Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures of Peter Pan on Halloween....

I think he was getting ready for take off.
Carter and Aunt Coco
We went to my cousin's house for trick-or-treating. They had this little graveyard set up, and Carter loved the fog machine!Carter and his Bat Bag that Gram Me got him...the eyes glow in the dark! :)
My cousin Ashley's little girl, Cece, was Tinker Bell...I'm sad we never caught a good picture of Carter and Cece together because they were so cute!


Adoption FAQ

Following the lead of my good friend Emily, who has also just been matched with a beautiful girl, I have answered some FAQ.  (Sidenote: I need a specialized phone plan just for Emily...I am not sure I can even count how many times a day we talk. I am so thankful to have another woman/mother to walk this journey with me. Scott can only gush about frilly bloomers, devise approval predictions and timetables, and discuss the latest on the China chat boards so much.) :) Thank you Emily!!

Your blog comments and emails have meant the world to us. We never imagined that family and friends would celebrate with us in such a heartfelt manner. Thank you for making this journey even more special for us and for our entire family.

I will try to update often with little tidbits because several of you have shared your interest in adoption. Hopefully this will give you some insight and perhaps even lead you to adoption as well.  Feel free to email me at any time with questions!

Now on to some FAQ:

What is her special need?
Virginia Grace had a mature teratoma (basically a benign tumor) removed from her tongue several months ago.  She will need speech therapy, but her need is presumed to be very minor and manageable.

Why doesn't she have any hair?
It's easier for caretakers to care for and clean the children when their heads have been shaved. It's also hot there.  I am really hoping they will let her hair grow at least a month before we pick her up.  I mean, I have BOWS!!! Yippee!!! :)

Why does it take so long to pick her up?
Red tape. Government. Get the picture? It takes time for the adoption office in China to process paper work, review our dossier, set travel dates, etc.  Here are the steps we're waiting on:
PA: Pre Approval (This could come tomorrow or a month from now. My friend Emily just got her PA for Lia Kate yesterday after only 5 days!!! I hope we follow that pattern!)
LOA: Letter of Approval (This is the approval you receive after they review your dossier. It typically takes 3 months. Ugh.)
TA: Travel Approval (This is the last step, allowing you to start booking airfare! This can take 2 months.)
Gotcha Day: The day we finally hold Virginia Grace in our arms. (This is a term used in adoption circles.)

Now, you would think there's a system to all these approvals (as there is a definite waiting list for healthy children), but the time between each step differs so much for each family.  We have some friends that are traveling in a few weeks after waiting only 3 months total! Amazing. So, please don't think your prayers for our process are in vain... we're praying for favor and expediency! :)  It's apparently happening for some!

How far apart in age will our two kiddos be?
Ten months.  (Ahem...did I hear snickering??) 

When did we start the adoption process?
We began in October of 2008. Both parents have to be 30 to adopt from China...otherwise we probably would have started the process several years ago. You can read more about the story here.

Why did we switch to special needs?
We changed plans in early September...read about it here.

Is the process easy?
No. Every time we reviewed a file (and had to turn it down), we felt like we left a piece of our heart with each child.  I was extremely attached to a baby girl last week who had a very severe need. I am not sure what details I am allowed to share, but let's just say that one of her limbs was completely limp and unable to function.  She would need countless surgeries (if doctors decided the surgeries would help), occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.  At first I wasn't sure about it all. There went my dreams of my daughter dancing, playing sports, playing piano. I shattered the (unrealistic) shield and expectation of perfection for our children, and I discovered that I didn't feel the urge to cling to "normalcy" as I would have felt the day before.  I began to fall in love with her and realized that at least we could give her a better quality of life. We would deal with her need. We would adjust. Scott felt that the demands of such a severe need might be too hard to handle with another toddler in the family.  

With tears and restrained panic, I submitted to my husband's decision and we released her file.  Thinking we had to wait another month (or two or three) to be matched with another file, I was beside myself. Scott kept feeling like God was telling us to wait. I didn't want to wait. But God wasn't asking us to wait months, or even weeks. He was telling us to wait just hours. 

The next morning, we received Virginia Grace's file. I wasn't sure I was ready to look at another file, but Scott immediately felt she was the one. I grieved that day for the other child, but as I stared at Virginia Grace's pictures and read about her personality and need, I began to feel a strong connection to her. I fell in love with her sweet face and her contagious smile. I began to believe she was indeed the child meant for us.  God put Scott and me on the same page, and we rejoiced in His sovereignty and faithfulness. (and I rejoiced in Scott's wisdom and discernment!) We were also happy to hear that the other child's file was already being reviewed by another family. 

