Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fingerprint Appointment

We got the notice today to be fingerprinted on September 9 at 10AM. One small step for USCIS, one big leap for FAITH!!

Yeah-one more date I get to add in to the timeline. We are moving right along :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just Imagine...

As CJ and I try to prepare ourselves to be a parent to 4 kids, we have to remember to try and prepare our children as well. We are not kidding ourselves into thinking this is going to be an easy addition for our kids-especially for Shelby. Here is a quote from a book I am reading called Siblings Without Rivalry. Just imagine...

Imagine that your spouse puts an arm around you and says, “Honey, I love you so much, and you’re so wonderful that I’ve decided to have another wife just like you.”

When the new wife finally arrives, you see that she’s very young and kind of cute. When the three of you are out together, people say hello to you politely, but exclaim ecstatically over the newcomer. “Isn’t she adorable! Hello sweetheart…You are precious!” Then they turn to you and ask, “How do you like the new wife?”

The new wife needs clothing. Your husband goes into your closet, takes some of your sweaters and pants and gives them to her. When you protest, he points out that since you’ve put on a little weight, your clothes are too tight on you and they’ll fit her perfectly.

The new wife is maturing rapidly. Every day she seems smarter and more competent. One afternoon as you’re struggling to figure out the directions on the new computer your husband bought you, she bursts into the room and says, “Oooh, can I use it? I know how.”

When you tell her she can’t use it, she runs crying to your husband. Moments later she returns with him. Her face is tear-stained and he has his arm around her. He says to you, “What would be the harm in letting her have a turn? Why can’t you share?”

So how do you think you would feel about the "new addition!?" Any tips on easing the transition would be greatly appreciated :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Need Faith

Imagine that you are but a few days old, and you wake up alone on the sidewalk or in a bus station. Instead of the familiar smell, heartbeat and arms of your mother to comfort you when you cry, no one comes for what seems like an eternity. When someone finally notices you, it is a stranger. Imagine then, that for the next 6 or more months you are confined to a crib where you are cared for sporadically by many people who also care for many other babies. No one picks you up when you cry. You are not fed when you are hungry, but fed when it is convenient for your caregiver. You are not held enough or loved enough. And when you are scared at night because of the dark and the crying of other babies, you are left to comfort yourself.

Oh how I wish I could board that plane TODAY! Keep praying for Faith as we wait on all the final paperwork. Yes, we are still hoping to be there on Thanksgiving-Lord Willing!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Here are some pictures of Shelby and her best friend-Emily. Shelby calls her Emmie and she always adds "my friend" after she hears her name, so sweet.

Shelby had her first IEP meeting at the Public School today for her evaluation for early intervention preschool through the school system. She did really well even though I thought it was WAY to long for a 3 year old. We were there for 1 1/2 hours and she didn't even get finished. Now we have to go back for another hour on Friday morning. I suppose they are really being thorough since this is her initial evaluation. Now let's just hope that we get some services approved that I can manage into my "working-mom schedule". We will see!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Care Package #2

I sent Faith another care package to her orphanage. I wanted to see if I could send one from here for a little cheaper than using one of the online services in China. It was about the same price even with me doing most of my shopping at the dollar store. Here is the pictures of all the goodies I sent. I included some hair bows hoping that maybe they won't shave her bald before we get there :)

Oh and we received another piece of paper from our friends at the US Homeland Security folks letting us know that we are getting closer to approval-Yeah! Now we wait for our fingerprint notice. Yes, we have to be fingerprinted yet again. Not sure how many people's fingerprints change, but apparently they are now going to need their 4th set for us?! Oh well whatever it takes to get our baby girl home soon :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Love is Sometimes Painful

I copied this from another blog I read today. It is a reminder to me of my girls' histories and the tough topics that one day we too will be discussing. I hope that I have the strength to handle the conversations as well as this mom did:

Love is sometimes Painful

“Mom? Why did my baby sister’s birth mom leave her in a cardboard box?” Daughter #1 has just been reviewing daughter #2’s paperwork as we get ready to travel to China soon to make her part of our family. #1 will turn eight years old in a few weeks and was adopted from China 7 years ago at the age of 10 months. This injection of information into her still young mind has started the wheels turning; I can see it in her eyes. I explain that they placed little sister in a box so that she didn’t get stepped on or hurt while she waited for the police to find her.

