Sunday, August 31, 2008

scroll down one entry for happier news...

Well, I've hesitated writing anything new b/c I just loved having the video of Caleb pop up first on the screen. So, scroll down one entry and look at that if you haven't. Even if you have, look at it is just so sweet!
Our newest news isn't the greatest. I thought it was, but I was a bit too optimistic. Andy and I both have our fingerprint date this Thursday and I thought that it would mean the US immigration wait would soon be over. I contacted a family that is adopting through the same adoption agency. They had their fingerprints done two months ago and are still waiting for the US paperwork. Uggh. We have already been waiting two months on the US immigration department and based on this family's experience, we could be waiting another two or more months before we can even begin to get our dossier translated and sent to China. That would put our travel date way past February. Andy called the US immigration department Friday afternoon to officially check on our status and it wasn't good news. Although they do have our form logged into their system, there is no one assigned to our case yet, which means no one has looked at it. So, adoption lingo aside: no one is looking at our paperwork and our hopes of having everything sent to China next month seems dim.
That's where we are. Waiting. We are praying that someone will be assigned to our case and we will have an answer this month. There is peace in knowing that God is in control and we aren't. But there is great sadness to think that Caleb may have to wait even longer to join our family. julia.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Video of Caleb

So, this is it! The video that Michele and Rick sent to us. It is in the orphanage building (obviously not a room they let kids in often...note all the glass tables!). The lady walking in with Caleb is likely one of his caretakers (she is in his b-day photos too). The older girl is Rick and Michele's oldest daughter and the younger one is Sophie, whom they have just met and are adopting. Caleb is probably wondering who is who and what is all going on! During the video you can hear Michele finding out that Caleb and her new daughter know each other and are friends! And every time I see him run into Rick's arms, I picture Andy holding him. He'll definitely be a daddy's boy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

paperwork is alive and moving along/school starts

At times it seems like our paperwork is sitting and wasting away in some far-off land. Within the last week, we've received word that someone is looking at it!! Small things seem big in this whole process. First of all, last week we got an official letter from the U.S Custom and Immigration Service that our paperwork is logged in and they have it. That's good. It's too bad that it took almost six weeks to even get in the system. Oh well. Back to good news. I, Julia, got a letter yesterday that confirmed I have an appointment to get my fingerprints taken in a few weeks. Yeah! Good news! However, Andy didn't get a similar letter. We should have probably gotten notified at the same time. We'll wait until next week to figure that one out. And the sweetest news of I just received a package from Michele (who was in China in June and met Caleb)!! She sent a video of her and her family spending time with Caleb! I can't figure out how to get the video onto this blog for you all to see it. I'll keep trying. But I'll just say that as soon as Caleb laid eyes on Rick (the dad), he ran into his arms, wrapped his arms around him and wouldn't let go. So incredibly lovely!
In the meantime, we have officially started school today. Nathan finally gets to be a real student this year with real subjects. He is super excited. Just like our bedroom situation, all the kids swapped and moved into new desks. Now we have one ready for Caleb, should he want to sit and color! And how has our first day been? Well, so far, so...can't really say so good. I guess it's more like: so far, so totally predictable. One child has completely lost it emotionally more than once, crying and tears began within the first five minutes of the school day, one child hasn't left my side all day, we ate lunch an hour ago and someone is already hungry and asking for dinner, the cute/organized/perfectly placed school desks in the basement are all empty b/c one child is upstairs alone in a bedroom, one is right under my feet (literally) and one is on the couch. Ah, yes. The joys of homeschooling. And it's only 2:30. So, if you think, "oh, I could never homeschool b/c I don't have the patience" (yes, I hear that usually within the first two minutes when someone learns that we homeschool), just know that I don't have any more patience than the average mom. Just a whole lot more time to practice getting it!
I'm off to make brownies so that we can all end our day on a sweet note! Do you remember the book "The Little Engine That Could"? That's me today. I think I can, I think I can...and I sure am trying, I sure am trying! julia.
P.S. Andy just called me and is bringing me dinner just because, well, because that's Andy. He wanted to do something special for the teacher on the first day of school. And while I was on the phone giving him my order (Qdoba, mmm!), my emotionally charged, crying, always testing my patience child comes to ask me where the sign language book is. "Huh?'" I respond. "I need it so I can memorize my Bible verse for today," she adds. "That way I can learn sign language at the same time and it will help me with memorizing the words." I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. One minute I am tearing my hair out and the next I am laughing at completely random things like this. Add a three year old that doesn't speak any English in the mix and I may need professional help!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nothing new

