Family Picture

Family Picture

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

gingerbread house

We've been busy with medical appts and surgeries and follow ups!.The four kids finally together...



The Good News
1. Hope is doing really well. She's eating and sleeping well.
2. Shes learning new words and signs everyday.
3. She's so happy all the time.
4. Shes the sweetest little girl.
5. She's gained two pounds and grew an inch in one month.

The bad news
1. The surgery to unblock her tear duct didnt work...so we wait for follow up.  It's tearing and gooping less but it is not normal.
2. She and R fight constantly.
3. She is still learning how to play with things and sit for a little bit.  She never sits...

Today, C made a gingerbread house.  Because he doesn't eat food dyes, it was slightly challenging...

Pretty good results, I think...


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

 

Steff


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cookies

Cookie dough $4.00
Cookie decorations $12.00
Making cookies with my boys-priceless


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One month

We've had Hope for one month today!  The last month has been so joyous and difficult!  I am so happy to have this last month under our belt.  I would not want to go back a month and do it all over again.  Hope has come far in many aspects but has some major catching up to do still. 

We found that she has a clogged tear duct so she will need surgery on that.  Her surgery is next Tuesday.  We also met with her cleft team and she will likely have surgery again in late jan/february.

Other than that, we are getting ready for Christmas.  We are so excited for Hope's first Christmas!



Steff

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How are things?

Another adoptive parent wrote this.  It's called after the airport and describes this part of journey.
On another note, there's an elf in the house!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Favorite food

So, we're at a local Thanksgiving buffet and Steff asks to the table, who'd like this extra fried chicken leg?  Hope extends her little hand out as far as it goes and leans so far forward that she's in danger of falling out. I really think hope was actually stunned that Steff then gave it to her. We were even more stunned, however, when she ate it. All. And then at family Thanksgiving buffet dinner number two :-)

She's been doing muuuuuch better with eating more and more foods, pbj being the recent favorite. She's not very neat, taking the trophy as the messiest kid in the house, the previous holder, our oldest, more than pleased to be passing that torch.
Sleeping is going much better. She fell asleep tonight with no one having to go back with her. The last few nights, we've sat in the room with her as she fell asleep, but it would seem she's beyond that.

Lastly, we hit target today around 10 am. One major realization: black Friday holds nothing on every day shopping in China. Not even close.

Brian

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2 weeks later

Well, its been two weeks and a day and how's she doing?  She is doing well, on the whole. She is playing well, although often by herself. The older are too fast for her and r2 has lost patience with her and has become possessive... its been a learning process, but he's been doing well. Its been a lot of changes for him, but he's a real trooper and doesn't usually complain.

She enjoys rolling/bouncing a small ball back and forth, being tossed in the air, and bashing balloons.

The dogs are also not much of an issue either. She even pet the pug earlier today, then realized what she was doing and smacked him in the face instead. :-)

She's eating well as well. She just ate an entire pbj for lunch!   That's been an uphill battle that we are slowly winning. Steff even managed to get three bites of banana yesterday, which she usually hates. She's not big on fruit. In fact, she won't eat any of it. Her favorites are anything starchy, breads, rice, etc. Steff is doing a really good job at being persistantbas well as trying different foods.

She and I went out this morning to get her blood work. It took 3 techs, one to hold her arm, one, o a age the needle, an one to manage the vials, all while I was holing her. She's a strong cookie :-)  the good news?  We'll probably have to go back next week, since she's so small and they can only take so much from her. Poor thing.

The bad news? She's stopped sleeping well. Rather, going to sleep well. One out, she typically has been doing well. I suppose its that she's comfortable enough to tell us that she's scared to be alone. We've trie night lights and all that and she shares a room with r2. What she wants is us in the room. I'm not a fan of Co sleeping, but we may have to try her in a pack and play for a few days until she's more comfortable.  2 nights ago she as up until midnight, which is probably also a factor of jet lag.

Please be in prayer for us, as going to sleep is very frustrating. Its situations like those that bring out the grouse in me and my family doesn't need to be the target of my pointless anger and frustration.

Also plz pray for Steff, as she isn't sleeping well. She's been waking around 2 and staying up until 5. Its starting to affect her health.

If i don't check in before then, have a great Thanksgiving everyone!! Thank you to everyone for your prayers and for your support with comments and even by simply reading the blog. Its very comforting to know that people are curious enough to want know what's going on and by taking an interest and the time to read he blog. I think that last sentence was worded poorly, but you know what I mean. :-)

Brian

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleep

Some rough sleep issues happening here. Hope did not fall asleep until 1130pm tonight and I am up since 1am. Pray that we can get some sleep and meet her needs without it taking us 3.5 hours each night.  We desperately need some sleep.

Steff

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spelling

So far all seems to be going well. She's doing much better with the dogs and the boys are continuing to dote over her, although some of that newness is wearing off. She was able to repeat 'all done yesterday, one of her first English words, the first being 'hi.' 

Personally, Steff and I are doing well, but adjusting slowly back to the time. We seem to be taking turns at being up at nite, tonight being mine :-)

As for the trip, we're glad to be back, but also happy to share our stories, most of the major ones already being recorded here. For my Facebook friends, I posted an album of our trip.

There are a few things I missed about China, I'll put a few here:

1. Bfast consisted of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, potatoes, mushrooms, omlettes, all at one sitting :-)   is it any wonder I only ate two meals a day?

2. No where to be. Hotel rooms can be cramped and it happens from time to time that one person blocks the other. It was really nice being able to say to her apology, don't worry about it, I've got no where to be.

3. Guangzhou weather is awesome this time of year.

4. The last few days, it was nice to be able to talk with other families in the exact same stage of life. Its sort of like having a baby added to your family, but with a different set of challenges. Imagine if they came out walking, moving, eating, etc. but still had no language ability.  They still cry a lot and sleep continues to be an issue with international adoptions because of the time change. Nor does she have the experiences that a normal 16 month would have: no idea what a car seat is, let alone a car, never seen a dog, we just learned today that dogs bark loudly, no concept for stairs, doesn't know what a book is, falls off of couches, thinks the word for 'more is to scream like the Tasmanian devil, has already seen, in the last two weeks, more different rooms than in her entire last year, doesn't like ice cream or apple juice, in short she's a lot like a grown up new born.

5. Lets go back to that buffet. They had the best mushrooms I've ever eaten and I'll never be able to get them again...grrrr

6. Water pressure.  Our trickle of a faucet pales in comparison to the Chinese fire hose they call a shower. Its like washing with a power washer. Grunt.

7. Driving has become boring here. When I watch some poor sap slowly trying to pull out into traffic, while being careful not to offend other drivers or put any car t risk, I am reminded that we may have invented the car, but driving is being invented in other countries. I've seen two busses merge from opposite directions into the same lane with a car in between and all come out happy, with no trace of panic nor even concern in anyone's face. We don't know how to drive. They've mastered the merge and cut. They wait until the narrow gap appears between cars and in full, heavy traffic make a full 45 degree turn into that line, filling the space between cars. Now, as long as the other car stops, and the merging car pulls straight, after making he initial cut, all will be well. The maneuver works identically for busses and trucks, and doesn't produce that primal fear we all get think that a truck's trailer is going to merge right over my car. The mistake we make which causes that is too deep a turn into the opposite lane. 45 degrees, no more, then pull straight into the lane. Works great in a country that legally has to ground 1 7th of its drivers everyday due to over trafficking.

