Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Some recent photos of our cuties

Friday, September 14, 2012


I have been a very bad blogger thanks to facebook. Since we just celebrated one year home, I thought it was about time to update the blog.  I started writing posts about Anya over the past year, but only snippets.

Forever Family Day 8/14/11

We met Anya in a conference room of the Crowne Plaza in Nanchang on August 14. We woke up Nikolai from his afternoon nap and asked if he wanted to come with us to meet his baby sister. He said yes, so the five of us (with my parents) headed down to the conference room. I told Nikolai that I would have to hold Anya some, and he reached out to Chris to be carried (he ALWAYS wants me to carry him, so this was very sweet). When we got to the conference room, most of the other traveling families were already there and they told us our baby would be arriving second. We were all just talking when suddenly the first baby came in! Our guide jumped up and mumbled something about not receiving a call. A few moments later a girl walked in carrying Anya. We walked up and the girl turned around and was looking in a box. She pulled out a box of something and handed it to Chris – I think – I couldn’t take my eyes off of Anya! She was wearing a cute little yellow outfit with pale salmon colored socks. She had her name tag tightly clutched in her hand. When they handed her to me, she stared right into my eyes like she was trying to read my soul. We went back to our seat, and she continued to stare at us. Nikolai was really excited and offered her a toy and wanted to hold her. She didn’t cry, or smile – just stared.


1 week home 8/31/12

Anya is amazing! We are so in love. We are just starting to get to know her personality, but it is fun to see the similarities and differences between her and Nikolai. Like Nikolai, she really likes to get out and be around people and see new things. Unlike Nikolai, she is a snuggler, who pushes her head into our chest like she wants to meld with us. She gives big wet baby kisses – even kissing Nikolai, which thoroughly disturbs him. She is also more reserved - at least so far - and quietly smiles or giggles or complain-cries. The main time she really cries is when she is in the car seat. She cannot understand why we won’t pick her up!

1 month home 9/20/12

 Nikolai is an extraordinary kid. I know all parents feel that way about their kids, but he truly amazes us every day. September 6 was his first day back at daycare. It was a rough morning – in part because he had been up a lot at night with bloody noses. But apparently drop-off went well, especially after his friend Ben came up to him to show off his batman shirt. It didn’t hurt that his Captain America toy, who had been brought for Show and Share and lost the last day before going to China, was back in his cubby.  When I picked him up in the afternoon, as soon as he saw us he ran over and exclaimed “Anya!! I missed you so much.” His teachers said all he talked about all day was Anya.


6 months home, 16 months old

Anya’s words:

Uh oh
Kai (Nikolai)
Mo (more)
Boooo (book)
Boa (ball)
Cacker (cracker)
Pu or ff – but not both at the same time (puffs)
Goggle (bottle)
Mik (milk)
Bye/ bye bye
Kank ou (Thank you)
Shakes head no and yes
Growls for animals (all animals, even birds growl in her mind)

Today – 9/14/12

Anya has really come out of her shell over the past year. She is still really snuggly, and would prefer to be held almost all of the time. She is quite a handful and full of herself. I have lost count of the number of words she says and I think having a talkative big brother really helps her vocabulary. She pretty much runs the house, often ordering us to “come on, sit down!” At the same time, she imitates her big brother constantly and says and does just what he does. She has only minimal tolerance for reading books, other than looking at the word books with pictures. She loves dancing and coloring and singing. I think she would live outside if she could, and taking her outside so far is enough to head off tantrums. When she doesn’t get what she wants on occasion she will scream at the top of her lungs! She can walk up the stairs, alternating feet if she is holding your hand. Anya’s voice is so loud that even when she giggles everyone turns to look. Her favorite food right now is steamed broccoli! She has a particular smile that we call “Anya smile” that she will do on command (as will Nikolai) Life is good! Tiring, but good.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Travel Approval!!!!!!!!


We received TA today! We don't know when we will travel yet because we are waiting for Consulate Appointment, but the earliest dates our agency suggested have us leaving around the 8th, which is really soon!!

Today is our 16th wedding anniversary. This is the best anniversary present ever. And we beat the August 1st deadline. If TA had been issued on the 1st or later we would have been subject to new rules that require post placement reports for the next 5 years and various other requirements.

No idea how buying tickets will go with only a week's notice, and I am a little unsure about spending the month of August in southern China. Good thing I like the heat ok.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We are moving (rather quickly) towards travel. Since we are a Hague family we have many steps between referral and travel. Here is our progress so far:

Referral 6/1/2011
I800 sent 6/6/2011
I800 approved 6/20/2011
Cabled 6/28/2011
Cable letter 6/30/2011
Article 5 - about 2 weeks
TA - about 2-4 weeks after Article 5
Travel! - about 1-3 weeks after TA

So if we follow the shortest estimate for timing, we could be in China in 5 weeks (around August 8). Most likely it will be 8/22 or so.

