I can't believe my ears.....we got our LOA!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

After waiting almost 3 months for our case to transfer from our original agency to our new agency (which is 2-3 times longer than most), we got our LOA today! It arrived at our agency's office only 25 days after our new LID. I am totally stunned....totally.....and totally unprepared. We have a mound of paperwork that needs to be completed. And frankly, I thought I had another 1-2 months to knock it out. Well, guess who is going to be up late tonight?! ME!!!

Our agency is telling us we can expect to get our TA (travel approval) in 10 weeks. This puts us traveling at the very end of June or early July. While this is the time I had my heart set on when we first began our transfer, I never imagined that it would be happening....and that's because our transfer took so very long. We'll I'm just thrilled, and I haven't come out of the clouds yet. Caleb is quite excited, too. I taught him what the happy dance was a few weeks back and told him today was the day to do it! Through my happy tears, I told him, "We're going to China." His reply was, "Yay! I'm going to get my sister, Madawin!"

I still have oodles to blog about and catch up on, but that will have to wait for now. Thanks so much for sharing in our joy with us. We are amazed and humbled to be moving on to the next step of our journey to bring our daughter home.

Precious baby girl

We recently requested, and just yesterday received, Madeline's finding ad. For those of you who don't know about finding ads, I'll explain. When a little one is found without their parents, they are brought to the local police department before being handed over to the local orphanage for care. When the orphanage receives the child, they place an ad in the paper describing when and where the child was found in the hopes that their family will come to claim them. This is just really a formality because it is illegal in C*hina to "abandon" a child. Before we adopted Caleb, we were able to locate his finding ad. And now, we have been fortunate enough to receive Madeline's ad as well.

Madeline's ad is so special to us because it is actually the "headshot" of the oldest photo we already have of her. Since she is missing her left arm below her elbow, a close up photo of her arm was taken upon admission to the orphanage. We knew this photo was "older" when we first received her file to review, but we had no idea how old it was until very recently. The photo itself is time stamped "24 2:55pm." But just a few weeks ago, I looked at the EXIF data (info about the photo file stored when it is taken) and noticed it was 3.24.08. This is the date she was actually found...when she was approximately two weeks old. We requested to have her finding ad translated. And it notes that she was found with a flowered quilt. Well, in her finding ad photo is the very quilt in the "arm" photo we received long ago. So now we have a photo of the precious 2 week old face that has a been such a mystery. It is so amazing to piece these two photos together to come up with what our daughter looked like at 2 weeks old. We're simply amazed. Her finding ad also indicates that she was found with a note! I am really hoping to receive the original note or a copy of it from the orphanage when we travel to China to bring her home. I am now quite curious what her birthmom had to say. We can only imagine the anguish she experienced as she decided it was better for someone else to care for her daughter. But to know she had some parting words for her little girl makes me want to do all that I can to find out what they are.

A birthday haircut for Madeline?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I knew it wasn't a matter of if but when....when would my precious little girl get her hair chopped? I've heard of birthday haircuts, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. LOL.

Even with a chop like this, my little girl is STILL as cute as a button, oh my! But I guess keeping bangs on her (and all the other little ones)was too much for the orphanage staff. It seems they all got their hair chopped recently. In most of the photos we have of Madeline, her bangs are hanging low & in her eyes. So I'm not surprised by this at all. I guess I'm just a little sad for her that her birthday photos have her hair super duper short. No doubt, I'll be putting her in dresses in C*hina so there is no confusion about her gender. LOL.

I am so happy to receive these photos because the smile on Madeline's face is PRICELESS! I was told that she had a lovely party with her friends. What more can a mom ask for?

A belated Zhu Ni Shen Ri Kuai Le, Madeline!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dear Madeline,

Yesterday morning we woke up knowing that, for you, your birthday was almost over. But over here in America, it was just beginning. Although mommy was still feeling very sick, we still headed out to the bakery to pick up your 2nd birthday cake. We couldn't wait for daddy and Caleb to return from a party so that we could celebrate your birthday together. Caleb was so excited to sing happy birthday to you. We made a little video of our celebration that we'll be able to share with you some day. While we are sad that you are not home with us this birthday, we hope you enjoyed the cake and the gifts we sent you. We hope and pray you had lots to laugh and smile about on your special day. We love you so much, and we can't wait to finally hold you. Happy Birthday, Madeline. Zhu ni shen ri kuai le!