On a side note, I have been rightfully accused of horrific spelling on prior posts. Please first let me apologize, as I certainly want my posts to be easily legible and having a semblance, however slight, of common literacy.  Secondly, by way of explanation, please let me explain that most of my posts have been made on a 7 inch tablet. If you've ever typed on one, you are aware that here is no comfortable way to do it for long periods of time, the best probably being to hold it in one hand while typing with the opposite index finger. This takes a while to do accurately, so i play a balance game between accuracy and speed, and sometimes as my neck and finger get tired, speed wins. :-) my apologies.

Brian

Friday, November 18, 2011

Up early

Well, we're both up and it's around 3am.  Should have taken an ambien I suppose.  :-)  One of the things I was thinking about while laying awake is all the things that went well, so I wanted to make a list of praises to share with you.  (I did have one dream, I dreamt I was Troy Polomalu). I would like to point out too, that I am deliberately avoiding mentioning some of the more obvious points.
 
1. Despite that 5 of 6 flights had some kind of delay, they all left relatively on time and safely.
2. It's always a little concerning when you leave one city and come into another.  You're wondering if anyone's going to be there to meet you.  We were greeted happily by our guides, on time, in each city.  We came to find out later that they were in constant communication with each other. They called the next one when they dropped us off and then called the previous one when they got us.  We thought, until the end, that they were working independantly.
3. We had 3 very excellent guides.  They were all very thorough, very pleasant, very helpful people.
4. After we entered China (which means that the pen debacle at the beginning doesn't count, since we hadn't technically entered into China yet through Border Patrol), we had zero problems, not one technical glitch.  Everything worked out perfectly.  Any potential problems were headed off long before they became anything to be concerned about.  Literally, nothing went wrong.
5. We both had some stomach issues upon arriving that we associate with the time shift, as we both have them again now, but aside from that, no one got physically sick.
6. I was warned by a friend that Satan often likes to take your joy from you when you should be most joyful, and that warning included an exortation that I "get on my knees" on the weeks before heading over, that Satan would not use the stresses to drive a wedge between us, instead of letting us enjoy the time.  While there were some stressful moments, we never fought, never argued.
7. The kids were in excellent hands back home.  Thanks to all those who helped out!
8. We were so worried about the flight back and really super confused with God regarding why we were not issued a basinette, however His provision of an extra seat was far better and cheaper.
9. The flight home went as smoothly as possible.
10. We learned a lot about the local culture that we are able to share with her as she grows.  While we don't necessarily want her to mimic the CHinese lifestyle 100%, we want her to know of it.
11. Despite that food that was edible was not readily available, we still were able to find healthy meals.
12. We were worried about not knowing how to feed her with her disability.  This was not an issue.
13. She slept well.
 
There are probably more, which I'll think of as soon as I lie back down, but there it is for now.  We are very aware that many of you were praying for us while we were gone, and we are very thankful. Please continue to pray for her acclamation into the family.. At this point, the kids love her and most is going well.  The major concern here is the dogs.  She hates them and can't be within 15 feet of them.  We need wisdom as to how the handle the situation as you want to teach her that her needs will be met, at the same time we don't to teach her that she gets picked up everytime she sees a dog, which is often.
 
Thanks again!
Brian



Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're home!

I sent a brief report yesterday as to our arrival, but I wanted to send a little more detail about the return and how today went. 
 
The flight went as well as possible.  Hope allowed me to hold her, even sleeping in my arms at one stretch for 4 hours.  There was more leg room this time, and Steff was able to eat all the food (as opposed to none of it one the way down).  Praise God for this fantastic turn of events.  It didn't look like it was going to go well, until we boarded and the stewardess and teh nice lady next to us teamed up to get is an open seat. We were actually pretty down when getting on the plane, thinking it was going to be miserable.
 
The mini-flight to our last airport was very bumpy.  I even wondered if we were going to stay in the air, some of those chops were rough.
 
We had a good reunion and then drove home.  Todd only needed to remind me once that we use lanes in the USA and I sleepily drove home.  I'm sure he was more glad to be out of teh car than I was, it was a little rough at spots.
 
Anywya, in short, the kids adore her and she seems to really like being here.  She and R2 played for quite some time today at the frigde with one of those leapfrog alphabet singing toys, R2 taking the time to try to show her how to use it.  He was really cute yestrerday too at the airport. Once the crowds around her died down, he made his way over to the stroller, leaned in and introduced himself. "Hi! My name's R2!"  The ony issue at present is the dogs.  She is horrified.  Petrified.  She screams like they're eating her, though thye are 10 feet away.  Even the pug is horrible.  But other than that, all is going well.  We are just adapting to the difference in parental management, learning about her, and all the little stuff in between.  She has her doctors appt tomorrow, so we assume that all will go well. 
 
Thanks again too all those who came to make her reunion, or union for the first timers in the party, a success!
 
-Brian 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

At newark

This message won't post until I get home, but I wanted to let every one know we made it back to the states safely, we're just waiting for our local puddle jumper flight. This message won't send tho, until we're home. In short, the flight went much better than expected. We're extremely tired, its been 26 hrs since we've slept, (pray for Todd, as he's riding home in the car with me driving :-)

Hope did great. She was busy, of course, but slept through the last 4 or so hrs, along with a few shorter naps. We didn't get the bassinette e were hoping for, but God had better plans as the fantastic lady next to us gave up hers so we could have an entire row. I've never been so comfy on a fllight, never mind that it was 15 hrs. In short, praise God for as positive as flight as possible, and much better than we thought.

Hopefully we're able to get on the right plane, as we're having trouble performing the simpleest on tasks, such as calling on a cell. We're pretty zonked.

Unfortunately, this message won't send until we are home, so if you're reading it, it means we're home safe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

This begins our 25 hour journey home. Please pray for safe travels and that hope would be an angel in the travels.  See everyone soon. 

Preparing to leave

Well, its our last day here, and I've got butterflies. I'm excited to be home, but I'm going to miss this time alone with Hope and Steff, both being excellent company.

Today, we went on a rather long walk to an old house, which is itself an art museum. The roof is made of sculpted clay and depicts scenes from folk history. The walls are all hand carved, dad you'd love it. They also have some ivory carvings, a tea house, in which time I spent much longer than the last, and even bought some of their jasmine tea and a mug that changes colors, I'm such a sucker.

Steff and Hope went up to follow jack through the local herbal market, where he told me what each of these do for your health. I remain impressed by his English, being able to carry on a very deep conversation. They sell all kinds of things, from dried sea horses, dried mushrooms, ginseng in over 100 varieties, and lizard on a stick. They keep snake in alcohol that they drink and make soup from scorpions, which they sell live.

