A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adoption Update

On Monday, after waiting since June, we finally received the file of the little girl we've been paperchasing for. With her information and medical record came some additional photos of her. I'm smitten, she's adorable.

Our agency requires families to have the medical info reviewed by a doctor before accepting a referral. I immediately sent the file to University of Minnesota's International Adoption Clinic for review. Their form letter indicates they have 1-3 days to respond, but I seem to remember it being really quick when they reviewed Hannah's file for us. I spent the rest of Monday obsessively checking my email, hoping for a response.

On Tuesday morning, I got the return email saying everything looks good with the medical information, no surprises in the bloodwork, no concerns in the growth report.

Tuesday afternoon, we notarized our Letter Of Intent and shipped it off to our agency! This is the formal way of saying, "We want to adopt this child." When China grants us Pre-Approval, it's their way of saying, "Yes, we will hold her file just for you, and you may submit a dossier and we will determine if you meet our requirements." Once we have that lovely PA, we'll be able to show you pictures.

Speaking of pictures, a couple of weeks ago, Walgreens was having a FREE 8X10 promotion. I had Katie's baby picture printed. We weren't officially matched yet, but I figured if something went wrong and I ended up throwing it out, it wasn't costing us anything. This morning, I hung that picture up on our wall with all the other kids' baby pictures. My heart is so full.

Sorry about the post-it.  Believe me, I'll be showing her pictures just as soon as I can.  

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's a party!

Woo hoo!  
We're kicking off a short fundraiser tonight!  

First up, Thirty-One

Now, I had never heard of Thirty One before, but a family we travelled with when we adopted Hannah started another adoption shortly after we all came home, and they had a Thirty One fundraiser.  I bought one of these and one of these in a bright, fun, dot print.  

The big one is in my sewing room, full of fabric.  :)

The little one was my park bag over the summer.  I kept sunscreen, face sticks, water bottles, Hannah's hat and "sunnies", and a snack in there.  Sometimes a book, too.  It went with us to park days and was very useful.  

When we had Sparkle and Fluffy with us, I used it as my Morning School Run bag.

I would load up sippy cups of water or juice and snack cups of yogurt melts, puffs, crackers, PB pretzels, or cereal for Hannah, Sparkle and Fluffy, and we'd hop in the van to take the teens to school.  

Once everyone was buckled, I'd pass out their food, and they'd snack in the car.
I got in the habit of restocking when we got home, so it would be ready at all times.  
If we went out in the afternoon, I could toss a couple of diapers and some wipes in there, and be good to go.  

Next, we have Scentsy!

Last Christmas, my step mom gave me a beautiful warmer and a snowberry bar.
I liked it so much I bought myself 2 more bars, cinnamon bear, and black raspberry vanilla.
Yum yum.

Please consider doing some Christmas shopping through our links.

You will not only be buying great gifts, but you'll be helping with our adoption expenses.  This is a brief, two week chance for us to fundraise.  The consultants have generously agreed to forward their commission directly to our adoption agency.  Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your support!
Please pass these links along:


Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - Thanksgiving Week

I never know how to "count" holidays for school.  We had light duty, school-wise, this week.  I decided to hold off on starting a new country until we got back to our normal routine.

Instead of our normal Window on the World reading for Monday morning Bible, I read aloud from Voice of the Martyrs current newsletter, which we just began receiving.  It's hard to believe in our comfortable life, that in other parts of the world just owning a Bible can get you thrown in jail.


We made some Around The World ornaments this week.


The Canada stickers were perfect for this project.


We dug up some foamy soccer ball stickers for Brazil.
Bri was inspired by the Brazilian flag.


Between these, and the God's Eyes we made studying Mexico, and the Scandanavian felt ornaments from last week, our little international tree is looking pretty good so far.  I'll have to get a picture of it.


Of course all this crafting is exhausting work.


Not sure what Sam's excuse is, he didn't make any, but took a nap anyway!


The kids decided Friday was the day to decorate for Christmas.


I tried to stay out of the way while they did their thing.


We laugh a lot around here.