“But why Mama, didn’t her birth mom just take her to the orphanage?” I explain that it is against the law in China to do this and so parents must find another way for their babies to be found so that they can find new homes.

“Oh …. Did they at least poke holes in the box so that she could breathe?”
“Don’t worry baby, I am sure that the lid wasn’t on and she could breathe.” Silence, so thick and painful I want to cry while she processes this.

And then comes the question I have been waiting and dreading for 7 years.

“Mama, why did my birth mom give me away? Didn’t she love me? Was I left in a cardboard box too?” This is so difficult to answer on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. We have talked about adoption from the time she was 2 years old, she has, it seems, always known about it and slowly as she has grown and developed, so has her understanding.

“Well sweetie, I don’t know if you were left in a box, but I do know that you were left in front of a Fu Dragon because I saw it. We even have pictures of it. And Fu Dragons are good luck. I don’t know why they couldn’t keep you since we don’t know who your birth parents are and there could be many reasons why they felt they couldn’t take care of you.”

“Like what reasons Mama?”
“Well, China allows most people to only have one or two children and no more than that.”
“So I was extra and they decided to keep the older kid?”

“Well, I don’t know, that is one possibility. Or maybe your birth parents were sick, or just couldn’t take care of you the way they needed to and wanted you to have a family that could do what they couldn’t.”

“Or maybe it’s because I’m a girl, right?” Apparently she has gleaned this information somewhere. It isn’t hard, strangers in public have commented to me in her presence that “China doesn’t like girls, they only want boys.”

And though I have tried to educate the ignorant when I can…or just walk away, you know the message that has remained foremost in my beloved’s mind.

“Can we see my birth mom when we go to China?”
“No, baby, I’ve told you, we don’t know who she is.”

“Maybe she’s dead, and that is why she couldn’t take care of me. Yes, I think that is it, she’s dead.” To think that my daughter would rather imagine her birth mother dead than to imagine her abandoning her is heartrending.

My precious one has slowly crawled into my lap as this conversation has progressed and is now inches from my face gazing intently into my eyes. “So if I didn’t get borned in China and my birth mom didn’t give me away, then I wouldn’t have you for my Mama?”

“That’s right baby.”
“Well then, that must have been the plan. Cause you’re my best mom. You are my only mom. You belong to me.” She says this with a fierceness and grip around my neck that is staggering.

“Yes, and you belong to me too, my wisest and most wonderful daughter.” She lets go her death grip and leans back to look at me.

“Do you think that she remembers me?”
“Baby, you’re hard to forget, I bet she thinks of you every day.”
“I love you Mama.”
“And I love you too, forever and for always.”
“Yes dear one.”
“May I have some ice cream?”
“Sure sweetie.”
“With a cherry on top?”
“Mom? You’re the best.”
“Back at ya kiddo.”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true.
No, I didn't give you the gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Move Over June...

Well I know I have never been accused of behaving like Mrs. Cleaver, but I just wanted to let you guys in on a major accomplishment. I have actually gotten up early and COOKED all of my children breakfast for TWO straight weeks! That's right, you read that correctly. Donna is now a wonder-mom :) My children have had healthy breakfasts ever since school started. They have been served oatmeal, pancakes, biscuits, grits, toast, eggs, waffles, and pastries-WOW!! So move over June there's a new Mom in town ;)

