Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Home Stretch


First of all, here are our most recent pictures of our dear Jordan:
























Our little boy is getting a little bit bigger!  

I've been terrible at updating but now as we are in the home stretch, I'm going to try to do better. 

We hit two minor snags in the last month that delayed us a couple of weeks.  People who were at the same place as us in the process last month, before the I800 (our last immigration step), are actually in China right now!!  It's been frustrating to have other people's mistakes result in delays, but we're so close now ourselves, that we've too busy to really focus on that.  We should have travel approval this week or next week.  We're going to try to leave as soon as possible after travel approval. 

I met a woman (in an adoption group) that traveled to China in June to pick up their son that had been in the same foster home as Jordan.  She was kind enough to take some pictures and video of Jordan when they visited his foster home.  I don't even know how many times I've watched and re-watched the video footage.  It's so great to see Jordan's big smiles.  Although, I couldn't help but notice that every time the nannies say "mama" his face drops.  It breaks my heart just a tiny bit.  He is obviously in a good foster care situation and the nannies love him.  We'll be taking him from what he knows and probably loves.  The nannies have shown him our pictures and have told him that his mama is going to come for him.  He does not look thrilled.  I have to remind myself that his foster care home is temporary, if he wasn't being adopted, he would eventually end up back in an orphanage.  And that the best foster care organization/orphanage situation can not compare to being a part of a family.   And if he stayed where he is, he wouldn't have access to the doctors and medications that can make a huge difference for him.  We know that Jordan is meant to be a part of our family but I am preparing myself for a heartbreaking first few days, and hope that he will be able to feel our love for him and transition quickly.  


video

Saturday, June 7, 2014

LOA

We received our LOA! This means China has given their final approval for our adoption and we got to check a box saying we "accept the adoptee".  We're on our final countdown to bringing Jordan home!! We should have travel approval in about 7-8 weeks and be on a plane to China a week or two after that!! So very excited!!!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reconnecting

When I was in college, I took a semester off and spent about 6 months in China teaching English in a boarding school.  It was a growing, eye-opening, incredible experience.  I was able to travel and see a lot amazing places in China and learn to appreciate the Chinese culture.  But really, my favorite part of the whole trip was the kids I taught.  It was hard to say goodbye, realizing I'd probably never see any of them again.  I left them all my address and email address, but figured that since they were 6 years old and their English was still very basic,  that wouldn't amount to much.  About a month after I was home from China I got a simple email from one of my favorite students.  It said:  

Amy: I love you! -Vern

then a few days later another: 

Amy: How are you?  Nice meeting you!  I love you!  -Vern

Such little emails made me so very happy.  But it was another ten years before I heard from Vern again.  We started emailing back and forth when he was 16.  Then two years ago Vern came to the US to go to school in Illinois.  It's been so much fun to see Jack (he changed his English name when he came to the US) grow up.  He also recently put me back in touch with some of my other students.  I can't believe how grown up these kids are!  It makes me feel so old.  It really feels like it was just a few years ago that I was in China teaching them.  I have loved looking through my China pictures and remembering how much fun I had with these darling kids and comparing their old pictures to them now.

The little boy in my lap is Vern/Jack.
And here he is again.

This is him now.

 And this is sweet Nicole then...

 ... and Nicole now.

 Mischievous Seth then...

 And Seth now.

 Funny Adria then...

And Adria now.

 Quite Anthony then...

 Anthony now.

Dear Maddie then...

 Maddie now (on left)

 Darling Eddie and Reid then...

Reid now.  (I haven't been able to reconnect with cute Eddie yet)

Smart little Emma then...

Emma now.

Funny Tony then...

 and Tony now.


Shy Jennifer then...

 Jennifer now (on Left)

 
 
 

 My face is either pasty white or bright red in these pictures depending on if they were taken at the beginning or end of my trip.  I went over in the winter and came home in June when it was starting to get very hot.  In this picture my face and eyes are especially red because it was day I was saying goodbye.  I still miss those cute faces.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What To Expect When You Are Expecting: Adoption Edition



People have asked me if being pregnant 9 months/birthing a baby is easier or harder than the adoption process has been.

I don't know. 

Both have their benefits and drawbacks.

Call me vain, but I am thrilled that this is the first time we've added to our family with out me gaining thirty-something pounds.

Then there is missing out on a year and a half of life and milestones of a dear little one... hard.  Or not having to recover from birth and sleepless night... fabulous. 

And not having a baby box me from the inside has been nice, but I also miss having a baby box me from the inside, knowing that they are in there, in a safe spot, until I can hold them.

