Monday, September 30, 2013

Final update!

Our agency requests a final update for each family as they near travel.  It can come anytime between LOA and TA.  It definitely includes measurements and hopefully includes pictures.  I have been anxiously waiting for ours because it is now habit to anxiously await something.  Low and behold it came last week!  I was almost sad to open it because I knew it was our last word about her before we travel.  And honestly as much as I love to get pictures it makes me very sad for a few days.  The last picture we got was a very stark reminder of where she is and brought some realizations about her life there.  I was a wreck for several days afterward.  I wasn't sure I was ready for those emotions again.  But of course I had all those thoughts in about 3 seconds and then opened the file already!!

And there was my girl.
Looking not too happy about having her picture made :)

She's 38 inches tall and weighs 26 pounds.  Her foot is 6 1/2 inches long.  I teach three year old preschool and I may start getting phone calls from parents because I keep measuring the kids and checking the size of their clothes and I will admit to taking their shoes off and measuring their feet.  Both my sisters -in-law have kids similar in age to Sarah and I keep asking for measurements and clothes sizes. She appears to be about the height of a 3 year old and she is teeny tiny skinny.  Sweet baby do I have some cupcakes for you!!

It appears they haven't cut her hair again and I'm glad for that.  I understand why they do and I wouldn't be mad at them at all for it, but I just hate the thought of her having her head shaved.  It must be scary when your little.

The panda in the picture was part of a care package we sent her back in April.  It was sweet of them to take her picture with it.  Our package we sent her a few weeks ago arrived at the orphanage and they sent a message that they got it and liked it very much and to tell me thank you.  That made me so very happy!  We sent treats for the nannies and other kids and a clothing donation as well.  We sent a bunch of socks because none of the kids have on socks in any of the pictures and it bugs me :).  I am hopeful that they are preparing her for us.  We sent pictures and a blanket that I made.  I feel sure we will get them all back on gotcha day but I hope she has them now.

One last picture came with the update.  This is the last we will get before we travel.

Oh my heart aches.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When and Who?

Many people have asked me in the last few days when we are going to China.  The short answer is:

I don't know.

The long answer is:  We are in a process now called Article 5.  It ususally takes 2 weeks to complete this step, but because of a major national holiday it will take 3 for us.  This process will hopefully be complete on October 8.  I am waiting on confirmation from our agency to be sure.  After article 5 we begin our wait for travel approval.  This can take 5-21 days.  We will likely leave about 10 days after that.  We are hopeful for the first few weeks of November.  Don't worry we will let you know!

You know you have been waiting on too many approvals when your heart skips a beat when the credit card machine says "approved!"  All approvals get me excited today even if its for groceries!

Now....  who is going to china?  Oviously me and Shane are both going.  Some famiies send one parent, in some both go and only one stays the whole time.  We are both planning on going and staying the whole two weeks.  But who else is going?

selfie with her brand new passport

Yep!  Jenny is going to China!  That passport now has a shiny new Chinese visa stamp in it!  This sweet baby has been begging to go to China since the day we told them we were adopting.  Our first instict was to say no.  Too much school to miss, too much money, etc.  Then I decided they both needed to go.  Then I got real stressed about it and prayed through it all and this is the reality.

Will just doesn't need to miss 2 weeks of school.  Two weeks of tenth grade is too much.  Homecoming will likely be while we are gone.  He is in show choir and has other committments.  Although going to China is very important, these things are very important to him as well.  He is so excited about his new sister, but has let me know that I seem way more worried about him not going than he is.  He promises not to need therapy later because he is staying home.  I might need therapy though!  

