Friday, August 31, 2007

I've been Tagged

My friend Donna has "tagged" me and  now I must tell you all of my "Favorites":

Sound:  My girls' giggles
Late night snack:  chinese rice crackers
Smell:  Sarah's hair
Color combination:  Black and Red
Nut: Dave
Time of the Year:  Summer
Author:  Stephen King
Vegetable:  corn on the cob
Male Actor:  Denzel Washington
Flower:  Magnolia
Vacation Spot: The Beaches of Gulf Shores
Pizza: White pizza that I had somewhere in Kirkwood, MO
Sport to play: Football
Subject in School: History
TV Channel:  Fox
Radio station:  Don't know
Holiday:  Christmas
Perfume:  Gives me a headache
Shoes: anything comfortable
Candy: Gummie anything
City to Shop: San Francisco
Female Actress: Meryl Streep
Beauty Products:  Anything that makes my feet feel good
Item to shop for:  Gifts for my family

Now I am supposed to "tag" two people.  Since I don't read many blogs on a regular basis I'll tag Susan and Ann.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 74 and The Doctor Visit

Today is day 74 of our LOA wait and we haven't received any word.  I know that it must be around the corner, more than likely next week.  Because of the lateness of receiving the LOA our TA won't come until the end of September and we won't travel until the end of October, beginning of November.  I know it is much later than we had wanted but we also realize that it is out of our hands.  So we continue to wait.....
On another note, today Grace and Sarah had a well visit with the pediatrician.  I just LOVE our pediatrician.  The girls have been going to see her since Sarah was 4 years old, she is very caring, trusting, but very firm but most of all she is extremely proactive with Grace's asthma.  We like that as we know that many attacks have been averted because of the decisions that we've all made.
On Monday I reminded the girls that we were going to see Dr. McGee and the dreaded "shots" question came up.  When I told Grace that she would probably need a shot she immediately broke into tears.  She just hates shots!  
When Grace first came home from China she was so sick and we immediately had to take her to the doctor who sent us to the hospital for blood work and a chest x-ray (Grace had pneumonia). It was such an unsettling experience and so traumatic for Grace.  While she was being held down so blood could be drawn Grace was looking at me and screaming, MOMMA at the top of her lungs.  I'll tell you it took every ounce of strength I had not to gather Grace up and just wrap my arms around her.  Instead, I had to accept standing close, stroking her face and telling her that Momma was here and that I loved her.
Now, all of these years and many shots later, we STILL have to hold Grace down and she still screams (not always for Momma) when she knows she is getting a shot.  Today was no exception.  When Dr. McGee walked into the room she said to Grace, "I have good news, only one shot!"   Grace immediately burst into a screaming fit.  Poor Dr. McGee thought she would have a happy child!  Giving the actual shot was a total nightmare.  Two nurses came in expecting to give Grace and Sarah a shot simultaneously--not happening!  Sarah got her shot, no problems.  Grace however, began screaming and I mean screaming as soon as the nurses entered the room.  I tried to hold her but she flung herself around so much that she got off the table, onto the floor and ran to the door where she tried to hide next to the sink.  She did allow me to pick her up but as soon as she realized I was taking her back to the exam table she began to kick and scream harder.  Finally, with 3 of us holding her down the nurse was able to give Grace her shot.  The screaming stopped almost as quickly as it started.  Only a few tears remained but LOTS of anger at the doctor was apparent!
The rest of the visit was great.....The girls were weighed and measured...Sarah weighs 55lbs and is 50 inches tall (I am only 58 1/2 inches).  Dr McGee said that Sarah is now in the highest percentile for her height she has been in since she was 2 years old---the 21st percentile!  Her weight on the other hand is just in the 10th percentile.  Needless to say Sarah is going to be petite!
Grace is now above the 50th percentile in both height, 45 1/2 inches and in weight, 44 pounds.  Needless to say Grace is going to be a true Zhejiang girl--beautiful and tall!
We know that Dr. McGee will do her best for Matthew as she already indicated the doctor we should take him to at Scottish Rite for his skin condition.  She also indicated that she was going to "do her research" so she would be ready for him!  We are so lucky to have her!

