Monday, December 28, 2009

Baby Hongyan

Yep - that's our girl!  I would know those eyes...and ears...and nose...and mouth...and chubby cheeks anywhere!  From this little Peanut...


To this beautiful little girl...

Sofie Hongyan Nov 09

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We've Been Cabled!

Well, not us literally...but our approvals have been cabled to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China!  Step two down, three more to go!  Next is for the Consulate to issue an Article 5.  These have been coming quick for some folks -- like in 2 days -- so here's to hoping!

We sent another package to Sofie Yan.  The lady we've been using (Angela @ Lady Bugs N Love) for this service has been closed (acting as a guide for a family adoptiong two kiddos) so we used Ann @ Red Thread this time.  I was hoping to get a little something to Sofie and her foster family for Christmas.  It seems the orphanage was really confused when Ann called them as they have been dealing with Angela.  So, she did not ask them for new photos and told me not to request any more updates as "the director may be more tired of this".  The good news is they did answer the huge list of questions I sent and were sending it back to Angela.  She will be back in business on Jan 4th, so we should hear from her soon.

Package #3

I can't believe it is almost 2010!  Where did the time go...?  What an amazing start to the year we will have...can't wait!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To our family - you know we would have loved nothing more than to spend this holiday with you, or at very least, sent you some fun, festive gifts.  We are trying to pay for as much of our adoption as possible without using credit cards and/or loans.  Every single penny is going towards this right now so we hope you understand.  Just know we are there with you in spirit, as you are here with us.   We love and miss you all very much!

To all of our friends and family - thank you so much for all the love and support you have given us this past year!  We hope these next few days find you warm and happy and you are able to celebrate with those you love the most!

We found out today that Sofie Yan has received all of our packages and has seen our photos.  They have told her we will come to meet her soon.  We also found out that she is learning to speak the local dialect...good thing we didn't learn Mandarin yet!  So, we will have to wait until we are in province and get some help from the guide.

Happy Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas to you!  Enjoy...

All-time favorite Christmas movie

Monday, December 21, 2009

I800 Provisional Approval!

December 18th!  Hooray!

Another step down and four more to go!

Next: Our approval is sent to National Visa Center (NVC), who will upload our file and Cable our approval to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou.  This usually takes 7-10 days.

Then: The U.S. Consulate will process our approvals, visa application for Sofie, sign their copy of our LSC and issue what is called the Article 5 letter.  This informs the CCAA all of our paperwork and approvals are in order.   A rep from our agency will pick this letter up and deliver it to the CCAA.  This is taking anywhere from 1-4 weeks right now.

After That: The CCAA issues our Travel Approval - this means we are invited to travel to China to adopt Sofie!  This can take 2-4 weeks.

Finally: Our agency will schedule our adoption appointments in Inner Mongolia and our Consulate Appointment (CA) in Guangzhou.  This is when we will present our adoption paperwork to finalize the I800 approval and Sofie's visa, and appear for a "oath taking" ceremony.  All of our travel dates will revolve around this CA.  It usually takes the agency a few days to get this CA scheduled and then were are allowed to book our flights.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stella The Cat - Part II

Stella's new favorite napping where I sleep.  Oh, the life of a cat!

Luxuriatinga sleeping cat is a good cat

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Kitty

Another holiday tradition...Stella getting cozy under the Christmas tree.

Pretty babyJust what I wanted!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Latest...More Waiting

Even though our LSC was the "formal" approval and when China officially recognized us as Sofie's parents, there are actually five more steps...or milestones so to speak...for us to reach before we can travel to get our girl.  It's 30 days later and we haven't even made it past the first one. 

As a Hague family, we need immigration approval to finalize our adoption in China and bring Sofie to the U.S. to become a citizen upon arrival.  This is what I refer to as our I800 application.  Before we could file this application, we needed to amend our preliminary approval due to her age.  Before we could do this amendment, we needed a homestudy update.  I posted about our delays in getting that done here.

Our application to change our 800A (preliminary) approval and I800 application were received by USCIS on 11/27.  I e-mailed our caseworker on 12/11 to see if the paperwork was logged in or had reached her yet.  I heard back from her this Monday, the 14th, that she had our file and was getting started on it.  About 45 mins later, she sent me an Request For Evidence (RFE).  There was something missing from our file and she needed our agency to respond and provide it to her.

