Saturday, December 30, 2006

We Have A LID

Our LID is 12/30/06. Now we just wait for TA .... and wait .... and wait .... and wait ....

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to You from Us!

The holiday season has been a whirlwind and just when I feel like I'm finally ready to welcome it in, it's almost over! Adoption paperwork consumed so much of my time this year and I feel like I played catch-up all month. I spent the entire day on December 23 wrapping gifts!

For the first time since Mike and I married (that's 18 years for those of you who are counting), I didn't send out Christmas cards. I actually hand-stamped 60 cards, but I just couldn't get them mailed in time. I have always included a photo of the boys in our card and I didn't even take their picture this year until Christmas Eve. I thought about sending them out as New Years cards, but I'd already stamped "Merry Christmas" on the front. So ..... I apologize to all of you and promise that I WILL send them next year. After all, I'm already ahead of the game and I have 60 cards filed away in a box labeled Christmas 2007. It's a good thing, too, because I hope to be running around chasing a three-year-old!

Our family is celebrating our last Christmas without Oakley. I have thought about her all day and throughout this blessed season - praying that Christ will watch over His precious baby.

We look forward to sharing her first Christmas with her next year -- what a wondrous time it will be! My Mom and I were out shopping a few weeks ago, and I almost bought a stocking for her, but decided to wait so she can help choose the one she wants. I can't wait to see it hanging from the mantel among her brothers' stockings. Our family will soon be complete.

Merry Christmas to All! May you cherish your time with family and friends this most holy season.

Monday, December 11, 2006

That Little Yellow Sweater

I received new photos today of Oakley, along with the following email from Grace at AHH:

"Here she is!!!! She needs her mommy so bad."

I couldn't agree more. Please TA .... hurry, so we can bring our baby girl home!

They've shaved her head AGAIN, and she's wearing that same little yellow sweater. I so hope she's wearing it on Gotcha Day so we can keep it as a sweet remembrance of our little girl the first time she captured our hearts.

Monday, December 4, 2006

It's Amazing How Much Stuff You Can Fit in a Shoebox

It's amazing how much stuff you can fit in a shoebox! We mailed Oakley's care package today. To help prepare her for our arrival, I put together a small photo album with pictures of us and her new home. I pray that her nanny will share it with her and that Oakley's heart will be open to us. She is already so loved by her family.

Here's a list of the goodies included in her care package:
  1. Family Photo Album

  2. Blanket (so very soft, with a silk trim)

  3. Teddy Bear

  4. Pat the Bunny Book

  5. Teddy Grahams

  6. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

  7. Two-Piece Outfit

  8. a soft Soccer Ball (Because all three of my boys play soccer and they've already indicated that they expect Oakley to play, too. Thanks, Jennifer, for finding the ball!)

  9. Disposable Camera (in hopes that her nanny will take pictures of her and return the camera to us on Gotcha Day)

  10. Candy for the nannies
We slept with the blanket and teddy bear for days before we sent them, hoping that she would know our smell when we wrap her in our arms. We don't know how many of these items, if any, will be returned to us. Sometimes the orphanages will keep the items for the children left behind. Just in case they keep them, I've purchased an identical teddy bear and blanket to bring with us in hopes that these items will be familiar and comforting to her.

Friday, December 1, 2006

We Are DTC!

That's right, folks! Our Dossier is on it's way to China, and I have to admit, after months of gathering all these documents, it's not easy to turn them over, even into capable hands. It's strange but even though I feel somewhat like I just finished a Final Exam (let's celebrate!), I also feel like I've just lost an appendage. Things are completely out of our control now and we wait. We wait for our Log In Date (LID) and our Travel Approval (TA) to arrive so we can bring Oakley home!

Please remember our family in your prayers and pray for a speedy TA!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

November Accomplishments

The paperchase is winding down and this month we waited impatiently for the much-coveted I-171H form from our government. This form is Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (what a mouthful) and we have to submit it along with all the other documents we've collected for the dossier.
  1. 11/3/06 -- Took notarized documents to Fayette County Clerk for county certification

  2. 11/15/06 -- Had Criminal Checks county-certified in Frankfort; Secured live signatures on Mike's birth certificate and our marriage license; Had all documents state-authenticated at the Capital; mounted our family photos for the dossier

  3. 11/16/06 -- Submitted dossier documents to Grace at AHH

  4. 11/17/06 - RECEIVED I-171H

  5. 11/20/06 -- Had I-171 notarized, certified and authenticated. Delivered to AHH for overnight delivery to the courier

  6. 11/24/06 -- Received updated photos of Oakley compliments of the Strand Family:)

  7. 11/30/06 -- Pre-Approval (PA) Received!!

all in all .... a VERY productive month!