Jenny wants to go so badly.  She understood when we said no, but was very sad.  Then when we said maybe she was ready to go!  Then she had kind of a panic attack about missing two weeeks of school.  She sat in my lap and cried and said she didn't think she could miss that much.  Then I got an email back from the school.  I had emailed about the possibility of her going.  I had heard terrible stories of kids having to withdraw from school and reenroll, etc.  Our precious school said, "YES! What an expierence-GO!"  I felt like she needed to know that.  She called me into her room one night and said she needed to talk.  She had tears in her eyes and she said she had changed her mind and she wanted to go!  It was decided!  There was no way I could say no with the only reason being that Will couldn't.  Jenny is sacricing much for Sarah.  She is the only one loosing her "place" in our family.  She is giving up physical space and is willingly sharing a bathroom.  Pretty big stuff for a 12 year old girl!

More than that though is the fact that for years I have prayed that the Lord would grow compassion in her heart.  That she would have empathy for others.  As we have looked at waiting children lists together and prayed for sweet children to find their families and for their care once they are home I have seen the seeds of compassion begin to take root.  I believe this trip will be a life changer for her in many ways and I am praying now for how God will use it in her life.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Happy Jenny gets to go.  So sad Will can't.  Knowing the Lord is going before us and ready to GO already!!!!  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sarah's Bed

When our family went on vacation this summer to the north Georgia mountains we did a whole of this:

It's hard to see but it's a whole lotta nothin!

We did a little of this too.
Go Braves!

Since we had driven into Atlanta to go to the Braves we decided to go to IKEA and look around.  While we there we found a bed for Sarah.  I've been struggling a little with what kind of bed to get her.  I am pretty sure that she is still in a crib and going from a hard crib to a big fluffy bed just might be too much for her.  Then we came across a cute little bed.  It was low to the floor, would expand from a toddler size to twin and seemed to be perfect.  YEA!  We got it and a mattress.

We had not exactly packed expecting to bring home a bed so it took a little finagling to get home.
Will is holding one side up and you can see Jenny's hand holding the other side.
What you can't see is Shane filling the cooler with ice.

We slid the cooler back in-good to go!

We waited several months until the room was cleared out and painted to put the bed together and we were all excited to get this room looking like a room!

Shane carefully laid out the pieces.

He started putting it together.

Wait a minute..... where are the slats!!!  They forgot to put the slates in the box.  I indignantly got out the computer to find out what was going on.  I pull up IKEA.  I look up the bed and there it is.....
*Slats are included in the prices but come packaged separately.  Don't forget to get them also.


Cute bed...mattress on the floor

Thankfully I was headed to Houston for a conference in a few weeks and could get some.  But for awhile sweet Sarah's bed looked like this!

But now!

Forgive the fabric- time to sew!

The mattress is up of the floor and the bed has a sheet!  Now to get the bedding done!  

Approvals, Visas and Packages, oh my!

Things are hopping over here in the Huff house.  It is proving to be a busy fall even without the excitement of the adoption.

Will is the source of most of the busyness.  I asked him how he thought 10th grade was going.  His reply was that is was really going well, academics just seemed to be getting in the way though.  Don't they always!!  He is in show choir this year and is having a ball.  They had their Dancing with the teachers fundraiser last night and his group won!  It was so much fun!  He is also in Shrek the Musical and is trying to finish up his Eagle scout work.
After Dancing with the Teachers

Jenny is spending most her time studying.  She seems to have a lot of work each night and school and good grades are very important to her.  Her statement would be the exact opposite of Will's.  Academics take top priority for her.  Isn't God funny.  Two exact opposite kids to parent.  She is doing well though and she has some exciting things coming up which I'll talk about in another post.  She is taking piano and enjoying being in the youth group at church now. 
At the Mosaic shop making a lady bug
which is a Chinese adoption good luck symbol

This sounds like those paragraphs they read when kids are on the homecoming court.  
He enjoys singing and dancing and throwing the football with his dad.
She enjoys piano, algebra 1 and checking active parent on a DAILY basis.

Moving on....

In adoption news, things are going really well.  After LOA we had to apply for I800 approval.  We've already been through one round of immigration and I knew to get in contact with our officer and see how it was going. I received a panic inducing email from our case officer which said "our LOA is missing."   That was not a fun few minutes.  Lord have mercy people the words, "a copy of your LOA is missing" would go long way!   Our officer was so great and once our social worker emailed her a copy she approved our application.  Just FYI the actual copy of the LOA was safe and sound at Lifeline and is now safe and sound in China!  