Our status as of today is the same as it was a month ago...waiting. In early July, we turned in our paperwork to the US Customs and Immigration Department. We are waiting to hear from them. Our best guess as to when we'll be in China is February or so. Anything before February would be a huge surprise, anything after would be a disappointment. In the meantime, Andy is finalizing all the paperwork we have to send in to get the $3,000 grant money from Brittany's Hope foundation. That's where we stand. Or (patiently) sit, really.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chengdu Children's Welfare Institute

This is where Caleb lives now. It is the only home he has ever known. The great thing about this place is that there is an organziation called Half the Sky that works alongside the orphanage workers. They basically are a private organization that provides early childhood development and nuturing programs in the orphanage. Here is what they do in their own words (as stated on their website):

"Changing children’s lives does not require new facilities or expensive playthings or complicated new procedures. Human contact is the most important ingredient, and caretakers can make a huge difference—just by taking an extra moment whenever possible to hold the babies, talk to the children, hug them all, and assure them that someone cares."

This is the specific Half the Sky program we believe Caleb has been a part of:

"The Baby Sisters Infant Nurture Program — Half the Sky employs, trains and supervises local women to work as full-time nannies, providing orphaned babies the stimulation, bonding and affection that are essential to a healthy start."

We won't know until we actually see Caleb, but we're pretty sure he has been part of this program. We are grateful for the extra special care that the people involved in this program provide for kids like Caleb.

And for those of you wondering about the origins of the "Half the Sky" name, here is the folktale that inspired the name:

Holding up Half the Sky...One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?" The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."— A Chinese Folktale

Half way around the world, we celebrate with you!

June 12, 2008:
Well, we couldn't make it to your birthday this year, Caleb. But, we celebrated anyway! Three candles were each lovingly placed by one super excited brother and two happy sisters on a very simple chocolate cake. No presents for you this year. But just you wait until next year! You'll have a cake made by your very own mom. And you'll get a huge hug from your dad! And I'm sure you'll have more presents than you can probably even imagine. So, hold on a few more months, Caleb. We have big surprises just waiting for you! Things your sweet little mind could probably never even dream of right now. But we are dreaming for you. Dreaming and planning for a life full of every good blessing for you. Just a while longer. We're coming for you. And boy, oh boy, will you have a GREAT 4th birthday! love, mom.

Happy 3rd Birthday to Caleb

The day after Michele and her family saw Caleb, it was Caleb's birthday (June 12th). Michele arranged to get this cake for him. Isn't it the most elaborate, over the top cake ever?! Apparently, this is a typical Chinese b-day cake. I'm sure the pig, flowers, chicken, house, water, bridge, oranges, and everything else that is scrunched on top of this cake symbolize something. We have no idea what. And there are way more than three candles! Not sure about the significance of that either!

The picture below is one of my favorites, yet one of the saddest, I think. I LOVE the intent look on all the kid's faces. But it just makes me so sad to think that none of them have a family.

Now, the last one below is my favorite of all the pictures we have of him. He is looking at the photo album we sent him. You can see him pointing to us and probably saying "mama" or "baba." If you look closely, you can see (upside down) the note I wrote that says, "We love you. We will come to see you soon, love Mommy and Daddy." I couldn't see any of these pictures past my tears when I first got them. I kept thinking, "quit crying so you can actually SEE the picture!" Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

Visit with Caleb

When we received the information about Caleb from our adoption agency a few months ago, I tried to find out information about the Chengdu Welfare Institute (orphanage) that Caleb was in. I did a Google search and didn't find much. But I did find a blog written by a family clear across the country (Washington, to be exact) who was in the process of adopting a little girl from the same orphanage. I read the blog for a while and eventually got in touch via email with the family. They traveled in June to pick up their daughter, Sophie. They were so very kind and offered to hand deliver a photo album we made for Caleb and a blanket for him. These pictures are from them. They beggged and pleaded with the orphanage director to see Caleb and they allowed them to visit with him AND take photos! The picture just above this is of Caleb seeing his friend Sophie (you can see how happy he is!). Sophie and Caleb actually slept in the same room! Sophie's mom, Michele, said you could just tell they were good friends.
Below is Caleb hugging Sophie's dad, Rick. Michele said that Caleb was very attached and fond of Rick and not so much her. That goes along with the very brief info we got from the orphanage. One part of his history says that he is always very friendly with the male visitors (mostly dads coming to adopt children) and makes them all laugh. That just broke my heart when I read it few months ago. I just thought of him seeing men come into his "home" and longing to be held and hugged on by a dad and always having it be someone else's dad and not his. We know that some children from orphanages are skeptical and frightened of males b/c they have had no interaction with them. We're glad to know that Caleb won't be afraid of Andy! The last picture below is of Caleb, Sophie (on right) and Sophie's big sister (on left).