Friday, December 25, 2009

Birthday party pics!

It has been a great Christmas Day! We have visited with family, ate well, took some great naps, played with our new toys and things really couldn't have been much better... until... I opened email and found birthday party pics of Mia and her friends! We continue to be amazed at what a beautiful little baby girl she is and I cannot wait to get my arms around that sweet thing. The pictures continue to encourage me as I see people around her that appear to care for her, who are laughing and smiling with her, and other babies that also look well cared for. I am very thankful for every person in these photos because I know they are loving her until she can come home with us. Her cake was beautiful and we are still trying to identify some of these lovely fruits that we don't have access to here in the U.S. (or at least not in Gadsden, Alabama...LOL...) God continues to lift my spirits and I am so thankful. What a mighty God He is. May you all feel the love of our Saviour this Christmas Day. Love to you all.

"Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father." James 1:17

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Had a Party!

Since Wednesday, December 23 is our little sister's birthday, we decided to have a family celebration of her BIG day. Mimi and Gig cooked a delicious dinner complete with birthday cake and Molly blew out the candle for her. Next year, we look forward to HER blowing out her two candles on the cake. That's a sweet thought.:) We really hope that we get update photos soon from China of Mia's real party at her orphanage. We ought to be getting them soon. Until then... Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Mia!

Today is Mia's very first birthday! She will have a party complete with cake and candy with her friends, thanks to Ann of RedThreads. I know that we can't go get her right now, but I would give anything if I could just peek in and look at her. I would love to be able to give her a hug and kiss. I am so sad that we are missing this day with her, but I know that there will be so many more wonderful birthdays with her from now on. Her birthday package of clothes and toys should arrive in a few days and hopefully we will be given some updated pictures. I pray that this paperchase process moves quickly. I am SO ready to go to China. We are planning a birthday party at Mimi and Gig's house to celebrate Mia's big day, minus Mia. We'll take pictures to show her that we celebrated on her day all the way across the world. I already love her and have never met her. Isn't that something?

Monday, December 21, 2009

One More Photo...

I couldn't fit another picture on the last post, so I'm posting again to include the group shot of all of the children who came to our party today. Their houses looked awesome!

A Gingerbread House Party!

We had such a fun day at my sister's house. We had a gingerbread house party... the kids decorated gingerbread houses, heard a story from a guest reader, Mrs. Janet Bavonese, and was even paid a visit by Santa Claus himself! The children had a good time being creative with their houses. The mothers enjoyed getting to visit with all the other mothers and grandmothers and watching our kids be kids. It was a great party and something I think all of the kids will remember in years to come. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Busy Day

Today was such a busy day. I had to get the I-800A sent back to USCIS and then went to the post office to mail Mia's birthday care package, not to mention all of the end of the year work-related stuff I'm doing too. I'll be glad when the weekend comes so I can take some deep breaths! Anyway, Mia's package is on it's way to her!!! I so hope it makes it there in tact.

I'm posting some pictures of my sweet boys. We are all looking forward to "being lazy" as Garrett calls it during the Christmas break.

I'm just too tired to think right now, let alone blog... so that's all I've got for today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We now have PA !!!

Last night I got the email from our agency that we were issued a PA from CCAA. I know this sounds like a lot of acronyms, but in simple terms it means that China is giving preliminary approval to us to adopt Li Ji Mi (Mia)pending a review of our dossier. This is exciting news because it means we are one step closer to getting her home. It also means we can now send care packages to her! Since her birthday is coming up next week, we had to get busy! I have been buying her clothes and a few little toys to send to her. I've also hired Ann of China Red Threads to take in a birthday cake and party favors to Mia's orphanage. As part of that service, we should receive some new update information as well as more pics!!! On a disappointing note, we received a rejection notice for our 1-800A application to Homeland Security because Griff's signature was missing in a couple of places... Ughhh... Frustration... I'm taking that to Lifeline this morning so that it can be resubmitted for approval. I wonder how people can get up enough guts to adopt again after all of this. I suppose it's similar to childbirth... you forget how uncomfortable you are for nine months. I guess this is like that. Keep praying for us, everybody. God is answering prayers every day. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Look what we got!

