Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We have an Itinerary and We're off!

10.21.09: We rec'd our package of final papers from our agency and we're getting packed and take off at 7pm tonight! It still isn't real. I'm a wreck really. But hey--to be expected--as my mom and sister say. I'm hoping once I'm on the plane and there's nothing I can do but ride this magic carpet--I'll be ok.

For now...I wanted to give you a heads up to WATCH OUR TRAVEL BLOG click here or on the above link to --to see our updates from today forward. I'll try sooo hard to post everyday. The nice thing is the way my iweb works--I can compose the entire post and updates on my hard drive and then publish them to the blog when we have access to the internet--so I can keep a journal as we go and not miss any details to share with YOU or with Izabella down the road as she asks me about the "days before and the Day We Met".

Thank you for all your support, wisdom, and the amazing gifts you have given us of your PRAYERS. We'll need those prayers for these last legs of our journey. For travel, for Izabella's heart to be comforted, relaxed and know not to be afraid--we will take good care of her and love her always and never leave her--ever! And smooth transistion for her and for us. For us as a family as we navigate as first time parents--and if you don't mind--pray for all those families waiting to see the faces of their children--that have not yet even gotten referrals. Another batch of children will be released from China very soon. And I have some very sweet friends I've met through this journey that are still waiting! And I'd sooo be blessed to see them get their referrals during our trip! Thank-you from the deepest place in my heart for these prayers.

Here is our itinerary:

Adoption Itinerary

October 21st –November 7th

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21st US Time-- Depart for Beijing
  • Friday, Oct. 23rd (Thursday US Time) Arrive in Beijing
  • Saturday, Oct. 24th (Friday US Time) Beijing Sight-Seeing: Tiananmen Square,
    Forbidden City, Summer Palace

  • Sunday, Oct. 25th (Saturday US TIME) Beijing Sightseeing: Church Service, Great Wall

  • Gotcha Day!Monday, Oct. 26th (this will be SUNDAY, October 25th US Time)
Morning-flight to Shaanxi
Afternoon-Meet Izabella Daniellei Arndt
  • Tuesday, Oct. 27th (Monday US TIME) Civil Affairs Appointment
  • Oct. 28th -29th (Tuesday & Wednesday Time) Sightseeing & Shopping
  • Friday, Oct. 30th (Thursday US Time) Flight to Guangzhou
  • Saturday, Oct. 31st (Friday US Time) Sightseeing & Shopping
  • Sunday, Nov. 1st (Saturday US Time) Medical Exam
  • Monday, Nov. 2nd (Sunday US Time) Consulate Paperwork
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3rd (Monday US Time) Free day in Guangzhou
  • Wednesday, Nov. 4th (Tuesday US Time) Consulate Appointment
  • Thursday, Nov. 5th (Wednesday US Time) Consulate Oath Taking Ceremony
  • Friday, Nov. 6th (Thursday US Time)Pick up Child’s Visa
  • Saturday, Nov. 7th Head HOME! (Depart from Guangzhou--Friday US Time--Return Home Saturday US Time at 10:45 pm)

See you on our new Blog....we're off! God is so good!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wow! What a week...

10.17.09: Well, we had our travel meeeting, made our flight reservations to China via Chicago and Korea) and then yesterday--we found out our travel arrangements for in-china are delayed! This is all ok--our agency is used to this tight timeframe of arrangements (after all every family they send to China they make last minute travel arrangements for--they're used to it--we're not!) But as always I have a peace about this that we can Trust God to move mountains to be sure everything is done in the right timing and the right place. It does mean it's tight though--and requires MUCH FAITH! We are traveling the evening of the 21st (Wednesday night) on a flight from DSM to Chicago--and our Visa's and Travel Approval documents from China are still with our agency in Virginia. Once all plans are final--they will FEDEX-OVERNIGHT our travel approval paperwork, visa's, luggage tags (used to identify our group) and final travel documents from our agency--to arrive on Tuesday. Some families are traveling on Tuesday--so if you would--please pray that all our documents (ours and all the families in our group--our group is called "AWAA Travel Group #153a"--there are 19 families in our group from our agency! All girls--one boy of all ages and health needs.) arrived to us on time--and that God will provide the provisions needed to make all this happen.

