Monday, September 23, 2013

The Orphanage and a Glimpse of Maggie

Recently a friend in the adoption world let us know about a US family who was recently in China bringing home their newest family member.  It turns out their child was staying in the same orphanage where Maggie is now.  They wrote a blog post with a description of the orphanage and some pictures.  That's where we found this picture of Maggie, which I love:

I'm so hungry for any information we can get on where she is staying now.  She used to be in a wonderful group foster home with many care givers and attention.   We get the feeling that where she is staying now is pretty different.  It's so hard to see that many cribs together, knowing there are probably not enough care givers to get her out and interact with her as often as we'd like.

Regardless, I'm thrilled for any bit of info we can get.  It's a part of her story and a big part of why we are so anxious to just get her home.  If you click on this link, you can read the blog about the orphanage, which is called Anyang Social Welfare Institute.  There's also a video of the room where Maggie is.  She's in the video, little movie star she is!  She's in the lower right hand corner at the beginning of the video, trying to figure out what is going on with the cameras pointed at her.

We're very hopeful to visit this orphanage when we go to China.  Please pray for all the kids there, especially the ones still waiting for their families to find them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Update: Slow Going

In the last few weeks, our adoption paperwork had been flowing like clockwork.  Things have happened exactly when we were told they would, or even a bit early.  It's so easy to get caught up in the wave and expect it to continue.  However, this week things slowed down a bit, with more probable delays coming.

We had received our all-important I800 approval from US Immigration last week.  The next step was to first attain our "Guz" number ( I really have no idea what that means, I just know it's important!), and then an important letter from the NVC.  We got our Guz # on Monday this week, and then the NVC letter was emailed to us at 7:42am on Tuesday morning.  Whew-hoo, that was quick.  We immediately forwarded it to our agency and were under the impression that those things would be forwarded to an agency rep in China, compiled with all our other recent paperwork, and then dropped off at government offices there.  This is called "Article 5 Dropoff". It's a big deal because it's literally one of the last couple steps before travel.

So we had assumed our Article 5 dropoff would be either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.  But for some reason beyond our knowledge, it wasn't dropped off until today.  I know yesterday was a Chinese holiday, so that contributed, but I'm bummed it didn't happen before that.  Anyway, it's not for me to control. I'm so thankful our we finally have our official "dropoff" date and some closure on that step before the weekend.

Typically what would happen now is it would take exactly 2 weeks from today to process our paperwork there, then we would have "Article 5 pickup". Which is REALLY exciting because after that you wait for Travel Approval!  BUT... the Chinese government will be closed for several days the first week in October, which will delay our Article 5 pickup.  So here's our estimated timeline:

Article 5 Drop-off:  Friday, September 20
Article 5 Pick-up:  mid-October??
Travel Approval:  2-4 weeks after Pick-up
Travel:  1-3 weeks after Travel Approval

We had recently been thinking that it would be possible to leave beginning of November, but now I think it will be at least mid-November, if not later.  I'm trying not to be too upset.  This wait is so darn hard.  Yes, I have a million things to do between now and when we leave, but I'd drop it all if we could leave tomorrow and just get our girl.  We've been here before.  Allie came home a few months later than we originally anticipated and the wait was agony.  This process is much quicker in comparison, but still the clock seems to be ticking very slowly.

We have an assortment of pictures of her through her little life so far, here are some of my favorites.

A few days old. 

She is Piglet on the left:

On the left with some of her buddies at Little Flowers, a group foster home where we think she lived most of her life until recently.

Snuggling with a nanny.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Baby Steps

The boys are into the full swing of school.  Ben LOVES 2nd grade (because it is the best grade says this former 2nd grade teacher), and Sam was so ready for Kindergarten.  They are both playing soccer as well, so our lazy days of summer are definitely over!

First day of school cuteness:

A couple weeks after they started, it was Miss Allie's turn.  We were SO apprehensive about how she would do.  She is riding the bus to preschool this year, going in the afternoons, so no more nap 4 days a week.  She has so many fears of being left behind and is so overly sensitive to change.  I really wasn't sure if she's get on that bus!  But she did AWESOME.  Got right on and big smiles from her seat next to Sam.  

I think school is going well for her.  Life at home has been difficult, though, as she's adjusting to not napping.  She is more than a teensy bit crabby.  I'll just leave it at that, but it's not pretty.  Hopefully she'll adjust over the next few weeks.  It's so wonderful for me to have 4 afternoons to myself (for the first time since having kids!).  It's perfect timing, I use the time they are all gone to work on all things Maggie.

Big girl!

