Sunday, April 26, 2009

Community Life

On behalf of our Lee family, we thank you all for being there for us. It was scary at times and really hard to sustain optimism throughout the years. Doubts of "can we really do this?" But what has stuck with us is your compassion for our family.

You know how they say it takes a "village." Well, in our case it takes a community. A community of family, friends, church members, neighbors and school folks.

Who are we? We're just a couple working for a church. We don't have a whole lot of money. But today, we sure feel like we won the lottery.

To those who have sacrificed financially to help us, we are indebted to you.

To everyone who have lent us baby stuff or got us clothes and gifts, we are very grateful.

And to all, thank you for cheering us on. Affirmation goes a long ways like in a race with spectators rooting you on.

As we try to get back to the routine of things, we look forward to having Hope meet you.

Besides, don't we all need a little grace, faith and hope in our lives?

Home Sweet Home

Can't believe that our last posting was about our "Hotel From Hell." Gotta give our readers a sense of redemption.
(I did add more pictures to some of the posts)

Hallelujah! WE ARE HOME!!!! Flew back right before tax day, we get a refund, yeah!!!Still trying to get our rhythm back and for me (Grace) trying to get well. I still have this nagging cough and my voice is raspy like Rod Stewart.

Top 10 Reasons-"Happy To Be Home"
10. Blue Skies as opposed to "pollution-gray" skies
9. Clean, safe drinking water from the tap (Thank you San Jose Water Co.)
8. Toilets with seats and TP, minus the stench
7. Sleeping in our own comfortable beds
6. Driving a car and not have to cram into subways with 100's of people.
5. Coming back to a 9.25% sales tax in Calif. NOT
4. Not have to wear a fanny pack (no offense to those who love them)
3. NO SMOKING areas REALLY mean no smoking
2. NO COCKROACHES looking at us and waiting to reincarnate to the next life

Looking at the very first picture we received of Hope. She was an orphan girl in Jiangxi, China waiting for us to come get her.

Today, Hope Tirzah Jong-Ching Lee is our very own, deeply loved and fully accepted.

She loves to suck her toes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Agonizing Last Leg of Our Trip

After a delicious and abundant buffet breakfast at the Novotel- Citygate Hotel, we were ready to see my relatives on the Hong Kong side. We managed to squeeze into one taxi, 3 adults, one child, one baby, a stroller and 6 pieces of luggage. And it wasn't a van taxi.
My cousin had called that morning and said that our accommodations had changed. Instead of staying at a place that my cousin owned, they had booked us "something else." So, we showed up at the King's Hotel in Wan Chai. When we arrived, we could bearly find the entrance. It was hidden in this back alley. Okay, this was the first sign of "BEWARE." The vestibule was black like you're entering into a lounge or night club. 2nd sign! The lobby was located on the 11th floor. When we asked for a baby bed, they had none. 3rd sign!! They had booked us, ONE room, with one queen and a twin. We have five people. You do the math. It was cramped, stuffy and overlooked a parking garage and businesses. When I say "overlooked", I mean they can totally "look over" into our room.
If Owen can see the two Lamborghini in the lot across from us, it's just too close to home. We could hardly fit all our luggage in.

The bathroom was the same size as an airplane's. And oops, forgot one major gigantic sign- COCKROACHES!Yes that is correct. These signs pretty much says, "Hotel from Hill." It's H-E- Double Hockey sticks! (Sorry photos unavailable, cockroaches move too fast)

We tried to opt out of these "accommodations." But my cousins via a friend, had paid in full. We tried to change our flight to leave early, it would cost us $350/person in US dollars to change our United Flights. Yes indeed, we are in "purgatory." If there were levels, this would be level 10.
My dear optimistic husband is trying to bring out the positive side in all this. I haven't been able to see it yet. He says, "at least we're still alive." Yes, but barely. I've been having coughing spasms. They're so bad that I haven't slept for 3 days now. The coughing is so bad that my back and chest muscles hurt or I have "kegel" problems.
That pretty much sums it up! You do not know how much I want to come home. Monday morning needs to come sooner. Please PRY 4 us!!!

