Monday, June 10th: Allie's Gotcha Day- We celebrated her being home 2 years.
Tuesday, June 11th: I was at the pool by myself with the kiddos. Not always an easy task. Ben was in the deep end. Sam was in the shallow end near me and Allie was in the baby pool close by. I was trying to keep an eye on them all simultaneously. I checked my phone and caught my breath. Our adoption agency had called and left a message. They have NEVER called us. We've done all our communication with them through email up to this point. We were caught up on paperwork and had no reason to expect a call from them. Keeping my eyes on the kids, I listened to the voice mail. It was Sarah from CCAI, super sweet and awesome at her job, asking if we could give her a call back when we could. That's all it said. I KNEW this was it, but didn't want to get myself overly excited in case it wasn't.
I was the one to get "The Call" when we were matched with Allie. I remember the day, the moment, where I was standing when we found out we had a daughter in Korea. I remember the panic of trying to absorb all the info about her. I knew I couldn't do that at the pool and come across as a sane person to our agency, and there was no way I was going to wait till we got home. So I called Jeremy at work and had him call them. He very calmly called me back literally minutes later and told me we had a referral. This was IT. And then I panicked. I started to cry and wanted to hear all about her newest family member, but knew I had to have help with the kids. I ran and grabbed my friend, who I scared to death because she thought someone had drowned, and asked her to please watch my kids, that we had a baby match. I ran out to the parking lot and learned about our daughter.
Her name is An Yu Fei. (Pronounced You Fay) An is her last name, after her city of Anyang. All the kids in her orphanage are given the last name An. So Yu Fei is the name she goes by, the name we'll keep as her middle name. She was born October 7, 2012 in the city of Anyang, in the Henan Province of China. She was found at a day old and brought into the care of the Anyang Social Welfare Institute. She had a level 3 (the most severe) cleft lip and palate. She was 8 months old at the time of our referral call. Our agency told us they had emailed us pictures and all her medical and background info. We had 7 days to review it and let them know if we wanted to accept her referral and start the process of bringing her home.
We don't have smart phones. So I was at the pool, by myself with the kids, and desperate to get home to see her face! One thing we had decided ahead of time was that we didn't want to tell the kids anything until we were certain we would accept the child match. So I collected myself, thanked my friend, and went back into Mommy-mode for another hour or so at the pool. I calmly got us home and every napping/resting. Jeremy met me at home and together we opened our laptop to get our first glimpse at this new little lady.
I will be honest. Seeing her first pictures was a little hard. Her cleft lip and palate are pretty extensive. We knew that was a very common medical need in China, and we said that was a need we would be willing to consider. But seeing a picture of a little girl who could be our daughter, it brings forth all kinds of thoughts. We could see her cleft, which brought forth a lot of questions. Questions about surgeries, feeding, speech, cost...how would the kids react, how would we handle other people's reactions. But we could also see how absolutely adorable she is. Tiny and perfect. And desperately needing a family. And our agency asked US if we wanted her.
Although we never really had any doubt, we embarked on the process of learning as much about her as we could. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the International Adoption Clinic at Children's Hospital. Dr. Staat there is a phenominal doctor and we got to know her when Allie came home. We emailed all the pics and info we had on Yu Fei and waited to hear from Dr. Staat the following day. In the meantime, we didn't tell the kids, but did tell our families and close friends that we may have our daughter.
Wednesday June 12: My dad and my Grandma's birthday. And this was the day we learned more about our ltitle girl. Through the IAC and Dr. Staat, we learned that Yu Fei began pretty tiny, in the 3rd percentile for height and weight. Cleft lip/palate babies often struggle to eat and gain weight because their food can come right back out of their noses. But we were joyous to discover that by her 8 month wellness visit, she had blossomed up into the 25% for height and weight! That's wonderful for a cleft baby. Obviously she had figured out how to eat! We also learned that she has already had one surgery. When she was 6 months old, she had surgery to repair her cleft lip. They did not do any repair to her palate. We have "before" and "after" pictures and the amount of repair they did to her lip is MIND BLOWING. You can barely tell she had a cleft lip after the surgery. However, she has had an unusual complication. As her lip was healing after surgery, a part of it split back open and a baby tooth has grown out of that split. So she has a baby tooth on the outside of her mouth, on the skin right under her nose. Unusual, but the plastic surgeons at Children's have assured us they can easily take care of it. There was also some mention of some hearing concerns on the left side where her cleft is, which is apparently normal for cleft babies. She otherwise seems healthy and developmentally on target. Over those few days, we stopped seeing her as a "cleft baby" and started to see her for HER. And we knew she was ours!
