Tuesday, December 23, 2008

World Premier Musical in Chicago

Last week, I attended the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago, a yearly event that I ALWAYS look forward to. This year, while in Chicago, I was able to see a world premier musical titled "The Bowery Boys" starring a former student of my friend Pam Smith Kelly. What a great evening! The musical was wonderful, as was the performance of Brian Sears, the 'star.' There is a strong possibility that 'The Bowery Boys' will be going to Broadway. Above is a picture of me, Brian Sears, Pam Smith Kelly, and Sandy Stoekel. Pam and Sandy are special friends from undergrad days at Central Missouri State. Pam is SO PROUD of her former student.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from Higgins

Higgins is sitting still with his eyes on a treat....that seems to be the only way he'll obey my commands. He even sat still so that I could tie the red bow around his neck. I will be traveling to Kansas City for Christmas so that Mom and I can be with family....that is the current tradition. I'm looking forward to starting new Christmas traditions with my little Caroline.
Here's hoping that you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hague Accreditation

Wonderful news! Children's Hope International (CHI), my adoption agency, has just received their Hague Accreditation. This has been a difficult process to go through for all concerned, but it has ended with a positive result. This news has lifted the spirits of CHI families and we are more hopeful now.

This means that CHI will begin receiving the 'waiting child' or special needs listings. This would include children who have minor to major medical issues, or they may be healthy older children. I have decided that I will have my name included on the SN list while maintaining my spot on the non-special needs list. I have prayerfully considered this option, and I believe it is the right thing to do. I don't feel like I (as a single working mom) should try to consider any major medical condition, but I feel quite comfortable with many of the medical conditions that typically affect these kiddos. Many times, the children have already been medically treated and are healthy. So....I'm waiting to find out what the updated SN process is, and will put my name 'in the hat.'

Thank you for your continued prayers regarding my adoption of Caroline Anne. While I don't yet know who she is.......Caroline is my daughter already. She is tangible to me, not just a dream or a thought. I miss her and I don't even know her. I long to hold her on my lap......I long to hold her close and look at her nose-to-nose. I know it will happen one of these days.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Concert - My Sweet Kids

My children's choir concert was last week - 'The Heart of Indiana Children's Choir'.....so proud of them. We rehearse once per week on Tuesdays for 90 minutes. If I'm having a bad day, they brighten it and make me smile.....even if they get just a little mischievous. I just had to share a few pictures from the concert. The last picture shows the 'final bow.' When I give them a certain signal, they bow and hold for three seconds, then straighten up again. The little ones are so cute when they bow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I had to share a cute picture of my basset baby Higgins, who is shown in his favorite position in the leather recliner with his 'favorite' fleece throw. He's 5-years-old and very spoiled. I've enjoyed spending time with him over the last couple of days. I'm enjoying a few days off for Thanksgiving break and it's been fun to cuddle with my precious dog who gives unconditional love (and sloppy kisses).

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone without Caroline. Yesterday, at a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with friends, I had at least two questions of "I thought you were adopting a baby from China.....what happened?" Or, "Why is the adoption taking so long?" I certainly appreciate the fact that people inquired.....I'd almost feel worse if people didn't mention anything about the adoption. But, when I tell them that I probably won't have Caroline at NEXT year's Thanksgiving....the reality does sink in.

I am very thankful for what I have and WHO I have. I continue to have a wonderful job and a wonderful Mom, extended family, friends, and terrific students. I have a nice home that I enjoy, and a new church family that cares very much for me. And, I am thankful for this adoption journey.....the fact that I was able to get my dossier logged-in before the new China restrictions took place....the fact that my home study update and the renewal of the I171H form came quickly. I'm thankful that each day is one day closer to Caroline. I have alot to be thankful for. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saw the Cutest 2nd Grader Today

Today I made a trip to Wabash to observe one of my students who is completing her student teaching experience in music. She is teaching at an elementary school and doing a terrific job. Today I observed a 4th grade class and a 2nd grade class. I was amazed at how wonderfully structured these classes were.....classroom management was excellent.....the lesson objective was being met through a variety of classroom activities. I REALLY enjoyed my time there. I watched the 2nd grade class do a listening lesson to a piece by Shostakovich....a polka. The kids were being guided through some fun movements to help 'feel' the music. All of a sudden I become fixated on one of the little boys in the class. He was quite small, jeans and a green t-shirt, a very short haircut and thick glasses. SO CUTE. He was having so much fun and I could tell that he was absolutely 'in to' the music....and it was quite obvious that he had an innate ability for music. I fell in love with this little guy and wanted to take him home with me.

Later I found out that he was being raised by his step-grandmother after his grandfather died. I have no idea where the parents are......oh my....I wanted to take him home with me EVEN MORE.