Hello everybody! It's been over a week since I blogged. I've been ultra busy with work. I spent the week in San Francisco working and just got home tonight. I opened up my email box and there was an email with new pics of our Mia. What a sweet surprise! She looks happy, clean, and well-fed. It is so nice to see more pictures of her. I've stared at the other ones so long that I've memorized them. I am encouraged by the communication and thankful for their willingness to share Mia with us. I landed at the Birminham airport today and I almost cried just thinking about how awesome it's going to be to step off that plane with our baby girl. The waiting is really hard, but we have so much to look forward to and it keeps me smiling; knowing that happy day will get here. Please continue to pray for expediency and favor from the US officials and the CCAA who will process and approve our paperwork. Karla at Lifeline said we are looking at at least 4-6 more months. So, even though that seems so long, there is a good bit to do to prepare for her arrival. We will wait because God's timing is perfect. There is comfort in that and I choose to look at it that way. This is completely out of my control.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Strawberry Kiss

Yesterday was such a hectic day, such an emotionally draining day, that I just couldn't tell you all everything that we knew about our little Mia. As I said yesterday, she will be celebrating her first birthday two days before Christmas. I hate that we won't spend it with her, but I like to think of all the many more that we will spend with her. I can already imagine what next year's party will be like. :) There is just so much to tell! She is living in an orphanage that is sponsored by Love without Boundaries, a group that provides resources like food, supplies, and educational items for orphans. Her orphanage is one of the best in that area and it is evident that she is being well taken care of because she is doing what most babies are doing at eleven months old. She is crawling, standing up and holding on to things, she loves to hear music, and she is attached to her caregiver.

Mia's special need is that she has a port-wine stain ( a strawberry birthmark) on her left temple which extends down into her eyelid. It is barely visible in all of the photos we received. Griff and I are shocked that such a minor thing would land her on the special needs list. Dr. Jennifer Chambers, from the International Adoption Clinic, reviewed her file with us tonight and could find nothing of any concern in her medical records. Amazing... I was preparing myself for a child who was older, sicker, and not nearly as beautiful. God's blessings far exceeded my expectations. I have no idea why we make Him so small. The strawberry birthmark God put on Mia is what brought her to us. I can't wait to kiss that little birthmark.

What now? Well, now we trudge through the final steps to submit official papers to U.S. Immigrations, and then on to China. Once China reviews and approves our dossier, we hope they will issue us travel authorization so we can bring her home. Pray that all who deal with our paperwork will find favor on us and process it expeditiously. Realistically, I expect to get to China by mid-summer. We will see...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Announcing... we have Mia!!!

Well, everybody, it thrills my soul to share our wonderful news. After several weeks of waiting and watching, we were matched with our little girl today. Her name is Li Jimi, and she was born on December 23, 2008. She is currently living in the custody of the Welfare Institute of Shantou City, in Guangdong Province of China (southern China). She appears to be healthy and happy and we are in love with her already. It has been a very long day and I am exhausted. I will put more information about Mia on the blog tomorrow. Until then, enjoy looking at her sweet pictures. I can't wait to tell you all about her. God is so good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Still Waiting...

Well, we are still waiting for the shared list China posts once every month. The word from my agency is should be very soon... but that's it. There are many challenges with this whole process, with the main one being time zone differences. China is fourteen hours ahead of us, meaning that as I post this, China is already into Wednesday. While we sleep, they work, while we work, they sleep. So communication is tricky. I am addicted to the email and rumor boards and I slept very little last night. I've done eight loads of laundry and stayed so busy today that I didn't have too much time to think. But now, it's night time again, and I hope, hope, hope that China posts that list and we can find out who our little Mia is and where she is. It will make all this real to me... right now it feels like I'm pretending. This is without question the hardest thing I've ever endured... it is teaching me to deal with frustration, to learn more patience while waiting, and to trust that others do have your best interests at heart. These are all hard lessons, and we just happen to be learning them all at one time. I know God's plan is perfect, His time is flawless, and He's got this. I must trust that this is so. Please continue to pray for us as we wait, and for Lily in China who will ultimately match us with a little girl who will become part of our family forever. What a big task she has.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Griff!

Griff had the big "40" birthday yesterday. I can't get over how fast time goes by... I remember his 21st birthday when we were in college... and now here we are 40 years old. What?

We had the family over to celebrate with Mata's Pizza and cake. I have a surprise planned for him later on today. I'll have to talk about that later.

