Friday, October 31, 2008

Introducing Baby Faith

Finally I get to post the pics of my beauty waiting for us in China. Isn't she absolutely adorable?!?! We are now processing our I-800 form which is another US side form. The good part is that this form should only take a week to complete. Then, we sit and wait for TA (Travel Approval) from China. If TA arrives on or before Nov. 21, then we are planning to board a plane on December 3!!! Hold on baby girl we will be there soon :)







It's HERE It's HERE It's really really HERE!




LOA BABY!! And to think I had no hope on Day 100, but it's here!!!

100 Days and Still No LOA

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkins and Politics

The kids had a great time carving out their pumpkins. They even scooped all the yuckies out themselves ;) Shelby just wanted a face drawn on hers. She said draw a "Scary Face Mommy"!

I haven't posted anything yet on the election this year. I just read this woman's blog and trust me she sums it up for me. Well she doesn't really "sum it up", but she does go on and on about why you should make your vote count this election. Please don't make a decision you will regret on election day. Obama is NOT the man for the job!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Family of 5...For Now


Doesn't it look like we are missing something? Oh correction...someone?!?!


Thinking of Baby Faith today and looking forward to holding her soon!

Love this picture of the kids...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just a reminder of what's important

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck
(written after she found out she was dying from cancer)
  • I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
  • I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
  • I would have talked less and listened more.
  • I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
  • I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
  • I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
  • I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
  • I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
  • I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
  • I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
  • I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
  • Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
  • When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.'
  • There would have been more 'I love you's' More 'I'm sorry's.'
  • But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it . . live it and never give it back.
  • I would STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 94...Still Waiting

Just wanted to show you guys as to why we should have already had our LOA by now. This is a chart from Rumor Queen that is updated regularly from alot of us waiting. Look at the LID to LOA column and you will see that in the past it was very rare to see anyone waiting over 90 days for their LOA. Well now all of sudden you can see where lots of us have now been waiting over 90 days-ugh! Not a new trend that I am happy to be a part of :(

So now you can see what us "waiters" sit around and analyse constantly in our spare time. Let's just hope I get some news soon to add another statistic to this lovely chart!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Fun

Here is my crew testing out our caramel apples we made the other night-YUM!
And here are some pics from our dinner date with Sheridan at Joe's Crab Shack the other night. All the kids were blowing off some steam after a great dinner :)



Friday, October 24, 2008

China Dreaming

Well no LOA today. However, there have been rumors that some people are getting theirs today. I hope the rumor comes true as many have been waiting much longer than we have to get their babies.

Here are some pics of China and where I am hoping to be soon. I told my sister that I think at this point, I have resolved that we probably won't be leaving for China until December 31. This is the new date I am going to wish for. Fortunately my sister will be able to go with us then and the airline prices get more reasonable at that time as well. I am sad we won't have Faith sooner, but I can't think of a better way to start off the new year!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No More Diapers

That's right, our new favorite chant is NO MORE DIAPERS, no more diapers, no more diapers! Shelby is proud of herself and we are saving the rest of the diapers for her new sister. She officially wore her last diaper this past Friday-YEAH!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

90 Days Come and Gone

Well we hit the 90 day mark waiting for our LOA to come for Faith. I really thought we would have had it by now. Shelby's came on day 89 last year. For some reason no LOAs have been issued at all this month which is concerning to say the least since they normally come every week. I have to come to terms that I may not have my baby girl home for Christmas :(


I did get our passports back with brand new China Visas stamped inside them! Carol took great care of them for us. So now all we need to travel is final approval!!
Also I ordered and received the actual newspaper that has Faith's finding ad in it from Brian at http://www.research-china.org/. It is sad to see all of those babies in the newspaper who don't have any parents to hold and cuddle on them. I am so lucky to get to parent one of these beautiful babies!



Jolie Being a Positive Role Model

I found this on another blog and thought I would share. It's not about adoption, but about having lots of kids.

Thanks to Angelina Jolie, having lots of kids is hip*By Meagan Francis Meagan Francis –

With a mom of five firmly in the spotlight as a VP candidate and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's twins making tabloid headlines,big families seem to be once again making the news.Over the past year or two, several news stories have suggested that in certain affluent circles, "four is the new two" and that it may be a new sort of keeping up with the Joneses: instead of a big-screen TV and expensive car, the new one-uppers just keep adding more kids to the fold.

While my husband and I have four stair-step boys ages 10, 9, 4, and 2, and I'm expecting another, we aren't part of that particular breed of breeders.Our lives are no where near glamorous. We drive a 2001 Dodge Caravan. My husband works as a computer technician, while I earn the other half of our living as a freelance writer. And we frolic at the public beach, not a country-club pool.The Jolie-Pitts – or even the Palins – we aren't.

