May 2, 2006 1:13 pm
All the bags are packed and sitting by the front door ready to go. We only have 3 suitcases and 3 carry on's (but they weigh a good bit!). We tried to keep it light but they still weigh a lot. We had a lot of last minute things to do this morning but I think everything has been taken care of and now we're just relaxing, playing outside, etc until it's time to head to the airport. I think we'll start packing our bags into our neighbor's car around 2 or so and then stop somewhere to pick up some dinner that we can eat on the plane. We'll probably get to the airport around 3 pm or so and have some time to kill before our flight leaves at 5:20. It's a lovely day in Charlotte. Blue skies, no clouds and no rain. My kind of flying weather! We'll probably call a few people when we get to San Francisco tonight and then when we get to Hong Kong just to let everyone know we made it OK. We'll post info on the travel journal as often as we can.
We want to thank everyone that has called us in the last few days to wish us well. It's greatly appreciated! Thank also to the ones that prayed with us and for us before we left. We are blessed to have such great friends!
May 1, 2006
We leave tomorrow! I can't believe it! I'm getting a little anxious about the flight but am excited about getting to Hong Kong and meeting up with Ken, Susie and Emma Knebusch. They left yesterday and should be arriving in Hong Kong tomorrow. I think we are all planning to go to Disney World in Hong Kong on Friday. It's a surprise for Emma and Ansley......I think they will be very excited when they find out. Ansley has been asking to go back to Disney World for weeks so I know she'll be happy!
We have a few more things to put in the suitcases tonight and I am going to go over all our adoption documents one more time to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. Our carry on luggage weighs a ton since we are taking the laptop, 35 mm camera, digital camera, camcorder, portable dvd player, extra batteries, etc. It should be a sight to see us coming through the airport with heavy bags and then having to carry everything of Ansley's because I'm sure she'll wimp out on pulling her rolling backpack! She'll complain that it's too heavy to pull......
We'll post a quick update tomorrow before we leave.
April 24, 2006 Only 1 week to go!!!!
Only 1 more week before we leave! We can't believe it! I have become the packing queen. I even dream about packing and all the things I might have forgotten to pack! That's pretty sad. We have piles of stuff all over Elisabeth's room. You can't even hardly walk in there. There's piles of stuff for the carry on bags, piles of snacks, piles for John's suitcase, etc. The goal is to have everything packed and ready to go Sunday night so we can go to work on Monday and enjoy our Monday evening without having to rush around. Then we'll work a little bit on Tuesday and then it's off to the airport. Yippee!
April 6, 2006 Updates on Elisabeth
We received a few updates on Elisabeth today. Unfortunately we didn't receive any new pictures but that's OK because in just 31 days I'll have her in my hands which will be much better than a picture! Here's the new info we received:
Height: 25.2 inches
Weight: 17.6 lbs
Head: 17.2 inches
Chest: 16.8 inches
Feet: 4.1 inches
April 2, 2006 Travel Arrangements
The officical CWA travel dates are May 5th-18th. We have decided to fly out a few days earlier so we can get used to the time change and get Ansley rested up for the whirlwind tour of China. We have been coordinating with the Knebusch's and we are all going to meet up in Hong Kong a few days early and stay at the same hotel and then take the same flight from Hong Kong to Beijing together. It should be fun and this will give us a chance to see a little bit of Hong Kong because on the way home the only part of Hong Kong we will be seeing is the airport. I don't think we'll want to do any sightseeing then.....we'll just want to get home!
Check out the travel itinerary page for more details. We still don't have all the details about the hotels we will be staying at, etc but should have that soon.
March 22, 2006 Part 2
I forgot to mention the beautiful portrait that my Aunt, Pat, painted of Ansley. It looks just like her. I never knew she could paint! I love it! I posted pictures on the left.
