Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Other News

This summer is shaping up to be quite an adventure! The day before we received our referral, we found out that Matt's job is relocating us to Florida. Apparently, the Bouton Family doesn't get to experience one life altering event at a time. ;o) We're grateful that Matt has a job that he loves and that if we have to move, it is to somewhere warm with lots of fun things to do as a family.

We both grew up in Southern California so we are excited about this:

But not so excited about this:

or that we'll be so far from our families. Since we have been married, we have always been in another state but this is going to be different. We won't be a quick 7 hour car ride away from them anymore. We are just going to have to scour the web for cheap flights and learn how to Skype to keep in touch. Hopefully, our families will come for a visit sometime once we get settled.
Another concern is for our Meili girl. Moving before our China trip isn't an option and bringing her home and then packing her up for a cross-country move isn't exactly ideal for attachment and bonding. We'll just have to do our best to keep her routine simple and be the constant in her life through all the transition.
We are firm believers in the saying about it taking a village to raise a child. We have a great village around us right now and we're sad to leave schools that we love, wonderful neighbors, a great church family and some dear friends. We find comfort in remembering that we were new here once too. If we can be half as fortunate in FL as we have been in AZ, we'll be ok.
I'm also going to miss my job. Most of my clients have brought their children home, have finalized their adoptions and are through with the post placement process. There are a few families, however, that are still waiting (Heather, you must by psychic!) and I really wanted to be here to cheer for them as they crossed the finish line. I'm still going to keep in touch!
So, if I'm not blogging too often in the next few weeks/months, you will understand why. We're going to be busy preparing for a new baby, preparing to put our house on the market, for a trip to China, and a big move. Any extra energy that I have will be spent trying to make sure that the kiddos (all FIVE of them!) are doing ok with all of the impending changes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Referral Day Recap-Whew!

May 21st, 2009 was a WILD day-but one that we will never forget!

We woke up in the morning and knew that a package was on the way to the agency due for delivery at any time. I was a nervous wreck!

We went to Taylor's 8th grade promotion from 7:30-8:30 am. We weren't expecting it to be outside so we were the only folks standing out in the rain without an umbrella. We didn't take many pics because of the rain but here is one of Taylor with one of his best buddies, Kyle. We thought that Taylor would remain at school for the rest of the day, but instead he came home with us. We broke the news to him in the car on the way home that we would be receiving a referral that day. He had NO CLUE!!! Xander heard the news in the car at the same time and just about came out of his seat belt buckle with excitement.
At 10:51, we finally received the Stork Has Landed email! Of course, Matt had become stir crazy and had stepped out to run a few errands just a few minutes prior. So now, not only was I a nervous wreck waiting for the phone to ring but I also didn't know if Matt would be there when the phone call finally came in. After waiting 3+ years for the call, I wasn't sure if/how I was going to ask them to call back later when it finally arrived!

Matt walked in the door at 11:24 with Taco Bell. I took two bites of nachos and threw the rest in the trash-my stomach was a mess! At 11:29, the phone finally rang! When I saw our agency's name and number on the caller ID, I felt as if I was moving through molasses trying move into position. Taylor took his post behind the video camera and Matt and I sat down at the desk in the office with pens in hand. If we hadn't video taped the phone conversation, I don't think I would remember a second of it! 'Diedre' from the dossier department was the one to deliver our news. She is not someone we were familiar with, but at our agency when referrals come in, they get everybody involved. I remember being relieved when she said that we had a GIRL! and a little sad to learn that she was close to a year old and that we would miss her first birthday. The three questions I really wanted answered were: What is her name? How old is she? and Where is she? What surprised me was how emotional I was when she started to rattle off the other information. Things like-laughs out loud, tears paper, can imitate sounds, rolls over, can grab items with thumb and index finger made her seem real to me and the fact that she is doing all of those things without us really hit me at that moment. When I finally get the video up here, you will see that I had a hard time keeping it together at that point.
Once we had our info, we had to talk about shipping arrangements for Meili's file. They could have sent it that afternoon and it could have arrived at our home the next day. The only problem is that we were leaving town on that afternoon for Phoenix and then on to CA for the long weekend. At this point, we had not even packed yet but there were more important items to attend to!

