Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oh My Stars - this is really happening!

OK folks….reality is setting in, and my emotions are all over the map.  Philip spent most of the morning working out our flight arrangements, and we are booked!  We fly out on Thursday, April 17th and will return on Thursday, May 1st.   That’s right!  Just 3 weeks from today, we will be embarking on the trip of a lifetime.  We will leave here a family of 3 and return as a family of 4. 


Once we arrive in Guangzhou (towards the end of our trip), we will meet up with 4 other families from our adoption agency.  They are all adopting older children (ages 7-8), with 3 boys and 1 girl.  These families went through the “Waiting Child” program, also known as the special needs program.  Two of these families will be bringing other children with them as well.  It will be fun to meet these folks and get to know them while on this incredible trip.


We don’t have all of our details quite yet, but on Monday, April 21st, likely while you are sleeping, across the world, we will meet this little girl that so many have prayed about for over 7 years.  I feel that it is rather poignant that on Easter Sunday, Yong Ning Yu will spend her last night in an orphanage, her last night to not have a family, her last night NOT to know that lots of people love her very much.  April 21st will forever be referred to as “Gotcha Day” in our family.  And, while April 21, 2014, will be a most joyful day for us, we must not forget that on that day, Yong Ning Yu will become Olivia Yu Martindale and will be leaving everything and everyone she has ever known in life, going into the arms of strange people who smell weird, eat different things, and who talk and look funny to her.  For her, it may be a very traumatic experience.  It will be a day full of emotion, I’m sure.  Please pray that God gives us the strength to handle whatever happens on that day; that Olivia’s little heart is open to accepting our love; and that Ansley’s heart continues to be full of love for her new little sister and adjusts well to not getting all the attention.  I can’t help to think about Olivia's birth parents, specifically her birth mother.  I pray that on April 21st, they feel some sort of peace over them that their little girl is going to be loved and well taken care of.


Thanks for caring, praying, and reading.  Your support means the world to us. 

Until next time,





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Consulate Appointment!

Drum roll, please!!!!!!  WE GOT THE APRIL CONSULATE APPOINTMENT of April 29th.  That's right, friends.....we will be meeting Miss Olivia in less than one month.  Holy Moly!  

We are working on the travel itinerary right now, but it's looking like we will be leaving around 4/17 and returning on 5/1 or 5/2.  The Consulate Appointment is one of the last things we do, so that it why we are working backwards from the 4/29 CA date.  

I'll be sure and post more as we work through the travel arrangements.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Travel Approval!!

We are happy to report that we received a call from our agency this morning that we have received our Travel Approval!  They submitted a request for our Consulate Appointment to be on April 29th as to try and avoid the Chinese Labor Day holiday.  If we aren't able to get that date, it will be May before we travel.  As soon as we hear about the date, we'll book our travel!  If we get the 4/29 date, we will more than likely leave around 4/17 and return on 5/1 or 5/2.  As soon as we know more, we'll let you know!  I'm hoping we hear something tomorrow, but I'm not sure the turnaround time on these requests.  

Thanks, as always, for reading!  We are amazed by everyone's interest in our journey.  Have a great week!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Waiting for Travel Approval and Adoption Traditions

Small update from this week:  I heard from our adoption agency this week, and their wish is for us to be in and out of China before May 1st or 2nd.  That's right!  Our agency does travel during the trade fair in Guangzhou, so no need to worry about waiting until May to travel!  Also, China celebrates their Labor Day on May 1st, so the government will be closed for a couple of days.  The agency would like for us to be finished and either on our way back on May 1st, or at least finished with paperwork in China by May 1.  That is, of course, as long as we get our Travel Approval in time.  

Another family in one of my Face Book groups that is one week ahead of us with paperwork actually got their travel approval last week and is traveling in less than 2 weeks!  So, it is entirely possible that we get ours this week, or next.  Now that, my friends, is crazy.  Hearing that pretty much sent me in to list making mode…..ok, ok, maybe I had already started a list or two….but seriously, I started making SERIOUS lists.  

We had a couple of family get togethers this weekend to celebrate a new baby on the way (Carla & Whit) and birthday (Tom).  We realized that this may be the last time everyone is together until they meet us at the airport to meet Olivia.  Also, a shock to the system!

Now on to traditions…there are three adoption traditions that I have been meaning to write about:  Ladybugs, The Red Thread, and the Bai Jia Bei.

