Saturday, September 14, 2013


There has been no change in our adoption process over the past 45 days since we submitted our LOI (Letter of Intent) to adopt Hannah.  We are currently waiting on the Chinese government to pull our dossier from the stack so it can be translated, reviewed and officially matched to our daughter.  Once that is done we will get the coveted LOA or Letter of Approval.  We should travel to get Hannah 10-14 weeks after that LOA is received.  

This has by far been the hardest part of waiting, especially since we know Hannah is in the orphanage instead of in foster care.  While I believe most orphanages do the best they can with their limited resources, they are never a substitute for a family.  Last week a friend alerted me to a blog post from a family who had visited Hannah's orphanage as part of their adoption trip.  Two families told me she really stood out and was very alert.  They took pictures of her, not knowing she was anyone's daughter.   Initially the pictures made my heart so sad and I cried.  I'm trying not to focus on her sad eyes in the picture, but instead on the positives:  she is out of her crib, she doesn't look sick or like she's lost weight, they haven't shaved her head to prevent lice.  

But the reality is that this is Hannah's life now until we can come get her.  While we can't find her in this picture (probably because it was taken while she was sitting in the bouncy seat above) this is more than likely the room where she sleeps and it contains the crib where she spends most of her time.

Throughout the past week I was so hopeful that our LOA would come.  Many other adoptive families with similar timelines to us were getting approved based on what I saw on my facebook adoption groups.  I found myself checking my email every 5 minutes during business hours.  Definitely not a healthy way to spend your time or a great way to spend your energy when there are two sweet little boys to take care of!  By Thursday I felt like I was walking around with a lump in my throat all the time, feeling so sad and anxious about our adoption.

I felt like God was calling me to spend time in His word.  I sat down to read while the boys were at school and began praying for our Hannah.  I was asking God what He wanted me to do:  pester my agency and fight and focus on the next step of our adoption?  I immediately felt Him telling me:  "Rest."  My heart wants to call every day and check every adoption discussion group for statistics and refresh my email constantly -- and yet He was clearly telling me it was time to rest.

I have tried to do just that.  Rest in Him and what I know to be true about Him and His character.  Focus on all the ways He has been faithful to our Hannah in spite of the fact that she is in an orphanage.  Trust that His timing, while hard to understand now, will be future evidence of Him working all things together for good.  He loves us and He adores our Hannah.  He did not forsake her before we knew about her; why would He forsake her now?  And what good will my worrying do-- it only shows that I am forgetting that she is HIS child, not OURS.

Shortly after I spent time in prayer I got an email from our agency saying that as far as they can tell our dossier has not even been translated yet. While it is possible that the adoption computer system was not showing updates (it has been unreliable), if what they said is true it means we have at least 5 weeks until approval.  I'm trying to pace myself emotionally for this race, in spite of the fact that we don't know if it is a sprint or a marathon.

We long to have our girl in our arms.  Her brothers ask about her all the time, especially Caleb who has told me he loves her without knowing her and that he wants to go to China and sign those papers himself!  Please pray for Hannah: that God would place orphanage workers in her room that would love and nurture her, that they would keep her active and moving for the sake of her joints, that God would guard her heart against the impact of orphanage life.

While I'm praying we will have an update with our LOA to write about very soon, the reality may be that we are in for a long, emotional and exhausting race.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

iPhone photo dump - Summer 2013

I've been a blogging slacker this summer and it is probably impossible for me to catch up on blog posts at this point... so I'm going to take the easy way out and do a photo dump from my iPhone and call it a day!  

We had a fun, silly, hot summer!

Caleb built incredible homes out of Lincoln logs  He loved looking at houses being built in our neighborhood and translating those designs into Lincoln log houses.

One of my Bible Study leaders gave us butterflies (in their cocoons) to watch over the summer.  The boys were so excited when they became butterflies!  

The boys had fun in our backyard with the hose and their new umbrellas.  Clearly we are not gardeners ;)

Over the summer if the boys were fighting or being unkind to one another they had to do a chore.  Joshua had the privilege of wiping the little table with Magic Eraser.

Going on a little drive with an umbrella... this was also something we did nearly every day.

Architecture by Caleb.  This one has a front and back porch on each side.

I tried out Annie Sloan chalk paint for the first time! I painted this oak-colored sideboard without any sanding or priming and finished it with a tinted glaze.  It's in our master bedroom now and I love how it turned out!