So no, the process isn't easy. It's very emotional. It's time consuming. And yet the decision must be made in 24-36 hours. It's nerve-wracking. It's unpredictable.

But it's worth it. 
Virginia Grace is worth it. 
And every child who needs a home is worth it. 


Meet Our Little Girl!

We proudly introduce to you our daughter,
Virginia Grace Xue Brown
Born: November 25, 2008
Xue is part of her given Chinese name, and it means "snow." The Chinese character is used as a symbol of whiteness, purity, and beauty in a woman.

Many of you have traveled this journey of adoption with us thus far as we've patiently completed the homestudy and mountains of paperwork, and then switched to the Special Needs program in early September. This morning we accepted the referral of this beautiful girl!! She turns 11 months tomorrow. We are so thrilled!!! Scott pretty much fell in love with her at first sight. :) God truly redeemed this day, the due date of the twins we lost in March. How perfect for God to give us the gift of Virginia Grace on this very day!

Virginia Grace (and we're not sure which part of her name we're using yet...Scott thinks she looks like a "Grace") is currently in Southwestern China. We cannot publicly state the exact city due to restrictions, but we have been told she is in one of the very best orphanages in China. She is partly in foster care that is under the supervision of the welfare institute, so we feel that she's getting love and attention daily.

Her file says that she is active, outgoing, has a ready smile, is fond of music, likes to be teased, cries loudly when unhappy, loves to be held, and has a good appetite. It also says she is a very smart and sweet girl. We can tell just by her pictures that she has quite a personality!

We are expected to travel to pick her up 4-6 months from now. It takes time for paperwork to be reviewed, etc. We're praying that we can go as soon as possible...hoping for March! In the meantime, we can send a care package to her. In it, we can include pictures of our family so she can begin to familiarize herself with our faces. We also found a company that will deliver a birthday cake to her on her 1st birthday and take pictures!! We feel so very blessed and giddy with joy. Carter's been pointing at her pictures and saying, "Baby!!"

I am sure we'll be sharing more details with you here on the blog until we bring Virginia Grace home but wanted to at least get the good news out on this exciting day!

post signature


Weekend Pictures Part 3

post signature

Weekend Pictures Part 2

post signature

Weekend Pics Part 1

Stuart (Scott's twin brother) and his girlfriend Noelle came into town last weekend for Julie's Race for the Cure. They both took some really great pictures of Carter....here are some of our favorites! I have separated them into 3 posts.

post signature


Carter for a Cure!

On Saturday, we headed to Linn Park for the Race for the Cure. Though it drizzled, it never downpoured as predicted, and there was an incredible turnout - quite a crowd! Carter sported his new "Kids for a Cure" shirt.
We ran/walked to support my sister-in-law (Scott's sister) who is battling breast cancer. Julie has gone through 4 (maybe even 5?) surgeries in less than 4 months. She has been such a trooper and a model of hope and perseverance. Scott, Kelley, Carter and Aunt JuJu
Julie with Becky and Donna (relatives from KY who drove down for the race)
Yes, there is a PINK fountain behind us. :)

Aunt JuJu, I love you and hope you get better soon! Love, Carter (posterboy for Kids for a Cure)

post signature

Carter's Paci Theory

If your mom tells you that you've outgrown your paci, just add another one.
(I started laughing so hard when he did this, especially when he began grinding his teeth so that they moved side to side. He even held them in his mouth while I ran to get my camera. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a blossoming comedian on our hands.)

post signature


Definitely Not a Baby Now!

Carter on Saturday morning.....
Carter on Saturday afternoon!
Thanks to the encouragement and great advice from you moms out there, we took the plunge (or more accurately, AVOIDED one) and transitioned Carter from his crib to his big boy bed last weekend.

I made a big deal about it for several days, even getting out his fish-themed bedding (that I ordered from Pottery Barn a year ago when on sale!) to get him excited. Whenever we mentioned his new big boy bed, he smiled and exclaimed, "FISHIES!!"

I have been holding off on posting this because I didn't want to jinx ourselves...with the exception of getting out twice on Saturday afternoon before his nap, Carter has stayed in his bed. (The actual bed - the headboard and footboard- were Scott's and are being sandblasted and painted, so there's not anything at the end of the bed to keep him from simply sliding down to play.)

Is our little active, stubborn, and mischevious boy really gonna make it this easy? I'm skeptical. But for now, I am a happy mama.

Thanks to all of you who posted advice and experiences. It made the transition a whole lot less stressful. :)

post signature