From Guangzhou to Hong Kong

I haven't been able to blog because I've been sick. It's been aweful. So, I'll just back up a little bit and start from Wednesday events.

Wednesday at 10am, we picked up the approved visa allowing Hope to leave China and her legal documents in this special, "Do Not Open" envelope better known in the adoption world as the "brown envelope."

At 3pm, a bus load of us headed off to the Chinese Consulate of Guangzhou. Once there, we were put in a big room with at least 50 or more families waiting to be sworn in. Between the exhaustion and finality of it all, I teared up. We were not allowed to bring cameras, so that moment was not captured on tape. How unfortunate.

For the next 3 hours, we traveled to Hong Kong by bus. Now, leaving Mainland China was tedious. You get out of your bus and you go through the Chinese border patrol. A porter takes your luggage and runs them through a scanner. Did I mention that I was stopped once at another security check at the Beijing airport because I had diaper cream in my carry-on. The guard had to smell it and everything.
Back to crossing the border- after the Chinese border. You get back on the bus and go half mile. Then you do it all over again. You get off the bus, no porter this time. You walk your luggage (all six suitcases and baby in a stroller) through and you get checked by the Hong Kong custom's gate. Then you get back up on the bus and travel somemore.
We finally get to our hotel near the HK airport on Lantau Island. It was beautiful and luxious accommodations, but we were utterly wasted from the bus ride to even notice. This was the last night that we'll see our AWAA families. Everyone would go there own way back to their homes. I was sad to see them go, but again utterly too exhausted to exhibit any emotions. We got some quick dinner and went to bed. What we discovered is the "highway robbery" that occurs at most of the restaurants (excluding "dinky" little noodle places and fast food places)in China/HK. The minute you sit down, they will charge you $10/person for tea. Even though we didn't order tea, just hot water. So, that's $30 for hot water for 3 adults. Then, they give you this little dish of peanuts which you never asked for and apparently it will show up on your bill for $10. Faith is allergic to peanuts, why would we even want it. Appreciate Chevy's chips and salsa, at least it doesn't cost you $10 for it. And they include some kind of service charge on the bill as well. Even though it's HK dollars or yuan. It's still money.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We Say Goodbye to our AWAA Families

This is our last night in GuangZhou. Tomorrow, we pick up the visa for Hope. We take a bus to Hong Kong. While many of the families will fly out from Hong Kong the next day, we'll stay another 3 to visit my relatives. I wonder what it's like to celebrate Easter in Hong Kong.
We are going to really miss our new found friends. Faith had made two friends on this trip: Jolie and Lily May. Both absolutely delightful girls.

As for Owen and I, we're hanging in there. Thank you for commenting and encouraging us along the way. We definitely need the prys. I definitely have a severe sore throat and feel achy. Owen is still taking it easy. Hope is still runny nose and coughing. And Faith has infection in both eyes. But we will survive. No one's voted us off the island yet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mao's Revenge

You've heard of Montezuma's Revenge. You get the runs cause something bad is in your system. Here in China, it's Mao's Revenge. And Owen's had it for 2 days. Sunday night, Owen started feeling bad and that entire night and next day, he was running to the bathroom.

I (Grace) was a little stressed out because Monday, we had the medical examination and we were all suppose to go together. Good news was, my Mom helped me and bad news was Owen was in the hotel room for the whole day. He hasn't eaten anything substantial yet, thank goodness for Trader Joe's "ak-mak" 100% whole wheat crackers. Turns out Hope has an ear infection and we were able to get better antibiotics.

I got an eye infection too. Thank Dad that we have an eye doctor with us and he happened to bring antibiotic drops. I had a fever and still have a severe sore throat. Man, talk about 2nd hand smoke damage. Be thankful that our states have SMOG checks.

