"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -Chinese proverb

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Happy Thanksgiving! We have had a great week! Yesterday, I found out that we have a LID (login date) for our dossier of 11/22.  This is great because this means that we are officially in our LOA (Letter of Approval) wait.  The LOA is basically China saying that yes, they agree that we are a good family for this child.  Our LOA wait for Liana was insanely long.  We had to wait a whopping 106 days so we are really hoping for a short wait this time around.  Apparently it has gotten a lot quicker since our last adoption.  Average back then was probably around 70 days.  The average wait now is around 45-50 days.  Fingers crossed and prayers said that we have a short wait this time!

Last night, we got to video chat with Charlotte again!  Ethan and Liana got to do it with us this time and it was a lot of fun!  She mostly just stared at us again but the director of the foster home did get her giggling at one point.  She has the cutest giggle ever!  She also had her pointing to us on the screen when she would ask her which one of us was her mama, baba (dad), gege (big brother), or jie jie (big sister) and she would get it right!  I think she's a smarty!  We also learned that sucks her fingers.  I love thumb suckers!  They're so cute!  The director said that we can video chat every week that we can so that Charlotte can get to know us!! I can't even believe how lucky we are!  She is the sweetest lady ever and Charlotte clearly loves her!

Here are some screen shots from our chat:

Friday, November 18, 2016


The paper chase is officially over! We are DOSSIER TO CHINA!!! I got an email from Holt this evening to let us know that our dossier was sent to China today and it is such a relief! I am always nervous that there will be a problem with a document but it's official, our dossier is DONE! I'm feeling pretty proud too because we got it all done in four months, which is two months faster than last time! It's a lot easier the second time around since you know what you're doing and it's not nearly as overwhelming. We celebrated by going to Chuck E. Cheese. Just kidding, we only went there because the kids' school was having a fundraiser.  I would definitely have chosen a different way to celebrate. 😜

So this list is on Liana's part of the blog but that was ages ago so here is the list of documents in the dossier:

Family Information Form
Application Letter
Birth Certificate- husband
Birth Certificate- wife
Marriage Certificate
Employment Letter- husband
Employment Letter- wife (or homemaker letter for me)
Certificate of Financial Status
Certificate of General Physical Examination- husband
Certificate of General Physical Examination- wife
Police Clearance- husband
Police Clearance- wife
Adoption Study (aka home study)
3 Letters of Reference
Passport Page- husband
Passport Page- wife
Various photographs of our home and our family

And most of these had to be notarized, certified at the secretary of state, and authenticated at the Chinese consulate.  Sooo glad it's done!

Here's a picture of our copy of the dossier

And here is the cutie that makes it all worth it

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Road trip with myself

Things are cruising right along.  On Monday, our dossier, minus the I-797 (the I-800A approval), which we were still waiting on, was delivered to Holt.  Happily, we also received our I-797 in the mail so I quickly got it notarized.  Then on Tuesday, I took a road trip down to the Secretary of State in Austin to get it certified.  This little trip saved us some time because if I had sent it in the mail, I would have gotten it back in about a week.  I have never been to Austin before so it was kind of fun to go.  I also hadn't been on any kind of a long drive by myself probably since before having kids! It was nice to be in the car by myself, for the first few hours, then it got old really quick!  It only took about 5 minutes to get the document certified and the Secretary of State building was right across from the State Capitol so I took a little walk around it on my way back to the car.  It was really pretty and I was so excited to be almost done!  On my way back to Fort Worth, I found a FedEx and made some copies and then sent our freshly certified I-797 off to our courier in Houston to be taken to the Chinese consulate to be authenticated.  It is being dropped off today and we paid to have it expedited so it should back in the mail tomorrow and back in our hands on Saturday.  Then we'll get it to Holt by Monday morning, as long as all of this goes as planned.  This is the last part of the dossier!!!  I can't believe we're almost done with our dossier!  I feel like once I know that our dossier has been sent to China I will be able to relax. But...then there's waiting for a log-in date, and then waiting for our LOA, and then our I-800 and then...well, you get the point.  But it's such a HUGE step, and it is the bulk of our part being done! I can't wait!
Last cerification, done!

