Thursday, August 30, 2007

4 years ago today--August 31, 2003

Our little girl.

Gail holding our Grace Lanli.

Dan and Grace with cheerios.

View outside our hotel window.

It has been 4 years since we got her but our journey to Grace started a long time ago...Gail and I have been together over 20 years. We first met 33 years ago and were reintroduced 21 years ago after we both had taken a first failed crack at marriage. Our lives have run strangely parallel (and with occasional crossings) ever since we both attended the same high school. We had lockers in the same hallway, some classes together and we even had overlapping groups of friends. I have pictures from high school where we both are in the shot but with different people. We never dated or had more than a conversation in the hallway. We went to the same college. Her best friend/roommate dated a guy in the dorm room next to mine and our paths crossed there but we still didn't connect. We were both born in northern Illinois (different towns but both families closely linked to Chicago) in the same year. Our families moved to southern Indiana (the same town but opposite sides-in more ways than one) in the late '60s. We both married high school sweethearts and (surprise!) it didn't work out. When we finally got together the "Journey" began. Failed attempts to have biological children led us to seek other routes. We were delighted to raise Gail's biological son (Nick) but always wished he had a sibling.

The whole adoption process causes you to do a lot of introspection. You need to identify your doubts/insecurities and face them. Your decision will affect your life and many people's lives - forever. It shouldn't be taken lightly. We decided that we wanted to adopt and chose China. I don't know who or how they chose us to give us Grace but I thank them and God with all my heart. We loved her before we saw her and she has grown to love us. I can't imagine my life any other way yet there were so many things that had to go just right to get us here at this time in our lives. I can't help but think about the odds of all these coincidences lining up the way they did. I'm not a person that really believes in coincidences.

When you first meet your child, you never forget it. We were waiting in our room in the Gloria Plaza hotel, in NanChang as nervous as any first date. The knock on the door told us our time had come. There was the Director of the orphanage, our social worker, a nanny and our little girl. Not knowing the protocol - Do we invite them in? Do we grab our child? Gail spoke to Grace softly. Though shy, Grace smiled at her...and then Gail took her in her arms from the nanny. She was stunningly beautiful, the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. I have to say the rest of the evening was kind of a blur...we played with Grace, held her, loved her and fed her. She was perfect in every possible way.

There are those times in life where it seems like you're standing in a doorway. No matter what you choose, walk through or stay where you are, life will never be the same. We walked through a doorway four years ago and it changed our lives forever. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

9 months

Today it's been exactly 9 months since our dossier was logged in. I'll feel better when CCAA starts referring dossiers in 2006, presently they are still working on the end of Nov. 2005. Things are very slowly moving along. It would be nice if the moving got a bit faster. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dress up

Anytime Grace is quiet, you know there is trouble brewing. After a few minutes of silence, we went looking for Grace this morning and found her in her closet dressing our kitty...Jack. He had on a pink skirt and little tee shirt that were previously on a doll. Be sure and check out Jack's face in the photo. He wasn't pleased. I remember dressing my cat in a cape when I was little.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yes he is a real person

Here are 2 of my favorites pics-one of Nick and Grace shortly after we got back from China in 2003, the other one taken when he turned 21. He's a great big brother and a great guy in general. For about a year or so when he was 18-19 and Grace was 18mos.-2+yrs. old I thought about writing a book called, "Teenagers and Toddlers, a Mom's Survival Guide." Then add in my own hormonal perimenopausal issues to the mix with me in my mid 40's, there was a lot of fun stuff going on here. Truthfully boys are easy, at least that's my experience. Calm, real and rational. I'm the oldest of 4 kids, 1 sister and 2 brothers. Girls are all about the drama. Hmmm, why did we request a little girl for this 2nd adoption? Oh well too late now to change. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some photos from late spring-summer

Monday, August 20, 2007


Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes the silk.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My new middle name is...

The Wait

I really started this blog because of the wait. I needed something to help me with this wait that I've been drowning in. It's been a hard summer for me. I sometimes have fears that China will shut the whole program down. We are in a very long line with many other parents waiting to adopt a child from China. How did the wait get this long? There are lots of reasons that add up to it. First of all, China is changing. China is becoming very quickly a more "westernized nation," and wants to be recognized as a world power. World powers need to be able to take care of their own people. We know China has had overpopulation issues for a very long time, that is how their "1 child policy," resulted. Just recently China has opened up adoption within their own country, where originally it was not encouraged much. The China international adoption program is incredibly popular, and that adds to the increase in the number of families with their paperwork submitted to China. In order to decrease the wait time to referral and also decrease the numbers of dossiers submitted, CCAA(China Center of Adoption Affairs), decided to make some changes in their criteria for adoptive parents. They dropped the age limit from 55 to 5o, and made other specific changes regarding BMI(body mass index), financial stuff, and health issues parents may have. The changes went into effect May of 2007. We wouldn't be affected by the changes fortunately, but we did hear about them coming and got our dossier in by Nov. 2006. So did many other prospective adoptive parents too. So we are in a giantic huge line that we are maybe 3/4ths of the way back. I'm not sure if I explained this very well, there are also other factors that contribute to the wait and lots and lots of really crazy rumors. CCAA doesn't explain how or why they do what they do, and we have to deal with that. Late this spring when I realized that we could be realistically looking at waiting another 2- 3 years possibly until we travel to China to bring back our daughter Lily, Dan and I had a long talk. We are in this for the long haul. Our daughter is in China and she probably hasn't been born yet. We will wait as long as it takes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My new favorite thing