We leave early tomorrow morning, so plz be in prayer for us, as the trip will be very long and we're really hooping for a bassinette, which can only be confirmed at counter.

Brian

Monday, November 14, 2011

Citizen!

She's a citizen!  Or so they say... there seems to be a difference in opinion over when it actually becomes official, but the leading voice seems to be when the lady at the us consulate goes stamp stamp. There a re remaining formalities, but legally she's a citizen.  There's really nothing to say about the process. You go in, give your paperwork, they stamp, you go home. I'm just thankful we didn't have to go back to Chongqing to get or change something.

We finished much of our souvenir shopping as well. The ppl here expect you to barter, and I can never tell how badly I lose, its probably better that way.  Went back to lucy's again, had Chinese this time shana, beef and basil stir fry.

Please be in prayer for us as we prepare for tomorrows flight. Also, we're pretty tired of being here, and we're both getting a little edgey.

Hope is doing very well, showing a lot more personality. She likes to wiggle and dance when she's eating something yummy. She's really enjoying life right now, which is great!

Today, we're off to an old house/art museum and an herbal market. Todd, Steff says I should buy you some dried sea horses, which apparently are an herb?!

Brian

Random thoughts

1.  Hope finally let brian give her a bottle. Major progress, folks.
2. Hypothetically speaking, if you clog the toilet twice they will send at least three people and then when they leave mutter something in Chinese as if we can understand.
3. The smell of fried squid makes my stomach churn.
4. The weather in Guangzhou rocks, sunny  high 70s
5. I would pay big money for some breyers Icecream.
6. The buffet here has the best bananas and potatoes.
7. I really thought I would be sick the entire  time we are here but I've been more healthy than at home.
8. Reading emails/comments from loved friends and families makes me cry each time.
9. Leaving the kids at home was the best choice but I miss them more than I could ever predict. I cannot wait to touch down in the USA.
10. Besides the obvious, I can't wait to have ice, eat a salad or use a fork. I can't wait to use dollars because every time I hand someone a 100 rmb I feel like its highway robbery until I remember its only $15. I can't wait to stop doing laundry in the sink and hanging it out the window,
11. Hope is the sweetest little girl and I still can't believe she was born half way around the world.

steff

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Consulate appt and mushrooms

Getting ready for our consulate appt and the best mushrooms brian ever ate.

Up early

I seem to do this about every other day, wake up about 4 am. No big deal really, nothing to feel sorry for. Since we have no routine, my body isn't tired. Weird really. I'm usually one of those people who can set their watch by their belly. Not here, we've usually eating two meals a day, whenever we get around to it and feeling just fine.

Guangzhou is like an American outpost. I may have said this in the last post, but its really a lot like Tampa. Its warm, laid back, lots of shops, river running through it. Its by far the best city yet. There are also plenty of Westerners here. It sounds funny, but when everyone you speak to, you have to speak slowly, in small words, and repeat yourself, communication becomes a drag. It was really nice to have a conversation with someone yesterday on the way to the grocery store with whom I could speak normally. No Chinese person, that we met, can speak perfect English. They all struggle at some level. Our guides have by far had the best English, each one getting subsequently better (jack, our current one is pretty good), but you still have to watch how you phrase things and they sometimes get lost in our grammar.

Yesterday brought us to a Buddhist temple. It was a complex of smaller shrines with different Buddhas, who apparently have different powers, some larger than others. Assured it wasn't sacrilegious, I dodged suplicants to take good pics. Btw, our camera won't turn on so I have to use the camera in the video camera, grumble. Pretty, but tough to understand, as we have no familiarity with the religion, despite jacks very thorough explanations. Of the massive chinese population, only 7% are Buddhist, 4% Christian, and an even smaller number are home grown Taoist. The nation has no desire for religion. Their pride seems to be in their tradition and their professionalism. This temple was only the second to be built in south china and is over 1400 yreas old, which apparently to them is nothing. I terms of professionalism, I have seen only one slacker, and that was the lady at yesterdays checkout line.

She just didn't care. No emotion on her face what so ever. The American in front of me forgot to weigh her cucumbers and kiwi first, so when she got to them, she slammed to the side and gave a real annoyed look. When she finished ringing her up she glared at my friend, and tossed them into a basket behind her, then pouted.  Rude by american standards. When it was my turn, she asked if I wanted bags (you have to buy them here, its a law) then rang it all up, put it in a pile and set one bag on top. Apparently, I can bag it all myself, and fit it in one bag.  :-)

On the whole, however, they are very thorough in all they do. Service is full and complete and they seem to be 100% reliable. I've never had so many bags held, doors opened, buttons pushed for me in my life. Poor William (or so his name tag tells me) was in utter disgrace the other day at breakfast as I got my own high chair. When he saw he carrying it, he came running over to me, insisted I let him carry it the remaining 20 feet and had a conniption when he realized it needed to be wiped - I never saw any dirt. He was horribly embarrassed that I would take on that level of self-service.

After the temple, we went to a park and had a very nice stroll through. Jack works in tandem with a driver, and they really make a great team, so we were able to walk through it and be met on the other side.

It was the perfect day for a stroll, except for Steff who is in a sweat shirt and long pants, but more on laundry later. The park has great scenery, good shade and plenty to look at. There was a Kung Fu class, which I was forbidden from taping:-),  for boys going on just inside. Several parts have large groups sitting down doing a group sing along of old folks songs. There's a small carnival section with rides, some new to us. They have a go cart track for kids, where the cars run on batteries, like a power wheels car. There is a round, flat metal track that looks like a roller coaster track, with what looks like individual coaster cars on it, but they're not. The cars are actually pedal powered. Lastly, they have these large mechanical animals that run on wheels about the park that kids can ride.  There's also a playgroujd, but we tried one yesterday, but hope is afraid of it, so we didn't try.  Many people spend times at these parks using exercise equipment. Jack explained that apartments don't have enuf space for exercise, not even for a fold up ping pong table. But man, they're good at it. (Sorry Pastor Eric, its called ping pong here.) Its on TV every day and we even stood outside a sports school is Beijing, specializing in ping pong.

Lunch brought us to pizza hut, hallelujah, we didn't get sick from the soda! It was a weird menu, much bigger than ours. Sorry shana, we got a cheese stuff crust. Perhaps tomorrow we'll be more adventurous. I should add, however, that we have eaten Chinese several times. I typically split my breakfast plate between Chinese and western. We've gone out several times for Chinese and we even got Steff to use chopsticks once, but she usually uses the ceramic spoon. :-)

There is no such thing as a Chinese Laundromat.  Doesnt exist. They all do their own, so you have to get a service to do it for you. Apparently, we aren't the first ones to ask for a way to bypass these services and do it ourselves. The first person actually had to explain to jack what a Laundromat was.  We've tried doing it in the sink, but it takes at least 2 days to dry, no matter how hard we ring it, then smells of mildew.  I even tried to iron some things dry, which worked for some things, but not others.