Monday, August 20, 2007

NOW you can comment

Geez, you can tell that this is the first time that I've created a blog.  I invited all of these people to view and comment on the blog but didn't check to see if anonymous comments were allowed!
I figured something was wrong when lots of people told me today that they weren't able to post to the now it's fixed so everyone can post away!!!!
We hope to hear about our LOA this week.  Some families received their TA's so LOA's naturally follow.   The last LID to get their LOA's was 5/21---so hopefully the next batch will be through the middle of June (we are 6/15).  
So check back in a few days and see if we don't have something to celebrate!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chip In instead of a Shower!

With our past adoptions for Grace and Analiese, so many wonderful people wanted to celebrate our bringing the girls home.  Each time we had not one, but 2 showers!  Everyone was so generous, especially for our trip to Analiese!  My Russom family not only donated the money raised from selling chick fil a biscuits, they held a luncheon and they gave us a $$$ tree to help defray some of the costs of traveling to China.  We were so grateful as the money helped so much with our plane tickets!
Well, here we are getting close to planning our trip and we are being asked again, what can we do for Matthew???? Because our son is older we want to wait to bring him home before we gather stuff.  We want him to choose his clothing, shoes, his room decorations, what kind of bicycle he wants...well y'all get the picture.  
So.....I searched my brain (I know I can hear what you are didn't take that long!) and remembered someone else using the "CHIP IN" on their website.  So I researched it and decided that is what we would do for Matthew.
So, instead of a shower, we want to offer you the option of "chipping in" for some of the costs that we will incur for Matthew in China.  What are those costs you ask....let me list them for you:

1.   adoption registration fee................$100.00
2.   Notarization of documents............$500.00
3.   Matthew's passport........................$100.00
4.   US visa for Matthew.......................$335.00
5.   Health exam for Matthew.............. $ 50.00
6.   Orphanage donation.....................$3000.00

So there you have it.  I guess we can look at the CHIP IN as where we are "registered" for Matthew.  All you have to do is click the button for chip in and it will take you to our PAY PAL site.  It is safe (I use it all the time!) and quick.  
On the other hand, if you don't feel comfortable donating money you can certainly send Matthew a gift certificate to shop with.  Dave and I really wanted to give everyone an option.
Thanks for supporting us in bringing our son home, we really are very close to getting on that plane!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Journey to My Children