PS-Ok well yes the oatmeal is instant, the pancakes were frozen, the biscuits were from a can, the grits poured out of an envelope, the toast-well it was toast, the eggs were Egg Beaters, the waffles-yes frozen, and the pastries-well frozen PopTart things. BUT the point here was that my children have been fed at the table every morning from their favorite person-MOMMY!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

YEAH for School

That's right, Shelby did awesome at school yesterday! She had a long day, but she survived and without any tears. Boy is that a big switch from last year. I am so happy that she is happy. This morning we woke up and while she was eating breakfast, she said it is time for school! She was ready to go all smiles. I am thrilled!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

High Price of One-Child Policy

This video is 10 minutes long, but worth the watch if you want to learn more about China's One Child Policy. It is hard to watch when you have a child on the other side of the world living in an orphanage :(

The high price of China’s one-child policy

Fun with Friends

This should give everyone a kid pic fix just in case you needed one! We had a terrific time this past weekend hanging out with our digit friends on their side of town. It was Danielle's birthday so we all had a great time! We even spent the rest of the afternoon lunching with Ally and then of course dinner with Frannie. Fun fun day spent with friends. Please note that yes, that is my "baby" on the big kid trampoline jumpy thing. Where has the time gone?!?!

Miss Shelby will be starting school tomorrow. She will be going full-time this year. I pray that she will have an easier transition than she did last year. Hopefully her fears of mommy never coming back are gone (or at least not as prominent). She goes to a terrific school, so I feel like she will have a great time once her fears are calmed. Mommy always come back...mommy always comes back!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Street Smarts

Looking forward to crossing these streets once again!-NOT... (well sort of ;)

Top Things to NOT say to an Adoptive Parent

Top Things to NOT say to an Adoptive Parent(slightly edited from

We know people mean well but some adoptive parents may not appreciate the following:

10. Oh look, she has your husband’s eyes (or smile or whatever)…
No, she really doesn’t. I know that is something you often say when encountering a baby but we are completely aware of the fact that she does not share our DNA. Just tell us she is beautiful - we will happily agree even if we can’t take credit for that.

9. How much did she cost?
Babies do not cost money. Adoptions cost money. And it is rude to ask what an adoption costs even if you phrase it correctly. If you are truly interested, ask for some websites to do some research on your own or read my blog ;) China adoptions only net cost about $10K!

8. Did you meet her real mother?
I am her real mother. I am going to raise her, sit with her when she is sick, cry with her over her first heart break, and pay for college. Her birth mother (or first mother, or biological mother - whatever phrase you prefer) is someone we honor and are thankful to every day for the joy she has given us, but we are her real parents once she is home.

7. I just know you’ll love her like your own.
See above. She is our own daughter and we will love her more than you can know. (Also, our biological children and our adopted daughter are all our REAL children).

6. You know you’ll get pregnant within a year now.
Yes, we all know our cousin’s secretary’s sister who got pregnant 3 months after adopting. But this doesn’t happen in a statistically significant manner. And you have no idea what kind of fertility struggles someone may have gone through before adopting so it's better not to mention this to couples adopting their first child. (BTW- I voluntarily had my tubes tied 5 years ago :)

5. Is she yours?
Nope, she’s on loan from the daycare down the street. Just taking her for a test drive to see if we want to keep her.

4. Did you get lots of medical tests done on her? I hear most of those countries only let Americans adopt the really sick babies.
Oh no! We forgot to send in the warranty papers for the money back guarantee! She’s our daughter and if any medical issues arise we will deal with them the same as you would your children.

3. I bet she's smart. I hear "they" have a real gift for academics...
I think she is, but then I'm her mother. (smile here) I don't think, though, that we can make sweeping assumptions about any group, do you?

2. Are you going to tell her she is adopted?
Lady, if she doesn’t figure it out herself at some point, we have bigger problems than her understanding that she is adopted. Adoption is rarely a secret in families in this day and age. It is part of her life story and she will know from day one that she is incredibly loved and came to our family in a special way.

