Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29th, 2010

Today I mailed off Cadence's care package! There is a small outfit for her. This was hard to pick out this time of year because they prefer for the kids' arms and legs to be covered, and there is not a lot to choose from in Virginia in May that isn't summery. But the outfit has pandas on it and is very cute! My mom included some socks and I put in chinese words that these were to be "shared with friends" so hopefully a few children in the orphanage will have warm tootsies. My mom also helped me sew the little lovey that had birds on it and I plan to make a bigger blanket for Cadence when she comes home. I put in a couple of small toys and included some jelly fish candy with a note "for the nannies" at the orphanage. I put together a photo album of us, the girls, grandparents, our pets, house and some friends. I taped the words "mom", "dad", "big sister", etc. over everyone's head (in Chinese, of course). Over a picture of the family I put the words "We love you". Lastly, I included a disposable camera. It's kind of ironic the price I am paying to ship a bunch of stuff "made in China" back to China!

In my ideal world, the nannies at the orphanage will enjoy the candy, put Cadence in her adorable outfit and let her snuggle with her lovey as they sweetly hold her and look at the photo album with her. They'll point to the pictures and show Cadence her mommy and daddy and sisters. They will tell her what a wonderful family she will have and how much she'll be loved. Then her nannies will use the disposable camera that we sent to take pictures of Cadence and her friends at the orphanage and the caregivers, so that as she grows up she will have a small visual of the life that she lived before she came home to us.

As for the real world, who knows! I'm sure it won't be as picture perfect as I would hope. I have read various things about the orphanages in China. They could vary as much as any of the homes in America. I've seen pictures of children celebrating a birthday in an orphanage as well as pictures of children horribly neglected and dying. I do know that adopting parents generally prepare for lice and bug bites. I know that a lot of orphanages don't have heat so children are stuffed into layers and layers of clothes when it is cold (closely resembling Randy in "A Christmas Story"!). I also know that the nannies sometimes cry when they are handing children over to their adoptive families.

We may or may not get to visit Cadence's orphanage. I do hope that we have the opportunity to see it, no matter how difficult it may be. I can't imagine not seeing it for my own eyes and not knowing how she has lived her life until she comes to be with us. Hopefully it will be on the better end of the spectrum. Until we have Cadence in our arms, though, I have to imagine her in a good and decent place... it's too much to bear to think otherwise.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26th, 2010

We are still waiting for our Letter of Acceptance so that we can move on to the next step. I think I hold my breath every time I open my email to see if CCAI has sent me notification of it's arrival! While I am not quite ready to jump on a plane tomorrow (still have lots of stuff to get in order) I am ready for the process to continue to move forward. So while I wait I've spent a lot of time checking out other blogs. I've delved into the lives of complete strangers and feel like I know them well! I'm always amazed at how the Internet can make the world seem so small and intimate. Below is something I found on someones blog that I couldn't pass up sharing with you all... it's quite accurate!

You might be adopting from China if've been expecting a baby for over 3 years know that I-600 & I-171 aren't highways've "paid for" 3 citizenships, but never brought anyone into the U.S know that "waiting for China" has nothing to do with Dillard's or dishes

....your homestudy is followed by a number (i.e. #2 or #3 or #4)'ve been fingerprinted four times, but never committed a crime automatically assume everyone who is expecting is having a girl own new clothing in 3 little sizes for all 4 seasons (because you don't know when or how big) look twice when you see a lady bug never know how many days will be in the next month know that babies come in batches know people who understand when you talk about 2-day months & 3-day months

....your due date hasn't changed by days, but by years know who the Rumor Queen is ... AND ... you don't know who she is've waited so long, that they checked your fingerprints to see if they changed

....if, while trying to understand why they're printing you again, you study your own fingerprints and wonder if fingerprints grow wrinkles

....when you speak of "that time of month" you're talking about CCAA updates & referrals

...* You might be adopting from China if you love someone you've never met with all your heart*

As for our daily life we have lots of good stuff happening this week. Brad moves back home permanently after being "on the road" for the last year or so! One more month of clinicals and then he's done!!!! ( I could put many more exclamation points after this, but those who know us know how we feel!) I am so anxious for us all to reacclimate back to a normal family life.

Sierra's last day of school was yesterday and Laurel finished last week so we are officially on summer break! Yahoo! No more early rising, frantically packing lunches, or realizing that, yes, I forgot to put something else in their backpack! At least not for a 2 1/2 months. We kicked the summer vacation off by heading to the Carter's home for ice cream sundaes for the kids and cocktails for the moms. It should be a wonderful summer!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19th, 2010

Yesterday Cadence's new crib bedding came in the mail! It's adorable! It has polka dots on one side and birds, trees and flowers on the other. It's not too frilly but girly enough. My mom ended up sewing the lovey that we are putting in her care package and I have slept with it the past couple of days. The olfactory sense is very strong, so hopefully if Cadence has it at the orphanage I might seem a little more familiar when she meets me. Hopefully I will get that sent off this week. A friend from work gave me 3 adorable dresses for Cadence too! I really have no idea how big she will be when she comes home, so she may not end up wearing them until next winter!