A little glimpse into where we're staying: We do know the hotels we're staying in for the Beijing (1st-stop and hotel) and Guangzhou (3rd stop and hotel)--and are very nice at least from their websites. In Beijing we're staying at the "Radisson SAS" http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-beijing and in Guangzhou we're staying in the "China Hotel Marriott" http://www.marriott.com/hotels/event-planning/travel/canmc-china-hotel-a-marriott-hotel-guangzhou/ which is a newly rennovated hotel and apparently much nicer than the White Swan Hotel which recently has gotten quite run down. But more importantly--this hotel is closer to the US Consulate and CCAA buildings making it much more convenient for us to get to our appointments--especially given we are a group of 19 families!

Our travel Itinerary for the International Flights:
ALL TIMES ARE LOCAL TIMES for the AIRPORT we're arriving/departing from. There is a 13 hour time zone difference from Central Time to China Time. And even from Korea to China there is a time change.

Also note: Check in time is 2 hours before international flights--so although the 4 hours layover is A LOT it assures us we'll get to the gate in time and give us a little comfort that our luggage has a chance to make it to China with us. Short layovers can cause issues with that. Pray our luggage makes it. :)

Depart Des Moines Airport, IA
06:59 PM, Wednesday, October 21
Arrive Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport, IL
08:22 PM, Wednesday, October 21

(LAY-OVER 4 hr. 30 minutes)

Depart Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport, IL
01:00 AM, Thursday, October 22
Arrive Seoul Incheon Intl Airport
05:00 AM, Friday, October 23

(LAY-OVER 4 hr. 45 minutes)

Depart Seoul Incheon Intl Airport
09:45 AM, Friday, October 23
Arrive Beijing Capital Airport
10:45 AM, Friday, October 23

Our Guides will meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel--we have a full 2 days of sightseeing and group activities in Beijing. This is also an opportunity to get to know the other 19 families we're traveling with (from all over the US). These families are an important part of our journey and to our daughters history. So, I'm hoping we can forge some lifetime friendships with them and that Izabella has an opportunity to bond with the other children that are going through the same things she is.

Then on Monday (I think--this is the part we're waiting for confirmation for on Monday from our Agency) we'll fly/or take a bus or train (again not sure which til Monday) to our An ChunLei's home city of Xi'An City in Shaanix and meet her!!! We'll be a family of THREE (ok 5 including the 2 4-legged sisters). We are the only family in our group adopting from this province (infact all our families except 2 provinces are traveling alone to their provinces). So, from what I can gather--we'll arrive at the airport--be met by our guide--they will take us to our hotel and we will meet Izabella either immediately or meet them in the lobby shortly after. Again--I don't have details of all this until Monday (UGH!). If we had a large group with us--we'd likely meet in a room with other families and wait for the arrival of the children. But, I don't think this will be our experience. But you never know. Either way--it will be an amazing moment for us all. I will carry my camera in my pocket so we can capture as much of it as possible. But--I am told it often all happens before you know it and there is no time to even think about pictures. I so hope this is not the case. So I am praying for a little warning to prepare--our hearts and our camera! I'm teared up and choked up writing this--it's over the top!

We do not know how or when yet--we'll travel from the province to Guangzhou. Some families know they will be in the province for a week--I don't have any of those details yet. I'll fill them in when we know details on Monday!

Our time in her home province and city will involve appointments to finalize her adoption. Then we will travel South to Guangzhou to finalize all her immigration paperwork. Our consulate appointment is on November 4th--this is where we get her visa and swear her in as a U.S. Citizen. The Chinese government requires we stay in China for a minimum of 2 days after we get her visa--incase there are any problems we are there to resolve them. Then we can fly HOME!

Here is our itinerary for our flights home (Izabella will fly on her Chinese passport--so I had to get her tickets in her Chinese name An ChunLei--that was fascinating):

Depart Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
2:50 PM, Saturday, November 07
Arrive Seoul Incheon Intl Airport
05:00 PM, Saturday, November 07

(LAY-OVER 1 hr. 50 minutes)

Depart Seoul Incheon Intl Airport
06:50 PM, Saturday, November 07
Arrive Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport, IL
04:35 PM, Saturday, November 07

When she puts her little feet on U.S. soil in Chicago--Izabella is officially a U.S. Citizen! The land of the free! A new life, a new beginning, for us all!

