Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Alarm Clock

See this alarm clock? It doesn't work. At least not for Sawyer. We've yet to find an alarm that will wake him up. This clock's claim to fame was that it's LOUD enough to wake even the deepest sleeper. Sawyer found it in his Easter basket last year, nestled amidst those yucky neon yellow Peeps the boys love so much.

Admittedly, he's a night owl and he stays up WAYYYY too late -- it's a constant struggle. I'm completely convinced that he's nocturnal. He prefers to stay up all night and sleep the day away. Every weekday morning I have to wake him a minimum of three times. He can have a full conversation with me and never remember it (or so he says). It's a grueling ritual and not the greatest way to start the day.

Yesterday, I had to go into work early to prepare for an out-of-town meeting at 10am. Mike was at home getting the two younger boys ready and I reminded him to wake Sawyer up (repeatedly, if necessary) before he left. Sullivan and Hagan have to be at school an hour before Sawyer does, which means he was going to have to get himself to the bus stop.

I was sitting in my client's lobby at 10am, waiting to go in for my appointment when my cell phone rang. HOME came up on the caller ID and I knew instinctively that trouble was brewing. As far as I knew, Mike was at work, all three boys were at school, and Scrabble, our springer spaniel, was the only one holding down the fort.

"Hello?" I answered.

"Mom, is there no school today?" asked my groggy 15-year-old son.

"Ummm, YES, there
IS school today, and you're supposed to be there," I replied.

"Well, nobody woke me up!" he exclaimed. "What do I do now?"

Did I mention that it's 10am? School starts at 8:30.

Remember that I'm 45 miles away, trying desperately to get mentally prepared for my presentation. UGGHHH!!! I told him to call his Dad, and warned him that he would NOT be happy, because he had INDEED wakened him this morning. They even had a conversation about Sawyer needing lunch money and they discussed how he was going to get home from school in the afternoon. I was fuming mad, ready to strangle my son and was just hanging up the phone when the person I was meeting came out to greet me. I smiled, exchanged pleasantries, and put on my game face.

We need a new alarm clock. This one's worn out.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Little Salesman

Sullivan came home last week all excited about a fundraiser his school is hosting for the American Heart Association. He gets to Jump Rope for Heart, and by securing sponsors, not only can he collect money for the American Heart Association, he has the opportunity to win some -- in his words -- "REALLY cool stuff". You know just the "stuff" I'm talking about ... a cheap plastic water bottle, a cheap plastic flashlight, a cheap plastic swim radio, and the much coveted "voice changer". He's in seven-year-old heaven just thinking about these treasures. I know, I know ... it's for a good cause.

Anyway ... on Sunday he decided he wanted to visit our neighbors and ask them to sponsor him in the Jump Rope for Heart event. We reviewed his spiel and it went something like this:

"Hi. I'm Sullivan. My school is holding a Jump Rope for Heart event to raise money for the American Heart Association. Would you like to help by sponsoring me?"

After several attempts, he had the script down pretty well. I told him I'd take him out Sunday afternoon to visit the neighbors. While I was getting ready to go to a friend's house, Sullivan, aka Mr. Independent, talked his Dad into letting him go out on his own. He was given permission (note: not by me) to visit the neighbors who live on our cul-de-sac -- and yes, they all know him. As I was preparing to leave, I noticed that the Jump for Heart brochure was lying on the counter, along with the collection envelope for the American Heart Association. I asked Michael about it and he said Sullivan had just grabbed a plastic ziploc sandwich bag to collect the money. MEN!?!?!?

Just then, Sullivan came bounding in, smiling ear-to-ear at his success. Seems in just 10 minutes or so, he'd collected $35 from our neighbors. When I asked who had donated, he had a hard time remembering names and amounts. His little lip started to quiver when he realized he was supposed to have taken the envelope with him to record names and donation amounts, but we assured him that his dad would make the rounds with him again to help him collect all the information.

I was astounded that people were giving so willingly considering his questionable collection method. He must be quite the salesman! I asked him to pretend that I was the next door neighbor so he could share with me what he was telling them. Here it is, verbatim:

"Hi. I'm Sullivan. Can you give me some money to jump rope?"

His delivery needs a little work.
It's a good thing he's so adorable.

Feeling Disheartened

Let me just preface this post by saying I KNOW that this journey we are undertaking is in God's hands and that His timing is divine. That being said, I pray for patience!! When we first submitted our dossier we were told that we may travel as early as February ... and as late as May. February sounded unrealistic to me and I secretly set my heart on April. Well, it now looks like the earliest that we will be able to travel is May.

i'm so sad

We had a conference call with our agency this afternoon regarding the new process for families that are adopting Waiting Children. The CCAA is now sending a Letter Seeking Confirmation of Adoption prior to sending TAs. Based on the past few months, it seems that these letters are being sent to our agency once a month, along with the referrals for families adopting through the traditional route. The average wait from DTC to receiving the Letter Seeking Confirmation (aka Acceptance Letter) is 120 days. That's just an average, and by no means a guarantee. We were DTC on 12/1/06 and IF we were to hit the average, we can expect to receive our Acceptance Letter at the end of March. The agency is giving families seven days to sign and return the letter and then they will be submitted as a group to the CCAA with a request for TAs. Once the letters are sent, TAs are generally being received about 21 days later, which would put us well into April and we can expect to travel two to three weeks after TA.

