Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Made It To Atlanta!

LOL... this is is going to be a long trip! Our flight itineraries were changed when we checked in this morning at the DELTA terminal. Instead of going to Minneapolis, we went to Atlanta. We will get to Tokyo earlier than scheduled with a little longer layover there than we were initially going to have. The word of the day is LUGGAGE. And lots of it. We are waiting in the Atlanta airport sipping our Starbucks (Thank you, Lord for Starbucks) and will board our plane to Tokyo around 1:30. Please say some prayers for us as we start the long part of this journey. The happy thought is that we are finally getting to go get Mia. I've been counting the days and the day has finally come. So thankful.

Much love,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

14 More Hours...

And I'm still not finished packing. We are leaving very early in the morning to begin the long journey to China. We will fly from Birmingham to Minneapolis, then to Tokyo, then to Hong Kong. We don't arrive in Hong Kong until Thursday, July 1 at 10:30 pm. We will lose thirteen hours, so our travel time will be somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-six hours of travel. I travel a good bit with my job, but not internationally and NOT like this. I find airports to be the most miserable place on earth, honestly... People are in a hurry, they are tired, they are hungry, they are ready to get where they are going. So I am not looking forward to the next couple of days. Hong Kong... I am looking forward to. I can't wait to post pics of our stay there. Griff and I are looking forward to a little relaxation before we become the proud parents of Miss Mia. We are going over to my grandparents in a little while to enjoy some great Greek pizza (Griff's very favorite) before we leave home. Nana is on her way to stay with our boys, so they can stay in their beds in the morning, as we are leaving VERY early. For those of you that have followed our story from the beginning, I thank you. I am in disbelief that this is happening. I feel like I'm living in a dream. We have been blessed so much during this adoption process and we hope that you have considered what role you can play in the life of an orphan. Make the difference for one... love you all and I'll be talking to you next time from HONG KONG!!!!

Much love,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thanks again, Dr. E...

I just THOUGHT I was going to spend the weekend packing and getting ready to leave for China. Instead, I am sitting in Cole's hospital room blogging. Wow, what a weekend we've had. Cole began having stomach pain on Thursday evening late. At first, we thought he had pulled a muscle. By mid-afternoon Friday, he was having excruciating pain in his lower abdomen and we raced to the ER in our hometown. After some blood work and a CT scan, we discovered that Cole had an appendicitis. Well, Dr. E. to the rescue... AGAIN. If you'll remember back in February Nolan had to get some stiches in his head after a sledding accident and our sweet friend, Dr. E fixed him up. So Dr. E. removed Cole's appendix later Friday evening. We are so thankful to have such a talented and kind friend that just happens to be an awesome surgeon. He is such a blessing. Cole is struggling with soreness and pain, but I know that this will pass in a few days. We are hoping he'll get discharged tomorrow, so we can get him home and settled before we leave Wednesday. I am so thankful that this happened now, instead of when we were out of the country. I have enjoyed loving on my sweet Cole and he has been a great little patient. God had a reason He didn't want me home packing this weekend. I'm just going to have to trust that He will grant me the energy to get us ready to leave. And while I'm on that subject, did I mention that we are leaving in four days? Oh, my goodness... now for another sweet thought... we will meet Mia in one week. I can't believe it's finally here. Unbelievable. Please say some prayers for Cole's healing, for my sanity, and for that God will prepare Mia's little heart to bond to her new family. Thanks, everybody.

Much love,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another peek at her...

We received another little peek at our girl yesterday. She is so precious and I can't wait to be able to love on her. I am just praying that she'll let me... Hold on, Mia... we're coming for you... six more days...

Happy Anniversary and Father's Day too!

I'm a couple of days behind, but I wanted to tell my fantastic husband, Happy Anniversary!! And Happy Father's Day!!! Griff and I have been married for sixteen years (wow that sounds like a really long time...)and I have to say that our marriage keeps getting better. I know, I know... that is pretty corny, right? But, it's true. The older we get, the more we are beginning to realize what really is important in this life... and right now it's our family and our marriage. We are learning to prioritize our time together. Griff is my stabilizer, my calming force. I've loved him since the first time I saw him. He's also a wonderful father to our boys and I can't wait to watch him father a little girl. He doesn't think it's going to be much different... can you hear me giggling? Just wait, Griffin. I love you so much.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What are you up to? Oh, not much...