We Have PA!!

Grace called today and we have PA!!! That means that China has approved us to be Oakley's parents and she's really going to be ours! AND, it means I can finally send her care package -- I'm anxious for her to have the photo album I've prepared in hopes that one of the nannies will help prepare her for our arrival.

I drove to the agency this afternoon to pick up our PA and the original photos they sent in her file, along with all of her original medical forms. I'm SO happy to have the photos and I'll use them in her Life Book as we begin to share with her the incredible story of how she joined our family. These pictures were taken when she was just four months old .... just look at that hair!

Friday, November 24, 2006

On This Day .... We Give Thanks

I'm a member of several on-line support groups -- one with other families who have adopted, or are in the process of adopting from the same Social Welfare Institute (SWI, aka orphanage). It's wonderful to learn from those who have "been there done that" and I've gained so much insight from these folks.

The day after Thanksgiving I received an email from Karen, who is adopting from the same SWI. Our agency put us in touch months ago, and I'm thankful for the contact. Karen's little girl, Caeleigh, is just a few months younger than Oakley. I'd mentioned before to her that I hope Caeleigh and Oakley are friends and that we get the opportunity to travel together. Her family is a little further along in the process, so that's unlikely, but I'm praying that our paperwork will travel the channels quickly!!

Anyway ....... Karen emailed me to let me know that another family is in China now, adopting their beautiful baby girl from the same SWI and they've taken pictures of every child and posted them on our online group's website for the other families!! Oakley and Caeleigh are standing side by side in one of the photos, wearing identical yellow sweaters (the same one she wore in her referral photo). Now I REALLY hope we get to travel together. It breaks my heart to think about Caeleigh leaving with her forever family, and Oakley remaining behind to wait for us.

It means so very much to see updated photos and I've studied each and every detail. So on this day, I give thanks to the Strand Family for taking the time to photograph each child so the parents waiting to travel can see their beautiful faces.

I physically ache for my little girl ....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October Accomplishments

  1. 10/09/06 -- Submitted application form to AHH in consideration of Xin Xiang, aka Mya

  2. 10/12/06 -- AHH MATCHED US WITH MYA

  3. 10/13/06 -- Mike and I met with Stacie at Adoption Assistance regarding Home Study amendment

  4. 10/19/06 -- Submitted LOI and PAPL

  5. 10/22/06 -- Cancelled our contract with CCAI; sent letter to inform them that we've found our baby girl on another agency's waiting list

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We Have a Name!!

Thank goodness! After months of deliberations we have finally reached a consensus and we think it suits her perfectly.
With great pleasure, we introduce ...

Oakley Xin Curd

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Name Game

STILL …. no name.
  • Tatum is out, per Michael and Sawyer;

  • Willow is out per me (because my sister, Lori, forwarded this photo to me .... remember Willow, the movie? Willow is on the right);

  • Hagan does not like Evan;

  • Sullivan is still trying to convince us that Eileen Kotino is the most beautiful name in the world ... go figure

We've now thrown Aden (although I think it may be too close to Hagan) and Brimlee into the mix. I like Sloan, but Michael definitely doesn’t want to use a one syllable first name … it’s too awkward with Curd.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


We've amended our Home Study to reflect Xin Xiang's age and today we submitted our Letter of Intent (LOI) and Prospective Adoptive Parents Letter (PAPL) to AHH. The CCAA (in China) will review these documents and will hopefully issue a Parents Approval (PA), meaning we've received approval to adopt her, pending acceptance of our dossier. We are REALLY anxious to receive PA because then we can send her a care package!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Photos!!

We received new photos of Mya today. Bless her heart ... she looks so sad. And they've shaved her little head. I understand why ... to reduce the risk of lice and for ease of care ... but it seems like one more indignity she has to suffer. I understand that some agencies will start to let their hair grow once they know a family is coming ... I hope this is the case. I'm ready to go get her NOW!!

She looks so much thinner without all those layers of clothes on. I've magnified the photos as much as possible so I can study her little hands and toes. Sawyer likes the way she tucks her bottom lip in and Sullivan likes her Mickey Mouse sandals! She's ADORABLE!!