Texas State Capitol

 Had to stop at Buc-ee's! 
If you're from Texas, you know about Buc-ee's

Had to bring home gifts ;-)

Got a lovely surprise that night and received one of the cutest pictures I've ever seen!
Charlotte is 4th from the bottom

On the way home from school, Ethan found a ladybug! 
Ladybugs are a symbol of good luck in China adoptions

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Little bitty pretty one

Today was a very productive day! We received our fingerprint appointment notice from USCIS yesterday.  The appointment was for 11/3 but people often walk in and ask if they can get their appointment early so that's what we did today.  My excuse was that the appointment time was for 8:00 which is too close to when I drop the kids off at school.  My real reason was that I want to get to my baby ASAP!  They allowed it and now we wait for the approval and pray that it comes really quickly.  The other thing that happened is that we received our dossier documents that I sent to Austin to be certified at the Secretary of State, so I did a quick turn around and sent them off to a courier in Houston, who will take them to the Chinese consulate to be authenticated.  I'm a bundle of nervous energy.  I go between being absolutely thrilled that we're nearing the end of working on our dossier and being extremely tense that it is out of my hands. I'm mostly both...super excited and super tense! I'm praying that God will protect every single precious piece of that dossier!  If only Charlotte had any idea how hard we are working to get her home!

Last week, I asked the director of Charlotte's foster home how big she is.  Well, she's not...big, that is. She is teeny tiny!  She is about 28 inches and 18 lbs.  Her big brother, Ethan, is always off the growth charts because he's so big.  Well, Little Miss is off the charts tiny!  She's not even on the charts!  The good news is, she's proportionate and is growing consistently.  She's just a little bitty thing!  Oh my word, all of the clothes I have been buying are way too big!  It's so hard for me to buy smaller sizes than her age!  I can't quite comprehend this.  Ella and Ethan always wore larger sizes than their age...like at age 2, Ella was in a 3 and Ethan was in a 4/5!  Liana has always worn about the right size for her age, maybe a bit smaller.  I'm probably still buying clothes that will be too big but they're smaller now.  Of course when we received the update on her size, we also received some adorable pictures!  So here they are:


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Getting there!

I'm feeling pretty excited today! Since we had to wait so long for our social worker to write up our home study, I started feeling frustrated.  The wait for our adoption agency to approve home studies has been 2-3 weeks lately so I settled in for the wait but 6 days into our wait, BOOM! APPROVED! Thank you, Holt!!!  I think they might have made us a priority because we're under a deadline.  Because we are already matched, we have 6 months from when we submitted our LOI (Letter of Intent) to having our dossier in China and logged in.  It's just a guess but I think they probably prioritize the families who are under this deadline since we have no time to waste. Who knows?! Maybe we just got lucky! So our social service agency had to sign it and notarize it and it got to us today.  As soon as it got here, I packed it up with our I-800A application and some other documents that needed to be included, and a decent sized check, and shipped it off to USCIS.  It will be there tomorrow and then we will wait for fingerprint appointments to come in the mail. 

In the meantime, we are doing really well on our dossier! Today, we ran down to the police department to get clearance letters stating that we have no criminal record. We already had to do an FBI background check and get fingerprinted for our home study.  And then we will be fingerprinted again for our I-800A so we will have had some form of a background check four different times!  Oye!  Good thing we have nothing to hide!  We will hopefully get the rest of the documents for our dossier finished and notarized in the next couple of days so I can send them off to be certified and then off again to be authenticated.  I want to get all of the dossier minus the I-797 (which is actually the approval of the I-800A) completely finished and waiting at Holt so that I can put a rush on the I-797 when it gets here to get it certified, authenticated and together with the rest of our documents at Holt. Can you tell I'm in a rush to get to Charlotte?!

On a cute note, Ella is always finding every chance she can to tell people that she is adopting a little girl from China. :-) She told me that in writing class, they have to write about something that they are looking forward to and she said, "I'm going to write about Charlotte so that my teacher and whole class will know that I'm adopting Charlotte!" Oh my gosh, I love her!

I'm just going to randomly post pictures of Charlotte on here. We have a bunch so instead posting a ton at once, I'll share some in each post to make it more fun. Here is today's dose of cuteness. :-)

And from our video chat

Friday, September 23, 2016

Paper Pregnant

Image result for china ultrasound pic

Some people refer to adoption as being "paper pregnant". I guess I will take that term.  We're definitely "expecting" but in a much different way than through a pregnancy.  Ugh, the paperwork.  Yeah, paper pregnant fits.

