Thursday, October 23, 2014

TA in the House!

Kind of anti-climactic, but our TA arrived yesterday. We are officially waiting NO governmental forms, clearances, or approvals! Such an odd feeling. Here was the "big moment" of the TA arrival.

How sweet was our FedEx gal, and is that NOT the cutest TA pic you've ever seen? And with that delivery, the last paperwork step is completed. :-O

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Warring Emotions

Two weeks from today, Troy and I will be en-route to China, to our son, to the last branch of our little family tree. A part of me, a huge part, is excited beyond words. This excited part was further thrilled by about 1 minute and 10 seconds of video we received of Carter last night. He is precious, adorable, and appears to be ever so sweet! I have butterflies; I'm distractable; I'm emotional. These are likely emotions every parent has before meeting their child for the first time regardless of the manner in which they are growing their family. I simply cannot wait to meet Carter, get to know him, bring him home to his brothers.

However, another part of me is stressed and desperately scared and sad. In order to complete our family, Troy and I have to board a plane and fly half way around the world, and in the process, we have leave our children behind. Up until recently, I've been able to distract myself with the logistical nightmare of leaving our kids with others for over two weeks. I've been able to immerse myself in the minutiae of schedules, directions, organizing, travel planning, and adoption paperwork. Well. That is essentially done leaving me time to obsess about Aiden and Ethan. Don't get me wrong, we love and trust implicitly the people who are coming to take of the boys. Obviously. Otherwise we wouldn't be entrusting our the most precious part of our lives with them. Heck, the boys will likely get better care in our absence. ;) That does not, though, stop my heart from aching at the prospect of being separated from them for such a long time. It does not stop my imagination from running wild -- completely out of character for me.... Oh wait. Nope. Completely the norm. What if something dreadful happens to the boys? I won't be there to comfort and care for them. What if they are scared and sad at night and only want their momma and cannot be consoled? What if something happens to Troy and me....? What if, what if, what if...? The logical part of me says, worrying and contemplating worst-case scenarios serves no purpose, accomplishes nothing. Not obsessing is easier said than done. So, please pray for us. Pray for the boys and the brave people taking care of them. Pray for their safety, health, and their emotional well-being (all of them, but for the boys, I worry about abandonment issues and other fears resurfacing). Please pray for our safety and health as we travel as well. Finally, please pray for Carter. Carter whose world will so soon be turned upside down. Carter who, although may have been told about us and his imminent adoption, has no real concept or way of comprehending what all of this is really about. Please pray for his health and well-being as well, but please also pray that God is preparing his heart and that he will feel our love and feel welcome and comfortable with us. We pray he will attach and bond with us and that his grieving, although inevitable, will not be debilitating nor long-lasting.

Now, if you can stand the unimaginable, unbelievable cuteness and sweetness, watch THIS -- what we received last night (and in keeping with previous updates, I had said to Troy the night before THAT, "I really need to SEE him. Our last update didn't include pictures or video. I really NEED to see him to get me through the next two weeks!" Well, here we go...!)


and you will understand why a large part of me is elated to be leaving in two weeks. Be still my heart!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Leavin' on a Jet Plane!

Well, not for another 18 days, and we do know when we'll be coming back again (God willing), but still.... It is OFFICIAL! We have our Consulate Appointment -- November 18! And more importantly, we have our Forever Family Day! We will be meeting Carter Allen Sturgeon on November 10. Oh my, the butterflies that filled my stomach as I typed that. We will meet our son in 25 short days. Or 25 very long days depending on how you look at it. On that day, it will have been ten months and one day since I first saw his precious face smiling up at me from my monitor. It will have been just over nine months and two weeks since we filled out our application. About two days shy of nine months since we got our provisional approval from China that we would receive this blessing of our son. Now we're down to 25 days. The marathon is almost over. Our family is very nearly complete. Please pray for us as we begin the last leg of this portion of our journey!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TA Baby!

The last couple of days have been anxiety-ridden to say the least. Yesterday was rough, but today was excruciating. While my students quizzed, I obsessively stalked emails and other available sources to see who, if anybody, was getting TAs. I wish the following statement was a gross exaggeration, but I'm afraid it's not. I had a hard time tearing my eyes from my computer screen for more than a minute or two. Seriously. I bet I refreshed my email 20 times an hour. Between refreshes, I asked about 50 questions of various people and lamented my lack of travel approval to anybody (online) who was unfortunate enough to be in the same virtual space as I was. My stress level was at an all-time high for this adoption. (This can be confirmed with my students....poor kids.) I was at school, but I wasn't really there. I, quite literally, was starting to feel ill.

