Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another Sister Shelly Visit!

7.31.07--Yesterday my sister called to say they were planning a surprise trip to Des Moines for Dan's 50th Birthday! I am sooooo excited. I just went to PF Changs for dinner with Dan the other night--and got a bit teary eyed because the last time we were there they were with us--and I missed her. They will be here August 15 or 16 and Dan's B-day is (as you all know well by now) is the 18th. I'm going to invite several other friends and work buddies as well and have a deck party for him Saturday night. It will be sooo much fun. Whoo--Hoo! I can't believe it--pinch me I'm dreaming.

News--China adds another requirement

7.31.07--CCAA announced today they are requiring that both parents travel to China to take custody of their daughter. Previously one parent could travel a travel partner (family or friend) and the other spouse could stay home with the other kids in the family or for whatever reason--just not travel. Now--that can not happen anymore. Dan and I were always planning to both travel. So it doesn't effect us. But it will mean many families will have to adjust--and in come cases update paperwork. You have to identify how you'll be traveling in your dossier paperwork and application. Seems as I have said many times--you never know what China will do. And I personally still feel like our daughter is swiftly moving closer to us everyday!

Hague Accrediation for GOL

7.31.07: Today I went to our Agency for an interview with the Hague Convention accrediation team. There were several other families there too -- it was a group interview. It was my first time meeting with others that have adopted and of course they also use GOL to build their family. I can't tell you the feeling I had sitting there with them. All of them had already gone to China already. In one case they had two children from China and in the other cases just one. AND the best part--they brought their daughters with them. How sweet they were. I was hipnotized by them. It was so cute--one of the little girls climbed up on her mommies lap during the interview and said, "What are you talking about?" It was so funny. This experience left me even more confirmed in our belief that we made the absolutely best choice in going with Gift of Love. They have been truly wonderful and I realize it even more--when I listened to the other talk about their experiences in China and post adoption process. Two of the families actually had traveled together so their daughters came from the same Welfare Institute in China. One of the other families was one of the ones I just followed her blog--while she was in China--she just got home about 4 weeks ago. It was strange seeing them in real life--I'd seen so many pictures online. The mom just glows! It's a beautiful thing. My evaluation of the meeting was that the Hague Convention Staff are very impressed with GOL and I'd lay odds that they WILL be accredited. They deserve it!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our busiest—most fun and loving summer EVER!

7.28.07: Seems this spring and summer are blessed seasons in more ways than our LID assignment. We've had family and friends travel to visit us from both Nebraska and Vermont--and nothing makes us happier. Seems the pieces of our life are finally falling in place...and it's an amazing feeling.

My mom (Grammy Cota) came to visit again this spring. We did lots of fun things together--knitting a couple sweaters for our little one--a Randy Travis concert, a trip to the funnybone comedy club and a lot of quality time together. Mom and Dad Arndt (Grammy and Grampy) came to visit in late May we enjoyed grilling and a couple games of crochet--Dan won all the games--he's the champ, shortly after Uncle Tom made a couple quick stops to see us on his way to see Cousin TJ in Kentucky--then in mid June Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tom make a trip to Kentucky for a wedding and spent a day with us--and Duke (their dog) stayed at the "Arndt Doggie Spa & Retreat" for a week. He's a wonderful dog and simply loves playing with our girls (montana and sadie). Then we went to the new Iowa Speedway--Dan is a big Danica Patrick fan, and she was racing here in Iowa--Dan actually got her autography(picture is here). Then my sister Shelly and her husband Chris (that's the three of us in a picture at night at the jordon creek fireworks) visited over the week of the 4th of July we had a whirlwind week--the Art festival, the comedy club, fireworks at jordon creek,shopping, boating, a visit to see Zoey, Shayna and Matt (that's a picture of Zoey and I the night of our visit) and lots of wonderful time on our deck, grilling and chatting. And the day they left--Uncle Tom, Aunt Kathy and Cousin TJ all came for a day to go to the "good guy car show". It was so great to see TJ--we hadn't seen him for a while. He's always been a great kid--but this trip we realized--he's now an amazing young man. We're so proud of him--and hope he continues to do well in college at Univ. of Kentucky studying Mechanical Engineering. After they left--Dan and I negotiated a long awaited and wished for new truck for Dan (that's a picture of him in his truck the day after we got it). We wrangled a heck of a deal--and Dan just LOVES it. He spit shines it daily and can't find enough reasons to drive it. The 3rd week of July--our little niece Katie came to visit for 4 days--we did the water park, adventureland park, blank park zoo, a concert at the lake, fireworks, and even watched a couple baby birds hatch in a nest under our deck. (that's a picture of little Katie and her favorite Uncle Dan).She's the most loving, kind and polite little girl I know. A complete Joy to have around. She even called last night to say, "Thank-you for taking time off work to take me to...etc. it was the best vacation I've ever had in my whole life!" How sweet--made me cry with joy. While she was here some old friends of Dan's from Nebraska came to town, so they met us at Adventureland, then we did the ballon fest in Indianola and the farmers market with them this morning. (that's a picture of them and their little girl Kennedy--they adopted her when she was a newborn--on the Ferris Wheel--her favorite. It's been a non stop summer. We are sooooo blessed. So that's our summer highlights...what a whirlwind--looking at this post reminds me of what an amazing time it's been. Wow--my heart is full!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