Tonight, we went swimming. Rather, I did. Hope wasn't interested, but she did look adorable in her suit. It was freezing cold, I swam a few laps, got sore very quickly, and got out..... and fell right on my can. :-)  Steff was pleased, not just that I was OK, but that she got a front row seat. It wasn't some stumbling, bumbling thing... when I got out, my feet shot out and rolled right onto my side.  Sigh.

A strange side note, Hope hated the water and wanted nothing to do with it. Not just that, but she was upset by me going into it. She was very afraid for me. We just wonder sometimes, what have you seen, my little dear, over the last year? She was in a good orphanage, but I keep realising, there's a big difference between a day care and an orphanage, even though they look the same. A day care watches kids, whereas an orphanage manages them.  I beg you to pray for these kids, over several hundred million world wide, who's heads are getting flat because they lay down all the time, who's bed time routine is lay down with a bottle in your crib, and who have never had a proper bath. As we uncover more of her personality, we uncover more and more things that must have been so stressful on a little girl. We'll talk in person about some of them for those who are interested, but this is certainly not the place for details.

Praise God for the two babies who will be adopted out of that room shortly, 1 in only two weeks and thank you for the families who bring them into their families.

It is important to note, that despite my prior words, this is a good orphanage.  The nannies genuinely care for them and perhaps even love them.  They were very happy to see Hope go, knowing she would have a better life. The nannies work hard and seem to be happy doing what they do.

Prayer requests:

Despite Biblical mandates, we are spending a lot of time worrying for tomorrow, or specifically Wednesday's flight back. Steff has many more strengths than I, but holding a squirmy, cranky, 16 month old who doesn't know you for 15 hrs on a plane isn't one of them. Hope has chosen Steff to be her anchor through this time of transition (praise for a good step in the right direction) but she will only sit with Steff. I can carry her, play with her, whatever, but I cannot sit with her, she'll scream. We're praying that we'll be granted a bassinette seat, but there's no way to confirm that until we arrive.

Thanks again to all for your verses, that was a big blessing. Plz continue to pray for Steff, as she's horribly, terribly homesick. Plz pray for me so that I can find good ways to support her and love her.

Brian

PS> today is consulate appt day. Hopefully we got the time right, cause there was a discrepancy in the paperwork.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New friends

Hey!  We found some fellow Americans who let us pal around dwith them yesterday. They're both families from Michigan who are here for te same reason. We went on a fun filled adventure to the....... grocery store. Which really was an adventure. We had to walk ttghrouggh the local market... which is like MD,s board walk multiplied by 10. Tyheyre all yelling at you for your attention. When the locals see ou they just scream hello!! And out have no choice but to look up. When you do, the ye naik you wittgh 20 offers. Most people have these yellow boxes of saffron just sitting out. When they see you, they yell hello, pick up the box and offer you a good price on t. What's with the saffron? Enuf ppl must buy it or else they'd use some thing else, but who?  I think its a bet, who can sell a box of saffron first?

The grocery store was crazym,  as is everyytyhin around d here. Too many people. Check out was not a line... rattyher a mob.

Went for her health check yesterday, seemed fine. Came back for a nap, then went for a walk on the local island. Its a European style tourist area, actually kinda nice. Brides and models everywhere. Even saw this Chinese Goth punk rock band doing a photo shoot. ?!  Had lunch at lucy,'s, dbl cheeseburger and a local Chinese beer. (Eat your heart out eric...:-) you would have liked it)  overallm,   good day. Hope was. Ot t all interested in the play ground.  Cried on the slide.

Today, a Buddhist temple and local park. Sinccd yesterdays pics seem to have wormed, I'll try one of hope having breakfast.

Brian

A new city

Well, we're here in Guangzhou and much happier. Bed is much softer (a huge plus), city smaller, more Americans, better wifi access (still not in room), better baby behavior, another good guide, more to do, warmer weather, and one step closer to home.

Plz continue to be in prayer. We have been marveling at how the little details have been working themselves out. Plz be in prayer about the flight home. Hope is usually well-behaved, but hates sitting on laps.

I'm not sure if this is going to work, as I have to email blogger to post this, but I'll CC someone with the email who can post it directly, but I'm going to post a pic out the window of the city scape. I'll do 2, one of he city line and another of the market below.

Brian

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leaving Chongqing

It is with heavy hearts that we leave Chongqing today. We do not take her lightly from her home province. Nevertheless, we fly out tonight, 6:00 our time. W went to a local temple today, over 300 years old. Neat, but very dirty. There is a giant statue in the front of a god of water. He was a man, who became a god after he figured out how to keep the city safe from water. Drum roll..... he moved the city to higher ground <cymbal crash>  sheesh... they'll let anyone be a diety these days. They also have this thing with doorways and thresholds. The door closes about a foot off the ground and the threshold rises to meet ot, so one can easily trip on it. Why?  To keep out evil spirits. Steff wanted to know why the spirits can't step over it like we do, but thankfully, she held her tongue until later. These ppl don't laugh at themselves very well.

Please be in prayer for us. Especially for Steff. Hope has decided that Steff is going to be ttghe one to help her through this time, but hope is also being very difficult about things. She cries most of the day, and when she's not crying she's eittgher sleeping or screaming. We love her dearly, but this new attitude makes ttghings tough. Plus, we are both extremely homesick, which compounds the problem.

Thank you for those who send verses chapters and even entire books!! A very large blessing!

Brian

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today's update

Spent a lot of time around the city today, mostly in the morning. Went to a zoo, where they specialize in pandas. They have 8, all sitting right out in the open. They even have a red panda- yes Todd, I know its not really a panda or a bear... more of a racoon. Our guide shared with us his best panda jokes. The:-)  highlight being, why does a panda sleep all the time?  Do get rid of the dark circles under his eyes.

Also went to goose park, not a single goose, to climb a pagoda and get a good view of he city. Too much smog for a great pic tho. Also attended a tea where we offended the tea lady by lookimh like we don't care. Not that, just we know how long a one year old can sit still.

Then to the book store. Its a pretty big store with several levels. Steff asked a lady if she spoke English.... 4th floor was the answer. Went to 4th floor... never figured out why she sent us there. No magic help desk, nomerican section...?  Any way, I found the word of the book we were looking for and he sent us (in English) to the 6th floor.

Thanks Chris for your verses, exactly what I was looking for.

Brian

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Orphanage trip

We're still deciding if we're glad we did yesterdays trip to Fuling, where her orphanage is located. The day just started rough. When we got to breakfast at the hotel, there were no seats, and the rest of fthe day was of similar annoyances, from which I'll spare you.

The 2-hr car ride from Chongqing to Fuling goes thru the hills and mountains. While still considered Chongqing, this is a pretty rural area. Land is at a premium here, as most of them out there are farmers. They have devised methods for farming on a hillside so steep that I would find it hard to walk on.

