Holy crap, we’re not ready, we’re not ready, we’re not ready!

Whoa!  We aren’t even close to being ready to travel, let alone ready for Macey to come home. I mean, we are in our hearts and in our best intentions, don’t get me wrong, but now that there’s a definite timeline involved, we are quickly realizing just how much we have to get done.

First and foremost, the reason I’m freaking out is that we got our next level of approval, the I-797 which is the provisional approval for the I-800.  I was pleasantly surprised, okay, SHOCKED, to have gotten it so quickly.  Once again, tipped off by others better informed and more obsessed than me.  I saw posts on Friday a few folks had gotten their approvals so I thought heck, maybe ours is coming.  I tried to avoid thinking about it while I taped off the trim in the boys’ new room but anxiety got the best of me and I thought I would just call to check the status then I would be able to put it out of my mind.  So I called.  And found out that it was just approved.  What?!  What a huge relief!  The gentleman I spoke to was really nice and when I squealed and told him he just made my weekend, he laughed.  He told me we would get the document in the mail in about a week to two weeks.  But guess what?  We got it on Monday!  I was a little confused though.  We got what’s called an I-797, Notice of Action.   I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I had to check in with our agency to make sure.  Thankfully before I even heard back, I saw on one of the groups that somebody else posted about their I-797, asking what the heck it was, and what do I do with it… and the replies were all that yes, THAT is your approval. Why they don’t just call it the I-800 Approval is beyond me .. or maybe clearly state this is your I-800 approval instead of muddying the waters with more letters and numbers and the use of the word “provisional.”  I guess it’s probably funny to see how many morons it takes on our side to figure this crap out.

Now that we have been approved, the next step is a letter from the National Visa Center informing us that our file has been forwarded to the consulate in Guangzhou, China.  As soon as we receive it, which should be within a few days, we will email it to our coordinator.  She will forward the letter to her courier in China who will then drop it off with our DS-230 to the consulate in Guangzhou.  It will take about two weeks for the consulate to issue what is called the Article 5.  The same courier will pick up the Article 5 and overnight it to China Women’s Travel Services.  CWTS will then hand deliver our signed LOA to the CCCWA.  The CCCWA will then issue our Travel Approval Notice (TA) in about 2 weeks.  Once our agency receives our TA, they will fax a copy of it to the consulate and request our Consulate Appointment (CA).  Upon confirmation of the CA, we will then be able to book our travel.  Some folks on a similar timeline have already booked, or are in the process of booking, their travel. We have a pretty complicated trip (4 provinces, 2 planes and a train/ferry/van), however, so we aren’t able to do anything until we know when our final appointment is.  We are trying to get it done before Macey’s birthday.  She will be 2 on September 23rd. If we can get in before then, she won’t have to do a TB test.  A TB test requires an additional 2 days .. test is injected on say Saturday, then results are read on Monday.  This may not sound like a big deal but 2 fewer days in China = 2 more days at home as a family before reality kicks in.  Our goal is to get home on a Wednesday or Thursday so we have a few days to recover before the boys go back to school, Parker goes back to work and I’m flying solo with 3 kids from 5am-5pm!  Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of you do this with ease day in and day out … but starting from go with a 2 year old after ripping her away from her family and home and bringing her to an unfamiliar place where everything smells, looks and sounds different makes for a bit of a challenge.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but there’s a holiday in China the first week of October. Everything pretty much shuts down for the entire week.  Then right after that, there’s a huge trade fair.  The biggest trade fair in the world so it makes traveling not only difficult, but the cost for in country flights and hotels skyrocket.  I started thinking yesterday that there’s no way everything will just keep moving along on the faster end of things .. so we probably won’t make September, we’ll probably be pushed to October.  I did a reality check with our agency and she said nope, you’re going in September.  So there you have it.  Holy stress balls, batman!

House-wise we are going gangbusters on Operation Make Room for Macey!  I got the boys’ new room painted over the weekend, including a chalkboard entryway that I think they’re really going to love.  I moved their bookshelves into the new room and placed new storage baskets in them.  We decided a while back that we would convert some of our hallway storage cabinets to open storage shelves .. well, bookshelves.  That way all of the kid books can be in one spot rather than trying to figure out which books to keep in each of their rooms and the ensuing chaos of picking out stories by running from room to room at bedtime.  No thanks!  So anyway, Parker got the doors taken off the cabinets, sanded and patched the holes from the hinges and bought the trim we’ll use to make it look more finished.  This weekend we’ll add the trim, do some sanding, paint and then relocate the books.  We’ll also disassemble the boys’ bunk beds and move them to their new room. I’ll put up the artwork just before the final unveiling.  They know the themes, as they picked them, but I’ve yet to show them all the new stuff.  I’m simply calling it their new “SUPER!” room … as in Superheroes and Super Mario!  Once we get them settled into their new room, the last house project will be to get Macey’s room ready.  Her things are slowly arriving.  I hope to get her room painted next week so that it’s done and ready to furnish and decorate.  I threw in the painting towel and am bringing in the professionals. I’m so totally stressed out about everything that I can’t even consider painting another room.  That’s one thing I can actually trust someone else to do so why not.