We're Logged-IN! LID for the Arndt Family 7.17.07

7.20.07: YES--you're reading it right--we're logged-in. Of course nothing is ever for sure with this journey--but nothing in life is ever for sure really. But we're as sure as we can be at this point--we will have a little girl. Most likely not until sometime in 2009. BUT--in adoption terms--the pregnancy test came back positive--for Dan and Lisa Arndt. Beth just called with the news--I was pretty speechless and started to cry before she even said it. I'm still in dis-belief. So, imagine if you can--we're at a place on our magic carpet ride where we floating along on the happy carpet--screaming at the top of our lungs, with hands high in the air--with our hearts bursting with JOY, beyond what words can capture. We really are coming little one, and we can't wait to see you--love, mom.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Dad's Birthday--

7.19.07: Happy Birthday Dad--wherever you are! As I headed up the stairs to work today, it occurred to me "hey--it's Dad's Birthday"--and the next thought that ran through my head was "hmmmm....just MAYBE...the Chinese government is processing our dossier TODAY! This vision of Chinese government employees reading and discussing our dossier, in this ancient old building, in a dimly-lit room , talking in a language that is so subtle and soft, as they do their VERY important work. I know it's nearly impossible for this to be happening--but the visual was so real--it seems as though it just might be. Previously when I thought of getting "logged-in" I envisioned a computer--today--there were real people and faces and a building and a room, desk and everything! I know--you all think I'm a little nuts by now--maybe I am. But all OF THIS seemed so impossible just a few years ago--and hey, "look at us now."

My father never wanted much for his birthday. Infact the only things I ever remember him wanting were shop tools and a riding lawn mover--(so he could get around better when he was disabled). But I remember he always wanted us to be happy--he always wanted us to be good kids, offer the world something and to have a family of our own. FAMILY was his mantra--tribal chant of sorts. "When everyone and everything else in the world fails you--your FAMILY will ALWAYS be there for YOU." was his battle cry. So, if infact, the impossible happens today and we have today (his birthday) as our Log-in Date--I know he's think, "now THAT is the best birthday gift a father could have." Ahhh...I miss you Dad--I wish you could be here with us to share this amazing journey with me. I know you'd be fasinated--and I think you'd be proud. So if you're out there--and you can hear me, and you can see me writing this blog post--with tears running down my face--you know--I love you with all my heart and soul. Hey--are you the driver of my magic carpet? :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Our Arndt Dossier (Client Copy) arrived!

7.17.07: It's a book! Well not really--but if looks and feels like one. It has a copy of every document that went to CHINA. It's amazing to look at it and see 6 months and 1 day of work--all together. I wonder what other families do without such a book? It's a journal of sorts--a snapshot of our life as it is at this time of growing our family--simply BEAUTIFUL.

In the beginning I thought this process would be finished by the end of June--hmmmm..not so much. A few snow-storms and some international politics got in the way of this journey. I can't wait to get to HER. It's that simple. I can't wait to see Dan playing with her--while she giggles and laughs with him. He's got the most amazing sense of humor and I know they will do omore laughing than anything else! It's precisely what his time with his nieces and nephews are. And I'm sure that will only multiply with our little one.

I'm tired today. I'll sign off for now. 6 months down and let's hope we have the opportunity to wait another 18 months or so. We'll know in just a few weeks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Magic Carpet ride takes us to CHINA!

7.16.07: If you can imagine a red thread of light that runs through our lives that if followed--would lead you to an ancient country, and an abandoned child, that was always meant to be yours. It's almost like a magic carpet ride. There are no seat belts on the magic carpet and the only "road" is a red thread of light that spreads out before you, and the end is no where in sight, but as you get closer to your destiny-a-tion, it all comes clearer. Today--we see Bejing--bustling streets of an ancient city!