March 22, 2006
We went to Charleston this past weekend to have our fingerprints re-done. That was an experience! We arrived in Charleston on Thursday night around 10:30 or so. So Ansley's sleep schedule was out the window. It took us time to settle in and wind down so we didn't go to sleep until around 11:00 or 11:30 pm (way past Ansley's bedtime). Ansley was also sick (a very bad cold/very congested). We decided that we wouldn't wake up early and try to get to the CIS office when they opened at 8 am. We didn't think it was worth it for Ansley to not get enough sleep, especially since she wasn't feeling well. So we woke up and got ready by 8:30 am and ate breakfast and finally got to the CIS office at 10:15 am. We signed in and took a number.....we were number 30 and 31. Guess what.....they were only on number 16 when we arrived! And they only have 1 fingerprinting machine!
I didn't like the rules in the fingerprinting waiting area so Ansley and I moved to a different waiting room that had more relaxed rules (crazy but true). In there I met 2 other couples that were adopting for the 2nd time. One couple was going back to China and the other couple was adoptiing from Guatemala. The couple going back to China had a daughter that was 2 1/2 years old and the other couple had twin girls that were 14 months old. Having the other kids there helped keep Ansley occupied a little bit. And it helped pass my time away because we sat and talked about adoption. The couple adopting from China is also using CWA which I though was neat. John stayed in the fingerprint waiting room and took a little nap.
Needless to say it was a long wait with a very bored child. And the people working at the CIS office (I hate to say it) don't show much personality and have some weird rules (like no standing up in the waiting room). Finally after 3 hours they called our numbers. We are very glad to have that over with!
After the CIS office we went to the Citadel. It was Corps Day weekend and the weather was perfect.....72 degrees and a beautiful Citadel blue sky. We took Ansley to see the battalion that John lived in and took her to the chapel to show her the beautiful stained glass windows. Then we went to the school store and can you believe it......we ran into our neighbors, the Ogborns, that used to live across the street from us. Their son goes to the Citadel and they had driven all night from Iowa to be there for Corps Day weekend. Pretty neat. We grabbed some lunch at the canteen and then headed to downtown Charleston to visit CWA.
CWA is located at the corner of Bull Street and Ashley Street. It is a gorgeous section of Charleston. John and I have decided that we would really like to retire to downtown Charleston someday. We love it there! We were able to visit with the China case manager, Virginia Zanger and ask questions and just chat for a while. It was nice to put a face with a voice that I've heard on the telephone so many times. Virginia was the one who called us with our referral on February 27th. She is extremely nice and we've enjoyed working with her throughout the adoption.
We spent the rest of the weekend in Savannah and went shopping at a luggage store for some travel items that we needed to buy. We also went into the Carter's outlet (which is my weakness) but I was good and only bought 1 thing. I'm still not sure what size clothes Elisabeth will wear so I didn't want to buy too much. We made my Dad take us to CVS and we loaded up the cart with all the medications and miscellaneous items that we need to take with us. We were able to use Dad's CVS discount (thanks Dad!).
Now we are just waiting on our travel approval so we can book our flights. Hopefully we will hear something by the end of next week.
March 10, 2006
We decided we would register for a few things at Target and Babies R Us tonight. We don't need a lot but there are a few things that we could use. Ansley thought it was neat to pick out some things for her sister and scan them! She couldn't understand how the scanner was able to remember everything. Looking at all the baby stuff really made us excited and anxious to go get her.
We are headed to Charleston on March 17th to get our fingerprints re-done. They expire after 15 months. That doesn't make any sense to me but it's the rule and without valid fingerprints we won't be able to bring Elisabeth home. So Charleston here we come! We plan to visit CWA (our adoption agency) while we are there, maybe go to Fort Sumter and go to the Citadel for the afternoon parade. John is looking forward to taking Ansley to see the parade. She was too little last time she was there to remember much. We are looking forward to our long weekend. We love Charleston and have been there in quite a while. (This year is John's 15 year reunion (ouch!) so we will be heading back to the Citadel in November to celebrate with all his classmates from the Class of '91. Elisabeth will be able to go with us so it should be exciting!)