I’m saving my next subject for another post.  I took a spin through Target yesterday and thought I would pick up some toys for Macey and I left, defeated with nothing but the dumbest little toy ever .. a princess cellphone.  I also had nightmares of princesses last night.  I think I threw up in my sleep.  As much as I’m ready for Macey, I’m so not cut out for this princess crap.


So much fun stuff to get done now

Things seem to be moving along swiftly at this point.  We are now waiting on our I-800 approval. We got the first document associated with it a few days ago.  It’s an I-797C and is the verification that our application was received at the lockbox.  It states that it will take 10-14 days  to reach the Hague Adoption Unit at the National Benefits Center in Missouri. I have no idea how long the processing takes, but I’m assuming since our coordinator told us it would take a month, that this portion will be about 2 weeks as we sent it in almost 2 weeks ago. I have been trying not to read a whole lot about this process as .. again .. we have no control over it.  One could literally go whacko worrying about it, comparing timelines with others, etc.  On Sunday the stress just about won out so I’m just trying to chill the heck out now!  Our agency is super awesome and really great at what they do so I’ll trust in their estimates and know that we’ll get what we’re supposed to get, when were supposed to get it.  If they told us September could happen, then we’ll just continue to focus on that.

After we get the I-800 approval there are a few funky steps to take care of.  I don’t know exactly what we have to do but there is a text to be received, something to scan and email, something to be picked up, something to be dropped off and something to be cabled. What exactly, I don’t know, but when I get there, I’ll figure it out (along with the hand holding via instruction heavy emails from our coordinator!) and  fill you all in.

In the meantime, we are ramping up our Macey preparations!  Right this very minute I should be taping off the trim in the boys’ room so I can start painting.  I’ll get to it after lunch I suppose.  I ordered new Mario artwork for the big kid and superhero stuff for the little one.  The big deal won’t be painting and hanging … it will be disassembling their bunk beds, moving them into the new room, and then reassembling them.  I foresee a lot of swearing by my dear husband, as well as a fully stocked fridge of silver bullets to get him through the whole ordeal. Parker’s dad used to say “You know what the first step in any project is, don’t you?”  I have a photo of them 6 years ago, assembling our big kid’s nursery furniture with two silver bullets sitting right on top of the brand, new book shelf.  Good thing I knew what I was marrying into … a hockey obsessed, beer drinking clan!

We ordered Macey’s furniture last weekend.  I think that helped everything sink in .. she’s really coming home soon .. and she’s going to have a beautiful room to come home to!  Her room will, by far, be the most beautiful room in the house, and she deserves it.  I thought I was going to go with kind of a vintage look, wrought iron bed, ivory furniture, etc., but Parker hated it.  So we went with a very light wood that will be equally as pretty and last just as long.  We had a hard time deciding what to do for a “theme” so we just didn’t really go with one specific thing. I worked the whole room around some fabric I found after a visit with my late friend when she was in the hospital. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.  It’s sort of a natural colored background with aqua colored embroidered cherry blossoms. It’s beautiful.  From there I picked the “porcelain blue” quilt for her bed and the “litchfield gray” paint for her walls.    The big issue was that I hadn’t even ordered the drapes which were the original intent of the fabric. My big plan was to get them ordered on Wednesday during my 4 kid free, babysitter hours.  When I originally asked about the lead time for the window coverings, I was quoted 6-8 weeks so I knew I was running out of time.  But then my babysitter woke up sick and had to cancel. So guess what?  The boys took a trip to Calico Corners with me. Thankfully they had an old TV / VCR in the back of the store and an old Care Bears movie.  The boys sat on a comfy sofa and watched that silly, old movie for over an hour while I got the window coverings figured out.  The only problem is that the lead time is now 8 weeks.  Eek, we may well be traveling in 8 weeks.  (Calling on handy friends to perhaps install a shade and hang curtains while we’re gone!)  Macey will have beautiful drapes on one window and a custom shade on the other.  They really will make the room!  I also ordered a piece of art off of Etsy (love, adore, am obsessed with) that says something like “my roots lie here” under a picture of China and we will put a little heart sticker on Inner Mongolia before we get it framed.  The other artwork for the walls will include a print of a crown with her name on it and then a plaster sort of rosette to hang above her wall.  It will look cuter than it sounds!  It will be a while before it all comes together as everything is shipping on a different timeline.  Hopefully it will be complete by the time she comes home.  If not, I’m sure she won’t mind.  No more metal cribs and sleeping partners to contend with :)