We feel very weary and wish were home soon. But we need to wait for the Chinese Consulate to approve Hope's visa to leave the country.

But Hope is a still a really wonderful baby. As sick as she is, she hardly cries. She only cries when she's about to get into a vehicle. Understandable, most likely never been in a car. She cries when she doesn't get enough to eat. And she screams when she takes a bath. She cries like she's about to drown. All the cries only last about 30secs to 1 min. She smells less and less like an "anchovy." Yeah for us! She still looks like she is from Mongolia, those red cheeks. Otherwise, she's a pretty content kid.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

AWAA Families Together Again

Since we all arrived late Friday night, we didn't see any of our AWAA families. But Saturday morning at breakfast, we had our "family" reunion.
Oh what a joy it was to see everyone and their precious adoptive children. Although each of our families come from all over the United States, there was a natural connection between all of us. Not only have we been bonding with our new child but we've been bonding with each other. Why not, we're all sharing this incredible "life-changing" adoptive experience together, one that we'll never forget. And we share a common faith and that my friends is priceless. Everything else Master Card.

Saturday, we spent the morning at Yun Tai Gardens in Guangzhou. It was huge. The locale looked like "Fantasy Island" and the weather felt like "Gilligan's Island" in Vietnam. Welcome to humid Guangzhou! Owen just loves gardens, NOT!

Faith had a grand ol' time swimming with our new friends in the hotel pool. They make you purchase and wear these "funky" looking swim caps. They were colors and patterns from the 70's, something Mr. Roper would wear from "Threes Company." Can you tell I was a "latch-key" kid from the 70's?

Note: A "TT (Tolerate Toilets)" support group meeting will be held today. Location and time will be announced later. We will be working on our "eeby-jeeby" issues.

As for Po Po Annie, she's getting better. She's sick of being sick and was able to see a herbalist yesterday.

As for Hope, our poor little one, is still very congested and has a runny nose. She's amazing though and each day she grows more and more animated. It's like her "Emotional Quotient" is growing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nanchang to GuangZhou

What a day it was yesterday!
We are all feeling the "wear & tear" of traveling. We checked out of our hotel at 3pm to head over to the Nanchang Airport. Prior to that, we decided to go to McDonald's for lunch. Well, guess what? I (Grace) got the "Big D." This whole time I managed to avoid getting anything and the minute we decide on a "Western" meal, I get something.

At the Nanchang Airport, we had an adventure too. We arrived early to avoid traffic, it was "Ching Ming" festival, honoring the dead. We rested in a restaurant. Just when my "piping hot" bowl of wonton arrived, Hope had a full on "blow out" that went through several layers of clothing. After rinsing the "blow out" clothes, I sit down to eat my slightly "warm" bowl of wonton. Just before the noodles reach my mouth, Hope vomits on her newly changed clothes and thick jacket. Here we go again. We clean her off. And wrap her in Owen's light jacket. I finally get to my now "very cold" bowl of wontons. I wasn't even hungry anymore.

When it came to boarding we waited by Gate 6, because that's what was on our boarding pass. They decided to change it to another gate that was located downstairs. So, our "vomit-smelling" party of 5 (Exhausted Owen, Big D Grace, Whiny Faith, Throw-up Hope and Still-sick Po Po) pushed our way towards some illusive gate that we weren't sure of yet. Gate 8 had indicated "Guangzhou" so we all lined up there. But Oh No, not in China. Things are never what they seem. Because apparently we were all suppose to be at the next gate, Gate 9 that says "Szenchen." Do you know how hard it is to move with 200 other anxious Chinese people. We were suppose to depart at 8:10, we departed at 8:35pm.