1. Does she speak English? (asked when you're holding a baby)...
Only in private. In public, they speak "baby." [smile here]

Friday, August 15, 2008

She Can See Us

I received confirmation back today that our first care package to Faith did arrive at the orphanage. We sent some goodies along with these pictures that hopefully the orphanage ayis will show to Faith on occassion.

I still can't believe that I am lucky enough to soon be a mom to 4 beautiful children AND have the best husband in the world!!

The kids are doing great in school this week. Shelby starts full-time preschool on Wednesday. She will be going 5 days a week this year. She says she is ready to go back-yeah! Of course I am sure that may change once she really does go back ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thinking of Ahmu

Last night as I laid down beside Shelby to put her to sleep, I really started to think about her foster mother. I can't really imagine how much she must miss being with my angel. All I know is that is must really be tough for her :( I know that she loved Shelby very much and she took care of her and loved on her for TWO YEARS! I have had the priveledge of taking care of her and loving on her for only 9 months. If someone were to whisk her away from me, I would be absolutely devastated. I don't know how she does this baby after baby, BUT I am so grateful that she does!! God bless her and all the babies that are lucky enough to be blessed by her love.

PS: Yes, I did take the time today to send more pictures of Shelby to her in China. I have been sending all of the collages that I post on the blog to her about once a month. I really hope she gets them and sees what a wonderful and beautiful child she raised :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surgery a success

Yeah, we received an update on Faith's surgery. She had a lot of issues repaired and I really don't know what the red spot of her hip is about. Guess we will just have to wait and see about that. But here are the details we were given from the agency:

Admitted at the hospital: Apr 26, 2008 Be out of hospital; May 21, 2008

Total: 25 days stayed at the hopspital

Diagnosis when out of hospital:
Congenital Heart Diseases
Red spot on hip(from urine clothes diapers)
Ventricular septal defect
Atrial septal defect
Right ventricular run-off tube with abnormal muscular perimy
Patent ductus arteriosus

The good news is that it appears that the surgery was a success and that her heart should be fully repaired. Of course we won't really know the facts until we get her home and to her cardiologist. But for now, I will rest knowing that she really has had the surgery as I now have a picture to prove it :) She does have a pretty big scar down her chest. However, I believe that the scar will look better and better as the years go by. She was blessed to have the surgery at a young age, so her scar will be minimal when she is older.

Here is a teaser pic for those of you out there who haven't had the privilege of seeing my little one's beautiful face! Oh this wait is awful!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Digit Updates

Since I got a shot at our digit friends this weekend, I thought I would compare from 9 months ago at Christmas time. All of us had only been home a short time in the first picture. You can really see how the girls have blossomed. Well maybe not so much by these pictures, but trust me when you see them playing together you can really see their changes!

Big Kid School Day

Yes, I sent my baby boy off to the big kid school today! Travis was up and ready to go-of course with his big brother by his side. It has been alot of fun to listen to these two at night when they are in their rooms "sleeping". I am so glad I live in a little house where my kids have to share a room. They get to be real brothers every night talking about some of the weirdest stuff :) I heard Caleb tell Travis, "You know you can't hit anyone, EVER, at school. Even it that kid hits you first! You have to tell the teacher. Cause if you hit him back, and HE tells the teacher, then you are the one who gets in BIG trouble! So no matter who hits you, you MUST tell the teacher. That is all you can do." Great, so I am sure Travis is prepared now for that first punch ;)-Brothers!

We had a terrific last week of fun before school started. On Wednesday, we made it to court and Shelby is now an official Georgian! Court went off without any problems. The judge certainly wasn't the friendliest, but hey she signed the paperwork. By the time went into the chambers, Shelby was pretty sleepy and not too thrilled to be there. So she hid her face on me the whole time and really didn't want to look at the judge. I asked Shelby to answer the judge to tell her how old she was, and Shelby kind of grunted with a no. The judge said, "Well you sure you want to keep her?" She wasn't too friendly about saying it either. It wasn't exactly appropriate if you ask me. Oh well, we saved the event by finishing it off with some M&Ms from the vending machine as we left the courthouse. The Straight's know how to make the best of everything!