I also sent off our visa applications on Wednesday.  Our agency offers a courier service and only charges a hundred bucks per family (plus the $140 per person visa fee).  I would easily spend that much on gas to and from the city a couple of times along with special bribe lunches to keep the boys calm and quiet while sitting at the Chinese Consulate for who knows how many hours for the drop off and pick up.  So a hundred bucks to save myself the two trips, two crappy lunches, the stress of waiting at the consulate twice …. yeah, that’s a darn good deal!

Well, off to make lunch for the boys, then dangle the carrot that is going to see Brave later this afternoon so they’ll give me yet more me time to tape off their room. I may be a little too aggressive but would love to have their room done by next weekend!


Macey’s middle name

I mentioned in my last post that Macey’s middle name was a bit of a sticking point.  We initially came up with Macey Aurora.  A very pretty, caucasian sounding name.  Aurora = one of the Disney princesses (don’t ask me which one… I only know this because some other, more informed, better mother to girls mother, told me this) and also = Parker’s hometown.  A hometown he’s both fond and proud of.  I have a love/hate relationship. I love it when I’m there but I hate how far away and how long it takes to get there.  4+ hours by plane + 4+ more hours by car.  FUN!

We were all set with Aurora until a few twists and turns in the journey.  Twist 1 = the death of my friend Lisette in May.  Her death still haunts me and as a way to remember and honor her, I thought maybe we should give Macey Lisette as a middle name. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it as I was an emotional wreck during that time.  (And still am when I think of her, if I’m being honest…It’s a devastating loss to say the least.)

Then we got all of the updates on Macey from the foster program, as written from her foster family / others in the foster program.  They love her!  They adoooore her!  They call her by her name, which is unheard of in an institutionalized setting.  Her name is Yu Ning.   And not only do they call her by her name, but they have cute little nicknames for her based off of her name.  Ning or NingNing.  As we read the updates, we realized it would be hard, if not impossible, to even consider giving her a totally new name, let alone abandoning the name she’s known now for almost 2 years.  What kind of insensitive a-holes would that make us?!

We thought about giving her two middle names but if you recall an earlier rant on the subject, I’ll be damned if I eat crow on that!  If you didn’t read it, you don’t need to. Just know that having 2 middle names wreaks havoc on a driver’s license (requires 2 lines instead of the standard 1 liner name) as well as on legal, mortgage, tax and other certified, notarized or authenticated documents.  Kid stuff, no big deal, but I’ll be damned if I send her into adulthood with any more issues than she’ll already have after growing up with us!  Ha.

So where did we end up?  Well, in the middle. Her name will be Macey Yuning.  We combined her current first and middle name into her new middle name.  We will probably use Macey and Yuning interchangeably until she gets use to it.  I’m not sure when, or heck, even if, we’ll be able to transition to just Macey, but we’ll just see.


Review Room

There’s been a little movement with our dossier.  We found out last week that we were out of translation and in process which means we are now in the review room.  Once our dossier is reviewed and approved it will be moved to the matching office which is where the LOA is issued.  LOA is a big deal!  It’s the official, official letter from the CCCWA approving us to adopt our child.  It’s also the official document (I’ll post a picture!) that we need in order to file the I-800 which seeks approval from USCIS to adopt this specific child.  Not to be confused with the I-800A that was simply our approval to adopt a child from a foreign country.  Sheesh.

I signed up for a couple of new Facebook groups in the last couple of weeks and I have to admit there are times when I wish I never would have done it.  One group is a DTC Spring group … which for you non adoption nerds, that would be Dossier To China in the Spring.  We’re all pretty much going through the same thing right now, waiting for LID, LOA, TA or some other step in between.  It’s been a great resource but also a great source of frustration. I see people with LIDs a few weeks later than ours posting about their LOA maybe coming this week.  Assholes!  We were there first.  I kid.  Sort of.  In the end I’m happy for the families and the kids but this process is so painstakingly long that when I read about a family a few weeks behind us in the process who is now closer to meeting their child than we are to meeting Macey, I get all fired up.  I’m the first to admit that it gets to me.  I got so pissed off the other night that whammo, cold sore #2 popped out.  Cold sore #1 came just a month or so ago when there was all of this confusion with what the foster program posted as Macey’s issues, versus what we knew before that point.  I spent a couple of days worrying about her “skull deformity” and “heart disease.”  Neither of which exist.  I should just disengage with them but I … can’t … pull … myself … away!  No matter how unhealthy it is. It’s my latest obsession. I am not super into Facebook, but darn right I check the two new groups I love to hate as often as I can.  There will not be an LOA that gets by me! Oh no!  Well, and at the same time, some of the posts are unbelievably informative.  As in, I had no idea we are expected to take gifts with us when we travel to pick Macey up.  Not sure who exactly they’re for but perhaps the nannies, orphanage director and other official.  Seems a little suspect but the last thing we want to do is show up to a communist country and ruffle feathers.  So gifts we will bring. Heck, maybe I’ll pack up a big red bag and be the jolliestfreakingorphanpickingupcrazyassSantayou ever met!  Now THAT would be funny.  And maybe land me in jail. But funny, right!