We arrived at "Asia International Hotel" in Guangzhou by 10pm. We were sweating to death. Guangzhou is humid and hot. We had to shed our winter cold Beijing apparel. We noticed a "melting pot" of people everywhere, from Muslims to Indian-Hindus. We're on the 34th floor and it goes up to 45 floors. There's no view, only pollution. This week we get Hope's visa, so she can leave the country. Yesterday, we received her official China passport. Please pring for no more "blow outs" nor "vomit outs." I'm so tired of washing. Owen's gotten a blister from wringing all the clothes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Visit to Hope's Orphanage

Yesterday, Thursday @ 8am, we headed off to Shang Rao Child Welfare Center. Since Hope was so sick the night before, she was very weak and we were exhausted. She was hot and had a runny nose and severe congestion. We weren't sure whether we should go. There just seemed to be this unseen force of opposition.

We rode in a chartered van for 4 hours, from Nanchang to Shang Rao. We stopped for a restroom break. Again, had to pee in a trench and was terrified that Faith would fall in. The smells, let's just say our portapotties back home smell like Glade airfreshners in comparison.

We arrived around 12pm, the Director met us at the toll entrance of Shang Rao City. She brought us to a restaurant and we had a meal with a few of the assisstants from the orphanage. The Director was a very competent and fiesty individual. Her cell phone was constantly ringing. Busy women.

The orphanage was located off a small windy road off the lake in Shang Rao. The building itself used to be a small hotel. We were only allowed to take pictures of empty rooms, but not of any of the children. But, when we got to the hallways, we only saw 3 children. One albino elementary aged girl, one 9 year old mute boy and a toddler. All the babies were in their rooms. They were all swaddled so tightly with THICK blankets. It's impossible for kicking and stretching. Literally, the facilities looked like an abandoned hotel, with decrepit bathrooms and severely soiled carpet. I didn't lose it there and kept my composure but I wanted to burst into tears.

The Director began to share with us the background of the orphanage. They are building a new facility. There are only 60 infants in the place that we were at. 200 others are farmed out to foster families. The 60 in-house were usually special needs or in poor health. Hope was one of those who had a foster family. There were workers around, but we only saw some watching TV. Some of the infants we saw were in incubators. They were so tiny and stoic.

We told her that Hope was not feeling well. She immediately made a call and this young doctor shows up and takes her temperature and listens to her chest. He gave us some amoxicillan medication, decongestion meds and cough suppressant, all in crystallized form in small packages.

Although we were thankful for the help and visit, we could not wait to return back to our hotel.
It was over, we saw and now we know where our baby Hope comes from. Sobering experience, one that I as a mother will never forget.

Rough Nights

Remember how we had a big decision to make, which was whether to visit Hope's Orphanage or not. With friends back home encouraging us to "go for it," we decided to go on Thursday. But the night before, Hope was very sick. Around 1:00am, she vomited several times. I'm (Grace) a very light sleeper. I can hear a cricket on a leaf hundreds of feet away. So, I jumped out of bed and helped her immediately. I had to hand wash several outfits and our hotel room became a laundromat.

One funny thing about Hope, we noticed that she always smells like fish. Yes, that's correct. Stinky, fermented fish. Now, I love eating fish, but not the smell of fish and certainly not on my own child. We could not figure out why she smells like fish. We would wash her and wash her, to no avail. Owen's nickname for her is "fish head" or "yiu toh" in mandarin. It's like people who eat garlic or curry, you can smell it off their skin.
Then, Owen went to the store to buy more baby stuff. He went to the rice cereal aisle and read a package with English ingredients. Did you know that in China, there's fish flavored rice cereal? The orphanage workers dropped Hope off with a opened can of formula and a opened bag of rice cereal. Our conclusion, this particular rice cereal is fish flavored. We definitely need another flavor, cuddling with a "fish flavored" baby is not easy on the olfactory system.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Food & Feel of China

Finding food that's right for one's palette is always a challenge in traveling. This has been our problem. Everything is greasy, spicy and laced with MSG. I'm getting msg headaches all the time. Owen thinks that if he ever opened up a restaurant here, he would make a killing. It would be "clean, tasty and healthy." Yeah, that's what we would call it, The Clean, Tasty, Healthy Lee Restaurant." It would combine East with West and blend the two worlds with perfect harmony. Okay, too much Travel Channel talk.

