Friday, July 29, 2011


Can you hear me shouting for joy all the way over there??  If so, its because we just got a wonderful call from our case worker telling us they issued us Travel Approval (TA) today!!  Praise the Lord!!!  I was on the way to the grocery store and Joey had JUST texted me asking if I'd heard anything yet, and I of course texted him "nutten"!!  Pulled into the parking space, kids in the back seat, and she called!!  I screamed and they screamed, and then we had to call daddy back to tell him the good news, then call the rest of the family!  So I just completed my longest grocery trip ever, and came home with hardly any groceries cause I couldn't concentrate on a thing!!  We are requesting a consulate appointment (CA) for 8/22 and will find out if we got it, and all the other travel itinerary by Tues or Wed of next week.  If we get that appt, we'll fly out on 8/10.   That's less than 2 weeks away!!  Whew ....lots of emotions right now, and lots of packing to be done!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Culture Shock!!

I've learned alot about the Chinese culture over the last months, and found this info compiled together in someone else's blog who is also adoption.  It made me laugh, and was enlightening, so I thought I would share some of what I learned.....

Did you know you can train a baby to be potty trained at 4 months? The Chinese believe you can! The Chinese diaper a child until around the age of 4 months and then babies traditionally wear split pants. The split pants are like buttless chaps and their little bottoms are free to the air. The babies are fed and after waiting about 30 minutes the children are either held over a pot or strapped to a potty chair and wait for the inevitable to happen. Sometimes the adult makes a hissing sound to alert the baby to let go. Here are some images of babies in split pants.

Can you feel the breeze - I think I would get kind of chilly! Parents also make their formula thick and cut a large hole in the nipple of the bottle so the mixture sort of falls out of the bottle - the babies rarely have to suck.
It is also common for children to publicly urinate and other things in public. The chinese believe that children's waste is pure and not harmful. There are horror stories of people going to upscale shopping areas and seeing a child being held by the parents over or near a trashcan or bush and letting it fly! But, I guess when you have to use a squatty potty a bush doesn't seem so bad. Here is a typical squattly potty that is found in most of Asia. I am so looking forward to using one of these (insert sarcastic tone here).
Sometimes the potties are nice like the one on the left, and sometimes they are a hole in the ground. Basically you just go in and assume the position, use it, and leave...notice no TP.

Spitting is pretty common and alot of caucasians have been told to watch out or you might get spat upon. This is not out of rudeness on the part of the Chinese. We use a kleenex, they spit on the floor. I have been warned by many people to not be surprised, scared, or insulted if a Chinese person just picks my kid up, feeds her, or scolds me because of how I dress my daughter. The Chinese consider a child a treasure and people are free to play with them at will. They also believe children should be bundled or dressed in layers until an older toddler and feel the right to scold those that don't. Since I have lighter hair and lighter eyes I have been warned that lots of people will want to have a photo taken with me. In a land of darker skin and hair, a caucasian is a rare sight.
As lax as their personal space is, there is a formality to sharing dinner and showing respect. Do not accept a dinner invitation from someone if you do not plan to or cannot reciprocate with an equal value meal sometime later. The same with gift giving. It is rude to drink before your host does at the dinner table but it is ok to burp out loud. You also do NOT want to clean your plate because the host will continue to think you are not full. You must sample everything but not take the last bite. Don't be insulted if your hosts askes you why you are so fat or how much money you make. The questions are not meant to be rude, but a show of concern to the guest from the host!
We are so ready to experience this culture and ALL it has to offer. These mentioned are only a few of the cultural differences I will experience and do not encapsulate all that is China. And we may not experience all of this as Ava Grace's welfare institute is in a big city with real toilets, yay!!  We just have to remember not to drink the water, ask for no ice in my drinks, and only brush my teeth with bottled water.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Article 5 !!!!!

Praise the Lord!!  Our Article 5 letter was sent to Beijing yesterday, meaning we should get TA (travel approval) within 3 weeks.  I can hardly believe we are getting this close.  We had our "travel call" yesterday, which was a 2 1/2 hour conference call that our agency gives to families approaching travel.  It cleared up a lot of questions we had, and I feel so much relief now knowing that their facilitator is literally with us from the time we get off the plane in Beijing, to Shanghai, to Guanzhou (not in the hotel room with us of course, lol).  All of our hotel stays are booked thru them, along with our sightseeing tours we have to do while there.  So ....a lot of my stress has gone down, just a little :)  Now I can focus on bringing our sweet baby girl home and being ready for that.

Celebrated our youngest son's birthday last night!  Happy Birthday, Collin, what a big 8 year old you are ..... and what a great big brother you will be soon!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Raising Funds to travel!!!