So where are we again?  In the Review Room, waiting to be moved to the Matching Room where the LOA is issued.  If it happens on the earlier end, which it won’t because some other family or rather, familIES cut in front of us,  (karma’s a bitch, people, just sayin!) it could have been later this week, but will most likely be closer to mid-month. Once we get that, we’ll do our next round of paperwork.  Paperwork that has been moved around my house in a little file folder for the last month, or so.  Paperwork that had I completed, I would be obsessing over even more than I am now in its incomplete stage. Nothing worse, to me at least, than having something sitting around just waiting on someone else in order to send it out.  It’s easier for me knowing once THEY do THEIR job, I still have to do mine.  I’m a total weirdo.  Not new news, people.

Last few tidbits:  LOA, I-800, I-864 (don’t hold me to this one, I’m on vacation, with wine next to me and I don’t have any of my files or checklists to double-check, and even if I did, I wouldn’t because…I’m on vacation, with wine next to me!), we get cabled and an Article 5 and then TA.  Long and short of it, LOA in 2-4 weeks, TA in 1-2.5 months.  I’m assuming we’ll get our TA mid-September and travel late September/early October.



Updates, updates and more updates!

Well, my new friend in the foster program promised and boy, did she ever deliver!  On Monday morning I received an 11 page, month-by-month update beginning in February of last year up to this month.  I am shocked that all of this information exists yet would never have been provided to us. Once again, the whole China adoption baffles me and makes me throw my hands in the air saying “What the?”  But at the same time, we did find out about the foster program and now we have so much valuable information about our daughter.  I am beyond thrilled.  I’ve read through the updates countless times and shared them with a few close friends.  Parker and I have talked about them each night before we go to bed.  It’s our last glass of wine, oh crap it’s already 11pm but who cares kind of conversation.  It’s exciting and touching at the same time.  We finally feel like we have an idea what our little girl is like.

Following are some highlights:

February 2011:  She is a smart and naughty baby.  She is a premature infant who came to the fosterage after forty days.  With the careful care of her foster-mom (who I am forever indebted to!), she grows up in amazing speed. Her eyes are sensitive to the surrounding and she cries very loud and clear.  We could hear her cry throughout the hallway.

March 2011:  She grows very well, too.  She is strong like a horse. She is naughty when sleeping.  (love it!)

April 2011:  She is a premature infant of low birth weight at first, but she is totally different now from the original.  She is deftly and wholesomely shaping well.  She is a bright kid with regular diet and sleep.  She will look at people who talk to her intently, babbles with them a lot and laughs.  She likes to do this very much.

May 2011:  She is very obedient girl.  She follows regular schedule and consumes healthy amounts for every meal, making her very sturdy. She never cries or nags when she wakes up; instead she would quietly play by herself and her colorful toys in the crib.  When she’s tired during her plays she will change from crawling to lying down.  (Can you say dream baby?)

June 2011:  She is a clever and lovely girl.  When she is crawling, she rises up her head and watches the people who are passing by the door.  If she feels tired, she crawls to her pillow and lies down to have a rest with sucking her fingers and shaking her head.  (Sweetie!)

July and August:  The only 2 months for which there was no translation but it will be coming soon thanks to my friend’s super awesome dad who is wicked smart, well, and Chinese :)

September 2011:  (She is now a year old.)  She can crawl forward with her hands and knees. She reaches her little hands to the small rubber ball in front of her and pats it.  When the ball rolls far, she will watch it for a while, crawl to it and pat it again.  The nanny and Yuning often sit face-to-face on the floor mats.  They play hide-and-seek.  The nanny put a handkerchief on her face.  She pulls it down and waves it from side to side.  When she gets satisfied, she will pass it to her nanny, laughing happily and waiting for it being put on her face again.  She sits on the toy cars with her hand on the steering wheel.  She looks up at her foster mother and keeps talking.  Pagoda shape toy is her favorite.  She reaches her little hands to dig out the holes on the pagoda and pats the small beads.  When she hears the sound of “pa-pa” made by the beads she will look up at the nanny and break out in laughter.  You will see her two little white teeth and her lovely dimple.

