Monday, June 30, 2008

Homestudy moving along

Well I heard today that our GBI fingerprint checks are back in, but our FBI ones are not. I also heard that the Wisconsin Child Abuse check is in, but the Georgia ones are not. So at least we are half way done with all the checks. I am really hoping that ALL the stuff comes in this week so that we can have a completed homestudy in our hands before we leave for vacation :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Good Company

I know alot of you guys out there (like me) like to follow other families on their journeys to China. Well here is a list of my personal friends who are (like me) going back to China for ROUND TWO!

Lucy's Blog- She came home with Ally last year a couple of months before Shelby came home. Ally and Shelby were both found on the same waiting child list with Hope. Now Lucy is going back to China, but this time for an almost 6 year old. Her new little one in China is exactly the same age as Travis. We may even wind up traveling together in China this time around!

Heather's Blog- Heather came home with the famous Lily last year about 6 months before we did. You may remember that because of Heather's blog last year, as I was waiting and watching them to go to China, that I found a link over to Hope's website and found my Shelby! Now Heather is paperchasing again to go back for her next addition. She doesn't have a match yet, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Lily may have a little brother in her future :)

Darcy's blog- Darcy came home with Danielle last year 2 weeks after we did. Danielle and Shelby and Ally were all on the same waiting child list last year. Danielle actually shares the same "special need" that my Malia has. Darcy may be crazier than I am since she currently has 3 girls at home all under the age of 5. Now she is paperchasing for her 4th little girl. I personally think she could use some blue in her house, but hey what do I know ;0) I suspect Darcy will travel shortly after we do again this time around.

Susan's blog- Susan is the queen of First Fridays. I give her alot of credit to helping make my family complete. Because of First Fridays, I was given the resources to use to help bring my girls homes. Because of First Friday, I have been blessed by numerous families who have adopted their children from China. Susan is on the road for the long wait for her 3 child and 2nd little one from China, but she sure is making the best and the most of her wait. She helps everyone enjoy the journey as well as the destination!

So as you can see, I am not the only crazy mom out there. Well I know I am a little bit crazy, but frankly I can't imagine anything better to add to my life right now than another sweet little girl. I realize motherhood comes with alot of hard work; however, the rewards are truly amazing. If you have every had a child then you should know what I mean. Children are definitely a gift from God!

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. -Isaiah 43:5

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. -Psalm 126:3

Friday, June 27, 2008


That's right, thank goodness we have made it to a Friday :) It has been a crazy week for me for sure. Here are the results of yesterday's work that started at the doctor in Woodstock, then off to the agency, the back over to the courthouse in Marietta, then downtown to the Sec of State's office, then yes finally to the post office for Express Mail to the Houston Consulate! Oh and I even managed to squeeze in an actual half day at work :)

Here are some other pics that I haven't had time to post. I just love the ones of my mom playing the Wii. We are having alot of fun at our house with this cool toy. It's time for us to venture out to buy another game or two so if you have any suggestions for some kid friendly games, please let me know. Caleb of course just wants the fishing game so we will see what we can find.

Some of these pics were taken at the car show we went to this past weekend with Chris and Greg and their crew. It was hot, but fun. The girls put on a little dancing show there so they were big hits. The other pics are from swimming with my friend Shelly and her two girls. It had me thinking the whole time that this is what I would be looking like if Malia was already home. I can't wait to have her home with us so we can all go swimming together. We are getting closer and closer though to getting her home :)

We are looking forward to another FCCA Waiting Family potluck this weekend. I don't see a whole lot of people coming yet so you should come hang out with us if you are waiting or already have a child from China. It is strange for us to be an official "waiting" family once again. Strange BUT good!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Glimpse into the paperchase

Here is part of an email I sent to my agency to outline the procedures I am taking to complete my dossier:

Here is how I am proceeding with processing my dossier:

I have obtained a new birth certificate for CJ and have now sent that off to be certified through the WI Secretary of State’s office. Once I have it back, I will send it to the Chicago Consulate for authentication. I will have this document back fully authenticated by July 14.

I have ordered a new birth certificate for myself from the state of GA, but have not received it yet. I hope to have it early next week.

I would like to come by your office on Thursday morning and obtain all of my other docs that you have and you and I can review for correct notarization. I will have my medicals in hand as well for you to notarize too.