The weather always appears to be overcast with gray skies as a constant forecast. But honestly, it's probably the pollution. It makes Southern Cal's smog look like Alaska.
And as for the hustle and bustle of daily life, there are NO pedestrian nor legitimate traffic rules. There are mopeds going against traffic, weaving and turning between lanes. There is about 5 inches between each car, among the lanes. And EVERYONE around us smokes.

One big decision we have to make is whether we should visit Hope's orphanage. Most directors do not allow it but this particular one will allow us. Chance of a life time. There will be a substantial additional fee. Why are we not surprised! The dilemma is that my mom is still sick. She's stopped vomiting but still very weak and Hope is still very congested. It's a 4 hour ride to the orphange and 4 hours back, that's a total of 8 hours. Please talk to our Dad for us to help us make the right decision.

We Have Hope!!!!

Where do I even begin?
Sunday night, we flew in from Beijing to Nanchang. Nanchang is the capitol of Jiangxi Province and Hope is from the city of Shangrao. We were very tired. On this flight, there was a very feisty group of Nanchang locals. They were hilarious to watch. They had no idea what "indoor voice" was about. They were determined to push and shove. They didn't know what half the things were in their seats, so they kept pushing the flight attendant button. One tried to figure out the headset and had a surprising "volumn-high" discovery. Owen and I were laughing until we cried.

Monday, the next day, we woke up with great anticipation. Our in-country adoption guide told us that our adoptive daughter, Hope would arrive at 11:30am. This was the moment, our family was waiting for. I was so nervous. We had our camera all ready, our video camera all charged and Hope's outfit set on her crib.

Just before 11:30am, we decided to test the video camera and guess what happened? The screen decided to malfunction. The most anticipated moment of this adoption and the little monitor breaks. So, we had to use the small view finder.

At precisely 11:30am, someone rings our doorbell to our room, Rm#1619 at the Gloria Grand Hotel in Nanchang. With cameras ready we open the door and guess who it was? It was the cleaning lady. Talk about a "downer." She's probably never seen such a disappointed set of people.

Finally, around 11:45am, someone rings the doorbell and to our wonderful surprise it was our Hope. Two female officials from her orphanage had arrived with her. They had all taken a 4 hour ride to our hotel. Hope went straight into my arms and NO CRYING. She had beet red cheeks and was dressed like the "Michelen Man." She was dressed in three layers of clothing with the traditional Chinese outfit as the outerwear. She went right into Owen's arms with NO CRYING. Faith was playing with her instantly. The caregivers provided a large can of baby formula and powdered rice cereal. This was her usual food intake. We didn't pack any formula thinking that at 14 months, she would be weaned from formula but that is not the case.

When the caregivers left, Hope didn't cry a peep. She has a cold which comes with a runny nose and chest congestion. She only cries when we try to suck the mucous out. She warmed up to her big sister Faith immediately. In fact, Faith was the first to make her smile. We're noticing that Hope has a very mellow temperament. We're not sure if this is because she's sick or that she really is a mellow kid.

We immediately bathed her and we can see some of the old scars from bad diaper rash. Her nails were all so long and filled with dirt. She has 8 teeths already, 4 upper and 4 lower.
One challenge we see is her development. At 14 months, she is unable to crawl and not even used to "tummy time." She's like a little panda bear. Our very own panda bear.