We made a few phone calls to our family and waited to receive Meili's pictures by email. They finally came at 12:19. The first picture I saw was the one where she is in the walker. My first impression was that she looked like a little monkey. We affectionately referred to Audrey as the 'monkey princess' when she was little-even made her a little monkey outfit for her first Halloween. It looks like we may have a 'monkey empress' on our hands now! Next, I saw the pic of her in the car. She's looking to the side in this one and looks a bit scared if not perturbed. Then, we saw her mugshot. I expected that this would be our least favorite photo but I think it's the one we like the most. She has a sweet little expression on her face and the shape of her head is JUST like her baba's-almost a perfect square with a little chin jutting out. Even folks we don't know have noticed a resemblance! When we look at the pictures now, there is no doubt about it-she is ours! I can't wait to hold her and see what she looks like when she smiles!
We printed out the photos and flew out the door. Audrey and Noah were still at school (their last day!) so we decided to pop in and give them the surprise of their lives! We first found Audrey outside with a group of her classmates waiting for their turn for water field day. She saw a gift bag in our hands and asked what it was about. We answered, 'It has something to do with CHINA!!!' I think she screamed. She opened the bag to find her sister's picture and fell in love. She really wanted to have a picture to show her friends at school this year and was able to do so with only about an hour and a half to spare!

Next, we went into Noah's classroom. There were other parents there and the class was getting ready to have an ice cream party. It is customary in his class that whenever a family member arrives, they stop whatever they are doing and the student will introduce them. So, Noah introduced Matt and I and then I asked Noah if he would like to introduce HIS BABY SISTER!!! The look on his face was priceless and so was the AAAWWW! in unison from his classmates when he showed them the picture. I was crying and his teacher was in tears. What a moment!

Next, we rushed across town to be fingerprinted for our 4th home study. Our third one expires in a couple of weeks so these couldn't wait. It should have only taken about 15 minutes but thanks to my fingerprint card being jammed in the printer and the sweet little 85 year old man helping us that had no clue what to do about it, we were there for more that 2 and a half hours! I was fit to be tied. We ended up having to call a neighbor to retrieve Noah and Audrey from the bus stop while we were stuck there. Thanks, Linda!

We finally got home at about 3:45 and took a few minutes to show Meili's pic to a few neighbors. When I looked at the clock again, it was 4:30 and Noah and I needed to be at the Taylor Swift concert in Phoenix (2 hours away) by 7 pm. The plan was to spend the evening in Phoenix at my Grandma's house and continue on to CA the next morning for my sister's college graduation. I couldn't believe that it was 4:30 and I still hadn't packed! All I wanted to do was get on the computer and watch referral day unfold on RQ and in blogland. I think at that point, I still needed some reassurance that our referral was real! But there was no time, not even time to send an email or compose a proper blog post-so not what I had planned!

We threw some things in suitcases and hit the road. I've never left for a trip with my house in such disarray. It was against everything that I believe in but we had no choice. We did have a great time during the two-hour drive calling friends and family and telling them our news. The kids stared at Meili's picture for most of the drive and Matt dropped Noah and I off at the concert with no time to spare. I'm embarrassed to admit that once we made it in there and the lights went out, I had a bit of a 'moment.' It was an odd combination of stress (Here's the day we've waited 3 1/2 years for and we don't have any time to enjoy it!), disbelief (Did this really happen?), gratitude (How did we get so lucky to be chosen as parents for this little girl?), and relief (We really lived to see referral day...and she's perfect!) Several folks sitting next to us must have wondered why I was so moved by Kellie Pickler's performance.....;o)

We didn't get back to Grandma's until close to midnight. Everyone else was sound asleep. Before joining them, I had to take just one more peek at Meili's little face. What a dream come true!

We Accept!

I had a hard time getting a clear picture but wanted to document that we sent our referral acceptance back to our agency this morning. For a second, I thought about checking the box TWICE to make sure the CCAA knows how sure we are about our decision!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Can Brown Do For You?

Well, for us he pays the bills AND delivered our baby! Matt doesn't ask for much so when he was adamant about not receiving his daughter's file from his mortal enemy, we had to take him seriously. In fact, a good portion of our referral video consists of making arrangements to receive Meili's file through an alternate carrier. Here's what was posted on our door to make sure we wouldn't miss the photo op:

'Dave' wasn't sure what to think when four children and
a crazy lady with a camera rushed his delivery truck this morning.
When we told him that we were adopting
and he was delivering our baby,
he thought it was cool and was
a good sport about posing for a picture.

Four happy kiddos that can't wait to meet their sister!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Grandkid Tables

Matt's Mom has a table in her home for pics of her 7 grandsons...
and another for pics of her now 5 granddaughters. It's official-Meili has arrived!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Things We'll Do For a Merit Badge!