October 2011:  She can crawl with much agility on the floor, specially toward the toys cabinet to look for her favorite toys.  When she gets hold of the pagoda-styled toy, she would hold it tightly with her left hand, and use her right fingers to flip the beads attached to it.  Every once in a while during this play she would turn her head around and smile sweetly to Mom.  Whenever Nanny brings forward food, she jumps about joyfully and shouts “Mom!” until Mom starts to feed her; then she looks complacent and happy.  She can finish half a bowl of noodles by herself.  When she play shy herself with the toy ball with spikes, she can switch it between her two hands.  When she misses it and drops the ball, she would watch it roll away and start to wail and shout for Mom.  When Mom encourages her to take it back herself, she leans forward and crawls rapidly to the ball.

November 2011:  She is a shy little girl.  She likes to sit and play by herself on the carpet.  When she hears her name being called, she looks for the source of the sound; when she finds you, she lifts her head and smiles at you and showing you her two little teeth.  The grandma that used to take care of her said she’s pretty like a flight attendant:  big, watering eyes, tall nose and small mouth.  If only she has a hat of a flight attendant.  *Side note – asked my friend, who is Chinese, about this and she said in China, it’s a BIG deal to be a flight attendant…. and to be compared to one means they really think she’s truly beautiful.  She said a “tall” nose is a nose with a bridge up higher by the eyes, as most Asians just have a flatter area there.  All, in all, they think she’s something special!*  In development, she has very good hand-eye coordination.  She can sit on her toy car, switch hands to handle the steering wheel, and lifts up her head to make a “ou ou” sound occasionally.  She’s so very adorable!  (Aww…)

December 2011:  She loves having company to talk to her, hold her and take her to see her favorite paintings; whenever you show her the objects on the paintings (little animals, etc.) she reaches out and points to the paintings, turns her head to me and babbles (trying to tell me about the paintings).  So adorable!  When she plays with other children, she never fights with them over the toys; she always stays on the side and plays by herself.  She especially loves the leather ball and gets very excited whenever she gets hold of it; she would lift the ball high above her head and throw it far, retrieve it, and throw it out again.  Sometimes other children come and try to get the ball from her when they see that she’s having a great time with it; when her ball is unfortunately taken from her, she doesn’t fight, but would cry and ask for help.  She loves it when Mom sings to her; she would mimic Mom gestures, clapping and swaying her body.  Even though her gestures don’t really follow the rhythm of the songs, but she’s always enjoying it.  And when mom commends her, she makes “ah-ah-ah” sounds as if she accepts the praise. She’s a cute little girl.

February 2012:  She’s a sweet and soft-tempered girl.  The slightest encouragement and she gives you the sweetest smiles.  Recently she has developed a passion in riding the little walking-cart, which has helped her immensely in her walking skills.  These days as soon as she gets into the activity room, she would climb rapidly towards the cart, slowly get up by holding the cart using her left hand, and throw her right leg to the other side of the cart.  It doesn’t have pedals so she needs to straighten her legs onto the ground and propel herself forward using whole-body movements. She enjoys it immensely.

March 2012:  Ningning is a smart and lovely little girl, every time I called, she responded with a sweet smile.  Recently she was in love in riding bicycle.  She can quick and precisely crawl towards the bicycle, and then right hand on the handle, right leg across the saddle, easily get onto it.  The she starts riding happily.  I recently find that she like watching TV, especially the Xi yang and Wolf cartoon (Sheep sheep and gray wolf I think?)  She was very excited when that music was on. If she was in bed, she will stand up holding baluster, watching TV attentively.  When she getting tired, she will slowly sit down and find other good angle to watch it.  She always remember to give me a smile, seems say “Thanks.”

April 2012:  She has improved a lot this month. She learned many new skills. She can walk steadily with the support of other nearby objects. Not only she performs better, but also she becomes a lot more extroverted.  She plays with other kids very often and treats them nicely.  She can understand some basic questions now. For example, when nanny ask her “where is ningning’s ears”, she would point to her ears immediately; when asked “where is ningning’s foot”, she would point to her foot.

May 2012:  NingNing is a little girl, smart and lovely. She can walk herself now.  Since she can walk, she has become more openly and happily, she likes to sit on her favorite BoBo ball, jump like jumping on the bed (uh oh!), very happy, she has never cried even there are strangers looking at her (what?  weird…)  She can spam a lot now, for example “Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Aunt.”  She likes to watch cartoon movie.  No matter what she is doing she will applaud happily when music of the cartoon movie is up.