I will then take all of my dossier docs (minus CJ birth cert, homestudy, and my birth cert) to the GA Clerk of Superior Court for certification on Thursday morning.

I will then proceed down to the Sec of State’s office for the final certification. Same day I will mail all of these docs to the Houston Consulate for authentication. I will expect to receive these docs back completed by July 14.

So that will leave my birth certificate and the homestudy left to be notarized, certified, and authenticated. I will need to bring you my new birth certificate before I leave for vacation on July 4. Hopefully the homestudy will be ready to go by July 4 as well.

Once you have the completed homestudy in hand, then I will need you to have the homestudy notarized and taken to the GA Clerk of Superior Court for county certification.

Next I will need Hope to take the certified homestudy along with my already certified birth certificate, down to the Sec of State office for final certification.

I will then ask that Hope send these 2 certified docs to Cindy Marut at for rush service from the Houston Consulate. I will leave all of the necessary information with you before I leave for vacation.

If you have the homestudy completed and in hand by July 4, then hopefully you can send my docs for certification on July 7. Then my docs should be able to go out to Houston on July 8. If all of this happens successfully, then should have my fully authenticated docs back to me on July 14.

So once I return from vacation we should have all of my documents completed and fully authenticated and ready for you all to put together to send to China during the week of July 14th so that China will have everything in time!

Things to come..

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Speech progress

We started off this morning with Shelby's great speech therapist and a visit from our Babies Can't Wait coordinator. Shelby will "age out" of this program in September, so we are preparing for the switch off to the public school system then. She will of course qualify for speech in public school system; however, I can't imagine me putting her on a bus and off to school at only 3 years old. So I guess we will just have to wait and see what they suggest once school starts. She is doing well with her current speech therapist, so we may just choose to stay with her even after school starts.

It is pretty neat to see Shelby working hard to use her mouth in different ways when Ms. Connie asks her to do things with her tongue and mouth. We are seeing alot of progress and hearing new sounds each week. I am very hopeful that she will eventually figure out how to make the correct sounds with her new palate. Seeing how far she has come in just 6 months is amazing. Remember that the first time she ever heard English was only 7 months ago! She can completely understand everything we say to her and she is definately talking alot. The problem is that I am about the only one who understands what she is saying. I love to hear her putting words together now and making full sentences. My favorite one tonight was her telling me "Caleb is being a meany-butt!" every time he would irritate her :) I know not very nice language from a 2 year old, but it still cracks me up!

On the Malia paperchase today, I actually received CJ's birth certificate from WI in only 1 day! So I went to the post office today and expressed it up to the Sec of State's office in WI for certification. Hopefully this office will be quick like the birth cert office. Once I get it back then it will be off to the Chicago China Consulate for authentication. CJ and I are going to the doctor in the morning to show off our arms for negative TB test marks. I am hoping that they will have our completed medical forms, but I have a feeling I won't be able to pick them up until Thursday. I am planning on hitting the GA state departments on Thursday to certify some of my docs. I will keep you posted as to how my "plan" works out. So far everything is coming together in record time. Thank you for all the prayers out there as they seem to be working so far :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

More checks off the list

CJ had his complete physical done this morning. Everything went fine and then the social worker called and said that we needed to add a TB test to the list. So I called CJ and fortunately he was still at the doctor so he received yet another test. So then I had to strike off to the dr for my TB test. We both have to go back Wednesday morning so they can make sure we test negative, and hopefully they will have completed our paperwork we need from them for the dossier.

Next CJ was off to the agency to sign some more forms. This time he had to sign off on getting his WI background child abuse clearance. He didn't live there when he was 18 but he was right at the age of 18 so we are being safe rather than sorry. Let's hope that the big state of WI gets this clearance back asap. So we have a few more docs under our belt and are still hoping for the best. Please keep praying for us to complete this in record time so that we ensure Malia is ours. We only have until July 25 to be LID!