(LAY-OVER 4 hr. 30 minutes)

Depart Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport, IL
09:02 PM, Saturday, November 07
Arrive Des Moines Airport, IA
10:25 PM, Saturday, November 07

Katie is picking us up at the Airport! Thanks Katie!! It will be so good to see you, I'm sure!

Well, I'm off to pack--it looks like the weather in Xi'An and Beijing is Cool Fall Weather similar to ours right now--then in Guangzhou it is summer like temps..so it will be interesting trying to get summer and fall clothing for 3 of us in two bags and keep them under 44lbs. Yipes....stressing a little about this! But again, it will all be fine...what we can't fit in and need we can purchase in China (of course I'm trying to avoid any unecessary purchases!) But what can you do. :)

Lots of things to pray for this weekend and next week. Overall, I just pray the prayer that my dear friend Susan in California gave me--"God, draw to me all things needed to make my life happy and complete". It's simple but it's a good one. Give control over to Him! I love this prayer--and pray it evey time I shower--as I imagine God's love and goodness pouring over me like the water from the shower--protecting me for the day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It takes a village...






10.17.09: The shower for Izabella on Sunday and the days leading up to it were so awe inspiring--I really have no words that describe my deep and sincere appreciation for the outpouring of love for our little girl, waiting in an orphanage in China for her forever family (Us! Yeah!) to come and bring her home.
The best words to describe what I experienced during the last week is "wow...it takes a village. And oh, how our village responded to this sweet little girl." I was overcome with emotions as I entered the room--and my head and heart whirled the entire duration. As I looked around the room at all these amazing Mom's, that I had the privilege of knowing, I was reduced to tears of pure joy, a deeply grateful heart. I was so proud to update them on the news of Friday's new pictures, and that her health is good, and that we had our consulate appointment and would be traveling on the 22nd!

Izabella loves books and loves sitting in the laps of her caretakers to read them. She will be very excited to see the library of books she received on Sunday. And each one was given as a favorite or with a special meaning! I will share those stories and these mom's with Izabella before we read them. The Barnes and Noble bookstore is one of my favorite places--but is always a bit intimidating with the large amount of books and a lack of knowledge about which books are the best and favorites. Surely she will discover all kinds of things about her world and our God through these very special books. She will learn so many language skills along with learning the gift of books and reading that will surely last a lifetime.

She also rec'd many necessity items-that her mom and dad sure do appreciate-- as they are things that we will need to care for her upon our return home--as well as some really wonderful travel items. We received sippy Cups in all shapes sizes and colors, from princesses, to Dora the explorer cups, every color of the rainbow and all shapes and sizes--I LOVE IT! Plates, silverware for all and super cool snack cups and bowls that don't spill! A super modern lunch/snack tote--that my friend Mindy says is a favorite item for bringing along snacks on outings with her daughters. And she even got a two precious scrapbooks and all the accessories--one is the Harley Davidson theme-perfect for her memories with Dad on his Harley--the first page will include the picture and the story of how her Daddy bid and won her Harley Rocker--Thanks Liz! The other is a precious asian theme--that will work soooo perfectly for her lifebook--thanks Margot! She received a much needed high chair--I will think of my dear, dear friend Chris everytime I feed our sweet girl-Thanks Chris! And it's portable to0-for visits to see family and friends. And there was even one non-necessity item that was just for me--a mom's braclet. My friend Liz gave designed it with heart engraved on one side with the words "A day to remember with tears of joy" and on the other side it has the Chinese symbol for Love with the date of our referral call on the bottom-8.11.09. It also has three birthstones on it--one for each of our birthday's Dan, Izabella and myself. It's sooo precious--and the perfect gift from Liz--she's such a fashion girl. I just cherish it.

