Our Son!

Our Son!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Can It Be Two Years?

It is hard to believe, but two years ago today, we were standing in the hallway of the "Jilin Disaster Reduction Center" being (somewhat unceremoniously) handed a most beautiful and precious gift: our son Ethan! It is hard to fathom. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and forever ago. We have come so far in two years. Words can't accurately express how grateful we are for this sweet, kind-hearted, charming, loving, funny, silly, bright son and brother. We love you Cheechaman! TOOOO much!

(Ok -- the video is not working particularly well. I will have to work on that. In the meantime, you get the idea! hahaha!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It's No LOA,

but beggars can't be choosers. We got an update today. I'm so excited! There were no pictures, so I had to snapshot them from a Movie Maker AFTER I figured out how to rotate the video. There's an hour and half of my life I'll never get back! However, if it's possible, it appears he is even cuter than before.

See?! And, it seems he's a tall boy! He's not yet three years old and is 97cm or 3' 2" tall and is 12.6kg which is almost 28lbs! On the American scale, he's in the 50-75% percentile for height but only 10-25% for weight. So, tall and skinny! We learned he has been healthy and has no allergies. Again, the update indicated he is well-suited for gymnastics. Sigh. That can't be good. We also learned he has a foster brother who is 25 months old. Then we got the some of the sweetest insights. We were told that Carter gets along well with his foster brother and protects him when he is bullied. Awwwww. When asked if he knows of us, we were told that he has seen our pictures, knows we are coming, and is happy when he looks at our pictures. <3 We were also told that when he is upset, "Please holding him in your arms and touching his back softly..." Oh. Sweet boy. No worries!

Finally, we watched the video...just shy of 100 times. What we ascertained is that he definitely has hearing loss. Of course we don't know to what extent, but it seems pretty obvious that, in contrast to the audiogram we received a few months ago, he does have some level of hearing loss. We were told that he always speaks but others cannot understand him. We cannot wait to introduce him to language! It will be so exciting to watch him grow and blossom. What a privilege! Hopefully we'll be talking to him soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Radio Silence

Since it has been a while since the last update, I thought I should report -- that we have nothing to report. Sigh. This is not unexpected; however, it is still depressing. We are only on day 42 of the dreaded LOA wait. To put that into perspective, we endured an appalling near-110 day wait with Ethan. So, yes, I know it's a little early in the process to start agonizing, but to be honest, that ship sailed on, oh, about day 10. We have been looking at Carter's sweet little face for nearly seven months now. We have been provisionally approved to adopt him for nearly six months. As I have said before and will likely say again, the wait is bad enough, but the not knowing is excruciating. If there was a definitive wait time, I could make my peace with that. Well, maybe. At any rate, I guess we'll never know. The LOA wait is a crap-shoot. (Charming turn of phrase, huh?) We could be within days of hearing those beautiful letters applied to our process. I mean, it used to be 4-6 weeks after a dossier was out of translation that people would receive their letter, and we are 4 1/2 weeks out of translation, so.... However, the average time right now is in the mid-70-day range. Blah. Then, to make it even more stressful, that is an average. The average for Ethan was certainly NOT 100+ days!

On the bright side, though, we did get to ask for an update, and that will be sent out at the end of this week. Hopefully before the end of the month, we'll have new pictures and information. All this said, we know that God's timing is perfect, and we will travel when the time is right for us to travel. Last adoption, had we not had that interminable wait, we would not have traveled with a certain other couple who have become a part of our family now. (Not exactly in-laws, so we've adopted the term out-laws!) Anyway, the operative word is patience. Easier said than done when you have THIS waiting for you on the other side of the world:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

OOT -- How Can This Be?

The adoption community has become a small one compared to our first time through the process. With Aiden, although I love my agency, I felt like an island. Holt answered my questions when I had them, but most of the time, I didn't even know what to ask. Throughout Ethan's adoption, God bless their souls, the staff was subjected to an endless (nearly continual) bombardment of queries. This is due in no small part to social media. Adoptive parents from all over have been united through message boards, Facebook, and blogs. We support each other, teach each other, inform each other. You get the idea. Well, because of this connection, I learned the other day that our dossier had ALREADY reached an important milestone. All of our paperwork has been translated; therefore, we are officially OOT, "out of translation." Our agency generally doesn't apprise their clients of this step, but another lady with whom I am friends on Facebook has an agency who does. Fortunately, we are on the same timeline (same DTC / LID), and after I posted a picture of Carter as my new profile pic on Thursday, July 3, she commented that they were OOT and we should be, too! I called. Holt checked. Lo and behold, we are! The reason this is so stunning to me is because with Ethan, we were still in translation at day 99! To be out of translation on day ten is almost inconceivable to me. Now, the big question. What does this mean in the overall, grand scheme of things? Who knows. We could be in review for 90 days. With Ethan, after we were OOT, we got our Letter of Acceptance a week after being translated even though my agency said to expect four weeks. Right now, because of another social media sight for adoptive families, I have learned the norm appears to be about seven weeks. What I'm trying to say is that we're still at the mercy of governmental agencies and really have no clue as to when we'll be traveling. If the seven-weeks-from-translation-through-review-to-acceptance holds true, we will probably travel around the middle of November. That is still hugely conjecture. It could be sooner or much later. Obviously we're praying for sooner and hoping against hope for no later. If we DO travel in November, it will have been just about nine months from the start of the actual process (ten months since we first saw his beautiful little face) to adoption. I guess I can't really complain; although, I'd like to! Every day is another day too long.... ;) Just hold on Carter; we're making our way to you, one step at a time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Logged In