By Wednesday, the caseworker had not spoken to or received anything from our agency, so she asked me to call her.  We chatted a bit and she made sure I understood exactly what she was looking for and how simple it really was.  She was really, really nice!  I shot off an e-mail to everyone I could think of at our agency asking to please get it resolved that day.  Finally heard back at about 3:15 that the letter was being sent.  Yay!

We were told at the travel meeting we attended over the weekend and in the recent e-mails from the travel coordinator to expect to travel in February!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Traditions and The Family Tree

My friend Lisa & I have created our own little holiday tradition of doing our holiday shopping at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.  We love to spend our Christmas dollars locally and this festive event features local artists, vendors and live music.  You can even imbibe on an adult beverage while you shop!  We aren't doing much shopping this year due to our upcoming trip, but check out the adorable duds I found for Sofie!  This lovely lady takes vintage clothes, breaks them down and makes adorable, affordable children's clothing.

Cute dress!

fancy skirt


On another, more exciting note, I finished the family tree wall!  Well, almost.  And let me tell you, it wasn't easy!  Our walls are textured so it took double the effort to get those babies to stick.  And yes, each circle is a separate piece.  Now all I need to do is print out family photos and hang them in the tree!

family tree wall in progress

We heard from the travel coordinator from our agency today and they are saying February for our trip to meet Sofie and bring her home.  We were hoping for January, but just hit a snag with our immigration approval which will no doubt lead to another delay...sigh.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Spirit

My Mom is here for an early holiday visit.  She lives in Southern California and likes to come out to Austin a few times a year because we usually have decent weather.  I'm not sure if she has visited in December before, but she must have brought some crazy weather with her.  We had snow the day before she came from Houston (short visit with her brother) and it has been in the 40's and rainy/drizzly since then!

We've been getting in the holiday spirit by decorating and of course shopping.  We ran out yesterday and bought an adorable little Frasier fur and trimmed it last night while sipping some bubbly and rockin' some Christmas tunes.  It was fun to decorate the tree with Mom as I have many ornaments from her that we had as kids.  Lots of good holiday memories!  And many more to come!  What are you doing to get in the spirit this year?  :)

Bundled up for some shopping


Here's to Christmas with Sofie next year!Our cute tree

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Sponsor Child - December Update

Melody had surgery and has since returned to New Day to recover.  In the New Day newsletter this month they said her surgery was a tremendous success and she is recovering well.  Here is her latest photo...she is such a gorgeous little baby...and what her nanny had to say this month:


Melody is such a lovely girl!  Her hair is growing in length, shiny and healthy looking too.  We are now able to tie it up with some pretty ribbons on top of her head and she looks so cute!

Melody is a happy baby and rarely cries except for the typical reasons such as needing her diaper changed or being hungry.  She is so adorable when she reaches up to touch your face with her little hands then calls you momma.  Currently Melody isn't very fond of strangers and will usually cry if they try to hold her.  Of course, she is so cute it is hard for them to resist the temptation but they soon give her back when she cries!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Will We Go?

Among the many questions we've been getting since our LSC are where will we go in China and how long will we stay?  The trip usually takes 14 days.

We will spend the first few days in Beijing sightseeing and adjusting to the time change (14 hours ahead of CDT) before we have Sofie to care for.  We will get to see the Great Wall, as well as Summer Palace, Forbidden City (if you haven't seen "The Last Emperor", watch it and you will see how amazing this place is!) and of course all of the Olympic venue sites.  We have the option of skipping this portion of the trip and were a bit torn because it would mean going straight to Inner Mongolia and Sofie.  But, we don't know if or when we will make it back to China and think it is important to visit and document as much of Sofie's country of birth as possible.  Not to mention recovering from the 18 hours on planes to get there!  We'd like to be able to visit the New Day Foster Home while we are there and perhaps deliver some bottles and/or formula to them.  We are going to see if we can arrange that.

After Beijing we will fly or take the train to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.  Hohhot is the capital of the province and is where all of the adoption paperwork will be completed.  We will have time to explore, shop and see the sights in between our appointments.

We may be able to travel to Bayannur to visit the orphanage where Sofie was brought to when she was two weeks old and lived in for the first six months of her life.  We are also hoping we will have the opportunity to meet the foster parents she has lived with for the past two and a half years.  Many of the Inner Mongolia families we have connected with have met the foster family, so it looks like a good possibility for us.