The orphanage itself really isn't much. There's about 100 kids there total. In Hope's room, there was around 20 beds. We were worried that te trip back was going to make it hard for her to leave. The opposote was true. She didn't want to be there or see her nannies, who were perfectly kind and caring to her and the other orphans. Many tried to hold her, but she only wanted Steff, which was a joy to the nannies.
on ttghe whole, the center looks like a day care center. Its difficult to realize that they rarely leave the room.

We then went on a tour through the countryside to see how the common people lived. It is believed that most abanadonded BA ies come efrom the rural poor. We even stopped at a peasant's house, which was very eye opening. The house was built entirely of cement, looking 70 years old, but it was only 20. It and a layer of dirt and dust on everytghing that mde it look as if it hadn't been touched in 30 yrs. The beds were little more than wide work benches with hay and a straw mat. I never saw any blankets.

They and the local people are pickle farmers. We unwittingly tried some at the food court the other night. :-) they grow this cabbage-like vege and let it soak in salt and other spices for a week, then its sliced into fine strips. We even got to walk thru part of a pickle factory.

As a side note, we didn't pack a number of things in favor of space, thinking we would have easy wifi. So, we are w/o a Bible. To my Christian friends, it would be an encouragement, that if you leave a comment, could you also type you fav verse?

Xie-xie
Brian

A VERY long day

Today we were in the car for 9.5 hours.  It was a very emotional day and a very difficult day for everyone, including Hope.
 
Keep praying and I'll try to update after tomorrow's zoo visit.  Thanks for your comments, they help!

Steff

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

She's ours forever

Today hope is officially ours forever. She is such a sweet baby. She's bonding, eating and sleeping well. She is so gorgeous and God has once again giving us a blessing we don't deserve,

A little bit about her. She's really tall and skinny. 18m pjs fit perfectly. She is still on bottles and formula but we've got her on some table food. She loves Gerber puffs. She would eat them all day. She's eating out of a bottle well and in the 24 + hours we have had her, her Pincher grasp is so much better.

She babbles and learned how to wave tonight. She loves any toy and congee. We've gotten some smiles and a few laughs. Things are going really well, in general.

Some prayer requests
The biggest is two part: isolation and missing our kids.

We are in a big city but almost no westerners. I saw an American couple in the elevator and wanted to hug them. We stick out and get a lot of stares. We are alone much of the day so finding food that is cheap and won't make us sick is a challenge. Everything is difficult. We have no wireless so if we want to skype or check email, we have to walk to Starbucks.

We miss the kids so badly. I can't even talk about them without crying. Pray that God would calm my heart.

Tomorrow we visit the orphanange. Its a long drive and I have been getting car sick. We're looking forward to seeing it.

Although I can't see the blog, I can see your comments. They get emailed. Please leave us some it helps our homesick hearts.

That's all for now. Thank you for your prayers.

Steff

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet the new Andreychek!

Introducing Hope Nicole Zhen Andreychek. She's doing well and is
more or less healthy. She's also very tall and about 20 lbs.


video

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Landed Safely in China

Hi everyone. We made it to Beijing after a very long flight.

Toured the great wall and took the toboggan down.

We arrived to our hotel in Chongqing after midnight on Sunday.

We have very limited Internet... just at Starbucks.

We meet Le Le in about 5 hours, 2pm China time, 1am eastern time.

Keep praying we need it.

Thanks!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

leaving on a jet plane

We'll be leaving on jet plane soon. 

Well the first plane is a propellor plane but the next one is a jet plane.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  To be perfectly honest, I'm terrifed.  But so joyful to have her soon!

God led us to adopt, blessed us financially and now He'll lead us through the next two weeks.  That I'm sure about.  Everything else...not so sure. 

Keep reading, it's going to be a wild ride!

Steff

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow

Its snowing here in pa, a lot!

One less day to get everything done. 5 more days....

The pug is not happy about the snow.

The boys still love the hair bows

I hope its warm and sunny where you are.

we got our travel itinerary....holy cow its expensive! 

Did I mention we leave in 5 days?

Steff



Monday, October 24, 2011

Preparing to travel

We have a confirmed CA!  We are leaving the 4th and returning the 16th.  Too many prayer requests to list!  We have lots to do in 10 days..gulp!

I thought I might share pictures of her room! 


And the pink clothes in her drawer:


And I'm practicing with bows! (He was a willing participant)


Steff

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



Yes, we have Travel Approval.  I've been waiting 10 months to hear those letters!  We are still waiting for our Consulate Appt, but we hope to leave Nov 4th.  As in 17 days.  EEEEK

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Last step

We are 2 days into our wait for our TA and it feels great!  We are hoping to leave Nov 11th.  As in 5 weeks from last friday, WOW!!!!!!

Please keep us in prayer as we pray for the rest of the funds needed and do the final preparations. 

Steff

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

T-3 days

We will be officially waiting for our Travel Approval on October 7th.  Then we just have to get it!  We would really like it to come quickly!  Lots to do and Lots to pack!  Join with me in prayer that things would move smoothly and quickly!  We would really like to be home for Thanksgiving(and have her with us).



Steff

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

T-Shirt sale ending...

As we are moving towards the end of the paperwork and nearing travel, I am ending our t-shirt sales.  If you would like to order a T-shirt, please do so by Sept 30th.  We get a huge portion of each shirt's cost to go towards our travel expenses-roughly 7500. 

Purchase a shirt here.

Thank you!

Steff

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thank you!

I don't have an update on the grant total, but I wanted to thank everyone who sent in donations.  You are a blessing in our life. 

Steff

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last day

This is the last day to make a tax-deductible donation for our matching grant.  We are 7K short of the total(matched) we need to travel.  If you make a donation larger than $50, then you will get a free necklace!  Please consider helping us!  Envelopes must be post-marked by today.  Here is the information:

We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc., a non-profit private operating foundation. Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption. All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to $5,000. All donations are tax-deductible.

Please send any donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by September 20th to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
            Andreychek Adoption
            18524 Juniper Street
            Gardner, KS 66030-9147

Steff

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How can you help?

We are probably 6-8 weeks away from traveling.  Many have asked how they can help.  There are things we still need, in order of importance:

1. Prayers-

  • Pray for Le Le-she would stay healthy and safe.  That God would be working in her heart to prepare her for this transition. 
  • Pray for our adoption agency, Gladney.  The last steps of the paperwork are in their hands.  Pray that things would go smoothly with no snags.
  • Pray for Brian and Steff- Both are nervous about traveling away from the kids and home comfort.  Pray that Steff can enjoy this trip, embrace and learn about her birthplace and NOT freak out on the airplane(15 hours).
  • Pray for their kids-C has expressed his worry about having us gone that long.  R1 wonders daily if we are coming back. R2 has no clue, but it will rock his world to be without Mommy that long.  Pray for R2 that he would not grow resentful towards Mommy.
  • Pray for our finances.  God has blessed us with grants, fundraisers, generous friends and family.  We still need 13-15K to complete this trip.  I have faith that the Lord will provide every penny we need.