We don't fit other large-family stereotypes, either. We aren't Roman Catholic, Mormon, or Orthodox Jewish, and have no religious opposition to birth control. While we aren't wealthy by any means, we aren't poor as church mice, either. Four kids weren't always considered a "big" family. In 1976 – the year before I was born – an American woman had a 36 percent chance of giving birth to four or more children in her lifetime, and about 60 percent of women had families of three children or more.But according to the latest census, the number of women who can expect to have three or more has been cut to 29 percent, while those with four or more children has dwindled to 10 percent. And as the number of mothers having more than a couple of kids has dwindled, so has understanding of familiest hat don't fit the two-kid mold.

I'm frequently treated to comments like "Are you crazy?" and "Better you than me!" While I don't (usually) take them personally, it's easy to see that we've become a culture in which kids are seen as more burden than blessing.But there are many of us who simply like children, enjoy having a lot of them around, and even do a good job at raising them in bulk – though if you buy into today's high-pressure, high-cost parenting style (which,incidentally, isn't scoring many points among child-development experts these days), it may seem impossible.

It's true that I may never be able to provide all five of my kids with all the material comforts that I might have given one or two. They'll have to figure out a way to help finance their higher education (a fate that many kids from smaller families also face). And, yes, the fact that I have to divide my time between them pretty much eliminates the danger of my turning into a "helicopter parent."But I happen to think there's immense value in some of the lessons kids learn in larger families, like having to share, having to wait your turn,and realizing that other people's needs are just as important as your own.

My kids will reach adulthood with a built-in support network that will be around long after my husband and I are gone. There's plenty of love to go around in my family – and not all of it has to come from Mom and Dad, though of course, plenty of it does.I've heard the argument that children use up precious resources. But as far as I'm concerned, my children are a resource.

When, later in life, we parents will be the ones who need constant care, it's our children who will be providing it; let's hope there are enough of them to go around.Despite world population growth trend lines, birthrates are falling in Europe. Even here in the US, the number of births per woman hovers right around replacement rates. A relatively small number of couples choosing to have four or five or even 12 kids isn't likely to skew those numbers much.

My kids aren't status symbols, but to me they are a symbol of sorts:Children represent opportunity for the love, compassion, and support that's learned within families to be shared with the rest of us.It's time our entire culture shifted its priority away from things and back toward people.There are a lot of ways to accomplish that. Ours happens to be choosing alarger family over a more luxurious lifestyle.And who knows? Someone's fourth or fifth baby may just change the world. Or at least, her little corner of it.•
Meagan Francis is the author of "Table for Eight: Raising a Large Family in a Small-Family World." She is the founder of www.largerfamilies.com.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

We took our annual trip out to Berry Patch Farms today to get our new pumpkins. This was Shelby's very first visit to the farm and she had a great time. She didn't opt for a big pumpkin though, just 2 little ones. Of course the boys wanted the biggest ones they could find; however, since mom was paying (by the pound) I quickly decided that they could only get one if they could carry it on their own ;) Smart thinking by me, but of course Travis was pushing his weight lifting skills to the max! Fun day!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time for Winter Organizing

Can a girl really have too many clothes??










What about too many shoes??









PS-The best part is Mommy didn't pay a dime for any of them!! Love handmedowns :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Special Day for Mom

Happy happy birthday MOM!! Sending special birthday wishes out to the best Mom and Nana anyone could wish for. We are so lucky to have you in our lives :) I love you, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!




Relief

I am happy to report that my dossier is in the possession of the CCAA and not lost-yeah! I received this email this morning from my agency:

Hi Donna,

I wanted to let you know that they have received the translation and Department 1 will be forwarding your dossier to Department 2. Department 2 is where LOA is issued from. Jophy will follow up next week, Monday to see if has made it to Department 2. I will let you know once I hear from her that it has arrived in Department 2.

Warm regards,
Aisha L. Cooper
www.hopeforchildren.org

So no this doesn't really tell me when we are going or anything, but it does tell me that we are moving down the line in a "normal" fashion. Although I was hopeful that things would be moved quicker than normal considering the Malia ordeal, it doesn't look like we are getting any special treatment. Oh well, at least I now know that we are on track and getting closer and closer to Faith.

At this point I believe we are going to have to travel around Christmas time. This is good for the boys school situation, but not good for my sister to be able to travel with us. And then you have all the complications of not being home for Christmas and Santa Clause. So instead of me pulling my hair out with the What Ifs, I am going to have to give this up to God and let Him take the control. Now that is not an easy task for me...giving up control. But I do realize He has been in control the whole time, and He will get us there when we are supposed to be there!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Progress Update

Unfortunately I haven't heard anything else yet about where my dossier is. I can only sit and wait to hear more about what we are up against in getting to China. On the other hand, I did send all of our Passports off to Carol at http://www.dependable-acs.com/ to get our Visas into China. She did receive them and she should send them back to us on Friday. Carol offers a terrific service at only charging a flat $50 rate for the whole family to get Visas. So we should have our Visa that will let us into China for the next 6 months. Now let's just hope it doesn't take that long to get us there!!