Next we will head down to the coast to Guangzhou, which is where all of the U.S. immigration appointments are handled.  Sofie will need a medical exam and this is when they will administer any of the immunizations required by the US that she may not have already had.   There will be a visa appointment (adoption paperwork and Sofie's passport submitted) the next day and then an adoption ceremony and oath taking the day following that.  The day after that is when we will receive her passport back with her visa and paperwork required to enter the U.S.

Our agency routes their families through Hong Kong to fly home.  We can either fly there or take the train from Guangzhou.  Most families spend a night there before departing for home, but some choose to grab a late flight as soon as they finish up their appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  My cousin Stacey and her family live in Hong Kong so we may stay a day or two to visit.

We are looking forward to seeing a diverse variety of sights while in China.  But the most important part of this trip will be meeting our daughter and spending plenty of time bonding with her, which we are eagerly awaiting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brandon & I will spend the day relaxing, watching football and having a delicious non-traditional dinner, just the two of us.  We hope that you all enjoy your day, whether it be with family or friends, and have time to take a moment to think of all the things you have to be thankful for.  We will be thinking of our family in Washington, California, Arizona, Utah and Virginia and wishing we could be with all of them today, but are thankful to have them to miss when we can't be together.  We are thankful to have a comfortable home, plenty of food to eat and a business that is thriving so we don't have to work for the man!  We are also thankful this will be our last of many holidays that we normally share just the two of us, as soon we will be three.  :)

Enjoy your day!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Less Thing To Worry About

Our new social worker, whom had never even met us, showed up at our house yesterday with an hour's notice.  She visited with us briefly, got the info and answers she needed and made sure our home was ready for Sofie.  And that we weren't doing anything illegal, I'm sure!  Then she spent the rest of the evening writing up our homestudy update and a good portion of her morning going back and forth with a gal at our agency to make edits and corrections.  Finally, even though she was off and had family coming in to town, she ran out to get our copies notarized and met with us to hand them off.  Bless her heart!!!

The WC Client Relations coordinator at our agency spent her morning reviewing our update, responding promptly with corrections and gave our social worker the green light just before she left for the day.  They were only open until noon and we all know what half-days before a long holiday are like when you have to work.  Bless her heart!!!

I was a little confused about what exactly I needed to include with our immigration paperwork and really wanted to get it all sent off today, so I decided to e-mail our caseworker at the Hague Unit of Homeland Security in the hope she was working and would have time to respond, but was not expecting it.  She got back to me right away with answers to all of my questions and told me to keep them coming as long as I was still confused.  Bless her heart!!!

Getting this paperwork submitted has been a constant source of stress for the past 10 days.  It should have been ready to go the day we received our LSC.  With the help of these three very kind ladies, I was able to get everything copied and sent off to USCIS via FedEx this afternoon.  It will arrive first thing Friday morning.  Not only is it one less thing to worry about, but a reminder that there are some really good, caring people in this world who are willing to do whatever they can to help.  And for that, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Now What?

I've been getting that question from quite a few people now that we have our formal approval (LSC), so I thought I would go over the rest of the process to help make some sense of it.

We need to have our homestudy updated.  When we first met with our social worker, we discussed what we hoped for in a child.  We originally thought we wanted to adopt a child as young as possible, so she approved us for 0-24 months old.  That all changed for us very quickly as we started to look at all the beautiful children waiting and we decided we would prefer to adopt a toddler.  Sofie was 35 months old when we were matched so we need an update to our homestudy approving us for her age.  Since our social worker is no longer working with our agency, we need to be reassigned.  The agency is working with our new social worker to get this done so hopefully it will happen soon!

Last week, we dropped off our signed LSC at our agency along with a DS-230 form, which is Sofie's immigrant Visa application.  She needs that Visa to enter the U.S. when we return with her from China.

Next, we need to file a I800 form (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  This is used to determine Sofie is an eligible adoptee and to finalize the immigration process.  We had already been approved to adopt a child from China and this approval is to adopt Sofie specifically. 

It will take 10 days for USCIS to process the I800.  They will then cable our approval to the US Consulate in Guangzhou (China).  The Consulate will verify all of our approvals, approve us to immigrate Sofie and issue what is called the Article 5.  The Article 5 will be picked up at the consulate by a courier and delivered to the CCAA.  We are told this process is taking 5-8 weeks.

