Thursday, December 30, 2010

Starting the New Year Right

Ahhhh...the sweet signs of progress to end our year on a great note. We finally received our approval from USCIS to bring Charlie home!

It wasn't without event, for sure. In a "preventative" measure, we filed an additional I-800A, Supplement 3 approval with USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) to update our home study and extend our fingerprints, since they were expiring in early February, and I recently discovered that we wouldn't be able to obtain a visa for Charlie with prints that were within four months of expiration. Oops...that would have been a problem!

Jimmy, Madi, and I drove to USCIS in Royal Palm Beach on 12/23 for fingerprinting to accomplish the task. On 12/27, we received email notification that MY prints came back as "Unclassifiable". HUH? Can someone please explain what the #%&* that means??!!! Naturally, panic set in. I called our agent at USCIS for an explanation. Apparently, my bone-dry, wrinkled-up, 43 year-old fingers FAILED ME!! Does anyone know where I can find that "Madge" lady? I'd like to have a few words with her after she recommended that I 'soak' in that Palmolive crap all these years. Thanks buddy...

Jimmy says, "Thank the Lord it wasn't my fingerprints."

Our kind and exceptional case worker, Matthew Elliott, issued me a new appointment for 1/7/11. I couldn't rightly deal with that date, so I set out very early the next morning, on 12/28, to get the job done. I was amply prepared, I might add, by using an insane amount of hand cream the night before and drinking lots of water that morning, per Jimmy's advice. I took a sigh of relief as they honored my week-early attendance and waited patiently (I think?) for my turn. In the meantime, I snuck in a little more hand cream, obsessively massaging my fingertips to an oblivion...

Finally, the moment of truth. My number was called, and I marched over (nervously) for my second shot, thankfully knowing that if I failed a second time, I could rely on submitting my background check from my home study for an approval. I ended up with the same attendant who remarked that my prints were much better this time. I have no idea how I went so wrong the first time, but whatever--the job got done right this time:)

So, the bottom line is, after all my ranting and rambling on this post, we were approved on 12/29 by USCIS to bring Charlie home and our prints are now good for 15 months!!

Oh, and Madi would be absolutely appalled if I failed to mention that she endured a painful typhoid vaccine last week--without shedding a tear, I might add. The tears came days after when we tried to remove that silly bandage. She winced every time we even looked at it. I think she knew how badly we longed to rip it off. Thankfully, Bubba was able to remove it when she wasn't paying attention. Only Bubba could have gotten away with such a major offense...

I know what your next question is. So, when? When will we travel? Well, our approval must now go to China, and then China will issue us an approval to travel for Charlie. We will start applying for our visas asap, but we really can't make travel plans until we know more. We still think a "safe" bet will be late February or early March. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks for being a part of our extended family and sharing in our special journey to Daniel in 2010. We hope you will join our special journey to Charlie in 2011!

Happy New Year to all of you! God bless you and yours:)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas


We hope this post finds all of our dear friends warm and cozy. We also hope you had a blessed Christmas day and that you continue to embrace the Christmas spirit through the season. We have been so blessed by being surrounded by family. My brother, Andrew, and his family are visiting from New Hampshire. Madi has really enjoyed her time with cousin Matthew and they've managed to reacquaint themselves wonderfully. It's hard to believe they've been gone from Florida for almost two years.

Since about November, Madi was declaring that she wanted "nothing" from Santa. Soon after, she switched her request to a photograph of Santa with the elves, reindeer and Mrs. Claus. Okay. Request sent to Santa for consideration.

We noticed that Madi had absolutely no interest in communicating with Santa this year. She had no desire to go see him anywhere. We tried to figure out why, and we're still not sure. She claims fear wasn't an issue.

A few weeks before Christmas, an elf on the shelf appeared in our house. Madi loved our elf, who she named Peter, and generally put on her best behavior for him to take her case back to Santa each night. We all had a great time trying to figure out just where Peter landed in our house each morning as he traveled back from the North Pole. Madi decided her last plea to Santa was for "a surprise".

Santa came through with "a surprise" and brought Madi a new bike AND the framed photograph that she requested. So YES people--if any of you would like to see Santa, the elves, Mrs. Claus and the reindeer--we will be happy to share this top secret treasure with you! We might just be the only family who requested and received such a personal item from Santa! We were so happy that Santa decided to leave something special for Charlie too.

One of the highlights of our day was giving Daddy his gift. Madi is not very good at keeping secrets and tried hard to spill the beans on more than one occasion. Daddy has been obsessed with onesies for a while now. It's a weird long story that started with him making fun of some crazy guy on the last season of American Idol. So for months, he would tease Madi and Daniel and tell them he was going to put them in a onesie if they acted up. We showed him. We heard a little rumor that Target was selling man-sized onesies. Madi went right to the big red one with sock-monkey feet. It was perfect, and Madi totally received the gift of giving! Daddy was the best sport in the world, as usual, and made our day as he rode his bike around the neighborhood wearing his gift. As you can imagine, we laughed so hard we cried.

Special thanks to all of you who sent a stocking stuffer for Daniel. Jimmy, Grandpa Murphy, Madi and I took time to read all of them together on Christmas. We collected 27 of the most heartwarming stories and memories of Daniel and how he touched your lives. It was so special to us and we truly appreciate that you took time out of your busy season to do that for us. These are keepsakes forever, and we were amazed at the similarities between each tribute. We are well aware that he's your angel too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stocking Stuffers


Madi has already stuffed a few things in Daniel's stocking--his favorite dress, his favorite headband, and his favorite stuffed toy, Baby Girl.

Madi's preschool director gave us this fabulous idea that we would like to request your help if you are willing. We would like to request memories, or stories about Daniel, in written form to fill his stocking this year. Daniel's Christmas gift--our Christmas gift--can be reading your stories and memories of him. It will be the perfect gift to fill our hearts this year and we can preserve them for Madi and Charlie for years to come.

Please don't feel pressured or obligated to take part. We only want you to participate if you feel moved to do so. We know it may be too difficult for some.

If you think you want to send something, please email me, lisa.michelle.murphy@gmail.com, and I'll send you our address.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blessings from Minnesota

Several months ago, the Holy Spirit connected me with a new friend, Nancy, whose family similarly lost their precious China heart baby over the summer. Beautiful three-year old CaiLi Rose went to Heaven exactly two months after Daniel. The angels must have been working hard to connect one mother from Florida and another clear across the country in Minnesota. Thankfully they succeeded. We have been able to comfort each other through our faith. It comforts us to think about our children playing and dancing around together up in Heaven. We are similarly in the process of new adoptions, both embracing the joyful hope that only God's blessings can give.

Nancy is extremely resourceful in the adoption world. She introduced me to a special program at the University of Minnesota. In exchange for a donation, their International Adoption Medicine Program and Clinic will review your child's records and provide insight. I emailed them on Monday and received this encouraging and hopeful report about Charlie's health. I held my breath as I opened the email but then relaxed as I read through this seemingly optimistic report. I can hardly wait to pump love and nutrition into that little being.