Caleb was happy to help Bryan park the truck anytime he was given the opportunity.

We had a special day just for Caleb that included lunch near campus (where he could see the A&M water tower) and walking around in the North Side parking garage so he could get an even closer look at the water tower and smoke stack.  He's one of a kind :)

Joshua drew his first real picture:  an octopus

In spite of his love for Disney princesses, Joshua developed a recent interest for Spider-Man
Trying on the Spider-Man costume from Granny's dress up closet

Classic toddler behavior.  Chasing his brother in the backyard wearing pajamas, boots and a bucket on his head... all while carrying a large stick.

Classic Caleb behavior: watching TV with his lovey and a head lamp

Sadie did this multiple times when we had summer showers... I was not happy!  She goes crazy when it is wet outside and runs laps around the yard, making sure to hit any low spots that are full of mud.

My birthday/anniversary present finally came in!  I got a new chair for our room to create a sitting area.  I bought the table off facebook consignment and chalk painted it to match.  I hope to rock my sweet Hannah in this chair!

Joshua wearing a blanket cape while pretending to be Snow White

Caleb became interested (obsessed) with Christmas light shows set to music on YouTube.  He drew a picture of his favorite one that includes light-faces on the second story.

More water fun to beat the heat- pouring buckets of cold water on little brother's umbrella!

Showing off his Ariel doll, all while wearing a toddler belt over his pajamas

We enjoyed lots of fun playtime upstairs.  Caleb still loves to build train tracks and Joshie has started to show an interest in zoo animals!

A night of zoo animal play after bathtime.  This time he built a fence around the animals.

We bought Caleb a new (to him) desk from our friends the Caraways.  It gave us the opportunity to get the glider out of his room and into Hannah's room since he had been reluctant to part with it.  He announced, "I am going to do all my work here." 

We decided to milk this Spider-Man interest for all its worth to help tone down some of the Disney princess talk.  Spider-Man underpants & socks!

Sweet brothers in the tub! I love these boys.

We did lots of swimming at our neighborhood pool.  Caleb learned how to swim over the summer! He definitely still has more to learn but made incredible progress.

We took amazing naps and had amazing bedhead.

Yet another Lincoln log creation, complete with wood floors on the bottom, a second story and an attic.

Mr. Cool Guy sporting some shades in the playroom

We took a tour of the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham with our Pickett cousins + Pop Pop! We missed you Gran Jan and Billy!

I have been working hard on Hannah's room!  I still have lots of projects left (like sewing her crib bedding!) but we did get the room painted.  I am thrilled to have a pink room in my house!

Rub a Dub Dub three cousins in Gran Jan's tub!

This big goofy dog thinks she is a 10 lb puppy.  We love her even though she is kind of a mess.  She's up to 40 lbs now.

Playing Disney princesses on his bed after bath

Glamorous life:  pulling pieces of an annihilated medicine dropper out of the disposal with pliers.

To celebrate the boy's return to school, I got a pedicure and cut 4 inches off my hair!

By the end of the summer/back to school, Caleb's fascination with water towers was back.  He is building them all the time and also pretends that he is a collapsing water tower on a regular basis.

Another Disney princess moment, believe it or not.
"Look at me, I'm Ariel with long red hair."

First Day of School

Hooray!!  We survived the summer!!

Tuesday was the first day of school for both boys.  We decided to keep Caleb at his current school for kindergarten for several reasons - but the biggest being that we were trying to minimize change in his life for this year.  So much in our lives changed last year as we moved, and we know our family will change this year as we bring Hannah home.  We decided keeping him in a familiar place would be best for him.  Caleb's kindergarten is Monday thru Thursday from 9-2:30.  We enjoy having Friday off for his OT appointment and a day to be home and play.  He was excited and eager to go to school on that first day, which shocked us since he normally likes to stay at home!

Joshua is in the 3-day 2's class this year.  He refers to his teachers as "the Disney princesses" and has several friends from last year in his class.  He will go to school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-1:30 and then stay for "stay and play" for 1 hour so that I pick up both boys at 2:30.  He walked into his room with confidence on the first day and had no potty accidents at school! I gave him the choice of underwear or a pull-up for his first day in case he was nervous and he was very clear he wanted to be a big boy!

Part of being a big boy was putting his shoes on all by himself.  He is big on "all by myself" lately.

The boys posing outside their school @ Christ United Methodist Church

Walking in with Daddy and his new bigger 'pack pack'