We had our final social worker visit last night that wraps up Shelby's LAST piece of paperwork for her adoption-YEAH! It still amazes me at how much paperwork is involved in an international adoption. I know she is worth it though!! So now since she is done, I can start over on Faith's paperwork ;)
PS-What do think about Travis' new doo? Don't worry he only gets to keep it for a day or two until I finish up his buzz cut. He thinks he is all that and then some :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sibling Love

Yes, I said love. You may think I am talking about Caleb & Travis or maybe Caleb & Shelby, but no...TRAVIS & Shelby! What a change my 2 little ones have been through in the last year. Anyone who knows my crew, knows that Shelby and Travis haven't always seen eye to eye on things. In fact they really haven't looked at each other much without an argument or a scratching or a whining session. I can still remember poor little Travis in China getting his first bite from his sister on only Day 2 of her arrival :( He was so disappointed that after all the talk and waiting, that all he got out of the deal was a mean sister. Travis really struggled in China on "dealing" with his new sister. He was a trooper though and hung in there for the long haul. He really has been very patient with Shelby even when she didn't deserve it!


Well look at we have now...a brother and sister who really do LOVE each other! My heart skips a beat when I see these 2 together these days. I really enjoy watching them play together now, they have really "grown up" together this past year. I heard Travis tell Shelby the other night when they were playing together, "You're my favorite sister!". Oh my goodness, does it get any sweeter than that??!?!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Bubble Has Busted

After being so excited about getting my 800A approval, today is a different story. I went to my agency today to give out celebratory chocolates and was given some not so great news. They found out that my dossier in China hasn't even been translated yet :( What the heck?!?!? I really don't understand this new information. I have no idea what it really means at this point. I am so hoping to get more detailed information tomorrow after my agency contacts the translation company to find out where in the world my dossier is?

To say this adoption is a roller coaster ride is an understatement. I thought we were so close, but now I feel so far away. And the real problem is that no one really has any idea about when we will be able to go... next month or next year?!? It is still such a guessing game. And a very frustrating one! As you can see, Shelby isn't happy about waiting longer for her sister either.

Praying daily that my baby girl is safe and hopefully at least getting some hugs every day. I can't wait to be the one holding her. It is a shame that she sits and waits all because of paperwork delays :(

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I-800A Approved for Real

It's here, it's here, it's really really here! So excited to finally have this very important piece of paper in my hand. Now I can change my obsession over to China and getting my official Letter of Approval (LOA). China claimed they were going to speed things along for us considering the outcome of our prior referral of Malia. So far nothing has come along any faster than "normal". Still hoping and praying to celebrate Thanksgiving in China!! Come on LOA!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

O Where O Where...

Is my I-800A approval??!?!?!? I even emailed the NBC and asked what day it was mailed out and she said that she sent the request to send it out on Friday. Well I basically RUN to the mailbox everyday only to find this...

And no, nothing from China yet either :( This wait is terrible!! I am SO ready to get my baby girl.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The NEW first Friday!

Here is a copy of an email I sent out to everyone that I have an email address for. SO if you didn't get this email, then I do not have your email address. SO that means it is really important for you to sign up in our new Yahoo Group so that you do get emails about the new meetings that we are going to keep having on the first Friday of every month.

A BIG thank you goes out to the Chapman's for starting such a great group. I personally owe them a lot for helping me find my 2 baby girls and bringing them home. I don't know what my future would have been without the guidance I received from the First Friday group. I hope that we can continue the group going forward and the Chapman's can finally simply just "attend" the meetings instead of always having to "work" the meetings. We are so grateful to them for all of their past months' hard work. Thank you Susan and Dan, you changed my life :)

Here is the email I just sent out to everyone:

You should all receive an invite to join our new Yahoo Group called AdoptOption soon. We are going to be using the Yahoo Group as our notification database going forward. So you must sign up and join the Yahoo Group to get more information about our new meetings going forward. This is the best way we can get an ongoing database started so that we don’t have to track everyone’s personal email addresses. So please accept the invite that should be in your inbox and join today!

As you can see we are going to continue with these wonderful support meetings that the Chapman’s started- YEAH!! The meetings will continue to be on the first Friday of every month, so keep your calendars marked. The meetings will now be hosted in someone’s home each month. We will also be doing a potluck type of dinner each month before the meeting as well. Hopefully this new format will allow everyone to get to know others on a personal level and give us all time to chat and encourage each other along this adoption journey.