The same day, we had to go to three official places. First to the Chinese Child Adoption Affairs Dept. We took our first family picture, given a very short interview and signed documents. In the waiting area, we met a couple from San Ramon who were also adopting from the same orphanage as us. The husband was a Oakland High graduate like me. Small world.
Second place was the police dept. Third place was some other local gov't dept. All in all, Hope just went with the flow with no crying. Afterwards, we went to Walmart, Supercenter. Yes, Walmart in Nanchang. We had to buy a bottle because Hope was not used to our Advent sippy types of bottles. She didn't like the Gerber stuff either.

As for my mom, Po Po Annie, she is not feeling well at all. She either ate something bad and has food poisoning or she's got the stomach flu. She's been vomiting and has been in bed. It's been difficult caring for a baby and an elderly mom.

So today, Tuesday, I (Grace) have not left the hotel room. Only Owen and Faith have gone window shopping and swimming at the hotel pool. With Hope still very congested and my mom still sick, someone's got to stay behind. We are absolutely estatic that we have Hope and it's been love at first sight.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One More Day

Yesterday, all of us (eight families) went sightseeing. Our guide says it is also "jetlag recovery" time. To keep us awake and active was the purpose of the day. We traveled to the Summer Palace of the Emperor and walked around the grounds. It was there that I was abruptly reminded that we were in China. What happened? I had to go the restroom!!

Women just cut in front of you and literally stand 1 inch in front of the door. If you were courteous, you would never pee! When you fight your way into a stall, you discover that someone had stolen the toilet. Hee! Well, not stolen. You just get the "squat urinals." When I took Faith the 2nd time, she almost fell in. The next time you go, be grateful for that "lovely" seat called the toilet.

Next, we went to the Great Wall. We managed to climb up the stairs, all the way to a tower. I was hurting, especially my gluteous maximus. You think with over 5000 years of history, China would have built an escalator or even an elevator by now.

Today, we will meet some friends here in Beijing. We fly to Jiangxi Province tonight.

Tomorrow, we meet HOPE! Words can not express all the feelings we have. I'm shaking inside. Still jetlag, we all keep waking up around 4am. Just one more day!

Friday, March 27, 2009

We're Here in Beijng, China

Woo Hoo! or maybe it should be Woo Hau!
We're here. We can't believe it. We got to SF airport at around 8am, boarded at 10:30am and arrived at 2:30pm Friday.
Boy, United Airlines has really cut amenities. There was only one meal and two other snack meals. Good thing Owen worked his "people skills" and sucked up to the flight attendants. We were able to get a few more food items. In fact, Owen started helping them and serving people in the back. He really does have the "gift of helps." There were no kids crayon kit, no "wing" pin, no nothing.

But the last 20 minutes of the flight, the pilot was descending so quickly and there was turbulence that I(Grace) became so "plane sick." I was very close to using that "barth" bag.

Faith did not sleep at all on the flight. It was Hannah Montana, Cody in the House and The Suite Life of Zach & Cody's fault. She had her own phone set and channel controls and the rest is history. I slept most of the time. You think I may have been just a little tired from my women's retreat this last weekend.

We're staying at the Best Western Premier in Beijing. We were on our own for dinner. So we ventured out and just took a risk. We had steamed fish with it's head still on, of course, wouldn't have it any other way. Sauteed wood ear fungus with Chinese yam and celery. Stewed dark chicken soup with gojiberry and red dates and pepper beef on a sizzling platter. No big "D" so that's good.

But I am having "traffic in the Jersey Turnpike," you know "General can't deploy the troops." Choo Choo train can't leave the station. Can't drop the kids off at the pool. Yeah, you get the idea.