We STILL haven't decided on a name for her, although we'll definitely use Xin, her Chinese name as her middle name. We have a top four list (for now):
  1. Willow

  2. Tatum (Tate for short)

  3. Hadley

  4. Ramsey
We can't seem to reach a family consensus, so we'll continue searching for the perfect name.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

She's Ours!

The committee was scheduled to meet this evening and Grace promised to call me as soon as the meeting was over to let me know the findings. My phone rang late this afternoon and I was surprised to see AHH's telephone number. I thought they must need clarification on one of the forms or some additional information. I was shocked when she said the committee had decided to meet early. WE'VE BEEN MATCHED WITH MYA!!

Here's what we know about her as reported at 18 months of age:

  • Her Chinese name is Dang Xin Xiang. The given surname, Dang, is usually somewhat arbitrary, after the orphanage or its director.

  • Her birth date is August 20, 2004 (Our Wedding Anniversary!), so she will be about 2 1/2 years old when we bring her home.

  • She resides at the Social Welfare Institute of Zhangzhou City, an orphanage in the Fujian Province.

  • She is 84 cm (33 in) tall and weighs 12 kg (26 lbs). She is in the 98th percentile on the Chinese growth chart and in the 92nd percentile on the American growth chart. Not being a family of significant height (TRULY), Sawyer noted how ironic it would be if she ends of being taller than any of us:)!

  • She can stand steadily and walk freely by herself. She can take building blocks out of a cup and use two pieces of blocks to knock at each other. She is cooperative when "being put on clothes and take off unlined clothes and socks." (I love the translations!)

  • She can imitate speaking and can speak three to five words. She responds to other's asking for her belongings.

  • She has breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 11:30 and supper at 5:30. Her staple food is congee and her snacks consist of egg, fruit, milk powder blended with rice cereal, and biscuits.

  • She is active and has a ready smile (I can't wait to see it -- I have a feeling it's going to light up our world)!

  • Her favorite toys are a doll and a rattle.
I can't begin to tell you how thrilled and humbled we are to be entrusted with this precious girl. I thank God for His hand and love and for His ability to make all things possible. We will do everything in our power to ensure we reach her as quickly as possible.

On a side note .... Hagan and I did the happy dance:)!

Monday, October 9, 2006

She's Captured Our Hearts

We shared her photo with the boys, along with some of the limited information we have about her. We all adore her! I contacted CCAI just to see if we could all work together to bring Mya home. It seems that files cannot be shared between agencies and if we want to pursue this, we need to submit our dossier through AHH. So .... we're charging full steam ahead in hopes that we'll be matched with her. On October 9 we submitted our application form and all preliminary paperwork to AHH in consideration of Dang Xin Xiang, aka, Mya.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Mya - And So It Begins

COMPLETELY out of the blue, I receive an email today from Grace Shelton at A Helping Hand (AHH) regarding Mya -- the little girl I requested information on in June.

I went through my past emails of families that were interested in Mya and came across yours. I am sorry to let you know that Mya's match fell through and we are now looking for her forever home again. I do not know what your status may be at this time or if you would at all still be interested but I thought I would let you know of her availability and see if you might be interested. I have attached her photos again in the event you need a reminder of this cutie's face. If you are interested please let me know and I would be happy to work with you in submitting your application for her.

Still interested?!?! ohmygosh ... YES!! My head says no, you've already come this far with another agency, but my heart says YES, she's always been yours. This is meant to be. I called Mike to share the news, and of course, I emailed Grace back immediately to let her know that we are most definitely still interested. This is going to mean a lot more paperwork, but we'll do whatever is needed to make this happen! Praise God for this joyful news!

Monday, September 25, 2006

September Accomplishments

The paperchase is STILL on! The social worker came for our Home Study visit this month and she interviewed us all as a family, the boys as a group, and Mike and I individually. The boys were so nervous -- Sullivan COULD NOT sit still and he couldn't quit smiling:). Sawyer volunteered to take the lead, which eased some of the pressure for Hagan and Sullivan. They were all wonderful and were very open to talking with Stacie. Stacie thinks they're great boys (and they are) -- I couldn't be more proud!
  1. 9/5/06 -- Mike applied for passport

  2. 9/7/06 -- Jana applied for passport

  3. 9/13/06 -- Home Study Visit with the Family (a lot of nervous energy leading up to this -- you never know what Sullivan might say:)!