March 8, 2006 Care package for Elisabeth
We are sending a care package to Elisabeth and her caretakers. We ordered it through Blessedkids.com. We are sending her a teddy bear and also in the package is a disposable camera and some treats (candy) for the caretakers. Along with the package is a letter (translated in Chinese) that explains the package and who it's for and asks the caretakers to please use the camera to take pictures of Elisabeth and her surroundings, friends, etc. There is also a list of 12 questions in the package that have also been translated in Chinese. They are some basic questions about Elisabeth, her likes/dislikes, her daily routine, etc. We aren't sure if we will get to visit the inside of her orphanage so we are praying that the caretakers will use the camera and answer the questions so we have a glimpse of what Elisabeth's life at the orphanage is like. The lady, Adele, who runs Blessedkids.com lives in the US but her father lives in China. So Adele translates the letter and questions and faxes the info to her father. Her father then buys the items in China and sends them to the orphanage. He then follows up by calling the orphanage to confirm that the package delivered. Once they receive confirmation then Adele will email us to let us know the package made it there. We should get confirmation around March 19th. That will give the caretakers a little over a month to use up the 27 exposures on the camera.
March 3, 2006
What a week! I think we've emailed Elisabeth's picture to everyone we've ever known. I can't stop looking at her sweet face. It really makes me want to get on a plane right now and go get her. But I know with all the paperwork and packing that we have to do (not to mention going to Charleston, SC to get our fingerprints re-done and going to Conyers to get baby clothes out of Jan's attic) the time is going to go by quickly.
We sent our acceptance letter back to CWA this week so they can forward it on to the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) so they can start to arrange our travel and hopefully confirm our travel dates in the next 3-4 weeks. We also sent off our passports and visa applications to apply for our China travel visa. As of right now our passports are sitting on a UPS truck somewhere near New York City. Let's just hope the driver gets them them there safely. I would hate to have to work on getting new copies of those!
We finally decided on Elisabeth's entire name. We have been waiting to do this until we knew her Chinese name. She has a pretty name and we feel very strongly about keeping her name. I don't want her to lose this part of herself just because she's leaving China. So, her name is Elisabeth Renee Yanjing Blomberg. I know it will never fit on any signature line but she'll just have to learn to write small. And I know she'll have a hard time learning to spell her name in pre-school. But Stephanie is a long name and I managed just fine. :-)
Oh yeah, have I mentioned how beautiful she is? Her eyes are gorgeous. It's funny to think that for so very long we didn't know what she looked like. And now all of a sudden we know. It's weird in a way. Good, but weird. My task tomorrow is to make more copies of her pictures so I can put them out around the house. I like to look at her!
February 28, 2006 Elisabeth's pictures have arrived!
I stayed home from work this morning and kept Ansley home from daycare so we could all be here when the UPS man arrived. I had my camera and camcorder by the front door ready to go. Ansley waited at the front window for a long time and then decided to wait outside. But it finally got too cold and cartoons looked better and better by the minute so she finally posted me at the door and she went in the den and settled down for some good cartoon time. Around 9:40 or 9:45 am the UPS truck pulled up in front of the house. I happened to be upstairs in the office on the computer and went flying downstairs to catch him before he just left the package at the front door. Those guys are fast! I caught him just as he was coming up the steps. I kind of explained the situation but I don't think I did it very well by the look on his face. I'm sure he didn't understand why I was videoing him! He gave me the package but I made him take it back so I could video him handing it to Ansley. I'm sure "crazy lady" went through his mind a few times. Jonathan happened to be here so he took over the camcorder and recorded us opening the package. I watched it again later and I must say I think we were in shock. We didn't jump up and down or do a happy dance. We just stared at her picture and wanted to read all the info about her to learn as much about this person that we had been talking about for more than a year. I didn't feel well that morning either (I had a fever) so I think that kind of subdued me as well. Ansley was so excited to finally see her sister's face (she did a little happy dance for us). She called her "our little princess". That she is. Can a house survive with 2 princesses? I feel sorry for the King of the household. Having to put up with a Queen and 2 princesses is going to be tough!
