Debbi is my buddy. We met when she was my boss at Cracker Barrel (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...). We were in the Gift Shop, so no - I don't know any of their recipes. I was working part-time, earning extra money to make ends meet. Time passed and we both left Cracker Barrel, but we kept in touch. She was Matron of Honor at Mark's and my wedding, and she sat with me and tried to entertain me when I was on bed-rest while pregnant with Olivia. She brought me brownies to fatten up Olivia in case I delivered early. She took me to the emergency room when I was having contractions. She sewed part of my wedding dress and made my veil and the bridesmaid dresses. She took Olivia to school - in her Halloween costume no less - when we had our all-important fingerprint appt for the adoption. She has gone above and beyond... Now she's going to help with our adoption halfway around the world. She knows it's not gonna be a vacation and she's still game to go! What more can I say? Thank you!!!!!!!! And Thank You to her husband, Duff, who is willing to endure 2 weeks without her!
Debbi & Olivia at the Ringling Bros. circus.
Debbi made Miss O's shirt!
Debbi & Duff
Debbi's out-of-control pug, Mugsy. He's SUCH a handful!!!!!
We went to the Ren Fest Saturday. If I had know what the traffic would be like trying to get in, we would not have gone. But we'd bought the tickets on-line, so we suffered thru the HOUR wait to travel the 2 miles from the interstate exit to the entrance. Ridiculous!!!!!! At least when we got there we had a blast! Thank heavens!
Olivia wore her mommy-made Halloween costume. I'm glad it got the extra use! It was really perfect for the event. All the actors who spoke to her addressed her as "Princess" since she was wearing "royal purple". And it was just beezy enough that she didn't get too hot. It was a great day to people watch, too. There are some really wacked-out people out there, and I think they all feel at home at the Ren Fest. Just let your imagination go wild!
Olivia met the Queen of the Fairies, who had a great sense of humor! (She's holding fairie dust in her hand.)
Olivia was declared an Official Princess by the ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn and has the paper to prove it!
And she got to ride on a cool ride where the people riding in the ship pulled on ropes hung above them to keep the ship swinging. The other young lady in the picture would have had to ride alone, but she let Mark and Olivia ride with her. Mark provided the muscle.
She chose a dolphin for her face paint. There was no bath that night so she could show off her cheek at Sunday School the next day.
There was absolutley no problem leaving the Ren Fest and we were back to the interstate in about 3 minutes. Here's what happened in 3 minutes... Zonked! She snoozed all the way home.
One last picture I have to post. This is Mark laughing at one of his own jokes. He hardly ever shows his teeth, so I had to get a shot. His joke came during the Royal Joust. King Henry VIII sits way up in a balcony-type seat above the riders. They come below him to receive favors and prizes. Mark thought it would be just HILARIOUS if Henry accidentally fell out of the balcony... Splat!! He even went so far as to develop a movie plot and have it star Will Farrell or Seth Rogen. Maybe Hollywood is in our future...
We got the official LOA from the FedEx guy Thursday morning. I was out in the driveway talking to Debbi, so I didn't have a chance to grab the camera. Oh well... He said that he had delivered the same thing to a family in another nearby subdivision 2 days earlier, so I wonder who they could be? Friday we were able to Fed Ex everything back to CCAI. We had to send the signed LOA, one English and one Chinese version of our Letter of Intent, the I-800, I-864, I-864A, a copy of our 2008 tax returns complete with W-2 and all 1099s and attachments, a new Employment Verification letter for Mark, a copy of our I-797C and... I think that was it for that day. Oh - no - we had to get all of Debbi's paperwork done before she went away for the week to her condo in Florida. (It's vacant this week and she needs to do repairs, etc.) I think we filled out her visa app about 4 times. Hope it's right! This week we are working on several notarized documents and applying for our Visas. The agency estimates that we'll travel in 6-9 weeks. That should put us in mid-June. Yeah! I got my shots today, too - Hep A, typhoid and tetanus. Just alittle sore...
Ok, technically today is day 61 from LID. And we got great new pictures of Brooke. And we got.... LOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our Letter of Acceptance from China!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was hoping for day 75, but figured that was just a wish/dream. I felt it would be at least 90 days. BUT WAS I WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! Day 61!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freak out!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This means that we should be back in plenty of time before Olivia has to start school. No more worrying about her losing her slot at school! Yeah! Wow! We gotta pack!!!! (Well, not really, but almost!!!!)
Tick! Tock! We're 60 days LID. Hopefully, we should get our LOA within the next month, or sooner!
We got pictures and a note form the orphanage today thru the Red Thread service we used to send the last Care Package. She can smile!!! She can laugh!!!!! Yeah!!! We were worried she didn't have much sense of humor, but I think it will be ok now. Whew! Here are a few pics!!!! I think I'm glad my brother and sister-in-law are dentists.........