Beijing approves Olympics ‘cheer’

If you ever had a question as to who is leading who in China...
Beijing approves Olympics ‘cheer’
At least now we’ll know who’s pulling for the Chinese in the Olympics.
Beijing Olympic chiefs are introducing an official cheer for patriotic spectators to spur on Team China at the Games, Chinese media reports. The authoritative, four-part Olympic cheer, accompanied by detailed instructions, will be promoted on TV, in schools and with a poster campaign. It involves clapping twice, giving the thumbs-up, clapping twice more and then punching the air with both arms.
The cheer is accompanied by chants of “Olympics”, “Let’s go” and “China”. The Beijing Olympic Organising Committee has hired 30 cheering squads who will show spectators how it is done at Games stadia, reports Xinhua state media.
A committee official said the simple chants and gestures were designed to help spectators cheer for their favourite athletes in a smooth, civilized manner. The Ministry of Education is also arranging special training sessions in schools for the 800,000 students who are expected to attend the Games.
Li Ning, president of the Beijing Etiquette Institute, told the Beijing News that the cheer was in line with general international principles for cheering, while at the same time possessing characteristics of Chinese culture. [source article from BBC News]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Whew we passed

Yeah, they said we can keep the ones we have and even qualify for another one ;) We survived our homestudy appointment today without any of the kids injuring themselves or knocking each other in the head the entire 2 1/2 hours the social worker was here. Thank goodness for the new Wii that did wonders at entertaining the boys during her visit. Yes, we broke down and bought the coveted Wii for the kids. Really I think CJ and I enjoy it more than the boys do! It is alot of fun and since we sold the Jeep and the waverunner, and talked the boys out of all extra-curricular summer activities, we sprung for the Wii. I will post some pics tomorrow of even Nana participating in the Wii fun! We had a good weekend just doing odds and ends, but most importantly we are now one step closer to our final addition-Miss Malia!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Clean House

Well how do you keep a house clean when you have 3 kids at home? This will be the challenge this weekend since we are having our homestudy done on Sunday at 4PM. This means that somehow we need to manage some sort of orderly fashion all weekend. So my solution is going to be keep them AWAY from the house ;) So we will try to stay busy all weekend and if I just happen to pop in at your house, just please let us in. Anytime at your house messing it up is less time at my house messing it up!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And she shall be named...

Malia Hope Straight

This is pronounced mah-LEE-ah for those of you who have never heard the name. It is a Hawaiian form of the name Mary. CJ suggested the first name, I suggested the middle name and then we both agreed on her full name. She will also have her Chinese name as a second middle name like Shelby does, but we can't tell you what that is right now. Anyway, we LOVE the name and are proud to call her our daughter!!

You just have to smile

Need a smile today. Watch this video:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A few steps closer

Today was another busy yet productive day for us. We both started out at the courthouse this morning. CJ processed his finger prints and I did some marriage license certifying (which I later figured out I didn't need-oh well). Then CJ was off to the police station for his background check. Next I was off to the bank for 3 money orders for sending off the fingerprints to the GBI and FBI headquarters. Stay with me here as I wasn't done yet.

Next I made it to my dr appointment at 9:45am for my official medical physical. After a few vials of blood and lots of questions, oh and of course showings of chinese baby pictures, I was finally done with the medical stuff. My report should be completed on Friday but since CJ doesn't go until Monday, I told them to hold on to the report until his completed.
Then I was off to our agency for an official check from our good friend Aisha. She managed to save me some money today by letting me know that I didn't need to do a few extra steps in our dossier prep that I thought I had to do. Every little bit counts right now! So I delivered to her all of my completed paperwork and so now we are only missing these 3 docs:
My medical sheet
CJs medical sheet

So of course as you can see now the homestudy is the big one we are waiting to get completed. Fortunately we are using the same agency as we did with Shelby so they are being VERY helpful and they understand the urgency in producing a homestudy quickly. Dianne, whom we met with before Shelby arrived, is going to be coming out to the house on Sunday for her visit. I plan to do some major sucking up when she is here ;) No really, she has already committed to completing the homestudy as quickly as possible!

Finally with all of this under our belts today, CJ and I were able to meet for lunch and yes you guessed it- we had Chinese for lunch :) It was nice to enjoy a nice lunch with just the 2 of us for a change. We then went our separate ways and I made it to work in time for a meeting and CJ finished up with his route. WHEW what a crazy, exciting, rewarding, productive day!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Orphanage Pics and paper updates

I have finally found some pictures of where our new little one currently resides. Here are some very recent pics from her orphanage. I really hate to think about her in here and having to wait so long for us to come to get her. I can only hope and pray that she is loved on everyday. As you can see it does appear to be a nice and clean orphanage so I hope that she is being well taken care of. From her personal photos it appears that she doesn't miss a meal!