To all my friends and family who have already graciously bought a fundraiser T-shirt, we thank you so much!  It makes me so happy to see folks wearing them here and there, and they are such a witness to others about adoption.  If you have not bought a shirt, and are wanting to, please go ahead and do so, as we are very close to traveling to meet our little girl.  (simply click on the shirt link to the right).  We will most likely close the fundraiser by August 1, so spread the word to please help send us to China and buy a shirt.  We get 1/2 of every shirt sold, and we have raised only $200 so far.  We have a long way to go, but we know the Lord is in control and it will all work out to His glory.

Praising the Lord for His provisions already,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Do's and Dont's in Adoption

I read these early in our process of adoption, and wanted to share them now so we can all learn a bit before bringing Ava Grace home.  I hope this will help our friends and family know why we may seem "over protective" at first.  I share this with love ...

The following is a list of Do's and Don'ts that has been provided to adoptive parents to help family members and friends understand what to do to be supportive, and what not to do. We hope you find this helpful... 


1. Trust the parent's instincts. Even a first time parent may notice subtle symptoms that well-meaning family and friends attribute to "normal" behavior.

2. Accept that attachment issues are difficult for anyone outside of the parent to see and understand.

3. Be supportive even if you think everything looks fine to you.

4. Allow the parents to be the center of the child's world. One grandfather, when greeting his grandson, immediately turns him back to his mom and says positive statements about his good mommy.

5. Tell the child every time you see her what a good/loving/safe mommy/daddy she has.

6. As hard as it may be for you, abide by the requests of the parents. Even if the child looks like she really wants to be with Grandma, for example, she needs to have a strong attachment to her parents first. Something as simple as passing the child from one person to another or allowing others, even grandparents, to hold a child who is not "attached" can make the attachment process that much longer and harder. Some parents have had to refrain from seeing certain family members or friends because they did not respect the parents' requests.

7. Accept that parenting children who are at-risk for or who suffer from attachment issues goes against traditional parenting methods and beliefs. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

8. Remember that there is often a honeymoon period after the child arrives. Many children do not show signs of grief, distress, or anxiety until months after they come home. If the parents are taking precautions, they are smart and should be commended and supported!


1. Assume an child is too young to suffer from emotional issues related to attachment.

2. Underestimate a new mother's instincts that something isn't right.

3. Judge the parent's parenting abilities. What looks like spoiling or coddling may be exactly what the child needs to overcome a serious attachment disorder. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

4. Make excuses for the child's behaviors or try to make the parents feel better by calling certain behaviors "normal". For example, many children who suffer from attachment issues may be labeled strong-willed by well-meaning family members. While being strong-willed can be seen as a positive personality trait, this type of behavior in an attachment-impaired child may signify problems.

5. Accuse the parents of being overly sensitive or neurotic. They are in a position to see subtle symptoms as no one else can.

6. Take it personally if asked to step back so the parents can help their child heal and form a healthy and secure attachment. You will be asked not to hold the child. This is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to help prove to the child who her mommy and daddy are. Up until now the child's experience has been that mommies and daddies are replaceable. Allowing people to hold the child before she has accepted her forever mommy and daddy are can be detrimental to the attachment process.

7. Put your own time frames on how long attachment should take. One mother was hurt when she was chastised by a relative who couldn't understand...after all, the child had been home six months. It could take weeks, months, even years. Every child is different.

8. Offer traditional parenting advice. Some well-meaning family members will tell a new mother not to pick the child up every time she cries because it will spoil him. A child who is at-risk or who suffers from attachment issues must be picked up every single time she cries. She needs consistent reinforcement that this mommy/daddy will always take care of her and always keep her safe.

9. Fall into the appearance trap. Some babies/toddlers with attachment issues can put on a great show to those outside of the mother/father. What you see is not always a true picture of the child. Even babies as young as 6-months-old are capable of “putting on a good face” in public.

10. Lose hope. With the right kind of parenting and therapy, a child with attachment issues can learn to trust and have healthy relationships. But it does take a lot of work and a good understanding of what these children need.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Only 1 more month!!!

I can hardly believe that we may be holding Ava Grace in our arms in a little over one month!!  The anticipation, excitement, anxiety, and longing just to hold her, are all so similar to all the feelings I had when I was pregnant with Jace and Collin, my biological children.  For those of you who have never adopted,  it's hard to explain the love the Lord puts into your hearts for your children hundreds of miles away.  I can tell you that the emotions I felt in the last trimester of pregnancy with our first two biological children are the identical emotions I feel right now.  And the longing I have to hold Ava Grace right now is even more intense than the longing I had with my first two pregnancies because Ava Grace isn't safe in my belly but hundreds of miles away where I can't protect her.  But my loving Father is holding her safely in His arms.  And He is giving me bits of encouragement each day through friends, family, and blogs of others adopting also.  I just read today of a family visiting Shanghai Children's Institute where they just adopted their 3 yr old daughter, and they spoke of how much the nannies loved the children, and how well taken care of they all were.  That's where my sweet girl is!!!  Praise the Lord for His mighty hands in taking care of her there!!  Goodnight, and thank you for all of your prayers, please pray that God prepare Ava's heart for her forever family, and prepare our heart's as well ....