We're all slightly jetlagged. Woke up at 10pm, 12am, 2am and 4am. But we're just grateful to be safe and here in Beijing. A culmination of over 3.5 years of waiting and we are finally here. We feel incredibly blessed and thankful we are on this journey with all of you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One more day

One more day and it's off to a province we've never been to. I (Grace) have been so overwhelmed. How on earth will I be able to pack for a 30 degree Beijing and than a warmer climate of 60 in Hong Kong. All under 44lbs in each suitcase.
Meanwhile, we haven't received our plane tickets yet, but it is coming.
Boy, do I feel the crunch. Thank goodness a friend is helping us with our taxes. Check that off the list. We heard that the air quality can get pretty bad. We'll find out soon enough.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our "Lovely" Chinese Consulate Experience

When I say "lovely" I'm being quite sarcastic. Owen had a terrible day today. He drove all the way to SF to the Chinese Consolate, right before it opened. There were 100 people ahead of him already.

The first time around, they required more information. They wanted to know exactly when my mother and our daughter had traveled in China. They had just renewed their passports so previous travels weren't there. To look up this information required a 2nd line in another part of the building.

The 3rd time in line, they wanted to know exactly why Owen who checked "pastor" as his occupation, was going to China. They required that he have a letter written from our church verifying his employment and that he was going as a tourist.

Poor Owen drives all the way back to San Jose to our church. Get the letter. And drives all the way back to SF to the Chinese Consulate again.

But wait there's ain't over yet!
Now, it's the 4th time he's in line. And they are still not satisfied. In fact, they ask him to step aside to another line for an interview.

In this 5th line, they required a interview and ask him again, why is he going to China? They thought he was traveling alone. That's because in the 3rd line (you are tracking with me, right) they took our (Grace, Faith and Po Po's) applications already. He had to tell them about our adoption and the time frame. Praise, there was a merciful clerk and they let him through this time. If Jack Bauer can survive a Chinese prison, Owen can survive the Chinese Consulate.

Thank you everyone for paying. Keep paying please. We're not even in China yet and it's a "lovely" battle already. But we continue to persevere. As Dad is our witness, we will get Hope.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Item Completed, Still More to Do

We are excited that our second finger prints have been approved. PTL!!! Now, we need to confirm that these documents gets cabled to China ASAP. Some of these documents aids in getting a visa for Hope to enter into the USA. We feel like it's been non-stop jumping through logistical hoops these past few weeks. But, Dad is GOOD and we'll have everything going according to His plans.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Travel Date Pending

A minor set back today. Our agency just called and said that they can't approval our travel date until USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has cleared our finger prints for the second time. We are a bit confused because they say we are traveling on March 26th and now we might not be. Please pry this situation.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Travel Date Approved for March 26th.

This past Friday we got an email telling us that our travel date will be March 26th. Now the count down begins before we leave for this long awaited trip to China. There is so much to do before we leave: China visas to process, documents to update for our travel, get Faith's independent study materials and have Grace attend/serve at Westgate's Girlfriend's Getaway women's retreat. This is a big event and I am excited that she gets to be directly involved in this exciting women's retreat.
My goal is to start on the visas for China and to get our IRS taxes ready for filing (April 15 is just around the corner). If I am able to get these two things done this week, I will feel very accomplished.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Anticipatory Anxiety

In the last month, we were in such a celebratory mood. We were telling everyone about the great news of "Hope." (No, it ain't Obama's stimulus package). We were so excited, we virtually told everybody about our adoption news.
But this week, the stark reality of this last phase of the adoption process has hit me.

We are getting a 2nd kid!!!! AHHH!!

Travel Arrangements and packing- I can't believe that in a month or so, we're going to lug suitcases and baby "stuff" to China. We're going to do the diaper thing and jars of tasteless baby food all over again.

Jet Lag- Owen just came back from his missions trip from the Philippines.
His sleeping pattern is still slightly off. I'm just wondering how it'll be when all 4 of us return and how Faith and Hope will adjust?

Attachment- In our hearts and mind, Hope is our daughter. But, will she like us? Will she emotionally attach and connect to our family? Will she get along with her older sister Faith? What's her personality going to be like?

Going Back To Work- Like all families that have a new baby, you have those first few weeks (maternity leave) to adjust to the new child. But, we won't have that. We will go back to work immediately. We're going to have to be a tag team, working some hours from home and taking turns being at the office.

