This blog covers our wait, travel, and adjustment to our 4 year old adopted Chinese daughter Sarah Shui Qing from Nanjing. There are over 1000 posts. I have moved my blog to Catching Butterflies 2. I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. It has alot of information on Special needs adoption. Follow us to our new address Catching Butterflies 2! Thank you for reading!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I just heard a saying I thought was really good. It is, "it is not so important what you personally achieve in life, but what you set in motion"! This is a good word for all of us who are thinking about and investing in future generations. My life is half spent, my real impact or goal is to invest in generations I will never live to see!

I'm so excited!!! I know I've written about my brilliant Big footed daughter Nicole before. She has written some children's books,and we have been looking for a publishing agent.She just got an e-mail from an agent (who receives over 3000 manuscripts per month). They want to see more of her work!!! We are so excited and proud!!! Nicole might have an agent!

I thought I would sleep really late this morning and try to recover some energy so I can keep on packing & cleaning. I woke up with a nightmare about Nicole (my 13 year old daughter). She only brought one pair of shoes to China, and something happened to them. I don't remember what happened to her shoe (one got lost or damaged). The point is, she has BIG, BIG feet. There is no way we would be able to find her an extra pair of shoes in China. So before I start cleaning out the refrigerator I need to take Nicole shopping for some new Birkenstocks. They pack lite, and she needed some new sandals anyway!

Friday, March 30, 2007

I've been pretty caught up in the details this week. Airport transportation, hotels, inland flights etc... Our agency generally does these things for families. We wanted to do these things ourselves because we want to stay in apartments and not hotels. This is what works best for us. If it was just me & Juergen, we would stay in hotels. 2 weeks with 5 kids in a hotel would not translate into a vacation! No, not a good idea!!! Not with my kids!
I wanted to switch gears a bit. This isn't just a vacation. This is an adoption trip. Somehow I would like to look past the "to do" list and think about what I can expect. I've done this two times before. I have a general idea of what may be ahead of us. OK, I've got to put the kids to bed. I start cleaning the house tomorrow. Cleaning out the refrigerator and fun stuff like that. I don't want any moldy surprises waiting for me when I return in a month. I do some of my best thinking when I'm scrubbing my kitchen floor. My thoughts will be drifting away from where I'm staying to why I am going.
I forgot to write we got a CA (That's a US Consulate appointment)on the 19TH of April!

Here are some more details (mostly for my mom).We fly on China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai directly to Guangzhou (2 hours) on April 17Th at 8:05am, and we return on April 20Th at 20:25 (again 2 hours). The flight goes in and out of the old Shanghai airport. We will need to take a long taxi ride to our hotel The Ramada Pudong Airport . This will put us right next to the International airport where Mom flys out on the morning of April 21. I will hang out with Sarah in this very nice hotel (I got it for a very good price on Expedia). Our flight leaves at almost midnight April 21. I think the only detail I haven't worked out is where we are staying in Nanjing. So far,so very good!!!

Allot of details are getting worked out today. Juergen got our visas today in Frankfurt. I got an offer on a townhouse in Nanjing but I'm waiting for some details. My e-mail box is flooded with words of Congratulations! I'm overwhelmed! I got a surprise visit from my friend Katrin. She and her husband Peter have been on pins and needles hoping everything would work out! Katrin brought me these cute flowers and this very special butterfly candle holder! I told Katrin it feels so much like you are getting married! So much joy, and so many details to take care of! I'm including a picture of the boys. Last night I didn't have time to cook, so Juergen took the kids to Burger King to celebrate!

I wanted to announce to the whole world that Sarah's grandma Moreno has a birthday today! My mom has always wanted to travel to China...and we are so glad she will be traveling with us! Happy birthday Mom! I have not got the words to tell you how much I love you, and how glad I am we are sharing this special time together! You never asked the question "Why do you want another kid", you always said "Why not"! I am so grateful!

