Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Red Tape

The process is so frustrating for us. I am having a very difficult time these days dealing with the neverending requests from our peeps, the higher ups, who say they want to help us get the 171H, but ask us to jump through hoops in order to have them do it. I mean, we paid money for this. LOTS of money! The day before yesterday, Anne Rust, from Tom Davis' office, called us back finally to discuss our issues. She went through everything with me on the telephone not giving me a lot of hope that things would change, but did say she would get involved IF I were to write a formal letter to her basically giving her all of the information I had just given her on the phone plus more detailed information about our son and his needs. This would allow her to get involved she said...a release of information per say. Well, I am just TIRED. T.I.R.E.D. Gracie does not allow me much computer time daily. And by nightfall, I am exhausted and basically brain dead. Then, yesterday as I was trying to muster up the energy to even begin the letter, I get another email from our adoption agency social worker asking us to write yet another letter outlining the process we have been through with CIS, who we have contacted, when, where, what, how, how long, blah blah blah. This about sent me over the cliff. This letter she said would be sent to a friend at the National Center for Adoption in hopes that he would get involved on our behalf. I think it is WONDERFUL that other people want to get involved in our plight, BUT I just wish THEY were the ones that had all of this information in front of them so they could write these letters. I cannot tell you how many contacts I have made...too many to recount. I am just not that organized this go round with a three year old keeping me busy from sun up to sun down. So, this meant that I had to go back through all of our paperwork, all of my emails that I had saved, my blog, etc. to find everything needed to get the peeps on the same page with us. YIPPEE. Hurray for me!!! Let me repeat, I am TIRED. But I got it done in TWO days, many hours, many minutes, and even through lots of little complaints, whines, and breakdowns from Miss Gracie. It is DONE. I hope that all of my hard work pays off in some way. I kept thinking to myself the whole time that I was writing the letters that I was going to go to the mailbox THE DAY AFTER I do all of this, and there would be our 171H sitting there. Murphy's Law, ya know? But it still has not arrived.

PLEASE say a prayer, maybe two or three, that our 171-H arrives here soon. We need that little piece of paper (that almost $900 piece of paper) to proceed.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Winky Phone and A Message from the Other Side

This is totally hilarious! I want to share with you a conversation I had with Gracie tonight while getting her to go to sleep. She started with her typical "I don't want to go to sleep" routine. And I, of course, told her that we WERE going to sleep regardless of that fact. No matter what I say, it just isn't enough for her, and she usually complains and talks for a while about anything and everything she can think of. Here is the conversation...
Gracie: "You don't let me do nothin' I want to do!"
Me: "Yes, I do. But we are going to sleep now."
Gracie: "Your parents told me."
Me (laughing and Huh??? What???): "What did my parents tell you?" (Both of my parents are deceased.)
Gracie: "They told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do."
Me (laughing very hard): "They did, did they?"
Gracie: "Yes!"
Me: "Where did you come up with this, Gracie?"
Gracie: "Here. Talk on the Winky phone." (And Gracie puts her stuffed Winky up to my ear.)
Me: "What do I say?"
Gracie: "Say "Hi. This is Mommy."
Me: "Hi. This is Mommy."
Gracie: "Talk Mommy! Talk to them."
Me: "Talk to who, Gracie?"
Gracie: "Tell your parents that I can do whatever I want to do."
Oh My Goodness!!! She is a total MESS!!! M-E-S-S!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ups and Downs

We all have those days. This isn't the most uplifting post I have written, believe me. So if you don't like to hear about sadness, continue reading this at your own risk.

Update on Garrett and this LONG journey we are on....

We heard from CIS several weeks ago. We have been waiting for 12 weeks for the 171H to arrive in our mailbox from OUR OWN federal government. It is basically the one piece of paper that gives us permission to adopt our son internationally and bring him home. It usually takes 6-8 weeks to receive it once a family has been fingerprinted. Like I said, we were on week 12 several weeks ago. The envelope and letter from CIS arrives FINALLY, and to our dismay, it says that our adoption homestudy agency had left out some wording in the homestudy and that the homestudy is considered incomplete. So, we contacted our homestudy agency, and they sent the addendum to CIS. Mind you, this is the SECOND time something has been incomplete with our homestudy report. VERY frustrating. But what can we do? Not much. We also contacted our state representative, Tom Davis' office, twice. I have not heard back from them. I left very detailed messages twice. They could expedite this matter for us IF they chose to get involved. I also wrote the one lady in charge, Ms. Bone, at CIS to beg her to expedite our paperwork. I have not heard back from her. Meanwhile, our friends that live across the highway from us who were in the same position as we were/are and who are bringing home their third adopted son from China received their 171H in FIVE weeks just the other day. YES, FIVE WEEKS!!! How does this happen? How is it that one family who lives less than 10 miles from us is able to get through the process so quickly, and we are left to sit and wait even longer...Now it has been 14 weeks. I don't know. God knows. So, we are waiting. BUT our problems and our frustrations are merely grains of sand in comparison to what others are facing these days. We are waiting to see our Garrett and be united with him as a family. Others are mourning the true loss of their children knowing and praying that one day they will be REUNITED with them in Heaven. I keep reminding myself that God does not give us more than we can handle. He has the plan. He is in control. This miracle will take place in His time, not ours.

