Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Polar Express

So the boys had an early Christmas present last weekend. They got to go on the Polar Express at Grandpa & Papa's house. Ethan was about as excited as we have ever seen him. We're pretty sure his head was going to explode. We all went on a train ride to the North Pole! It was about an hour each way (we must have been going really fast! ;) . At the North Pole there were elves and carolers and Santa even made an appearance. It was great, Cam would not even look at Santa, but when Santa gave him a sleigh bell, he did at least say "dank do" (still not looking). It was weird, the kids were all playing with the bells, but none of them were working...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Updated Pictures

Yesturday we were so excited to find updated pictures of Jack! They were all labeled Min Zhen U Caton!!! So cool. He's tiny! We think about 29 inches and 17 lbs. Pretty small for an 18 month old. His lip is looking good though. We think he's adorable. Cam thinks he can take him!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Our corrected I600 made it today!!! I couldn't believe it. Wow, what is this forward process! This is more progress than we've had in two years. So nice! It must be Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our PA arrived!!!!

Wow! We got our pre-approval today! Our coordinator called to say it arrived. It would've been two weeks Friday, so it came pretty fast. Now we can send our little Jack some stuff. Yah! Now we have to wait the long wait. We have about four months (according to Maury) before our LOA. Ugh, a long hall. Hopefully it will go fast. We are so thrilled about the TA though. Today we will celebrate! I can't wait to put together a little care package. What a great Christmas present.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Funny/heart warming stories

These are probably out of order, but just some things Ethan and Cam have said or done concerning the adoption.

The first night we got the referral we showed Ethan the picture of Jack and told him about the boo boo on his mouth. He promptly replied I want to go to China with mom and dad. I was thinking oh no how am I going to break it to him that he won't be traveling. He then finished his sentence with and go get chicken. Anyone else would have been confused with this, but Eric and I quickly realized that he meant he wanted to go to the Chinese resteraunt and get sweet and sour chicken! I'm not sure if he thought Jack was at the Chinese resteraunt or if he was just hungry! At any rate if he does think Jack is there he's probably wondering what's taking us so long to go get him! LOL

When we showed Cam the picture he said baby. We explained that this was Jack. He said "yak". Then he pointed to his mouth and said, "boo boo".

Another time I was showing him a picture and I said this will be your brother he responded with a resounding "nope". I'm not sure he's ready to share the lime light. He'll come around...right?

Each night daddy and Ethan pray together. Ethan never forgets to pray for Jack. One night daddy and Ethan were praying for Jack and daddy was explaining the hole in the roof of his mouth. Ethan had lots of questions and wondered why God put a hole there. It's a good question really.

Ethan can't wait to be a big, big brother

Cam is wondering if it's really necessary for him to give up his baby status!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ahh..More Paperwork!

So we sent in an I824 to homeland security to change our country back to China with of course a large sum of money. As those of us from the adoption world know all paperwork that you put lots of time and energy into is accompanied by a large sum of money. For those of you who don't know what an I 600 is it's permission for us to bring an orphan into the US. An I 824 is simply a form that one can use to switch where the orphan is coming from.
Shortly after filing the paperwork we got a call saying we needed an updated homestudy. Which is a bit of a problem since we don't have one of those! You see we were able to use our original homestudy for China because we never stopped that adoption and it's less than two years old. After many conversations I really still didn't know what we were supposed to do. Luckily when I emailed our homestudy agency they were kind enough to mail an original homestudy with an addendum to homeland security. Hopefully this will do the trick! Nothing can be easy! I think we've done enough paperwork for a lifetime! We're still "patiently" waiting for our PA. I tell you what God is certainly teaching us a lesson in patience. This is like the longest pregnancy ever. Well at least I can drink coffee and alcohol during this pregnancy!! That's it for now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finally we know where we're going!

So we switched to the special needs program. We submitted our paperwork along with the list of what type of child we would accept. We stated a variety of needs including ASD, VSD, clubbed foot, birthmarks, anal atresia, cleft lip/palate ect. We stated we would accept either gender up to 20 months old. This was submitted Nov 19th. We were excited and expecting a referral in 2-3 months!!!