This is a faxed copy of our Travel approval. The original is being sent by FedEx, and should be in our hands (God willing) on Monday before noon. We would not be allowed to have or even see Sarah with out this all important paper. I have not heard yet, but I'm hoping all 14 waiting families at IAAP got their TA's. So many of these families have waited very long (overly long) for their TA's. They will all travel at the beginning of May. I bet they will have a great time as one big exciting travel group. This is something I'm sorry I have to miss! Congratulations to the Carr family. We all enjoyed your wonderful video of adopting your deaf son. They got a TA for their waiting daughter. Congratulations to the Perry family on your TA for your new son Liam (what a smile he has)! Congratulations also to my online Canadian mommy to be Liz. She got her TA for her waiting daughter Ava. Congratulations to my good luck charm Jennifer who got her LOA this week. She should be traveling to get her daughter in May. My on line friends Pat and Cindy arrived in China yesterday. They will receive their new daughter this next week. So there is allot of excitement in adoption land. Lots of good stories to follow. Forgive me if I forgot someone my brain is jello! Many children will join families in the coming weeks. Each story is a miracle. I can hardly believe we are finally getting to the good part of our story. Wow, Wow, Wow!!!

I really did feel lite headed yesterday. Jessica, Thomas, and now Philip are all sick. I thought I would be joining them. After a good nights sleep I'm feeling better! I'm hoping to get a 3 bedroom apartment in Nanjing, if it doesn't work out I will book a hotel. With 8 people in a hotel for one week, it's going to be crowded, and expensive. I hope the apartment works out. I already called China 2 times this morning. I also need to book my hotel room for the final night in Shanghai(April 20), and my airline tickets to Guangzhou for April 17-20, and also train ticket to Nanjing and back. After that I think we have all the details worked out. Only the cloths need to be packed, and the house needs to be cleaned. I wonder at this point if I couldn't just hire someone to clean my house? I think I should just take my kids to the movies, and let someone else clean the floors!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

It came a day early, and my hands are shaking! Juergen is sitting at his desk across from me, and he is trying to get me to do this and that (book shuttles and stuff). Crazy!!! Richard at IAAP e-mailed us the news. He will try to get us a CA on the 19Th of April. We are going to China to adopt our daughter, and you were worried! I would scream, but I think I'm going to faint first. Thank you Jesus!

I got a package in the mail today from China. No, not my TA! A few weeks ago I said I would bid on E-bay for something old, something new, I don't know what and something blue. I won the bid on this Hello kitty watch. I bid on it because Sarah is sleeping under Hello Kitty bed sheets in her last picture. I just could not get Hello kitty off my mind, so I decided to get a Hello kitty something. This was actually sent directly from China! It is even set to Chinese time! I think Sarah will like her Mommy wearing a Hello Kitty watch necklace! I don't need a "sign" from God to go to China...but getting a watch in the mail from China, set to Chinese time could confirm to me that it really is time to go to China! What do you think?

Tomorrow is the big day, but today my packing and cleaning continue! Thomas and Jessica both are home with the flu. I'm tired, but I think I'm still healthy. All I can say is it's better to get sick this week then next week! The new Mr Bean movie comes out here this weekend. I plan on taking the kids. If any of my friends from Heidelberg want to join us Sunday after church let me know. I want to laugh until I cry! I'm so glad Juergen (who has been putting in allot of over time) is taking Monday and Tuesday off. Hopefully the packing will be completely finished by Saturday, and we can start slipping into some serious vacation mode!!! I am planning on having a majorly great time in China! I'm forecasting wonderful conditions! Sunny Sky's and lots of laughter!!! Look out China, a very crazy group of German/ Americans are about to invade your country! We have our chopsticks...and we do know how to use them!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I went ahead a booked a two star hotel in Guangzhou for April 17-20. It is suppose to be clean, have friendly staff, and great food. It is right next to a large park. I have been checking the prices of hotels, and they are gong up and up and up!!! Yesterday the Victory was $170 per night, now the cheapest room is $250 per night. This 2 star was only $90 per night, during the trade fair that is cheap!!! I've stayed in youth hostels, flea bag hotels in London,and slept on floors in homes and churches, I'm sure it will be fine! I would sleep on a park bench if I knew I could get Sarah 2 months earlier!!!
I'm hoping if everything happens smoothly to fly back to Shanghai from Guangzhou on Friday night the 20Th of April. My mom will fly home on Saturday morning the 21St of April, and I fly late on Saturday night at almost midnight. I was looking for a hotel near the international airport. I found a clean and cheap hotel only 2km away. Here is the website. They have rooms for only $24 per night. The reviews say it's very clean and friendly. I could spend $200 for the Ramada Airport hotel, but why? This is the end of my trip, and I'm sure I will be broke by then!!!