Tiny little flurries, actually, but still... SNOW in Georgia on April 7th!! Ha!! I just had to make an official note of that. We had great fun at the local China adoption group (Adoption Option) meeting last Friday. Lots of good food and great conversation, along with a primer about the paperwork we'll be faced with when we return. We met a couple we'll probably be traveling with! Eric and Tiffany are adopting a little boy from the same province as Brooke, and they have the same log-in-date and same agency. It was exciting meeting them - it makes it even more real. There's one more couple with the same timeline who belongs to the group, but we have not met them yet. I called our county DFCS (Dept of Children & Fam Svcs) about the State funded "adoption expense reimbursement program". It can reimburse up to $2000!!!! What the DFCS rep told me was alittle different from what we learned from Adoption Option, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Every penny counts!!!!!! We'll get our form mailed tomorrow. Both Mark and Olivia are on vacation this week, so it's fun. We're catching up on home repair, doing more adoption paperwork and getting ready for Easter dinner (a day early on Saturday). I've made the appt for my travel immunizations - April 20th. Ugh. Olivia was VERY brave and got her shots yesterday. She would have gotten them when she turned 5, but that would be after the trip. Her doc wanted her all done before we hit foreign soil. Check that off the list... Mark is doing a drywall repair job in the garage and Olivia is helping/supervising him.
She's also been teaching herself to skate around the house. Look out roller derby!!!!!
My neice, Ivey, has a horse named Phoenix. She let Olivia have a ride weekend before last and Olivia LOVED it. She declared she is buying the mini-horse they have out there. That was, until he bit her. It wasn't anyone's fault. Olivia was feeding him some hay and she was holding it at chest level right in front of her shirt. The horse took a bite - of the hay, Olivia's shirt and her skin. It ended up being a small scrape, but it scared her and we left the stable in tears. In the car, she declared that she would NEVER go to the horse farm again!! Of course, that didn't last long... Ivey is great with Olivia and Olivia just loves her.
Olivia loves to paint and this is her latest creation. She painted in a cat I drew/scribbled for her. She is doing so great at staying inside the lines and adding detail!
My little Movie Star:
Olivia's pre-school had their Easter Party - Breakfast with the Bunny, complete with egg hunt. She had a great time! The bunny was a little creepy, but the kids didn't seem to mind...
I asked CCAI to go ahead and send me the packets of paperwork we'll have to work thru when we get our LOA. I'm glad I did! There's enough there to keep me busy for awhile. And I'll feel better about having as much as possible done before the LOA comes and panic sets in. I've been looking at the I-800 (10 pages plus full tax forms), the I-800 Supplement 1 (1 page), the I-864 (8pgs), the I-864A (3pgs), the I-600 (2pgs), 2 Power of Attorney forms, State of Georgia Pre-Adoption Health Information Acknowledgment form, new Letter of Employment Verification for Mark, and the State of Georgia Non-Recurring Adoption Expense form which may secure a small refund of adoption expenses. Every penny counts!! I have to take extra paperework to China since Mark won't be there, but it doesn't seem like anything unreasonable. Because Mark won't be in China for the adoption, Ke Xin will enter the US on a Visa and we will have to complete the adoption on US soil. (If both parents travel, the child becomes a US citizen as soon as her feet touch US soil.) But it seems that we won't have to do any more work than what we originally intended, since we were going to "re-adopt" her anyway. (I thought there would be lots of extra steps and paperwork.) By re-adopting your new child in the States, they get a US birth certificate and have rights to inherit in all 50 states. Some states don't recognize adoptions completed overseas and some do. I'll get more information about everything involved this Friday at our local Adoption Group meeting.
Here's my favorite new picture of Olivia :
Here she was, all ready for St. Patty's Day:
The cat is "Snowflakes" the stuffed cat. Olivia thinks she's taking her to China, but I have told her that won't work. The cat is just too big to lug around. I sense a fight with lots of tears as we are leaving for the airport... :(
Olivia took this next picture of me, Mark and Lucy! Maybe she'll be the official photographer in China!
10/08/12 - First saw Gwen's picture and story 01/16/13 - Application approved by CCAI 03/19/13 - Found out Gwen is with Great Wall Adoptions 03/22/13 - Got Gwen's file!! 04/08/13 - Submit LOI (Letter of Intent) 04/16/13 - Receive PA (Pre-Approval) 05/01/13 - I-800A approved 05/17/13 - Dossier to China (DTC) 05/22/13 - Log In Date (dossier received by China) 07/24/13 - Letter of Acceptance received from China! 07/26/13 - I-800 sent 08/12/13 - I-800 approval 08/30/13 - Article 5 issued 09/06/13 - TA (Travel Approval) received 09/09/13 - Dates set - Depart: 10/10 Meet Gwen: 10/14 Return: 10/25 (Happy Birthday, Gwen!)
Qian Ke Xin May Update
Look at those little pigtails!
(Early) Birthday Girl!
Well, we know she likes cake and frosting!
Olivia, age 4 1/2
What a great kid!!!!
Brooke and Qi Meng
Feb or March 2009 (24 lbs)
Timeline to Brooke
04/17/08 Application accepted by CCAI (adoption agency)
08/27/08 Receive Referral of Qian Ke Xin (Brooke)
09/08/08 Submit Letter of Intent (accept referral)
Mark and I have been married almost 11 years and have 2 daughters, Olivia & Brooke. Mark works for Anheuser-Busch and I've been a stay-at-home mom since Olivia was born, in 2004. We adopted Brooke in 2009 and are going back to China one more time for daughter #3 - Gwen!