Okay...or two to three days!!!! We got the call on November 21st that there was a child locked in for us. We couldn't believe it!! A little boy named Min Zhen U. He had a cleft lip and palate and was 17 months old. At first I thought, "hum it's a little on the older end", but as soon as I saw him I knew he was meant to be ours. There were no questions no thoughts of what if. He was meant for us and I knew it. In my eyes he is absolutely perfect and beautiful. We suddenly went into crazy mode we had about 4 hours to contact the IA doctor and complete paperwork. We anxiously awaited our phone call from Dr. Staat. Even though we both already knew our answer was yes. Luckily all looked well (except the cleft). We couldn't believe it we actually were matched with our son! Oh my God we're going to be parents again in a few months. We were expecting a little longer wait. I guess we better get this kid's room finished.
We have decided to name our little man Jackzhen Byron Caton. We are patiently waiting for our pre-approval so that we can send him some things in his orphanage. Perhaps some blue clothes...Even though he looks cute in pink! We are hoping to be able to go get him somewhere between April and June! Goodluck to us!

Starting our adoption journey

So, we decided to pursue international adoption. After research and discussion we decided that China fit us best. It seemed to be a much more clear cut process than most and we really liked the idea of traveling with a group. We knew it would be a long wait, but figured our kids were little yet, so that was okay. The time frame was 12-18 months and predicted to go up. We planned for two years and were good with that. We signed up with a great agency called FTIA and began our very long paper working process. We completed our homestudy in August 2007 and our dossier in January of 2008. As we watched the wait climb and climb we became anxious that we would not have our children nearly as close as we wanted. We started to talk about special needs adoption. We got as far as researching the special needs and filling out all the paperwork. Then just as we were about to start the process, it changed!! They started posting children's pictures on the Internet and we basically had to child shop and quickly lock in the child we wanted. There was not enough time for an IA doctor to look at information, and we were afraid we would end up taking on something that would not fit are family. I should make clear that this was the CCAA that started this process not our agency. The idea was a good one in that many SN children would get looked at and adopted. However, Eric and I were very uncomfortable with this process. We tried for a bit and decided that it wasn't the right direction. Huh?, now what?

How about starting another adoption. Hey what the heck more money and more paperwork. We decided to start a Kazakhstan adoption and let our China one keep going in the hopes we could finish both. We signed on with another agency (FTIA didn't handle Kaz), and we were off to the races. No matter how hard we tried we hit wall after wall. We redid much of our paperwork to get it right. Then we finally had it complete...we thought! We sent it in. It went to the embassy. The embassy person did not like the way some things were copied and we needed to fix something in our homestudy. It all got sent back! Then our coordinator mentioned that our fingerprints were going to expire, so we needed to update those before we could re submit. Meanwhile, all the rest of our documents were expiring. I about boiled over!!! I asked our coordinator about switching countries and if Kaz was actually going to work out. She basically told us she had concerns about the availability of children in Kaz at this time. That was enough for me. I wanted out of this adoption. It just wasn't meant to be. We considered using the Kaz agency to do a Russian adoption. We also went back to FTIA and asked about the SN program. FTIA started taking lists of the SN you would accept, then they did the matching for you. Yes! This was good. I asked how long it would take for a referral and they told us about 2-3 months. Sounded great to me. The best part was all we had to do was fill out a couple pieces of paper and submit them. No money, no crazy notarizations or certifications. It was really an easy choice!

How We Got Here

We're late to the blog party, but I think we're up and running. We are Shannon and Eric, the proud parents of two very dissimilar children Ethan and Cameron, and soon to add Jackzhen "Jack" (we'll post about him later).
We've been married since 2000 and live in a great little neighborhood called College Hill. The first addition to the family came in spring of 2005 and his name is Ethan. He's a great kid, quiet, pretty smart, funny, a little too obsessive, an aside from chronic ear infections and some colic early on, a very healthy boy. Hew was really an easy child and since we wanted to have a large family and didn't want to be in wheelchairs for high school graduation we started on #2.
Cam was a different story. At birth he was very bruised around the head and face. Initially we were told it was just from the cord being wrapped around his neck and would go away. Fortunately for us an overnight nurse looked at him and didn't feel right. The bruising didn't sit well so when a specialist just happened to be making rounds she brought him in. One look at Cam and the doctor rushed him into "special care". He had NAIT (neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia) and his blood platelet count was hovering around 13,000 (normal is 150,000 to 400,000). Cam was actually too fragile to transport as brain hemorrhaging and other internal bleeding was at risk. A plasma transfusion and some terrific care and Cam made it through the night. Now he is a textbook two-year-old. This scare combined with some issues with pregnancy brought up an option that was previously only in the back of our minds. Why not adopt? We both had thought of it, before, but now it almost seemed to be meant for us. To top it all off, out next door neighbors had just told us they were going to adopt a child from Vietnam. How many times do you need to be kicked in the pants before you act?