I have gotten to know another family who received their referral and pre-approval on the same days that we did (with our same adoption agency). They have gotten notice that their Letter of Acceptance (LOA) is in the mail. Hopefully ours will be soon. After we receive that we can move on to the next step! So, we wait!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 16th, 2010

Brad "officially" graduated from grad school on Friday (well, he was hooded, but still has 2 more months of clinicals) so we decided to spend the weekend like a normal family and went camping. Yesterday we went to Ramsey's Draft in the George Washington Forest. It was our first family "hike in" trip. All of us loaded down with our gear; we only had to hike in about 1/2 mile. We found a great spot right next to a creek with a fire pit already made. The temperature was perfect, the girls had a blast playing in the creek, and we had s'mores! When the girls wanted me for something I actually said "Not right now, Mommy's relaxing!" I don't know that I've ever said that!! Usually "Not right now..." is followed by "I'm cleaning", "I'm cooking", or simply "I'm busy right this moment". Needless to say, it was a nice evening!

My thoughts drifted often to Cadence. I remember the same phenomenon when I was pregnant with both of the girls. While going through the daily routine of the day it's always in the back of my mind - "How will this be different when Cadence is home?" I'll have to remember to close the baby gate when I go down the stairs. Cooking dinner will take longer with a toddler running around. Laurel told me the other day that I would have to eat last since Cadence will need to be fed! We probably won't camp out right next to a creek with a toddler. I'll have someone else to sing to when I put the kids to bed at night. I'll wake up in the morning to six little arms hugging me instead of four. I'll have a child to take to Tumble Buddies on Monday mornings. She is never far from my mind!

It rained during the night while we slept but thankfully stopped before we had to pack up camp in the morning. We were all ready to get home and shower and eat, but it was such a nice, relaxing campout that I didn't want the feeling to end! We hadn't gotten our mail on Saturday before we left so we stopped at the mailbox before pulling into the driveway today. I saw an envelope from USCIS (immigration) and immediately snatched it out of Brad's hands. It was our renewed immigration form (I-797)!!! Our fingerprints did pass!!! I had been so worried about this and how delayed things might be if Brad had to be reprinted again, that I burst into tears when I opened it. It was such a relief!! I'll fax it to CCAI tomorrow so they can send it on to China!

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14, 2010

After some technical difficulties I am finally able to post pictures of Cadence! I think she is absolutely adorable!! I think these were probably taken around the time of her medical exam and milestones exam - when she was about 5 months old. She looks very healthy!

I am trying to get together a care package to send to her orphanage. Everything has to fit into a shoebox, so I need to be selective. I found some adorable material today and decided to try and make a small lovey to send and then keep the rest of the material to make a larger blanket for when she comes home. Even though I had the expertise of my dear friend Kristi to help me sew it, it didn't work out quite so well! I'm now determined that this has to go in her care package, so I'll get it done somehow!

I have been worried about our fingerprints. Like I had said, Brad had a blister on his thumb and I wasn't sure if his would "pass". I found out that sometimes the prints are "passed" in the office and later "failed" by the FBI. A fellow adopting parent has their fingerprints redone a few days after ours and her approval is already in the mail. So, I emailed USCIS today to see if I can find out the status of our application. Keep fingers crossed for us! If these prints don't work out we don't know when Brad will be able to get back to the office to redo them.

As I try and process all that I need to do for the adoption and getting ready to bring Cadence home, life continues to go on as usual. Today Laurel graduated from preschool! I have been having a really hard time with her growing up. Her 5th birthday in November reduced me to tears! Her tooth was loose in February and I told her I didn't want her to lose her teeth and get adult teeth and grow up. She gave me a hug and said "I know you have a hard time with this, Mommy." She's right! I was teary eyed at her graduation, but knowing that I'll soon have a little one at home eases the growing pains. I wasn't ready to have all my kids out of the house, 5 days a week for 8 hours a day! With Cadence's arrival we'll hear the pitter patter of little feet all through the day... and probably wish for a nap now and then!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 9th, 2010

Mother's Day! What a fabulous time to be finding out that I am going to be a Mommy again! A friend of mine who has also become a parent through adoption left a very sweet and heartwarming message on my facebook page.

"I drove by your street today and thought, 'Somewhere on the other side of the earth right now is a little girl who will someday see this street and get so excited, because she'll know she's almost home.' Happy almost mother's day to an almost mother (again)!"
Thank you, Julie! I love this!