When we first got her information, I asked Sarah at CCAI what would be our next step if we said yes. She said first, she would start jumping up and down, and then we would have more paperwork to do.
Friday, June 14th: I emailed her and told her to start jumping because we were saying YES!!!
Her reply: "Oh my goodness!!! Jumping, jumping!!! Hoorray!!!! Congratulations!!! That is SOOO exciting!!!!!" I love our agency. They are awesome.
And so began our next phase of paperwork. We had to write a Letter of Intent (LOI) to China, stating that we would become Yu Fei's family and always care for her.
June 18th: China received our LOI and Yu Fei's file was officially "locked" in just for us. That meant that no one else could be matched with her. The next step is waiting for Letter of Approval (LOA). It's crazy, but this can take 3-4 months from LOI to receive. So while we have been told that we can consider her ours, we still don't have it in written confirmation from China yet. 3-4 months from LOI for us would be between Sept 18 and Oct 18th. Ugh. Such a loooonnnnnggggg wait. At first, we decided we would only tell people our news in person if we saw them, but keep our news quiet on Facebook and Blogger. We were afraid if for some reason things fell through, then we'd have to tell the whole world.
July 18th: One month later, we had told some people our news in person but still hadn't made a formal announcement yet, despite our agency assuring us that they see no reason that things could fall through. But God had another plan. :) I had recently found out about a group foster home in China called Little Flowers. I love following these types of group foster homes, they are often run by Americans and offer better care than some orphanages because they have more volunteers, more resources, etc. Although it never crossed my mind for a minute that Yu Fei could be there, I "liked" their page on Facebook just so I could see their posts of the adorable kids in their care. We were told that Yu Fei was at the Anyang Social Welfare Institute, which we knew nothing about. I came home from the grocery around 10pm that night. I was feeling a little blue that we were in such a long holding pattern waiting for LOA and not expecting any updates on Fei. I sat down to catch up on Facebook when YU FEI's little face popped onto my screen!!! I was SO confused. I screamed and called Jeremy over as we tried to figure this out. It was a picture I had never seen before of her, taken that day and the comment said " We're told Fei has a family working to bring her home. We know they are going to love this little princess." She's at Little Flowers group foster home, not at the orphange as we had thought. I immediately commented on the picture that she's ours, which in turn announced to the Facebook world that we had a new daughter. The cat was out of the bag! Which was totally fine, because this little miracle was all the reassurance I needed that she's ours and that everything will work out okay. For a random place I had just "liked" a few days prior to actually have her in their care, for them to choose her picture to post about that night and for me to be sitting there as her picture popped on the screen is nothing short of a miracle. We are so grateful that she is getting great care. In addition to that picture, they also sent me access to an online phone album with pictures of her when she was tiny, pictures we didn't already have. It's truly amazing.
So that's our story. Yu Fei is our daughter. No, we don't have an American name chosen yet! She's now 9.5 months old. We've requested that they not do any more surgeries on here there, we'd prefer to have them done here once she's home, but there is no guarantee they won't go ahead with another one there. We're still waiting for LOA, which will hopefully come Sept/Oct. Once that comes, there's more paperwork and another 10-14 week wait until we travel to get her. I know, it takes FOREVER. But in the grand scheme of things, we began this adoption process last August 2012, so to be matched in less than a year is amazing. We are so hopeful we'll get to bring her home by the end of this year. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we'll keep everyone posted as we get more news.
We would so appreciate your prayers. Please pray for Yu Fei, that she is safe, healthy and loved. Please pray for Little Flowers home, that they continue to provide her excellent care. Please pray for China and their adoption program. They recently got a new computer system, which is slowing everything down. Please pray for things to speed up and go smoothly for all the little ones still waiting to be matched and for those waiting to go home. Please pray for our agency, that they continue to have strength and wisdom for the families they help. Please pray that we would have patience as we wait and that we prepare our kids as best as we can for our newest family member.
We've talked a lot about how to handle Yu Fei's pictures. Some people are a little weary of the cleft lip/palate, especially the before-surgery shots. However, we believe that that is how God made her and those before pictures are a part of who she is. We don't ever want to hide that or for her to feel shame in that. So below I've posted the "after" pictures first. The cleft lip is much better, but you can see that tooth sticking out. Her before pictures are at the bottom, so you can choose not to go that far if you'd prefer not to. But we think she's adorable in them all!!
And without further ado, here she is!!!!
Here's the picture from Facebook! She looks like she's ready for trouble! She'll fit right in here.
"After Surgery" Pictures
"Before Surgery" Pictures