Dear Lisa and James:

Thanks for sending Chuan Qian's records for review. He's a lovely little boy who appears to be doing reasonably well.

His growth is marginal for his given age. however, since they estimated his birthday and we don't know his birthweight or gestational age, his growth could be completely appropriate for his actual age. His update in November puts him slightly below or at the lower limits of normal. I'm reasonably certain that he'll catch up nicely when he reaches your home and grow within the normal range.

His lab tests showed a weakly positive hepatitis B surface antibody which may be due to his immunizations. He also had a weakly positive hepatitis B e antibody which could either be a false positive or be antibody transferred from his birth mother prior to birth. The most important test was the hepatitis B surface antigen which was negative so he doesn't have hepatitis B. He also tested negative for HIV and syphilis.

His development is close to being normal for his given age. Again, it may be completely normal for his actual age if he was a bit premature or they miscalculated his chronological age. Again, I'm optimistic that he'll catch-up once he reaches your home.

His atrial septal defect (hole between the two minor pumping chambers of the heart) is very small and should resolve spontaneously. I agree that all he needs in another echo in about 12 months.

The only other issue is a mild anemia which is common in China. Iron supplementation once you return (if it's still low) will likely take care of the problem.

Overall, I'm optimistic about his future in your home. If you have any questions, let me know.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

L.O.A.!

Heard the sweet sound of 'Holt International' on the caller ID last night. They were calling to let us know they received our Letter of Acceptance yesterday! It's now official that Charlie will be in our family.

They are sending the LOA to us via FedEx and we will receive it tomorrow. I will be busy today gathering the necessary paperwork to submit our I-800 form to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). It 'should' take a few weeks for us to receive this next approval, but we can check one more major item of our list!

Praise the Lord:-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Beginning of Advent

What a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of Advent season. Friends of Grandpa Murphy dedicated a mass in Daniel's name at his church this morning. The first candle lighting of the season represents Hope. Hope for our salvation. Hope for the return of Jesus Christ. Such a beautiful message to hear at a mass dedicated to Daniel as our family waits in hope for the arrival of Charlie.

A few days ago, when I told Madi that we would carry up the gifts today at mass, she told me that had a feeling she would be taking up the "Holy chips", because they always give the "Holy chips" to the kids. Cracked me up. Well guess what? Much to her amazement, they gave Daddy the "Holy chips" and entrusted her to carry up the Holy water! She was beaming with delight that they chose Daddy to handle the 'easiest' task and not her...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Dragonfly


Yesterday Madi's preschool hosted a feast for the kids. They all dressed like Indians and we served them a special lunch for their "Pow Wow". All of the kids chose their own Indian names, and Madi chose 'Little Dragonfly'. I love being a helper and seeing Madi in action. It's my opportunity to be a fly on the wall! I couldn't have been prouder as I watched her go through the buffet line and say every "please" and "thank you". Maybe she knew I was watching her!

Tomorrow we head off to New Smyrna Beach where we will spend Thanksgiving with Aunt Diane and Uncle Shrimp. We have so much to be thankful for this year. God has blessed us with two beautiful children and we're about to be blessed with another, hopefully soon. We have the most amazing friends in the world and we have the love of our family. It just doesn't get any better than this...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Only a Murphy...


...could end up with a "splinter" like this! Suffice it to say, I gagged when Jimmy called me outside to take a look.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Charles Stanley.

I concede. Charles Stanley it is. I have been totally overruled in our household, and I must say I'm okay with that.

Madi is determined to call the baby Charlie. We tried using Stanley a few times to "test the waters", and she tried too, but she keeps insisting that he's Charlie every time. Works for me. There are plenty of adorable nicknames we can give him and knowing our family, he will have more than he can handle!

Shanghai Charlie--hang in there buddy--we're coming for you!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pain in the midst of joy

Tonight as we sat down to dinner, Madi and Daddy insisted on music. I tuned in to the holiday music channel, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Daniel won't be coming home for Christmas.

We won't get the picture on Santa's lap with Madi laughing and Daniel crying his eyes out.

He won't get to help decorate the house and break a few ornaments.

He won't get to watch Frosty and Rudolph and all those other Christmas classics.

He won't get to dance around the house singing Jingle Bells with Madi and Daddy.

He won't get to drive around and ooh and ahh at the beautiful lights.

He won't get the joy of meeting Matthew, his cousin, for the first time.

He won't get to see the beautiful stocking that Aunt Sheila knitted him by hand.

He won't know the awesome smell of a real Christmas tree.

We won't get to make Christmas cookies together (okay...that's a stretch and probably wouldn't happen, but it's fun to think about)

We won't see the joy on his face after his first visit from Santa.

As I sit in my puddle of tears, I am going to try to re-focus on what Daniel will see for Christmas.

He will see Jesus. He will be sitting right there on His lap enjoying every moment. Daniel will be listening to the choir of angels. He will see the brightest lights we can ever imagine. Daniel will be Home for Christmas.

And Daniel will be watching us...missing him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Madi and Daniel's brother

So, on the heels of an unbelievable showering of love from our friends and family, we have a confession to make. We feel terrible that we've been withholding this information from our friends and our loyal blog following, but we needed to. Truth is--we were scared.

Remember the post a few weeks back when we didn't get matched, and we felt okay with holding out for the reward of God's plan? That was on a Tuesday (I think) that I posted, and on the following Saturday, October 23rd, out of the clear blue sky, we received a totally unexpected call from our adoption agency about a little baby boy. Our world was spinning. We had questions to ask. We had reality to process. Daniel wasn't coming back, and we needed to make sure we were ready to move forward.

Anyway, we're finally ready to reveal that we've submitted a letter of intent to adopt another little boy. He turned one on September 16th, Grandma Pauline's birthday! He is in an orphanage in Shanghai, which is an added bonus since we'll get to see another part of China. We are still waiting for our letter of acceptance, but it seems that things are progressing normally.

This sweet little guy has a small hole in his heart. We'd like to think of this small hole as a reminder of his big brother, Daniel, who is looking over him. His condition is much less serious than Daniel's was and will "likely" correct itself. At the very worst, he would need to undergo a catheter procedure somewhere down the road. Other than this small heart defect, there are no other serious issues facing him--nothing that a little love, nourishment and Juice Plus can't handle:)

We haven't quite settled on his name yet. We have several ideas. Let's call it "the war of the Grandpa's" right now. We are still working this out and promise to let you know as soon as we can commit to whether he's Charles or Stanley:)

Please forgive us for not sharing this exciting news earlier. The last thing we wanted to do was bring our friends down a road that might close again. We needed to take time to work things through, and now we feel certain that God is paving this road for us to forge ahead at full speed.

Thank you for sharing our joy. Thank you for always being there for us. We are so excited to take everyone on another journey. We hope you'll enjoy the ride...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Speechless...

Last night we were blown away by our amazing friends and family. In fact, we never knew quite how many friends we had. I think we must be the luckiest, most blessed people on earth. Where do I start...