It was nice to feel that 'maternal instinct' again. I have not allowed myself to feel that way in a while, knowing that it is going to be a long wait for Caroline. I had suppressed those feelings. I'm glad I allowed that feeling to come back. It feels good.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Watching YouTube - Pass the Kleenex

I've been watching China Adoption 'Gotcha Day' videos on YouTube......I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.....pass the kleenex.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Please join me in prayer that my dossier will get out of the review room soon.

I really appreciate the fact that people are constantly asking me when I will bring Caroline home. I'm getting really tired of saying that I have no idea. I'm toying with the idea of taking a sabbatical leave from my teaching position.....trying to figure out what kind of research project I might do, but, it's hard to plan when I have no idea when I'll be going to China. The best sabbatical that I can think of is to go to China, bring Caroline home, and spend about three months doing 'authentic research' on how to be a good mommy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ignoring the Situation

I've been surviving this long adoption wait by not dwelling on the situation. I just have tried not to think about it much. That seems a little odd, because I do pray for my future daughter and I pray for my adoption agency.....but, I just have tried to keep it off my mind. That's not so terribly hard during the day because I'm around my college 'kids' all day....I focus on them and I guess that kind of keeps my mind off of China.

This 'ignoring' the situation was made a bit difficult last Friday night on Halloween. Mom and I were invited to a 'fall festival' party at the country home of a friend. There was a large crowd of people there for the hot dog roast, smores, and the costume party for the kids. At the party was a couple that have adopted two children from China...they are missionaries to China and have adopted two 'waiting children'.......beautiful children.

How much longer until my dossier gets out of the 'review room?' That is the next positive thing that I am anticipating.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prayer.....Patience....God's Power

Psalm 66:19 "God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.

Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah sovereign Lord you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you."

It has been a difficult few weeks. So many of us have been praying for our international adoption agency 'Children's Hope International' as they re-apply for Hague accreditation. I am asking you to please keep CHI in your prayers. There are other issues related to the new Hague rules that are a worry for me right now, and I won't go into the details.....just keep this in your prayers as well. I am really trying to be patient..... that is really hard right now.

Through the frustration and worry, I am still encouraged by God's word. I was reminded of the verses listed above by a teaching colleague and a university student. I am privileged to teach at a Christian university where we openly pray in class. When we ask for prayer requests, I tend not to voice my own requests because I don't want to be the focus of that prayer time.....but I have been asking for prayer lately. My students have been so encouraging to me. That is a blessing in itself.

So, I am reminded that God hears my prayers and He does answer them. I am also reminded that nothing is too hard for the Lord. He made the heavens and the earth. He'll get me through this adoption process. He has little Caroline in his vision and is preparing me to receive her.......but, in His perfect time. Now, I just need to keep reminding myself of these things.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lots of Emotions Right Now

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (NKJV)

I am trying to be patient during this long wait. There are several emotions that I experience these days with regard to my adoption of 'Caroline' ..... uncertainty .... anger .... sadness ..... impatience.... renewed faith.....more uncertainty.....more impatience....renewed strength.....longing for my daughter.........hope that referrals will speed up.......disappointment when referrals are so slow.....wondering - of when I'll get my Caroline.

After all, I'm 50-years-old and single. I still feel called to China and I must hang on to my adoption agency....it is my only chance. I am SO trying to stay positive.....I'm SO trying to trust God in this process. My heart knows that God is in control and is orchestrating this process.....my head doesn't always want to listen.

I am waiting for my adoption agency to receive their Hague accreditation so that the special needs children will be available again. I will definitely put my name on that list. That is one thing that I feel I must do with certainty.

So, I've got to wait upon the Lord. In His time. That is so hard sometimes.

Blessings to all. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Habakkuk 2:3

'But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day'.

There were 22 families from my adoption agency (Children's Hope International) that received their referral just two days ago. These families have been where I am right now.....and they've made it. They have received news and pictures of their little miracles. This gives me hope and encouragement. My Caroline won't be here right away, but slowly, steadily, and surely, she will officially be my daughter. God's timing is perfect.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Got my Updated 171H and I'm Glued to the Olympics

Yesterday I received my renewed 171H form from the Indianapolis USCIS office. I could just kiss Cecilia, the lady that handles all of these forms. I've said for many, many months that she is one of my guardian angels. It took less than a week for me to receive my updated 171H form after sending in my updated home study and fingerprints....less than a week. Wow. I hear some horror stories for people in other states who wait for weeks to receive their 171H. My adoption paperwork will be current until Feb. 2010. Please, Lord, let me have my little Caroline before that! Well, Cecilia, hats off to you and God bless you!