June 2012:  She is bright and loves to smile. She has become much more outgoing than when she first entered this class.  She understands what adults are saying now. For example if you say “Ning please pick up the socks on the ground,” she will walk towards them, pick them up, and put them in your ground.  Then if you say to her “Thank you Ning, you are a big girl now!” she will smile up at you as if understand your compliment.  Every morning when she wakes up, she stands up in her bed, hugging her ball of blankets waiting for the nanny to collect it. When the nanny comes she thanks her and this makes her smile as she knows she has done well.

I am beyond thrilled to have all of these updates. I feel like we have a sweet, joyful, healthy, happy little girl. It also warms my heart knowing she’s being taken such great care of. From the tone of the updates, I can tell that she has people around her who adore her.  Not just by the compliments, but by the sweet nicknames and the loving, supportive words about her activities and development.

I am also signed up for monthly updates so I’ll get one next month and the month after, and keep getting them until I get to kiss her sweet little face!  And while it makes me just giddy with excitement to meet her, it will all help me get through the long months of waiting to meet her.  Thank you New Day Foster Home! You are truly amazing people!




More pictures!

I should first mention that I’m working on my blog.  As if the appearance alone didn’t give it away.  No worries though. I am still the same over-sharing, run-on sentence writing, grammatical error making amateur I was on my old blog, but for many reasons am making a few upgrades.  It’s a work in progress; Please be patient.

Last week brought a lot of good on the adoption front.  And the good things made up for the two bad things that popped up out of the blue when we first discovered Macey on the foster program’s website.  I found out on Friday, contrary to what the director of the orphanage told our coordinator, that Macey IS indeed still with her foster family.  We’re so grateful because one, it means she’s being taken care of by a family who she probably loves dearly and who love her and two, it will help us bond in the long run. In the short run, it may make for a bumpier transition because there’s a bigger loss to grieve.  She’ll miss her foster parents, their love, comfort and stability.  However, having once had a strong bond with her foster family will hopefully help bridge the gap that adopted children sometimes experience with their forever families.  But I don’t care how bumpy the beginning is for I know the fruit that is to come.  I mean just look at that little face… so much joy and love I can hardly stand it!

In addition to giving us the good news that Macey is still in their program, the foster program contact also sent me more pictures and promised some (as in more than one, “some?”  Oh goody, goody, goody.  I can hardly stand it!)  I just have pictures to share now but hope to have updates (yes updateS) very soon.

It’s funny that we went from just a few pictures that we thought would be it and now we’ll have enough photos to put together a little album of Macey’s life before coming home.  I hope these pictures provide as much comfort to her someday as they do to us today.


First a twist, now a turn!

What a roller coaster the last few days have been.  Sheesh.  Little did I know the can of worms I would open simply by following a friend’s advice to check out this foster program’s website to see if Macey may have been part of the program.  Not only did we find out that she was indeed part of the program, but we got an even bigger piece of news last night.  

Parker and I attended a school board meeting last night.  My phone started vibrating around 8:45pm.  I assumed it was our babysitter but when I dug it out of my purse, saw an unfamiliar 415 number on it.  The meeting got out at 9.  I listened to the voicemail left by the 415 number as we walked to the car.  It was the coordinator from our agency. I assumed something was up for her to call and leave me a message so late.  While Parker ran into Safeway for a couple of things, I called her back.  
Turns out she had some very big news for us.  Macey was a twin.  Sadly, her twin did not survive.  My emotions turned on a dime.  From my heart racing thinking we may be getting two little babes, to my heart then breaking for the unimaginable loss our little one has sustained. I know she was so little but she’s a twin and there has to be some part of her that will know that loss, if not now, then at some point.  And for us it’s just terribly sad to think that our little girl’s sibling died.  It’s unbelievable.  
We don’t know anything other than that she was the twin who survived.  We’re trying to see if the foster program can help us out by digging up any information they can on Macey’s twin.  It’s the only part of her family we know of and it would be nice to be able to provide to her a more complete picture of what happened rather than just telling her she had a twin who died.  That almost seems pointless.  But being an adoptee, I know she needs to know anything and everything about the circumstances of her birth, foster care, and time spent in the orphanage.  These are all relevant pieces to her life puzzle.  Like the straight pieces that make up the frame.  She won’t be able to complete the puzzle, no matter how many other rich and colorful pieces we are able to provide if she’s missing a part of the frame.
Finding out Macey was a twin also really helps explain the swelling and fluid in her head.  Poor thing was probably just squished in utero.  The swelling disappeared right away. Some fluid was still there at 9 months but is gone now. (And it wasn’t blood, etc.)  Her last head CT scan came back as normal. She’s healthy and happy and boy is she a fighter. 
I’ve looked at her latest pictures about 200 times since I got them and I can’t even put into words how excited I am to meet her, hug her and squeeze her and tell her the rest of her life is going to be a freaking breeze compared to what she’s gone through already!  A total freaking breeze!