She will surely be a fashion plate, with all the absolutely adorable outfits she received. I was so moved by how carefully, and thoughtfully they were selected for her. Each person selected items they thought she would look afford comfort, good fit and make enhance her already amazing beautiful little self. I was reminded of how my little girl, right now, has no clothes to call her own. She shares her clothes with the hundreds of other orphans in the orphanage with her. Something we take for granted -- a closet full of clothes for all occasions and weather conditions to protect and cover our bodies-- is a luxury to so many children in the orphanage. I am reminded of a story I read recently, about a little girl that was given a beautiful red coat from one of her caretakers. She wore that coat everyday--no matter the weather--it was a treasure to her. One day the caretakers were taking pictures of the children for their adoption files. One of her little friends didn't have anything pretty--so she let her little friend wear her red coat for the picture--in hopes she would look more beautiful and it would help find her forever family. Precious. We take so many things for granted! I think even at her young age--she will never forget. She will always carry a sense of appreciation in her heart that goes deeper than we can imagine for the little things in life.

Her mommy got a very important item in a "laundry basket"! When this gift was presented to me, I said "oh what a beautiful basket! I FORGOT ABOUT THE LAUNDRY!" Of course all the moms there let out a collective chuckle, with mubbles of what I could barely make out to be, " oh she has no idea of the amounts of LAUNDRY this precious girl comes with." Very funny, very sweet, very funny Mommies. Pat--I will think of you everytime I carry her laundry down to the washroom!

She also got a couple of really sweet "Daddy Fun"items. She recieved a little push and go car from our neighbor Jill. She commented that, "I thought she needed to have something that was perfect for her to wash and wax with her Daddy out in the driveway every weekend." Yup, Jill regularly sees Izabella's Dad outside most any weekend, sometimes week days, washing something. He's even been known to was and wax his lawn mower.

Which is a great segway to the next "Daddy Fun" item--she got a sweet little pink lawn mower that blows bubbles as you mow. It's perfect, again for Daddy time--as she can help Daddy mow the lawn, which has to be groomed at least every 3-4 days. Fun times to come! Sadie always follows Dan around, I wonder if she'll follow Izabella now--since surely the little pink lawn mower is much less noisy (thus scarey to Sadie) than the big lawn mower.

Dolls! She loves dolls according to her orphanage director in her referral paperwork, and so many people heard her wish--cause she got so many baby dolls, and ever so soft and cuddly animals (lion, foo-foo french poodle, a labador retreiver, a lamb, and even a frog) and playmates. In addition she got lots of purses, and tea sets for tea parties, and even things for her to carry and care for her babies with. And flash cards that look like a toy, and lear ning toys--like a leapster book, and doodle pads, and creative supplies like playdoh (and Emily didn't forget to be sure she has some PINK playdoh!), and side walk chalk and fun chalk drawing tools. I was reminded with every gift how much fun it's going to be to have a toddler! She's like a sponge and surely she is now equipped with all the things necessary to learn, create, imagine, explore and have fun with.

Lastly, but not leastly, she got some really special hand made gifts. Her Grammy Cota has already made her several sweaters before we knew her face or her name. But she made 3 more gorgeous sweaters, one gorgeous red one that was a special request design by her Aunt Shelly (my sister) who said she thought she needed a red sweather to go with the 'red thread" adoption proverb--"A red thread connects all those destined to meet; regardless of time, place or circumstances, The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." So true for our journey--as you all know. And it was adorned with beautiful yellow colorful flower buttons. One was made of the softest material-that mom says was perfect for a little girl from China--as the yarn was made from 50% bamboo--which she adorned with beautiful metal heart buttons. And another precious white sweater. I called my mom right after we accepted the referral and said, "Mom, I really need a little white sweater!" She said, "funny, I'm working on one right now as we talk." Sweet--this white sweater is adorned with beautiful metal spring flowers--with meaning to our ChunLei name--which means "beautiful as a spring flower". And her Aunt Dodie (my little brothers new wife) made her the softest, most perfect, fun and gorgeous crocheted blanket (it is pictured below--you can see I was thrilled to get it) it has the sweetest little black with white polkadot ribbons--it is flawless and soooo soft and cuddly. Surely she is wrapped in love with all these special handmade items. And last but not least--her cousin Katie made her a special necklace that says, "I love you Izzy--Katie" She designed it herself--a one of a kind.