We are currently waiting for our home study to be approved. Our social worker just emailed it to our social service agency who will approve it and then email it to our adoption agency who will also need to approve it.  Once it has been approved by Holt, it will be signed, notarized, and sent to us.  Then we will send it off to USCIS with our I-800a application and wait for a fingerprint appointment.  This is all for US Immigration to approve us adopting, basically. So anyways, those are the next steps.  While we wait on this, we will be finishing up all of our paperwork for our dossier, getting everything notarized, sent to the state capital to be certified, and then sent off to the Chinese embassy in Houston to be authenticated.  Got all that?! ;-) Ah yes, the paper chase. Such fun! Ha.

In the meantime, we are super blessed in where our little girl is.  She is living in a group foster home  and because it isn't her orphanage, we are able to be in contact with the director of the foster home and she is just wonderful! We are able to ask her questions about Charlotte whenever we want to, ask for pictures, and even VIDEO CHAT! We have gotten so many more pictures in the short time we've known about her than we did of Liana the entire wait.  And this last Monday, we were able to video chat with her!  It was AMAZING!!! She stared at us like, "Who are these weird looking people and what are they so excited about?!" It was so wonderful to see her precious little face! She walked around the home with the director as they showed us where she sleeps and the play room filled with toys and her friends.  In almost all of her pictures, she is on the floor playing or walking around.  It is clear, she isn't stuck in a walker or a crib all day.  She is actually able to be a kid and play!  It's fantastic!  I couldn't ask for a better situation for her while she waits to join her family!

I had said in my last post that I would talk about how the kids reacted to us adopting Charlotte.  Well, before we knew we were going to move forward with adopting, while I was just obsessing over her picture, Liana saw me looking at the picture and commented on the "cute baby".  Then, I saw her looking at her own hair like she was comparing it to Charlotte's and I could tell she was thinking, hey, same color! Then she said something about Charlotte's skin being a different color and I told her that yes, it's paler but hers was the same way when she was little, before we adopted her because she wasn't out in the sunshine all the time back then.  Then we talked about how they both have pretty, brown, almond shaped eyes.  It was cute to see her thinking, that's someone who looks a bit like me.  When we told the kids about her, we were still at South Padre and we showed them her picture and told them we were going to adopt her.  They were sooooo excited! Ethan was so cute because after a few minutes, he had this realization that he would be the only boy with THREE sisters and he kind of groaned and said, "I'll be the only boy!"  He wasn't really upset though.  A few weeks later, I had to take the kids for well visits at the doctor and told them that we would have some papers filled out by the doctor for the adoption to say that they were all healthy enough to have another sibling join the family.  Ethan said, "Thank you, Mommy, for letting us adopt Charlotte!" My heart melted! Sweet, sweet boy! <3 Liana is very happy that she will have a Chinese sister and tells everyone that we are going to China! Her teachers keep asking me about it because she tells them we're going this weekend...every weekend. :-D Silly girl.  Ella is thrilled about Charlotte and just can't wait to go and get her! She likes to text her friends pictures of Charlotte, in true tween fashion. ;-)

Overall, things are going great and we are so pleased to be back on the adoption road with all of it's twists and turns because we know that this sweet face will be waiting at the end for us:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