February 27, 2006 I gave birth at work! (well, kind of)
After 9 1/2 months of waiting we finally received THE Call today at 11:55 a.m. It's a girl! We weren't expecting referrals to come today so when they did we were in shock to say the least. I was getting weepy just listening to Virginia tell us about our daughter. I think John cried a little after he got off the phone. Virginia called me at work and I was able to conference John in so we could both listen to her at the same time and then ask questions. We are very very anxious to see Elisabeth's picture tomorrow and can't wait to video and take pictures of the UPS guy! I'm sure he'll be thrilled. Hey, but it's not everyday that a "stork" comes to your house! Please look on the referral page to see all Elisabeth's info that we received today.
January 28, 2006 Happy Chinese New Year
Happy Chinese New Year! The year of the Dog. We celebrated by eating Chinese food at Wan Fu in Pineville, NC. It is a very good restaurant and the decor on the inside and outside is much better than most Chinese restaurants.
December 30, 2005
The CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) has mailed more referrals this week. But they only cover log in dates through April 25th. I sure hope they pick up the pace in January so we get our referral in February. Hopefully we're the next in line. January's going to be a long month.....
According to Lonely Planet the best time to visit China is March-April and September-October. The daytime temps during these times are 68 -86 F. Sounds good to me. Looks like we'll be going during a lovely time of year. God is definitely looking out for me in this regard. He must know I don't like to be cold and I hate to fly during the snowy, icy time of the year.
December 16, 2005
I talked to our case manager today. The referrals this month only went through mid-April log in dates. I was hoping they would get through almost all of April (we are logged in May 16th) but no such luck. You never know what might happen but our case manager feels like they won't get to our log in date during the next batch of referrals in January. That means we might not get our referral until February. And Chinese New Year will slow everything down so it might not be until mid to end of February. Maybe it's just meant to be that we travel in the Spring to get her. The wait hasn't been too bad so far but the thought of having to wait until possibly the end of February to get her picture is making me crazy. We talk about her daily and it's hard to not even know what she looks like! There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how they do things at the China Center for Adoption Affairs and they give no explanation when things slow down. I guess this gives me more time to get my scrapbooks caught up!
November 2005 Build A Bear
Ron and Jan took Ansley to the mall over Thanksgiving so she could build a bear for her sister. We are going to take it to Elisabeth when we go to China. Ansley named the bear Keely and the birth certificate says To: Elisabeth, From: Your Big Sister Ansley. Ansley had fun making the bear and it's sitting on Elisabeth's bed just waiting to go to China!
August 18, 2005 A NAME BESIDES SISSY
For months (almost a year) we've been calling her sissy. I think after much discussion and months of not committing we've finally decided on sissy's first name. It will be Elisabeth. So many people have said not to spell it with an S but we really like it this way (quite elegant don't you think?) so that's what we are going with. We aren't sure of her middle name yet. Not sure if we will just use her Chinese name, just use Renee or use both.
June 10, 2005 LOG IN DATE....YIPPEE!
Whoohooo! We now have a log in date! This is the date that the ďclockĒ starts ticking. Itís the date that the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs ) officially logs in your paperwork (dossier) that took us months to gather and prepare. The count down is on. The average time from log in date to referral is 6 months so I think weíll receive our referral in November.
Even better, our friends (the Knebuschís) have the same log in date as us so we are almost guaranteed to travel together. This is great because they are taking their daughter too and she is the same age as Ansley. We were hoping to travel together and it looks like that might come true.
April 19, 2005 ALMOST DTC (DOSSIER TO CHINA)!