We were told several months ago to save the date. We were told a sitter would be arranged. We knew that a few friends were involved. We had strict instructions to be ready to go by 5:30.

Our friends, The Maloneys, came down on Friday to be there with us. Thank God. They kept us sane yesterday as we waited in anticipation and wonder of what would take place. Sherril called me ten times yesterday to make me squirm. She knew I couldn't stand to be not "in the know".

At 5:30, we drove over to the Debonis' house to drop off the kids and pick up Matt. Julianna came out to the car and handed me a green rubber bracelet (you know the ones...like the Livestrong bands) and in her beautifully monotone-pitched voice said, "Lisa...this is your ticket to get in tonight". I read the band, and then I lost it. It read, "Think of Daniel". I knew this would be a night to remember. We took a few pictures outside and before we left, Julianna handed me a card, which we were instructed to read. It said:

Dear Lisa and Jimmy,
Hope you have a wonderful night tonight. Can't wait to share all of the stories leading up to this special night. Your family is so loved--just wait and see! Love, Sherril and Tabi

Matt guided us to the venue, which turned out to be a local Irish Pub called Finnegan's. Could there be a more appropriate place for this celebration?! As we exited the car, we began to experience the magnitude. We first saw Murphy and Myles behind a registration table. We walked up and were greeted by so many people. We saw a basket of those green bands on the table, and raffle tickets were everywhere.

Then someone handed me a postcard, and the purpose of this evening was finally revealed to us. This was a surprise celebration and fundraiser to help Daniel send his family back to China. As we read the postcard, it was so mind-boggling--so beyond our comprehension--that our friends, our family, our community would do this on our behalf. It became apparent that the gift of Daniel just keeps on giving.

The night was simply amazing. Every moment was a surprise, because every time we turned around, there was someone else there that we didn't expect to see. People came together and donated silent auction items, donated raffle items, bought raffle tickets, and so many people showed up. We are grateful for those, but we are also grateful to those who couldn't be there but shared in the event and showed their support.

To ALL of you who were involved--each and every one of you--who planned it, who contributed, who helped us, how can we possibly EVER sufficiently thank you? There aren't enough words. There aren't enough emotions to express our gratitude. God is so good, and we feel so blessed to be wrapped in the arms of your love. All of you. Thank you for loving us--thank you for loving Daniel. You are our angels on earth. The money raised will definitely lighten our load. It will, at a bare minimum, allow Madi to experience the adventure of a lifetime to bring another sibling home.

So, today we are still reeling. Reeling at the reality of what happened last night. It is so surreal. It is so profound. It is so...so Daniel.

Forever grateful...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Fun

It was a busy weekend of Halloween festivities starting with the SVF Trunk or Treat on Friday night. Madi enjoyed hanging out with her gal pal, Livi and her buddy, Coston. On Saturday, we did trick or treating on the avenue. On Sunday, we attended a Halloween birthday party for our mei mei friend, Avery, in the morning, and of course trick or treating Sunday night. Madi decided to be Jasmine for all occasions.

We were joined by the Socha family once again for Halloween night, and the girls had a ball. When we went trick or treating, she heard me say that one house "looked promising". After that, she declared which houses "looked promising" and which ones did not. It sounded so funny coming out of her mouth.

I think Madi's favorite part was handing out candy in our driveway. It was a difficult task teaching her to only give two to each person. I caught her caving a few times and giving out handfuls. She was very adamant that kids needed to do the right thing and say 'trick or treat'. If they didn't say it, she would look at us, so that we could prompt them to say something. That was her cue to give them candy. She was also a stickler for thank you's and made note of which families used their manners and which ones did not!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Madi's Halloween costume



Madi has had her heart set on being Barbie Rapunzel for months now. I ordered her costume back in August through an online retailer at a price I just knew was too good to be true. Periodically, I checked with the company just knowing inside that this costume would be a no-show.

Several weeks ago, some friends were kind to pass us down some beautiful clothing. Among the clothes, were two absolutely perfect dress-up costumes for Madi. One was Ariel, the other Jasmine.

When I broke the news to Madi last week that Rapunzel was probably not going to happen, she handled it so amazingly well. Wouldn't most kids totally freak out? Well, at least some would. Madi accepted it without question and went with her two choices of Jasmine or Ariel as our "Plan B". We will venture out to find her a red wig tomorrow and then she can use both costumes to celebrate the four costume occasions of this weekend.

Here is a sneak peek of Madi as Jasmine. She is well aware that her skin tone and hair coloring just make this costume work!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today is not our day

Came home from school with Madi and had a call on the answering machine from Holt. Turns out that our "perfect match" is not in this group of referrals so far. We're okay with that. We appreciate that Holt is being cautious on our behalf and really taking our referral seriously. She explained that things can happen at anytime, so we'd best be ready.

We truly know in our hearts that this is all in God's time and according to His plan. The reward is in feeling His plan in your heart. Today was not our day. Knowing that makes it easy to wait. Okay, maybe not so easy, but it sure helps!

Saint Daniel

I am so proud to have been chosen by my nephew, Myles, to be his sponsor for his Catholic rite of confirmation. Last night, his mother, Sheila, emailed me the paper Myles wrote about choosing his Saint's name. She prepared us well by saying, "Better get the Kleenex". Here is what we read:

Saints Name Paper

The name I have chosen for my confirmation is Daniel, in memory of my little cousin and God brother Daniel. In February, my aunt (who is my sponsor) and uncle adopted a two year old boy who they named Daniel. He had a heart condition and needed surgery to correct it. The surgery was a complete success but there were complications during his recovery. After being in the hospital for almost a month, he passed away.

St. Daniel was known for his ability to interpret dreams. Daniel and his three friends were taken to Babylon. He was given the name Belteshazzar. Daniel was the first of the three presidents of the empire under the reign of Darius the Mede. His ministry began late in his life. His date and time of death were not recorded. His feast day is December 17th.

I have chosen to take Daniel as my confirmation name, in memory of my cousin who I miss very much. This is one way I can think of to keep him in my heart.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Madi's wish

Madi went out to dinner with Grandpa and Miss Suzanne on Saturday. As they approached a bridge, Suzanne told Madi to close her eyes and make a wish when they drove under.

Madi was insistent about sharing her wish with them even when told that it might not come true if she told anyone. Madi replied that it was okay to share this wish and was confident that it would still come true.

And her wish was (drum roll please)..."to deliver us from evil"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Logged in

So Friday night, I was in Orlando for the Juice Plus conference, and I accidentally left my cell phone in the hotel room. I called Jimmy from Lisa's phone around 7pm and told him to call her phone if he needed me for anything. Both of us knew that chances of that were slim but he appreciated the information.

Halfway through dinner, Lisa pulls her phone out of her purse and notices that Jimmy has left two messages and he sent two emails asking me to call the house. Hmmmm.

