One Giant Leap

Well, hold onto your hats folks, because WE’RE OFFICIALLY APPROVED by China to adopt our sweet little girl. On Friday at exactly 5:37 pm we got a call from our adoption agency in Oregon letting us know that they had received the hard copy of our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) and that it was being overnighted to us. We got it Saturday afternoon, a mere 113 days from the date we were logged into their system (but who’s counting?). And then we just stared at it, and at each other, then at that thin powerful piece of paper again. At the bottom of the certificate with our names and our daughter’s name on it together was one simple question, both in Chinese and English: do you accept this child? We couldn’t check YES fast enough. Let me tell you: that thing is already signed and on a plane right back to where it came from.

loa pic 12-14-13

We spent all of yesterday completing more paperwork that has to be submitted to customs and immigration here in the US for our little cutie pie, and then we went Christmas caroling with our neighbors who surprised us by offering donations toward our adoption expenses. Watching all of the little kids get so into the caroling had us thinking about what it will be like next year when we are tromping around in the cold singing Jingle Bells with our daughter. Gratitude and wonder are everywhere.

We’ve been asked by a lot of friends when we can go get her, and we still don’t know, but it’ll probably be around March. Maybe a little sooner, maybe a little later, but at least we are far enough along now to have a ballpark time to shoot for. We’ve also been asked about her name, and while we haven’t tried to avoid the question, it’s a little complicated. So here’s the deal: our daughter’s name is Wu Guan Xin. Wu is her surname, so when we adopt her her new surname will be Price. We were dead set on not changing her name at all, but then we heard stories of children from China wanting names their friends could pronounce, so we have decided that instead of changing her name we’ll just add onto it. So without further adieu, let us introduce you to Maya GuanXin Price. As we explained to her in a letter, she can use any combination of this name she likes, and can change her mind as often as her sweet little heart desires.

What’s next? Well, we wait for approval of her immigration paperwork, we apply for our visas, we wait for various other approvals from China, and then we go scoop her up, kiss her little face off, and bring her home. While we wait, we’re going to make her room the best little girl’s room EVER and learn a little Mandarin.

Here she is again, she’s just too awesome not to repost this pic. We’ll have a newer one soon enough.

Wu Guan Xin-November 2013

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Hearts All Over the Place

Today, the Monday after a quiet but lovely Thanksgiving holiday and 101 days into our wait for the elusive LOA, we got a new picture of our little girl. It came in the third email of the day from our adoption agency, the first two being newsletters. When I looked at my phone, because of the earlier emails, I wasn’t expecting what I saw: our sweet girl! All bundled up, wearing her little purple Pleasant Goat pants, looking as though she’d been caught off guard (just like her Mama in every pic ever taken of me).

Wu Guan Xin-November 2013

We imagine it went a little something like this:

“Guan Xin, stop playing and come over here to get your picture taken.”

Guan Xin: “Wait, wha..”

SNAP!

Looking at the picture of our sweet daughter, our hearts were melting and we were crazy elated—a big mess of emotions, really. It’s hard to describe—this feeling of wanting to run and scoop her up with every fiber of our being, all the while reminding ourselves to be patient during this wait. A happy ache? Yep. The happiest.

We also have a little more info about her likes and dislikes. Her favorite color is yellow. And she’s a foodie—her favorite foods are mushrooms with pork and sweet and sour spare ribs. She likes to play hide-and-seek, to read, and to draw. She likes to color too, but “she always colors outside of pictures”. That’s our girl!

That’s all for now, hopefully we’ll be updating again soon with news of our LOA. 🙂

