Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Itinerary

August 6th ... Arrive in Beijing
August 7th ... Acrobatic show
August 8th ... Visit Great Wall and the Cloisonne Factory
August 9th ... Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Hutong Tour
August 10th ... Fly to Chengdu ... GET ISABELLA!!!
August 11th ... Free day
August 12th ... Adoption registration and notarization
August 13th ... Visit Giant Panda Reservation Center
August 14th ... Fly to Guangzhou
August 15th ... Medical exam for Isabella. Prepare consulate documents
August 16th ... Visit Guangzhou Folk Art Museum
August 17th ... Go back to medical clinic to check TB skin test results
August 18th ... Visa appointment
August 19th ... Go to consulate to take oath
August 20th ... Fly to Shanghai
August 21st ... COME HOME (Delta/Northwest ... arrive in Cincinnati 4:19 p.m.)

We are almost there! We ask for prayers for safe travels, for Bella's transition and bonding, for our boys while we are gone and for us being away from our boys and finally meeting our daughter!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Pictures!!!

Can we say attitude? Well she would not be our daughter if she didn't have one!

Such a sweetie!

All I can say is PRECIOUS!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Special Needs

Special needs is a term that honestly I did not like to hear. It is a term that I struggled with for a long time. How can a child with a birth mark be special needs? How can a child who is older than 6 years of age be special needs? How can a boy be special needs? How can I be open to special needs? What special needs?
When we first started on this adoption journey, we requested a healthy, young as possible, baby girl. That was almost 2 1/2 years ago. God has worked on us and worked on us. I keep thinking that if we would have seen Isabella's file 2 1/2 years ago, would we have said yes? The truth is, probably not. That is not what we had pictured. Funny how God does that. He has of course known all along that Isabella is ours, that she was born to be our daughter and that we needed some time. God has worked on our hearts through following other blogs, meeting families who have adopted "special needs" children and also reviewing other files of children with special needs. In the fall, we filled out our paperwork ... the special needs paperwork. One of the documents we had to complete was the special needs form. It had 3 columns. One for minor needs, one for moderate needs and one for severe needs. We went through and checked (after much research and prayer) all of the needs we thought we could handle. While filling out that paperwork, I just knew that our daughter would have cleft lip/palate. Don't ask me why, but I just knew. This is something I only told a couple of people about and honestly we did not tell many people that we had filled out the "special needs" paperwork.
Also at the time we completed the paperwork, we requested the age range be increased up to 2 years of age. And once again, God worked on us. We felt it important to keep the birth order (that was Aidan's only request throughout all of this ... that he remain the oldest ... and who can blame him?). So again, we updated our paperwork in February to say we would accept a little girl with the special needs listed on the form up to 3 1/2 years old as long as she was born after Keenan. In March, we received our referral! I keep thinking, "What if we did not change the age we were willing to accept?" But I know that it was all part of God's plan all along. We just needed to come around to it.
For anyone considering adopting, but may be hesitant to the label "special needs" take 10 minutes and watch this video made by Love Without Boundaries. This is the organization that sponsored and paid for Isabella's heart surgery. All of these special needs children are just that, they have needs and they are SPECIAL!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Travel Dates

We are leaving August 5th for China!!!! We will leave Cincinnati on August 5th, go through Detroit, Tokyo and then finally arrive in Beijing on August 6th. We will tour Beijing for a few days. (We are still waiting on our complete itinerary.) After Beijing, we fly to Chengdu. We will meet Bella probably on the 9th or 10th, stay in Chengdu for a few days and then fly to Guangzhou where the U.S. consulate is. We will be there for probably a week and then fly to Shanghai on the 20th. Spend the night in Shanghai and then leave for the U.S. We will be home Friday, August 21st.
We have decided not to take Aidan with us. This was such a hard decision to make. We are going to miss our boys sooooo much, but are so excited to finally meet our little girl.
Now we are getting all of the last minute things done like making her doctor appointments at Children's hospital for evaluations, getting antibiotics to take with us (for the "just in case"), getting back to school things ready since we will miss Aidan's first week of school as a 1st grader, etc., etc., etc.
God has been so faithful (as always) through this entire journey. We pray for safe travels and that he watches over our boys while we are gone.
Will update everyone with the full itinerary once we get it. Can't believe this is actually happening!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oh Happy Day ... We Have TA!!!

We found out this evening that we have received our TA (travel approval)!!!! Our agency is still working on obtaining the consulate appointment, but told us to expect to travel early August. Oh we are so ready to go and bring our little girl home!
Please continue to pray that all of our appointments and travel arrangements are made and that we are able to travel in early August. Please also pray that we make the best decision on whether or not to take Aidan with us. We have heard that the quarantines are being lightened and that the officials are now seeing H1N1 not as serious as originally thought.
Thanks everyone for your love, encouragement and prayers! More updates soon I hope!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rainy 4th of July Weekend

What do you do on a rainy, chilly 4th of July weekend? Lots of great things! We were able to go spend Friday evening with friends (before the rain) and enjoyed great food, time with friends and some awesome fireworks.

Then the rain started ... We met our friends at the airport to welcome Lola Joy home from Ethiopia. What a day to come home to America - the 4th of July!! She is just so precious and a true blessing and answered prayer.

Have to say that I got teary eyed when we pulled up to the airport ... just praying we are back there soon boarding our jet plane to China to bring Bella home.

The Stanleys - all 5 of them!

Heather, Julie and Emy

I got to hold Lola - she is so beautiful and such a good baby!

This morning Keenan "made" french toast for all of us. Normally that is Michael's special breakfast to make, but Keenan decided he wanted to not only watch, but to make it himself (with a lot of parent supervision, I might add).

And Aidan, he is finally learning to ride his bike without training wheels. He has always been a little stubborn (not sure where he gets that!) so the promise of some new legos if he learns is part of the deal.

We also have gone out to dinner, played some Wii (and boy do I stink at Mario Kart) and just had some good family time.

Happy Freedom day everyone and May God Bless America!