Apparently, Holt called the house at around 8:00 (it was the end of the work day in Oregon) to report that our dossier has been logged in! When the phone rang, Jimmy was half asleep so Madi answered the phone. When asked if her Mommy was home, she replied, "No, my Mommy's not home." The Holt representative then asked if Daddy was there, to which Madi also replied, "No". Luckily Jimmy could hear what was happening and quickly grabbed the phone to speak with them and receive the news that our dossier has been logged in. Holt is supposed to receive a group of referrals early this week. If our child is in that group, then we will be matched together.

Today, Jimmy and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. We are blessed to have so much to celebrate.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Safety Rules


This month is safety month at Madi's preschool. Yesterday, the firemen came to visit and the kids were able to climb aboard a fire engine and look around. Madi came home totally pumped up about safety. She rolled around on the floor practicing her 'Stop, drop, and roll'. Then, she put on her new fire hat, goggles, and a face mask and rolled around in the backyard practicing more. She would climb up into her fort and Daddy would have to be the fireman and come save her from the fire, so she was practicing her exit strategy. Then she would be the 'firegirl' and she would practice running as fast as she could to save a pretend baby.

When she went to bed last night, she requested that we talk instead of reading a book. She was very inquisitive about our exit plan in event of a fire. We had to review each scenario and go over our escape route for each scenario. She made each of us take turns to say something important about safety. She was hilarious, but it was amazing to see how seriously she is taking safety. She plans to make a safety book with Bubba when they get back to Florida.

I am leaving today for the Juice Plus conference in Orlando. Daddy promised Madi that part of Friday will be dedicated to teaching Madi how to open and jump out of her bedroom window in the event of an emergency. Crazy to teach a five year old this? We have cautioned her that this is something only to be done in case of a true emergency. Something tells me that she 'gets it'!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Little Brainiac

We are discovering that Madi is really flourishing in Math and Science. She's always expressed an interest in numbers, and she was counting to 100 before the age of 5 (maybe that's not as impressive as I think it is?), but her Pre-K teacher mentioned to me that she knows basic Math concepts and knows her units already. She seemed really impressed.

Today when I picked her up from school, she was so excited they had started working on "experients". When we got home, she started milling around the kitchen trying to make her own "experients". It started with timing a piece of ice to see how long it would take to melt. Then all of a sudden she was in the kitchen asking Jimmy to put some dishwasher gel into a cup for her. She was trying to replicate the "goo" that they made at school with Borax. Jimmy explained to her that dishwasher gel is dangerous and some things can be poisonous when mixed together. Moments later, she was asking if it was okay to mix glue and milk together! She is a determined one...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Up, Up, and Away!


I just don't dedicate enough blog space to our amazing Mei Mei community in South Florida. We have this group of about ten beautiful little gals (Daniel was our little guy:) who will grow up together knowing that they share this common uniqueness of being adopted from China. We were fortunate to join this group about three years ago, and we are so blessed every day to have them. They are wonderfully kind and terrific parents. We are so proud to be among this group of special people.

This weekend was Kai's birthday. Kai turned five two days after Madi. She had a really fun gymnastics party to celebrate. At the end of her party, she handed each guest a goody bag and a balloon. As we walked out the door, Madi asked me if she could send her balloon up to Daniel in Heaven. Of course, I said yes (sorry environmentalists) and asked if she wanted her friends to help too. Every Mei Mei wanted to be included and came outside to help release the balloon to Daniel. It was very touching, especially because some of them only met him a time or two, but his little spirit stuck with them. They are such sweet, sweet girls. Happy birthday, Kai! Thank you for making sure Daniel was part of your celebration too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keep an eye out, Mama

We had a strange experience in our neighborhood on Saturday. As Madi and I were walking home from Sherril's house, we passed two very unsavory looking characters. They were walking on the street. We were walking on the sidewalk. Actually, Madi was on her scooter. I gave them a nod and a "how do you do". One of them responded. The other just keep looking straight ahead with a strange grin on his face. Something inside me didn't feel quite right about this.

Madi and I proceeded down the street towards our house, quickly, as they proceeded the other way. As we looked both ways to cross the street, I looked back and noticed that they were now at the corner of the street and they began to argue over something. They were very loud, and they were using crazy body language, flailing their arms. Panic set in. I turned around and they were now heading toward us. I hurried Madi along on her scooter and as we approached the driveway, I was seriously almost dragging her and her scooter. She ended up losing her shoes in the front yard and I had thrown her scooter in the yard too. She scraped her feet. We ran in the house and locked the door. Poor Madi. I had absolutely terrified my daughter. I looked out the front window, and there they were at the corner of our street in front of our house. They still appeared to be arguing. Then they disappeared. I crept out into the backyard and through the fence I could see they had gone down the street near a friend's house. If I'm not mistaken, I think they may have been at the neighbor's house. I also think I heard them get in a car and drive away.

Madi curled up on my lap for a good twenty minutes. After we both calmed down, the following conversation took place:

Mommy: I am really sorry, Madi. I really think that Mommy may have over-reacted.

Madi: No you didn't overact Mama. They were weird, and they were fighting. If they would hurt each other, than they might hurt us too. They looked like they didn't belong here. They looked like they belong in another country.

I couldn't believe how wise she was about the whole situation. I used it as the perfect time for a safety lesson and explained how we need to be cautious and keep our eyes open. She wanted to put on some 'karate clothes', so we went in her room to find something suitable for fighting bad guys. Initially, she picked out an adorable shirt with her name on it. She said, "Yes! That's perfect! It has my name on it!" Then without hesitation she said, "No! I can't wear that! It has my name on it!!! She then told me that I wasn't allowed to wear a Juice Plus shirt because they might try to get samples from me and then they'd be healthy!!!

We went to bed that night thankful that Daddy was finally home after a trip away all week. The next day, the only thing Madi mentioned was, "Remember Mama...keep an eye out!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tired Day

Don't we all wish we could take a 'tired day' sometimes? Today was Madi's day. I think the hustle and bustle of the new school year, along with the excitement of her birthday this weekend just plain wore her out.

She woke up saying that she was still tired and didn't want to go to school. I knew she wasn't sick, and Madi clearly loves school, so I was starting to believe that she really was tired...or was she just pulling my leg? Ah, the tricks your mind plays on you!

I called Daddy on the phone to see if he could get through to her. She was laying on my bed sobbing and hugging her new beloved pillow pet and wouldn't even stop crying to speak to Daddy. I seriously couldn't get her to stop crying. I know some you are probably questioning my parenting skills right now, and quite honestly, so was I!

I decided to call the school and speak with the Director about the situation. She was awesome. She reminded me of everything that Madi's been through and that maybe Madi just needed some Mommy time. She advised me to give it to her. She also wanted me to tell Madi what fun activities are planned for Friday.

We had a great day together running errands and hanging out. I must admit that I loved her 'tired day' too. It made me realize how much I miss my little sidekick now that she's such a big girl.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our dossier is going to China

Finally! After quite the runaround, our dossier was approved and sent back to Holt from the Chinese Embassy. They will FedEx our dossier to China on Friday, and it will be received on Monday!