The shower was special in so many ways--but was made extra special when I got a couple guests from out of state. With a surprise visit from what I would call my oldest friend ever--we went to high school together in Vermont, and she now lives in Kansas with her sweet husband and two beautiful daughters. I can not tell you what that meant to me! It is truly without measure and without words to explain. She is an amazing mom--that has fought for her children against some very difficult odds--and she is an inspiration to all that know her--obviously to her two daughters--this was apparent by watching them together that day. She is such a fine example for them. And we had a call from family in Nebraska that couldn't make it and REALLY WANTED to, but circumstances would not allow this time--I was very touched by Dan's sister coming all the way from Nebraska that day, just to turn around and go home after. She is so very busy--working 2 jobs and running a business--her time is in high demand. Thank you Aunt Kathy for coming to support our Izabella and us as we embark on this journey. We appreciate it more than you know.

She even received a special gift for her four-legged sisters, Montana and Sadie. One of our special neighbors gave Isabella some treats for them. After we got home, all the gifts were still in their beautiful gift bags on the floor of her room. I went in to look through and organize the beautiful gifts, Montana followed me. She follows me everywhere I go in the house so I wasn't surprised she'd join me. She began very CAREFULLY sniffing around the bags-nudged her head between two bags and just laid there still as a statue. Katie and I looked at her puzzled, it appeared as though she fell asleep. She often does silly things like this that make us smile. As I removed the bags, she stayed right there--again not moving an inch. Then I figured it out--right there in front of her nose, was the gift bag that carried the treats! Ah, ha, that's what she was doing. Keeping an eye on those treats. She could smell them--and was patiently waiting for her gift! I'm always amazed at how patient she is--she easily could have torn through those bags to get those treats--but instead she laid there patiently waiting for me to get to that bag--to have a much awaited treat. She will make such a great four-legged sister.

Izabella--your village expands from the mountains of Vermont, to the dessert of Texas, to the shores of California, to the plains of the midwest, to the shores of the Lakes of Michigan. Your village is so broad and sweeping--you have touched so many already--and they are so very anxious to meet you and watch you grow into the beautiful young woman, you surely will be one day. With all these people and their generous "best of" gifts, surely we have what it will take to give you the right start at providing you with what you need to do just that.

Oh yes--it takes a village--and I am so eternally grateful for all the people in our village and their generosity, time and counsel during the journey, now and in the future. I'm so fortunate to have each and every one of you.

A very special note to my special friends Shayna, Kelly, Andrea and Annette that put together an amazing day--for us. It was elegant, meaningful in all the details and so perfectly planned. Your hard work and efforts are so appreciated. How can we ever repay you? Your friendship is a blessing and a treasure.

I can not wait for Izabella to meet you all! Surely she will flourish in this warm village of love, compassion and comfort you create. Thank you for everything!

A closing note: Thank you my sweet sister friends for all your sweet words of wisdom and support. Your images and stories of your life with your daughters is an inspiration and so touching. I hope Izabella and I have equally as beautiful a relationship.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Precious Izabella is growing up fast...




10.9.09: I'm super busy today--but wanted to be sure to post these amazing pictures of our sweet girl. I just love the pouty one! She's precious...and we have concrete travel plans--we'll leave for China on the 21st or 22nd--to be in Beijing on the 23rd and leave Ghoungzhou on the 7th to come home. Given we can get flights--I'm working on that now--it's not looking GREAT! But hey--God's in control of this magic carpet--so anything is possible.

If I could just ask for some serious PRAYERS for Izabella--and for us. For perfect timing flights and that God would prepare her to meet us--that she will know us and know that we are safe and she can trust us to always love and care for her. Thank you for your prayers--the power of prayer is sooo amazing--it is the biggest gift ever!

I'll keep you posted. OK--we're really on our way--Oh MY Goodness! This is REALLY REAL NOW--we got the updated pictures, a consulate appointment and now making flight arrangements all in one day! Wow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Precious Gifts...

