Our timeline

***  If you don’t care about the timeline (only those currently in process with a Chinese adoption probably care…), feel free to skip to the end of this post regarding when we might travel!

How we got to this point:

7.5.06:  Began paperchase

9.22.06: Dossier to China

10.12.06:  Log in Date

12.27.10 – 2.28.11:  Researched special needs adoptions

3.1.11:  Added our name to the “Waiting Child List” (special needs consideration)

3.22.12:  CCAI requested that we review He An Ning’s file

3.29.12:  Referral accepted

***  Delay in LOI due to change of adoption agency and a newly assigned LID.

5.10.12: New Log in Date (LID)

5.11.12:  Letter of Intent mailed

5.15.12:  Preapproval

6.6.12:  Letter of Acceptance

7.24.12:  Article 5

We are on our final step — currently awaiting Travel Approval (TA) by the CCCWA.  This typically comes 2 – 4 weeks after receiving Article 5; however, we know of a family traveling to the same province we are who recently received TA eight days after their Article 5.  Once TA comes, our agency will establish a timeline of travel for us based on appointments they set up for us in China.  Then, it’s just up to us to pack our bags and get plane tickets / hotel reservations!

So when might we travel?  Our best guess is late August / early September!  It’s getting close!

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Foster Sisters Forever

Back in March, when we received Kate’s referral, we learned that she lives in a foster home that includes another little girl.  The report stated that Kate considers the other little girl her best friend.  When I requested an update on her, I asked how old the other little girl was and if she had been matched with a family.  When it was time to send Kate’s care package, I still didn’t know anything about the sister, but included a coloring book, crayons, and bubbles in the package with a note asking them to give these items to her sister.

Fast forward to July 1…I joined a Yahoo group for families who have adopted from this orphanage.  The people in the group have been very welcoming, and I’ve been lucky enough to “meet” a couple of families in process.  One family is adopting an 11 year old and one a six year old.  Robin, the mom of the six year old,  and I quickly realized that our timelines were almost identical.  How fun if we ended up in China at the same time!  We have been communicating through e-mail for about three weeks now.

Yesterday we received Kate’s update.  I finally got information about her foster sister.  She is six and matched with a family.  My first thought — Could it be that it’s Robin’s daughter, Bella June?!?!  I ran home and e-mailed this information and said, “Is it possible that Kate and Bella June are foster sisters?!”  Robin immediately forwarded me a picture she received of Bella June and her foster sister back in April and asked if it was Kate.  Guess what — It was Kate in the photo!

For the past three weeks I have been talking through e-mail with the new mom of my daughter’s foster sister and didn’t know it!  The girls have lived together since January 2010.  Robin and I spent about 45 minutes on the phone this morning comparing stories of how we got to this point, what the trip might look like, how we could hopefully stay in the same hotels to ease the transition for the girls, and how we’ll Skype once home to keep them in contact.  I am so excited to have connected with this family and that Robin is as eager as I am to maintain this sisterhood for Kate and Bella June that began 2 1/2 years ago.

Another red thread!

KATE UPDATE!!!

When we received our Letter of Acceptance (first week of June), we requested updated photos and measurements of Kate as well as submitted a list of questions we wanted answered.  We had never gotten a response, so Tuesday I asked the agency if they could try again.  Imagine my surprise to open my e-mail this afternoon to find this —

These are pictures of our girl taken just yesterday — her birthday!!!  No cake pictured, but at least I have pictures of her on her birthday!  And the best part — she’s wearing the clothes we sent in the birthday/care package — well, half the outfit.  Not sure why they put the tunic on without the leggings, but I’m not going to complain.  It made my heart happy to know that she had gotten our package which means she has seen our pictures labeled in Chinese. She knows I’m her new mom, that Tim is her new dad, and that the girls are her new jie jies (big sisters)!  Yea!

Sophia wanted to know why she has her arms sticking out.  I’m sure they told her, “Show off your new dress!”  🙂

She looked so different to me that I didn’t recognize her at first.  It looks like they are growing her bangs out, and her hair is pulled back.  Plus…she’s so much bigger!

They sent me new measurements, but I got a lot of questions answered just by looking at her.  That tunic is hitting her right where it should be, and it was a 3T, so that helps me know what to pack.