Once the CCAA receives our Article 5, they will work on issuing our Travel Approval.  This will take about 2 weeks.  When our agency receives our Travel Approval, they will schedule our appointment with the Consulate in Guangzhou and this is the date our travel will be based on.  It will be at this point when we will know the exact dates and will book our flights.  We are told travel will be 3-4 weeks upon receipt of Travel Approval.

So that is what happens next...but none of it will happen until we get that update to our homestudy done!


The new social worker called at 1:30 today and asked if she could come at 2:30!  She understands the urgency and is on board with getting this done a.s.a.p.!   We were told this update would not require a home visit but oh well...she just left.  She is hoping to get it to us on Friday, if the agency can review it and give her the green light tomorrow!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A New Package for Sofie

We sent our girl another package today, this time with more sweet treats, a kitty stuffed animal (it's a Hello Kitty in a bee outfit! Cute!) and a photo album ("pleasant goat" on the cover, apparently a popular Chinese cartoon character) with lots of pictures of us and a few of our pretty four-legged princess.  To a matter of days she will be seeing our faces for the first time...Wow.  WOW!

Package with photo album

On another note, we are STILL waiting for our homestudy to be updated.  All of our documents are current so it's a very simple update, but a week has been wasted and quite frankly, I am more than a little frustrated.  Anyone involved in this process knows a week delay can mean much more down the road.  *Sigh*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Cold In China

Sofie Yan lives in Inner Mongolia and it is quite cold now -- highs in the 20's and dropping down to single digits at night.  There is even snow in the forecast for next week.  It is likely we will be there when it is still really cold, so I bought her a cute coat, hat and mittens to take with us.  Got some cute pigtail holders too.  :)  With the help of the wonderful ladies from Lady Bugs N Love, I've decided to package it up to send to her now, to keep her warm while she is waiting.  It's pink, and cute and the warmest one I could find.  This is Texas after all!  I am also going to send some Texas goodies for her foster family.

Warm Coat

We dropped off all of our paperwork at our agency today.  It was really nice to meet all the ladies we've worked with so far.  As soon as we can get our homestudy update (we are waiting to be assigned to a new social worker), we can file the necessary forms (I800 & I-864W) with immigration.  It takes 2 weeks for approval and another 2-3 weeks for the US Consulate in China to issue our Article 5.  We should get our travel approval 2 to 4 weeks after that and then travel just a fews weeks later.  So, just another 6-9 weeks more of waiting once we get our I800 filed!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here is the actual LSC

Pretty cool, huh?

[caption id="attachment_426" align="aligncenter" width="205" caption="Letter of Seeking Conformation from Adopter"]Letter of Seeking Conformation from Adopter[/caption]

Monday, November 16, 2009

We got our LSC today!

Yahoo!  Happy days...this LSC or Letter Seeking Confirmation is our formal approval and means the Chinese government has officially recognized us as Sofie Yan Cornett's parents!  Yep...decided this would be a good time to share her name since it is all official now!!!

I can't tell you how excited and relieved we are!  We weren't expecting any news for at least another month so this is truly a great day!

Next steps -- our homestudy will need to be updated since we were originally approved for a child up to the age of 24 months old.  Once that is complete, we will file an amended immigration approval for her age and an I800 for approval to bring her specifically in to the country and make her a U.S. citizen.  Then we will be issued approval to travel.  This should all take 6-10 weeks.  Not fast enough, but I know we should take this time to prepare and get everything in order so we can bring our girl home!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our First Care Package

Earlier this week, I ordered a package from the same lovely ladies who called the orphanage and got new photos of Hongyan.  Angela at Lady Bugs N Love went out and shopped for the items I ordered and sent me a photo before she packaged it all up to be shipped to the foster family:


Hongyan will soon open her package and discover a new outfit, a doll, a soft blanket, some books and candy.  There is also a disposable camera and treats for her foster family, as well as a letter we wrote that Angela translated for us.  In the letter we thanked the foster family for taking such good care of Hongyan and asked them to take photos with the camera.  We also let them know we will send photos of us as soon as we are allowed and to tell her we will come to meet as soon as we can.

We plan on sending a package at least once per month while we are all waiting.  We can also package up our own and mail it to China, which we may do as well.  Just another way to stay connected and let our girl know we are thinking of her.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The bedding came today!