2. Finances- We still need approximately 13K to travel.  Several ways to help there:

  • We have 7 days to increase our part of the matching grant.  We are only at 1,125.  Brian and I are so thankful to those of you that contributed.  We can be matched up to 5K, so I pray that more people would feel lead to help bring her home.  Details are here.
  • Buy a T-shirt.  I'm closing the sale on Sept 30th.  They are great shirts!  Details can be found here.

  • Buy a necklace.  They are beautiful necklaces and make great gifts.  There is a paypal to the right to purchase them, or you can give me the $20 in person. 

3. Stuff for travel-

  • Our biggest need is two big suitcases that roll.  28" or bigger.  They might get banged up since we have to take so many flights, so just a warning.
We cannot believe the first part of this adoption journey is almost over.  We cannot wait to have her in our arms!  We are tired of the process, tired of waiting for the next step, wondering when we will travel.  We just want her home.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  They mean the world to us!

Steff and Brian

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I800 and 2 weeks

We are still waiting for our I800 approval, a few more steps and we will be getting our Travel Approval(hopefully around Oct. 30).  We should be getting our I800 approval soon!

Only two more weeks to 'double your money'.  We still have far to go to meet our 5K.  Here are the details:

We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc., a non-profit private operating foundation. Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption. All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to $5,000. All donations are tax-deductible.


Please send any donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by September 20th to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Andreychek Adoption
18524 Juniper Street
Gardner, KS 66030-9147

Thank you for your prayerful consideration in helping us bring her home! We understand that times are difficult financially for many families. No donation is too small but if you choose not to support us financially, please consider supporting us through prayer. Please pray for our journey, all the paperwork, travel and most importantly that the Lord would be working in her heart to prepare her for this journey. She will leave all she has ever known and it will be a joyous, yet difficult journey.

Steff and Brian

Thursday, August 18, 2011

LOA!!!!!-Formal approval from China to adopt Le Le

44 days!!!  It arrived at our agency today!!  Hip Hip Hooray.  We'll get it tomorrow and send our 1800 away!  People typically travel about 2.5 months after LOA...November travel here we come!  I'll map out the rest of the stages soon, but rejoice with us that it's here!!!  Thank you for your prayers!  We're coming baby girl...

Steff

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Where else can you double your money?

No,  We don't have our LOA.  This news is almost as exciting.  We have been approved for a matching grant through Hand and Hand Christian Adoptions.  They have agreed to match any donations(up to 5K) for a total donation of 10K.  10K would pay for the orphanage donation and almost all of travel!  It would help us out immensely. 

Nowhere else in the world is your money worth twice as much!

Here are the details:


We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc., a non-profit private operating foundation. Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption. All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to $5,000. All donations are tax-deductible.

Please send any donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by September 20th to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
               Andreychek Adoption
               18524 Juniper Street
                Gardner, KS 66030-9147

Thank you for your prayerful consideration in helping us bring her home! We understand that times are difficult financially for many families. No donation is too small but if you choose not to support us financially, please consider supporting us through prayer.  Please pray for our journey, all the paperwork, travel and most importantly that the Lord would be working in her heart to prepare her for this journey. She will leave all she has ever known and it will be a joyous, yet difficult journey.

Steff and Brian

PS Please join us in prayer for our LOA!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Birthday C!

C,

I can't believe you are seven!  You finally lost(pulled) your first tooth!  You have been waiting for this moment for two years! 



We had designer pancakes this morning(as always on birthday mornings)!


Mommy and Daddy cannot believe you are seven.  You are so delightful.  Full of happiness, energy and a love for life.  You are such a good big brother and so helpful around the house.  You love sports, trains, swimming and eating!  You love just about everything except sweeping the floor and watermelon.  You love learning about God and have a huge heart for everyone! 

We love you!

Monday, August 8, 2011

day 34 and a therapy trip

Day 34..not that I'm counting..

A team of wonderful people went to Fuling, China to perform a therapy trip.  The Fuling orphanage has many babies/kids with special needs.  During this trip, they worked with the nannies to help train them.  You can read about the trip here .  There's a picture of Le Le..can anyone find her? 

Steff


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Birthday pictures!

We got some awesome birthday pictures of Le Le.  I thought I would post the best one!  There is another picture of her with her friends sharing some cake.  So great! 



Where are we in the process?  We are waiting for our LOA, or Letter Seeking Confirmation.  It's basically our formal approval from China. It averages 50 days, but can take 35 and can take 100.  As soon as we get this letter, we have about 75 days to travel.  This letter will determine whether we travel in November or January.  It's all pretty exciting.  Please pray that we receive this letter sooner rather than later. 

I have been yard sailing to fill her closet with clothes. A few wonderful people have given me their hand me downs.  I can tell you that it's very strange to see pink clothes in the closet! 



As always I have some prayer requests:
1.  We heard back from another grant, which we were denied.  We are still waiting on three, and one is a matching grant.  If we get that grant, than basically all donations are doubled up to a certain point.  It would be wonderful to get atleast one more grant.  We still have over 15000 to pay towards this adoption. 
2.  There is a possibility of Le Le having palate surgery in China.  We would much rather wait for her to get here to have this surgery, so please pray they opt to wait since they know she is being adopted.
3. That the Lord would be preparing her heart for this HUGE life change. 
4.  And the BIGGIE..that our LOA would arrive quickly!

Thank you for the continued love and support. 

Steff

Monday, July 18, 2011

Haircut

Guess who needs a haircut?




Brian thinks I'm just practicing...

Steff

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Le Le(actually we learned they call you jhen jhen),

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Today you are a year old!  I hope you enjoyed your cake and presents.  I can't tell you how much it saddens me to miss your first birthday!  Lord willing, this will be your last birthday without us.  We're coming soon!

We love you...Mommy, Daddy, C and R squared. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Some updates

We are still waiting for our Log In Date..although I am guessing it's around June 29th or so.  Now, we wait for our Letter Seeking Confirmation, or LOA.  That could take 30-90 days, the average being 60 days. 

We received a grant from Annie's Forever Families for $2,000. This is a huge praise as it will be directly applied to our agency fee.

We also received an anonymous gift in our church mailbox.  I don't know if the person/family reads this but we wanted to thank you.  Our family prayed for you over dinner tonight and I pray that God would bless you in abundance for your generosity.  Truly, thank you!

We are still waiting for three other grant decisions, please pray for that.  We have over 15K still left to pay towards this adoption. 

A family traveling to the orphange where Le Le is, took some pictures of her.  They said she is loved, happy and healthy.  Thank you Lord for watching over her until we can get there. 

Le Le's birthday is in 12 days, and I'm preparing to send a small cake to her.  It deeply saddens me that I cannot be there.  In her honor, I decided to post a picture of Le Le.  It's not going to be up long so look now!

Introducing our Daughter:  To be named, now called Le Le, almost 1 year old:



Steff

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray!!

On Friday, our Dossier was shipped to China.  This is really really good news.  I wanted to go to a very tall place and shout, but I didn't have a chance.  So, shout with me:




(anyone notice they are all pink?)


