Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our dossier is on the way to China!!!

DTC is the 'official' sending of the paperwork to China, and is a major step in the process, mostly because we are FINISHED with the collection of paperwork, signatures, facts, figures, dates and notary seals. It is exhausting, and not for the faint of heart. Now that we have done it two times in less than two years, I am REALLY exhausted. But I would do it again (not very soon, I might add) if it meant helping bring another child home to a forever family.
We have sent more money to the agencies (3 in all) and have received our first part of the funds raised by Kingdom Kids. For anyone still interested in donating, Kingdom Kids has been great, and we do indeed get the funds that are donated in our name. They send the check directly to the agency, so they are very efficient and helpful. We so appreciate everything people can do to help us bring Shane home.
This past week we celebrated one year since getting Sophie. In some ways it seems like yesterday, other ways like she has always been with us. Last night she went with Matt and I to get ashes for Ash Wednesday. She was certain we were all getting tattoos, and she asked for a green one on her neck (YIKES!). She finally got it when she saw all the crosses on every one's forehead. On the way up the aisle, she signed, 'all people, black crosses". She was thrilled to be allowed to get the same thing as we were getting as she gets upset that she cannot get Communion with us. when we first came home from China she would get so mad that she could not receive Communion. Once she had enough language she told me "You, gum, me, nothing"!!!
She thought we were all standing in line to get gum and she got nothing. Sometimes I'm not sure I want o know what she is thinking.
We had Sophie's transition meeting for the school district, and they were very impressed with how she is doing. They are working on evaluations for her, but they are going to support her at the School for the Deaf. Yeah, one less battle to fight.
Off to work to make money for the next set of fees. Rumors are that travel might be sometime in the summer. We'll see. Have a great day, everyone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Year later...Happy Gotcha day to Sophie

Today is the anniversary of the day we met and adopted our Sophie. Amazing how fast a year goes, amazing that only last year we saw this beautiful, spirited little girl, who has changed our lives forever.
For those who do not know the story of our journey to Sophie WuMei, feel free to check out my baby jelly beans site at and type in Sophie and our last name.
Sophie has grown so much in the last year, and has learned so much! When we met her she had about 10 signs, mostly our names. Now she has over five hundred signs, and is beginning to finger spell everything she can. In May she will get her cochlear implant, so we are excited at the possibility that this will help her to hear and to be able to develop speech more than she has right now. Sophie has an uncanny ability to lip-read and to approximate words. The speech therapists and doctors who have seen her are simply amazed with her. They say that her hearing (or lack of it) should not allow her to produce the sounds and words that she has been able to produce. Quite simply, she is a mystery.
Adoption is truly a miracle. It is like watching a magic show with Sophie around. She is very challenging, as everyone who knows her understands. She is smart and stubborn, and can be amazingly independent and then totally dependent, all at the same time. She can challenge the parenting skills of the best parent, and has brought so much fun into our lives. Suddenly, our teenagers are playing hide-and-seek and performing numbers in our kitchen in a make-shift band, led by Sophie herself. Matt and I are once again reading bed-time stories and tucking in little ones, instead of them tucking us in!!!

People ask me about her transition into our home and I can tell you it was almost seamless. Sophie was more than ready for us, thanks to her time in Swallows Nest with Pam. She was learning signs, had seen our pictures, pictures of our house, etc and she desperately wanted a family.

Last night we were talking about our trip to China to get her. As she learns more signs and more concepts, Sophie is beginning to tell us more of what she remembers from her life in China. Last night she signed: "Mama and Baba, fly plane..Sophie alone."