Even if we were to receive our letter in early March, which is unlikely given Chinese New Year, we still wouldn't be able to travel until May. That's because there is a huge trade fair held in China from April 15-30 and prices for airfare and travel are so inflated that agencies do not send families at this time. And then Spring Festival, a national holiday, takes place May 1-7, and families can't travel then.

The most disheartening thing about this is that Oakley continues to wait in an orphanage during her most formative months. We attended a seminar at our agency this past weekend and the information received was very enlightening, but very difficult to hear. It focused on the impact of orphanage life on child development and attachment. The facilitator indicated that during the second year of life, brain activity is most heightened and can be negatively affected when basic needs are not being met. I know most orphanages provide for these children as well as they can, given their limited resources. But the fact is ... Oakley is suffering from neglect and poor nutrition and her physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs are not being met. And the longer she is there, the harder it will be for her to overcome these obstacles.

We will do everything in our power to help Oakley realize her full potential, but it breaks my heart that we cannot reach her sooner. I think our expectations are pretty realistic and I know that as much as we want to believe it, love will not be enough. We are ready to give ourselves over to Oakley and with great effort, love, and determination, we are committed to helping her grow and heal.

Please continue to pray for our little girl.

Friday, February 9, 2007

You Make My Heart Sing!

Hagan is a beautiful soul with many talents. He loves to horseback ride and play soccer, and he can sing like a bird! He's been a member of the gifted and talented music program at school for a few years and has had several musical solo performances. I know, I know .... I sound like a proud mom:)! I don't mean to brag, but he's REALLY good!

He auditioned earlier this year for the Kentucky All-State Chorus and was selected, along with three of his classmates, to participate! This is a huge honor and I'm so proud of the time he committed to preparing for the event, rehearsing both at school and at home.

The Kentucky All-State Children's Chorus was held this week in Louisville. On Wednesday afternoon we checked into the Galt House, the host hotel. He had a full chorus seating at 6:30pm and rehearsal from 7-9pm. After rehearsal, we came back to the room, laid in our big queen-sized beds and watched American Idol and Lost (two of our favorite TV shows). It was just the two of us ... spending some treasured quality time together.

Rehearsals began Thursday morning at 8:30 and it was a full-day with breaks only for lunch and a quick snack before the evening performance. I have to admit, I teared-up a few times during the rehearsals, and I wasn't the only one. There's something about the innocent voices of children, blended together so beautifully. It makes a Mother's heart melt.

And the performance last night .... breathtaking!! I don't know how else to describe it. It was TRULY AMAZING. I'm so glad he had the opportunity to participate and that I had the opportunity to witness it.

I'm so very proud of Hagan! He makes my heart sing!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Have You Heard Anything Yet?

This seems to be the question of the day, so here's the latest scoop. We received an email from our agency on Friday regarding the changes that the CCAA has instituted for Waiting Children. Instead of waiting for TA (Travel Approval) we are now expecting to receive a LOA (Letter of Acceptance) document that we have to sign and return, confirming our desire to continue the adoption of Oakley. Initial rumors were that it could delay the process anywhere from two to eight weeks -- which seems like a lifetime at this point.

But we've been really encouraged by the number of LOAs received to date by families. One family had a LID of 11/14/06 and just received their LOA last week, which is great news! Also, most families are receiving TA within a few weeks of returning the LOA. It seems like the CCAA is trying to streamline the process and it will soon be a mirror image of the traditional adoption process in China. The good news is that once we receive our LOA we'll have a better idea of when we might expect to travel and we can get our affairs in order.

Our agency is hosting a conference call on February 12 to communicate all of the changes and procedures, so I should know more then.

The other GREAT NEWS we received last week is that Oakley's friend, Caeleigh, will be coming home soon!! Her parents just received their LOA last week so they are expecting TA anytime. They are 51 days ahead of us in terms of DTC, so while nothing is definite, that at least gives us a time frame to consider.

Please pray that God is preparing these little girls' hearts for their new families. May they be immediately comforted by our love and devotion and may God keep them safe and watch over them. Pray for a speedy LOA for us and a speedy TA for Caeleigh's parents. And while you're at it, we'd love for you to offer prayers for us in consideration of a Shaohannah's Hope grant for which we recently applied. This could go a long way in helping us meet our funding requirements!