The dossier took us 7 months of hard work...onto the next step!  We wait to hear of our Log In Date. 

Update on our fundraising:

Some praises:
  •   We made almost $50 from ISAAC's. Thank you to everyone who came out to support us. 
  •   Our 31 fundraiser made almost $170.  Wow!
Some non-praises:
  • We have been turned down by three grants; one was a matching grant and we were very dissapointed to not be chosen. 
  • We have an agency fee due very shortly, and do not have it.  If we are not able to pay this, then we can not move forward. 
Things to be praying for:
  • My job.
  • Our finances over the summer(Brian does not get paid)
  • Le Le-for her health and safety and that God would be preparing her heart for the upcoming life change.
Steff

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dinner

Our approval is on it's way to a courier and hopefully will be shipped to my agency on Thursday.  That means our dossier will be shipped on friday probably!!  So excited!

Just a reminder that our community night dinner is at ISAAC's in Centerville, PA on Sunday from 5-9pm.  We get 25% of the proceeds of your meal, so come on out!  **Dinner is over **
Steff

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Approved!

We were approved(I800A) today!  Hooray!  We will get the letter friday or saturday, hopefully.  Then we have it notarized, and authenticated and then we can be...

DOSSIER TO CHINA!!!

I've been waiting to for six months to say that! 

Good news, on top of a VERY bad day.

Steff

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Still waiting for Immigration Approval

We are still waiting...52 days now.  I hope it's soon!!  Doesn't the US know we have a little girl waiting in an orphanage?? Please continue to pray for our approval(NO RFE) and then a quick authentication. 

Steff

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Birthday R(2)

Dear R(2),

You turned two today.  We had a monkey themed party for you because you LOVE to act like a monkey.  I'll post pictures of your cake later.  You are the funniest two year old.  You are sweet and loving.  You know all your shapes and colors.  You are truly a blessing in our lives.  I want to capture your joy and laughter in a bottle and spray it for the years to come.  I thank God for you each and every day.  Lord, Thank you for our blessing.  May he walk the straight and narrow path all the days of his life. 

Mommy and Daddy love you so much!









Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Pictures and waiting...

On friday, we received two new pictures of Le Le.  She is so beautiful and is no longer a baby.  I don't want to publicly post pictures of her until we have adopted her, but I'm happy to email. 

We are waiting for our immigration approval(to approve us to adopt from China).  I would LOVE for this to arrive in the mailbox by Saturday as I will be in harrisburg on Tuesday for a meeting and I could take it to authenticate it then.  It most likely won't be approved until Tuesday and we won't get it until Thurs or Friday.  It could take even longer if we get a request for evidence.  The sooner we can get approval, the sooner we can get our Dossier to China and begin the wait for our Letter Seeking Confirmation.  Please pray for an approval!

Thank you to all those that ordered from our 31 fundraiser!  We also had our second yard sale and sold a bit more!

Steff

Thursday, May 19, 2011

31 fundraiser!

If you would like to order something from our 31 party, please follow this link:

http://www.mythirtyone.com/hershey

click on 'my events' and then on our party.

You only have until Saturday before it closes.  The host is donating ALL of her proceeds to us.  Please considering purchasing something, they make wonderful gifts!

Thank you! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

10 months old

Happy 10 months Le Le!   We hope your day was filled with lots of love.  We were loving you from afar.  Here is a picture of the care package we sent her.  She will be getting a photo album of our pictures, so that she can start getting used to our faces :)


Tomorrow, we have our fingerprinting at a very early appointment an hour away. Please keep us in prayer that we have a quick approval and no 'requests for evidence' that can significantly delay the approval. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pre-Approval

We received pre-approval to adopt Le Le.  This is just a preliminary approval pending our Dossier to China, but it's good news!  It's the first step to her becoming ours!  It also means I can send her a care package.  We got one together and are having a service send it to her.  I'll post pictures when I get them!  We are EXCITED!!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers in the world!

Happy Mothers Day to my Mom-you're great!!

Happy Mother's Day to Brian's Mom-you're great also!

Happy Mother's Day to Le Le's Mom.  Thank you for choosing life for your child and for making sure she gets the medical treatment she needs.  I can't imagine how painful it was to let her go, but thank you for loving her enough to do so.  Happy Mother's day to you!

Steff

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Take time to see the monkey

As I was getting R(2) dressed today, he starts screaming "MONKEY" and making the "OH WHO OH WHO" monkey sounds.  I was in a hurry and was ignoring him, trying to get dressed and out the door as quickly as possible.  As I continued to ignore him, he screamed louder.  Finally, I listened.  He was showing me the monkey on his diaper that I had seen a million times but not paid much attention to.  The monkey made him happy and he wanted me to see it and play the monkey sounds too. 

It struck me that if we are too busy to see the 'monkeys' in our life, then we are too busy.  I was too busy this morning, but R(2) has no concerns, no issues, all he wanted to do was act like a monkey for 5 seconds. 

Life is CRAZY busy right now, but I should still take time to see the monkey. 

And to be honest, five seconds in ANY situation is not too long to act like a monkey :)

Steff

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easter bunny and Isaac's dinner

A little late in posting this, but we had bunny shaped pancakes in honor of Easter.  The boys loved them.  See a picture below.


Also, we have our Isaac's dinner fundraiser set up.  It at the Isaac's in centerville, pa.  Here is the address:
Sycamore Court
245 Centerville Road
Lancaster, PA 17603

Sunday,  June 12th, 5-9pm.  It's valid for all orders, even take out.  You have to bring this flyer with you and attach it to your bill.  We get 25% of all the proceeds.  Thank you for all your support!

Steff

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A nice surprise!

As we wait for our immigration fingerprinting and approval, we were pleasantly surprised with a referral!

I can't publicly post her picture but I'll tell you a little about her.

First off, she's beautiful!  She's about 10 months old living in Chongqing, China.  We are calling her Le Le until we decide on her name. 

We are termed 'paper pregnant' and I am feeling surprisingly less sick compared to the other pregnancies. 

I love my boys, but it's totally wonderful to use the word daughter and granddaughter and niece. 

We hope to travel to get her by Nov/Dec. 

A few things to pray about:
1. Her health, safety and well-being.  She is supposed to paired with an 'auntie' and be getting some really good care.  Pray she stays healthy and developmentally on track.
2. We switched agencies-We feel like this a good move, but it requires a re-do of A LOT of paperwork(I almost wrote homework :))  We don't have to re-do the homestudy.
3. My job.
4. Our finances and fundraising-This process is going faster than expected so that gives us less time to get the money together.  We are having a yardsale on May 7th-pray for a good turnout, a 31 party on May 20th and an Isaac's dinner-stay tuned for that.

Thank you..and if you want a picture of her, feel free to email me :)

Steff

Friday, April 8, 2011

Home Study really done!