No news about the November shared list except that our coordinator thinks it will be next week sometime. I had just gotten my hopes up that it would come out on Griff's birthday. Proof that God has a sense of humor: I was driving home in my car alone last night from going to get the pizza for the birthday party. I was praying out loud to God that he would hurry up and send that list on Griff's birthday. And guess what song comes up on the radio? Amy Grant's "Give it time"... Just give it a little more time. Now, that's funny...:) Happy Friday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Being Thankful

I always get excited about this time of year because I know that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. I am especially grateful for the holidays this year as it is a wonderful distractor to the fact that I want to go to China right this minute and get our little girl. We continue to wait for the shared list... any day now I am told.

Anyhoo... while we wait, I thought it would be a good idea to begin to name just a few of the thousands of things for which I am grateful.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:3

I Am Thankful...
1. For the redemption I have through Christ Jesus.
2. For being born into a wonderful, loving family.
3. For a great, supportive husband.
4. For my three precious boys.
5. For the sweet little girl that waits on us in China.
6. For a strong church family at Meadowbrook Baptist.
7. For my health and the health of my family.
8. For a great job that has made such a difference for our family financially.
9. For friends... old and new.
10. For what God is teaching us right now about FAITH.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Any day now...

Any day now, we are expecting China to release another shared list. I am prayerful that we will be matched with the baby girl God has planned for us. This is a very trying time because we are absolutely powerless, not at all in control. But the one huge assurance I have is this: God's got this... He's going to work it all out. Just breathe in and out... and pray.

The family and I shared our story at church Sunday. So many people came up to us and told us how much they enjoyed hearing our story. I so hope that other families will be encouraged and will consider what their family can do for an orphan. Not only is this adoption a blessing for Mia, but it's a blessing for us... in a mighty way.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."
Romans 8:28

Friday, November 13, 2009

Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

This is what started it...

Just wanted to post the youtube video that lit the spark for me... I am amazed how God knits situations together. Enjoy... I still can't watch it without crying. I cannot wait to put our video on. Love to you.

P.S. Scroll down and stop my playlist so that you can hear the music on this video. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shock, Awe, and every other emotion...

What a great day... we found out this morning that we are ready to be matched... now... so, when that list comes out in a couple of weeks... a little girl will be matched up with the Fairleys in Glencoe, AL, USA. I was preparing myself for this in a few months, and now my heart beats out of my chest because I'm discovering that God's plan is far exceeding my own. He is teaching me so much right now.

Then, after I get this awesome news, my pastor calls. He's preaching about Christian compassion and wants us to do a Q & A session in the worship service Sunday! I'm scared, Griff is terrified, but I know that God is working, and I'm going to be obedient. He'll get me through it and He'll give me the right words to say in front of all those people. Lesson learned today... When you get on board with Jesus, you better hang on. I am finding out why He made me... for what is happening right now in my life.

I continue to plead for your prayers. God will be using so many people in the next few weeks to provide a home for one His children. Pray for all whose hand will touch this situation of bringing Mia home. Love to you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Study Complete!

We got word yesterday that our home study is being finalized now. It's almost ready to send to DHR for approval. This means that we were able to get through the home study process in six weeks. Wow... Thank you, God...

What this means now is that we are ready to be matched with a child. The adoption agency told me yesterday that we definitely would be ready for the December shared list. Can you believe it? I might possibly know where my child is very soon. We need your prayers... we covet your prayers. Please pray for all hands that are working on this sweet union of baby and family. Pray for Lily, who is our agency's representative at CCAA that will actually match a baby girl to our family. I am told she is a strong Christian and prays over each list. Ask God for His divine intervention in this situation. I have the assurance that God is in control and it's going to be okay. If you are reading this, we love you and appreciate your interest in our journey to get our baby girl.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fun Weekend!

We had a fun weekend with Trick-or-Treating and Birthday celebrations. The whole family went to Coosa Veranda for Halloween again this year. Nolan was Batman and Molly was BatGirl. The three oldest went as their handsome selves. I can't believe that they are growing out of the dressing up stage. I hope they'll change their minds next year and dress up again. We all couldn't help but speculate whether Mia would be with us next year. We talked about what we'd dress her up as and wondered what she'd think of this American tradition. I so hope we'll have her this time next year.

