Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Children of China

What is special about getting Lia Kate now is that we have a handful of friends in town also adopting from China! My friend Kelley and I have very much been on this journey together ... talking a million times a day as we were expecting new lists of Special Needs children to come out, or talking when lists didn't come out and were disappointed, or talking when we were prayerfully considering other children ... or just talking. As we were waiting for our girls, I hoped we would find them at the same time, and, sure enough, we found them days apart. And now, we will likely bring them home around the same time. You can go adore her precious Virginia Grace here. We also have a mutual friend who leaves in a couple of weeks to go get her daughter in China! Between the three of us, our little girls will be 4 months apart in age. Can't wait for the girly playgroups to begin! We also have two families in our church who are adopting boys from China. One just got home with their son, Hamilton. And the other family, hopes to bring Fisher home early next year. These boys are 3 years old. What a blessing to know others going through the exact same thing? And what a blessing for our children to have friends who share the same heritage.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Over the Moon

Today has been such a great day! First, we found out tonight that we got our Pre-Approval from the Chinese governement to adopt Lia Kate. This is the first official action that has to happen before we travel to China. The best part is that we got it only 5 days after we submitted our petition to adopt. And there was a weekend in there. Hope that is a sign of good things to come. Now we wait for our Letter of Approval, then our Travel Approval, and then we set up our appointment with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. We found out that we can not travel during Chinese New Year which goes from February 14-28, so we are hoping that all the approvals come in and that we can travel between mid-January and mid-February. Most people in our shoes (who have already had their paperwork in China for a long time) usually go from being matched with their child to traveling in about 3 months. If that is the case for us, which we pray it is, we'll be heading to China in late January!

The second bit of great news is that we got an UPDATE on Lia Kate!!! I had asked for this at the end of last week. All of her referral information ended at 9 months, so I was dying for an update and new pictures. And, we got them tonight!!! I am so over the moon for this little, happy girl ...

Her update was short and sweet and said ... she is currently 28" tall, weighs 18 pounds, 12 oz., has 8 teeth and very tiny feet (size 2s). They said she walks alone and understands when you call her name. She loves to eat congee and soft rice. "She is always happy." Melt my heart.

Walking! And holding her pants up to do so.

I love seeing this smile!

Yes, we're over the moon! Can't wait to hold this precious child in our arms. Thankful that we have a busy holiday season ahead to take our minds off of this long wait.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All About Lia Kate

There is a lot more to tell you about Lia Kate. Her file had a good bit of information about her and I wanted to share it all in a post of its own.

Her Story
We don't know yet where or when Lia Kate was found abandoned. All we know is that on August 11, 2008, she was brought to the orphanage. Upon admission, she was 5 lbs., 12 oz. and 19 inches long. Her umbilical cord was gone and a mild heart murmur was heard. I am guessing this was the reason for her abandonment. Her date of birth was determined to be July 31, 2008 (how providential?) and she was given her name. We are not supposed to share her Chinese name or the location of her orphanage on a public forum.

Her Development
Her file says she has had good physical development and has "on target motor and intellectual development."
* At 1-2 months of age, she slept 17 to 18 hours a day and cried a lot. ;o)
* At 3-4 months of age, she began holding toys and would "look at you closely when you talked to her, as if listening attentively."
* At 5 to 6 months of age, she could roll over and support her upper body up with her arms and look around. She cried when seeing strangers (this is a good thing for orphanage children).
* At 7 to 8 months of age, she rolled over well both ways, could sit with support, smiled at the mirror, focused on far away activities, and could identify where sounds came from.
* At 9 months, she supported her body weight on her arms and began to do things with purpose, she passed toys from hand to hand, and started to crawl. She couldn't get her belly off the ground, so she "doesn't crawl well." ;o) "When you hold her in your arms, she will happily smile and look at you."

Tiny Girl
At 1 month ... she was 7.5 pounds and 21.7 inches
At 3 months ... she was 11.5 pounds and 23.6 inches
At 6 months ... she was 14 pounds and 25.8 inches and got her first 2 teeth
At 9 months ... she was 15 pounds and 26.4 inches and had 4 teeth

Her Schedule
At 9 months, she would wake up at 7 a.m., take a nap at 11:30 a.m. and go down for the night at 9 p.m. Supposedly she is a deep sleeper. I am hoping so, as she'll fit in well around here. Though, they said she only naps for 15 to 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon. I'm hoping that's a typo because that doesn't count as a nap in my house!

She has formula, rice cereal and congee (a rice porridge they eat for breakfast) four times a day, as well as "meat soup", bread and fruit.

She laughs out loud and is described as active, restless, fond of listening to music, and fond of playing with toys. She has a "steady smile" and a "quick reaction". She is closest to a caretaker and her favorite toy is bells.

