Monday, May 31, 2010

Care Package for Caitlin

This is a picture of the care package we sent Caitlin. It was fun- I love shopping for my girl!We decided to go through Ann at Red Thread. I figured it would cost us about the same to try to mail a package ourselves from the U.S., and with Ann I can be more sure that it will actually make it to the orphanage. If I send it myself it will probably only make it to the local post office, then someone from the orphanage has to go pick it up (possibly by bike). If the package is too big or too heavy, they may not be able to pick it up. And if the orphanage is too busy they may not even be able to send anyone to the post office. Ann knows how to get it sent directly to the orphanage's door. Plus she was able to get us those precious pictures and updated information last week! I cannot recommend Ann highly enough. She is wonderful!

Included in the care package is:

A pair of pajamas for Caitlin

A blanket

A toy

A baby photo album; I e-mailed pictures to Ann of Paul and me, Libby, and our house which she labeled put in the album for us

A disposable camera (we're hoping the nannies will use it to take pictures of Caitlin's everyday life at the orphanage; friends, nannies, her room, her crib, etc.)

Candies for the nannies

We were also able to write a letter to the orphanage, which Ann translated for us

I may try to send Caitlin another package a little later, but for now it just helps us to feel a little more connected to Caitlin. I totally wish I could just go over there and take care of her myself, but since that's not an option quite yet this will have to do for now!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I am just SO excited! What an awesome surprise this morning! We decided to send Caitlin a care package through Ann at Red Thread. I just ordered it on Monday, and today we got these pictures, as well as some updated information on her size: she's up to 20.9 lbs. and 29.9 inches tall. Her lip has been repaired, and she has 5 teeth now! And her hair is growing in! She's just so beautiful and I can't wait to get over there and love on her!

Thank you, Ann!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

USCIS receipt

We got our receipt from USCIS in the mail today! This means that our I-800A application has been received and is being processed. I had hoped it would come sometime this week, but I really wasn't expecting it this soon- I just mailed it in one week ago today! Oh how I am praying this means that we will be processed quickly!!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I decided I needed to post something (it's been several days since I have), but I really don't have any big news to share, unfortunately. Last Thursday I spent 3 hours on the phone doing a phone conference with our agency and 9 other families who we should be traveling with. However, since our paperwork is not up to date, we almost certainly will not be traveling with them. They are set to travel around the first week of September, but we will be several weeks behind them.

I sent in our I-800A application on Monday, and USCIS received it at 8:30 Tuesday morning. I'm hoping to get a receipt, or something, this coming week from USCIS. Our agency suggested that, hopefully, since we've already been approved for an I-800A once before, things might move faster this time. I hope that's the case!

The very disappointing news last week was that we were told by our agency that if we cannot travel in September, we will have to wait until NOVEMBER!! Apparently China pretty much shuts down for the month of October and families are not allowed to travel to complete adoptions. So I am determined that we are traveling in September, if there's anything I can do to help it! I simply cannot bear the thought of Caitlin having to wait another 2 months to come home.

Monday, May 17, 2010

FAQ: Why do you have to wait so long to go to China?

Unfortunately we still have a mountain of paperwork to conquer before we can travel to China to get Caitlin. Our new homestudy was finally approved and finished today, so I drove up to our homestudy agency to pick it up. I then added it to yet another pile of paperwork (including a 16-page application, more copies of passports, birth and marriage certificates), and FedEx-ed it all to the USCIS (Immigration) office in Texas, so that we can again apply for our I-800A. The I-800A is our pre-approval to bring an "immigrant" into the country. We already had this, but unfortunately allowed it to expire last year when we thought we still had years to wait, so now we must reapply.

Once we get our I-800A approval, we will apply for our I-800 (another pile of paperwork!), which will approve Caitlin for entry into the U.S. Then we cable everything to the National Visa Center (NVC) to get Caitlin her U.S. Visa. Then we send everything back to China so that they can work on the Visas for Paul and me, as well as our Consulate appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou.