Mommy, Daddy, and Caleb

Clothes for the children & birthday wishes for Madeline

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When we donated money for the New Year party for the Jingmen orphange, we hoped to have enough money left over to buy some new clothes for the children, and fortunately, there was. Well, today, I received photos of the children wearing the new clothes. It just warms my heart to see this.

Iris (far left) and Madeline standing next to her, with 2 other precious children

With none of them looking at the camera...ah, the joy of photographing 4 little ones...too cute

I also wanted to share with you the care package Madeline will receive tomorrow for ther 2nd birthday. We are sending her a jacket, blanket, books, toy, camera, hair clips, and candy (and bag to put this all in when we travel to bring her home.) We also donated some pajamas to the orphanage.

As I type this, Madeline has been tucked into bed the night before her birthday. When she wakes up, we hope she will be delighted to receive her package and cake. We pray those around her will celebrate her birthday with joy in their hearts, knowing she has a family half way around the world that loves her dearly and can't wait to hold her in their arms. Happy Birthday, precious Madeline!!! Women ai ni! (We love you!)

Beyond Blessed

Monday, March 8, 2010

After many agonizing weeks of no news about our transfer LID, we finally learned today that our new LID is 3.5.10. I am praising God for this news because it means we are not lost in the system somewhere. Our paperwork has been processed, and we can now wait for the next step....which is our Letter of Acceptance (LOA.) We should get our LOA in the next 2-3 months, barring any catastrophies (like the one we've already experienced LOL). If we hold to the law of averages at this point, we can expect to travel in August or September. I sure wish it was sooner, but I am happy and relieved at this point just to know we are nearing a travel timeframe. We'll still have a bit of summer here in Florida to splash and swim in the pool, so I'm happy about that.

On another positive note, I received some adorable photos of Madeline from another family adopting a girl from Madeline's orphanage. They sent their daughter, Iris, a cake for Chinese New Year and just recently received some photos. These were taken about a month ago. Thanks, Melissa, for these precious photos of our girls!

Madeline, left, making faces while Iris, right, enjoys a bite of cake

Iris enjoying her cake

We also received confirmation from Ann at Red Thread China that Madeline will received her birthday cake and care package on her 2nd birthday, which is this Friday, March 12th. We are sad she will be celebrating apart from us. But at least she has her friend, Iris, and her foster family. We should receive some pictures from her birthday party in the next few weeks.

While the blessings are rolling in, I should note that we finally got word from Brian Stuy that he has located Madeline's Finding Ad. I am thrilled about this because I had asked him back in December, and he hadn't located it yet. I can't wait to see this precious ad.

And finally, to round off the week full of blessings....

...we had a wonderful mini vacation with the Mouse, Mickey Mouse that is. Patrick had a meeting in Orlando. So we decided to take in a little fun. We started off our vacation with a fun, but very cold, trip to Tampa to catch the opening day of Spring Training for the Yankees. Caleb had a blast, despite the cold temps. He was very intrigued by the bull pen. And Yanks pulled off a win in the bottom of the 9th!

We spent the next day at Epcot. Patrick picked up a few things for Caleb for his next Gotcha celebration in "China." We also had lunch with the princesses in Norway. Caleb's favorite princess was Cinderella, although Snow White tried to make a plug for herself with a huge smooch on his forehead. I will add photos to this post when I get a chance. I also got to spend the day alone with Caleb at the Magic Kingdom. It was such an awesome time alone with my precious son. We had a blast riding on the raceway and saving Buzz from the evil emperor Zurg. Caleb also enjoyed making mama dizzy on the teacups. And he actually rode the merry-go-round 3 times!

I had actually received an email from our C*hina coordinator on Friday telling me she had no news of an LID for us. And for the first time ever on a Friday, I didn't throw myself a pity party. I just wanted to enjoy the day with my son, and that's what I did.

We have so much to be thankful for....a son who blesses our socks off daily and a daughter waiting for us in China who will celebrate her birthday with friends and her foster family. We are thankful that we can finally see a light at the end of this tunnel.

***Be sure to check back for updated photos***

Edited to add: Caleb's video with the princesses

"I got a present for you..."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"....love." And then he gave me a hug.

Yes, that is what Caleb said to me tonight. I had to hold back the tears. My son is so precious. Could I be more blessed?! Wow.

I love my little man "more than I can reach."

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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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