  4. 9/15/06 -- Home Study sent by Adoption Assistance for Review

  5. 9/19/06 -- Home Study by me and changes forwarded for final copy

  6. 9/25/06 -- CCAI approved our Home Study! It will be in the mail tomorrow!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

August Accomplishments

  1. 8/2/06 -- Received notice from CCAI that our application has been approved! Received our orientation packet. Requested Mike's birth certificate and our marriage certificate from Vitalchek

  2. 8/4/06 -- Received Mike's birth certificate and our marriage certificate

  3. 8/7/06 -- Sent notarized Fee Policy Agreement and Service Agreements to CCAI via certified mail

  4. 8/9/06 -- Received Dossier Packet to download from CCAI

  5. 8/10/06 -- Michael's Physical

  6. 8/14/06 -- Received signed Service Agreement from CCAI

  7. 8/15/06 -- Mailed Request for my Certified Report of Birth to the Passport Services (because I was born in Germany)

  8. 8/18/06 -- Jana's Physical

  9. 8/30/06 -- First meeting with Stacie Musgrave (social worker) at Adoption Assistance.
    Received my certified birth certificate (yeah!!)

  10. 8/31/06 -- Submitted I600A Form and Fingerprinted

Monday, July 31, 2006

July Accomplishments

The paperchase is on!! We're off to gather all the documents and information we need to complete our Home Study and our Dossier. Here's a summary of our July accomplishments:

  1. 7/4/06 -- Mailed application to Adoption Assistance, Inc. for Home Study

  2. 7/12/06 -- Mailed application to CCAI

  3. 7/19/06 -- Mailed State Police criminal check forms

  4. 7/20/06 -- Mailed Child/Spouse Abuse registry checks for Jana, Mike, Sawyer

  5. 7/24/06 -- Received notice from CCAI that our application was received

  6. 7/31/06 -- Sent Record Check to CCAI in lieu of local Police Clearance Report
... and that's just the beginning:)!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Choosing an Agency

We narrowed our agency choices down to two -- CCAI (in Denver) and A Helping Hand (in Lexington). Both agencies advocate for the children left behind and both are very highly regarded. It just so happened that both agencies had information seminars scheduled in Lexington for the beginning of July. CCAI's seminar was on Saturday, July 8, and A Helping Hand's seminar was on Monday, July 10. Saturday worked better for us, so Michael, Sawyer and I attended. It was fabulous -- very informative and very emotional. The room was filled with couples seeking to travel this journey and the moderator, home from China just a few months with her own daughter, shared her personal experiences along with some "Gotcha Day" videos. We left with an application in hand, feeling nervous, excited, and very eager to get started.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The First Time We Saw Her Face

Mike and I have decided to request a baby, 0-18 months of age, preferably as young as possible. However, during my extensive research in searching for the right agency, I visit a lot of adoption agency websites and I can't help but look at the adorable babies on the Waiting Child lists.

I saw this doll baby on A Helping Hand's (AHH) website on June 29, 2006. Her Chinese name is Dang Xin Xiang, aka "Mya", and she's two years old. Her file noted that she was "on hold", meaning a family was considering her for adoption. Although she was older, she touched my heart. I emailed Grace Shelton at AHH and asked to be put on a waiting list in the event the other family had not made a final decision. She emailed me back to let me know that the other family had indeed been matched with Mya and they were in the process of adopting her.

I was so drawn to her and bookmarked the site so I could visit her picture over and over again. I was sad when her photo was removed and I truly felt an empty spot in my heart. I prayed for her and thanked God that she had found her forever family, although I wished it could have been us. Such a solemn little face ... she reminds me of an old soul. I wish for her a lifetime of laughter and love.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Decision to Grow Our Family

For many years Michael and I have maintained that our family is complete. We have three beautiful, talented, bright, spirited and loving boys -- Sawyer is 15, Hagan is 10 and Sullivan is 6. However, early this summer I felt the longing for a little girl and I heard God whispering to me His plan for our family.

After many nights of research and my every thought consumed with the possibility of growing our family through adoption, I finally approached Michael with the idea. When he said he was "totally open to the possibility," I was shocked. Are we worried? Yes ... isn't every expecting parent? However, we are thrilled beyond words, as are our boys. And we know that God is guiding us and that He will help prepare us emotionally, financially and spiritually as we travel this journey of faith.