Once we have all that, China will send us our Travel Approval (or TA), which is when we can make our flight arrangements. When we receive our TA, things will really start to move fast; we should be traveling within 2 weeks (I know of people who were on a plane 24-48 hours after receiving their TA)!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Surprise Baby Shower!!

My Marketing Bunco group surprised me at Bunco tonight with a baby shower! They had a beautiful cake, and they gave us a Target gift card, as well as diapers, baby wipes, a book, and an adorable teddy bear. I was blown away at their generosity! It was so sweet of them!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another Good Fortune:

Yep, and we're ready!!! :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Where's Caitlin?

Caitlin is in Jinjiang City, in Fujian Province. Jinjian City is a coastal town, across the East China Sea from Taiwan. It is known for the large number of foreign shoe factories there. Jinjiang falls under the jurisdiction of Quanzhou, a beautiful port city that was once one of the premier ports for international trade. The climate is similar to that of Florida - hot, humid summers and mild winters.

The orphanage is a new building; it was built in 2008 and replaces the previous facility which had been there for 150 years. Love Without Boundaries runs a preschool program there. From all of the research I have done, it seems to be a great orphanage. LWB started a "Nutrition Program" several years ago to ensure the babies all get good formula, and the preschool program starts when the children are only 18 months old, which gives the nannies more one-on-one time with the youngest babies. I've seen a lot of pictures, and the children all look healthy and well-dressed, and very loved by the teachers- and the new building is beautiful!

We have been blessed in so many ways with Caitlin; it is comforting to know that she is being so well cared for in such a great orphanage until we can bring her home.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Official!

Tonight Paul and I signed our LOA, stating that we absolutely wish to adopt Jiang Xiner. This makes it official: she's our little Caitlin!
Tomorrow I will overnight express it back to our agency, who will then send it back to China.

After signing, Paul colored in the other eye of our Daruma doll. Remember the Daruma? It is a Japanese tradition, said to bring good luck. My brother and sister-in-law (who live in Japan) sent us one last year. We were supposed to make a wish, then color in one eye. When our wish came true, we could color in the other eye...

Our wish has definitely come true!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rewind- That Magical Day!

I've been thinking back to the day we first saw Caitlin's face, 3 weeks ago today, and how it forever changed our lives! I'd like to journal it here so that I can remember it forever. To be honest, I'd been dreaming of the day that we would get "The Call" for years; I'd been thinking about what it would feel like to see our daughter's face for the first time, and I'd had a list of questions I should ask typed up and saved so I'd be ready. I thought the day would be full of celebrating. It actually was quite different than I'd planned, although I wouldn't trade any of it for a million bucks! It was one of the best days of my life!

The day began with being awoken from a sound sleep with the phone ringing at 6:45 AM, and I saw on the caller ID that it was our agency calling. A voice at the other end said "I know it's really early in California, but I have some news for you: We matched you with a baby girl last night!"

For those of you who don't know me, let me explain that I'm kind of well-known as being a really bad morning person. I'm pretty useless until I've had my Dr. Pepper fix... I think my reply was something like "Huh? What? Really?"

She went on to tell me a little about Jiang Xi'ner, including that her birthday was February 14, 2009. She then said several other sentences (none of which do I remember) before I stopped her and asked "Wait- did you say February 14th? Valentine's Day?" Yea, it took me that long to comprehend!

She then started giving me instructions on what I needed to do within the next 24 hours if Paul and I wanted to accept the match. Again, so not the morning person! I didn't write anything down, couldn't shake the fog from my brain to even think straight. All these thoughts and emotions were flooding in, and I couldn't even think of any questions to ask her. I had my list of questions to ask in front of me, but they did me no good. She told me not to worry, that she would be sending me an e-mail with the instructions written out, along with Caitlin's referral information. While I was waiting for her e-mail, I quickly typed out the following message to Paul (who was already at school): "CALL ME CALL ME CALL ME!!!!!!! CALL ME NOW!!!!!!!!"