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The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty sure did have that one right! We wanted to wait for something to happen in our adoption timeline before updating the blog, and then yesterday we got word that we’ve reached yet another important milestone in the process: we are OOT! In adoption-speak, that means our dossier, which was logged into the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) database on 8/22/13, is now officially Out Of Translation and moved to the Review Room. Next step? LOA, baby! The glorious Letter of Acceptance from China–the last official document we’ll need before we begin the Immigration/Visa paperwork. Overall, the timeframe between your log in date (LID) and receiving your LOA is roughly 1 to 4 months, so we’re a little more than two months in and that letter could come ANY DAY NOW. So, the answer to the BIG QUESTION is that we’ll travel to China to scoop up our sweet little girl in roughly 3 to 6 months.
In the midst of all of this waiting, we’ve been preparing. Earlier this month, a very good friend of ours, Cheryl Steele, held a Pampered Chef fundraiser to help raise funds to bring our daughter home. Not only did we have a great time at her party, but lots of fabulous people placed orders, and we raised $257 to go into our AdoptTogether fund! To those who ordered, and to those who have made donations to our fund including the anonymous “Peaceful World Enterprise”, we can’t thank you enough. We didn’t anticipate the sweet offers to help, and our hearts are humble and full. There’s a lot of lesson learning and heart opening going on over here, y’all.
We also wrote a long letter to our daughter explaining as best we could what is happening, reassuring her, and letting her know about the family and friends and neighbors who are all waiting to meet her. Then we made a photo book/social story for her that had pictures of us, the front and back of our house, each room in the house, the garden, her school and classroom, local parks, an airplane, etc. Each photo had an explanation and we also tried to explain the process to her in simple terms, so she’d know why we weren’t there yet and when to expect us. Here are a few pics from the book:
Photo Oct 05, 11 11 49 AM Photo Oct 05, 11 11 58 AM Photo Oct 05, 11 12 07 AM Photo Oct 05, 11 12 20 AM Photo Oct 05, 11 12 51 AM Photo Oct 05, 11 13 59 AM
Photo Oct 05, 11 14 05 AM
The package could only be so big so with the book and letter we were able to include a coloring book and some stickers, with extras for sharing. Photo Oct 05, 3 08 53 PM
Later we’ll be able to send a  larger care package.
Our agency also suggested we make a DVD of us so that our daughter could get used to the sound of our voices and our mannerisms, since she’s a little older, so today Lex and I played hooky (the weather was amazing!) and made a little movie. We filmed each other walking through Dragon Park, in our backyard, then Lex played “You Are My Sunshine” on mandolin and I read from a Dr. Seuss book. It turned out really well!!! Thanks to our buddies at FedEx, it’ll be at our adoption agency, Holt International, tomorrow (Thursday) and will go out in their Friday shipment to China. A new list of questions from us is also going out in that shipment. We’re dying to know her opinions and to hear her feelings about all of this! And we’ve vowed not to add one more pink or floral thing to her bedroom until we know for sure that’s her jam.
Well, maybe just this one more thing…Photo Oct 27, 1 17 46 PM
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What a BEAUTY!

When we accepted the referral for our daughter, we had a few photos of her, but they were at least a year old. We requested updated photos and were told that since the orphanage is still 2so large, it could take up to seven weeks. But yesterday on September 16th at 5:00 PM we received VIDEO! AMAZING! Four brief videos, of a shy sweet girl that melted our hearts all over again. She barely smiled, nervously twisted her little dress in her hands, and whispered Mama. She sang a little too, just a hint, then shook her head no and walked off. Here’s a still shot from the video. Isn’t she a heartbreaker?

 

When not being interviewed, she confidently strode down the sidewalk and up and down the steps with loads of attitude. She’s a camera hog, but on her terms. We love her. still 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we watched her on video oh, about a thousand times, we went back to planning her bedroom and getting her album together (the album that will introduce her to us, her home, and her community).

Here’s her principal and her future kindergarten teacher. whitsitt 2We met with them this afternoon and talked briefly about how ESL and Speech Pathology can work together to help her learn English. Her teacher even showed us a children’s book about two creatures learning a new language together and becoming friends. Spoiler: the cow and pig end up bilingual, each able to both  Moo and Oink.

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We have a match!

Wow! We have a daughter! We assumed this would happen early next year, but only 13 days after our dossier was shipped to China, we got THE CALL. I was at work, it was 2:11 PM on Friday August 23rd, and just like that we were parents. Julie Bolles, our caseworker through Catholic Charities here in Nashville called to let me know, and then she sent the files. I called Lex and told him to stand by, and then in came photos of the most adorable little 5 year old girl we’d ever seen.

We had a few days to get her medical information to a doctor for review, and since we had already had a consultation with Dr. Alice Rothman at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital’s International Adoption Clinic, we sent the files to her right away. We were told she’d call us between 1 and 5 the following day. By the time Dr. Rothman called, we were a nervous wreck. She explained what the various lab results meant, looked over developmental milestones, as well as reports from a past surgery that had been performed and then explained things we’d need to address when we got her home. We sent the Letter of Intent to Holt International on August 28th, it was logged into the CCCWA database (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) on August 29th, and today we got an email with the subject line “Congratulations Price Family”, and this first sentence: “Congratulations on your match!”

There’s a lot of paperwork to do now, but the first thing we get to do is put together a photo album to send to our little girl, so she can learn that we’re all finally a family. And in six to nine months we’ll fly to China and scoop her up!

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The Beginning

Surprise! We’re adopting a little girl! We don’t know her yet, but we do know that she’s a very long flight away in China, and that we can’t WAIT to meet her and start our family. As we go through the process and get closer to bringing her home, we’ll use this blog to keep friends and family updated.

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It’s hard to believe, but our dossier is complete.

dossier dayIt’s hard to believe, but after months of collecting information, offering information, begging for information, and paying for information, the day is finally here. Our documents have been County, State, Department of State and Chinese Embassy authenticated and it’s time to piece it all together, along with pictures of us and our home.

fed ex

It took an entire Friday afternoon and Saturday to get everything perfectly in order and copied, and we made it to Fed Ex and got all 3 lbs. of paperwork shipped to our adoption agency in Oregon with exactly 1 minute to spare. If you’ve adopted before, then you know the deep, deep relationship we now have with Fed Ex. The folks at the office as well as on our route have been so sweet, and excited to be a part of the process.

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