Well, if there is any good to come of last night’s panic attack, after finding new info on Macey on a foster home’s website, it’s that we got a really great update on her from our agency in the wee hours of the morning.  I had sent a distress signal to them by way of a total freaked out email.  I basically said hey, there are two big, BIG issues that weren’t disclosed in her paperwork, so we need further clarification immediately.

Deep exhale.

Clarification received.

Macey’s doing great.

Heart Disease – Our agency thinks this was mis-stated and inaccurate.  Macey did have a heart murmur. They did an ultrasound early on and everything looked fine and the murmur was “tending to close.”  No subsequent issues.

Skull Deformity – Like my friend said this afternoon, lots of kids have this, and it could just be from sleeping wrong.  But thankfully, Macey isn’t one of those helmet needing kinds of kids.  Whew!  Bald and a helmet.. that would be a rough welcome to the USA! What’s next, head gear?   Turns out our coordinator is on vacation.  She received a couple of updated pictures of Macey, as well as a new head CT scan before she left on said vacation.  When was she planning to let us know about this very important update?  I do not know.  But thankfully my freaking out via email spurred her to react.  At 1:30am she sent us a nice note along with 2 new photos and a Chinese document from Macey’s last CT scan done on March 30th. (Yes, March, as in over 2 months ago.)  I’m totally ticked off that it took me finding information elsewhere, going nutty as a result and sending her a psycho email in order to get this from her. I’m also a little peeved that the CT scan was even done.  I told her a while back that if it was in the process, that was fine, but if it wasn’t not to push for it. The last thing Macey needs is more radiation, let alone that of the Chinese sort!  Ugh. But she got it anyway.  Our agency is planning to translate the results of the CT but I beat them to the punch.  Thanks in part to one of my best friend’s who just happens to be Chinese and whose father was able to turn around the translation on a dime.  Heck yeah!  He sent back a clear and complete translation of the CT scan within hours of receiving it.  That’s what happens when you have a PhD on your team!  So awesome!  Turns out there’s no skull deformity, nor is there any fluid which showed up on Macey’s first CT scan about a year ago.  This is great news and such a huge, huge relief.

And as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Some of those thousand swirling in my head right now are:  happy, healthy, joyful and thankful for our beautiful silly girl!


Surprise – a new baby picture of Macey!

Gotta love technology and modern communication.  I’ve mentioned before that I have this whole new group of cyber friends who I’ve met through different adoption yahoo groups and forums.  In the last few days I’ve been emailing back and forth with a new friend who just brought her little girl home 6 weeks.  Her little one has been having night terrors.  We went through a 5 month spell of those with our little guy last year so I reached out to her. I also told her that baby sister may have been in her daughter’s birthday party pics but that I’m a terrible mother and can’t tell if any of the little friends was her!  Anyway, tonight she mentioned that I should look at a website for a foster program that Macey could be a part of.  A foster program that I didn’t even know existed, let alone that they have a website with photos and stories of the kids they foster.  And guess what? A few clicks later and there she was!  A..MA…CEYING!  (just made that up on the fly, by the way, fancy me…)

I don’t know what I’m more excited about.. a new, albeit dated picture, maybe the youngest we’ve seen of her, or the fact that she was fostered which means she was cared for one on one, talked to, held and loved.  I’m so happy for her. I really hope she’s still there but I don’t know yet. I emailed the foster home.  I got all goofy when I saw the photo and just impulsively sent an email asking how she’s doing, if she’s still there, if they have any pictures they can share.  Then after we got the boys to bed I pulled myself back together and sent another note asking about the foster family, what their needs are and if we could send anything directly to them.  I have a feeling she’s probably been moved from her foster family to the orphanage by now, having been nursed back to health after her rough start.  But I’m holding onto a glimmer of hope that maybe she’s still being fostered.  Fingers crossed!  It would be such a relief if that’s the case.  And such a gift to be able to have a more direct conduit to her.

