Saturday, September 25, 2010

NVC Approval!

We were able to check off one more step in the process this week - the National Visa Center sent their approval of our adoption to the U.S. consulate's office in Guangzhou on Thursday. I'll spare you all the details (let's just say the adoption process can be SO frustrating!!!), but I was able to speed up the next step a bit by getting them to email me a copy of the approval letter they'll be sending me in the mail. I need that letter in order for our agency to be able to drop off the rest of our information Monday morning to the consulate's office.

From here, it's supposed to be exactly two weeks before our agency rep can go back and pick up what's called our Article 5, but that will Columbus Day and the consulate will be closed. Since they only accept drop-offs and pick-ups on Monday and Thursday mornings, we're not sure if they'll allow for pickups on Tuesday the 12th as they've done in the past, or if it will have to wait until Thursday the 14th. Either way, from there it will be overnighted to Beijing and we'll wait for the CCAA to issue our travel approval.

Long story short... we're getting there! It's still too soon to be able to guess with any kind of certainty, but we're hoping we'll have travel approval by the end of October and we'll be able to get a consulate appointment for the first week in December. That would mean Rodney and I would be flying out either Thanksgiving Day or the day after. Kind of bummed about that, but it's doable. One week earlier and we would have to be in Guangzhou during the Asian Games and we want to avoid that. One week later and our good friend Tami and her daughter, Liz, may not be able to come stay with the kids while we're gone. Liz graduates with her master's degree the following week and they need to be in Oklahoma for that! The kids will be fine at Grandma and Grandpa's if Tami and Liz can't come for all or even part of the time, but we're hoping it will work out so they can come - it will make it that much easier to keep up with four kids and their crazy schedules!

Here are a few misc pictures that were sent to us this summer. Enjoy!

Till next time,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Pictures!

Not much new to talk about on the adoption front right now, so I'll post some recent pictures of our little beauty instead.

Enjoy ~

She's caring the little lamb we sent her and wearing one of the bows. Isn't she a cutie?!!
Holding hands with Stella. Stella's forever family will be traveling in November to get her.
Sophia with Nadia and Noa (Noa arrived home TODAY with her forever family!)
In case you're wondering, the first four pictures where on outings with Big Sophia. She is so good to spend time with her!

Till next time,

Monday, September 13, 2010

I800 Approval

I called today to find out the status on our I800 and was told it had been approved on Friday. One step closer to getting to China! From here, our documents get sent to the National Visa Center, and their approval will hopefully be sent to the U.S. Consulate in China within two weeks. Checking off one step at a time...

My sweet friend Brooks sent some pictures of Sophia getting the little care package we sent her. She loved the little hair bows and has been wearing one in each of the pictures we've seen her in since then. Isn't she just the cutest thing? Here are a few of the pictures.

Till next time,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Amazing Technology

Last night we had the most amazing privilege - we were able to Skype with Big Sophia and our Sophia for almost 1/2 an hour! Yesterday was the first time I had ever Skyped and the first time I did it I was able to spend a few minutes talking with Brooks in China (Noa is SO beautiful!) and she was able to tell me about her visit to Starfish and getting to see our Sophia. She took our care package to Sophia and got to spend a few hours at the foster home. It was so nice to get to talk to her!

Later in the evening, Sophia was also able to Skype with us and we got to hear our precious little girl's voice. Oh my goodness. Let me just tell you we were all dying to reach right thru the computer screen to hug her tight and kiss those sweet cheeks! Even Jackson kept saying "I want to hug her!"

Big Sophia translated for us and we heard little Sophia say Mamma, Baba (daddy), the words for elder brother and elder sister when she saw the kids. She pointed to her eyes, ears and nose when asked where they were. She blew us kisses when we blew them at her and even smiled a bit when we played peek-a-boo with her. We could tell she was a bit shy and probably a bit confused over seeing us in the computer screen talking to her, but she was so good to sit still so long and let us ooh and ahh over her!

We continue to be so amazed at the amount of contact we have and the updates we are blessed to get on our little one and we are SO grateful as we count down the weeks until we can go get her!