The journey to my children has been different for each of them. 
 For Sarah, I waited for what seemed like forever, and had given up believing that I would ever become a mother.  Dave, on the other hand, always said that it was in God's hands and that when it was supposed to happen it would.  (What a smart man I married!).  
After 11 years of waiting (and riding on the infertility coaster), a failed adoption,  3 months of bedrest and 35 hours of labor I was blessed with my miracle, my princess, Sarah!  
After 3 more years of trying to have another baby, I accepted that Sarah was to be my only child.  We donated, sold and otherwise disposed of all of the baby things; highchair, infant seats, clothes and monitors.  However, when it came time to get rid of the crib I just could not do it, and that is when I knew that my next daughter was in China.  Dave, however, was not as convinced.  The more we talked about it, the more open Dave was to the idea.  Finally he, too, agreed that we had a child waiting for us in china.  
Ah, but China had imposed a quota system and every agency that I researched, seemed not to have any available slots.  After weeks of investigating we found our perfect fit; Stefani and Children's House International!  Our journey had begun to Grace!  
After 4 months of paperchasing we sent off our dossier requesting our 18 month or younger little girl and settled in for our wait.  There wasn't an "estimated due date" given, I didn't go to the doctor each month and there weren't any physical signs that our Grace was ready to join our family.  I anxiously read the APC daily and awaited referrals each month, knowing that with each one we were one step closer.
  We followed the SARS outbreak, nervous that it would affect adoptions.  Eight months into our wait our fears came to be; SARS shut down all adoptions out of China!  No one had any information, the Chinese did not even know what was going to happen.  
For almost 3 months we scoured the newspapers, and listened to newscasts hoping to hear that the SARS epidemic was under control.  With each area in China being declared SARS free we celebrated, until China finally opened up the adoptions.
During the long wait we had our house built, decorated the nursery, stocked up on new baby items and I made a life-long friend, Nancy Brown,  from our waiting group.
Then almost at our year anniversary of our dossier going to China, we received word that Stefani had gotten some advanced information about our referral.  Why did she get advance notice?  Because we had been matched with a little girl who was out of our requested age range.  Rather than having a baby we had a toddler!  She was 27 months old and she was our GRACE!!!  
Stefani was so cautious for fear that we would be disappointed that we didn't get our baby.  But we were ecstatic, we couldn't wait to get our little girl.  
Finally after 4 months of paperchasing and 13 months of waiting we boarded the plane to China.  The trip is so clear in my mind.  I will never, ever forget the phone call informing us that our "baby" had arrived and we were going to get her a day early, the knock on the door and that sweet little angel walking into our hotel room.
The emotion  was no different when I picked Grace up then it was when the delivery room nurse put Sarah into my arms.  I was IN LOVE!
Fast forward a year and Dave and I started the discussion about returning to China for a second time; this time we knew we wanted a toddler--no babies for us!  However, when we approached Stefani  she put it bluntly, "there are no guarantees that you will get the age you request.  Who knows, this time you will request a toddler and get a baby!"  
That stopped us in our tracks.  We KNEW that our family needed a toddler.  We debated back and forth on what to do.  Stefani, in the meantime, sent us the password  for the new list of waiting children and that began our journey to Analiese!
Once we saw the beautiful children on the waiting list Dave and I, for the first time, discussed the possibility of bringing home a child labeled "special needs".  We saw that some of the kids had very minor needs,  others had needs that were more serious and some had very serious needs.  We researched each of the needs and decided what we could handle.  The need of cleft lip/cleft palate was one I was sure I could not handle.  I wasn't even able to view the photos of these children, it broke my heart so much.
So, when "list 11" came out, we excitedly looked at each child.  Looking back at us was this sweet little girl, almost 3 years old.  She had such a serious face with the most beautiful bow lips that we knew must turn into a fabulous smile.  There was our daughter!  Her need?  Cleft palate!  At that minute it didn't matter, I knew that whatever her need was we were going to have the ability to handle it.  
