Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lifeline Celebration and Care Package

     We had the wonderful privilege of meeting the Lifeline Children's Services staff during their 30th anniversary/family reunion.   In addition, we were able to see numerous Lifeline families who traveled from all over the country to simply celebrate adoption.  Some families had teenage children, some had been home a few months with their new children, and others were like us, currently in-process.  In all, it was worth our hours of traveling in order to participate in this memorable event.  For us, it was a huge step to actually meet the faces of those we had only communicated with on the phone or via email. 

     When we arrived, they had many activities and crafts for children to enjoy while parents mingled and socialized with other families/Lifeline employees.

    Then, we enjoyed a picnic lunch from Chick-fil-A.

     Next, we had the opportunity to hear from Lifeline staff as they shared their growth and accomplishments in the areas of adoption and foster care over the last 30 years.  As part of the celebration, the Chinese Delegation was recognized and honored.  This delegation included the director of the CCAA (in charge of all adoptions in China), directors of adoption from each province in China, the Chinese representative for our agency, and the guide/translator who will assist us during part of our trip.  Several presentations were made, including a donation to the director of adoption for Jaxson's province - specifically to the Maoming SWI (orphanage) where he first stayed as a baby.  It is this SWI (social welfare institute) that Lifeline supports/sponsors.  Even though Jaxson is in foster care, he is still "attached" to this orphanage, and they are ultimately responsible for his care.

     After the presentations, the director for his province gave Alexis an ornament from China.  Jason and I were thrilled to also meet a pediatrician from Birmingham who met Jaxson in July and prepared his medical report.  Finally, before we left, we posed for a picture with our "international adoption specialist," who has handled our case with Lifeline.

     We were also very excited this week because we sent our first care package to Jaxson!  We used a service in China (owned and operated by a wonderful American family) in order to send Jaxson a few things for his upcoming birthday.  It is VERY expensive to send packages to China, and even more expensive to pay for delivery.  So, using an in-country operation is much more cost-friendly.  We sent some books, a photo album filled with pictures we sent them, a toy, a letter to Jaxson and his foster family, some candy for him/foster parents, and a CAKE!  The cake will be delivered to the orphanage, and his foster family will bring him there for a "party."  We are supposed to receive pictures of the party within a few weeks.  We will send more items to him as we continue to wait, but we were excited to send this first package so that he, and his foster family, know that a family is waiting for him!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Introducing Jaxson Lee

On September 14th, Jason and I made the decision to transfer to Lifeline Children's Services in order to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) for a little boy in their Maoming Kids program.  Lifeline has the unique opportunity to help sponsor the Maoming Social Welfare Institute, and they, in turn, have the privelege of finding homes for many Maoming kids through an agency-specific list.  One month later, after waiting to have our dossier (paperwork) transferred and logged-in again under Lifeline, we have finally received our preliminary approval (PA) for the sweet little boy we will name Jaxson Lee Hayes! 

This approval is a HUGE step!  It essentially means that the Chinese adoption officials have reviewed our file and his file, and have said, "Yes, you may adopt him...he will be yours!"  It gives us that official approval we needed to feel "secure" about everything.  As our agency case worker told us today, "Now you need to begin preparing for him to join your family!"

Unfortunately, it will still be a long while before we get to "get him."  The next step is one of the longest waits - known as the LOA wait (Letter of Acceptance).  It is a formality, really, but it is a long process.  No one seems to know why it takes so long (can take up to 90 or more days).  China will issue an official letter giving us permission - on paper - to bring Jaxson into our home and become a U.S. citizen.  That letter has to be sent to U.S. Immigration, and then we will have to wait for U.S. approval to bring him here (again, a formality, really).  There are a few more steps after that, and the final step is TA (Travel Approval) from China.  Sadly, it will take up to 6 months for all of this to happen.  It could process sooner, but likely not. 

Instead of dwelling on another lengthy wait, here are some details about our "little man:"

  • Jaxson will be two in November and has a repaired cleft lip and palate.  We have seen "before" pictures of his lip, and the difference is amazing!
  • A U.S. doctor saw him in July.  We have spoken with her through email (and in person) and she said he is one of the best cases she has ever seen when completing medical missions in China.  He is on-target developmentally in all areas other than speech, and commented that his repair was "beautifully done."  Our local pedicatrician has also commented on what good care he has received and how healthy he appears to be according to records.
  • He is currently in foster care and has been for a long time.  The foster agency is an American-sponsored agency, so he has received exceptional medical care, attention and love.  We are thrilled that he is being cared for in a home with parental figures.
  • Jaxson is from the Guondong province, which is in the southern region of China (much warmer climate than some areas).
      Finally, here are some pictures...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beyond the Room Transformation

After nearly two weeks of preparing and sending paperwork and WAITING, we finally received word last Friday that we were LID (logged-in) to China's system through our new agency, Lifeline.  Our LOI (letter of intent) could not be submitted until the transfer took place.  So, our LOI was submitted last Friday.  The response from this submission is called a PA (provisional or preliminary approval).  Typically, a family can expect to receive this back in a week or two at the most.  However, there are several national holidays in China this week, so the Chinese adoption offices are officially closed all week.  We are very hopeful that we will receive PA next week, or the week after at the latest.  We feel confident about our request and it is in process, we just will feel SO much better when we have that official notice!  We have SO many adorable pictures we can share once the PA is issued.

We are also excited to share that we have a name picked out for him, Jaxson Lee.  I wanted to use a name with an "x" in it to match Alexis, and we also loved the idea of using Jason's initials.  My father's middle name is Lee, and Jason's youngest brother shares that middle name as well.  The name means "God has been gracious," which we think is most appropriate for this little one! 

This week is our Fall Break, and since we are both teachers, we enjoy a week as a family together.  Sometimes we have taken small trips, but this time we decided to work on various projects around the house and just enjoy some family time.  We went to Lexington on Monday to sell some remaining items from a weekend yard sale, and made a stop at Boyd Orchards on the way home.  We had such a wonderful time!  Tuesday we started the transformation from "spare room" to "little boy room."  We are so proud of the new room!  It has many unfinished projects and finishing touches that need to be completed, but that will give me several fun projects to work on throughout the colder months.  We knew, with the holidays approaching and school commitments, we needed to prepare the room now!  Plus, we've had so much stress with the adoption over the last 6 weeks, so it was fun to work on something as a family.  The process of preparing a room made Alexis' impending birth seem more "real," and our experience preparing Jaxson's room resulted in the same effect.  We already love this little guy, and we wanted to make him feel a part of our physical home - not just our hearts.

The theme for his room is based of the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.  As an elementary teacher, I am a huge fan of Carle's books, and Jason is a fan of anything that isn't too girly and feminine!  Pottery Barn has a new line of Eric Carle decor, so I was so excited when I found it on sale last week!  As we were decorating, I found a card attached to one of the caterpillar stuffed animals, that read...

This book is more than a is a story of HOPE.  I hope that as you go through your life, you will grow,  change and emerge into something beautiful like a butterfly.  
 - Eric Carle

I absolutely loved this inspirational anecdote that the author shared.  How appropriate for our son!  We hope that he will not dwell upon an unpleasant past, but will grow into the beautiful person he was created to be.  We are just excited to be part of his metamorphosis!

I have attached some pictures of Alexis "helping" us (she is so excited to be a big sister) and some of the final product (as it is right won't be "finished" for a while).

I kind of think of our whole adoption experience like a caterpillar's journey.  We have been slowly "inching" our way and gaining ground closer to our own metamorphosis as a family!