Please forward this email out to everyone you know that has been touched by adoption. It is going to be up to us to spread the word about our new group. Tell them to be sure to join the AdoptOption Yahoo Group,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdoptOption , to get information about the meetings each month.

This group is going to be a collective effort from everyone involved. Kim and Michael Perry and myself have decided that these meetings are too important to let slip away. We have agreed to work together to keep these going. HOWEVER, we can’t do this alone so we are depending on you all for your support and assistance in keeping these going. I know we have a great group of people who feel the same way about reaching out to the adoption community around us.

If we can help bring home just one more child to a family, then we have made a difference!

So please send this link out to everyone to join the group today:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdoptOption

Click to join AdoptOption

Click to join AdoptOption

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fundraiser for Smile Train

Shelby and I are going to the Post Offices my sister works at for her big annual fundraising event tomorrow morning. I am speaking on behalf of Smile Train. Here is my big speech. What do you think? Give me the pointers and tips now so I can be prepared in the morning!!

Hi I am Donna Straight, and this is my daughter Shelby. Shelby was born with one of the most common birth defects in the world- A cleft lip and palate. Here is Shelby’s baby picture. (Who’s this Shelby?- She is quick to say-THAT's ME!)

I am here to represent a terrific organization that helps children across the world that are cleft affected. SMILE TRAIN. The Smile Train is changing the world-One Smile at a Time!

For as little as $250 and a 45 minute surgery, a child’s life can be dramatically changed. Children who are unable to have their lips fixed, are not allowed to attend school and grow up uneducated and unemployed.

One of the great things that Smile Train does is that they use volunteer doctors to go to these poor developing countries to TRAIN other doctors on how to perform the cleft repairing surgeries. So as the saying goes: Instead of giving a man a fish to feed him for one day, you should teach him to fish to feed him for a lifetime. Well that is what the Smile Train is doing.

They are training the doctors to perform this simple surgery so they can continue to help other children on an ongoing basis. This is how they can perform this life altering surgery for so little, by using in country physicians.

Clefts are really a misunderstood birth defect that any of us could have easily been affected by. Everyone had the “potential” to have a cleft lip or palate. Stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth and you feel a line going down the center. This is where your mouth grew together when your formed in the womb. When the 2 sides don’t meet together, that forms a missing gap in the lip and palate. So what didn’t connect on the inside, sometimes has to be repaired on the outside. Hence Cleft Surgery.

So for as little as $5 per week, you can change a child’s life. I can’t imagine Shelby having to suffer with an unrepaired lip. Trust me- I know, she wouldn’t be the same outgoing, spirited, and confident child that she is today. I am very thankful that Smile Train is available to hurting children.

Thank you for letting us come out today, to share our story about Shelby’s beginning. I hope that you will consider giving today to this wonderful organization.


Just remember:

"A hundred years from now
it will not matter what your bank account was,
the sort of house you lived in,
or the kind of car you drove.
But the world may be different because YOU made a difference in the life of a child."


Thank you.

Date Night

CJ and I finally were able to have a real live date night yesterday. It was great! We went to the movies and to dinner (that didn't serve happy meals). We saw a very good movie and highly recommend it to everyone for date night. We had a great time and look forward to many many many more dates in our future :)
I was quick to remind Caleb yesterday, as he was pouting around that he couldn't go with us, that I married CJ WAY before Caleb was around. And I plan on having CJ around LONG after Caleb has moved out. Caleb needed to be reminded that CJ is the number one man in my life-not him...GASP ;)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hungry??



Here are boys who just insisted that they would eat a whole foot long hot dog if I bought them one. Yes, I splurged, but no they didn't eat it the whole thing :)



And here is little miss singing me happy birthday so we can blow out her playdoh candle cake. So sweet!

video

Friday, October 3, 2008

Never Underestimate...

the power of PRAYER!! Look at the email I received this evening from the NBC:

Good Afternoon,

I have approved the application as of today’s date. The approval notice will be coming in the mail.

Thank you,
Adjudications Officer/Hague Adoption Unit
Department of Homeland Security
National Benefits Center
877-424-8374


I know you are thinking, yeah so what? So what?!?! This means that my I-800A application has been approved!!! So you are probably still thinking, so what? So what?!!? This is one HUGE step in our journey back to China. Now since I don't have this lovely piece of paper in my hand quite yet, I can't really celebrate...yet. But stay tuned for one excited mommy soon. Looks like we may be celebrating a very special Thanksgiving in China this year after all! I will keep you posted :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cutest Kids Ever

I know I am not bias or anything, but I think I have the cutest kids on the planet! I am so looking forward to the day that all 4 are under one roof!!