We received a packet yesterday from our adoption agency with Cadence's profile. Four adorable pictures, a CBC and urinalysis results(!), medical exam, growth report, and name translation. Unfortunately her exam and growth report are all from Sept. and Oct., but she seemed to be right on target for her age at that time. She weighed a little over 10lbs and her physical exam was all normal except for her cleft lip and cleft palate. At the time she was eating 5 to 6 bottle a day with rice cereal added, taking 1-2 naps, could roll over, sit up while leaning onto toys or things in hand, understands adults' facial expressions, excited to see bottles, a ready smile on her face, and is close to caretakers. Her favorite activity is to "play alone" (good, since there may not be much else to do in an orphanage) and favorite toy is "teddy bear".

Cadence was found abandoned in the First Hospital of Hohhot City in Inner Mongolia on May 4th, 2009. Her estimated birthdate is May 2nd, 2009. Most likely she was abandoned because of her cleft lip/cleft palate and because she is a girl. We will never know anything about her birth family. A person will be prosecuted in China for abandoning their child. Often they are left in a park or on the street. I take comfort that her birth mother loved her enough that she wanted Cadence to be safe. Her mother took the risk of taking her to a hospital to know that she would get in the right hands. While I could never imagine abandoning my own child, I realize that China is a completely different life and culture.

Candence went to a foster home initially - probably to learn to feed, and I believe she is back in the orphanage now. Our adoption agency will try and obtain updated information about her physical and milestones exam, but there is no guarantee that we will find out anything else about her before we travel to pick her up.

The packet also included a translation of her name as well as the Chinese characters. Wang is her surname. Feng means phoenix (and wind, according to one site I saw) and Ye means leaf. Cadence means rhythm. While it may not roll off the tongue, Candence FengYe has a nice meaning and I am happy to keep part of her Chinese heritage for her name.

Hopefully I will be able to get some of her pictures up here soon!

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 7th, 2010

Back to USCIS. We have been here once in 2009 and surprisingly, our fingerprints expire! Not sure exactly what happens to them, but US immigration wants them again! The US government is a stickler for rules and fairly unhelpful when you need to look into bending them.

We knew our immigration stuff would expire in April, so we got our homestudy update in March and sent it in along with new paperwork to USCIS. Since we weren't planning to get a referral until the end of the year there didn't seem to be a sense of urgency to this. Well, now there is! We received an appointment notice for today. Now Brad has clinical in West Virginia and his schedule was already made up when he got there this past Monday. I was doubtful that he would be able to make the appt. today so I called USCIS multiple times to see if he could go to another office for a walk-in appt. One person said "Yes, just take his appt. notice with him". Someone else said "We don't take walk-in's anymore". A 3rd person stated "We only take walk-in's on Wednesdays". Great. Brad's schedule is so regimented that if he was going to try and alter it to get this done we had to be guaranteed that it would get done. Ugh!

When Brad arrived at clinicals this past Monday his schedule was handed to him and there was really no wiggle room to get today off. At the end of the day they came to him and said that they had to make a schedule change and could he be off on Friday May 7th? Um, yeah!!!

Brad and I left the house at 5:45 to get to Alexandria, VA for our 9am appt. You never know how traffic will be. We make good time and got there early at 8:30. There was no line snaking out the door like last time so we walked right in. Unfortunately, Brad decided to move a bunch of mulch this past weekend and ended up with a large blister on his palm and one on his thumb. Standard routine when you walk in to USCIS is that they ask to look at your hands before they even start the paperwork. People are turned away at this point if they think that your prints won't work. The woman at the counter checked the person's hands in front of me, looked at mine, but never asked to look at Brad's! Divine intervention? We'll see!

According to the computer all of our prints "passed"! We will see if the FBI or whoever comes back and says that Brad's won't work. Here's to keeping all of our fingers - blistered or not - crossed! If everything goes smoothly we should have renewed immigration paperwork back in 2-6 weeks that can then be passed on so we can start the next steps.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5th, 2010

PA, PA, PA!!!!! We got it today! It is also our 9th wedding anniversary! What a wonderful day to know that China knows that we are going to adopt Feng Ye!

For almost 2 years now, Sierra and Laurel have loving referred to their new sister as "the kid from China" or "the China girl". The often draw pictures that include a third child and write "China" over her head! A few days ago Sierra said to me "Now that we know who she is isn't kind of rude to call her 'China'? Shouldn't we call her by her name?" What a smart girl! But, Brad and I wanted to wait until we got our pre-approval to take that leap. Although I feel so deeply in my heart that the little girl that I see in that picture everyday is my daughter, I think I just need a little more confirmation to have faith that this process will all work out. Our PA helps with that. It means more paperwork, more fingerprints, more red tape to get her here. It also means that I have to fully open up to this path that we are going down, to let my guard down a little (or a lot), and to embrace the truth that this little girl is going to be our daughter. She is going to be Sierra and Laurel's sister. She will sleep in our house & pet our dog. She will cuddle on the couch with us & laugh with her sisters. She will ride her bike in our driveway & hang her stocking up at Christmas. She will forever hold my heart in her hand.

So today we will start to call her Cadence. Cadence FengYe Williams. She is our daughter.