My agency is expecting a package from China on Friday and There are at least 14 families hoping that the TA's will finally be arriving then! No guarantees, put we live in hope!
I know I'm posting allot today, but I have a zillion things flying through my thoughts. I don't have a TA (travel approval), so I of course don't have a CA (consulate appointment). I assume I will go to Guangzhou at the end of our trip around April 17-20. This is during the trade show in Guangzhou and hotels are 3 times as expensive as normal times. On the one hand, I don't want to book a room now because they charge a very steep cancellation fee during this period. On the other hand, if I do not book a flight and hotel, I may not be able to get a flight. The hotel space will be there but the cheaper rooms may not be available. The White swan for example cost $450 per night for their cheapest rooms. The Victory is now $170 per night for a cheap room (normally only $45 per night). I don't want to be paying these prices in Guangzhou if I'm not going to get a CA during this week. I would be better off hanging out in Hong Kong or Shanghai. But if the CA on this week does work out...perhaps I had better just book something now. What would you do? OK, I know you probably would not even be going ...but if you were me what would you do?

This is the song I can not get out of my head today..It's called Majesty by the group
Delirious. I love the words,

Majesty, Majesty.Your grace has found me just as I am,
Empty handed but alive in your hands.

My hands are empty, but I am feeling more and more alive!

We leave (God willing) in 7 days. Today I am wiring the final payment to our adoption agency in America. It takes a week or so for money to be transferred internationally and I don't want there to be any delays. I will also pack the kids cloths. Everyone gets 3 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 5 sets of under ware, one set of PJ's, 5 pairs of socks, two sweaters, and a swimsuit. We can do laundry there (actually there are many places that will do it for you cheaply). The 4 kids will share one big suitcase. They will have only one good pair of walking shoes, and a light jacket. The weather should be mild (22C, 65F).

I was talking with Juergen about how we both feel about this adventure we are about to take. At this point we both still think we made the right decision, but it's nerve racking not having a TA, or even a package due at our agency! I was praying about it, and I had a picture of a football game (American football). In American football you have a Quarterback who throws the ball to a receiver. The Quarterback in our case is God who says to us Juergen and Amy go long...and so we run long and far(all the way to China). We have no control over everything else, We can only be in the right position to receive the pass.I'm sure there is a strong defensive team doing all they can to disrupt this play! I guess if I focus on the defense I will be defeated! Instead I need to run the play, and have faith in my very talented Quarterback. He will not fumble the ball...and we just need to be in the right position to catch it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Jennifer at Our Journey begins again has proclaimed it TA week again for me and another family! Thanks Jennifer! I'm trying to stand brave (I'm not really sure how brave I really am)! Cute little acts of support like this really touch me and bless me very deeply. Thomas is sick, Jessica looks like she maybe getting sick, and I can not tell if I'm getting sick or just really stressed out. I know in my heart God's going to come through for us on this one. Still, a TA would sure help allot. I'll travel to China without a TA, but it would take allot of the stress off if it was there. This will either be an adoption trip, or an expensive family vacation. We received no word from our agency about packages coming from China. They told us they would let us know when the next package is expected. It takes two days for a package to be sent from China, so it's going to be Friday, or next week! I have a saying on the sidebar, it reads...

Faith: When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown. Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be solid ground to stand on or you will be taught to fly.

I feel very close to the edge of all I know. So I guess it's up to God, will I walk or will I fly? I know, that I know, that I know I will not fall. I feel Gods strong hand, and He will not let us fall! Thank you Jennifer and everyone else for your support! You bless me very much!

We leave in 8 days (God willing).

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever."

-1 Chronicles 16:34

Poor Juergen is working like a dog trying to finish up at work so he can leave for a few weeks. We fly next Wednesday (God willing). Juergen plans to take Monday and Tuesday off. In the mean time,I feel like a single parent trying to juggle the kids and all the house work, and packing. I was sitting still for 10 minutes this morning (between storms). I thought about how I felt when I was pregnant with my girls Jessica and Nicole. When I was 9 months pregnant (and even before) I was ready to have them. I'm not physically pregnant with Sarah, but I'm so over due I can feel it physically! It is time! It is past time!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did I ever tell you Sarah's photo will be in Love's Journey 2: The Red Thread? This is a coffee table style book due out around mothers day. The last Love's Journey book helped raise over $100,000 for orphan projects in China. I also wrote a poem that has been selected to be in the book. I hope you'll consider buying a copy of this book when it comes out soon. LWB does great work in China!