I'm glued to the Olympics....absolutely addicted. I'm sure that other 'waiting' adoptive parents are watching the Olympics with the same fervor. I watch the Today Show every day, hanging on every word, watching every feature....hoping to see more China landscape....hoping to see some China babies and toddlers. I stay up until 1:00 am watching events that I don't really like so much, but that doesn't seem to matter. This experience is wonderful and difficult at the same time. Watching makes me long for my little Caroline. Watching these games makes me feel closer to her, somehow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feeling Better About Things...at Least for Today!

I received my updated home study in the mail today. So, I'll send it off the the Indianapolis USCIS office. That office works fast...so I should have my renewed 171H form pretty quickly. I also emailed my Children's Hope International (CHI) consultant...well, she's actually the director of the program, but she is also my consultant. I think that she clarified things for me regarding the Hague accreditation denial and the Joint Council meetings that were on August 1. There have been some people (prospective adoptive parents - PAP's) that seem to being a little bonkers right now. I DO UNDERSTAND why they are concerned. All of us who are PAP's have been waiting for such a long time, and anything that might jeopardize our chances for a China adoption would tend to send us 'spinning.' But in my case, because of my log-in date, and other factors, I am comfortable with CHI. I think that they will regain the accreditation, it will just be a matter of time. My referral is not in danger. If for some reason CHI does not get their reaccreditation, there are plans to transfer me to Holt...another very reputable adoption agency. So, I'm just going to take a big sigh of relief and move on....and leave it in God's protective hands.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Family Reunion....But Not the One that We Planned.

Our annual Coffman Family Reunion always occurs (I mean always...the world stops for this) on the first weekend of August. This is the family on my mom's 'side.' There are typically 90-100 in attendance.....all decendants of Sylvester and Jessie Coffman, my grandparents. The reunion is located on the family homeplace (in Northeast Missouri) where we've built a shelter house near the site of my grandparents home, which has since been torn down. My grandparents died several years ago, so those in attendance are the children of Sylvester and Jessie Coffman...there are four daughters remaining out of 12 children....the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Family members travel from Arizona, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota,Tennessee, Georgia, Hawaii, and of course, Missouri. Mom and I were preparing to leave for the reunion when we got the call.

We received word that my cousin Shirley's husband had been killed in a tragic work accident (an explosion at a paper mill). Steve was a wonderful guy....a devoted husband, brother, uncle, and friend. He loved to come to Missouri for the family reunions. He and Shirley were looking forward to making the trip to the Coffman reunion last weekend. We were looking forward to seeing Steve and Shirley. Now Steve is gone. Such a tragic loss.

So, instead of going to Missouri, Mom and I made the trip to Tomahawk, Wisconsin for the funeral. The decision was made to cancel the family reunion in Missouri....out if respect for Shirley, but also to allow us to be with our family members in Wisconsin. I was asked to sing at the funeral. I am asked to sing at most of the family funerals. It is hard to do, but somehow the Lord gets me through it. My uncle (a United Methodist pastor) spoke of Steve very eloquently. I have never seen so many people at a funeral. I also think that at least 1000 people came for the visitation. A tent was erected outside of the church because there were too many flowers for the inside of the church. There was a TV-feed to the basement of the church for the overflow. A news helicopter from one of the TV stations hovered overhead. This story made the national news and the TV stations have hounded Shirley for an interview....can you imagine?

It was a different kind of family reunion....not the kind I look forward to.....but, I am so fortunate to be in such a loving and close family. I look forward to taking Caroline to Wisconsin (for happier occasions, I hope!) and to Missouri to meet her aunts, uncles, and cousins.....many, many cousins. I love it.

Home Study Update.....Done.

I recently completed the home study update. Brooke, from the Miriam Project in Anderson is my new social worker (from the same agency). She is extremely nice; we finished the home walk-through very quickly and her follow-up questions were finished in no time. Since I have already sent in my application for the updated I-600A form and my updated fingerprints are done, I'm now just waiting to receive the home study so that I may send it in to the USCIS and obtain my updated 171-H form.

I'm still quite confused with the recent events of Children's Hope International (CHI)....my China adoption agency. They did not receive Hague Accreditation......this was a surprise to all of us. We were all informed of previous issues....but they were resolved. So when we got this news we were all floored. I'm reading all sorts of things that are scaring me just a little. I'm trying to keep the faith.