And it is so beautiful!  I love it even more in vibrant and colorful.  Now I can get started on ordering stuff for the walls.  Oh, and as you can see in the photo, I did finish painting her media cabinet...just need to tidy it up a bit.  I am still working out the placement of the furniture, but it's starting to come together!  We want to have it ready so we can send Hongyan photos of it when we get our LOA.

Loving this!

Happy Birthday, Brandon!

Yesterday was a very special day.  Not only was it Veteran's Day, but Brandon's 37th birthday!  His birthday falls on Veteran's Day each year, which is fitting considering he is a veteran!  I had planned to take him out for a day of spoiling -- a movie & lunch, then a massage and manicure at a spa down the road.  Turns out something he ordered was being delivered via FedEx and he had to be here to sign for it.  So, the pampering will wait for another day.

We went out Saturday night with another couple to celebrate all four of our birthdays and their anniversary and had a phenomenal meal and bottle of wine.  But I couldn't let the day pass without some spoiling, so I made him a yummy dinner and we enjoyed that with a great bottle of wine and a yummy dessert.  And of course, in true Brandon fashion, he had to do a little mugging for the camera.

Here's to 37!Thumbs up

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have been fighting the temptation to go hog wild buying clothes for Hongyan.  We've been told by those in the know, it's best to wait until we are closer to traveling, can get updated measurements and will have a better idea of what size she will be wearing.  She will come to us with only what she is wearing so we will need to bring clothes for her to China when we travel.  Not knowing when we will go and which season we will be there also makes it a tad difficult.

So, I decided I would buy little things I come across here and there if they are special or unique.  I am all about keeping it local, handmade or made in the good ol' USA.  But my Mommy friends have helped me to realize that may not be practical.  Kiddos grow so fast at this age and since we are starting completely from scratch (and have no one to hand down girl stuff!) finding bargains will be essential...especially to our budget.

We are fortunate to have a fabulous outlet mall just a few miles from our home.  And in that mall are several children's clothing stores.  Who knew!  My friend Maria was heading over there this past weekend to shop some sales and asked if I would like to join her.  Maria's daughter is just a few months younger than Hongyan, so I knew she would be a great help in finding some cute basics in the right sizes.  Here is what I ended up with -- I got it all for under $50!

First shopping trip

These cute little skirts - Brandon made a comment about them being awfully short.  It's starting already!

Cute skirts

And some adorable yoga tops in lots of colors and a pair of cute adjustable waist jeans

Just a tad of pink

A few pairs of cute pants and tops

Adorable PJ's - I am not about themes and putting pandas all over our girl, but these are so soft and cute

Purple pandas

I promise not to post a picture of every single piece of clothing we buy, but there is no other news to report and it sure was fun to shop.  On another note, we are very close to a new name for Hongyan -- so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hongyan's Room - Family Tree Wall

So, I am thinking of doing a family wall in Hongyan's room.  That way she will always be able to see all the faces of those who love her, but she doesn't get to see often because we are all rooted throughout the country.  At first I thought I would make a collage of frames.  Then, I thought I would sketch a tree, fill it in with paint and "hang" photos from the branches.  But today, I came across this and I think it is perfect!  They are decals so easily removed and I can choose the color of the tree trunk and of the leaves to match her room:

Family Tree Wall

So what I plan to do is print out each photo with a border and then write the names on the bottom border.  I think I will hang the photos by ribbon with push pins - the kind with little colorful balls at the end -- so the look like they are hanging in the tree.

I may be asking  family for new photos soon -- so if you have a favorite you would like me to use, send it my way!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Photos of Our Girl!

Oh, happy day!  I think I am going to fly to the moon and back on all this joyful energy!

There are some wonderful women in China who will call the orphanage and ask for updates and new photos while you are waiting.  They will also send packages for you and take the photos you send them and put together photo albums with Chinese translations.  I was really needing something to keep me going right now...the latest photos and info we had on Hongyan was 6 months old.  So, I ordered a phone call to ask some questions and hopefully get some new photos and they arrived in my inbox just now!  Without further she is, in photos taken just yesterday!