Other questions I asked which were answered included:

1)  What is she called?  They said “Mei Mei”.  This means “little sister” in Chinese.  She is the little sister in that home, so apparently they call her that rather than her name.  Funny, because we’ve been calling her that too!

2)  Does she know any English?  She has been exposed to some English.

3)  Can we meet her foster parents?  They said that we could not meet them the day of the adoption, but if we visited the orphanage in the future that they could meet us there. I’m wondering if “the future” means later that week or when she’s 15. ???

4)  How old is her foster sister and is she matched with a family?  They said she is six and matched with a family.  (More on this in the next post!!!  So excited to share this story!)

5)  When did she enter foster care?  January 2010

Other things I found out:

*  She likes rice, meat, vegetables…will eat most foods.

*  She has been learning to dance and sing.  Hmm…sounds interesting!

*  Her speech is normal.

*  She can name some colors.

*  Her health has been good.  Yea!

*  “She is active and outgoing, but sometimes she is a bit stubborn.”  Sounds like Sophia to me!!!

So, so thankful to get this update!

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Sophia and Ella became our daughters at 11 months old each.  While we missed some milestones, they were few and far between due to delays from being in an institution.  We saw each of them crawl for the first time, walk for the first time, celebrate their first birthday, etc.

I’ve been waiting so patiently to get Kate, but I have to admit that today was hard.  There’s something big about turning three.  I’ve officially missed her baby days, and that makes me sad.  Today is one of those days that I have felt sorry for myself that I’m missing important days in her life that I will never get back.

On a positive note, I realize we are now weeks rather than months from having our girl, and that’s a good feeling.  In honor of Kate’s special day, the girls sang “Happy Birthday”.  We are hoping that halfway across the world, she received her birthday/care package and saw our faces for the first time in a photo album included in the package.  We hope that she had a happy birthday and that this is the last milestone we miss.

Happy Birthday, Kate!

147 Million (minus 1)

Over the past 18 months, our adoption adventures have mirrored that of another family from church.  Eric and Fran just wrapped up their adoption of Maggie.  She is from Ethiopia and is three years old.  We are excited for Maggie and Kate to be friends!  Ella even drew a picture of Maggie and Kate together on her poster.

Congratulations, Runners!!!  You have a beautiful girl, and she is lucky to have such a wonderful family!  It’s been so nice to compare notes with you along this journey and know that we have had partners in prayer for our adoptions.  Thanks for letting us share in your joy last night!  Congrats, Ethan & Reagan, on your sweet sister!

All About Kate

Things we know about our little sister:

*  Her name is He An Ning.  According to our reliable sources (the sweet staff at Hunan, our Chinese restaurant in town), her name is pronounced “Huh” “On” “Ning”.  In China, the first name listed is actually the last name.  We are not sure if she currently goes by An Ning or just Ning, but we have decided to combine them as AnNing for her middle name.

*  She was moved from the orphanage into foster care in either January or June 2010.  The paperwork is a little sketchy on that, but we know she’s been with this foster family for at least two years.  Her paperwork says she considers her foster sister her best friend.

*  Kate was born with a right club foot.  At three weeks old, it was put in a cast.  At six weeks old, she had a surgical procedure performed in which a tendon in the bottom of her foot was clipped.  She wore braces for awhile and received physical therapy.  She has required no further treatment and is able to walk, run, and climb without issue.  We have reason to believe from her paperwork that she may drag her heal some, but until we see her, we won’t know lasting issues from the club foot.

*  Kate is a part of a preschool run by her former orphanage and Half the Sky. Half the Sky is an American nonprofit agency that trains nannies and operates preschools in China that focus on nurturing babies/toddlers to promote brain development. We are so thankful that she’s been a part of this fabulous program.

*  Lastly, and my favorite, is the description of her personality.  It seems that she is a happy little girl.  Among the things mentioned in her report is that “she’s a star in the community — always saying hello to neighbors.”  Love it! When we received our referral, there were three pictures of her. Here are the other two.  She does look happy which comforts me while we wait to get her!

Once we received our Letter of Acceptance (about five weeks ago), we were able to ask for an update.  We haven’t received anything yet. I’d love to at least have an update on height/weight before traveling so that I can plan clothing.  Keeping my fingers crossed.