Having A Second Child- The ratio was 2:1, parent to child. But now it's going to be divide and conquer. It's going to be one on one. Scary, the little muchkins can gang up on us.

After some breathing exercises (breath in, breath out), I had to turn to the bible for some comfort. "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them,. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" Luke 12:24-26

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Traveling To China

Our agency informed us that we will be traveling around the end of March. Meanwhile, we wait for our travel approvals. We just renewed another Homeland Security clearance. There's visas to apply for and other travel arrangements to prepare for. The big shocker is the 'In Country Fees" of $7000 still needed for the final stage of this adoption. Man, with this severe economic crisis happening around the world, don't they know that it's hard for people to get that kind of cash. We are totally at their mercy. Gee, do we pay for our property tax or do we pick up our daughter from China.
Well, it is what it is and we will not lose hope. We are determined to make this work. Thus, we are naming our new daughter Hope. So grace-full-lee, faith-full-lee and hope-full-lee, we will travel to China soon. Maybe we'll rename Owen to truth, than he'll be truth-full-lee.

Referral News

Then the day finally came. It was Jan. 28, 2009. It's called the "Referral." It was a total shock to us when we received the phone call. Our adoption agency, America World called and the exact words were "Grace and Owen, we have a referral for you." They said, "we have a girl for you and her name is Ling Wu Qian. She's from the province of Jiangxi, from the Shangrao Children's Welfare Center. To the best of their knowledge, she was born on 1/15/08, (it's Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday for those of you keeping track of African American History).

After we hung up, I (Grace) could not breath. I needed a paperbag. I sat down, I got up. I paced. I was hyperventilating. I was crying. I was laughing. My heart was pounding. I was a mess. Mind you, we had been waiting for over 3 years. You just don't treat this type of news nonchalantly. We were beyond excited. I was going to explode. We have a baby girl waiting for us in China. I think the earth stood still, the angels rejoiced and God was estactic along with us.

Paper Pregnancy Phase

This is the process where you began to turn your paperwork in. There were fingerprints required. Police clearance needed. Homeland Security approvals. A social worker had to come and complete a home study on our family, insuring that we were loving and capable people. Most of the documentation had to be notarized, certified and authenticated. We started in 2006 and officially our dossier was accepted by Feb. 2007. The Chinese government had every conceivable document on us.

Then we began to wait and wait and wait. While we waited, China received bad publicity on wheat gluten in pet food. Then toys had to be recalled because lead was found that surpassed the safety levels. We continued to wait. We had to renew a certain document. More money. Then a terrible and tragic earthquake occurred in China. Then there was this thing called the "Olympics" that preoccupied the entire nation of China. More waiting. Our home study had to be renewed. Some more money. We were waiting so long, we had forgotten we were waiting.

Our Lee Family Adoption Story

It all started more than 3 years ago. Well, if you're counting the one year of praying before contacting an adoption agency than it's more than 4 years ago. Owen and I felt incredibly blessed when we gave birth to Faith our daughter in 2002. Her story is a miracle in itself. But we felt there must be more. Granted we wanted a sibling for Faith, but it was more than that. We thought if we already sponsor a child from Quito, Ecuador and a child from Thailand, maybe it's time that we did something more, much much more.

We made the decision to adopt and started involving our wonderful friends. They say "it takes a village to raise a child," well in our case, it took a village to start the adoption process.

We had a garage sale and all our friends brought their "junk," oops I mean their treasures to our house. We raised enough money to start the application process.

The front our house were full of things and people. The "professional" garage shoppers came at 6:45am!!! We were hardly set up. Boy, did they bargain.

Friends and family came to help out that actual day. Others had sold their prized sports memorabilia on Ebay. One dear friend (Janice & her 2 kids) set up a lemonade stand in front of their house to raise money for our adoption.

Thus, began our journey of adopting.