Our journey to Analiese started in April and 7 months later, in November we had her in our arms.  Once again, everything is so clear.  The moment at the civil affairs office when the director Mrs. Wu, arrived, WITHOUT Analiese, the confusion and eventually tears afterward.  But most of all, I remember walking off the elevator at the hotel and seeing my daughter in the lobby.  My heart skipped a beat and then she was handed to me.  She immediately said, "Hi Momma" and my heart burst!  Once again, the love that I felt had absolutely NOTHING to do with being pregnant or giving birth.  It was all about being a mom, being Analiese's forever mom!
Transitioning our family with Analiese was a major challenge.  She was a handful; more than we had ever had to deal with.  We were just exhausted.  When others would ask if we were going to adopt again I told them that Analiese was God's way of saying we were done, our family was complete.  Our social worker on our 12 month post placement visit said that "Analiese was the period in the sentence"!  How appropriate we thought.  
Oh, but God had another plan for us.  
Every time a new waiting list came out for our agency, I always, always, always looked at the children.  It was exciting to see the new little ones that were finally going to have a family.  I would call to Dave to come and see a child that I found particularly attracted to; his response was always the same, NO MORE CHILDREN!  Even though I looked, I felt the same.  With a full time job, 3 kids and activities for each of them, my plate was full.
However, somewhere along the way, I started to feel that I wanted a son.  I would see little boys and find a smile playing on my lips.  I would get teary eyed reading about how boys just loved their mommas unconditionally and nothing was better than being adored by a son.  I started looking at the waiting boys differently, I even, jokingly, would ask Dave didn't he want another boy?  His response was always the same, NO!  I was convinced that if a boy wasn't meant for our family then I must be meant to advocate for them.  Why else would I have such a strong pull?
That's what I started to do.  So when Stefani emailed that a little boy's file was soon to be returned to the Chinese, without a family, I immediately went to his information.  I barely had looked at this boy when his file first arrived 6 months prior.  For one, he was way past an age that I was drawn to and secondly his needs sounded frightening. But, I set out to find out as much as I could so I could help advocate for this child.  
Lo and behold, in my search I found out that a collegue of mine (and her daughter) had a need in the same family as this little boy.  She was a wealth of information and with each tidbit I found out, I posted to our agency site, just hoping that someone, somewhere would see that this need was so darn manageable, almost a not a need at all but an inconvenience (in Jamie's words!).  Across town, Dave was doing his own research, he called the national foundation for this particular need and spoke with the director who just happened to know of this little boy.  She provided him with lots and lots of facts and resources.
By the time Dave and I returned home we knew EVERYTHING there was to know about this particular need.  Both of us had come to the conclusion that this particular need wasn't frightening at all but extremely manageable.  Almost at the same time, Dave and I looked at each other and said, "Why don't we bring this boy home, we can be his family."  
At that moment all was right.  This little boy was our son.  For 6 months he sat, waiting for his momma and babba to realize he was waiting for THEM!  Excitedly I emailed Stefani and told her that the Evans' wanted to bring this little boy home.  And thus, began our journey to Matthew!
So, here we are, day 60 of the wait for LOA, a step that has been added since our adoption of Analiese.  We wait to confirm what we told the Chinese government months ago, we are committed to Matthew.  Once we certify that then the Chinese will send us our travel approval and our 3rd trip to China will begin.  
This time we take with us 3 little girls, 2 of which began their lives in China but are now just as American as their Georgia born sister.  It will be an adventure, one that we are VERY anxious to make.  
As hard as I try, I cannot visualize the meeting with my son.  I know that at 3 years old his mother and father walked away from him.  Now at 6, another set of parents, from a place far, far away are coming.  What will his reaction be when he sees us, will he allow me to hug him?  Can I kiss him?  Should I try?  All of these thoughts swirl through my head.  Trying to decide how I will greet him always ends in the same way,  I will greet him as his mother and I will know what to do when the time comes.  As with my 3 daughters, I will be overcome with emotion and will do what feels right.
What I know with certainty is that, I will feel the same love for him at the moment of our meeting as I did with Sarah in the delivery room, with Grace at the Lakeside Hotel in Wenzhou and with Analiese in Chengdu.  That I know for sure.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Boys, Girls, Babies and Moms

