Monday, February 25, 2013

Girls Weekend

I was blessed to have an incredible girls weekend in Dallas at the end of February.  When I graduated from college, I prayed for authentic friendships with girls who loved the Lord.  And He was faithful to answer that call with these women!  We've been roommates, bridesmaids, new wives and new moms together.  We've endured tragedy and heartbreak together and celebrated many, many joys.

It was so fun to have an entire weekend together, which I now realize was mostly centered on food :)  We enjoyed our time together in stretchy pants with no make up, lots of laughs, pedicures, restaurants, cooking, and craft time.  I love these girls and thank God for these lifelong friendships!

Katy and I cooking dinner for the group:
Bruschetta, Pioneer Woman's Spinach & Artichoke Pasta, Garlic Cheese Bread,
Italian Salad, and my Grandmother's Chocolate Cake

Ready to EAT! 

Craft time

 Bags I made for our "Favorite Things" gift exchange

A sample of the "Favorite Things" gift exchange goodies!

Group photo before the end of our fantastic weekend!
Back (L-R) Stephanie, Katy, Jennifer, Jamie
Front (L-R) Holly, Jodie, Betsy

Saturday, February 9, 2013

China Adoption Timeline

It seems a little risky to post an expected timeline for an international adoption since there is no way we can predict the timing and choices of a foreign government.  However, China's adoption process has been one of the most consistent out of all the countries who participate in international adoption.  That is one of many reasons we felt drawn to adopt from China.

We are requesting a girl this time around.  With our previous 2 adoptions we did not specify gender.  For Caleb's adoption, we knew that by not specifying we would likely be matched with a boy since more people request girls.  With Joshua's adoption, we did not specify because we knew we'd be thrilled either way!  This time around we have decided to adopt a daughter and because more people request girls, we may wait a little longer to be matched.

We have also asked for her to be 18 months or younger at the time we are matched (we will hopefully travel 6 months after match).  We'd like for her to definitely be younger than Caleb because we think he needs to stay the oldest.  She will likely be younger than Joshua but they may end up in the same grade in school.  We expect that our daughter will be at least 1 year old when we bring her home.

We have also filled out a checklist with the medical needs we are open to.  Once our agency finds a child who they think is a match for our family we will have time to review her medical information before making a final decision.  We plan to enlist the help of physicians who specialize in international adoption, just like we did when we adopted Caleb.

So all that being said -- and knowing that God is sovereign over this entire process -- here is my best guess at our timeline:

Home Study Finalized - first half of March 2013
Submit I-800 for approval to USCIS (immigration) - last half of March 2013
Receive I-800 approval - July 2013.  I have heard it takes about 3 months
Dossier to China (DTC) - August 2013
Log-In-Date (LID) Issued for China's Adoption Process - September 2013
Referral -- ???  Anywhere from 1-6 months, so hopefully by February or March 2013.  Our agency matches 30-40 children per month and has one-to-one relationships with 20 orphanages in China, mostly in the Henan province
Travel - Summer 2014 to bring our daughter home!!  Trips are typically 2-3 weeks long.

We know that God's timing is perfect.  We trust that the work He has done on our hearts to prepare us for this adoption is part of His plan for our family.  We cannot wait to see what He has in store for us and to see our daughter's sweet face for the first time!

China Adoption Update

The Pickett adoption train is chugging right along as we are making steady progress on all of our initial paperwork!

We received our home study packet on 1/23 and were able to have it completed and mailed by 2/4.  The home study packet included a 13 page application, blue print of our home, pictures of our family and home, medical forms for every family members, copies of drivers licenses and proof of insurance, etc.  Each parent is also required to answer autobiography questions, but luckily our home study agency has kept them the same for the most part.  We have reused many answers from our 2008 and 2010 home studies since our synopsis of our childhood has not changed!   Once the home study agency received our packet they scheduled our home study visits.  One will be in our home on Friday, February 15 and the second will be at their office in Waco on Monday, February 25.  They are typically very prompt about finalizing home studies so I think we will meet my goal of having it completed by early to mid March.

We also signed and notarized the service & fee agreements for our Chinese agency, CCAI, and sent in our first program fee.  Once they received that information we were given access to their 46-page copyrighted Dossier Guide on their website.  At first I was very intimidated by the amount of detailed instructions they provided.  While we received some instructions when we did our dossier for Caleb's adoption from Kyrgyzstan, it was certainly not 46 pages long!

Now that I have had time to look over the dossier packet I realized that it is a really straight forward and easy dossier.  For those of you who do not know, a dossier is a collection of documents about our family that are required by the Chinese government if you want to adopt a child.  The majority of the documents are notarized, certified by the county clerk, certified by the Secretary of State, and then authenticated by both the US Department of State and the Chinese Embassy/Consulate.  It sounds harder than it really is, especially since we have been through some of these steps before for Caleb!