Our adoption paperwork is going through the necessary steps to bring Maggie home.  Last week we were approved by US Immigration,which is a big deal!!  Now there are a couple more steps on the China side before we receive permission to travel.  We're still hoping for November.   We're in the middle of a paperwork snaffoo right now, so prayers and fingers crossed.

In the meantime, we're busy preparing for our little lady.  We're pulling out baby clothes and gear, putting up her crib, and working on the enormous prep work that has to happen for us to leave the country for 2-3 weeks.  

First we just had stacks and piles in Allie's room (soon to be the GIRL's ROOM):

But then... the crib is up!  We had great help.

Somehow we managed to squeeze 1 crib, 1 "big girl bed" (crib with the front off), 2 dressers (one went in the closet), 1 rocker and clothes/toys/gear for both little ladies in one small-ish room.  

All baby steps, but we're getting there!

Maggie, we're ready for you girl!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Update on Maggie Fei - The Good and the Worrisome

Throughout both adoption processes, we've had many very cool little (and big!) moments, connections and "God-winks."  I had another one last week.  I was really feeling down, tired of the wait to get our girl.  My mom and I were chatting on the phone about wanting to start getting clothes out for her, but having no idea what size since the most recent measurements we had for her were from way back in May.  (At that point, she was in the 25% in height/weight.  Pretty good for a cleft baby!)  Sometimes adoptive parents get updates on their kiddos while they wait, sometimes they don't.  It's hard to hope for something you're not sure you're going to get.  We did get one new picture last week via bloggy world/Facebook land, but I was so anxious for something official from the orphanage on how she was doing.

However, DURING that conversation, I refreshed my email (I won't admit how many times a day I do that!) and UP POPPED AN UPDATE!!!!  Whew-hooo!!!  I so needed that and it came through right at that exact moment.

We got 4 new pictures and a bit of an update on how she's doing. Here is what it said:

Her current health is good.
She has had the surgery for her cleft lip. (which we already knew)
She can sit, stand in the crib. She can take steps holding onto handrail.
She cannot say any words.
She is not potty trained.
They call her Yu Fei.
She likes being held.
Her sleeping and diet schedule:                  
Sleeping time: 9:00pm-6:30am
Nap time: 12:30-2:00pm
Eating time: 6:30am, 10:00am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm
She eats formula and rice cereal.
She is in the orphanage.

It also shows that she has barely gained any weight or grown much at all since May.  She's gone from the 25% in height and weight down to the 3rd percentile.  Ugh.  Not what I was wanting to see.  Thankfully, we were able to forward the info to the International Adoption Center and feel reassured by their feedback. They said that while her growth is not what we would have hoped, she also appears healthy and developmentally on track.  Also, for a cleft baby in a crowded orphanage, it can be difficult for her to figure out how to eat effectively.  So the lack of weight gain is not not overly surprising in her situation.

But still.  I just hate to see that she's not flourishing.  We've also heard rumors that her orphanage is very crowded and that babies may spend a good amount of time alone in their cribs.  :(  This just makes me so sad; she's 11 months old now-she should be into everything!

We also got 4 new pictures.  I know they are a tiny snapshot in time, but she's not smiling.  It hurts my momma-heart to see my girl alone there and struggling to eat and gain weight without a family's love.  We are SO SO ready to get her home!!  We're still thinking we'll be able to go sometime in November.  

In the meantime, we would very much appreciate prayers and good thoughts sent her way.  

We also still have our matching grant going on through the end of the month.  Please let me know if you'd like to contribute towards bringing Maggie home.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adoption Costs Part 3: Asking For Help & Grant Opportunity

It's not easy for us to admit we need help financially.  We'd love to just be able to write a check for the adoption and be done with it.  But that's not our reality and that's okay.  We're doing it anyway!!  :)  While we have paid for some of this adoption ourselves, we also are having to get a little creative to help fund the remaining amount, which is around $12, 000 right now.

How we're funding this adoption:
  • Some has been paid for from our own savings.
  • We have been given some AMAZING and GENEROUS donations from family and friends.  
  • We had all kinds of support for our garage sale, raising about $2400.
  • A dear friend held a Noonday sale in our honor, contributing funds to our adoption.
And most recently:
  • We've been approved for a MATCHING GRANT!
We are beyond excited about this grant!  The way that it works is that donations can be made in our name to the grant organization.  They will then match what is donated up to $3000, so that could potentially give us up to $6000!!!!! The deadline for this matching grant fundraiser is October 3. If you are interested in contributing, please let me know. and I will get you the necessary info.

Thanks to all of you who are supporting us through this process!!  We truly couldn't do it without you!!!!

We also have a new picture of our girl, thanks to the wonders of bloggy-land and Facebook!