God!
12.10.09 New agency submitted our LOI and transfer letters. Yahoo!!! Now we wait for PA (Pre-approval)
12.11.09 Received a RFE (Request For Evidence) from Immigration on our I-800A Supplement 3 Form. UGH!
12.21.09 Received our PA! Hooray! Time to send a care package.
12.30.09 SW came to our house for the home study visit needed for our update for the Supplement 3
12.31.09 Our FL child abuse clearance came back! (expedited thanks to our great, new SW!)
1.11.10 Our SW overnighted our approved home study update to Immigration
1.14.10 Called our immigration officer to confirm receipt of our updated HS and she informed me she approved it yesterday! Yahoo!
3.5.10 Finally received our new/transfer LID
3.30.10 We got our LOA!!!!
4.1.10 Overnighted I-800 and supporting documents to our agency
4.6.10 Agency overnighted I-800 to immigration
4.21.10 Overnighted our I-800A Supplement 3 to TX lockbox to extend our immigration approval
4.27.10 Received our I-800 provisional approval
4.29.10 NBC overnighted our provisional approval to NVC, now we wait to be cabled
4.30.10 Received our I-800A Supplement 3 receipt notice in the mail
5.1.10 Received our I-800 provisional approval in the mail....yay for small steps
5.4.10 Our I-800 provisional approval was CABLED (whoo hoo) to Guangzhou
5.10.10 Received our NVC cable letter AND fingerprint appointment notices in the mail
5.11.10 Walked in early for our fingerprint appointment; we were scheduled for May 27th. No way were we going to wait that long!
5.12.10 Called im*migration and found out that our covering officer approved our I-800A supplement 3 and also issued us a new I-800! And today, Madeline turned 26 months. Big girl.
5. 17.10 Our documents are dropped off at the consulate
6.1.10 Our Article is issued and overnight to CC@@
6.25.10 We have TA!!!!!!!!!!!
6.29.10 Our CA is confirmed and we began travel arrangements
7.16.10 Fly to Ch*in@
7.19.10 Receive Madeline!!!!
7.20.10 Finalize her adoption. We are officially a family of 4!
7.23.10 Fly to Guangzhou
7.24.10 Medical Exam
7.28.10 Consulate appointment
7.29.10 Oath ceremony at the consulate
7.30.10 Receive Madeline's immigration visa and fly home!
7.31.10 Arrive back home!

Some Day Soon...

Friday, May 1, 2009

...this page will share the referral photos of our precious Madeline. Until then, stay tuned...

Our Story

Me and my love

Let me take a moment to introduce us and tell you how we began our adoption journey. We are Patrick and Eva. We live in Florida and have been married for 9 years. Although we began our formal paper chase in August 2006 for our first child, God had been preparing our hearts for adoption for some time. Even before we were married in October 2002, we both thought at some point in our lives we would adopt a child. For me this desire first came about in the summer of 1998 when I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert at King’s Dominion just outside of Richmond, VA. He shared how he and his wife, Mary Beth, had grown their family by adopting a daughter, Shaohannah, from China. God had used this story to lay a foundation for adoption in my life. But at the time I was still single, so the thoughts and desire for adoption lay silent until I met Patrick in 2001.

We talked about adoption as something we knew we wanted to do but didn’t know “how or when”. Like many others, we believed we would adopt after we had biological children of our own. Over the last few years, the topic of adoption came up more and more, as my identical twin sister, Deb, and her husband, Andy, have struggled with infertility. Triggered in part by their trials, we thought harder and longer about adoption. To better understand what my sister and Andy were going through, my dear friend Adele, recommended a book, “When The Cradle Is Empty.” It turned out to be an incredibly insightful book! It opened my eyes to the pain couples experience as they struggle to begin their families. What this book did even more for me was deepen my desire to adopt. Instead of reading the book from the beginning, I skipped straight to the chapter on adoption. It was evident how God was slowly working on our hearts during this time.

In July 2006, Patrick attended a Promise Keepers conference in Jacksonville, FL. One of the speakers, Pastor Bob Reccord, shared his personal story of adoption. Patrick’s heart was deeply moved by Pastor Bob. What I hadn’t told Patrick was that I had just heard Pastor Reccord on Focus On The Family earlier that week! I knew something was up when he called on his way home from the conference and told me we needed to talk. He shared with me that God had placed on his heart the need to start our family “now” and that we would begin by adopting a child from China. I was so ecstatic! That week I began researching adoption agencies and located one within a couple hours from our home. Patrick called and arranged our first meeting. That is the story of how we began our “paper pregnancy” for our son, Caleb.

We spent the Fall of 2006 paperchasing and finally completed our dossier in December. We submitted our dossier to China and were officially logged in January 31, 2007. Fast forward a few months, we received our referral for Caleb on July 10, 2007 and traveled in October/November 2007 to bring him home. He has been the light of our lives. He has such a sense of humor, it's pretty amazing. He's so easy going. He loves to play soccer, swim, and play with his trains. It has been such a joy to watch him blossom after finally having a home of his own and a mommy and daddy to love him. We truly can't imagine our lives without him.

In the fall of 2008, we felt the Lord calling us again to adopt another child. This time we felt led to bring home a little girl. It took us several months to paperchase because of new immigration requirements. However, we finally sent our dossier to China in March 2009. It was such a great feeling to do that, even the second time around; it was still a bit surreal.

Well, now that our paperchase is finished, it's time to sit back and enjoy life as we wait for our referral for Madeline. We hope to use this blog to keep you all updated. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by. It means so much to us. Blessings to you all!

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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