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