Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Planting Trees

My life feels very "out of control" right now as we are frantically working to prepare our sub plans for school, make arrangements for our responsibilities at church, pack, have our house in order, arrange for care for Jake (our dog) and numerous other things that we need to take care of before we leave NEXT THURSDAY.  It's all wonderful stress, but it is very overwhelming at times. 

I have been thinking so much about Jaxson and this upcoming adjustment for him.  Life, as he has always known it, is about to end.  It will be a bitter time of sadness and pain for him.  We know he will grieve and we are prepared to deal with his grief process.  However, when you already feel love and attachment to someone, you hate the thought of them having to go through pain!  I feel a mix of emotions - including guilt - for what we are about to do to his world.  He has no understanding that he was abandoned at three days of age....he does not know that he is an orphan.  He does not realize what it would be like to have a mommy and a daddy (and a great big sister) who want to keep him forever and give him a life he could never, ever receive in China.  I just keep imagining how Alexis would have felt, at age two, if someone had taken her from us.  Jaxson probably cannot remember living anywhere other than his foster home. 

I have to keep reminding myself that this painful phase will PASS and then we will reap the plentiful joys and rewards of adoption/parenting.  We will tell him  his story, and some day he will understand.

One of my favorite albums to listen to right now is Andrew Peterson's CD, "Counting Stars."  We saw him in concert in February with Steven Curtis Chapman.  The song I love the most is a song entitled, "Planting Trees."  For anyone who has children or works with children, it is such an encouragement and a wonderful reminder that our efforts, heartaches, "bad days," joys and celebrations now are NOT just about today - but about the future and the unbelievable opportunity we have to influence the lives of others.

If you have a moment, listen to this song.  I think of the "trees" (Alexis and Jaxson) that we are "planting," as well as the children at school and church that I work with.

Many people have asked how they can help us right now, and we SO GREATLY appreciate everyone's support and encouragement.  We just value everyone's prayers and encouragement more than anything!  Please pray for our hearts and minds as we prepare to leave , our nerves (I do not like 1 hour plane rides...let alone 16 hours), Alexis' transition and Jaxson's grief process.

Click below for the "Planting Trees" song!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Travel Approval!

What a whirlwind this week has been!!! We knew our TA should be coming soon, but we were surprised to get it on Wednesday! The even bigger surprise was the news that we could travel in as little as two weeks!! We had thought, for weeks, that the end of April was our earliest potential travel timeframe. We honestly NEVER believed early April was a remote possibility!!

The TA (travel approval) grants us permission to come to China and take custody of Jaxson. Upon receiving TA, you have to request a consulate appointment. The CA is the last phase of the process, so all of the travel plans are impacted by the appointment. We requested a CA of 4/18 and had to nervously wait from Wednesday to today to see if we got the desired date. If we did not, we would be pushed back a week, which would should fall during the Guangzhou trade fair. Due to the higher costs, we were told we might have to wait until the second week of May.

We were thrilled this morning when we found out that our CA was booked for April 16th!! We will leave for China on April 5th (our anniversary), and we will meet Jaxson on April 9th!!!

At this point we are absolutely thrilled, frantic to pack and prepare for our substitutes, and scared to death - all at the same time!

This week we also received a picture of Jaxson playing with items from the care package we sent. He looks SO happy and healthy!!! We love seeing his adorable face!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Waiting, waiting waiting...

Well, the wait for TA (travel approval) HAD been around 2 weeks.  That is until WE started waiting for TA.  OF COURSE it had to slow down! :-)  Apparently some reorganization and moving of offices in China has resulted in some slight delays.  I seriously doubt we will get ours this week, as I had hoped.  However, MAYBE I am wrong!  I sure hope so!

In the meantime, I am slowly gathering (well, more PILING) things in Jaxson's room for travel.  This week I worked hard to finish up our "gifts" that we have to take.  These gifts are for various people....officials that will process documents, our guides, the foster parents, the orphanage director, etc.  I tried to carefully plan and strategically purchase gifts that would be meaningful, in the appropriate/suggested price range, and that helped out local people and/or businesses as much as possible.  This way, the giving of the gifts means something to us and helps us feel like we "left our mark" on China.

I am including photos of the gifts mainly to help my fellow adoptive parents who read this blog.  Others may be interested as well.  Several people have asked me why we are bringing gifts (especially with all the expenses we have already have).  This is a tradition in the Chinese adoption world, and something that we are expected to do. :-)

 A collection of ALL the gifts (minus a photo book and photo necklace)
Random "male" gifts
  •  UK tumblers and magnets 
  • The horse mini-statue is for the orphanage director (has information about the Kentucky Derby on the bottom)

Random "female" gifts
  •  Silk scarves (not made in China)
  •  flower pins (made by my friend Sam)
  • key chains made by a local high school student to support the Addison Jo Blair Foundation (a foundation established by my friend and colleague to help children with childhood cancer after she lost her beautiful daughter to the horrible disease - I love that we are helping this great foundation and spreading Addison's foundation all over the globe!) 

 Foster Organization Contact/Caregiver
  •  Silk scarf 
  • 31 zip-up bag
  • Bath and Body Works pocket bac
  • Addison Jo Blair foundation key chain
  •  flower pin 
Foster Family Gifts
  •  framed picture
  • print of Kentucky (exchange student will write "Kentucky" and "Thank You" in Chinese characters for us
  • Photo necklace (not shown)
  • Photo book (not shown)
Guide and Agency Representative
  •  31 bags
  • necklaces
  • button bracelets (handmade by a parent in my school)
  • Bath and Body Works pocket bac
 Gift Tags
  • I am going to attach these tags to each gift so that recipients will know where they came from!
I hope that I can post a great big TA sometime on this blog in the next few days.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!  We are so close, yet it feels so far away still.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Waiting for Travel Approval!

Our Article 5 was picked up on Tuesday, March 6th, so we are now officially waiting for our Travel Approval (TA)!!!!!!!!  This is the LAST step before we travel to China!  I cannot believe that we are at this point.  It has been a long fifteen months since we started and it still seems a bit unreal.  We will hopefully have our TA in 2-3 weeks and will be able to secure travel dates, airline tickets, hotel rooms, etc.  We are hoping to travel in late April.  We plan to go to Hong Kong first for a few days (to help with acclimating ourselves to the time difference/culture) and then we will travel to Guangzhou, which is where we will be throughout the rest of our trip.  We are busy working on organizing all of our travel supplies, buying things we need, finishing his room, etc.  We have a lot of little projects around the house/spring cleaning projects that need to be finished before we leave as well.

We wanted to send Jaxson one final care package, so we got everything ready today.  Alexis was SO proud to help me color him a picture.  I'm proud of my Chinese characters.  I HOPE they are accurate....ha ha!

Jaxson's Adoption Celebration

On March 4th, some of our very good friends and family helped us celebrate Jaxson's upcoming adoption!  The theme was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," to match his room decor.  It was a wonderful celebration and a special day I will always remember.  Jaxson is so blessed to be already loved by so many people in our lives.  Here are a few highlights from the event! 

 My sister made his adorable cupcake cake!

The food was from the story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar!  I loved this!

The "Big Sister" even had a sash for the day!