Even though I don't have the usual physical reminders that a baby is joining our family, (huge belly, baby hiccups, heartburn, Braxton Hicks, etc) I am lucky enough to have visual reminders.  I have pictures of Jordan all over the place... in my wallet, on my nightstand, on my fridge, in frames, on the computer desktop... scattered all over my actual desk top.  I get to see his face every day while I wait to touch it.

Another thing to consider is that while growing a baby is exhausting, it isn't time consuming.  Adoption paperwork is enough work to be considered a part time job.  A part time job that, instead of getting paid for, you get to drain your savings for.  And with so much time being spent "at work", it's hard to keep up on other things.  I think it will take me months for me to catch up on everything that I've let slide while working on adoption paperwork. 

The one thing birthing a baby definitely has over adoption is that I always knew that come 9 months, the wait would be over.  Waiting, with no predictable time frame, is one of the hardest things I've had to do.  We are currently on day 54 of waiting for our LOA... Letter Of Approval.  I've seen people get their LOA after only waiting 35 days, and I know of people who are still waiting for their LOA after waiting 100+ days.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason for issuing LOAs.  They aren't processed in any sort of order.  We just cross our fingers and hope we don't have to wait 3 months longer than everyone else.  This makes it really hard to plan out the next few months of our lives.  The not knowing is kind of killing me... and there is no epidural for that.

I really can't say that adopting is easier or harder than pregnancy, but I can tell you that I feel the same love and longing for Jordan as I did with all of our other children.  I already love him every bit as much as our other children and I can't wait to get to know him... hear his little voice, hold his little hand, and tickle his little tweaky toes.  We're praying that all of that will be sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Jog for Jordan

Honestly, I was really worried that we would need to cancel the Jog for Jordan... we only had 2 racers signed up for a few weeks.  I guess we just know a lot of procrastinators because in the end, we had a fantastic turnout.  Among the participants were childhood friends, college friends, old roommates, friends and neighbors from both past and current neighborhoods, our kid's teachers, Ryan's co-workers and students, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, parents, grandparents and even a fair amount of people who don't know us but came anyway.  It was amazing to see people from every area of our lives come together to support Jordan's adoption. We can't wait to tell him how many people cared about him before he even came home!


 Bib pick up station.

My cousin, sister, niece, and cousin's wife.

My amazing dad took care of Mason all morning and helped direct racers at an intersection.  

 1K start...





 
 1K boys winner.

1K Girls winner.

Our little Enoch finishing strong.

 
My great friends: The Breakfast Crew.  Heather, peeking in the back, planned/coordinated the entire breakfast.  It was such a relief to hand that responsibility over to someone.  The breakfast was really great thanks to her and her crew!

Ryan's Uncle, Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt, Cousin, and Ryan.

 My friend Cinda and her boys.  We actually met teaching English in China and were then roommates in college and lived down the street from each other when we were first married.  She drove about 55 miles to come to the event.

 I missed the official start to the 5K while running around moving cones to mark the course.  But here are the runners as they were about to leave the park.








The whole morning we only had one thing go wrong... one pretty big thing.  We lost about 10 racers on the 5K course.  We had maps and before the race explained that the course went out one way, and turned around to come back, but I guess the two fastest runners weren't paying attention and flew right past the turn around spot.  The woman at the water station/turnaround said they looked so confident, she second guessed that it was the turn around spot, and several racers followed them... even a few that said they were pretty sure they were supposed to turn around, but followed anyway.  Thank goodness a friend that knew they were supposed to turn around had a phone and called from the water station for clarity and made sure everyone else went the right way.  Amazingly, the first finisher was one of the boys that went the wrong way.  He added quite a bit of distance to the race, but still managed to beat everyone.  I was so relieved that everyone who went astray safely found their way back to the trail, but I still felt awful that it happened.  

1st Place man. 

1st place woman.

Here is Kaitlyn crossing the finish with one of my old friends and her cousin Lexi.  After the race my friend told me that Kaitlyn and her cousin had run pretty hard most of the way and started to slow down.  She heard Kaitlyn turn to Lexi and say, "Come on, we need to do this for Jordan" they picked up their pace and ran the rest of the 5K.

 My dear cousin Kirsten and her husband.  Kirsten and I went to China together to teach English. 
 
 Maddie's friend, teacher, and Maddie. 

 My friend Carrie, who has had considerable health challenges ran and finished the 5K.  I am so proud of her! 
We were blown away by the support we had from friends and family before, during and after the race.  We really do know the best people!