We do get bits of information about our son periodically.  We are like thirsty hikers greedily taking in every syllable.  Today we heard that he was busy "bossing around" a jie-jie (lilttle sister) to get her to move their toy (car) faster!  What joy to know that he is very social and that he can take charge!  He is going to fit right into the Evans clan.  
Matthew is going to need all of his skills to make his way around the extremely vocal Sarah and Analiese.  Grace, on the other hand, will get her way by being sweet and sensitive---who knows how big brother will react to that!
We also were told that Matthew knows we are coming soon.  I so wish it was sooner rather than later.  LOA's have been received for those families with Log in Dates up through the middle of May.  There is a chance that we could receive ours this month!  We are still hoping for September travel but we are prepared for late October.  We haven't even begun on the bedrooms (though the hardwoods have been put into the new office!).  So we can begin the next project....Dave???
The girls are doing fantastic going to bed early (OK Sarah and Grace are doing great, Analiese is STILL up and down at least a dozen times before she falls asleep) and waking up has been smooth.  We are out of the house by 7 AM and at school by 7:15!  Analiese hasn't cried anymore; she loves her class and teacher.  She is SO very smart, it takes very few repetitions for her to learn something.  She is singing songs, dancing and trying so very hard to tie her shoes!  She knows how to spell her full name---you should see her log into the Webkinz site!
Grace has charmed her new teacher with her sweet disposition.  She has a ready smile and a positive attitude everyday--a teacher's dream student! Grace is just so darn shy and would play by herself rather than try to join into a group or ask someone to play.  I've made it a goal for Grace (and have asked her teacher to help with the encouragement) for her to ask someone to play everyday.  She has readily accepted that challenge!  She has told me that sometimes she just likes to play by herself.  That is something I need to pay attention to and make sure that I don't always assume that Grace is lonely!
Sarah, once again, is thriving!  She has really made a big change these past couple of weeks.  She seems to have turned a corner and become so much more responsible and less likely to argue with me (now with Dave that is another story--they are so much alike!).  I see signs of puberty starting and just, for the life of me, cannot believe this is happening so early!  Sarah, on the other hand, is thrilled that her body is changing!  Dave is so out of his element that when Sarah asked him the other day, in WalMart no less, how people "french kiss" that Dave just yelled at her that it was inappropriate to ask him those questions in the grocery story!  Way-to-go Dad!  He admits that he had no idea what to say!
On that subject, of uncomfortable questions, Grace asked me how babies get into Mommies tummies.  Well I told her the same thing I've been telling Sarah for years: that when you get married and love someone a baby can grow in your tummy---remember the rule--give the least amount of information and if they ask for me then give them more.  Well, Sarah has NEVER asked for more information.  Grace, well she just wasn't satisfied with that.  She wanted to know how the baby gets in there. I told her that "Daddy helps put the baby in there."  Her response, "Oh with a seed?"  
Alittle taken aback, I just answered "yes". Grace then proceeded to tell me that she didn't want babies in her belly but wanted to go to China to get her babies!!!  She also asked why I had gone to China for my babies and I told her that it was where she and Analiese were!
 Thank goodness she asked no more questions.   But, we were not done yet.  Analiese, the light bulb shining brightly, asked, "Do ALL babies grown in Mommies tummies?"  When I told her yes, that she and Grace grew in a chinese mommy's tummy she grew very serious and asked where that Mommy was.  As gently and as matter-of-fact as I could be I answered her that Mommy was in China.  Grace then piped in and told her that the Chinese Mommy couldn't keep them cause maybe she didn't have enough money. 
 Analiese just couldn't bear this and buried her head into the crook of my arm and snuggled in.  I reassured her that I was never going to do that because I was her forever mommy and that the chinese mommies grew the girls in their tummies for me!   This is so much earlier than I imagined the girls would be asking questions I was really caught off guard. 
This whole interaction only lasted about 10 minutes and we quickly got back to playing "beauty salon" with the giggles, laughs, make-up and lotion!  
I so hope that I'm handling this in the best way.......

Monday, August 6, 2007

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school!  There was much excitement, both last night and this morning, at the Evans house!  
Even though today marked the last day of summer for us, we were all ready.  I should say all of us, except for Analiese.   She warned us last week, as we made preparations for the start of school that she was going to cry.  And cry she did!  She started in the car with David and then latched onto Daddy's leg, wailing, and would NOT let him go.  
However, when I called later she had calmed down and was doing just fine.  Then when I picked her up she told me she had fun.  She did ask though, "is today my last day of school?"  Oh, sweet, sweet Analiese!
Sarah is all grown up in the fourth grade (or as she said, "I'm almost in the 5th grade"). Grace told me she saw her kindergarten teacher from last year and that she had a "class full of babies".  Grace doesn't remember that SHE was one of those babies last year; Mom remembers it clearly!
We missed Matthew sharing in the excitement of the first day.  Hopefully he'll be home soon; his teachers are waiting for him!
On another note, our VISAS were delivered by Carol on Saturday.  We were able to spend some time with her and her family; what nice people.  The best part is that Analiese's passport came on Friday so we were able to hand that over to Carol so she could get that VISA when she returned home on the 14th of August.  See, there IS a plan that is much better than mine!