My new favorite thing is this fabric totebag that my friend Michelle gave me for my bday. The colorful fabric is a print of Chinese little girls. The black fabric on the border(it's hard to see), has different Chinese characters on it. Thanks Michelle! You are the best!

School supplies

Yes, it's this momma's favorite time of the year. :) Back to school time. In Wisconsin we go back to school after Labor Day, unlike Indiana where my sister lives and they start school in mid-August. Thursday, son Nick(22yrs.) and daughter Grace(5yrs.) accompanied me to the local Target for some back to school shopping. Nick starts back at college and has just moved into a different apartment that is closer to campus than his previous one. For him we purchased a 6 X 8' rug, ice cube trays, laundry detergent, a few cleaning supplies, a wastebasket and some assorted grocery items he could finagle out of me. Grace got crayons, markers, Elmer's glue, glue sticks and scissors. There were quite a few other college age kids with their parents escorting them through the store and buying new things for their dorm room or apartments. I have to say I was the ONLY one in the store buying for a pre-K student and college student at the same time. There aren't many families that have a 5yr. old and a 22 yr. old, I think we're fortunate to be in that club. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some summer photos

Best friends. Feeding the goats.

Grace and her best friend Jack kitty.

Grace and Mommy

The road less traveled

First of all I will start out with the fact that I'm not a trained writer. Dan is the writer here and it will be obvious when he posts something, he is quite talented. I'm pretty factual in my writing and not always correct grammatically... I'm probably more of a technical writer(comes from my many years working as a RN). The road less traveled is really about how we came to adoption and to Miss Grace. I never thought in a million years that in my 40's I'd be parenting a child again. I was very fortunate to get pregnant quite easily with Nick in my mid 20's(oh, so long ago) and had an uneventful pregnancy, labor and delivery. I got divorced from Nick's Dad when Nick was 14 mos. old(won't go into the dramatic details presently). Later, I met Dan and fell in love, and we were married 3 yrs. later. To make a long story short, I went through years and years of time diagnosing and treating my infertility. I was on oral meds and shots, had multiple diagnostic and surgical procedures and pretty much did everything medically you can to get pregnant. What resulted was 3 miscarriages, a great deal of loss and heartache, and eventually realizing I didn't particularly WANT to be pregnant in my 40's. I remember sitting in my OB/Gyn's office at age 40, and him saying very kindly to me, "I'm so sorry Gail, but you will never be able to have a baby." I already pretty much knew that in my heart and by then was okay with having one child-Nick. But...time went on(about a year) and I happened to meet a new co-worker that I got to know. I found out that she was 50 and had 3 children, ages 5, 7, and 9. They were all adopted from Korea! A week later I met another woman at a class I was taking and she had just returned from China with a second daughter! It was one of those lightning bolt moments that come out of nowhere. I could do this! We began to research adoption and particularly international adoption because we knew most likely we wouldn't be picked by a birth mom through a domestic program here in the U.S. because we were in our 40's. I researched health issues. We looked at programs in Russia, Guatemala, China and Korea. We picked China. China. A country I knew very little about other than it was very far away. Fast forward 7 yrs. later and I know more about China than I know about my own ethnicity that is Swedish/German/English. I feel like I am Chinese--I really do. Now that may sound silly, but it's true. The road less traveled for us has been our journey to adoption and to our beautiful flower Grace and how this journey has made all the difference in our lives. Grace's Chinese name is Lan Li. It means "beautiful orchid." And she most definitely is beautiful inside and out. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

More bday party photos

Grace picked a "white unicorn" theme for her party. Not real sure where that has come from, but she's been into horses and unicorns lately. She's still talking about her birthday and what her next bday party will be like, kinda like it's going to happen tomorrow. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grace is 5!

Last week Grace turned 5 and we had a neighborhood party for her. Can't believe our girl is already 5, the time goes so fast. We rented one of those blow up jump houses and everyone loved it! Even some of the parents. :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Welcome to our life!

We are joining the throng of people who share their experiences and feelings through a blog. Life can be hectic but it is often interesting and worth sharing. Grace is our 5 year old daughter - shown here in her rock star outfit and pose. We adopted her from China 4 years ago and are waiting to get her future sister, Lily - with another throng of people who are also waiting for their children from China. We have been blessed with 2 wonderful children (our son, Nick, is 22 years old) but we won't feel that our family is complete until we have Lily with us. Please follow us on our journey!
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