This is where it gets interesting. Some families have been waiting weeks for log in dates. Holt is going to see if China will expedite our log in date, based on our circumstances. If, and only if, our dossier is logged in sometime next week, it is possible that we could be matched with a child in the next group of referrals, which will be released next week! This is clearly a long shot, and we realize that. It is more likely that our dossier will be logged in and we'll be set for the next group of referrals in October.

This is when we truly have to believe that what is meant to be will happen. If our perfect match is in this group, we will get our log in date by some miracle. If not, then we will know that our paperwork was stuck at the State Department for a reason--because our baby needed more time to get to us. We just know Daniel has his little hand in this for us.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Murphy's Law of Adoption

Our wonderful social worker and adoption agency have done everything they can to expedite our case so far. We seemed to be way ahead of the game...

Then our dossier went to the State Department. It took over three weeks for them to do their job. This was way longer than it took last time. Oh well, I guess procedures change from time to time. Our adoption agency decided it was time to take action on August 23rd and sent in a courier on foot to the State Department. Wouldn't you know that was the very day the dossier had finally been transferred to the Chinese Embassy!

Two weeks later, our dossier is still there. According to our contact at Holt, the Embassy actually changed their regulations while our dossier was stuck at the State Department, and now they require an extra set of paperwork for each case!! Can you believe it? Thank goodness, Holt once again acted expeditiously and sent another copy via FedEx. It arrived safely yesterday.

At this point, our hope is that our dossier will make it back to Holt by next week and will be sent to China and logged in before the next batch of referrals is released. Referrals are usually released to the agency on the third week of each month. We hope our perfect match is among those babies. Please pray with us!

Get busy, Daniel!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Will she, or won't she?

Shortly after Daniel passed, I was in Madi's bedroom folding laundry while she was playing. In the midst of the quietness, I asked, "Madi...do you think you'd want another baby?"

Silence.

After about a minute but seemed like an hour, she turned to me--finger pointed--and very sternly replied, "I wanna go to China this time!" Guess we'll take that as a 'Yes'.

Then Madi found out she needs shots to go to China. She immediately began caving on the idea and suggesting that someone needs to stay behind and plan the party.

It took a while to get past that one, but we did. As we examined Daniel's courage and everything that he so bravely endured here on Earth, she became willing to take a few shots in order to make the trip to China to bring home a sibling.

This morning on the way to school, she asked if Bubba would be here when we go to China. I told her yes, Bubba would probably be here. "Someone should stay here with Bubba. I better stay here and keep her company!" I told her that would be just fine if that's what she really wants to do and explained that a trip to China is very expensive, so we want to be sure she really wants to go.

By the end of our conversation, she was asking questions about the airplane and making sure that we will pack plenty of lollipops in her carry on case.

Friday, September 3, 2010

4 Years with Madi


We celebrate her birthday
for God put her on this Earth

We celebrate her Gotcha day
for God put her in our arms

Wo Ai Ni, Xiaoyuan
Happy Gotcha Day


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Madi goes to the dentist

I totally procrastinated on getting Madi to her first dental appointment, mostly because the sea of pediatric dentists was new to me, and I was overwhelmed by the options. I finally decided on a female dentist in the next town over after seeking a few recommendations.

The appointment was a nightmare. We were there for two hours, no joke. It was painful. The office also had a very strange feeling and aura. It was truly like a Twilight Zone episode, or maybe it was just our timing. Luckily, Julianna came along to help entertain Madi. The bottom line was that they were unable to get her bite wing x-rays (she was crying hysterically in pain), and they found a small cavity in a molar. On the way out, as they scheduled Madi's filling, they explained to me their policy of "no parents allowed" during procedures. WHAT? No parents allowed? Are you kidding me?? I am totally not okay with that. Call me crazy and overprotective, but there is NO part of me that's okay with that!

I lamented about the situation and put out feelers to various friends for more names of pediatric dentists. Apparently, the 'no parents' thing is common policy! Look, it's not that I don't trust the staff. I understand the part about the open room and lots of people around to witness what's happening. It's just that I want to be one of those people!!!

Sorry for ranting. I guess I feel pretty strongly about this.

I called my parents to fill them in. My Dad was furious that I hadn't called (or visited) our family dentist, Dr. Juliano, in Boca. My Mother agreed. DUH. I have no idea why I never considered him. I suppose it was because everyone else takes their kids to a pediatric dentist, and I thought Madi would get more of a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling there? That couldn't have been farther from our experience...

Last week, Dr. Juliano squeezed us in for a consult. He was so unbelievable with Madi. I mean--he must be good if Ariel the mermaid is among his clientele, right?? He was able to easily and painlessly get the bite wing x-rays, assess the situation, and give Madi a dry run of what to expect. Madi hit the treasure box, and we hit the road.

On Thursday, we went for the filling. Unbelievable. They got the job done without any anesthesia--NOTHING--no gas (like the other place was going to use), no Novocaine--N-O-T-H-I-N-G!! Dr. Juliano told Madi that he was painting her tooth and that it would tickle a little bit. She let out a giggle here and there, and we were out of there in fifteen minutes. Madi asked us if she could go there forever.

So relieved that's over! On to the next issue...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rest in Peace, Schroeder

One of our beloved felines of over fifteen years, Schroeder, went to Heaven this evening. How beautiful that Schroeder, otherwise known as Baby Co, passed on a Sunday at home and went to join Daniel and Grandma in Heaven. He had been sick for some time, and he always got very stressed out going to the vet. That is why we hoped he would pass peacefully at home, and our prayers were answered today.

We had a feeling all week that he was getting close. This morning I brought him in the bed to cuddle with Madi and me. Then I suggested to Madi that we take him outside in the backyard. He always loved the outdoors and we knew he was too weak to try to run away. After about ten minutes, he moved towards the door to return indoors. We watched him all day and gave him loving attention. This afternoon I was once again moved to bring him outdoors. At about 5:00, we brought him out into the grass while the sun was still shining and there was a nice breeze in the air. It was close to 6 o'clock when we decided to bring him back inside. I carried him in and laid him next to his twin sister, Cinnamon, in our bedroom. A few minutes later, I noticed there was a dove in our backyard and commented to Jimmy that the Holy Spirit was present. We went in our bedroom and within ten minutes, the three of us watched our Baby Co move from this Earth. We sat with him, stroked him gently, kissed him and let him go.

Madi wanted him to be buried in her "Trust Jesus" beach towel that she made at SVF Bible Camp, so we did. She was also adamant that Schroeder be buried just behind Daniel's plaque so they would be close together, so we did. Our dear, strong daughter sprinkled Holy Water on Schroeder as we said prayers and laid him to rest.