Please pray that all of the changes that seem to be occuring with regard to Hague accreditation and other 'things' that are happening within our own US government regarding international adoption.....be resolved.....quickly. There is some talk that those of us that have been waiting for a long time will have to start from scratch with a new process. This would be HORRIBLE for me, due to the fact that I am single and currently I'm under the 'old' guidelines. If I have to start from scratch.....I would lose my log-in date and could no longer adopt from China. Please PRAY that God will protect this adoption process for those of us that are single and under the 'old' guidelines. Again, I'm trusting God in all of this and I know that HE has a child in store for me. But.....I still get a little frightened and confused from all of this talk. *sigh*

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update on my update

Today I sent off all but one document for the home study update to the social worker. I'm waiting for some documentation to send with my financial statement.....now, don't get the idea that I have that many financial documents....and, definitely don't get the idea that I have alot of finances. I should get my financial statement updated and sent in the next few days and tomorrow I'm setting up the date for the home visit. Mom and I got the form from the USCIS for our fingerprints.....yay, we passed! The first time around, Mom had to be fingerprinted twice...the first set was 'unrecognizable.' My head still swims when I think about the I-600A form and making sure that I've done everything that I need to in order to stay 'up-to-date.' And, when all of this is done....I've still got a very long wait for Caroline. Those of you that are adopting internationally can 'feel my pain.'

In the meantime, I'm trying to get ready for Caroline 'physically.' It was my goal in the spring to exercise and lose some pounds. I'm also just a little 'freaked' because I'm now 50-years-0ld. So...while the dieting thing isn't working so well this summer, I am exercising every day. I either walk for 45 minutes or ride the stationary bike for 30 minutes daily. I'm even 'in style' because I recently purchased an iPod nano.....so I'm feeling pretty cool as I walk down the street with the ear buds, holding the iPod. Hey....today I rode the bike for 20 minutes AND walked tonight for 60 minutes. So, at least I'm accomplishing one of my goals in terms of physical health. The dieting will begin when school starts.

I'm also reading a book for pleasure......'Change of Heart' by Jodi Picoult....good stuff. That's the other goal....read more books for pleasure. I'm just hoping that I can keep up these efforts of self-preservation after school starts. I tend to lose myself as soon as I see the students coming.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Home Study Update.....I'm really trying

Today was a frustrating day when I took the medical release form to the doctor's office and found out that the doctor won't have an opening for an appointment until July 15.....can't she just have a nurse take my blood pressure, etc., and then look at the results? Then, I went to the police station to have someone complete the police check report.....waited at the counter for 20 minutes....no one was there (!).....what if this had been an emergency. Evidently I arrived at the front office 'between shifts'....I'll try again tomorrow. So, it's on to making copies of any financial statement/pay stub/etc. I hope this is the last time I have to update....please, Lord, make this the last time I have to update!

Monday, June 30, 2008

heart-wrenching offer

Recently I attended a picnic that was given by the adoption agency that conducted my homestudy (not my China adoption agency). Those attending were trans-cultural adoptions or international adoptions (mostly from Haiti). It was great to see these families that were so happy and seemingly well-adjusted. Most of the adopted kids were from two to eight-years-0ld. Of course, I was childless (but not motherless....Mom went with me)....and I wore my t-shirt that says "Waiting for my daughter from China".....complete with a flag of China and the U.S. flag (thank you CafePress.com for selling these adoption t-shirts). Everyone was very supportive and kind; these people truly understand the heart-felt desire to adopt as well as the process to get there.

After the meal, my social worker (who I think is SO GREAT), sat down beside me and asked if he could talk to me for a minute. I was a little concerned - usually that kind of question means that there is a problem....I guess I'm too paranoid. Anyway, he then asked me if I would consider domestic adoption (kids from the U.S.). I told him that I certainly did consider it, but felt strongly that God had called me to adopt from China. He proceeded to share the story of a 19-year-old girl that was pregnant....she had been in foster care herself, and was now pregnant and unmarried. Her baby is due in December. He asked me if I would consider taking this child! Oh, I cannot put into words the feeling that I had when he asked me this question; suffice it to say that it was a heart-wrenching feeling. The idea that I could actually have a newborn baby in December was intense. My social worker went on to say that the girl wanted her baby to go to a single mother because she did not believe that men could be trusted; my heart immediately went out to this young pregnant girl.

I told my social worker that I have had such a strong connection to China and to my yet-unknown daughter Caroline.....I've already developed a love relationship with her. Yet, I told him that I would not close that door and would certainly pray for God's guidance in this matter. I certainly want to listen to God's leading, even if it means changing directions. I could not stop thinking about this pregnant teen, and did pray about it. After much thought and prayer, I still believe that my daughter is in China. Perhaps this experience even strengthened that feeling. Then, after a couple of weeks passed, my social worker called to tell me that the young girl had decided to keep her baby.