10.7.09: We have been blessed with so many gifts on this journey. Of course our Izabella, the gift of new friendships with other mom's in the adoption community and the love and support of so many family and a lifetime of friends. I knew Izabella and this journey would change our lives, but I had no idea how seriously, deeply moved I'd be by it. It's not that I thought it would be an un-emotional journey--of course it would be--but every day I am so blown away with the compassion and thoughtfulness of so many amazing people.

I rec'd an envelope in the mail a few days ago from a new online friend from Texas--you'll remember her as the "Mr. Postman please deliver on a Happy Mail Day" woman. :) She's a hoot. But what's fasinating about her is her deeply compassionate and un-ashamedly honest and open loving heart--Tonya. It was addressed to Izabella (her first mail) so although I was dying to open it, I decided to wait to open it until she was home, so we could open it together. Then Tonya suggested I should open it now. So, without hesitation--I opened it! It's the most PRECIOUS watercolor painting of a little asian girl--who looks so much like our Izabella--at first I thought she sent her our picture to do a portrait of her! How sweet is that? I love art..as you know...and this is so special. Inside was a beautiful handwritten note to our Izabella--I have added it to her Sq-Wish book with her special Sq-Wish from Tonya and Matti. Thank you so much--it looks beautiful in her room.

While we're on the topic of Gifts--I put together our Izabella's Sq-Wish book. I haven't got her quilt completed yet--but I wanted to put her special Sq-Wishes into a book, so I could share all the beautiful people that prayed for her, and loved her before they met her. It didn't take long--much less time than the quilt will take--yipes--when am I going to do that--I was planning on having more time between referral and travel than we had (ah..like 2 months longer) but I'm not complaining. It will get done. And it will be special.

As I was making this book for her--I was reading all the beautiful wishes from people around the world and close to home that love her so much. I was moved to tears of Joy again! Thank-you again and again--I can not find words to say it with the proper deep meaning I mean it.

On a final note--I rec'd another package yesterday-I thought it was the vinyl wall sticker I had purchased for her wall. But was pleasantly surprised to find it was a beautifully wrapped gift from my sweet friend Mary Kay. I can't tell you what a beautiful woman she is..I met her through the Holy Family School work I've done--we worked together on the foundation newsletter and other projects for the school. She was just one of many blessings from my work there. I opted to wait to open the gift until the shower this weekend (I'm so excited!) but I had to open the card. One of my sweet neighbor friends was visiting so I read it outloud. By the time I got to the end of the beautifully penned note--I was so choked up I couldn't read--and a bit embarrassed in front of my friend. I feel like I have the most precious gift before opening the box--the gift of those beautiful words. Wow!

I am humbled by all your sweet outpouring of love for our little Izabella! You are all more than anyone could ever ask for! God Bless You All--richly in all the non-worldly ways!

Izabella's First Doll...

10.7.09: Yesterday I rec'd a doll I bought online for our Izabella. I was looking for an Asian Dolly for her--couldn't find anything locally in the toy stores (very disappointing). In her referral paperwork they said she loves dolls. So I wanted to bring one with us to China for her. I searched and searched--and when I found this one--I was struck by the precious little look on her face. It is the same look as the look on our Izabella's face in one of the referral photos we have. When I opened it last night--I was so excited! It's also a doll with lots of color and fun! I love the purple in her hair (little known fact about me--years and years ago I had a purple tail--it didn't last long--but it was fun).

If you're interested in getting one of these adorable dolls for your girls--they have a diverse group of dolls in this line. They're all adorable! Here is the link:

http://www.liveandlearn.com/corolle/lesdollies/index.html

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ride for the Cure-benefiting SGK Foundation...Brrrr.....

10.3.09: Well, we worked for a year...we prayed for good weather...and well, it didn't downpour on us..it did spit a little here and there..and threatened to do more all day long...but we did it! We layered a minimum of 100 pounds of clothes to protect us from the 46 degree cold and wind, we mounted our bikes and we RODE...for a cure! I always find riding behind my husband, on his dream Harley Davidson motorcycle, the most peaceful place and often spend our time riding in prayer and reflection, of my day, my friends and family, my life in general, and how blessed I am with such a wonderful man--that has made all my dreams come true. I feel like my life came together when I moved to Iowa--and I feel like it all had a home when I met my Danny! I have said it so many times before, but I feel the need to say it again after this weekend...he is my rock, my life, my love. Oh thank God you found me..that fateful day in Nebraska.