We will miss Schroeder. It is so strange that he is gone but somewhat comforting that Daniel now has a pet in Heaven:)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Amanda

Daniel touched many lives, but he really touched Amanda, one of his anesthesiologists at Holtz Children's Hospital. In the medical world, they say that medicine and emotions shouldn't mix. Amanda broke all the rules. She allowed her heart--and her faith--to get involved. Her bond with Daniel was crystal clear from the first day we met her at his catheter procedure. She was so good with him and with us. She professes to be his second love (after Jules, of course). It is amazing how God puts different people in our paths for different reasons. Daniel has now changed her life in many ways.

When we entered the picture, Amanda was unsure where to go with her medical career. She was finishing up her internship and preparing to take her boards. She wasn't sure whether to stay in pediatric anesthesiology or to switch to adults in the future. Meeting Daniel made her decide to stick with pediatrics. Although losing Daniel caused her to question her choices once again, she has received indications from our Holy Spirit that pediatrics is where she must be. We couldn't agree more. Now she is even contemplating pediatric heart medicine and care.

Amanda came to dinner on Saturday. She played with Madi and we were able to spend some time watching videos of Daniel and reminiscing about him and about his medical condition. It is comforting to hear the opinion and the facts from someone who not only knew his case personally, but also coming from someone who truly loved him.

We know that Amanda will be in our lives forever now. The bond that has been forged is beyond words. We are forever grateful to Amanda for loving Daniel and giving him such good care. Her's was the last face he saw and the last voice he heard before his surgery took place. That is a very, very comforting thought for us. We pray that Amanda will answer the call and positively impact the lives of many children in the future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of Pre-K!

I find it interesting that I look more Chinese than my daughter. If only I could have that skin tone!

Madi had a wonderful first day at school. After much coaching about how she is the "big girl" of the group, she parted without a problem. In fact, leading up to the big day, she has started making independent strides to do more at home on her own too. After all--she is going to be FIVE soon, and she is very excited about that!

Madi has a wonderful teacher this year named Mrs. Avogardo. Daddy calls her Mrs. Avocado (no offense:). I can only imagine it won't be long before Madi spills this information to her teacher. Oh, I hope it goes over well. She already told Miss Dana at Banyan all about it yesterday!

Drop off was emotionally okay for me today. We had been to Madi's open house on Monday morning where I revisited my visions of Daniel trying to balance on the curb like the big kids, and I pictured him running into Mrs. Bivin's class to greet her with a smooch and to collect his big sister. Today, memories gave me smiles, and I even had to console one of my dear fellow mom's who cried on the way to school thinking of Daniel. It brings me joy to continually discover just how many families and friends have Daniel's little mug hanging on their refrigerator to give them inspiration.

Beautiful blue skies today in Delray Beach...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to Banyan

Today was Madi's first day back to Banyan Creek for speech classes. We are thrilled that she is back in the loving care of Ms. Dana. She was excited for her first day, especially since she will be eating lunch with the other kids.

Drop-off was tougher for me than I had planned. As my almost-five year old beauty exited the car, I realized that I was emotional because I was missing both my children. This was the first time dropping Madi off at Banyan without Daniel in the car with me, and it was totally overwhelming. I can see that these unexpected moments are going to hit me--to hit us--probably forever. Thank the Lord for strength and joyful memories.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Loving Memory

Our dear friends Michelle, Dave & Kayla Sneiderman delivered the most special gift for our garden today. They had this beautiful plaque made honoring Daniel. We placed it in our butterfly garden right in front of our Buddha Belly bamboo. David installed the post and plaque for us while the girls played, and Michelle and I had time to talk about our little angel. We are blessed with such amazing and loving friends...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marco Island

Marco Island was everything we needed. We realized that the three of us have never taken a vacation together alone, and it was priceless having that quality time. We checked into the resort on Friday around noon and spent the day swimming between the pool and the ocean. I am in love with the West coast beaches. The sand is so white, and the water is so much calmer than the Atlantic. Gone was my paranoia of Madi being swept out to sea.

About halfway through the day on Saturday, we decided that leaving on Sunday was going to be a problem for us, since it seemed like we just got there! We ended up cashing in more Marriott points to stay an extra night. We hit the jackpot though because so many people were checking out on Sunday that they upgraded us to this amazing Lanai Suite that had private access to the beach and pool area. It was awesome and well worth our decision to stay.

Nickelodeon sponsored some events at the hotel this weekend, and Madi got to meet Dora! She loved it. We also got to watch these Nickelodeon games on the beach where big kids got 'slimed' for losing, and sometimes winning, competitions. Madi loved being a spectator and admitted that she was happy she didn't get slimed!

On Sunday, we rented a water hammock to float around in the ocean. The water was choppier than usual, which made it extra fun and exciting for Madi. In fact, she declared that it was "more fun than Disney!" Those are some pretty big claims! We did have a ball and spent several hours out there floating and jumping off on occasion to scout for shells.

Which brings me to my new addiction--shelling. I love the thrill of the hunt. Jimmy seems to always find the best ones, but we all managed to find our share and ended up with 3 gallon size Ziploc bags full! I was so into it that we actually wore Madi out and she was tired of shelling. By Monday morning, she was totally ready to head home and wanted nothing more than to have down time and watch shows. So, I ventured out on my own on a last-ditch effort to come up with that "prize" conch shell. Instead, I came upon a mother and her little boy playing in the sand. I totally fell apart. Daniel should have been on this trip with us. I know, I know...he was with us--he was all around us, but oh how we missed his physical presence, the three of us guessing how he would have handled every experience, guessing what he would have said, wondering how each event would have been different if he was there. The most important thing though is that we had fun. Despite Daniel not being there, we laughed alot and enjoyed our time together immensely. We are grateful for those moments and for that vacation.

We checked out of paradise and headed for home Monday morning. As much fun as we had, it was so nice to be home, and we couldn't get back here soon enough. There's no place like home...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Off to Marco!

We are excited for this weekend. We cashed in some Marriott points to spend the weekend in Marco Island, which is about a two hour drive. Half the fun seems to be in preparing for our trip. We have been busy making lots of lists of things to take, which seems like everything we own! Madi is busy packing her suitcase, her baby doll's suitcase and many things to entertain her. In reality, we know that most of them won't even be played with, but that's okay. She's having a ball thinking about it and planning for it.

Jimmy and I stayed at this property last year after we renewed our wedding vows. We had a great time together but dreamed of the day that we would return with both our children. We had been matched with Daniel at that point and imagined the two of them running and playing in the sand. That is difficult for us to swallow, but we intend to keep this trip upbeat knowing that Daniel will be with us--while are swimming in the ocean, on the beach collecting shells, playing on the water slide--he will be with us.

So half of this dream will come true this weekend as we make the trip with Madi to enjoy some fun in the sun. Next year, we hope to take this same trip with both of our children. One of them is out there somewhere waiting for us. And we are here anxiously waiting for them. It is so exciting and hopeful to think about...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

L-A-Z-Y

That's about the story of our Summer. Madi and Mommy in our jammies until noon. An occasional lunch or play date here and there. Lots and lots of down time. Perfect.