Thinking about this experience still causes me to tear up. It was a feeling of validation to know that the social worker came to me first when this pregnant 19-year-old came to him. He has told me that he believes I will be a wonderful mom. It helped me to believe it, too. Life is so precious...and it is such a privilege to be a precious child's momma.........I know that God has a special child chosen for me. Each day is one day closer to finding out who she is. But, I still think about this 19-year-old who will be giving birth to an innocent baby.....who is in fact, a child herself with a complicated and difficult past. I continue to pray for her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Rather Significant Birthday

Oh my...I've really neglected this blog. Life has been hectic since the end of the school year.

This past weekend I was able to celebrate a rather significant birthday with about 100 of my friends and family. That significant birthday was the big 5-0. I don't feel 50...I'm not the judge of whether or not I look 50, but I hope that I don't. I really can't believe that I'm this age. But...I have to say that this was probably my best birthday ever. I had many of my favorite people around me including former and current students, friends from church, kids and parents from my children's choir, and a few family members who made the trip from Kansas City, Wichita, and Phoenix, Arizona.

In some ways, I really didn't want to make a big deal about this birthday. There are people who believe that I'm too old to adopt a child, much less a young child. There are some that don't understand why I want to adopt, and have not been terribly supportive. There are people that NEVER bring up the subject of adoption which is troublesome for me because my future daughter is at the center of my life. I already feel like I have relationship with her....I pray for her daily even though I have no idea who she is, or whether or not she has been born. I think of her constantly, and think about how she (Caroline) will give my life new meaning.

When Mom sent out the invitations, she stipulated that no gifts were necessary. But, we both decided that people will bring gifts anyway, so why not suggest that people could donate to the adoption fund. This would take care of the question, "what kind of gift should we get?".....making it much easier to just give a small amount of money. I was blown away by the generosity and support of those that gave monetary gifts.....amazing. They wrote words of encouragement in cards. This means so much to me. Thank you to all that were so kind and generous. I appreciate it more than you could possibly know.

Now, I guess I'll look for mail from the AARP.....looking forward to that 'senior' discount. They say that '50' is the new '40.' And, I'm told that the 50's are much better than the 40's. So, that's the plan. I definitely don't feel 50.....they say that 50 is just a number. So my age will not define me. My faith, attitude, and actions will define me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Earthquake in Chengdu, China

My heart is heavy for the devastation in China following the massive earthquake. Thousands of lives have been lost; many children are without parents and many parents are without their children. I just can't wrap my head around this tragedy.

From a selfish standpoint (and I feel guilty for being selfish right now), I wonder if little Caroline has been affected by the earthquake. I don't know if she has been born yet, but I have a feeling that she has. Where is she? I cringe when I see children (dead and alive) being pulled from the collapsed buildings. What are the conditions that she is living in right now? There are several orphanages that are in rather close proximity to the epicenter of the earthquake. I've heard that most are still standing but are without water and basic fundamental needs.

God, please place your protective hand on those that are hurt or have lost loved ones. Perhaps now is the time where your light will shine through those that are providing needed care for the victims.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dear Sweet Daughter

As a girl I had a common dream, to be a mom someday.
My baby would have eyes of blue and hair the hue of hay.
But now my dreams have been transformed.
New visions fill my head.
Now the tresses that I long to stroke are raven black instead.

And in my dreams those eyes are not so big or blue or round.
Now in my dreams they're almond shaped
And colored cocoa brown.
And in my dreams my arms can stretch across enormous seas.
They reach half-way around the world and hold you close to me.

As you grow in your mother's womb, carefully knit together,
You're also growing in my heart, where you will stay forever.
And in my dreams the moment that your mother says goodbye,
I'll be right there to comfort you and hold you as your cry.

Our features may not look alike; we're different as can be.
But still I know the Father has created you for me.
And though I've not yet seen your face, or held your tiny hands,
And though we're half a world apart in very different lands.

I'll be right there to get you just as soon as God allows.
But 'til He says the time is right I give to you this vow.
I'll pray for your protection every night on bended knee.
For God will hold you in His arms, until you're here with me.

poem by Gayle Leubecker

Friday, April 4, 2008

April is a Significant Month for Caroline and her Adoptive Mommy

I made the monumental decision to adopt in April 2006. After months of home study visits and dossier preparation, my dossier was logged-in in April 2007. Now, it is April 2008. When I started this process I thought I'd be preparing to go to China by this time. I fully expected to have Caroline home by summer of 2008. Wow, that is so far from reality. I don't even want to venture a guess as to when I'll travel to China to get Caroline. Yes, I know that this is all in God's perfect timing....I truly believe that as evidenced by His miraculous timing with other adoption issues in the last two years.....no doubts there. So, I wonder what will be happening in April of 2009. Will I be any closer? Well, obviously I'll be closer, but will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? Don't know. Will I still be keeping Caroline's pretty spring Easter dress(es) under plastic wrap in the closet? Probably so. Will I be any less faithful with regard to this process? Maybe at times, but ultimately, faith in knowing that I will see my daughter one day is what carries me through. Perhaps April will be THE MONTH when I receive Caroline's referral, or perhaps April will be THE MONTH when I travel to China for Gotcha Day. Perhaps April is the month when I re-affirm my faith in HIM, knowing that this adoption process is in HIS HANDS. I've always liked the month of April. Perhaps it is my month of new beginnings.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Update on I 171-H form......