There’s also a slight bit of confusing info on the paragraph that accompanied her photo on the foster care website.  It says she was “diagnosed with heart disease and a skull deformity.”  What the heck?  Sort of big deals and probably worth mentioning in her file. Ya think!  But nope. I sent an urgent request to our agency and I will follow-up with a phone call. Thank God for summer break. I can get on this first thing in the morning.  I’m assuming even if Macey does have some sort of heart disease that it’s either minor or has healed by now.  Giving the benefit of the doubt to those file writers!   Even so I’m going to demand further investigation and documentation.  I’m also assuming the skull deformity comment was the precursor to the head CT.  In the CT report there’s no mention of anything other than some fluid.  Everything else is reported to be normal and healthy.  No mention of “skull” nor “deformity” .. so certainly no mention of a freaking skull deformity.  Things that make you go hmmm.  Stuff like this further complicate an already almost impossible process.  It’s tough enough making decisions with a lack of information and clarification.  Then to find out through another family that this foster program exists, rather than from our own agency, who are supposedly “experts,” seems ridiculous.  They ask for pages and pages of documentation and information from us, yet the outflow is almost nonexistent.  So very frustrating.  In my heart I know Macey’s fine but I do want them to dig into it a little and provide some clarification for us, not only of her health from early on, but also how she really is doing today.  A little peace of mind will go a long way at this point.  I cannot sit here and wonder for the next few months.

Just when it started to get a little boring!


So what’s up with the adoption?

I have been getting lots of questions in person about what’s going on with Macey and the adoption process so I thought I would give a quick update on our adoption blog ..about the actual adoption.  Imagine that.  There really isn’t anything going on right now other than we’re just waiting on the next step, which is LOA.  Hence the reason my posts have been about all sorts of random topics and not specifically the adoption process or Macey.  Honestly, I wish there was more to share, but there really isn’t.  (So instead I’ll just have to keep over sharing about everything else!)

We sent a care package to Macey (and the orphanage) last month and all we heard back in return was that the orphanage received it, would pass along the gifts to Macey and were very appreciative of the formula we donated.  That .. was .. it!  Nothing more and no pictures.  Not even a thank you for the knock off Gap wear.  Nada.  We’re going to send another care package next month and we may, or may not, get a picture out of it.  If we send a cake or something along that line, the service company asks for a photo as confirmation the child received, and was able to enjoy it.  We are really hoping that we’ll get a picture but who really knows.  The last photo we have was taken around January/February.  What we’ve heard anecdotally is that they (orphanages/institutions, BLAS, CCCWA) only provide updated pictures if the original photos, or those that were included with the file, are over 9-12 months old.  With that said, I’m not feeling all that optimistic that we’ll get any new photos given the ones we have are only 5-6 months old.  If we don’t get any new pictures between now and the day we meet Macey in person, I doubt I’ll recognize her.  That sounds awful, and I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  Shoot, I saw a picture of a birthday party with a bunch of toddlers from her orphanage and I couldn’t tell if any of them was her. Nor could Parker.  I got a lot of consoling from my on-line friends who have gone through, or are going through this process.  One new mom just picked up her daughter in March and said on gotcha day she was waiting in a conference room with a few families and when they brought the kids in she thought the one in the front of the line was hers .. then the third one in line .. and then thought maybe she got the wrong kid because she looked nothing like her picture.  I’m secretly hoping we’ll be the only family around on gotcha day so that I don’t have to be so suspect of my little girl!

As far as the process goes, we’re just waiting on our LOA.  I’m not keeping track, but for purposes of providing this update I just did a rough estimate and I think we’re about a month into it.  It could come any day, or more likely, it will come in about a month, month and a half.  Once we get that, there are a few pieces of paperwork to take care of. We have to apply for a Visa for Macey, which is a form I-800.  Not to be confused with the earlier form I-800A.  If I recall correctly from the instructions for the I-800, I think we can just send it in (versus sending in the first part and waiting for an appointment assignment by return mail).

The last step is the TA or travel authorization.  TA usually comes about 2 1/2 months after LOA.  We’re still hoping for mid to late September travel.  Backing it up would mean we would need LOA within a month, in order to get TA by early September.  Again, I’m not keeping track and I try to avoid thinking about the timeline as much as possible because we have absolutely no control over this part of the process.  It’s frustrating and I feel a little helpless, but thankfully I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy and sane.  (No more waking up at 2am to check for email because it could come tonight or maybe not till one random night in July.  ugh)

Projects before Macey comes home:
1. Transform the guest room into a super cool boys room
2. Order a bed for her
3. Order drapes for her room (I had the best intentions to get this done over a month ago! Argh.)
4. Shop (in stores, friends homes and/or their storage bins and garages) for her wardrobe
5. Order artwork for her bedroom walls
6. Paint her room
7. Move the boys out of their (soon to be her) room and into the guest (their new) room
8. Have built-in bookshelves made in the hallway so all of the kids will be able to easier share the library of books we now own.  Built-ins are so much easier on the eye than big, bulky standalone bookshelves, dontcha think!  Because children are really concerned with the aesthetics of their rooms…