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


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,, 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.