We got updated information about little Anya, and she seems to be doing well!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hope someone is holding our baby

It is so hard to just wait to travel and not know anything about how Anya is doing. We don’t really even know if she is in an orphanage or foster care. Her paperwork says she is in the social welfare institute (SWI), but that would be really unusual for this SWI as most kids under 3 are in foster care.

Her SWI is notorious for providing no information before or after adoption. They do not generally allow adoptive parents to visit. Many people with referrals from throughout China use various services to send care packages and get updated info and photos of their kids while they wait to travel. Several people in the June group have recently gotten wonderful updated photos. Anya’s SWI does not provide these updates to these types of services. So we have decided to send a more personalized care package on our own with no hope of an update (but we have not gotten it together yet). I’m planning to use my rusty Mandarin and hand-write a note to accompany the package. I hope they are not offended.

Our agency may get an update right before we travel, but that is months from now and all the information we have is already 3 months old. I panic when I read about any trouble in China (currently - floods, riots, lead poisoning, bombings!).

The Fuzhou yahoo group is reassuring at least. They state that the kids – whether in foster care or the SWI - are generally well cared for and healthy. Few to no cases of scabies have been reported. Several kids came home with giardia, though, so we will take precautions until we can get her tested (i.e., not let Nik and Anya take baths together and wash our hands a lot). Not all kids have it, though – especially if they are in foster care. There is a Half the Sky program at the SWI, but we don’t know if Anya is in it – probably not because I get the feeling that most kids in the HTS programs are SN.

I learned about a person who can get updates and photos - primarily from the Fuzhou SWI. People who have used his service have gotten as many as 75 photos of their kids with the foster parents, the town, the SWI, the baby’s bed, etc! BUT, I have also heard that this person pays the SWI director and possibly the foster parents to obtain all the info. While that is an innocent payment, it makes me nervous and is probably technically a violation of Hague and possibly US immigration laws. We cannot give money to our future daughter’s current guardians until the adoption is final. But… 75 photos of our little baby and her life before joining our family! And others have used the service with no issues. Sigh… we will (probably) wait until after the adoption and then use his services to get photos of people and places that were important to her early life.

And, in the meantime, please pray that our little girl is happy, healthy, and loved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Information

We got a FedEx with two more pictures and a little more information. Everything is from March, so when she was about 4 months old. There is not a lot we can tell about her development based on a report at 4 months old. She was not rolling over or grasping at toys yet, but these are skills that develop around 3-4 months. And considering how bundled she probably was from the time she was born in November until the report in March, it is not surprising at all. She laughs out loud, recognizes familiar people, likes to be surrounded by activity, likes quiet, likes music, and sucks her fingers. "She makes noises at people and animals" - I wonder what animals she encounters? Her personality is described as, "introverted, cheerful, lively and active. She has an exuberant energy, but sometimes she is relatively irritable." I love the expression on her face in one of the new pictures - like "what the heck is going on." Nikolai made a similar expression when we took him outside for the first time. I find it interesting that they appear to have photoshopped out someone's arm from behind her in one picture. It's not like we would expect a 4-month old to be able to sit up on their own.

These are the characters of her middle name
Jing 4 (modest, chaste) Xiu 4 (beautiful, elegant)

Usually Chinese names have a meaning that goes beyond the exact translation of the two parts. I don't know if that is true for Anya's name, but we hope to have a Chinese speaker give us their interpretation of her name.

These are the characters we would use for her first name (although a Chinese name would never have 4 characters plus a surname!)
An 1 (peaceful) Ya 3 (elegant, graceful, refined)
安 雅

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ge ge (big brother)

Nikolai seems genuinely excited about his new sister. When I picked him up from daycare yesterday I gave him a picture and he first showed it to his best friend Kayleigh, then Mr. Jarrell, the teacher in his new class. Then he ran down the hall and into the 2s room and plowed through the group of kids standing around the craft project demonstration in order to show it to Ms. Nahid, his teacher for the last year or so. On the way to the bank to meet Chris to get a document notarized, Nikolai spouted off all the things he is going to teach “his baby”. He is going to teach her to talk, and to walk, and to climb, and to climb in his chair. And he’s going to do the monkey dance to make her laugh. When we got home, he saw the other copies of the one photo we had yesterday and said, “my baby sister! There’s more! They all match.” Yes, when you only have one photo – they all will match. I hope he really adjusts to being a big brother as well as he appears to be.