Ladybugs are believed to be good luck in the adoption community, so whenever you see a ladybug, think of Olivia!  In fact, there's one in my office that stays with me most of the day.  :)

The Red Thread:  "When a child is born, invisible red threads extend from the child's spirit and connect to all the significant people who will be part of the child's life.  As the child grows, the threads shorten, drawing closer those people who are destined to be together."  This is an old Chinese legend that is still around today.  The Chinese adoption community has embraced it as a motto.

Bai Jia Bei:  To welcome and celebrate a new life, it is a tradition in China to make a Bai Jia Bei:  a 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  The custom is to invite family and friends to contribute a square of fabric and a wish for the baby.  Most of the square of fabric is made in a quilt, while a smaller piece and the good wish goes into a scrapbook.  The quilt contains luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed.  We actually started collecting fabric and good wishes for Olivia back in 2006 when we started our wait. I still have the fabric and plan to have a quilt made for her. If you would like to send a piece of fabric, we would love to include yours.  Please message me for the dimensions needed.

That's probably enough for today.  Hopefully, you will hear from me again really soon!  As always, thanks for reading and for your prayers and support.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Article 5 - ready to be picked up!

More progress!  We received an email this morning from the American Consulate in Guangzhou that our Article 5 is ready to be picked up!  We now enter the 4th quarter, the 18th hole, the 9th inning, the last kilometer, the last period, the F-I-N-A-L (You get the idea.) wait!!!  This means that we have passed all hurdles with the U.S. government (YAY), and now our paperwork is turned over to the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) for the Chinese government’s approval.  Once the CCCWA reviews everything, they will issue our TA (Travel Approval).  Wait times for TA range anywhere from 2 weeks to one month, and I am still unsure what the trade fair/convention in Guangzhou will do to our travel.  So, we will just wait and see.  The TA allows us to travel to China to finalize the adoption and pick Olivia up.  Once we receive our TA, our adoption agency will request an immigrant visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, and we will apply for our visas.  The CA (Consulate Appointment) is what the dates of our entire trip revolve around.  Our agency will submit 5 choice of dates in ranked order.  In the past, the agency would plan the trip for a group of adoptive parents.  Now that the wait has gotten so long, and there aren’t as many of us still waiting, we could be traveling alone.  We will still have a guide from the agency with us most of the time, but potentially no other adoptive families.  We are getting closer now, and we can see the finish line!

As always, thanks for reading and for your prayers and support.  We appreciate you!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Observations about Olivia

When we received Olivia’s referral, included was a standardized form with little boxes marked regarding height, weight, medical information, etc.  There was also a section about her schedule, eating, sleeping, motor development, language, sociality, etc.  I thought some of you might be interested in hearing more about her.  (Disclaimer:  this information was recorded in October, so when we get her, it will be almost 6 months later.  I’m anticipating that some of this will change by the time we get there, but this is probably all the information we will get.)

Amazingly enough, she is about the same size as Ansley was at this age.  Based on American growth charts, she is in about the 5th percentile for height and weight.  I have been trying to estimate what size clothes/shoes she will be in by the time we travel.  My estimate is 18-24 month clothes and who knows about the shoes.

She is definitely on a schedule, which is not surprising to me considering the circumstances.  She eats and sleeps at the same time every day.  It says that she is a deep sleeper, so let’s keep our fingers crossed on that one!  They definitely feed her some interesting things at the age of 2, so the food transition may be challenging.  For breakfast, she has noodles or congee (similar to rice pudding), steamed bread, and milk.  (We aren’t sure if she is still taking a bottle; some of the adoption blogs I have read for children this age are still taking bottles.)  For lunch, she has rice, egg custard, and fish.  For dinner, she has rice, minced meat, and vegetable juice.  For “supplemental food,” (I’m assuming snacks or other foods.) she has milk, biscuits, and fruit juice.  It says that apple juice is her favorite, and I’m pretty sure that their biscuits are not like Southern biscuits.  :)

For motor development, it says that she can crawl on hands and knees, picks up a pill with her thumb/index finger, holds a pen with full hand and scribbles, and walks alone steadily.  The boxes about going up and down stairs are not marked, so Ansley will get to teach her how to do that.

For adaptability, it says that she can take a block in/out of a cup, bang two blocks together,  build a tower of 4 blocks, and turn over pages of a book twice or more.  The boxes for recognizing colors are not marked.