Please keep her in your prayers as she sits and waits for her family to bring her home.

I am already deep into the paper chase. I went to the courthouse today and was fingerprinted for the GBI and the FBI checks. I also obtained my Criminal Background check from the police station. So 2 more docs under my belt.
So in 3 paper chasing days I have managed to pull these docs together:

  • Letter of Intent (official letter to China with our request to adopt her)
  • Adoption Petition (official letter stating who and what we are about)
  • Both birth certificates
  • Marriage License
  • Medical letter for all 3 of my existing babies (stating they are in good health)
  • Septic Tank letter (yes, they even have to have certification that we have a working toilet!)
  • Floor Plan of our home (showing where she will sleep every night)
  • Medical insurance pre-existing exclusion letter (proof she will be covered from the minute we get her
  • My Criminal background check
  • Financial Statement (along with every supporting bank statement, W-2, etc to back it up)
  • Guardian Letter (stating that my wonderful sister/brother in law will take care of all FOUR of my kids in case-ya know)
  • Passport Copies
  • My employment verification letter
  • CJs employment verification letter
So yes I am busy busy busy getting things together again. We have scheduled our home study visit for Sunday afternoon. I am going to my doctor tomorrow morning for my medical physical tests. CJ doesn't have his medical until Monday morning. However, he is going in the morning to get his fingerprints and his criminal background check completed.

Sooooo...all of this is to get her out of these cribs and into our home where she belongs!! Here is the "baby room" at her orphanage now. I hear she is sharing a crib with another little one. Hopefully she will be sharing a bed with her sister sooner rather than later :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

McCain is an adoptive father

John McCain is an adoptive father
During John McCain’s vigorous and high-profile campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2000, it was learned that he and his wife, Cindy, have a daughter adopted from Bangladesh.
Morgan Strong, a veteran interviewer and then consultant to CBS’ Sixty Minutes and The Early Show, talked to McCain shortly after a recent trip to Vietnam by the Senator.
Read the short interview here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's a Girl- AGAIN!

We are thrilled to announce the addition of our newest baby girl to our family. Yes, we are adding another wonderful little girl to our family. She is currently in an orphanage in the northern part of China and she is 13 months old. Oh and she is absolutely breath-taking beautiful!! Unfortunately we are not allowed to show off her picture online anymore since China has changed its privacy rules. However, just take my word for it, she is adorable!

CJ and I decided to start the paperchase officially last week for our next child. Although we were ready to start the paperwork, we had no idea that our little girl would already be waiting for us. I saw her face for the first time on Thursday afternoon and I knew she was ours. Now the challenge going forward is going to be completing our dossier in record time. Fortunately we are using the same agency as we used with Shelby, so we are familiar with everything needed to move forward. We just need some extra prayers sent up to help speed up our US govt in the USCIS processing department. We have faith that we can super speed the paperwork along since we only have 3 months to be DTC (dossier to china) from the time we receive PA (preapproval). So it is going to be a tough 3-4 months as we rush through the paperwork and hope and pray that we complete everything on time so that we can bring our little one home!

I am sure you are all wondering if this little one is cleft affected like Shelby. No she is not; however, she is considered a "special needs" child that I found on the SN shared list. She had lymphangioma under her arm that has already been surgically corrected. We hope that it will not reoccur and that she will not have any long term effects from the problem. However, we of course understand that there are no guarantees with international adoption just as when you give birth to a child. She may or may not have other health problems, but we feel she is our daughter so we are preparing ourselves to take care of her no matter what the future may hold.

She is 20 months younger than Shelby, 4 years younger than Travis, and 7 years younger than Caleb. Although the girls will be almost 2 years apart, they will only be one year apart in school. We think our new addition is a perfect fit for our family and we can't wait to get her home!
So needless to say we have been a little preoccupied this week so I haven't blogged much. That may change since I plan to document alot of the paperchase for this little one (no she doesn't have a name yet) so that she will have this keepsake for her baby book. We sent off the official LOI (Letter of Intent) on Friday, June 13. Coincidentally June 13 happened to be Shelby's official LID (Log in Date) date last year! So let the paperchase begin...
Oh and Happy Father's Day to the 2 favorite men in my life- my wonderful husband and of course my own daddy. Hope you had a terrific Father's Day!! Thanks for being such great dads :) My boys are fortunate enough to have some awesome role models in their lives.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Whistlin Dixie