This will be a SHORT post, and on the surface, the topic seems relatively insignificant. However, those two little words in the title of this post have a profound meaning. Our dossier, all that paper that took months to complete and compile, have officially been logged into China's child welfare system! We have now begun the intense and stressful period know as the LOA(Letter of Acceptance) Wait that can vary from 45 or so days to (heaven forbid) 100+ days. Horrifyingly, we were in the latter category with Ethan. I am trying to tell myself that I am prepared for that eventuality -- but I'm not! Here's hoping and praying no matter how long until we receive that glorious piece of paper, I can maintain some semblance of sanity and calmness! Let the counting begin.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rummage Sale, Brittany's Hope, and...DTC!!!

We have officially concluded our outdoor rummage sale but are continuing to sell items that are left on Sioux Falls Rummage Online (Facebook page) and Craiglist. We met and actually nominally exceeded the goal I had in mind! In that vein, we also found out today that we officially received a matching grant from Brittany's Hope. That means for every dollar we raise, up to $1500, we will receive equal funds from Brittany's Hope! We have a ways to go before we reach that amount, but it is certainly not insurmountable. We may have to be creative and find a few more items to sell (as we cannot contribute any money of our own to the grant per our signed agreement), but we will think of something. Even if we do not reach the full $1500, they will match whatever we do raise. We are eternally grateful for this organization's commitment to helping to bring children home.

Not only did we have a successful rummage sale, we also got the wonderful news that our dossier is enroute to China. Hopefully it will be in the hands of the CCCWA next week and logged in soon thereafter. Then we can start the LOA wait. It is such a huge relief to have all of that paperwork on its way -- out of my hands -- and to be one step closer to Carter. In the past, to celebrate this milestone, Troy and I have had Chinese food, shared a bottle of champagne, gone out to a nice restaurant. This time around, however, we were a little worn-out from our garage sale and having to chase around and worry about our "precious little guys" during said sale. So,

this year we share a Lucky Buddha (enlightened) Beer (no kidding, it says enlightened). That was pretty much it. Please know we are as equally excited for Carter's DTC as we were for Aiden's and Ethan's DTC day; we are simply out of gas right now. Maybe we'll do something special on Logged in Date (LID)!! If we can summon the energy.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brittany's Hope Blessing and the Corrosponding Garage Sale

We have been informed we have likely been blessed with a gift of a grant from Brittany's Hope Foundation. The essence of the program and organization is below.

From Brittany's Hope Website:

"We believe in the fundamental right of all children to have the security and love of a family.

We resolve to facilitate adoptions of special needs, older and sibling children by providing financial grants for special waiting children; to actively seek out healthy and happy families who can offer love and support to special needs children; to raise public awareness of the need for healthy homes for special needs, older and sibling children and to raise public awareness of the unique joys of parenting a special child."

Here's how their program works:

The most important and sustainable part of the Seedling Gift Program is that we ask our recipient families to raise half of their total grant amount to help future families bring their child home.

This goal can be reached through tax deductible donations from family, friends, colleagues, neighbors or individuals from your local community.

This is where our garage sale comes in. We are not comfortable asking for donations, so June 12, 13 & 14 we will be having a garage sale and are praying that it is successful as whatever we make will be DOUBLED! We have had friends generously donate some awesome items: a treadmill and other exercise equipment, table and bar stools, brand new luggage, a pak-n-play, a new 6 pack mini-fridge for a vehicle, a desk, a 2 drawer filing cabinet, two 'chandeliers' (one brand new), a corner entertainment stand, and a couple of dressers to name a small portion of what was gifted to us. We now pray for good weather, a big turn out, and generous hearts since we are doing free will donations, except for the "big ticket items." We would sure appreciate any prayers and good wishes to the same effect: prayers for a successful fundraiser and prayers for this beautiful little guy.

On a related note, the last of our paperwork is in Washington, D.C. awaiting approval from the Chinese Embassy. As soon as we have their seal, those two items will be forwarded to our agency in Oregon and the entirety of our dossier will hopefully be China-bound on Friday, June 13. We will then officially be Dossier to China (DTC) and begin the interminable LOA (Letter of Acceptance) wait. Last time, if anybody would like to recollect which I would not, our wait exceeded ONE HUNDRED DAYS. Ugh. However, on the upside, I can with great relief say, we (let's face it, Troy contributes only what is absolutely mandatory -- haha!) I have officially completed my last dossier EVER! As much as I love my boys and know they are worth every pen stroke, every tear, every curse, every minute those dossiers took, I am SO over all that paperwork! So, YAY! A chapter closed and on to the next!