I need Mr Bean! A good laugh would do me good!!!

I just confirmed our booking on the Celebrity Service Apartment in Shanghai. We will arrive in Shanghai on April 5TH, and spend 2 nights there getting over the jet lag, and hooking up with my Mom who has a later arrival time. Then on April 7Th (God willing) we move on to Nanjing. The booking agent has some connections to apartments in Nanjing, not listed yet on their website. He is looking for me now. Perhaps he will find us a 3 bedroom apartment there? The 3 bedroom deluxe family suite at the Celebrity apartments only cost €116 per night. I think that's pretty good for 7 people in Shanghai! We will have a living room, dinning room,fully equipped kitchen,2 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms. The apartments are only one year old. They have a swimming pool, and playground. They also have a limo that can pick you up from the airport. There is a restaurant in the building, and we can order room service if we don't want to cook. There are DVD players, Sat TV, and also high speed Internet so I can blog! A home away from home!

I'm still feeling a bit guilty today,like someone who is trying to cut the line. I guess all we really are doing is taking a family vacation in China. We are moving closer to Sarah, but still need to wait like everyone else for all the papers to get processed. OK, we wait in China, and not Germany or the USA! There is no law that says we can not wait in China. If we get the TA, we get Sarah. With out a TA, we will come home empty handed! Can you tell the stress is starting to effect me? I pulled the bags and bags of stuff I've been laying aside for the trip from my closet. I'm going to pack these things today. Hopefully I still have room in the suitcases for our cloths. In my closet is a very large book about China. Juergen bought it for me a few years ago. It's one of the nicest things He ever got me! I hide it away in the closet because Jessica likes to tear books. It would break my heart if she ever got hold of this beautiful book. I can not believe we are finally going to this extremely amazing country. China has been calling me for years. My mom has also longed to go there. She bought her airline ticket too. We meet in Shanghai (God willing) on April 5Th. What an amazing adventure...I can hardly breath!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dear friends and readers, first I want to thank you for all your prayer and support. I know many of you are checking daily to see how we are doing, and you are very anxious for us to be able to bring Sarah home. Juergen and I have made a somewhat bold and maybe foolish decision. We bought our airline tickets and we are going to China April 4-17. I am returning later (God willing April 21). We are dealing with the requirements of China, and the USA but also Germany. Many of you are aware of the fact we must finish this adoption in China (the Germans will not allow us to readopt Sarah in Germany). Juergen and I must be in China together for the adoption to be final. We haven't really got anyone to take care of our kids (especially Jessica our 15 year old autistic daughter) so our children need to travel with us. If we do not travel now, we would be looking at travel in June (our kid’s next vacation). Germany will not allow our children to miss school to travel. We asked our Agency to give us special permission to travel to Guangzhou during the trade fair because we do not believe it is possible to obtain a CA at this late notice. IAAP told us they would try to get us a CA, but they could not guarantee anything. We understand our whole plan is very risky. We were looking at waiting to travel until June, or waiting for our TA to come this week and then buying airline tickets that were expected to raise to $3000 each ($18,000 for our family of 6). We got our tickets for arround $800 each. We decided to take the risk, and trust our TA will come in the next two weeks (we signed the letter of acceptance over 2 weeks ago). I can not recommend anyone else try to go to China before they receive a TA and CA. I can not speak for my agency but I do not think our agency will seek a CA for the many other waiting families until after the trade show. I believe they will only make an exception for us because of the German requirements. If you are one of the other waiting families reading this, and I realize many of you have waited very long…I’m terribly sorry for your long delay. Understand we are taking a risk here, IAAP could not recommend we do this. Please continue to pray we receive our TA. We can not get Sarah without a TA. We are packing our bags, and finishing up the last minute details. We are taking a calculated risk here and I cautiously report it to you because I don’t want to be the cause for other families trying to do the same thing. I feel certain this was the best move for us, but I’m equally sure it would be unwise for others to try! I have no certainty it will work out, I can only say it seemed right to Juergen and I after weighing all our options. I may end up staying a very long time in China, or paying to travel again. Getting our TA this week will hold a whole new meaning to us!!! Again thank you very much for all your support.

I sometimes get good tips from readers that I am glad to pass on to everyone. Jennifer at Our Journey begins again told me were you could find some really cute animation to add to your blogs. Its called the animation library. If you have web resources you want to share with me,I think I will make a special links to web resources. Some of you have great blinkies, and graphics on your blogs...maybe you would not mind telling us were you find your stuff!