The obstinate look?pink-crouch-smiling2

Smelling flowers?yan-outside

We are blown away at how much she has grown...and how beautiful she is!!!  We also got answers to the questions we asked the foster family.  We tried not to be too invasive until we knew they were aware she has a family.  Now that we know she knows about us, we will start sending photos and packages:

Does Hongyan and her foster family know about us yet?

The foster family knows that Dang Hong Yan has a family now. They constantly tell Hong Yan that her dad and mom will come to get her soon in the future.

What is her favorite toy/thing to play with?

Doll and hide and seek.

What activities does she most like to do?

Outdoor activities.

Does she have any foster siblings?

In her foster family there are Grandpa, Grandma, aunt and her child.

Who is her favorite friend?

Cousin Xiao Min.

What is her favorite color?

Bright color.

What does she most like to eat?


Does she like animals?

Her favorite animal is dog.

What kinds of books does she like the most?

Cartoon books.

What makes her laugh?

When she is with her grandpa she laughs a lot.

Her updated measurements:

Height: 93.5cm; Weight: 15kg; Head: 48cm; Chest: 53cm

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stella The Cat

Stella is our beautiful Siamese kitty we adopted about four years ago.  She is very well-behaved -- does not jump up on counters and furniture and was clearly raised as an indoor kitty.  For about the first three years we had her, she did not step foot outside.  She would just stand at the threshold and sniff and take it all in.  She didn't have any interest in sitting in windows either.  That has all changed over the past few months.  Stella has become a fresh air junkie.  She loves to go out in the backyard and explore.  She will stand by the door each morning and wait for us to let her out.  And the kitchen window has become her favorite place to hang out.

Favorite spotKickstand kitty

Time to go outSubtle hint

Rolling around in the sunTrees smell good

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling Fortunate

So in the midst of my impatience, frustration and anxiety about this wait, I receive a mass e-mail from our agency coordinator yesterday.  There has been lots of rumbling on the China adoption forums by people who are still waiting to be matched and getting fed up with their agency...which happens to be our agency too.  So our coordinator sent out a "refresher" of sorts to remind people how the process works.

Her job is to find families for the children.  And while a family can apply to adopt a Waiting Child, there is no guarantee they will be matched.  She mentioned that for every baby girl she comes across, there are many, many families waiting...and that they currently have 500 applications on file for families hoping to be matched.  500 applications!  This just blew me away.  What a job that must be to sort through all those applications to find what she feels is the best match for a child!

Reading that e-mail made me feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful to have been matched withour daughter after only 3 months of waiting.  And, it makes me feel really good that out of all those families, she felt we were the best match for Hongyan.  We feel there is no better match for us.

So, feeling very fortunate today and lucky to have gotten that reality check to remind me to feel fortunate each and every day...for what we have in our life already and for what will come in the future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Melody Update

This month's update on our sponsor child, Melody, living in the New Day Healing Home:

How yummy are those cheeks!

Melody Oct 09

Melody is 7 Months Old.

Melody’s nanny wrote this update:

Melody is a cute girl with such a beautiful smile!  She has dimples too, which adds to everyone’s enjoyment of seeing her smile!   Melody had not been able to receive her surgery yet for the growth on her neck.  She went into the hospital to prepare for surgery a while back, but ended up with a cough and they were unable to do her operation.  She has now returned to the Healing Home until her cough is better and her lungs are clearer for the surgery.  We hope that she soon becomes well enough to have her operation.  We look forward to her growing healthier and stronger after her operation!  We really enjoy Melody, she is a sweet girl!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hongyan's Room - The Walls

Every girl needs to be properly accessorized and so does her room!  She will of course have a family wall with photos of all her Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.  We are hoping to get photos of her foster family and any friends or special people in her life.  We will also take photos of China and the area she is from to frame for he walls.  In addition, I will add some creative art like this amazing stuff I found on Etsy:

How stinkin' cute is this stuff:

 And these:

 It's all so cute:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hongyan's Room

Yes - she does have a name.  It is Hongyan and this is what we call her.  But yes, we are still working on her special "Family Day" name!

Her room is a work in progress.  We had painted the walls a pale yellow and put in a laminate wood floor a few years ago when I started using it as my exercise/zen room.  We knew it would eventually become a kid room and since we did not know if we would be matched with a boy or girl, thought yellow would be a gender-neutral color, bright and cheery to inspire me to engage in some physical activity.  Ha Ha!  Well, I thought it was gender-neutral.  Brandon said he never knew a dude with a yellow room but really, what color would you paint a room for a boy or girl?