After this approval we waited a few days and began bugging, calling relentlessly, making contact with the National Visa Center.  This was in an effort to secure a PDF copy of the letter that is cabled to the US embassy on Sarah's  behalf.  This is to let them know she has provisional approval for a Visa to enter the US.  The letter would come via snail mail (we got it yestserday) but securing the PDF saved us a week. 

Speaking of Visas.... I work at a church sponsored preschool for a grand total of 9 hours a week.  I actually won't even be working there in a few weeks, but because it is religious organization we can not get my Visa to enter China until our travel approval is received.  Shane's should be back on Tuesday of next week.  It's not that big a deal, but it could delay us leaving by  a few days.  We know when we would like to leave but have to wait for our TA before making plans.  We have to allow at least 10 days between TA and travel to get my Visa.  I've stewed over it for awhile and then come to realization there is absolutely zero I can do about it so we will just deal with it.  We are getting close and a few days will be ok.

We are in a process right now that takes 10 business days to complete.  It all takes place in China and it has to do with papers changing hands.  We are about 4 days into that.  The only hitch for us is that the 10th business day is Oct 1 which starts the Chinese National Holiday.  Think Thanksgiving over here.  Only they take a week off.  I knew we would hit this delay at some point and figured into our waiting.  If all goes as planned we should start our wait for TA sometime the week of October the 7th.  Will you pray with us for a quick TA ?

We had a sweet surprise and got a new picture of our Sarah.  A team had visited and sent a picture back.  I'm holding that one close though.  It is sweet picture but also a reminder of where she she is.  We should get our final update any day now with updated measurements.  I'm very much looking forward to that.  We also sent her a care package.  If you ever want to send a shoe box sized care package to China use the USPO not UPS.  It was going to be $185 through UPS!!!  It was $27 through the PO, but I added tracking so it was closer to $40, plus the forwarding service I used to actually get it to the orphanage. We added a clothing donation for the orphanage, some treats for the nannies and some lollipops for the kids.  I had lollipops in the package but they made me take them out.  Not sure why, but Ok!  All in all to send the package was expensive and the contents were not of any great signifigance, except the photos of us and a blanket I made, but it made me feel good to send her something.

We are so appreciative of the kids words, prayers, support and love we have received on this journey.  It's becoming very real that we will be adding a new member to our family.  Please continue to pray as we get to connected to specialists for her needs and prepare our hearts for her.  Pray also that the Lord will begin to prepare her heart for a family!

Friday, September 6, 2013


I'm writing this sitting next to Shane on our way to Birmingham.  We are going to a meeting at our adoption agency regarding travel to China. We could have watched the meeting via the Internet but we decided to make the drive. We needed a day away. And besides we never mind driving to Birmingham. I always look forward to the car ride. Uninterrupted conversation and comfortable quiet. We have made this drive to Birmingham too many times too count. 

The first time we made this drive together I was barely 18 years old. We  weren't even "officially" dating. Just talking to each other. Shane's mom had invited me to go with her to help Shane move home for the summer. 

I rode home with Shane in his maroon Grand Am that day. Nervous.  Unsure what to say. Afraid he wouldn't still like me after spending 4 hours in the car with me.  

Over the next 6 years we would make this trip over and over. Sometimes together. Sometimes with me following behind. Once he had to go on back before me and when I left a few days later he met me at the Alabama welcome station so I could follow him back. 

We fell in love making this drive. We talked about our plans and dreams on this drive. And we are still doing that today. Dreams and plans for our new daughter. 

It's been 22 years since our first drive from Birmingham. 

It hasn't all been perfect but it has been good. We've weathered moves and babies and the death of a parent. We walked through really good times and really hard times.   Never for one day have I doubted his love for me. 

So glad to be making this drive with him today.

Maybe we can find time for a little Johnny Rays chocolate pie.