Study: Chocolate improves blood vessel function

I'm being good and staying off the chocolate...but I always knew it must be good for you!

Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

This is my friend Sydney with her daughter and new son Seth.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

This is one of the sites Nicole would love to visit in China...but it doesn't seem like this will happen on this trip. We need wisdom right now. I am certain it will be OK, we have some ideas I can not post, but pray God gives us wisdom and direction.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We just got e-mail from our agency. They won't be getting anything from China until at least next Wednesday. Since their packages tend to arrive on Thursdays, I am betting the TA doesn't arrive until next Thursday. I don't exactly know what that's going to mean for us! We are in between a rock and a hard place. I honestly have no idea what it's going to mean. Please just pray God shows us what is right. If my agency doesn't let us travel during the trade fair time, we may need to wait until June and our kids next vacation!

Good News to report! Jennifer at Our Journey begins again ,received her long awaited LOA (letter of Acceptance) for her adorable waiting daughter Sophie. Congratulations Jennifer and your entire Fish bowl! You should get your TA just in time to travel after the Trade fair! TA week was not totally unsuccessful!!! PS. I took the disco cow from Jennifer's site. Make sure and leave her a word of congratulations!

I often feel like I'm thinking or writing negative stuff about Germany. The Germans do not have an adoption agreement with China. The government has been less then helpful! Yesterday Nicole found a tourist book from Oregon. I grew up in Oregon, and most of my family still lives there. It's a beautiful state! Germany has less land then the states of Oregon and Washington. It has almost half the population of the entire USA. You would be surprised how clean, and orderly this country is! I may not like some of the rules, for example children can not leave the country outside of normally scheduled vacation times, but it's the many rules that help make this country very nice to live in. We get 6 weeks of vacation per year. With out this vacation time I'm not sure how we could travel to China. I bought myself some fresh flowers this morning. I buy flowers almost every week. Germany is right next to Holland. If you haven't visited Holland in the spring time, you should keep it in mind. The tulips are beautiful! I understand Nanjing ,China (Sarah's home town) has an international plum blossom festival in March. I'm sorry I'm missing it! Every place has its good and bad points. I love living in Germany. It's the government regulations I dislike!

You would be proud of me today. I told myself I could eat chocolate...but I really didn't feel like eating it. I only craved orange juice. I guess I'm getting a cold. Stress weakens a persons immune system. I drank allot of orange juice yesterday. It's snowing here in Germany. The kids are happy. It had been beautiful a week ago. The trees were blooming, and everything was my favorite color green. I like to see snow fall, but I'm not a big fan of the cold.I had wanted to work in my garden. That always relaxes me. I guess packing is my continued focus today. I have no doubt we are going. I tell myself I would be less anxious if I had a TA, CA, airline tickets, visas (which they now will not give me until I have firm travel dates and airline tickets), and all the other details worked out. I think I would probably be just as anxious if the details were worked out! I'm going to China, and I'm bringing home a new daughter. I'm sure if all the details were worked out, I would still be anxious! I sat at the breakfast table looking at Philip and Thomas. They were cracking jokes. They are always laughing. If I need any assurance it's going to work out...I just need to look across the table.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

(TA-day) Tomorrow's another day
While we wait again...
A family at my agency (IAAP) posted their adoption video. They adopted a deaf boy from China. What a cute kid!!! They are waiting a TA for their deaf daughter also absolutely beautiful! I think their mom is a teacher of deaf children. What a match made in heaven!!!Their blog is HERE! It is always nice to remember what we are waiting for...these kids are so wonderful! God bring our kids home!!!

I'm sure most of you are just digesting the "no TA" news. I wanted you to know, I'm not just crying and eating chocolate. I am packing. Today I packed all of Sarah's cloths. I packed 2 sets of PJ's, 6 pairs of water proof training pants (just in case),5 t-shirts, 2 pairs of over-alls,one other pair of pants, 3 dresses,3 pairs of tights, 5 pairs of socks, 2 sweaters, a jacket, 2 swimsuits, and a cute robe to go over the swim suite. I used a travel vacuum bag (unsure of the name). I will buy her shoes in China because I have no idea what size she wears. My heart and faith say pack to go...I will be ready to take off next week!