A True Role Model

This weekend, we celebrated my grandmother's 93rd birthday. MaMa is a true example of a woman with grace, dignity, optimism, faith, family devotion, perseverance, humour, and love.

At 93, she still gardens, digs holes in the ground with her bare hands for her beloved plants, takes walks, plays cards, cooks and bakes the most delectable recipes, sings songs to her great grandchildren, reads her Bible with diligence, laughs with joy (and sometimes humility), imparts wisdom, rides a sea doo, picks up the kiddos, clips coupons, throws away nothing, can craft something beautiful out of scraps, and brings joy to everyone around her.

Happy 93rd Birthday, MaMa!!


She got our care package!

We were beyond thrilled last week to receive new video and pictures of our incredible daughter-to-be, Caroline!! (As a reminder, she has the choice to keep her Chinese name but I am not supposed to put it on the blog until we have her home...so we call her Caroline.) The video was taken of her opening the care package from us, and of the man (who will be our guide when we're there) translating our letter to her. I am not going to post the video here, but some sweet moments are when she sounds out "Al-a-bam-a" and smiles sweetly at the colored drawings from Carter and Grace. She spent more time looking at their pictures than looking over the other gifts we included in the package. We fall in love with her more and more every time we see her. She seems to have such a sweet nature. She is very attentive and interested in the video as if she wants to know all about her new family. And her foster parents seem wonderful. We are so grateful for how they've cared for her. Here are a few pictures...in several, she is looking at the photo book we sent her with pictures of our family, our home, etc. We are just aching to know her and love her more!
As a sidenote, I'm sure many people wonder why she cannot stay with this foster family and continue living in her own country and culture. There's a great article I am going to post next week that explains all the details, but in short, orphans age out at 14 and are forced to leave orphanges or foster homes and live on their own. This family even mentioned in the first video to us that they aren't able to take care of her anymore. Without the stipends from the government to cover expenses of an additional child, and with the enforcement of the one-child policy, most foster families cannot continue caring for a foster son or daughter long-term. Also, in China, a country big on tradition, heritage, and superstitions, many consider it a curse to employ or marry an orphan. Therefore, many orphans do not have a hope or future because of their history and background. While it will be a dramatic and challenging transition for Caroline, we believe she will have more opportunities to thrive (physically, emotionally, mentally, academically, professionally, and most importantly...spiritually) in our family here in America. And we feel incredibly blessed to have her want to join our family, as she has expressed.


Caroline's Finding Ad

So much has happened in the last week, but it's been difficult to update since I've been out of town so much. I am currently in North Carolina with my kids visiting my parents. Pics to come when I get home and can connect my camera to my computer.

In the meantime, we've had several exciting updates regarding Caroline! Brian Stuy, a guy who runs a business of locating finding ads for the orphans of China, sent the ads for Caroline. We were surprised to receive TWO finding ads. An orphanage is always required by law to post a description of a child and their (estimated if not known) date of birth if they have been abandoned before the child can be officially admitted to the institution and be eligible for adoption. Caroline was abandoned at 22 months, so the first ad was from May of 2000 (about 8 months after she was found). We were hoping the ad would include a picture, making it the earliest picture we would ever have of Caroline. But ads didn't include pics until a couple of years later.

Brian Stuy was surprised when he found a second finding ad for our Caroline, published in May of 2009. This was when her paperwork was being done to make her eligible for adoption, so I guess they had to run the ad in the newspapers one more time. This ad included a picture, and it's the youngest of her we've seen thus far. It's cute! I figure she was probably 8 or 9 in the picture.

Our beautiful girl was found with a note from her birth parents. We won't receive it until we get to China, and in fact, sometimes orphanage directors won't release the notes at all. But we hope it will be a source of comfort and reassurance of love from Caroline's birth mother...a sole remnant from her babyhood that she can treasure for a lifetime.


While I was gone...

While in Louisville for the Orphan Summit, I was gone from the kids for 3 nights...the longest I've ever been away from Grace. But Carter and Grace did just fine. Here's a precious email Scott sent me after the first morning of me being out of town. Hope it makes you chuckle too.

"So, what have you missed? Glad you asked. Grace slept in her bed until about 4:00. I then heard her crying at her door. She was sitting on the floor carrying her book ("Feet are Neat"), her pink blanket, two "ca-cas," two lovey bears, and her computer, I think. As I got closer, I understood exactly what she was saying in her cries, "I'm stuck, I'm stuck" because she couldn't get back up while carrying all of her necessities. Priceless.

Carter had gotten in bed with me sometime earlier in the night -- I don't exactly remember when; maybe 2:45. So I placed Grace in bed with him and went to do some work. About 30 minutes later, I heard them making noise and went in to check on them. I told them to go back to sleep. Carter asked if I was going to stay with them. Grace told me not to stay with them; "Daddy, you sleep in my bed."

After the kids got up -- around 5:30, they asked to watch tv. Carter wanted to watch Little Bear -- then thought for a moment asked for Movers. Grace,of course, asked for Kai Lan. We decided to do Movers and then Kai Lan. As I started the latest Movers episode, Carter asked for the Holiday Movers. Thinking he wanted a Christmas one, I said I am not sure we have that one -- he said, "we watched it yesterday." I asked what it was about, he said "about Mom." So they watched the Mother's Day Movers.

And finally, as I type this, Carter keeps asking, "When is Mommy getting up? What time is Mommy going to be home? Is Mommy going to be home tonight?"

Anyway, we miss you. I hope all is well.

Scott, Carter, and Grace


LOA is here!!!!!

After an unusually long and distressing wait, our LOA has finally arrived!!!!! Our social worker called today, and I was practically in tears when I heard the news. I am just now getting a chance to post this because I am in Louisville, KY for the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VII. And we've been gone from the hotel since 6:20 am this morning with no access to a computer. I can't wait to write more about the Summit, but for now I just wanted to share our news before I crash in bed. Thank you for all your prayers and encouraging notes as we've waited.

Our next steps involve approvals to specifically adopt Caroline from the Department of Homeland Security, then some steps at the US Embassy in China. And THEN....then we will await our travel approval to go get our beautiful girl.

Happy Friday!!!


Top 12

Sorry for the lack of posts....I'll get them going again. :) Still no updates on our paperwork except that our approval (that is 2+months late) is supposedly coming this week or next. It's been a very difficult wait. But we appreciate all of your prayers...Caroline needs them more than us.

On a different note, a college friend asked me to contribute my Top 12 to a great site called "Domestic Ease." Click here to read my top 12 ways to kickoff Spring, and have fun browsing the site. Great ideas and articles!