Taylor has been just one 50 mile bike ride away from earning his Cycling merit badge for almost 2 years. We thought a ride to the beach might be the safest (and flatest!) way to go so we made it happen when we were in CA for Janine's graduation. Here we all are after the 1st 30 miles and before heading back to our starting point. The brave participants were:
Taylor, Jared (my brother) and Matt

Bill (Matt's Dad), Jennie (Matt's sister)

Me-To be honest, I made it 50 miles and stopped at a Circle K for a pick-up. At that point, I was sure that if I continued any further that the bike seat would have to be surgically extracted! The rest of the crew made it the full 60+ miles.
And Papa Jim-Jim (my Dad.) He was also crowned the Biggest Loser among several family members that participated over the last few months. He's lost almost 30 pounds and is looking great!
James (another brother) also joined us but for some reason was not photographed. Sorry James!

A Special Gift

My Sister-in-Law MADE this beautiful doll for Meili! Can you believe it?
Aunt Wendy and Her Creation
Thanks, Wendy. I know that Meili is going to love it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Congratulations, Aunt Nini!

My sister, Janine, graduated today from the University of LaVerne with a Master's Degree in Psychology (which I'm sure has served her well at the other end of the telephone line with me during our referral wait!) We are so proud of her and glad that we could be there to celebrate her accomplishment!
Janine and Brice
With Mom and Dad
With Grandma and Me
Congrats Bean! We love you!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Miracle #5 Has Arrived!!!

Chinese Name: Fu Yan Cong
Soon to Be: Meili Grace YanCong Bouton
Birthdate: 06/07/08 11.5 months old! (Is that a cool birthdate, or what?)
Province: Jiangxi, Fu Zhou Social Welfare Institute

We can't wait to hold her in our arms and kiss those cheeks!

THANK YOU! to the People's Republic of China for this indescribable gift, to a loving Heavenly Father who is finishing what He started, and to our wonderful friends and family for your continued prayers and support!

Details Coming Soon....Promise!

All's well. We are away from home taking our referral pics on a 'live tour' to our families. We are hitting a wall with fatigue and sensory overload but it is all good. Just a few more baby debuts left and then we'll have a photo up here for all to see. Hopefully by tonight!

Meili's Referral Pics-World Tour 2009

Grandma lives 2 hours away but the rest of our family is in So. Cal. It was so fun to bring a pic of Meili to share with them on this trip. Papa Jim Jim was the only one home when we arrived so he got to be the first CA family member to see her!
Grandma had already had a chance to peek at her in the morning but we forgot to take a pic until we arrived at my parent's.
Grandma Judy and Aunt Julie seeing Meili's pic for the first time.

We met my mom and two sisters at a nail salon to prep for graduation the next day, so that's where they saw her for the first time. Here's Aunt Nini getting ready for her big day!

Grandma Debbie and Papa Bill got home from work a bit later. They had some 'babies' to share with us as well!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We Got The Call!!!!

Will fill you all in soon-need to call the fam!!!

Will He Make It?

I forgot to mention that Matt couldn't handle sitting at home waiting any longer and headed out to run a couple of errands and grab lunch. The 'Stork Has Landed' email came in not two minutes after he left! He is determined to make two more stops before returning home. If 'the call' comes and he isn't back yet, it's going to be really tough to ask them to call back....UGH!

Somebody Pinch Me-THIS IS IT!!!!

Dear Great Wall family,

The Stork Has Landed! If you have received this email we are pleased to announce that we have received your referral! Congratulations!

We are EXTREMELY busy getting everything prepared to contact you (sorting referrals, scanning your pictures, etc!) So, that all of you will have your child’s photo today! **We will contact each family by phone today and also email you your child’s photo!

We are working as quickly as we can to bring your referral to you! We thank ALL of you for your continued patience and support!


No Email Yet...

We're In!!!!!

  • Our agency emailed this morning saying that CCAA had confirmed that referrals were issued with a cutoff date of 3/14/06. They are expecting to receive our referral today!!!
  • We went to Taylor's 8th grade promotion this am from 7:30-8:30. Can't believe that my baby boy will go to high school next year!
  • We didn't know that he didn't have any school today after the promotion ceremony so we had to tell him that TODAY IS THE DAY! on the ride home. Xander surprised us with how excited he was to hear the news. He yelled, 'THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!!!' at the top of his lungs. He is SO ready to be a big brother.
  • Came home to check email and found info above.
  • I added our info to the 'Babies Post' on RQ and blubbered like a baby while I did it. Just still doesn't seem real. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through the referral call.
  • No 'Stork Has Landed' email yet. But we are expecting it any minute!
  • All that chocolate preparation and I can't even eat it. My stomach is in knots.
  • Matt is out front replacing a sensor on his car, cool as a cucumber.
  • Early in the process, I made a CD of songs that reminded us of Meili. It feels different to listen to it today...:o)

Is Today THE Day?