Paul and I had discussed not looking at the referral picture right away, but rather to read through all of the information with a clear and non-biased mind. We knew that once we saw the picture we'd fall in love and would have a hard time being impartial in making a decision. Smart plan, so I made sure (even with my dopey mind) that I didn't open any "jpeg" files when the referral e-mail came in. So what was the first file I opened? A "pdf" file. Oops. It was Caitlin's referral picture!

Even though I kept telling myself to close it quickly before I got too attached, I just kept staring at her sweet face. I saw her beautiful eyes, her cute, chubby cheeks, and her full head of thick, dark hair. It was love at first sight!

Then I looked through the other files. There was a remarkable amount of information; I was not expecting so much! We had 2 different sets of blood tests (one from November, one from February). These meant nothing to me, of course, but I was thankful to have them. There was a medical report that gave quite a bit of information, and there was a report that told all about Caitlin's history, her routine and schedule, and gave a glimpse into her daily life. The last report was about Caitlin's personality. This was my favorite, and made me cry! It was written by her orphanage, and it made it so clear that Caitlin's nannies really love her. She is a spicy girl indeed! They reported that she is active, plays with toys, and even takes toys from the other babies! Too cute- definitely not a wallflower!

About this time Paul finally called me. I excitedly told him everything, and he refused to look at her picture until we had discussed everything. We knew that this little girl was our Caitlin, but we didn't want to make it official until we'd talked to a doctor and given ourselves at least a little time to process everything (although we were only allowed 24 hours!). Once we hung up I forwarded Caitlin's picture to Paul. He e-mailed right back "She's the one."

By now it was almost 8 AM, so I called my friend Avril, who is expecting her first child in June and had already chosen a pediatrician. She had told me about her new doctor, and really seems to like him. I asked for his information, then called his office, fully expecting to just leave a message for them to call me back later. They answered the phone! I told them our story, and they actually made me an appointment for 1:30 that afternoon! I could not believe they would do that to help me, someone they'd never met!

So the clock was ticking! I then called and left a message with an International Adoption Specialist doctor whom I'd talked to a few weeks back, telling her that we'd gotten a referral and asking her to call me back. I then called my mom to share our news with her, then ran to get dressed.

I drove up to our homestudy agency (about a 40 minute drive up the coast) to drop off some papers that I'd promised to bring by that day, then ran back down to the Tricare office to talk to them. I'll never forget sitting in the Tricare office, listening to the nurse make phone calls to try to get the answers I needed. She said "I have a mother here who... about her daughter..." When she hung up, she looked at me and noticed that I had a huge smile on my face. When she asked why I was smiling, I replied "I love that you just called me a mother!"

Somehow I safely made it to the pediatrician's office on time for my appointment (even though I honestly don't remember how I got there, or how I got anywhere that day, for that matter). He was very kind, and took a long time looking over Caitlin's file. He gave me a lot of insight, and told me that the information looked great! He was very impressed with everything, and even went ahead and wrote the "physician's letter" that I needed to turn in, even though I had 2 weeks to get it done. This letter simply stated that he would be Caitlin's doctor, and talked about how he planned to care for her special need. He wrote it right there on the spot for me, then didn't charge me anything for the visit!

Since our home scanner is not working, and our agency needed color copies of our passports, Paul had to go home to get our passports while I was at the doctor's office, then take them back to school to scan them there. He was really sweet; even though he had this huge project going on at school he made sure he called me from time to time to see how I was doing, and if he needed to do anything. He was so excited, but exhausted after being at school at 5 AM every day that week!