We then celebrated and spent the entire afternoon at White Water. We had a blast-spent a fortune-but had a blast! This was our last hoorah with the kids for the summer, so we thought. Then we were blessed with free tickets to Stone Mountain on Saturday. So went over to Ally's big 3 year old birthday party Saturday morning, and then spent the rest of the day at the mountain. It was a great week!

I downloaded some pics today and realized it must have been a while since I have shown off my group. We had a playdate with Sheridan on Friday, and of course some pics from the birthday party where we were able to see our digit friends :) So I have given you a lot to look at for your viewing pleasure :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the Games Begin

They're Here, they're here! Finally what China has been preparing for! Lucky lucky day today!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman Wrote this Article

FRANKLIN, Tennessee (CNN) -- According to UNICEF, there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both parents.

In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.

Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.

Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.

Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.

Larry King Live
Steven Curtis Chapman tells Larry King how a tragic accident helped restore his faith. Tonight 9pm ET see full schedule »

My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.

My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.

In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope. Send a video question for Chapman

We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan. Watch Chapman home movies »

In our travels to Latin America, Africa and Asia, we have visited many different orphanages. If you look past the surroundings and into the eyes of the children, they all have the same look. They seem to convey, "I don't think this is what I was made for. Where do I belong?"

These children are crying out for the hope of a family, for the hope of community, for the hope of a permanent love. Our mission, and the mission of our adoption charity, Shaohannah's Hope, is to show hope to these children and to mobilize people, families and communities to be living examples of God's love for them.

We started Shaohannah's Hope in order to connect willing families with waiting children, but the reality is that there are many orphans who cannot be adopted. Even though we may not be able to bring them into our homes, we still have the opportunity to show them the hope we have.
If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We're Still on for tomorrow

Woohoo woohoo woohoo, we finally have a true official it-better-not-change court date for Shelby's re-adoption tomorrow. Here is a picture of my attorney (aka Baba-aka Michael-aka Angel from above-aka Mr. Know it all) working on the reprocessing all of my paperwork for this court hearing.

To brief everyone a little bit on this: All this hearing does is officially we adopt Shelby in the state of Georgia. The point of this is to give her a real Georgia birth certificate with her official new name printed on it and shows CJ and I as her real parents. This little piece of paper has been a pain in the rear to get so far. The US court system wants you to pay an attorney $2000 to process all this paperwork. Well my good friend Michael volunteered to help me out and he was able to get all the paperwork ready for filing. We both find it ridiculous to pay an attorney for something that we can do on our own.

So anyway after submitting the first set of docs and receiving a court date that should have happened back on July 2, I get a notice that we were "missing" some items in the documents. So again, with Mr. Resources help, I get everything done that was missing and resubmitted the new stuff. Michael was great with all his help jumping through a lot of hoops to get the necessary documents, especially since all of these problems arose on the day I found out about Malia. Well, I thought everything was a go for the new reassigned court date, until the courts decided to let me know just yesterday that something still wasn't right :( I was livid!!
After some quick actions, I called the courts back and asked if I could try yet again and rushed over yesterday afternoon and yet again resubmitted more docs. Needless to say I just spoke to them and they said YES, we are good finally, and court will proceed as scheduled for tomorrow morning-WOOHOO!!

Thank you Michael for all your hard work helping me with this stuff! I really would have hated to give to a condo fund for an attorney. A contribution to Sheridan's college fund sounds a lot better :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Readoption Update

Here is me trying to "readopt" Shelby in our lovely US Court System...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

First Friday Recap

Well I was getting ready to write up my First Friday recap, but I see that Amy has done a wonderful job of that already that even includes pictures and blog links. So please click here to see what fun we had last night! Thanks Amy for taking the words right out of my mouth :)