That's right, look who can blow a whistle. Now I know to many of you that doesn't seem like a big accomplishment for a 2 year old. BUT for a cleft affected 2 year old-it is a big deal! We went to see Shelby's main speech therapist at Scottish Rite this week and he said that she is doing great. Shelby is making more and more sounds everyday. We have a Babies Can't Wait therapist that comes to the house every Tuesday and works with Shelby. The problem is that the therapist really isn't a cleft specialist, but the one at Scottish Rite is. So I am going to try to take Shelby (at least during the summer) down to the specialist once a week-we'll see.

Anyway the best news is that Shelby now has more air coming out her mouth rather than her nose-YEAH! So I am very happy with her report. As painful as the surgery was to go through, it is really paying off now. I can't wait to see how much her speech improves over the next year.

Here are some pics to show off. Travis had his big party for the end of season in baseball. He is so proud of his trophy. Thanks to Uncle Scott for a great season. Not so sure we are a baseball family, but at least he got Travis to try it out for a season. Oh and here are some pictures of Shelby in the bathroom drying her "hands". She is so funny. She gets so excited when we go to a bathroom with the hand dryers. I think she would stand under the dryer all day if I would let her. Oh the simple joys of a 2 year old :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Threaded Lunch-maybe

I just had a very weird lunch today. I was sitting by myself at a busy restaurant when a woman approached me and asked if she could sit with me for lunch. Now it isn't everyday that you are sitting alone in a booth and someone wants to sit with you that you have never met!?! Of course I said yes and she then asked what I was reading. I happened to be reading my Love Without Boundaries book which is about China adoption (I know imagine that). Anyway this started an hour long conversation about adoption and processes etc. She has been married for 21 years and does not have any children. So I asked if she had ever considered adoption to which she replied that she had considered it. Needless to say I had a very enjoyable lunch talking about one of my favorite subjects. I gave her my blog address and hope that she stops by to check it out. Who knows but I may have just been a little link in a long red thread of a child waiting in China?!?!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thoughts on Adoption

I just read this post from another mom here. I just had to post it as I believe she took the words right out of my mouth!

It is so comfortable to live our comfortable lives in our comfortable homes with our comfortable planned number of __ (fill in the blank) children. But what if God isn’t looking for us to be comfortable? What if he wants us to leave our comfort zone and experience the thrill of knowing that we are answering His call? What if that includes adding a 5th spot at the dinner table, re-baby proofing the house, and re-arranging the kid’s rooms to include another bed? What if that 5th spot doesn’t speak your language, has developmental delays, or other medical issues that you will have to address?

Will you answer His call? The prospect is scary, the process is daunting, and the hardships unknown, but is it worth it? How can it not be?

God promises peace to those who do His will. And I have to tell you, that peace is incredible. Knowing that you are on a plane because God asked you to be there, going to meet your daughter for the first time because God asked you to be her mother, is an experience I will never forget. Hearing her whisper “I love you” in my ear when she hugs me at home is my reward for not giving into fear and uncertainty.

I have given birth to two children in hospital rooms and I met my third daughter for the first time in a sparse hotel room lounge, but I can tell you honestly there is no difference. They are all my children and have the same place in my heart. The only difference I see with my adopted daughter is that every time I look at her, I am so deeply aware of the gift that God has given me. I think you can take your birth children for granted sometimes, but perhaps it is because Mylie has been with us such a short time, she just looks like a gift of God to me.

If anyone reading this is contemplating adoption, I would only say this. If you think it’s your Christian duty to adopt a child, don’t do it. If you truly believe that God has given you a love for children and is telling you that He has put room in your heart for one more of His children, don’t let anything stop you!

You will NEVER regret it.

WOW! Makes you stop and think about things in your life doesn't it?!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Fun

Well we have been having a great time at the pools already this year! Thanks to my dad and my sister, we always have a pool to jump in :) I will share some pics here of what all we have been up to. We went to Meron's shower on Saturday and had a terrific time with all of our adoption friends. I am looking forward to meeting little Meron in person-soon. Also, we are currently enjoying VBS at church this week. The kids are having a great time. So here are some pics as promised: