Friday, February 27, 2009

More on Ke Xin's Foster Care

When the Milwaukee family was told Ke Xin had been put into foster care, they were also told she'd gone to that foster care with a little boy. It turns out the little boy, Qi Meng, is being adopted by another lady on my Henan Yahoo Group. When we started looking back at our kids' original referral paperwork, Qi Meng's mentioned a big foster sister and Ke Xin's mentioned a little foster brother. The paperwork is from June of 2008, so that leads us to believe they have been together for some time. That's good because it means they may have been able to bond with each other - excellent for future attachment (with their new parents). Qi Meng's mom is Allison. She and her hubby live in Louisiana. It's not next door, but it's not too far away, either. (I'm thinking New Orleans and seafood...) It should be fairly easy for the kids to keep in touch. They are just alittle behind us in their paperwork and should be DTC in a couple weeks. It may still work out for us to travel together. That would be great!!!

Our adoption agency has established a foster care program for some of the kids in Xe Kin's orphanage. I have asked our Waiting Child Coordinator, Pam, to try to find out if Ke Xin is part of that program or if this is something the orphanage arranged on its own. I also found out we DON'T get updates every three months. We just get the one, 3 months after receiveing our Pre-Approval. Phooey. Closer to Gotcha Day, we'll send a cake and have some pictures taken by a care package service in China.
I have been investigating what shots/immunizations we'll need for the trip. None are required, but several are recommended - Hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tetanus. I think I'd rather be safe and get them. Debbi is going to ask her doc. I'm just going to the local Travel Clinic.

My painting is continuing, though slowly. I'm painting the 2 story foyer using the platform that Mark designed. It has worked wonderfully! Now we just have to figure out how to paint the 2 story staircase (and change the light bulbs that burned out about 3 years ago...) Ha!

Olivia is getting psyched about our trip. She mentions Ke Xin alot and made her an early birthday card the other day using her Scooby Doo stickers! I think she'll be a great big sister. I just hope Ke Xin can open up fairly quickly and accept her attention without freaking out. Here are a few more Olivia pics. She has quite the personality! The last photo is of her in her "High School Musical" outfit. She coordinated it herself and she is VERY proud of it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wanna Dance?

I'd wanted to post this picture before, but my photo software wasn't working. I finally gave up on it and tried a different program. This is Olivia at her pre-school sock-hop. She wanted to ask this little boy to dance. She finally worked up the nerve and approached him, only to have his big sister (in the pink) step in and say NO. Olivia was furious (but she didn't cause a scene). In her own words "She put a block on me!!" and "Next time, I'll show her my stuff!" I think I'm glad there aren't any more dances planned for the year!!! Poor little guy - he looks like a deer in the headlights! I love the "hands on hips" approach! She's such a delicate flower... She had a good time anyway and at least we got this classic photo. It's certainly one for the scrapbook!!
Yesterday I found out about more steps that have been added to the adoption process between getting our Letter of Acceptance and getting Travel Authorization. They involve USCIS and the US Consulate in Guanzhou. Sigh. So, I bet it will be JULY before we travel. Sheez. Can they think of anything else to make it take even longer? Ha! I shouldn't say that or they will!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Foster Care?

We were hoping for some updated photos and news of Ke Xin (Brooke) today. A family from Milwaukee picked up their son Monday and were allowed to visit the orphanage today. But they were told that Ke Xin has been moved to foster care along with a little boy. They were also told she is doing better in foster care than she was at the orphanage. Well, that's certainly good news. Maybe she'll put on more weight and catch up some developmentally. We don't expect another update from the orphanage until the end of March. Nothing about outside foster care was mentioned in the December update.

Meanwhile, we are starting to get ready for travel. I'm painting the house and made great progress yesterday since Mark was home to entertain Olivia. Debbi is ready to apply for her passport. I need to start making and re-making endless lists about what to do before we go. Olivia is carefree and has no idea what an adventure she's going to be experiencing. That's just as good. She is such a good kid. I think she'll really have fun in China after we get done with the 17 hour plane ride. She's really looking forward to having a little sister. She keeps trying to shop for clothes for her, but I have to stop her since we have no idea what size Brooke will be when we get her.
Here is a picture of Olivia (and us) from her school sock-hop. What an expression! There's another picture from that event that I have to post, but I can't due to technical difficulties. I'll get it done eventually. She made me laugh several times today. At one point we were having hot cocoa and a few Hershey kisses. She'd finished her's and looked at me sweetly, saying "I wish I had another Kiss..." I had one in my hand. She then tipped her head and said in a very syrupy voice, "I like you...." while popping her eyebrows up and down and gazing at my Kiss. Needless to say, she got the last Kiss. But then we both laughed about it. Her father has worked very hard developing her sense of humor. He has done well. We had our first ethical debate yesterday when she declared she was willing to give up one of her oldest, most-favorite stuffed companions in order to get a flashy new one. We both tried to explain that you never turn your back on an old, true friend for something (or someone) new. I don't think we really got through to her, but she'll understand better later. She got so mad at me that she declared she wanted a "new mommy". Tough. She's stuck with me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

We have LID - Feb 13, 2009!!!

LID is adoption speak for Log in Date. It means the Chinese have our dossier and have officially checked it into their system. Now we WAIT for our official LOA - Letter of Acceptance. This typically takes from 3-4 months while they review all our documents. Then we WAIT for TA - Travel Approval, about another month. Then we go! So now the clock is officially ticking... tick... tick...tick. (One local lady recently got her LOA after only 66 days. Please!!!!!)
Mark and I have been talking and after going through several ideas, we have decided on who will travel: Heidi, Olivia and Debbi. After our January lay-off drama, Mark decided it would not be in our best interests to ask for 2 weeks off, most likely in June, heavy vacation season. So he will work and hold down the fort while Debbi and I drag Olivia to China. Mark is not thrilled with Olivia going to China, but it will be fine. Lots of parents take their kids. Olivia is excited to meet Brooke, and she's been a good traveler in the past. Mark will take some time off when we get back. Thanks heavens, since I have no idea how the jet lag will affect us.
By the way, Mark is really enjoying his department change at work. And his hours are better, too. It was a hard change to go through, but in the long run it may be for the better! Yeah!
Come on LOA!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More on Mark

Mark has been with his company 19 years. He truely did not expect to be laid-off, so it was quite a surprise. The rug was pulled out from under our feet. If this was a typical economy, we would have been disappointed, but he would have gotten a job with a competitor fairly easily. We would have fixed up the house, sold it and moved. But in THIS economy? What jobs? Sell the house? Impossible! So, Mark kept working his shifts (midnight) and was on the phone all day discussing his options with friends, co-workers and family, getting VERY little sleep with the weight of the world on his shoulders. After 6 straight days of this routine (he worked thru the weekend, no days off), he worked his shift and went straight into his interview for the Packaging Dept. job. Talk about pressure!!! And he did beautifully. As usual. He was able to keep it together until we got the news Friday afternoon that he had gotten the position. Then he worked thru that weekend, with Sunday as his last day in the old deperatment. He had Sunday night off and was back in Monday morning to start training for his new job. By the time he gets to this coming Saturday, he will have worked 21 days straight - half of that with a lay-off hanging over his head. Sheez!!
By the way, besides being Superman, he is a superhero in the kitchen as well, and is an excellent cook. His favorite motto is "Pork Fat Rules" (even if it's not good for him).
He is sweet and wonderful. He is a real gentleman. He is loyal to a fault and very forgiving. He loves his mother. He's nobody's fool. I love him!!!!
I asked Olivia for something good about her daddy and she replied (complete with hand gestures) "He absolutely loves Batman. And when I ask him to, he will turn on Batman for me (on TV)." She has declared she has a crush on him and is going to marry him. The last time she mentioned that, she planned for them to move to Savannah together. I asked her where I would be and she told me I'd still be here, alone. OK.......
In other news, our adoption agency emailed today to say our dossier is on its way to Colorado, where it will be translated and then sent on to China (DTC = dossier to China). That starts the clock ticking. We should hear from China in 3-4 months, and then we can start getting ready to travel!!!!!! I don't know if Mark will be able to come along, since he's started a new job. If not, my dear friend Debbi has volunteered to come along. Ha! She has no idea what she's getting herself into!