You are not alone any more, Sophie WuMei...happy Gotcha Day. We love you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Swallows Nest update

First day at Swallows Nest............ miracles happen!!!! Waiting for a miracle...needs surgery

Most of you know about Swallows Nest, the foster home where Sophie stayed for four months before we got her in China. Swallows Nest is a fabulous home where children who would not have a chance in the orphanage are brought into loving homes, cared for, given medical treatments, and often, their lives are literally saved. Many, if not most, of these children are listed for international adoption. The parents who adopt these children are committed to keeping the dream of the foster family (a Christian couple from the US) alive. A non-profit organization has been established to help to raise funds for the Swallows Nest Children's Home. Check out their website...look for some pictures of Sophie, and see the beautiful miracle in each child's face!
Have a great day, everyone.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A day in the snow

We are finishing up the last of the paperwork in our adoption agency switch, getting ready for the dossier to be sent to China! YEAH! Looks like we won't travel until somewhere in the vicinity of June, but always have to look at the bright side-we won't have to carry winter clothes!

Sophie is scheduled for her cochlear implant in May, so hopefully we will be able to have her activation complete before we go to China. There are many appointments for the CI, and at some point I will be taking Shane along for the drive to take him to appointments at DuPont as well. Two car seats in the car again! I know my friends whose kids are all off to college are laughing at us, and most people think we are totally crazy...but everyone who knows us knows that this is the best thing that we could be doing. Matt and I love each other, love our kids, and are committed to adoption. Once we set our hearts on these little ones, we are gone...and will endure the sacrifices that we need to to bring them home.

People ask me all the time about Shane's eye condition, and whether or not he will have any vision. With congenital cataracts, the eye itself does not develop in utero. Unlike other cataracts that form after the eye has developed normally, his cataracts cannot be removed, and then all will be well. His eyes probably did not develop normally, cataracts formed, and they are still there. Saying that, we might find out that the ophthalmologists want to remove the cataracts anyway for the long-term health of his eyes. We just won't know until we have him evaluated. Luckily, we are working with great people at DuPont, so we feel confident he will get great care. The bottom line is that he will most likely not have any vision, or possibly just light perception. We are very much expecting this to be the case, and if by chance (or miracle) he has more vision, we will be blessed.

Last week we had a little snow, just enough for a snow day and some sledding outside. Sophie loves the snow and the cold. In China she did not play in the snow too much, so she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Luckily, she has Meghan and Shannon to hang outside and play with her, leaving me in the house, nice and warm,to make homemade soup and hot chocolate for them!
Next week we celebrate one year since getting Sophie!!! Lots of pictures to post later for that.

Have a great day, everyone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Concerns about fundraising grant

A number of people have asked us questions about our fundraising grant, and have raised concerns because there is a notice that states that Kingdom Kids reserves the right to dispense fees and does not guarantee that the money donated will go to the intended person.

We wanted to clear up any doubt and answer any questions. First of all, if anyone has any specific questions, please feel free to post a question or email me. Secondly, Kingdom Kids cannot ask for money for us, according to IRS regulations. They are fundraising with our help, and it is their intent to apply the funds to the family requested. Because of IRS regulations, they cannot fund raise in our name.
To make it clearer it is their intent to apply funds as per the donor's request. They have been giving grants to families for years, ad are extremely reputable. Check out their site, call them, ask questions, etc.
We are thrilled for this opportunity to get Shane home faster and to ease the burden of the adoption expenses.
Again, please contact me, or Kingdom Kids directly, if you have any questions.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Finding the funds...and other quandries

Two international adoptions in one year...amazing...fabulous...blessed..exciting...expensive.
Any way you swing it, the fees for adoption are there. You cannot put a price tag on changing the life of a child, but the steps to getting your child come with fees: for social workers, paperwork, notaries, airfare, hotels, food. All of us wish we could hop in a plane and get our children, but that's not the way it goes. And so we sign on many dotted lines,promise to pay all the fees, and then start saving, scrimping, and belt-tightening until we get our children home.
This time around, we have applied for a few grants and were accepted by Kingdom Kids, a fundraisng grant that allows us to ask family and friends to donate to a non-profit agency (Kingdom Kids) who then offer grants to pay for agency fees. We were thrilled at this opportunity, and have asked any people to ehlp us. For many who give to charitable organizations through the year, they can donate to Kingdom Kids and their tax-detuctible donation can be used to help us pay for some of the expenses that we will incur.
If you want to find out more about Kingdom Kids fundraising grants, or if you would like to help in our fundraising efforts for Shane please go to:

Thank you!