As it happened, I was scouring old blog posts around 2:00 to see on which day of the week we had received TAs for Aiden and Ethan and at what time of the day we had been informed about those TAs. Turns out, both had come on a Friday and both were later in the day. I resigned myself to another day's wait at least. I turned away for a second, turned back, and there was an email from Steve, our "Travel Guy," with the subject line of YES. There was nothing in the body of the email. My heart began to race and my hands to shake. I replied, "What?!?!?!" He immediately responded with, "TA." Nothing more. Steve's a funny guy. I shot another email to him. "Are.....You....Kidding....ME?!?!?!" He replied, "I never kid about things like that. Too dangerous." Valid point, Steve. Valid point!

Shortly thereafter we got the official email. Sure enough. China has officially agreed to allow us to come to get our son. We still have half a step left. We need to get an appointment with our consulate in China so Carter can get his American visa. Now, there is a chance that the appointment times for our dates are full, but we're praying that's not the case and that we will travel in November. If that is the case, we will be in Shanghai three weeks from now -- and while exciting beyond words, I am also sick at heart.

I already miss these little monkeys just thinking about being gone!!! Hopefully, though, that we will all be united -- our family of five -- under the same roof, in our home, before Thanksgiving!

CA update to follow.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tempered Happiness

About a week ago our agency agreed that we could request another update on Carter. I quickly compiled a list of questions and asked Troy if there was anything he'd like to add. Oddly enough, I did not include any of his queries. Why you ask? Here's a sampling of his questions:

1. What's his favorite football team?
2. What is his favorite baseball team?
3. Does he like pepperoni or cheese pizza?
4. McDonalds or Burger King?
5. Ford or Chevy?

Need I go on? Ok. A couple more examples.

6. Blondes or brunettes?
7. Big Bang Theory or Friends?
8. Moon cakes or chocolate cake?

You get the idea. Troy did explain that the answers to the would help us make Carter's transition into our family a smooth and healthy one. Sigh. THIS is what I deal with on a daily basis.

Anyway, I said to Troy last night that I really needed our update. I guess in this case, it was an ask and ye shall receive kind of moment: we got our update! My enthusiasm is tempered for a couple of reasons, though. We didn't get any pictures or video, and of course, we still have no TA. The first is a little surprising as we've never had this happen before; the second, although probably not shocking, is stressful nonetheless. Every day we go without Travel Approval makes November travel less likely. It is, however, out of my hands -- what will be will be.

So, on to happier news. The update! We learned that he hasn't grown, but that's not surprising as it has only been a couple of months since the last update. We did glean a couple of new insights, though. His favorite foods are steamed pork with soy sauce, spareribs with brown sauce, and Chinese cabbage. (Yum! Sounds good to me.) His favorite toys are electric toys, but his favorite activity is playing ball with his foster brother. I think we'll be able to accommodate him when he gets home! Maybe the most significant news we received, however, was that he now attends pre-school, has adapted well to that, gets along well with other children, AND he has had improvement in his language skills. We have learned that he is adding new words to his vocabulary: car, eating, drinking, grandpa, and grandma. He can also follow simple directions. Way to go buddy! Now, here's praying that we will get to see this in person very, very soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Risky Gamble

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take a (probably ill-advised) gamble. For reasons beyond my ken -- I mean, I should know better -- I was researching airfare for our adoption trip. I came across some ridiculously good rates with excellent connections. Small problem. We didn't then nor do we now have our travel approval. In other words, we didn't then nor do we now know for certain when we're traveling. However, after weighing the pros and cons, we determined the rewards vs. the risks were acceptable and got our tickets (the saga with upgrades, refunds and waivers would be a post in and of itself and a boring one at that, so I'll skip it). Naturally, the last couple of weeks have been stressful in the extreme. We need to get our travel approval (VERY) soon in order to get our consulate date to ensure I made tickets reservations for the appropriate dates. If not, we're out the change fees plus the difference between our rates and the new rates for whatever dates we would be traveling. Not cheap. Well, today we moved one step closer. I got an email from our travel guy at our agency stating, "Dear China Families: Congratulations on receiving your Article 5! .... Your travel approval, sent by the CCCWA in duplicate to our Eugene office via express international mail, should arrive within two or three weeks..." On one hand, YAY! We have 1 (1/2) steps remaining: TA and Consulate Appointment. We are soooo close. On the other hand, UH OH! If we don't actually get our travel approval for three weeks, it will in all likelihood be too late to make the November travel group. :-O What I'm trying to say is, please pray for a very quick turn around between the issuance of our Article 5 (today) and our TA / CA!!! We are cutting it so close. And, we are so close. I can't believe we're almost there..... Hold on Carter. Your crazy Mama and Baba are almost there, and soon you will be meeting your crazy brothers! Now, if it wasn't for our possible financial ruin hanging over our heads (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration), I would be over-the-moon, beyond crazy excited. As it is, I'm pretty thrilled and feeling the beginnings of excitement bubbling under the surface. COME ON TA!!!