Some times you hold on to the edges of the carpet-legs crossed and knuckles white with fear, other times the ride is so glorious it seems to float across the light and as if on a roller coaster--we raise both hands in the air and shout with glee!. Today is a floating day--although still not a done deal--Our the Arndt Family Dossier Arrived in China today! My thoughts are with her, where is she? Is she ok? I think of her birth mother and father, and their anguish as they leave her for reasons my American upbringing can only try to understand, but never thoroughly comprehend. Their hearts must be wounded beyond comprehension. I pray their faith brings them some comfort--in knowing she will be loved unparalleled abundance. And they are always in our hearts. To our daughter--we have yet to meet, except in my dreams--we are see your red thread of light--it is as brilliant and steady--we are not far now. Another phase of prayer begins--in magic carpet terms--this is where we lean back-hold on and let the our Genie driver-drive our carpet. The timing is so close, it makes your heart stop to think o arriving in time.!

It's our journey--to have a family. My destiny to be a mom. Our destiny to adopt a child. Today--we are one stop closer. Next Stop--the LID (Log-in Date). Driver, put this carpet into warp speed--we've no time to waste--our daughter is waiting!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Whoo-Hoo! It really is true....

7.14.07:Just jumped online this morning to see if it was really happening...and it is--my heart skipped a beat when I saw this. It feels soooo real. This is the tracking page for our package--VERY COOL. Can you believe it? I can't .

Friday, July 13, 2007

We're off to China...well...our paperwork is!

7.13.07: They say this is an un-lucky day--but for us it's the best day in months! Our paperwork arrived back from D.C. and Beth was an angel to have everything ready to go! She called around 10:38 and I missed the call--I hade such a crazy day today--the phone and email were non-stop. So she was so wonderful to call me back--and when I saw it was GOL on the Caller iD--I held my breath it was good news--and it was--infact, it was the best news of the day--you have no idea what a long journey this has been. But, I am positive it is mmy destiny, it is the journey I've been waiting for all my life. It can not happen fast enough. I have a funny feeling it will happen sooner for us than anticipated. II'm a realisst--but for some reason, from the beginning I've felt very strongly--we were going to get a surprise call. It's possibly the reason for our dossier going to China alone. That just might be the key--to an early referral. Of course our agency says no--and I'm sure their right--but stuff doesn't ALWAY go as planned--somethings have their own plan. I think this is one like that. This is an amazing day--but one of sweet and sour, it's SWEET we're off to China--but unlike most couples, we still have a deadline to meet--and again it's out of our hands from here. So, when we get logged in in China! That's when I will really celebrate--and when we get the referral I will be completely elated! that's it for today. It's a good one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hard to concentrate....

7.12.07--I'm so restless today--can't focus on anything. Actually having thoughts it might not happen and I need to prepare myself for the worst. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's so hard. I never imagined it all would be this hard. It's like anything really--you can never truly fully prepare for something of this magnitude..

Something neat did happen today though--maybe it's suppose to be a sign of reassurance. I was reading the adoptive families website when I saw a picture of two little girls from china--one of them looked just like the girl in my dream a few months ago--hauntingly so. It was so bizzare in a wonderful way. But this little girl was not sad--she was really happy. Interesting. :)

I have also been bummed about traveling along--but it occured to me yesterday after talking to Beth about it--that it might very well work to our advantage in placement--since we're not with a group--it makes us more open to all provinces in China--ok--that's not fact--just what I want to think--it makes me feel better. The other thing I thought is--we don't have to worry about being attached at the hip with a couple we don't know. And that can be good and bad. SSo we'll just stay positive and let God do his thing. There is a reason --I'm sure of it.

God wouldn't have my little girl on the "red couch all alone" for no good reason. :)Silly. I know--but I worry about the strangest things.

I’m obsessed with this whole thing lately—can’t stop thinking about it. I actually calculated what our referral date would be based on the current rate of referral (the pace China has gone the last two updates to the website) and I figured a 2.5 year wait from the end of this month—which I’m hoping will be our LID (log-in date). Depressing eh?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Photo Layout is done and approved!

7.10.07: Today I FINALLY finished our Arndt Family Photo Layout. I'm soooo not the scrapbook kind of girl. But...in the end, when I scanned the pages in--so I could send it to my agency for approval--it was pretty neat to see our lives in an 8-page capsule. In fact, tonight, I opened it up and paged through it over and over and over again. Visualizing our little girl among the Cota/Arndt family soon. Well--ok not soon--but sooner than before we started the journey right? I had the feeling looking at this visual snapshot of our life--that she will be so loved and have such fun and joy in her life. We're so fortunate to have such great family and friends. Their support on this journey has gotten us through some tough spots. The reward will be phenomenal--beyond our imagination I'm sure. That's it for today. Our paperwork should be authenticated in D.C. tomorrow--hopefully. Then the courier we hired will pick it up and drop it back to our agency overnight mail to arrive Thursday. Beth already has all our other paperwork--and has been getting it prepared for shipping to CHINA! So as soon as it arrives--we really are off to China--and please--PRAY that it gets logged in before Dan's Birthday-8.18.07. It will be extremely close. If we miss that date--we won't be adopting from China. :( Don't like to think about that.