The room was also decorated up a bit for Aunt Jenny, since it was "her room" when she would come to visit.  This is what it looks like now...remember, it is a work in progress!

Room In Progress Oct. 24th

So we've decided to keep the room yellow and work from there.  At this point, we are debating as to whether we want to go all out and buy the bed and bedding we really like, or do something simple now and wait until she's been home for a while and let her tell us what she would like.  She will be nearly three and a half when we bring her home and we are well aware that means she will come with her own personality and opinions.  I am leaning towards the "all out".  I want her to come home to a complete room that was done just for her, with love.

Anyone who knows us well knows were are not "theme-y" and don't want our girl to be molded in to a pretty pink princess!  Not that there's anything wrong with that...just not our thing.  This is the bedding set I am loving right now:


I also like this one very much - it is a modern butterfly and bird pattern in lilac and pink:


We already have a twin mattress set so were looking for a twin bed that is fairly low to the ground.  It would be silly to buy a toddler bed and mattress as she would only need it for a short time.  Those yellow walls are pretty bold and all of the trim is white, so I am in the process of painting some furniture we will re-purpose white as well.  She will have her own little cabinet with a t.v. (no cable!), DVD player and CD player and a bookcase for all the books her Daddy is collecting for her.

So that's where we are at with her room!  I was feeling a little hesitant to get this ball rolling, as if I would somehow jinx things.  But it has felt really good to start working on this project, since we aren't able to send her packages and ask for updates yet.  Working on her room has helped to make this all seem more real.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something Sweet

This is a photo of a little girl named Madeline who is with the New Day Foster Home program in Beijing.  She has recently been matched with a family and is seeing a picture of her Mama for the first time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One Silly Boy

[caption id="attachment_282" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Squid Monkey"]Squid Monkey[/caption]

Andrew, our 11 year old nephew, has become quite the short film maker.  He even has his own channel on youtube!  Check out the episodes in season one and stayed tuned for his Halloween special:

High five, Squid Monkey!  Your videos are awesome!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's Next?

I have been asked by many over the past several days "what will come next?".   And, "when will you be able to go get her?".  To answer these and the many other questions we are often asked, I have created a new page called "The Process".  It outlines the process in detail and should answer any questions you may have about the next steps in our journey.  Of course you are always welcome to ask any other questions you may have!  I know I am usually in a constant state of confusion about all of this, so there is no such thing as a silly question!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For The Nanas

Nana Mary - Lao Lao is maternal grandmother.  It is pronounced L-ow (like "ow, that hurt" with an L) Lo

Nana Joyce - Nai Nai is paternal grandmother.  It is pronounced Nigh-ee Ni

Click the link to below to visit the web page where you can hear how to pronounce them - just hover your mouse over the words:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's In A Name?

As some of you may know, we were not at all expecting to be matched with a little girl.  It may seem odd to those who know a little about Chinese adoption, but there are also lots of "waiting" boys -- precious boys who usually wait longer because most families want to adopt a little girl.  We indicated we would be open to either gender and since there are so many more families waiting to be matched with girls, we thought for sure our first little one would be a boy.  We had lots of boy names in mind but did not have a list of names we like for girls!

In China, children are named with the family surname, generational name and then first name, in that order.  The first name can represent a wish for their future or characteristic of the child.  Children in orphanages usually all have the same surname, which is one that represents the orphanage and/or area they live in.  The generational name is the same for all children brought in to the orphanage that year.  The first name is given by a worker or director of the orphanage.  Our girl was named Dang Hong Yan by her orphanage.  From what I can tell, Dang which would be the surname of all children from her orphanage, means party (as in political party?).  Hong is the generational name and means red, popular or bonus.  And Yan means swallow, as in bird.  The tricky part is the Chinese characters can mean different things, depending upon which characters they are with so I may be way off base.  So, I am going to ask a Chinese friend to translate the actual characters and combination for me.

In the past, adoptive families would give their Chinese children entirely new names.  It was thought best to fully "Americanize" them as soon as possible.  That view has changed and many adoptive parents and SW's now believe it's best to keep your child's culture alive so they have a link to their past.  Most parents now give their children new first names and keep their given name as their middle name.  But some parents feel that their name was given to them by an orphanage worker and has no significant meaning.  Others feel like this may be their only chance to name a child and want to use a family name or one or two that have special meaning to them.   Some try to incorporate the given name in to the first name.  And a few keep the name entirely intact and just add the family surname.