In the language/sociality section, it says that she imitates words, produces 3-5 words, knows what “no” means (This is funny to me.), responds to others asking for her objects, and is cooperative when putting on clothes.  The box related to potty training is not checked.  Most of you would probably not expect this to be checked when talking about a 2 year old, but in China, a lot of the orphanages start potty training VERY early. 

The personality traits that she demonstrates (my favorite part) include being timid, shy, quiet, active, restless, fond of listening to music (yay), fond of playing with toys (Ansley likes this one.), energetic, and obstinate at times (also known as stubborn – she’ll fit right in).  She is closest with her caretaker; her favorite activity is playing outdoors; and her favorite toys are ones with "fresh color and sound."

Many of you might be concerned about the language piece, but we are blessed in this area.  Not only do we have two of the world’s best speech therapists in the family, but we are also fortunate to have a teacher at the girls’ day care who is from China and is bilingual.  She has already helped us so much, and I know that she will prove to be invaluable to us through this transition.  She has friends in the area of China where we will be and is going to give us their phone number in case we need anything!  She is also going to teach us a few Chinese words before we go and is going to translate some questions that I have for the nannies at the orphanage.  My hope is that Olivia will be bilingual and can learn Chinese from her and English from everyone else. 

I am happy to report that our home projects are almost complete!  Philip has been working hard and painted Olivia’s room earlier this week.  The crib will go up this weekend.  Wow - it is becoming a little more real each and every day.

While it has been hard to see God’s plan over the past 7 years, I now know that He has put everything into place just as it should be.  Being the planner that I am, you all know that it is difficult for me not knowing a travel date at this point, but my estimate until last night was still mid-April.  I am a member of all sorts of Face Book groups related to China adoption, and one member posted last night that her Article 5 was just picked up (same timing as ours), so she thought she would be traveling in mid-April as well.  Unfortunately, she learned that her agency is not going to plan any trips to China in the month of April due to a large trade fair/convention happening in Guangzhou during April.  Evidently, it is very difficult to find hotel rooms (I know all about that.) and transportation during that time.  So… may be May for us, too.  Our China rep should pick up our Article 5 next week, and we will be on our way to Travel Approval!  Once we have our Travel Approval, we will apply for our Visas and should begin planning our trip. 

As always, thanks for the prayers.  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where in the world is Olivia?

Olivia is from the Hunan province (similar to a state) of China (population of 71 million-7th most populated province in China), which is located in the south central part of the country.  Girls from Hunan are known as “Spicy Girls.” They say this is due to the heavy use of chili peppers in their food, but I'm wondering..  The Xiang River runs through the province, and the traditional crops from that area are rice and cotton.  The climate is sub-tropical with short, cool, damp winters, very hot and humid summers, and plenty of rainfall.  There is a professional sports team in Hunan, the Hunan Billows F.C. (soccer team). 

The capital of Hunan is Changsha (population 7 million), where we will probably travel to meet our little girl.  To give you a perspective, New York City’s population is around 8 million.  She is not from there, but most adoptions in China are finalized in the capital of the province from where the child comes.  We believe she currently resides in or near Chengnan, which is in Ningyuan County, a couple of hours away from Changsha.


We will also travel to Guangzhou, which is where the U.S. Consulate/Embassy is.  It is located very near Hong Kong, also in the south central part of China.  Guangzhou is where we will finalize everything on the American side of things and will be the last place we visit.  Guangzhou is the 3rd largest Chinese city, population 14 million.

We cannot wait to travel to see the sights and sounds of Olivia’s birthplace.    I want to “live in the moment” while we are there and soak it all in.  My wish is to be able to tell her about it someday when she is old enough and hope to be able to go back one day so that she can see where she is from.

I’m desperately trying to do a better job of “living in the moment.”  I am horrible at this!  I’m always marking things off a “To Do List” and thinking ahead of what needs to be done.  I told Philip just the other day to keep me in check, and especially on our trip, to remind me to enjoy it.  After all, it is a once in a lifetime thing.  So, for the next few weeks at least, I’m going to try to “Live in the Moment.”  I want to cherish these last few weeks that we have together as a family of 3.  Our lives will never be the same.  I want to make sure that Ansley knows how much we love her and for her to enjoy these last few weeks of being an only child. 

Thanks for your interest and for your prayers.  We hope you have a great weekend!