That's a joke... Since my last post, we have shifted into high gear preparing for our June 30 exodus to China. Wow... and still a lot left to do.
Crazy expensive airfare tickets bought, money wired to China, medicine and supplies bought, planned the boys activities for our eighteen day absence, and now I've started the daunting task of packing for all of us. I am so thankful for our quick travel, but now I realize it would have been easier if we'd traveled during the school year. Since it's summer, I'm scheduling the boys' care around golf camp, Camp Bobby, Vacation Bible School, etc. Please say special prayers for Nana (Griff's mom), Gigi (my dad), and my sister, Allison. They have got their work cut out for them trying to schedule all these activities!!! Allison and my mom came over tonight to help me pack Mia's suitcase. It is coming in weighing 46 pounds... so let's just hope it doesn't get fatter before the trip! We spread everything out on my bed and all over the bedroom floor... this is the fun part, because I know we are getting close now. One month from today we will be home... that is a wonderful thought. I'm working for another seven days and then we leave, so I'm sure I'm going to be pulling a lot of late nights preparing for this trip. My main goal this week is to have quality time with my boys as this will be our last week without baby sister. I am already beginning to get anxious about the idea of leaving them for eighteen days. I have been away from them at the most twelve days, and I was about to go crazy then... so this trip will be longer. I am praying that God will give me the encouragement and comfort I need to get through this very important month for Mia and for them.

"I can do ALL things through Christ which strenthens me." Phillipians 4:13

Much love,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fifteen days...

That's how long it will be until Griff , my mom, and I board a plane headed to China for our baby girl. It is a feeling that I cannot describe in words... I just know that I am about to jump out of my skin I'm so excited. We booked our flights yesterday and we begin a long journey to Hong Kong on June 30. We haven't been given an in-country itinerary yet, but we are tentatively scheduled for a July 5 Gotcha Day. That means that Mia's days in the orphanage are definitely numbered. She has no idea that we are coming, that her whole life is about to change. For the first few days after she is given to us, she will not understand as she is so young. She will likely cry and grieve for her caregivers. This is a very hard time for the child and the adoptive families I am told, as we know that better things await her, but she doesn't know that. She just knows that she's been given to some strangers. Many say that by the time families leave China, roughly two weeks after Gotcha Day, that the child is beginning to warm up to the families. Bonding and attachment is a process that takes months, even years and we just have no idea how Mia will respond to all of us. We just know that we love her already, and we are just going to give this to God as we know He gives "beauty for ashes"... and that is so true. God never intended for us to be orphans- He sent Jesus to adopt us all into His kingdom. He also didn't intend for little ones to live without the love of a family. I continue to be humbled that God has allowed us this experience... this adoption process has strengthened our marriage, our family, and most importantly our faith. God has provided for every step of this process and many times throughout these last ten months I have wondered how I could go on waiting, where the finances would come from, how we could physically care for one more little one. He has taught me to trust and I am so very thankful. I don't know what lies ahead for us, but I know that God NEVER fails. What He calls us to, He will see us through.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

To God be the Glory... our TA arrived!

This was a beautiful sunset on Saturday.

I don't know where to start. I'll just have to start at the beginning of this week, which is when this amazing story began. It was Monday, Cole had left for church camp, and I knew that our Article 5 letter had been picked up at the US Consulate and couriered to Beijing for our official wait for TA (travel approval) to begin. Our agency coordinator, Karla, had emailed me to say that the Article 5 was on its way to Beijing and she anticipated us waiting 3-4 weeks for the TA to be issued and then the consulate appt. would be scheduled, so we might potentially travel by mid-July. I was okay with that... we'd come this far... I'm busy with work right now anyway. But, I laid down Monday night and began to pray as I usually do. I specifically prayed for my Cole that this would be a special week for him, that he would be drawn closer to God, that he would be safe. Then, I prayed for Garrett and Nolan. A happy week, a relaxed week, a week of summer fun. Then, my conversation shifted to Mia. I began to plead with God. "Lord, you know my heart. You know I am desperate to go get her. I know you are in control and that you love this baby and that you want her to be with us. I pray that our paperwork will be processed quickly, that whoever is assigned to us will find favor on us and process us quickly. I ask you to let our TA be issued in record time and I promise that I will give you the glory for the mighty work you have done for our family. I know that your timing is perfect and I ask you to continue to give me the strength to wait..."