Till next time,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Big Changes for Little Sophia

Things are changing happening in our little girl’s life. I can’t help but think of her and wonder how she’s going to handle all the things that are, or are about to happen in her world. First, Sophia has had a special friend in her life since she first came to Starfish. Noa and Sophia have always shared a nanny and Noa’s forever family came to get her this past Sunday.

(Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.)
Noa and Sophia playing together
I have become good friends (via email and phone calls) with Noa’s new mom, Brooks, and she was kind enough to take a small care package for us to give to Sophia. Luggage space is at a premium for families traveling overseas, so it was hard to choose just a few things to send her! We’re so thankful to them for squeezing our little package in though.

Our care package: A snuggly blankie, a package of hairbows, a family photo (laminated on a card
so she can carry it around) and the softest little lamb ever!
Brooks and her husband have been waiting to adopt a baby from China for a very long time, and I am so excited for them! I made this little dress for Noa to send them in celebration of their special day.

For Miss Noa ~ I plan to make one for Miss Sophia too :-)
We’ve also been able to send a photo album of our family, a drawing Olivia made for her and a small toy with another volunteer who recently traveled to Starfish and sent us back lots of precious pictures.

We’ve learned that Amanda, who runs Starfish, is going to have to move the foster home to another place. That means moving all 52 babies, 27 nannies and all their stuff! They currently live on several floors of an apartment and I believe I heard she had to be out of their apartments by the end of this month. Here is her blog with pictures of the new home. If you have a heart for volunteering and the time and money to fly to China, she needs some serious help getting the place ready! It is a huge place though, so all the children will be on the same level, which I’m sure will be much easier to manage.

The downside for Sophia is that Big Sophia will be an hour away by bus, so she won’t be able to come visit her nearly as often as she can now. So, with many of her friends being adopted (how does a 20 month old even begin to comprehend where they’ve gone???), the chaos of moving to a new home and her special Sophia not being able to see her very often, she has some big changes beginning to happen in her life.
Big Sophia with Little Sophia, next to the drawing Olivia sent.
Of course, the BIGGEST change is yet to come, and even though that will be the most traumatic for her, we can’t wait to finally go get her and give her the love and stability only a forever family can give!

Till next time,

What's in a name?

I love the name Sophia. We had a hard time choosing between Olivia and Sophia 11 years ago, and since we went with Olivia, Sophia was our “girl” name had we been matched with a girl when we were adopting Jackson and then again with Elijah. When we decided to adopt again I said “I want my Sophia!!!”

We didn’t have a middle name we both liked though and decided to wait until we learned her Chinese name to see if we thought it would work with Sophia. When we learned her name is An Hong Mei, we decided to name her Sophia Meichele, since my middle name is Michele. We love the idea of keeping part of her Chinese name in her new name. We also learned that An is the family name given to all the children in orphanages in the city of Xi’An. Hong means red and Mei means plum blossom, since she was born in December and that’s when they are in bloom.

Our Sophia also has another name: Libby. All of the Starfish babies are given English names once they arrive at the foster home. We think it’s a darling name, but since we already call Olivia “Livvie”, there’s no way we can make Libby work!

It does get a little confusing when we’re talking about our little one though. The boys call her “Baby Sophia” and don’t even know who we’re talking about if we call her Libby. Then there’s Sophia, the volunteer who loves Libby so much, whom we call Big Sophia. Not nearly as confusing as I’m sure it’s going to be for her when we get her and start calling her Sophia!

Till next time,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Still Plugging Along

Today we received our receipt from USCIS saying they received our I800 application. That's a good thing! Hopefully, it will only be another week or so before they give their approval and send it on to the National Visa Center. I'm thinking that after taking so long to get our LOA, we could use some faster than normal processing somewhere along the line!

Other than that, there's not much to update concerning the adoption, so I'll post a few more photos of Sophia that were sent to us last month by a volunteer who spent some time at Starfish. Again, I'm so thankful to these kind people who take the time to take and send pictures of these children to the different parents who have been matched with the Starfish babies and are waiting to go get them!

Enjoy ~

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

Do you see her? She's in the basket? :-)
Look at all these precious babies. Sophia is sitting on the far left.

Till next time,