Monday, July 9, 2007

July is a special month...

7.9.07--It just dawned on me--while writing an email to my sister Shelly--July has a lot of important dates for Dan and I. We met on July 10th, 1998, my dad's birthday is on July 19th and it seems our DTC (Dossier to China) date will also be in July. It would be so neat if the Dossier to China date was my dad's birthday! I wrote earlier I knew something would happen on his birthday in 2008--I had overlooked 2007. My sister and I had a long chat about Dad--when she arrived last friday. We both expressed our regret our husbands didn't get to know him and I VERY much regret our daughter will not know him. He was an amazing man--a treasure to all he came in touch with--most especially his family--especially his daughters. I'll keep you posted.

We got the I-171H!

7.9.07--On July 3, 2007 I was in Wal-mart shopping with my sister Shelly (visiting with her husband from Vermont) when Beth called to say she rec'd the fax from USCIS that our I-171H approval had been rec'd. I gave my sister a big hug--and was so grateful she was with me when we got the news. How special is that! On Friday, July 6, 2007, I finally opened the mailbox to a big yellow envelope from USCIS--it was our I-171H! Again--it was great to share the news with my sister--ironically they had chose to stay an extra day--so it was great timing. I thought I'd be relieved to get this form--but when I started to count the days--and the rest of the paperchase to be done with this final document--it occured to me--there is not relief until we get logged in and have an LID that is prior to 8.18.07! Today--my priority was to get a copy of the form (we need to keep the original to take to China with us--when we get her--we use it to file the form that is the final and compliment to this form--completed in China) notorized by an attorney and then take that down to the Secretary of States office for authentication. Again--angels were on my side--as I left the house at 9:45 am and was at GOL office with all the above completed by 11:05! Seems God stopped time for me yet again--and I floated on angel wings from the attorney to the SOS Office. The attorney (who is usually out of the office) was in the LOBBY when I walked in to get the paperwork done. So Cindy (the notory) typed up the document and copied my I-171H and he signed it on the spot! I thought to myself--whew! If the SOS Office goes this well--it's definately meant to be. Again--the lady at the SOS office dropped everything and immediately started my authentication (both the Home Study and the I-171H). I took a seat and I don't believe my seat had time to warm under my buns--when she said, "Mrs. Arndt--you're all set! Here you go!". WOW! As I walked out of the building--a man was standing outside under a tree--he was obviously on a break from his office--he looked at me with a big smile--and I thought--YOU can see how elated I am can't you! I was so proud to have this part complete and with such speed! It seemed we were flying at an eagles pace--an especially nice thing--given the VERY slow USCIS time.

When I walked into the GOL office--Beth was surprised to see me so soon. She couldn't believe it--frankly either could I. We copied and wrote checks to the courier, US Department of State and then realized we needed a M.O. for the Embassy of China! Dang--but Beth graciously offered to have the agency write a check (the Embassy will accept Agency checks) and I wrote a check to GOL (a pass through). Not a process they do for everyone--I am so appreciative. Beth is putting it all together for us and sending it off to D.C. Again--GOL really did their homework--Beth found out the lady in Chicago that authenticates documents is on vacation til July 17th! So she found a different way to get the Chinese consulate authentication--apparently the D.C. consulate can authenticate any document--regardless of district. So--they will handle the paperwork for us--and "The Stork Assistant" (cool name huh!) will walk it into the consulate for us. Once she gets the paperwork, she will overnight it back to GOL and they will include it with all our other documents and get it off to China. I left all our other offical paperwork with Beth so she can get the dossier ready to go, while we wait for the two docs in D.C. Here's the big one--Beth anticipates our dossier will be off to China on Friday! It brings a tear to my eye--and a lump in my throat, just to write that. WOW! It's happening--funny thing is--I remember reading about waiting for the I-171H--and then finally getting it--on other adoptive family blogs...and I thought then--boy that's a ways off for us--and as I walked out to my car from GOL--the thought ran through my head--it's finally happening. What a blessing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Another week has passed...

7:1:07--It's July! I can't believe we still have no I-171H. Surely, it would have come last week. My sister and her husband is here with us this week-possibly it will come while she's here--now that would be amazing--and soooo wonderful to share this VERY important part of the journey with her. cool. OK--it all happens for a reason--I have faith. It's faith that's gotten us this far--and it's faith that will carry us through.