It has been soooo long since I have written a post on here, I'm not sure I remember how to do this! But, we have HUGE NEWS so I need to get my mad blogging skills back! What? What, you ask, is the huge news?! Well...we're ADOPTING AGAIN!!! I know, we're crazy, and I never dreamed that we'd be adopting again.  Well, on our good days, maybe the possibility popped into my head but I usually quickly abandoned that thought as things were really tough for a really, really long time. While you can't exactly have an oops adoption like you can have a surprise pregnancy, I think this one is as close as we could come.  So how did this all come about? Well, we saw her face and just...that was it.  I have an account on Rainbow Kids, which is a website to advocate for children who need families.  I still receive emails from Rainbow Kids with photos of children and I usually delete the emails before I even look but occasionally I look at them, out of curiosity. So I looked at this one email and there she was, this adorable little girl in China. I had to log in to my account to learn more about her and when I did, I saw that this almost 15 month old little cutie was listed with Holt, who was our adoption agency for Liana. Well, of course, we love Holt so this had me even more interested but adoption wasn't on our radar, at all, so I casually showed Erik her picture and then tried to forget. Buuut, the next day, I, again casually, emailed Holt for more information.  I confessed to Erik and then anxiously tried to gauge his reaction to this.  He was amazingly calm about the whole thing. Typical. We're seriously opposites in a lot of ways. No wonder I love him so much! So we waited to hear back from Holt. It was a Sunday so we had to wait until Monday. They emailed me back telling me to call them if I wanted more information. So I did and had a great talk with one of the China staff.  We had to apply but didn't have to pay the application fee (yet) to get access to this little one's file if we were really only wanting to find out about this specific child. We were ONLY interested in this child and if it didn't work out with her, I didn't know that we would be moving forward with adopting at all.  So they let us apply and we received her file. There were more pictures and a lot of information (way more than we had ever received for Liana) and even one video. I quickly contacted a doctor at an international adoption clinic to review the file for us. It was too late for me. I was a goner.  Erik, being the more sensible one, did the best he could to keep my feet on the ground and make me wait for the call from the doctor before telling Holt that we wanted to move forward with adopting her.  Ugh. So we waited. Luckily, he was able to call us the next evening and he was reassuring about what he learned from her file. She has a number of special needs, including a repaired cleft lip, unrepaired cleft palate, a PFO (minor hole in her heart which was one of Liana's special needs), and an extra finger on one hand. We didn't learn anything unexpected from his review so we knew that we were ready to give Holt the go ahead. When I had first spoken with the staff on the phone about her file, I was told that if there were more families interested in adopting her, a decision would be made by the matching team. On the one hand, we have access to world renowned medical specialists for all of this little one's special needs, we are an experienced adoptive family, and we have experience dealing with special needs. But on the other hand, they also take into account how far along families are in the adoption process and we were at step zero.  I heard back from Holt that they were pleased that we wanted to move forward with adopting her and they sent us a questionnaire to fill out about our family and, basically what we know about adoption, and how children are affected by having been institutionalized, etc.  They said that they would use it to make a decision in their matching meeting on Monday. In the middle of this crazy week, by the way, we went on vacation.  We, luckily, took our computer, realizing that now we were in the middle of (maybe) beginning another adoption. So, while everyone else slept, I filled out the questionnaire in great (probably too great) detail.  We were staying at a water park and on Monday, I was nervous that we would miss the phone call so I bought a waterproof case/necklace thing so that I could carry my phone while we played at the water park.  I got the call while I was riding on an inner tube on the lazy river so I baled off and trudged up "river" to a set of stairs leading out of the water.  Of course, I missed the call.  So I called back but got their voicemail.  ARGH!!! I told Erik to keep having fun with the kids while I waited for them to call back. After waiting a while, we gave up and headed back to the hotel and THEN the phone rang while we were walking back so I sat off in a quiet corner and finally was told that by unanimous decision, they chose US to be her family!!! Okay, we were the only family in the running, but still!  So, after this ridiculously long and probably boring to anyone but me (and my mom...ha!) story, here it is, the exciting part...introducing our newest (soon to be) daughter, Charlotte Jing Yi!

She is 16 months old and isn't she precious?! I have heard some adoptive parents say that they saw their child on a photo listing and they just knew.  I never really believed that that could happen to me because, I mean, if you look at those photo listings, the kiddos are so adorable, how can you just fall in love with one?? But, it did happen to us.  There was just something about Charlotte that just, I don't know how to explain it, she just got into my heart and I couldn't get her out of my head. And Erik was on board almost as instantly as me. I think he was struck by her just like I was! That face! That smile! Those eyes!!!  I still can't explain that feeling exactly, I'm still so shocked myself!

So we jumped into the adoption process head first and we are doing really well! We have all of the paperwork for our home study done and had our first home visit on Monday.  We have our next one next Tuesday and Erik doesn't even have to be here for it.  Our social worker is so great! Sadly, we have a different social worker than last time but we love her already.  She said that she will be able to get our home study written up early in September!! We are well on our way in our paper chase for the dossier too.  It's going faster this time around because, well, we've done this before.  It's overwhelming again, but not nearly as much as the first time around!  I'm super anxious, just like last time.  I don't think that goes away. It's so exciting starting the process being matched with a child but it also makes you more anxious to get there ASAP!!!  She's waiting for us! Well, I think that is more than anyone felt like reading for the first post.  Sorry for all of the details of the process.  It's probably boring but someday Charlotte will read this and I won't remember every exciting detail of that first crazy week of learning about her.  I want her to know the whole story! :-) So, the blog is waking up after a long hibernation and I will write more soon about the kids' reactions and share more pictures! But for now, I'll leave you with just one more. Aww... :-)