Well, good news.....when I checked my I 171-H form, I saw that it is still current and good until August 2008, and my fingerprints will expire in May. For some reason I was thinking that these documents were expired....I haven't looked at those forms in awhile. The good news is that as long as these forms are not expired, I can get a one-time FREE renewal......so, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and file a new I 600-A form - but I didn't need to send in a fee with it....praise the Lord. So now I need to get my homestudy updated and get that paper work to the USCIS in Indianapolis. I'm resting just a little easier right now.

Mom and I did a little 'retail therapy' in Fort Wayne. My "Chinese Baby" radar went off in the Meijer store.....saw her coming toward me in the aisle of the store...... about 8 months old with it's momma....birth momma. She was adorable and I'm sure the momma was a little curious why I was staring at the baby more than the 'norm.' That was my 'baby fix' for the day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I 600-A and Fingerprinting Renewal......ugh!

As part of the adoption process, I'm scrambling to get this form sent to the USCIS office (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service)......my current form has expired and I've got to get it renewed. This whole process is so confusing at times.......and VERY expensive. And, due to the long wait with regard to China adoptions, I'll probably have to renew this form again......$670.00, plus $160.00 for fingerprinting for Mom and myself. We will need to be re-fingerprinted and I have to submit an updated homestudy; I don't know how much that will cost. I was feeling pretty good about the start of my adoption fund, but it appears that I have to start dipping into it already with this fee.

My adoption agencies' Hague re-accreditation is 'pending,' therefore if I don't get the I 600-A form in by next Monday (deadlines and more deadlines!!) I have to wait for the agency to receive their re-accreditation which won't happen until at least June and would file a I 800 form. I don't want to wait, therefore I'm hurrying to get this done now. It's not that I've been procrastinating....not the case at all....but the agency just got this news and immediately informed all pre-adoptive parents of our options. *sigh*

All of this and I still have to file my tax return.....I'll worry about that next week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Food Poisoning Outbreak.....On Tour!!!!

Well, we (the university wind ensemble, aka W.E.) returned from our concert tour to PA, NJ, NY (Niagara Falls area), NYC, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. this past week. It was a great tour......lots of good concerts at churches, nice people, nice host homes, and fun sight-seeing in NYC. It was also wonderful to see several former students who I dearly love. I don't get to see them enough because of distance. But I think the most memorable event of our tour was the bus trip home following our final performance in Washington, D.C.

We had just eaten lunch and prior to our loading the bus, one of the students got sick. We are thinking....Ok, we'll give her the time she needs in the bathroom. So she gets on the bus (she's a trooper) and we start the trip home. Soon, we get word in the front of the bus (this is where we directors sit) that another student just 'got sick.' We pass back a trash bag and paper towels.....and don't really think TOO much about it. About 5 minutes later, another student 'gets sick.' The other director and I look at each other wondering what's going on. Soon we start passing back trash bags so that students have something to 'get sick' in. Not a pretty sight.....and frankly, I was glad that my seat wasn't in the back of the bus. After a couple of hours there were at least 12 students who were sick. No doubt, we made several stops along to the way. By the time that we decided to surrender and find a motel for everyone (an unplanned stop for our 12-hour drive) there were 28 W.E. members that were sick. What else could it be but food poisoning? The other director and I didn't feel very well, but we didn't suffer the violent sickness that many of the kids did. As I write this comfortably from my home computer, a total of 31 out of 54 people have confirmed sickness.

During this siege, I was wondering to myself how I will deal with Caroline's physical 'manifestations' of illness. I don't do well when I see others that are sick. (On a side note, I handle other student 'issues' very well - I like it when students come to me with their problems....I'm a good listener and I do my best to counsel.) I don't deal with my mom's illness very well, but I do what I have to do. Trust me....on this trip I didn't run to the back of the bus to see how I could help....I was afraid I would get sick just seeing others sick. But I guess I'll develop an iron stomach when Caroline needs me. I do it now for my Mom, so I'll do it for Caroline. This whole experience just got me thinking.