We decided last minute to go to Lake Martin to my aunt and uncle's condominium to enjoy some pool and lake action. I needed to escape for a day or two and they were gracious to offer us such a peaceful locale in light of the fact that we are only budgeting for this adoption... not for a family vacation. So a free luxury condo at Lake Martin was also an enormous blessing. So, we enjoyed relaxing at the pool with some old friends that joined us and I just enjoyed my kids and the sunshine. This condo is in a very remote area with little or no cell phone signal. I wasn't worried though, as my parents were at the beach, I'd talked to my sister already, and my TA wasn't due for several more weeks... (giggle... giggle)... Well, today, we all decided to go grab lunch before we all headed home and that's when I noticed I'd had two calls from Lifeline. I'm thinking, "No way... no way ..." So, I call Karla back... and she informs me that my TA arrived Friday night. Okay, what this means is that we were issued TA only 4 days after Article 5... For those of you who are new to this whole adoption lingo... let me just say that this RARELY happens. So, I started crying, called my mom at the beach, and then ran inside the restaurant to share my great news with my hubby, my kids, and our sweet friends. Then, it dawned on me. God said yes... he answered my prayer... we got this TA in record time. Why am I shocked when He makes details and impossibilities look enormously silly? I can only imagine God giggling at my little request that seemed like such a huge thing to me, but was such an easy little thing for Him? So, now, we are waiting to have our consulate appointment scheduled which will be the last step of this whole process and will be the last formality of Mia's adoption. This appointment occurs at the end of our trip and then we are cleared to come home. Praise God... we are so close. Unbelievable, really... It looks as if we will be leaving on July 1, so we will be spending July 4 in Hong Kong. We will more than likely meet Mia for the first time on July 5... If you had told me last July 4 that next year I'd be spending my next Independence Day in Hong Kong adopting a daughter I would have told you that you had lost your mind. I am so thankful that God chose us for such an amazing experience like the one we have been in the middle of this year. There is so much going through my mind right now and I just can't process it all at the moment. But I just want to praise God for His faithfulness, for His provision, for His love... and for the wonderful weekend we've experienced.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Article 5!

We received word that our Article 5 letters were picked up at the US Consulate in Guangzhou on Monday and were couriered to Beijing to the CCAA. This letter tells the CCAA that we have received approval from the US to grant Mia citizenship and that she will be issued a one-way travel visa to the US upon the finalization of her adoption in Guangzhou. Now, we begin the final wait. Our agency says that this wait is typically 3-4 weeks. It is our understanding that this step mainly consists of someone from CCAA contacting Mia's orphanage to check that she is still available for adoption (this is a formality) and then they issue the TA. This also alerts the orphanage that Mia will be leaving soon to join her new family. It's getting close now. We'll travel within two weeks once the travel approval is issued by the CCAA. This seems very surreal to me, as I have never truly believed this was going to happen. That sounds crazy, I know... but it is now becoming real to me and to Griff.

Everyone wants to know how the boys are reacting to all of this. My immediate answer is that they are excited, but the real answer is they have no idea what is about to happen to our family dynamic. Neither do we, for that matter. All we know is that it feels so good to know that we are coming into the "home stretch" and we will soon have a baby sister running around our home.

I know that our baby girl has no idea that her entire world is about to change in a few weeks. She knows nothing of the idea of a mother or a daddy, of undivided attention from a loved one, of eating whenever she wants to, of sleeping cuddled up beside another human being. This whole experience will be very traumatic for her and I am trying to prepare myself for the anxiety that is sure to come. My prayers are now centered around Mia and asking that God will help prepare her for this big change and that she will bond to us as her family, that she will love me as her mother, like children were intended to do. God did not intend for babies to be abandoned on street corners, or to live without the love of a family. I pray that she will adapt well and be healthy and happy in her new life with us. I hope that you will pray for this along with me.

I have lots to do to prepare for this trip. I've got to get in gear and make things happen... my mom's monogram machine is about to burst into flames... as there has been quite a lot of sewing going on to be sure that this little angel looks beautiful at all times. LOL... I've waited a long time to dress a little girl, so everyone just cut me a little slack... Ha, Ha...

Love you all for caring about us and our sweet Mia Li.