Tonight we will have the official notarized home study in our hands to sent to Immigration.  To have this step done, brings great joy to Brian and I.  It's been a long 3.5 months.  Our agency approved our home study and we are onto the next step!  We are sending our immigration paperwork out tonight(along with a $900 check...ouch).  Our agency is also asking for our Dossier fee-3K.  3K which we don't have.  So, please pray that God would provide a way for us to get the 3K without going into debt.  We know we will have to borrow money for the adoption, but we have many greater expenses coming.  

Some exciting things planned:
  • A friend from Church is helping me to host a 'thirty one' party on May 20th from 6-8pm.  It's a drop in session, so come whenever you can and please bring friends.  There will be some great food! 
  • We hope to hold a yard sale in early June so if anyone has anything they would like to donate for us to sell, please let me know.
  • We also set up a 100 good wishes page so that you can send her good wishes and help bring her home.  See the link here: http://www.onehundredgoodwishes.com/family/Foofie357
Some prayer requests:
  • Pray for my job
  • Pray for some decisions that are being made on our behalf
Thank you to everyone!

Steff

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Moving on ahead

Alrighty, so we've got a few good things moving now:

1. We just finished our required 10 hours of training from our home study agency.  We both agreed that it was actually more useful than we expected.  It's been our experience that trainings are typically useless, but we walked away with a good deal to think about. Most of it centered on attachment issues.  I have to admit, that I really hadn't thought too much regarding that.  I just assumed that she'd meet us, instantly like us, but still struggle to adapt to our lifestyle.  I hadn't really realized just how much kids can struggle through this issue, even at a young age, and will often continue to struggle through teen and even adult life.

2. The completion of the training means that we should be receiving our first homestudy draft within a week or so.  We'll look it over and then it goes on to final approval within the local agency before it can be shipped off. 

3. We pretty closely considering a referral of a little girl whom we recently came across.  We asked our agency to label her special focus, which gives us more time and also prompts an updated medical history and evaluations.

4. Lasly, and this has nothing to do with adoption, as we mentioned below, we recently celebrated the #4 birthday of our middle one, R1.  I absolutely can't believe it.  When we became parents, we heard things like, enjoy it while you can, because it goes so fast.  It becomes one of those things that becomes cliche.  We do our best to make the most of our time with them, but we still continue to be astounded with how quickly they grow. 



Brian

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today, our middle child, turns four.  I just cannot believe he is that OLD. 

Dearest R(1),

When I think about the years that I have had to spend with you, to be your mommy, I get teary.  You are such a blessing, a wonderful little boy!  You are observant, kind and loving.  You haven't developed a passion yet, but you like so many things from trains to baseball and seemingly everything in between!  Your smile lights up a room!

I thank God that I was allowed to be your mommy because you are a very special little boy.  I love you and I am so blessed to watch you grow up.

Love,
Mommy







Sunday, March 13, 2011

Texas Roadhouse and the almost finished home study!

We just wanted to thank everyone that came out to Texas Roadhouse on the rainy night!  We wanted to thank everyone also who purchased necklaces and gave private donations.  Your generosity humbled us.  We raised around $230 so a BIG thank you! 

We head to harrisburg tomorrow for our second session of 'becoming an adoption warrior'.  It will be a very long day, followed by another very long day.  Thank you to those watching the kids tomorrow for us. 

We are in the home stretch of the home study and it feels GOOOOODD!!!

Steff and Brian

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Training to be a warrior(adoptive parent)

So, it's been a little while since I wrote anything.  Well, nothing is really new.  We are still plugging our way through the home study. 

We had our first home study training this saturday.  It was the first of three sessions and pretty interesting.  We are grouped with three other couples whom are pursuing adoption.  All the couples are considering adopting internationally-South Korea, Bulgaria and Ethiopia.  So, there is a wide range of countries represented.  It is really nice to be grouped with other couples on a similar journey. 

Brian and I are actively praying about direction with this adoption.  We have been praying if we should choose a child off the 'shared list' with perhaps multiple minor special needs or keep plugging forward and go for the really minor needs.  Would you pray for us?

Also, I do hope you plan to have a great meal on Thursday at Texas Roadhouse in lancaster!  We hope to see you there, but if we don't, please accept our 'thank you' for your support in advance.

We are also still selling necklaces if anyone is interested.  They are truly beautiful and you are helping Women in Uganda provide for their families. 

My title says 'warrior' and I truly feel like that is what you have to become when you choose to adopt.  You must step out of your comfort zone, and discuss things you would rather not discuss. You have to open your lives and heart to unknowns.  It may not make any sense but I already feel like I'm beginning a battle. 

Steff

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Home Visit Done and a belated Valentines Day post!

The Home study home visit is done!  Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.  We still have FOUR more meetings with the social worker but they don't involve me cleaning the house :).  We are in the home stretch and hope to have the homestudy completed in early April.  The social worker didn't give much feedback but she didn't say anything like "OH MY" so we are hoping that's good news.

I made Brian steak and baked potatoes for Valentine's Day!  For dessert, we made profiteroles!  He has really been wanting to make them and the picture below shows why!




I hope everyone has March 10th(from 5-8pm) marked on their calendars to enjoy a good meal at Texas Roadhouse.  We have some really big expenses for the adoption coming up and we appreciate everyone's generosity.  We are rarely eating out anymore so that we can save money for the adoption so we will definately enjoy the food that night!  If you are interested in buying a necklace(see below post), please let me know. 

Steff

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Home visit tomorrow-Monday!

Our social worker is coming tomorrow to complete our home visit part of the home study.  We have been preparing for her to come.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow(Monday)!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A boy and his haircut, generosity and necklaces

I have been trying to type the majority of this post for days but to be truthful, I am in PANIC mode over the home study visit.  It's next Monday, as in 7 days from now and I'm so behind.  I have LOTS to do.  I know it will get done, but please be in prayer for us over the next days. 

First, up is R(2)

He used to look like this:



Now he looks like this:

I REALLY didn't want to do it..but I realized that when today someone called him a 'her', eventhough he was dressed in the identical outfit as his brothers that it was time. I will miss you baby curls!

We will be selling these necklaces over the next month, as we still need to raise about $5500 for our home study fees and Dossier fees.  Thank you to all those that have purchased one. Here is a description: "The Karamojong women create these beautiful necklaces by hand and from re-cycled paper … Our goal is to help these women maintain sustainable income for their families."




The necklaces are hand-made by women in Uganda from paper (which is tightly wound). It helps to provide a sustainable income for them and we get half of the proceeds towards our adoption. They are truly beautiful and as you can see they are long, or can be doubled for a shorter necklace, or can be worn as a bracelet (thank you to Brian for being my model). Please consider purchasing for yourself and anyone as a wonderful gift. They are $20 each, and if you would like me to ship it to you, it would be $25 (plus 1.20 tax). You may use the button on the side of the page that says 'Purchase Uganda Necklace" or see me in person.  I will try to carry them with me as they are all different!  Thank you for your support.

I also wanted to say a HUGE "Thank You" for the anonymous donation that we received today.  Whoever you are, Brian and I are grateful for you and your generosity.  Thank you!

Steff