Ah, tour memories!!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'm in New York City!

I'm currently on a concert tour with the IWU Wind Ensemble to Pennsylvania, New York (including Niagara Falls and New York City), and the Washington, D.C. area. Today was our day off in New York City. We spent the day in Manhattan.....saw lots of things including St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. John the Divine Cathedral, St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero, Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and Central Park. We ate at the famous Carnegie Deli....rode the subway system, and we also walked and walked and walked. When you take a trip like this you always buy souvenirs for yourself and family members. Now, whenever I buy souvenirs, I always buy something for Caroline....usually something for her room or cute clothes. Today I bought the cutest multi-colored teddy bear from the huge M & M store in Times Square. I know that its going to be quite a long while before Caroline comes home, but buying 'souvenirs' helps remind me that I have a child waiting for me.....don't know if she's been born yet....or perhaps she has just arrived at an orphanage somewhere in China. But right now, it is important for me to buy these souvenirs.....it helps make this adoption journey more real and tangible to me. I do feel like I'm already a mom, even if I don't yet know my daughter's identity.

Friday, February 29, 2008

You Know You're An Adoptive Parent If........

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss then goodnight has made you lose sleep.
2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.
3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.
4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted one child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.
5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who've experienced the blessing of adoption.
6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about the adopted child's "real" parents.
7. You've been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth (2 years!).
8. You had no idea how you'd afford to adopt, but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing that God provides (and HE does!).
9. You've taken an airplane half-way around the world with a child you just met.
10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.
11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could every leave on this earth.
12. You know what the word "dossier" means and you can actually pronounce it correctly!
13. You've welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.
14. You shudder when people say your child's so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you're the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

I did not write this, but read it on another blog. True stuff.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Baby Dedications

There was a baby dedication at church this morning. Normally, I love these events. It seems like I've witnessed more of these events in the last few months than I have in the last several years. That may or may not be the case....perhaps these events just have more of an effect on me now.......now that I'm WAITING for my little adopted one. Now it's rather hard to witness these dedications....I'm certainly happy for these new parents and their beautiful baby, don't get me wrong....it's a beautiful moment. But, it just drives home the fact that I have no idea when I'll be having my dedication for Caroline. So as not to end this journal entry on a downer (don't like to do that)....I'll just say that at today's dedication, the baby's big sister (3-years-old) decided it would be fun to run and jump around the front of the sanctuary during the ceremony. All of these family members were standing in front and were afraid to do anything about it. I will say that I no longer criticize this kind of thing because I know that one day my daughter will most likely decide to dance around where she shouldn't....and I'll have that same "I don't know what to do" look on my face. :) Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Comments following the performance

Yesterday I played the clarinet as the 'special music' at a local church service. For these kinds of performances I usually choose an arrangement of a hymn. Yesterday's selection was 'Blessed Assurance.' I'm quite sure that several of the young people didn't know this hymn because they usually sing only praise choruses (topic for another journal entry). Anyway, I gave a brief history on the hymn and the author of the lyrics, and spoke about the scriptural reference. I will say that the piece came together extremely well, and I feel that it was a worshipful experience. Following the service, I encountered three types of responses. First, several of the 'senior' ladies told me that the music brought them to tears (in a good way, of course); then, there were three young girls who came up to me and said "we play clarinet at school, but we don't sound like THAT!" And, finally, the adults that were about my age all said that their memory of the clarinet consisted of 'constant squeeking.' Well, praise the Lord that I didn't squeek. So I guess everyone enjoyed it.

Also at church, I got to play with a 10-month-old baby who was adopted at birth (domestic adoption). She is a cutie....round, rosy cheeks and chubby legs....and very happy. It was nice to get a 'baby' fix.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

An Encounter

Yesterday, Mom and I went to Jefferson Pointe, Fort Wayne to endulge in some shopping therapy. We were just leaving the Vera Bradley story (a weakness of mine) when I spotted a caucasian couple carrying a Chinese baby (they had just entered the store). I stopped in my tracks, and practically ran toward the couple (I hope I didn't scare them) to find out if they, in fact, adopted from China. As it turns out, they had just returned with their 11-month-old beautiful girl two weeks ago from China. They named her Ridley. She was precious and very tiny, even for an 11-month-old. She seemed shy but gave her mommy and daddy a big smile.