My grandmother and her twin brother celebrated their 80th birthday this week. We celebrated by having lunch together at Top-o-the-River. It was a lot of fun and I ate way too much! It was a fun weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another week

Well, we had the last home study visit with our social worker this week. She is busy finishing up the typed part of the HS and we are now waiting to get the fingerprints and child abuse clearances back. On Wednesday, Griff and I met with our adoption agency to discuss aspects of the adoption like bonding/attachment and travel to China. It is so exciting to hear about the traveling because I know by that point we will be ecstatic to finally be getting close. I watch a youtube video about every other day to prep myself for what GOTCHA DAY will be like and I find myself swiping tears, so I know I will be a blubbering fool when someone hands Mia over to us. We did find out that as soon as our Home Study is complete, we can begin to match with a child. I'm hoping we get matched very soon. :)

Interesting fact: If only 6 % of the Christian population would adopt an orphan child, there would be no need for orphanages. All orphans would find a forever family. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh, Lord... what have I done?

Okay... I really shouldn't be so impulsive sometimes. Let me start from the beginning... Last summer I was taking some chemotherapy medications for my arthritis. One of the side effects... hair loss. Well, I wasn't working with a great head of hair to begin with. So, after a few months of the poison... guess what? Very thin hair. It's been very upsetting. Today I went for a routine hair cut with the intentions of getting some much needed highlights. Well, my sweet hairstylest, David, had another idea. Why don't we just cut it off into a pixie cut? Yeah... that sounds cool. Until... I saw what I thought was short hair become even shorter. I still haven't gotten over the shock of it yet. I cannot believe I have done this to myself. I told David today as he was cutting it that I was just glad we didn't have to shave it and order me a wig. That was an option a few months ago. So, anyway, the hair does look thicker, but it makes me look old. Okay, breathe, Ashley... it's just hair... and it WILL grow back.

Our social worker is hard at work on our home study and we have our last appointments scheduled for next week. We are coming, Mia... hold on, baby.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

International Adoption Clinic

Today my mom and I attended a day-long workshop on "The Joys of International Adoption". We are so fortunate to have an international adoption clinic at Children's Hospital that ministers to the whole child once we come home. They will be our source for answers when we have questions... they will reassure us when we are in doubt... they are going to be an enormous lifeline during this journey of adopting a child from another race than our own. The staff at the clinic is awesome and I am so thankful to know they will help us. Again, as I do many days, found myself worried at the thought that our little baby girl is laying in an orphanage bed and hasn't been held not once today. It is a very unsettling feeling and my only source of comfort is prayer right now. So, if you are reading this... please pray for our sweet little Mia... pray that she had enough to eat today, that she is warm and dry, that she felt a loving touch from a caregiver. Pray that she is comforted from angels above when she is lonely. My heart hurts... I can hardly wait until we can bring her home to be with us. May the time go quickly.

"I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." Psalms 116: 1-2

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things are moving right along...

Today was a productive day. We had a second home visit with our social worker, Jennifer, today. It went well and we are trying to wind down this portion of the adoption process. There is still an enormous amount left to be done, but each day I'm able to check off something else from the list and that makes me so happy to know that we are one step closer to getting our Mia. I finished all of my Hague Convention Modules (YEAH!!!!), assigned readings, and written assignments for the Home Study. Griff is trying to get through his as well. He isn't extremely verbal, so answering essay questions is taxing for him. I have to give Griff credit though... he has been a real trooper through all of this. The needle phobic that he is gave five vials of blood for his physical, has traveled around with me everywhere getting forms, passports, etc. I had a thought the other day... adoption is somewhat like being pregnant... the first trimester is exhausting... and then there's the waiting. Continue to pray for Mia and for us... thanks, everybody.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take Two!

Well, I accidentally deleted my first draft of today's blog... Ughhh...

Just an update: Griff and I got fingerprints done today, Griff had his physical, and we had a phone conference with our adoption rep. from Lifeline today. We are hopeful that if we can plough through this home study and dossier prep., we might have a shot at traveling to get Mia next summer. As I say that, I fully understand that God is in control and we will go when He decides. So... in the mean time, I am still reeling from the thought that we will have a little girl in this house. I bought her a little baby doll yesterday... I can't wait to send it to her. Once we know where she is, we can send her care packages. There are many, many more prayers to be said and I ask that if you are reading this blog, that you pray for Mia's parents, especially her mother, for a safe delivery and that Mia will be protected from all harm. I am asking God to surround this little baby girl with his best angels until He's ready for us to go get her. Thanks everyone.

"Wait for the Lord, and keep His way." Psalms 37:34

Monday, September 28, 2009

What a day!