Our dossier requires the following documents:
-Adoption Petition that we create (with a great sample form to copy provided by our agency)
-Certified Birth Certificates for both parents
-Certified Marriage Certificate
-Employment Verification that confirms Bryan's employment and salary
-Financial Statement of our assets/liabilities (again, great sample provided by CCAI)
-Physician Reports from having a physical done along w/ bloodwork
-Police Reports from our city saying we aren't thugs
-Home Study
-3 couple photos, 8 family photos
-3 passport photos each
-2 passport copies
-And last but not least -- the most time consuming part -- I-800 immigration approval from USCIS (US Citizen & Immigration Services)

We have scheduled physicals for 2/22 (Bryan) and 2/27 (me).  Once we have completed our dossier we will send it to our agency for critical review before it is translated and sent to China.

We are excited to make progress on the paper chase and know that once it is over the hardest part will start:  waiting.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Caduceus Society Event

On January 19th Bryan and I had the opportunity to attend an event for the Caduceus Society, an organization of physicians and their families that support the hospital.  If you are like me, then you probably have no idea what a caduceus is -- it is the symbol used by physicians that is a staff with snakes wrapped around it.

Several physicians from Bryan's ER group are members of the new organization and invited us to attend the black-tie dinner at the Miramont Country Club.  Our friends the Jordans (who are also new to the ER group) attended with us.  My parents kept the boys for us in Houston which meant we got to get ready in peace and sleep in the next morning!

We enjoyed a nice dinner at the event and got to hear a wonderful speaker who is a NY Times best-selling author speak about his experiences with childhood cancer.  It was nice to meet some of Bryan's colleagues and their wives.  And it was nice to wear something other than yoga pants for once, too!

Here are some pictures from our fun, fancy evening together!

Being silly with Paige - doing our sassy duck lip pose


Over the past two weeks I have worked on several projects around the house.  Over Christmas Caleb had a meltdown that included him crying, "When are you going to make me a calendar???".  Poor buddy has a lot of anxiety over what we will do each day and what is ahead.  The fact that Bryan's work schedule changes every week does not help, either!  We had a small calendar at our old house but needed something more detailed for Caleb.  I had already gathered all the materials and let Caleb help me with putting it together.  It has been a huge help for him!  He loves to 'play school' and point to the calendar to talk about days of the week, the month, and our activities.

Helping Daddy hang the calendar in the hallway

The finished product - it is dry erase and magnetic.  I made laminated magnets for all of our different activities so we can update it each week.

Another project I did was to update the decor in our breakfast room.  When we moved we brought a small hutch with us that we bought at the beginning of medical school.  It served use well in previous homes but just didn't serve much purpose here.  So I sold it in one day on a facebook consignment page and got to work on a collage on my big, open wall!   After I bought all my items I traced them on wrapping paper to figure out the spacing (thanks pinterest) and that helped me know where to put the nails in the wall, too! 

Finished product!  I am very happy with how it turned out.

I am the room mom for Joshua's class which means I'm responsible for teacher birthday gifts.  One of Joshua's teachers loves holiday decorations so in addition to getting her a gift card, I also made her a Valentine's Day wreath!  Caleb modeled my initial progress as I made my first yarn wreath.  

The finished product - textured yarn wreath with a grouping of felt flowers & hearts

It feels nice to cross some things off my 'to do list' and to also do some crafty decorating things that I enjoy!

January Photo Dump

I've gotten a tad behind on blogging about life with the boys.  The past two weeks have been consumed by school, basketball practice, sick kids, Bryan working, and of course adoption paperwork.  Here are some photos that capture some fun(ny) parts of our month!

Caleb loves to be outside riding his bike!
We recently got him a glide bike (no pedals/training wheels) to help prepare him for a 'big boy bike'.

Sweet Joshie sitting in the chair like a big boy.
His vocabulary has exploded over the past 6 weeks! 

Caleb sporting an ace bandage on his head (no, he's not hurt) while using marbles to make Aggie band formations on the floor-- a favorite quiet activity while Joshua naps!

Caleb had his first basketball practice at the beginning of January!
He has learned a lot and is having a ton of fun.  Several friends from school are on his team. 

Working on buttons using a practice board.
Fine motor skills are a challenge for Caleb and activities like this really help him! 

Joshua trying to be just like big brother - practicing on the zipper board 

Joshua fell while getting off the tricycle in the driveway and got a swollen lip.  It bled a lot at first, and of course Bryan was at work! I almost had our friend (and fellow ER doc) Ty come over to look because I was afraid his lip was split in the corner.  Luckily it wasn't that bad and has healed completely.

Silly boy!

Caleb and I played Jenga for the first time while Joshua napped.  My tower-loving boy was a big fan! 

A typical afternoon in our house.  After sibling rivalry and discipline, Joshua took off his pants and diaper.  

By the middle of the month my sweet baby stopped sleeping well and just felt crummy.  I thought it may be teeth but a trip to the pedi proved otherwise -- double ear infection & sinus infection.   

Of course Joshua had to bring Boppity to the pediatrician and do a weight check on her.

Caleb is getting to be such a big boy and much more independent and helpful.
He brought the trash can in all by himself! 

Daddy helping Joshua make a basket on our new basketball goal

 Breakfast with Boppity & 'Rella (Cinderella)

Joshua worked SO hard to get Cinderella on his tricycle. 
He was very proud of himself when he finally succeeded! 

Taking a little spin with his best girl, 'Rella