Back to the ride--it was a good day--but so sad that a years worth of work ended on a wet and rainy day. But the courage the survivors showed in their lives motivated over 1200 bikers to do a much smaller task--ride in a little cold and rain. It was an emotional day last year--and equally emotional this weekend. Regardless of the rain.

Here's a couple photo highlights of our weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2009

WE Got Travel Approval (TA)!

10.2.09: I was out in the wind and cold and rain today setting up for a registration event for the Ride for the Cure--benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation when my phone rang--and it was Kristen our travel coordinator letting us know we had rec'd Travel Approval today! I was shocked--as it's the Moon Festival holiday in China--so all the government offices are closed. And I thought we would have to wait another week or more for them to return from holiday! So....wow...I got tears in my eyes and jumped up and down and all my volunteers just looked at me funny, like what's up? I said we got travel approval!!! Of course none of them know we're adopting--most of them I just met today--my niece was there volunteering with me--so she was pretty excited of course! But it was so funny--cause they didn't get it. But I DO!!! Hee, Hee.

Then after we moved our registration inside (our 3rd location set-up--UGH) my niece got a call that she got the job I have been prayin' and pullin' for her to get since she was living in Denver! It's amazing we both got such great news on the same day--so to say the least--it was a teary-eyed day--tears of pure JOY and praise for God..that is sooo good to us.

OK--so at 10pm I finally was done, got in my car to go home and somehow my windsheild wiper had gotten broken completely off! WHAT? Oh well--dont' sweat the small stuff. Thankfully--I live close to where I was volunteering--and I could make it home safely. But we'll need to get it fixed before I can use it again--in the rain. My Izabella mobile had a broken wing!

So....what now? Well Kristen said she'd request a consulate appointment today--and we won't hear back until Thursday of next week or later. Then we can begin travel arrangements!!! And that will feel more real than ever--when I have a ticket to CHINA in my little hands! Wow! Oh my goodness!!! Kelly R--you asked if I was a little excited--ahhhh yeah! VERY! Over the moon! All night I kept turning on my phone just to see her face--it's my screensaver. Thanks for asking though!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We're sooo close!

10.1.09: We fedex'd our visa applications to our agency today--they will courier (visa applications must be walked in--can not be mailed in) them to the consulate for processing for us. Now that this step is done--We are so close to travel. We still have to wait for approval from China to travel. And we have to get the prized US Consulate Appointment (which is when we will swear our little girl in as a U. S. Citizen). But it really is a waiting game again at this stage. We've done all we need to do paperwork wise--lots of packing to do. But--yeah! We're close! Here's how it works from this point forward:

1. Begin collecting documents needed for travel--this is lots of copies of documents we've rec'd so far--and several government forms that we will need to fill out and complete in China. This is step is DONE and ready for packing, except for copies of our Travel Approval papers and copies of our airline tickets. Can't wait to buy those. We will be making our own international travel arrangements.

2. Check email regularly for updates and information from Travel Coordinator--she will be coordinating and making all our in-country (In-China) travel arrangements (i.e. hotel reservations, guides, interpeters, buses, sightseeing trips, flight arrangements to get us to her province, transportation to and from all our appointments to finalize her adoption and the immigration paperwork, medical exams etc. for making her a U.S. Citizen..etc.)

3. Participate in Travel Meeting.

Travel to China!
(We'll spend about 14 days in China all together)
1. Fly to Beijing (14 hour flight from Chicago)--we'll spend 2 days in Beijing adjusting to the time zone (when we are asleep--they are doing their new day and vise/versa)--as well as learning and experiencing our daughters birth country and culture. We'll see one of the seven wonders of the world--the Great Wall of China, Tannemein Square, the Summer Palace...etc. And spend the last couple days as a family with no children. What an amazing way and place to exit that part of our amazing life! I never would have dreamed.