We hope to get an update soon with Lia Kate's current height and weight as well as what she has been up to the last 5 months. Stay tuned ...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Daughter's Name

We have finally decided what *we think* her name will be ...

Lia Katherine Collins Giffen
"Lia Kate"

Lia is part of her Chinese name and Katherine and Collins are family names.

Lia Kate's Chinese name means a graceful willow, beautiful and pure. And Katherine also means pure. We think that's just perfect.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Baby Girl FAQs

When will you get her?
We are hoping to travel in February to get her. We will spend about 2 1/2 weeks in China traveling to her province to meet her, and then wrapping up all of the paperwork at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. We so look forward to spending time with our girl in her native land. We will probably fly into Hong Kong (instead of Beijing) since her orphanage is in that area.

Does she have a name?
We have not decided on her name yet! We've only had 2 1/2 years to think about it ... you would think we would know by now. For now, we are calling her Baby Lia. Lia is part of her Chinese name, and we are thinking it will be a part of her forever name, too. So for now, she is Lia to us.

So, the waiting finally paid off?
Well, kind of. We have officially been waiting for a Chinese daughter since our dossier got logged-in on January 11, 2008. However, the wait to be matched with a child has gotten steadily longer since then. It was looking like we would never get matched with a healthy child (right now our estimated wait time is something in the range of 10 more years), so we decided to start looking for our girl on the special needs list. We are with a great agency that is very proficient at matching families with special needs children. My heart has always been open to adopting a special needs child, and we finally decided it was time. We were hoping to find a child with a minor, fixable medical need -- one that we could handle while also parenting two toddlers.

What is her special need?
Baby Lia has a small VSD (ventricular septal defect). In other words, she has a hole in her heart. But don't worry, it sounds scarier than it is. This is actually a very common heart defect. So many people have them and live with them every day. Her VSD will either heal on its own or she will have surgery to repair the hole. It should be one surgery at most. We will have her evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist as soon as we get home to determine how she should be treated.

Will she need other medical care?
Thankfully, we have a wonderful International Adoption Clinic here in town. The pediatrician who runs it has two adopted daughters from China, and she is the one we have been on the phone with (many times) as we have looked at files and made hard decisions. We will see her as soon as we get home to have Lia evaluated and she can help arrange for other care needed. Lia may qualify for Early Intervention therapy, like we've had with Britton, since she will certainly be delayed due to spending her first 18 months or so in an orphanage.

How did you know it was her?
We had been on quite the rollercoaster of emotions before we found Lia. We spent nearly two weeks deciding on another file and were so up and down and up and down during that time. We felt emotionally attached to this other child, but for whatever reason had so much doubt that we could handle the worst case scenario of her special need. We finally turned her file down on Tuesday. It was such a hard decision but we were at peace. On Wednesday morning, I woke up to find that China had released their newest list of special needs children. A few hours later, Lia's file appeared in my inbox. I opened it up, saw her face and then her birthday, and knew it was her. We talked to doctors, of course, but we just pretty much knew from the start that she was our girl.

Two toddlers, really?
Yes, we'll have two toddlers living in our house next year! Britton and Lia will be 7 months apart in age. They share the same birth year -- 2008. I'm sure that will confuse our doctor's office. We will probably get Lia when she is about 18 months old, but she will probably be more like a 12-month-old in size and maturity. So, for awhile, there will be a noticeable difference, but give her some time and they will probably be on par with each other before long.

Are those recent pictures of her?
No, they are not. Lia's file stops at about 9 months of age. It appears that her orphanage got her file together back in May and sent it to Beijing so that it would eventually make its way to people like us. Apparently, her file and the others in her batch didn't make it onto the official Special Needs list until a few days ago. We are hoping to get an update on her before long, and are really hoping for new pictures. Also, want to know what she is doing developmentally these days. At last report, she was trying to crawl.

There is a lot more to share about Baby Lia, but I'll do that in the next post. Hope this post answers a few of those burning questions!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a Girl!!!!

We officially have a daughter waiting for us in China! After two plus years of waiting, we finally know her face...

This precious girl with her worried little expression is all ours.

So much information to share ... but I'll get to that in the coming days. For now, here are the basics. Our baby girl is almost 15 months old. Her birthday is July 31!!! If you know me well, you know what a big deal that is! So now, we have three July 31 birthdays in my family -- our daughter, me and my sister. It was meant to be.

She is living in an orphanage in the area near Hong Kong (way down in southern China), and we are hoping to travel in February to go get her. It should take about three months for all of the necessary paperwork to be completed so that we can travel. We are very excited and trust that the next three months will fly by with the holidays and with all we have to do to prepare for our trip and her arrival.

There is SO more to share about our girl, but I'll do that in the next post. Just wanted to get the announcement out now!