I told them that I was currently waiting for my placement with a log-in date of 4/13/07. The mom very quickly said "Oh, well, you've got another 2 1/2 years to wait." She then asked me if I read the "Rumor Queen" online (sidebar......for those that are not aware, the Rumor Queen is a site where you can read about what the latest rumors are about China adoptions. While there is some truth in the Rumor Queen, it is not all truth). I told her that I chose not to read the Rumor Queen, but I was a member of an China Adoption email group. While I was thrilled to see this happy family and see this precious baby girl, I was just a little miffed. Now, I do stay current on the news about how slow China adoptions are.....I'm not so naive to think that I'll be traveling to China anytime soon. And, no one knows for sure just how long this will take. But, I choose not to focus on the negative in terms of wait time. This couple really wanted to focus on how LONG I would be waiting. I just wanted to bask in the beauty of this baby and talk about her.....how she was adjusting.....how was their trip, etc.

So, it was SO nice to see this beautiful baby who had just come home. She looked healthy and happy. And, I guess I'll choose not to infiltrate my head with negativity....or as this couple put it.... 'a reality check.' I'm in this China adoption journey for the long hawl. Whether it takes one more year or three years....I'll wait....because I know this is what God has chosen for me. It is my daily challenge to trust Him and his plan for me. The positive side of this wait is that it gives me more time to prepare....financially, and otherwise. Yes, I'd love to be planning that trip to China right now, but I can wait. Gosh, that baby was beautiful.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's the February Blahs

Since I haven't written on the blog in awhile, I thought I better get going. Life has been quite eventful in the last several weeks. My children's choir was selected to sing at the Indiana Music Educators Association State Convention on January 19. The above picture show us relaxing just before the performance. It was a wonderful experience for the kids and for me....but quite stressful. The kids were terrific and gave a great concert. There were at least 350 in attendance, and that is great for this kind of event.
Since the convention, school has been difficult, but I'm hoping that things turn the corner. Right now, I pretty much dedicate my life to my students.....so when something doesn't go well at school I let it 'get to me.' I've taught for 27 years, and I still love it. And, every now and then there are difficulties to deal with. So... I've just gotten past one of those humps and I'm trying to focus on the rest of the semester with classes, wind ensemble tour to NYC and Washington, D.C. area. Something that has really been encouraging to me is the contact I'm receiving from so many former students on Facebook. It has been wonderful to get so many wonderful messages from them. I guess I've done OK by them.
One more attempt at adopting a 'waiting child' has passed. My name was not drawn "out of a hat' (so to speak) again. Sometimes my patience wears thin, but I've got to remember that I have put this in God's hands. That means that I can't go wrong, and God will bring Caroline to me in His time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Waiting Children - Precious Children

A new list (with pictures) of waiting children was posted on the CHI (my adoption agency's) website. These are children that currently have medical issues, or had medical issues that have been repaired. These are precious children who are considered 'special needs.' In the U.S., most of these situations are not considered special needs, and are just situations that need to be dealt with before going on with a normal life. On this list, most of the children are babies, many with cleft lips/palates that still need to be repaired; there are several with congenital heart disease that has been repaired, or eye conditions that have been repaired.

There are four little girls that 'speak to me' on that list. I have completed applications on them. These girls range in age from 1 1/2 to 4 years-old. One little angel had a heart defect repaired, another was just born premature, another had an ovarian cyst removed, and the last had a cleft lip/palate repaired. They are all beautiful girls and I would be blessed to have any of them.

Now I wait to see if my name will be 'drawn' from the pool of applicants for each child. If my name is drawn I will be notified immediately, then will have seven days to review her medical file. I have applied for several waiting children before, and my name has not been drawn. So, I'm waiting to find out if this is God's plan for me to have have one of these girls. Caroline, are you on this list?

It is so hard not to get attached to these children, even from a picture. It is so hard not to get your hopes up that your name might be drawn. This is what I'm facing. I go to the website and just stare at the little angels, and hope that one of them might be Caroline. I just have to wait it out, and wait for God to reveal his plan to me.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm proud of these kids

My children's choir, 'The Heart of Indiana Children's choir' performed with the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra on Dec. 8. They performed four John Rutter Christmas Carols with the orchestra and did a terrific job. We are gearing up for our next performance at the Indiana Music Educators Association State Convention on January 19. I just had to share.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

I received an email today informing me that Children's Hope International (my adoption agency) just received 6 China referrals (adoption placements) - six girls ranging in age from 2 1/2 to 4 for adoptive families with a log-in date of Dec. 19, 2005. This is a good way to end 2007. That's the positive spin on things.....the negative spin on things is that in the year 2007, there were only 3 months worth of referrals, meaning that for example, referrals (or placements) only occurred for people with log-in dates from say Oct 1, 2005 through Dec. 19, 2005. For someone like me with a log-in date of April 13, 2007, this means that I'm in for a very long wait.....that's the negative spin. The positive spin is that each day that passes is one day closer to Caroline. For now I'm going to stick to the positive spin on things.