One of our Summer discoveries has been home movies. It started with our discovery of Daniel footage after his passing. We were able to relive Gotcha Day and the trip to China to bring him home. We were able to relive the past few months with Daniel and Madi as loving siblings having the time of their lives. As Madi would say, "I think I've seen this a hundred times!"

Then we dug out the footage of Madi. It is amazing--and crazy--how this little chunker has grown and changed in the past few years. Oh, those movies are so precious to us. They ground us and remind us what life was like when it was just us and her receiving our undivided attention. And so, this Summer has also been about the three of us reconnecting and Madi, once again, receiving our undivided attention. Very soon, she will be back in school and hopefully we'll be bringing a new family member home soon, so we are embracing every moment with her, our amazing daughter.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy

Tuesday was a day of surprises for Daddy. He woke up to a homemade blueberry bran muffin and coffee served in bed by Madi and Mommy. Madi was so excited for this moment. It was the last thing she talked about the night before and when she found me in the kitchen the next morning, she was barely awake but very aware and insistent that we had a job to do. We tiptoed around preparing his "breaksis in bed". He was so good to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep for Madi's enjoyment. When Daddy went to work, we were busy baking his birthday cake, which looked disastrous but tasted pretty good. Madi decorated it with several types of sprinkles and adorned it with four peanuts representing Daddy, Mommy, Madi and Daniel.

Grandpa treated us to dinner out at P.F. Chang's. Madi was thrilled to wear her Chinese outfit but was a bit disappointed at the lack of authenticity. While she enjoyed the food and company, she much prefers a Chinese restaurant where she can practice her Chinese language skills with the staff!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mermaid Madi

Move over, Ariel. There's a new mermaid in town.

A few weeks ago, Madi discovered that she had some spending money in her wallet that Bubba and Grandpa had given her. She quickly appropriated the $15 for yet another Barbie doll. "Really Madi?" I quipped, "Another Barbie doll??" She already has a collection of probably twenty. "How about spending your money on one of those mermaid fins we saw somewhere--wouldn't that be better? I offered without thinking or remembering where we even saw it last year. Madi happily jumped right on the bandwagon. She wanted that mermaid fin, and right away I might add. Good job, Mom.

We went home to discover online that it wasn't very easy to find. There are only two versions that seem to exist, and the least expensive version was way more than she her wallet had to offer. I promised her, and Julianna, that we would venture out the next day to look for the items they were seeking, well knowing that we would likely strike out at Target. And I was right. No such luck.

Bubba and Grandpa got wind of Madi's desire to be a mermaid and decided to send it for her 'just because'. They obviously must miss her already having gone back to CA two weeks ago. It arrived yesterday and Madi's eyes were as big as saucers when she opened it. She tried it out today, and it was a bit more challenging than she expected. Something tells me she'll master it in no time. And if not, her and Daddy can reenact the Barbie Mermaidia movie for hours on end!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Moving Forward

We have been hustling with our paperwork, and it's hard to believe that our dossier is already complete and was sent to our agency yesterday for the certification and authentication process. Our amazing home study social worker really came through for us with our home study report and Holt was quick to approve it for us.

We had an interesting development along the way. We found out that our USCIS clearance is approved until 2/3/11. The good news about that is we don't have to do our fingerprints again--at least for now. This also shaves about 4 - 6 months off our wait time. It is likely that we will have to file again, but there is a chance, albeit slight, that we could skip this step IF we are able to be matched with a child AND travel by 2/3/11! We hope that Daniel is flying around up there right now trying to locate the perfect little brother or sister for Miss Madi...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Visit to New Smyrna

We had a really nice relaxing weekend in New Smyrna with Aunt Diane & Uncle Shrimp. We arrived on Friday and Aunt Diane had laid out big plans for Madi. Her "to do" list consisted of: swim, make a cake, wrap presents (for Daddy and Uncle Shrimp's birthdays), and make cards. She stayed busy all day enjoying each task, especially licking spatulas, beaters & bowls:)

I love that Madi enjoys "the little things" in their company. This trip, she was absolutely fascinated by two things--their cuckoo clock and an old-fashioned record player. She would drag Uncle Shrimp into the room a few times a day so he would adjust the clock and she could get the full cuckoo experience. She also loved dancing to records with both of them and loved the fact that most kids have never even seen a turntable, yet she has!

We got a kick out of the fact that when Madi would wake up and go out in the living room, she would order Jimmy and I to stay in bed and rest. She really loved having her quality time with them, and it was clear she wanted to embrace every moment of time-dominating opportunity!

When we were saying our goodbyes, Aunt Diane and Uncle Shrimp thanked Madi for coming to visit, to which she replied, "Thank you for coming to visit Daniel." Always thinking of her little brother...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Better late than never

I was driving on I-95 today, and I started thinking about how being late used to drive me crazy. I mean really crazy. Downright neurotic actually. The slightest traffic jam could send me into a tailspin. Running late for an event could give me heart palpitations.

Daniel changed me. Going through all of that chaos with him and watching his bravery every step of the way changed me. Not that I never let hiccups along the way affect me now--in fact, Jimmy would probably laugh if he saw this post! But seriously, I feel differently. Losing Daniel made me realize what really matters. Traffic jams and running a few minutes late do not matter. Not one bit.

Thank you, God, for reminding me what is really important. Losing Daniel was critical. Nothing else even compares.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Popcorn for breakfast

I love Summer. All our schedules thrown out the window. Nothing to rush out the door for. Just sun, fun, and cuddle-bugging in the mornings while watching cartoons.

We have managed to have a great and busy Summer so far, without enrolling in camps and expensive activities. Madi has enjoyed relaxing, and yes--watching that forbidden television too. Down time is exactly the medicine we've needed for reflecting and for healing.

The next few weekends will bring some small family trips that we've planned. These little trips are giving us a lot of excitement to look forward to. We can all use the break, but especially Daddy who's been working so hard while we're goofing off.

This morning Madi requested popcorn for breakfast. Popcorn and strawberry lemonade to drink. Request granted, happily I might add. I just love Summer:)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lion Country Safari

Last week, we went to Lion Country Safari with the boys and Aunt Sheila. Madi loves to drag Murphy around everywhere. She is such a little bossy thing. It is cute because Aunt Sheila insists that the boys listen to no one like they listen to Madi! She wants me to bring Madi over to see if she can get them to do housework:) I love the shot of the kids in hardhats. Wanna guess which one's in charge?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One Year Ago Today

It was exactly one year ago today that we received the phone call from our agency about a baby boy named Weifeng. It is so hard to believe that a year has passed and he has come and gone from our lives like a shooting star.

I remember vividly receiving that call. I was returning from the grocery store and bank with Madi and Julianna Debonis in the back seat of the van. I remember answering my cell phone and the Holt agent telling me that they had a baby boy who needed a home. It was impossible to keep the tears from falling. I was barely able to speak.

I should back up two weeks prior to June 24th. My Mother-in-Law, who we were all very close with, passed away from a formidable battle with uterine cancer. That morning, Jimmy and I went in Madi’s bedroom to break the news to her. They had been very, very close. We explained to Madi that Grandma had gone to Heaven. At that time, we also told her that Grandma had a job to do—she was going find us a baby.