These pictures speak for themselves. Many orphanages in the areas where the China earthquake occurred have been forced to move the children in their care outside into tents to keep them safe. It breaks my heart trying to understand the harsh realities of this situation, but at the very least, I know these children are safe and that they are being cared for. And I know that Garrett is safe right now, and he is in good hands. And I find comfort in that.

Also, many of you have probably heard the very uplifing music by Grammy award winning singer and songwriter, Stephen Curtis Chapman. He is one of the greatest advocates for adopting and taking care of orphans all over the world. He and his wife have adopted their three youngest daughters from China. Here is an article from that explains the family tragedy that has occurred. They have lost their youngest daughter, Maria Sue. In knowing the love we feel for our own daughter, Gracie, this tragedy has hit us pretty hard. We are praying for the Chapman family and we hope that you will join us in lifting them all up in prayer. Stephen Curtis Chapman has given so much love and so much support to people in need through his music. He puts into words our deepest feelings about our children. His music has touched the lives of the adoption community for many years. Many of his songs are played on adoption blogs because they are so beautiful. He speaks to our hearts and souls. Here is the article:

"'With laughter and tears, Grammy-winning Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his family said goodbye Saturday to their 'cuddle bug,' daughter Maria Sue. The 5-year-old died three days earlier after being accidentally struck at their Franklin, Tenn., home by a reversing SUV driven by her brother. In a two-hour memorial service at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville that drew more than 700 mourners, Maria was remembered for her love of drawing flowers, playing in the water, snuggling with her family – and doing dishes "buck naked." She "loved, loved, loved to be naked," laughed her mother, Mary Beth. Maria, the family's youngest, was one of three daughters adopted from China by the couple, who formed the charity Shaohannah's Hope ( to help other families wanting to adopt. The couple, along with their three older biological children and their two other adopted daughters, Shaohannah, 8, and Stevey Joy, 5, were all barefoot during the service as a mark of reverence to ground made holy, they said, by the loss of Maria. Standing in front of the tiny white coffin covered with pink flowers, they took turns holding the young girls in their arms and embracing the son whose car hit Maria. Tears streamed down the 17-year-old's face and he wore Maria's pink security blanket around his neck throughout the service. In a letter Shaohannah had written to God and her lost sister that her father read aloud, she asked for prayers for her brother. "He has been sobbing," she wrote. The family raised their arms as they sang songs of worship and sought comfort in their faith. "We had talked [with Maria] about what it meant to be with Jesus," Chapman said. "I had no idea how soon it was going to be, but we know she is in His amazing house, playing in the water."

Take a minute to listen to one of Stephen Curtis Chapman's newest songs. It is a song written especially for his daughters, and in this circumstance will bring you to your knees knowing what this family is going through. It teaches us to cherish every single second with our children because they are only young for a short period of time. They grow so fast. It is a beautiful song called, "Cinderella".

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saving Turtles

For as long as I have known Van, he has always stopped on the road to save any turtle from being run over by a car. If he sees one in the road or on the side of the road, the car is put into park. I cannot tell you the number of turtles he has saved...too many to count. BIG ones and little ones. Box turtles and snapping turtles. All kinds.

Gracie, Van, and I recently went to Roanoke Island in NC. We had a great time. We spent time at the beach one morning, went fishing (I caught two speckled trout), went crabbing (We caught about 15 large crabs), and ate lots of great seafood. While crabbing, we caught two turtles. Of course, they went right back in the water unharmed. Van saved them again. Now, it is a family affair to save the turtles. LOL.

Fast forward a few days...
Gracie, Van, and I are in the car just driving around looking at things. We are having this conversation in the car about the turtles that we had caught while crabbing in NC, and why it is important to let them go. We talked about all the turtles Daddy has saved over the years, and that some turtles bite. Gracie loves turtles. We are pulling out of a parking lot, and Gracie yells from her carseat, "Daddy, there's a turtle!" Sure enough, there on the other side of the street is a tiny box turtle crossing the street. Van pulls the car around praising Gracie for her great find, and parks the car. He gets out of the car, picks up the turtle, brings it back into the car, and hands it to me in the backseat. He asks Gracie if she wants to touch it's hard shell. I am holding this turtle in my hand, feeling so astounded that this could happen especially right in the midst of having this conversation with our daughter and....