All of our adoption paperwork (about 3 inches thick) was sent to Christian World Adoption today! This ends a 5 month paper chase! It should arrive in Charleston tomorrow. We just canít tell you how glad we are to be done with the paperwork! Letís pray they donít find anything wrong with any of it! From there the paperwork is sent to China. Iím not sure if weíll be logged in this month or not. Weíll just have to wait and see. From here we just wait 6-7 months until we get her picture.
April 11, 2005 OFF TO WASHINGTON
Yay! Our paperwork is off to the US Department of State and Chinese Embassy in Washington! We are praying that everything goes smoothly and they donít find any problems with any of our paperwork.
Look out China --- our paperwork should be there soon! Weíll let you know once we get a China log in date. We are hoping for an April log in date but weíre really cutting it close since we had problems with our paperwork that went to the NC Secretary of State and had to end up sending it twice. If it gets there in April, greatÖÖÖ.if not then we know that our baby just isnít quite ready and an April log in date just wasnít meant to be. Our timing isnít always the right timing.
March 28, 2005 I-171H AT LAST!
When we got home last night and sorted through the mail we found our approval from Citizenship and Immigration in the stack (after waiting almost 8 weeks!). So now we are in a crazy rush to get everything else authenticated through the NC Secretary of State, US Department of State and the Chinese Embassy. After all that we send all the paperwork to the adoption agency and then itís off to China to be logged in. I am hoping we can get all the authentications back in the next 3 weeks and then maybe we can get logged in by the end of April. Then maybe weíll get our referral in October and travel in November. Thatís what we are hoping for.
January 11, 2005 DOES THE PAPERWORK EVER END?
I feel like we are finally getting somewhere after doing lots of paperwork (with lots more to go) and waiting on birth certificates and government clearances.
We got our child abuse and sex offender checks back and we are cleared for both (hopefully this is no surprise to any of you!). We turned in our autobiographies (12 pages for each of us!) and will be mailing our financial info this week. Johnís birth certificate finally came back from the Atlanta Vital Records office after an 8 week wait (but I didnít know it had to be an original pen in hand signature so I had to Fed Ex it back to them so they can switch it out!! Ė very frustrating). I had my physical today and am just waiting on the blood work tests to come back and John has a call in to the nurse to make an appointment because I donít think he will need a full physical since it hasnít been quite a year since his last physical.
I spoke with the home study lady (Priscilla) yesterday and she has enough of our paperwork to schedule the home visit (yippee!) Iím not sure when that will be but it should be soon I think. Priscilla will start working on our home study draft at the end of this week. I think it usually takes her a few weeks to complete it. Once the draft is done (probably 3-4 weeks from now) then we can apply to CIS for a fingerprint appointment and they will start reviewing our home study info. Then we just have to sit and wait for clearance from them. It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months for clearance. We are hoping for the 2 week timeframe!
While we are waiting for all of our home study and CIS stuff to be completed then we can start working on getting all the documents together for the dossier (paperwork packet that goes to China) and getting them authenticated by the secretary of state offices in NC, SC & Georgia, then by the US Department of State and then by the China Consulate.
If everything goes as planned I am really hoping to have the paperwork sent to China by the end of March or at least by mid April. From there we just sit and wait for about 6 months until we get a referral (picture & name of our daughter) and then we travel approximately 6-8 weeks later. SoÖÖour goal is to travel hopefully in November or December and I am really hoping to have her home by Christmas. We are trying very very hard to push the paperwork through and stay ahead of the game so we can get the papers filed with China as soon as possible. Pray that we donít have a long wait for CIS approval and that it wonít take long to get all the authentications from the Secretary of States, US Department of State and the China Consulate.
Iíll keep everyone updated on our progress.
October 2004 THE BEGINNING
We finally decided to begin the paperwork to adopt our daughter from China. We had talked about it for years and finally felt like the timing was right. Ansley wanted a sister and we wanted to share our love and life with another daughter. We contacted CWA at the end of October and little did we know how much paperwork would consume our lives for the next few months!