So when the phone rang with our news of a baby, I knew in my heart that he would be the one. I tried hard to keep my composure, especially with the kids in the car. I raced home and inside the house to call Jimmy praying that he would feel the same.

The same day, we were emailed the file about our son-to-be, a baby boy from Nanchang, Jiangxi province born 2/2/08 with multiple heart conditions. We read his file over and over soaking up every detail. We stared at his pictures, studying every beautiful detail. We cautiously did our homework on his condition and met with doctors for the next month until we knew we were ready to take this leap of faith. It was then we shared our news with our world.

Just this morning, Madi woke up saying, "I miss Daniel". We all miss Daniel. Thank God for memories, for pictures, and mostly for videotape--which reminds us where Daniel started and where he ended up in our home, as a happy little boy who was so full of life. We will always love you, Dan Dan...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Operation Tadpole

Our dear friend and neighbor, Carol, just had a swimming pool built in her backyard and it was "ready for swimming" the other day. Madi just couldn't wait to get over there to take a dip this morning. As we entered the pool, we noticed that there was a bit of debris, which didn't seem abnormal given the rain squalls we had yesterday. Right away, I spotted a frog or two that I pulled out of the pool. Then I noticed something much smaller swimming around. It was a tiny, tiny tadpole. As I looked around, it was easy to spot more tadpoles. Apparently, the pool hadn't been balanced yet and was basically like a big swamp! We asked Carol for some plastic cups and began our tadpole saving mission. We scooped literally hundreds of tiny little tadpoles into a large bucket for Jimmy to take to the lake. He made five trips. The frog population (and the lake fish, I'm sure:) were loving us today! Madi had a blast knowing that she was saving these babies. She was so fired up about the whole mission. It was precious. When we came home, Jimmy ordered us right to the shower!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tea Time

We went to the tea room this week with gal pals Olivia and Lauren. These three will be going to First United Methodist together in the Fall. They had a great time running around and accessorizing themselves and their mommies! The attention spans are still a little bit too short to make a habit out of the tea room, but it was the perfect place to celebrate new beginnings:)
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

A New Journey...

Today's Mass was about journeys. Moving forward in this life and following Jesus along the way. I found it a very fitting time to write this post.

Days after Daniel passed away, we knew in our hearts that we wanted another child. We know that we can't replace Daniel--nor would we want to. Daniel was a very special child who left a mark on us that we will carry forever--a mark of hope, a mark of love, a mark of faith. We are better people because of him.

We do feel very strongly that we have the love to give to another child, and we believe Daniel would want that for us. We know that he will be watching over us for the rest of our lives. And so, we have begun the process to adopt again. Our path seems to be taking us back to China, back to bring another special needs child home to share common roots and heritage with big sister Madi. It will take time to go through the rigorous paperwork and waiting game, but we have the support of our kind and wonderful social worker and of our adoption agency. They have been very gracious and understanding with our situation.

Once again, we invite you to join our family as we embark on a new journey--a new journey of hope, a new journey of love, a new journey of faith. Our journey to become a family of five.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Peace Found

Our meeting with Daniel's surgeon today gave us some of the peace that we were looking for. We received a lot of the missing pieces we needed about his decline, even though there are still lots of questions that we (and the doctors) will never know the answers to. At least now we feel like we are closer to those answers than before.

It seems that Daniel's lungs just couldn't adjust after his corrective surgery had taken place. Although the surgery was a success, it appears his heart and lungs weren't used to the pulsations that occurred with his new and improved heart function. His lungs began to fill with fluid but not at an alarming rate. In fact, the X-ray they took at 3:00am the next morning was not alarming. The blood gas tests were not even alarming until about 6:00am. In hindsight, he likely had a pulmonary hemorrhage that filled his lungs with blood, in addition to the fluid, making it more difficult for him to breath resulting in the cardiac arrest at 8:00am. Could they have done things differently? Maybe. Maybe they could have put his tube back in sooner, but again--there was nothing alarming that indicated it was imperative to do so at that time.

Daniel's immediate cause of death was abdominal sepsis. On top of all of his other organ issues, his intestines suffered one of two problems. He either had a perforation of an intestine or part of his intestine had become gangrenous and ruptured. We will never know which one occurred, but it was quite obvious that the increased swelling in his abdomen on Saturday and into the night was very serious and sent him into cardiac arrest for a second time. They saw an abdominal issue coming on and performed tests to find a problem, but we are told that the intestines are kind of a "dark horse" in the medical field and there surprisingly aren't many ways to detect these problems early on. They also progress very quickly. The only solution to this problem would have been emergency surgery. We are not so sure that Daniel's body would have made it through the surgery. He was still on a ventilator, kidney dialysis, and heart pacers. It would have been an uphill battle for sure. It would have meant going back on the ECMO machine, more anesthesia, etc., etc. We believe that the Good Lord gave Daniel the easy way out.

Daniel's surgeon was very "human" today, as always. We feared that he might be on the defensive given Daniel's outcome, but that wasn't the case. He answered our questions honestly, thoughtfully and very professionally. We found our peace in attaining knowledge about his condition, even knowing that different steps in his treatment may or may not have affected his outcome. We will never know. The fact of the matter is that these doctors are people. They are not mind readers. They are not perfect. They are not God. We watched them give Daniel everything they could. We felt their pain in losing him.

The most peace comes from the answer to our most important question. We wanted to know if they learned anything, if not multiple things, from Daniel's case that might save the life or lives of future children. The answer was yes. They learned more than a few lessons here. They've already made changes in their processes and in their thinking patterns. They might even name one of their new practices after Daniel. The staff members who knew Daniel, and loved him, have promised us (and Daniel) that his death will not be in vain. He has left a legacy at that hospital that will make a difference.

Now that, my friends, gives us peace...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Looking for Peace

Last night, Jimmy and I were outside for a brief time discussing Daniel and our disbelief that he's no longer with us when I looked up in the sky to see another beautiful rainbow. It instantly brought comfort.

This week brings a lot of mixed emotions. Tomorrow we are heading down to Miami to meet with Daniel's surgeon. The night Daniel passed away, his surgeon said that we would probably think of many questions to ask once the dust settled. He was right. I don't think that 'closure' is necessarily the right word for what we are seeking. I think we are looking for peace. We hope that we can learn a few things that will give us peace. We realize that some of our questions probably can't be answered, but that's okay. We'll try.

On Friday, we are laying Daniel's ashes to rest. We chose the Mausoleum in Boca Raton where Jimmy's Grandparents are buried. Uncle Bill's ashes are also in the Mausoleum there. My Father-in-Law had never laid Grandma's ashes to rest last year when she passed (one year ago tomorrow), so appropriately we are placing Daniel's urn in the same niche with Grandma's urn. They are in Heaven together, and now their ashes on Earth will be together as well. That is something that truly does give us peace.