The turtle pees all over me. LOL.

Gracie and Van saved another turtle. I could have killed it for doing it's business on my leg. Van took it WAY BACK into the woods where it would not have the opportunity to get close to the busy road again. And the whole way back to the car, he was laughing...laughing at that funny turtle peeing all over my leg.

Just had to share the story of the week.

Life is just so funny.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just a Grain Of Sand....

When you figure out LOVE is all that matters after all,
It sure makes everything else seem so small....

We have climbed a LOT of mountains since Gracie came home, and we have looked for a lot of answers in regards to many different parts of our lives...What I have realized is that we don't have all of the answers and we never will, but LOVE is all that matters. Maybe that is my answer to many things...our struggle in getting Garrett home, our very personal family matters, my mother's death, the devastating earthquake in central China...

Carrie Underwood's music obviously effects me very deeply. It is funny that I can turn to music to find answers to life's toughest questions. It is also through music that I find God. In listening, I find peace and comfort. My heart and my arms are hurting for Garrett tonight. I want him to be at home with us so badly right now. I know I need to just sit back and wait. It is all just a grain of sand. There are so many people in the world that are hurting, that are hungry, that are grieving such a tremendous loss. My life is uncomplicated when it comes right down to it. I have no right to complain. Sometimes, I just need a reminder. The glass is full. God has the answers. The mountains are just grains of sand. I love this song tonight.

Prayer and Donations Needed for Earthquake Victims in China

This tragedy brings many tears to my eyes. It is abolutely heartbreaking. The words just do not come to me. I have had a rough time documenting this because it hits so close to home. To think of all of those people in China losing so many loved ones, having no shelter, no home, no food, no drinking water, nothing left but HOPE and prayer for the help that might come. Part of my heart is in China right now. Garrett is there. Our agency says that the children are fine in Inner Mongolia. They have felt the aftershocks even that far away from the epicenter, but the children are fairing well according to Lily. China is where my children were born, where their extended biological family still resides, where the people that cared for Gracie and continue to care for Garrett live, and it is where God led us to find our children. It is a beautiful country with such beautiful people. The pictures and the videos from the media cannot even begin to capture what has occurred there. Only God has the answers. There must be some reason for this. I just cannot fathom what the answers are. It is a test of faith. It is a way for God to draw us closer to Him, to His heart. We can reach out and choose to help the people in some way or we can sit back and watch it unfold.

I saw this on a friend's blog last night. It is important for everyone to watch I believe. Watch it.
It is called "$8 hotdog". It is moving and so powerful.

This is the latest information about the earthquake in China.

As of this morning (Friday) there were 19,509 people confirmed dead. The State Council today said there will likely be more than 50,000 dead. Today's government report describes one terrible scene after another: thousands homeless, thousands missing, thousands injured, thousands trapped or buried alive. Hope for survivors is dimming. There is an urgent call for bodybags to prevent the spread of disease. There have been over 4,400 aftershocks. The devastation is widespread. Many of the children that were living in orphanages already have been evacuated to living in tents on the streets. They need everything that you can think of related to the care of these children including food and water. Many more children have been brought to the orphanage tents and are confirmed newly orphaned.

I will include more information later when I can.

Please pray for all of those suffering in China. And please consider donating money to the charity funds for the people in China.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Back Seat Driver

I had to include this before it slips my mind....

Gracie and I were in the car yesterday, and I was sitting at a stop light waiting for what seemed like FOREVER. So, I am sitting there and saying aloud, "COME ON! Turn green already." And I hear this voice from the back seat saying, "Mommy, you need to learn to be patient. Just be patient now." LOL. I cannot tell you how many times I have said this to Gracie recently because everything she says lately includes the word "NOW". She will even tell me, "Mama, I do not like being patient. It's hard." And she continues from the backseat, "Just take your time, and we will be home soon." It is amazing to me how smart she is, and how much she processes at three and a half.
Then, later in the day, we are in the car again. This must be the time when I am the MOST impatient and she notices that in me. Northern VA has done this to me. I am from Alabama. Remember? No one in the state drives anywhere in a hurry. But I have lived here in this chaos for ten years, and I suffer from this crazy hurried driving disorder. Anyway, I said something aloud about another driver who was driving in a very wreckless way. I hear from Gracie in her carseat, "Mommy, count to ten. When you get upset, you should count to ten." LOL.

At the very least, I know that she is listening to me and learning how to handle these situations and situations like them. And even more importantly, she is WATCHING me. I am on ALERT!