Don't make the mistake of thinking that fake trees don't shed.  
They do.


I would have thought it needed more lights, but they started throwing ornaments on, so these will have to do.  

So there you have it.  Homeschool this week was a little math and spelling, Bri's report on France, and a lot of holiday fun.  Oh, and one more stab at making Eiffel Towers.
A craft involving food?  Even the teens get into it when marshmallows are on the menu.

These didn't turn out *quite* like the original, either, but better than the glue versions of last week.

What they lack in engineering, they make up for in enthusiasm, eh?

"It fell over; I had to eat it."

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday Snapshot

As we've spent the month being thankful for various things in our lives, and we really have been abundantly blessed, with so very much to be grateful for, 
what it all comes down to is this.

My family.

The ones in the photo above,
My boy in the Middle East, serving our country,
My girl in China, totally oblivious to all the paperwork we're mired in on her behalf.

That's what it's all about.

Ni Hao Yall

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving at the Firehouse

We have a tradition of going to the firehouse the years that Daddy works on Thanksgiving.

The kids get to have the Ultimate Fire Station Field Trip.

Daddy goes all out showing them the uniforms and equipment.

They get to climb on the apparatus.

And generally act goofy.

While some of us just watch in wonder.

Josiah on the ladder (I was standing underneath, looking up)

Daddy taking them up on the ultimate jungle gym

I was actually pretty proud of this picture.  I got it just right to show the words as they were swinging the ladder around.  It's my editing skills that need some help.  I turned it right side up, but when I uploaded it, it reverted.  So I turned it right side up in photobucket.  And it's still not right.  I give up.  

It's okay.  He loves me anyway.

A good time was had by all.  

We even remembered to eat!  (Is it me, or is this a food-based holiday?)

The kids actually let me take tons of pictures, which is unusual.  I usually get groans and protests, or turned heads.  

Of course, they eventually started to protest.

306 pictures, and this is the best shot of the whole family?
Yes.  Yes, it is.
I should do a post sometime of all the family pictures we've taken in front of fire engines over the years...  

I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday as well.

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Our Adoption Story - Why not adopt here?

Several times I've heard that people ask those adopting internationally, or even those who KNOW those who are adopting internationally, "Why overseas?  Why not adopt the kids that need homes right here?"  There are many answers to this question, but this is our story, so I'll tell you mine.

We tried to adopt here.  We made the decision to adopt in August of 2008.  One of the first things you have to do is choose your path.  Domestic newborn felt icky to us.  There are 10 families waiting for every baby.  I didn't want to have to "sell" our family to a birthmother.  And we felt we had too many kids to be chosen anyway.  International, we pretty much wrote off because it was too expensive.  So we became licensed foster parents, hoping to adopt from the kids who really needed a home right here.  

We got our license in April 2009.  Unfortunately, the county laid of HUNDREDS of social workers that spring, due to budget cuts.  Suddenly, there were more foster homes than children, and kids weren't coming into care except in the most dire circumstances, because there were no workers to supervise placements with monthly visits.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  

During our wait, I started cruising the Heart Gallery websites, looking for kids all across the nation that matched our homestudy parameters:  1 or 2 kids, 0-4 years old.  But the wheels of the system grind slowly, and most kids are older by the time their parental rights are terminated, or they're adopted by their foster parents, and never make it onto a list like these.  We did inquire about a few kids, but were not chosen to be their family.  

It wasn't until I happened upon Rainbow Kids that we found our child.  I got there from a link on one of the Heart Gallery websites, and I plugged in our search criteria.  Up popped some kids.  Only, RK lists both domestic AND international children waiting for families.  When we saw Hannah, we looked into what it would take to change paths and adopt her, even though she happened to be in China, instead of "here."  And even though she had special needs we had never considered.  

Looking back, I remember thinking we were sooo enlightened as PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) because we were open to a few special needs.  That somehow we should have an easy time of it because we weren't waiting and waiting for a perfect, healthy, white newborn.  [picking myself up off the floor, where I rolled off my chair laughing]  Yeah, it's a process.  You go into adoption one person, and you come out the other side seriously altered.  