Well, today has been busy. Gus and Max went to Slocum Ridge for their grooming. Max now looks like a gray rat... but he does look better than he did. I am feeling remorseful for getting another dog, because right now I just don't have the time to devote to housetraining him, playing with him, etc.

The Glencoe Junior High football team played at Jacksonville tonight. We were trampled ...
36-0. Ouch. Cole played one play that I counted. I have to say one thing about my kid... he's got guts. He loves football, practices everyday without complaining, and is as fired up as any kid on the team. He doesn't play very much, but he's willing to give it all he's got when he does. That tells me a lot about the man he will be. I am so proud of him.

Garrett starts back to guitar lessons at Andy's Music tomorrow. He is so artistic. He's making a comic book right now... He wants to be a cartoonist when he grows up. I can just see him working for PIXAR, designing the next blockbuster!

Nolan... wow... he talks nonstop.... Wonder who's genes are dominant in that little thing? He is too smart for his own good.

And then there will be Mia... I just wonder who she will be, if she's been born yet, what her parents are like, and how our family will change when a little girl enters this house. That is a lot to ponder on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Productive Day!

Garrett, Nolan, and I went shopping tonight and we bought a few things for our Mia. I can't wait to send them to her when we find out who she is, where she is, etc. etc. It's a weird feeling buying toys for a baby that may not even be alive yet. This is going to be a journey, I can tell...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally Home!

I enjoyed getting to see all of my work buddies in Las Vegas and I am really excited about the opportunities that lay ahead with the Genentech group. I am extremely fortunate and blessed to be part of such an innovative company.

Our China Adoption Manual arrived today. I took it to OfficeMax and printed it off... 212 pages!!! Oh, my. We've got a lot of work to do before we can get our little Mia.

My mom is researching, researching, researching and she is discovering so much useful information for our travels to get Mia. I am so thankful for that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

We are adopting!

Okay, everybody... hold on to your hat... Griff and I have decided to pursue infant adoption in China. I've "entertained" the idea for a long time... my parents even joked about it. However, it wasn't something that I thought we would actually do. I can only describe what has happened as a nudging of the Holy Spirit... a thought of a little girl that won't leave my head... a burden that won't let me rest. I started praying about it, asking God to confirm what I was thinking. I worried that this was something I was cooking up, and that this really wasn't God actually asking us to do it. As I readied myself to talk this over with Griff, I knew that he would be apprehensive. He thought it was a good idea too! I said, "Griff, can we do this? Can we raise four kids?" He said without hesitation, "Sure we can..." That kind of confidence can only come from a reassurance from God, the father. I know that this is something God is asking us to do and He proves that to me each day as this process of adoption begins. He is providing for needs, supplying encouragement through our friends and family, and reassuring my soul that this is His plan for us and for this orphaned child. The landscape of our family will be forever changed when she joins us. I do believe that God asks us all to minister to those who need love and protection and I hope that He will find us faithful in doing just that. It is my prayer that our children will be so greatly affected by this genuine act of love and faithfulness that they will be better husbands, better fathers, and better friends because of it. God never fails us.

This blog will be a diary of our journey... of our everyday lives between now and then... written proof of the miracle of what God will do through this event. I ask anyone reading this blog to remember us in prayer, that God will be glorified, that this baby will be protected, and that her parents be comforted. We thank you already... :)

" And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, " Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?", and then said I, "Here am I... send me". Isaiah 6:8

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boy am I tired! Spent the day shopping with one of my very best friends... Kelly Brown. We had a lot of fun helping her find a new wardrobe. :)

Bama was able to pull out a win; at the expense of my husband's good mood. I'm beginning to hate football season, because my otherwise laidback husband becomes irritable and grouchy.

Looking forward to church tomorrow and a special birthday lunch with my friend, Jan.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday!!!! Yeah! The Fairley boys got off to school in their Bama jerseys today, pumped about the upcoming Bama game, and NO SCHOOL! Today is Grandparent's Day at GES and Garrett is so fortunate to have a grandmother AND a GREAT grandmother attending. Mimi and Gig will be around too... they'll do double duty between Molly and Garrett... :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not so bad! The blog project wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Thank goodness it's Thursday and Friday is coming soon. We have Open House PTO at Glencoe Elementary tonight for Garrett and Grandparent's Day tomorrow. That should be sweet... we are so fortunate to have OUTSTANDING grandparents and great-grandparents. Have a good day everybody.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today is the first day...

As if I don't have enough to do... I think that this blog thing will be fun. Gonna give it a try.