2. On the 3rd Day--We will fly to Xi'An City, Shaanix Province (the cradle of China), where we will meet our sweet little Izabella. Xi'an City has some fasinating history--it is where the where the 1st emperor of China conquered the surrounding territories we now know as China. He is buried in the city she's living in--and his tomb was surrounded with 1,000's of very elaborate warriors and their horses scupted out of terra cotta clay.They call it the 8th Wonder of the World. Fascinating!

3. Interview at the Civil Affairs Office and sign adoption papers.

4. Obtain the notarized adoption and birth certificates.

5. Obtain a Chinese passport for your child.

6. Say Good-Bye to Izabella's birth place--Travel to Guangzhou, China (Southern China) to obtain a U.S. Visa for your child. This will take several appointments for medical exams and test required by the US for immigrants to be allowed into our blessed country. And paperwork to make her a U.S. Citizen. And this is where we will attend that precious "US Consulate Appointment" that we are waiting for now.

7. Fly home with our daughter!

8. Apply for U.S. Documents like SS# etc.

9. Post Adoption Reports will be done by our new Social Worker at 30 days home, 6 months home, and 1-year home. All these reports will be filed with China's CCAA.

....and they lived happily ever after!

A sad moment in our beautiful journey...

10.1.09: This morning I rec'd an email notification that our GOL Family Coordinator and Social Worker had resigned. Like many of the changing dynamics of this unpredictable journey, this notice is important to us and I wanted to record it for she was an intregal part of our journey and instrumental in making it all happen for us. I will miss her so much, as she has been a steady figure in a very turbulant journey. And she has been like an angel performing God's work in our lives as we build our family--only the way God would have us do.

I wrote her a letter of thanks this morning--and I was not intending to post it--but when I got it done--I realized it was something I wanted to share-this beautiful angel's role in our journey--that went beyond our wildest dreams and will be with us forever. Here is my letter to her:

"You were the first adoption professional we met with that my husband felt comfortable enough to ask questions and relax enough to open his heart to taking our family to a new level in an alternative way to giving birth.I will always be indebted to you for your compassion, open, non-judgemental ways that allowed us to move through this journey with open honesty and integrity.

I also know you were stretched beyond human limits over the past 2 years, first GOL downsizing, then the merger, the move and never once giving up on the families you were so dedicated to. And all the while never complaining. You sacraficed time for your personal life in a way that other people would have never dreamed of doing. Our family benefited tremendously from your dedication and it is my deepest wish that whatever your next step in your career, that it is a beautiful and positive move that blesses immeasurably. You have earned all that and more!

If you can, please, please stay in touch with us. Let me know where you are so we can send you updates on our precious Izabella and our beautiful new family--complete and completely in love.

Although I am so sad, I was not surprised. Clearly your refusal to give up on the families you started on this journey, regardless of all the added responsibilities, was a huge load to carry for too long. And although I admire your committment and dedication--I completely understand why you must move on. and I am thankful you were able to see us through to our daughter. Our appreciation doesn't seem enough for what you've done for us--at your own sacrifice. We'll never be able to thank you enough. I rec'd our I-171H just last week and we're just waiting on TA and a consulate appointment and we can travel to bring our daughter home.

Oh I remember like it was yesterday--and can still hear your voice saying to us at that very first informational meeting in June of 2005, "When you bring your DAUGHTER home...." I remember those words were an awakening of sorts. I had not let myself go there, to call this child that had been growing in my heart of over 30 years, my daughter. And it was with that, that our magic carpet ride was on it's way to China. I remember you showing us copies of what the chinese referral paperwork looked like--and I thought--wow--this is what the first glimpse of my daughter will look like. Precious, exotic and all things beautifully unique. I remember crying in your office about how scared I was it might not happen--and your reassuring voice of calm. Reminding me that I have angels riding on my magic carpet--not to worry. We chose Gifts of Love to assist us in our pursuit of building our family through adoption--and you have taken emmaculant care of our precious family in ways I never expected.

You were one of those angels Beth--I have tears in my eyes and as I fight back the tears I'm choked up wiith a deep, deep, deep gratitude that your footprints are on our journey and in our hearts forever.

We wish you a lifetime of love, laughter and joy!"