We did some research.  I joined a couple of Yahoo groups for limb differences.  We had serious talks.  Yes, we lived in a 2 story house, but if we needed to accommodate a wheelchair, we could move people around so she could be downstairs.  We were optimistic and took a leap of faith.  

We saw her face January 26th of 2010.  February 8th, we decided to pursue her.  Thanksgiving Day, we landed in Beijing on the trip of a lifetime.  December 11, we brought Hannah home and began teaching her how to live in a family.  

Somewhere along the way, California changed the rules for foster families.  Currently, they only allow a maximum of 6 children total in a home.  Well, that leaves us out, since we have 7 at home already.  So when we began talking about another adoption, "here" wasn't an option for us any more.    And honestly, we wanted Hannah to have a sibling who shared her heritage.  Someone who looks like her.  

We'd been talking about adopting again quite a bit in April and May of 2012.  Kind of in a future, not quite yet, sort of way.  May 28, I woke up to an email from one of the directors of our agency.  They were in China doing a camp for the kids, and she'd met a child and thought of our family.  She asked if we wanted to see pictures when they got back to the states.  

Of course I fired off a YES! email and then told Paul.  We started talking about moving up our timeline a bit and getting started again now, so that in 2-6 months, when her file got to our agency, we'd be ready to be matched to her.  

Annaliese, our eldest daughter, had gotten chicken pox on a school trip to Disneyland, and needed to use her ticket before it expired, so I took her, and her friend, Naomi, and Jack to Disneyland on a quick trip in June.  I saw our first pictures of the child our agency was calling "Jessica" standing in line for Soaring Over California.  Her special needs are similar to Hannah's, with an additional one I felt like we could handle.  

Once we got home I started begging and pleading having rational conversations with Paul about pursuing her.  June 23, Paul took me out to lunch, and sitting across the table from me at a little hole in the wall fish & chips place, took a deep breath and said, "Yes."  

In a nutshell, that's why we're adopting from China, and not "here."  

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about adoption or about our journey, I'd be happy to answer them.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


If you're following along, you may recall we mailed our I800A form recently.  11/7, to be exact.  USPS tracking indicated it was delivered on 11/10.  We got our text and email letting us know they'd received it on Sunday, 11/18.  And now our $975 check has cleared the bank.

Hopefully soon, we'll get our paper receipt for said check, and then about a week later, we'll get fingerprint appointment notices in the mail.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting a crib set up, and I've made a couple purchases to put in her dresser.  Christmas is a nice distraction.  The kids and I are working on ornaments for our Around The World tree today.

If you shop Amazon, please click through our link before making a purchase.  We get a little referral fee, which goes toward our adoption expenses.  Thank you!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - homeschool week 15

Still in France, the kids set out to build Eiffel Towers out of craft picks.  

This turned out to be easier said than done.

Brianna made crepes this week, yum!  I forgot to get a picture, darn!

There were a lot of breaks during construction "to let the glue dry."  
Actually, I don't think Jack's ever got past these V shapes, now that I think about it, lol.

Not impressed with the art projects any more.

That reminds me, I totally forgot to get a picture of the soap craft we did.

Suffice it to say we have lovely shaped soaps made with the scraps from our Innuit carvings and cut with our rather impressive cookie/play doh cutter collection.

The soap turned out better than the towers did.

Meanwhile Sparkle and Fluffy made towers of their own with Wedgits.

They left on Friday.  The two weeks they were here were good practice for me.  It's been SIX YEARS since I've had a 2 year old in the house.  I may be re-thinking my plan for school next year, lol.  We didn't get a whole lot done trying to do things this way.  

We are enjoying this week's read aloud, George Muller.  And we're looking forward to having the week off for Thanksgiving!  After discovering that Hannah is off all week, and the big kids only have school Monday and Tuesday, I decided we'll wait and start Germany the week after Thanksgiving.  We'll have light school Monday and Tuesday and maybe work on making some Christmas presents Wednesday and Friday.  Or perhaps trimming the tree.  

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