The International Adoption Specialist doctor had called me back as I was walking into the pediatrician's office, and gave me her e-mail address so I could forward Caitlin's information to her. I went home and forwarded her everything, then got to work on collecting the things I needed to turn in within the first 24 hours (a recent family photo, passports photos, our Prospective Adoptive Parent Form, and our Letter of Intent, or LOI). The LOI is a letter in which I stated that we would like to adopt Caitlin, that we had the insurance and the financial means to care for her special need, and that we would never abuse or abandon her. I e-mailed these things to our agency, then they were translated and sent to China the next day. Paul and I were both sound asleep by 9:30 PM, both of us completely exhausted, but oh so happy!

Whew! What an amazing day! I honestly don't remember huge chunks of the day; it was just a complete blur of running around and collecting information- and total and complete exhilaration! I compared it to an episode of the TV show "24"; you know how it is nonstop action, and just when things seem to be quieting down a bit, suddenly there is another explosion, and things start all over again? Or maybe "Mission Impossible," where he gets a phone call that starts nonstop running and problem solving...

Anyway, it was truly an awesome day. Exhausting, but wonderful- because it was the day we saw our daughter's picture for the first time! While I've already forgotten parts, I will never forget that day, and how amazing it felt to know that, finally, we knew who Caitlin was!

The Stork Has Landed!

I have Caitlin's papers in my hands! Here is a picture of our "stork"- the FedEx man. I told him that he was holding a very precious package- our daughter's referral paperwork, which made him our stork, and asked if I could take his picture. I think he thought I was insane, but he was a good sport and played along!

Big Day!

This is a very momentous day for me. You see, for years now I've been going to the Rumor Queen website, and around "this time of the month" I visit multiple times a day to see the "Babies" post: links to blogs of the families who just got their referrals. It has helped get me through this wait (and all of the ups and downs that have occurred along the way). I have loved looking at all of those sweet little faces, and thinking of the new families, and dreaming of what it would be like to, one day, see us on that list of blogs...

Well, today's the day!! We can finally share our news with the RQ world! Our blog has FINALLY made it to the "Babies" post!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!

INTRODUCING CAITLIN MEI!!!!!!!!!! It's official!! We got our LOA (Letter of Approval) today! This means that China has approved Paul and me to be her parents!

Caitlin's Chinese name is Jiang Xin Er. Her birthday is February 14, 2009 (a Valentine's Baby!!), so she is almost 15 months old. She is in an orphanage in Jinjiang City in the Fujian province. As of November (the latest report we have), Caitlin was crawling and saying one word. She has some teeth, and she has quite a personality! The orphanage reports that she is active, restless, and clever- but she's a deep sleeper (yay)! She loves playing with toys, and dolls are her favorite (just like her Mama)! It is clear that the nannies are very fond of her. They describe her as a lovely and delightful baby who has a ready smile. They wrote "We hope that she could be adopted by a family which would give her a happy home and good education and make her grow up happily. Wish her happiness forever!"

We are already so in love with this amazing, special little girl, and we can't wait to bring her home! She is truly a little miracle- even the doctors we've talked to have been impressed with her. Caitlin's weight is good, she is very healthy, and she seems to be right on track developmentally. She will need surgery to repair her cleft lip and palate, but she is completely healthy and perfect!

We have no idea when we will be traveling to China to get her, but we've been told it could be 3-6 months, so we are figuring it could be any time July-October. We're aiming for September; that way we'll be happily surprised if it's any sooner!

And so Paul and I are now two very proud and happy soon-to-be parents, waiting "patiently" to get to our precious daughter! More news to come!!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Very Special Gift

A friend of mine out here surprised me with the most special gift. She was also on the waiting list to adopt from China, but then decided to go the domestic route instead. But while she was waiting for China, she ordered herself this bracelet:It has yellow and red Swarovski crystals (the colors of China's flag), and 2 charms that say "Heart" and "Home".We met for dinner the other night, and she told me that she wanted me to have it! I was blown away; I know how much it meant to her, and I will wear it with pride. What a perfect way to keep my little Caitlin close to my heart, even though we are still an ocean apart!