We were so happy when the agency found a foster home for Shane so quickly. In the orphanage he was not walking or talking. Within six months, he was running, and talking in sentences. The pictures of him in the blue outfits were taken when Tammy, Connor's mom, went to China in February 2008, while we were in China with Sophie. I remember Tammy's email to me with the pictures. She was very concerned about Shane's development, and she wrote 'he really needs his mommy'. It nearly broke my heart, but steadied my resolve at the same time.
We sent a package to Shane in early summer, and they sent us the pictures of him in the green shirt. He was like a different child. Tammy then sent me an email, so happy, and shocked at the transformation. What a difference in a few months, with love and attention. The pictures of him with the toys were the best for me. They told me so much about his development. He was laughing, interactive, and didn't seem to be afraid of these new things, which is so important for blind children. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we look forward to getting him home and helping him begin a new life full of so many possibilities.
Here are the rest of the pictures we have so far. Enjoy.

"Baby Brother, Waiting...where's Mama, Where's Baba?"

There is truly nothing in the world that can quite describe the feeling that parents feel who wait for a child far away. I know the feeling, the desperation, the loss of infertility, as Matt and I went through that for five years before having our kids. That is a different waiting, a different journey: difficult and painful, desperate and sometimes joyful. There is an overwhelming feeling of a loss of control with infertility, and a resentment, at least for me, at times, that I had to go through that.

Looking back over those years, while I would not wish them on anyone, I see them now as a blessing. God gave Matt and I five years together, five years of struggling, tears, disappointments, hardships. Five years of getting to know each other, getting ready, preparing us...for now! Now that we have been so richly blessed by God with our children, it is easier to see that those years of infertility helped to prepare us, helped to make us see that our plan is not the way, but God's plan is the only way!

Now we wait for Shane. It seems that waiting is a part of our lives, and most of us hate this part. But as we have heard in scripture "All things come to thse who wait." I think when most of us see this we think 'all good things' or 'all the things I want to have'. But I think that the word 'all' is the key. God gives us 'all', maybe not 'all' what we want, but 'all' that He wants us to have. So, in that 'all' is also some pain, disappointment, fear, sadness. And knowing that "All things work to the good", we plod on. And we wait.

The other day, Sophie saw Shane's pictures from his birthday in August. She signed to me "Baby brother waiting...China...scared...crying...where's Mama...where's Baba?" It broke my heart. No one could make that up, no one could exaggerate the look of desperation on her face. She asks me when we are going on the plane to get him. Could someone please tell me how to interpret the words 'international adoption quagmire" to this little one?

The good things we do while we wait is get ready...I am making up some Braille/texture books for Shane to take with us when we go. With Sophie we were able to send her sign language, and we took lots of drawing books, sticker books, etc. By the time we got to see her, she had seen our pictures, seen our names, and we became familiar to her. For Shane, it will be a different story. We will be complete and total strangers to him, and we will be whisking him away from the only family he has known. We will speak a new language, will sound, smell, and feel different from everything he has known. It will be hard for him. Knowing this, we need to be ready. I am hoping to take with us a tape recorder with all the kids telling him stories, reading books to him, talking to him, to get him to hear their voices. Matt and I need to brush up on simple Chinese words to be able to talk with him a little bit. Very challenging...but it helps to plan, helps the time go by.

Hopefully in another month or so, Sophie will be scheduled for her cochlear implant. That will keep us busy as well! Once she gets the implant, she will need to have therapy twice a week. We need to go to AI Dupont of this and the scheduling will be tricky, but we have gotten pretty good at tricky scheduling!

Adding some new pictures...bear with me while I navigate this new site...