We have talked about this quite a bit and discussed it with family, friends and other adoptive parents.  We had to remind ourselves that this is Texas -- there is not much diversity in the area we live and the Asian families we do know all use "American" first names.  It might be different if we lived somewhere like San Francisco or Seattle, but it would be very frustrating to grow up in Texas with a name that no one can pronounce or spell.  So, we have decided to give our girl a new first name and keep her Chinese name as her middle name.  That way if she decides when she is older she wants to use her given name she can do so.

We have been asked by many what her name will be, but still have not decided on one.  We are fortunate to have pictures of our girl and know a little about her personality, which will make choosing her name easier.  We also need to pick a name that works well with her Chinese name.  We do have a list and have it narrowed down and hope for something to "click" soon, and when it does, we'll let you know!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Funny Video

This guy cracks me up!  Brandon & I are working on our retorts to lunatic strangers. 

Here's the video on Comedy Central

We Got Our Pre-Approval!!!

Yippee!  I got an e-mail for our coordinator this morning telling us we have pre-approval from the CCAA to adopt our little one!  It took 4 weeks exactly...on the long end of the wait so we hope the rest of the steps move more quickly!

It just so happens that today is her 3rd birthday!  Happy Birthday, baby girl!  We aren't allowed to share identifying information about her until the next step, which is LSC/LOA but I can tell you a little more about her!

She was born on 10/12/06 and is currently living with a foster family in Inner Mongolia.  She has been in foster care since the age of six months and according to her reports is developmentally on target.  Her reports were done at 2 1/2 years old and she weighed 30 lbs and was 36 inches tall.

They describe her as "a little obstinate and talkative. She likes smiling and poking her nose into everything. She likes playing games and playing outside."  They also say she is not a picky eater and eats everything, but meat is her favorite.

At the age of 9 months, she could turn over. At the age of 10 months, she could jump when sitting in the baby carriage. At the age of 1 and a half year, she learnt to walk, and she could take 4-5 steps. She could crawl quickly. At the age of 1 year and 8 months, she could walk alone. She could speak the words with 2 characters. Now she can speak the sentences with 4-6 words, and talk to the adults. She likes writing, reading, and toys.

We are so happy to finally get some news and to be able to share more with you!  The next step will be LSC/LOA (formal approval), at which point we can send packages and post photos of her.  The agency told us to expect to wait 75-100 days for this, so the waiting begins once again!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some Goodies For Our Girl

Look what arrived last week!  Another adorable outfit and our girl's first "Pucci Pup" from Auntie Kristen.  It seems I need to know about these pups.  How darn cute are those jeans!  This is going to be fun...

She also sent some really sweet books to get us started.  Thanks Aunt Peanut!



Birthday Fun

How can I possibly be 40 already?!!!  It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating my 30th with my friends in Cabo.  They do say 40 is the new 30 and sure don't feel like I am 40, so I suppose it really is just a number after all.

My sis Jen has come to Austin for my birthday every year since we moved here.  Poppy usually makes the trip too, but had some expenses come up and another trip to make this year so wasn't able to be here.

[caption id="attachment_174" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mellie and Jen"]Kiss kiss[/caption]

So this year Jen brought her guy, Guy with her.  Guy turned 40 two days after me so it was a joint celebration of sorts.  Jen & Guy live in Northern California so it was a treat to spend a few days in the warm sun and spend time in the pool.

[caption id="attachment_176" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jen and Guy"]Noodle swords[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_177" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Brandon through the goal posts"]cannonball[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_178" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jen soaking up the sunshine"]bathing beauty[/caption]

We had great weather and were able to eat lunch and dinner outside most days.  We went to Gueros, County Line for BBQ, The Oasis for a beer and the view and of course shopped at Central Market.  We also went to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie, lunch and beers.

One night a big ol' storm was rolling in from the west and we were able to sit out back and watch an amazing light show.  If you look close enough you can see a bolt of lightning:


Well, they are back to work in China now so hoping for some good news today or early next week!  I have other "friends" in the adoption community who are still waiting on PA's too and are just as anxious as we are.  It's good to know we are not alone!