If it's not, I'm going to have to be hauled away to the looney bin in restraints!

Here's what we know:

  • Our agency expects to receive a package (THE package!) by 1 pm central time (which is 11 am our time) but history tells us that it may arrive any time between 10 and 2 (which is between 8 and 12 for us.)

  • The agency will send out a 'STORK HAS LANDED' email just before they begin to make calls. When I see that email come in, I'm going to be wearing depends and breathing into a paper sack...;o)

  • After all the worry about what to do if the call came while Matt was at work, he just happens to have the day off today. No plan-just coincidence!

  • We will be at Taylor's 8th grade promotion from 7:30-8:30 am so I hope the call doesn't come then. But just in case, I'll have a camera in one had and videocamera in the other...luckily, so will all the other parents.

  • Our children have NO IDEA that referrals are eminent. Today is the last day of school for them and they have been really sad that another school year is about to wrap up and they still don't have a picture of their sister to share with their friends. We have received permission from Noah's and Audrey's teachers to pop into their classrooms with a picture tomorrow ***IF*** we have one before the school day is over!

  • At 1 pm, Matt and I have to go to the police station to be fingerprinted for our home study update so we hope to have some info before then or it will be hard to leave the house.

  • Shortly after kids get home from school, Noah and I are heading to the Taylor Swift concert so dreams are coming true on a number of levels for certain family members today! This is so not what I had in mind for a referral night celebration (I loathe anything remotely Country) but I love ALL of my children and this is as big as it gets for #3.

  • We may not post a pic for a few days here on the blog so be patient with us. We want to take some time to take it all in and share it in person and by email with several friends and family members before throwing it out here for the general public and it might take the weekend to do so. We have been looking forward to this day for SOOOO long that we plan to milk it for all that it's worth. ;o)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hope I Don't Jinx Things By Posting This...

... but it looks like THE STORK IS FLYING!!! There are several European countries as well as a couple of US agencies reporting that the cut off date is March 14th! We are logged in on the 10th and our friends are logged in on the 13th so this is GREAT news!!! Several agencies are also reporting that referrals have been mailed and there is actually a report that an agency in Denmark has already received referrals. It is very likely that we will recieve THE CALL on Thursday!!!

The last several weeks have been rough. There were reports that referrals may be delayed until September due to the swine flu. None of this was confirmed by our agency but when your 6-8 month adoption stretches into it's 39th month, you start to put some stock in worse case scenarios. I've seen the end of my rope and it's not a fun place to be.

So, this news comes completely out of left field for us and it's hard not to think it's too good to be true. Hopefully the next 48 hours will prove otherwise and the little girl that we have been dreaming about for years will finally have a face!

***UPDATE*** Our agency is expecting a package on Thursday...I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE!

Monday, May 11, 2009

And It Just Keeps Getting Better, Folks...

Late last week, travel approvals (TA's) continued to trickle in for families who received their referrals in the last batch. That seemed like a good indication that things were still moving along in the right direction, albeit slowly. Then news came in that some of those families, could get Consulate Appointments (CA's-in Guangzhou-in order to get their child's Visa to come to the US) but were being refused appointments with provincial officials to finalize their adoptions in China. This is so frustrating-particularly for those families that have already purchased airline tickets that they may not be able to use.

Even after all of this, I was still optimistic for good news this morning and the possiblity of seeing a referral this week, especially since the pig flu news seemed to be less panic-inducing and on the decline. Instead, we woke up to news that there was a confirmed case of the pig flu in mainland China and this person had recently flown in from the US. Great. To add insult to injury, it looks like China has suspended issuing Visas and will not honor some that have already been issued. The following is a quote from an RQ post. I believe the poster works for a large travel agency in France:

"We have been passed information from the Chinese visa application centre today that due to recent events regarding the Swine Flu outbreak, the Chinese Embassy are suspending the issue of visas to certain applicants. This applies to travelers holding passports with entry / exit stamps in their passport (anytime from the 20th April and onwards) to the following countries: Mexico, Spain, USA and Canada." We have been advised this change applies to both new applicants and any travelers holding existing valid Chinese visas. The Chinese authorities have also advised us that there is a strong possibility clients arriving in China by
flight, on a previously issued visa, may be refused entry by Immigration officials, if their passport shows any evidence of recent travel to any of the above countries. Please be aware that this information is yet to be updated on the Chinese Embassy's website, but we will of course keep you updated if we receive anyfurther news regarding this situation"

Our agency has been sending out daily emails, even if just to say that they have no new news. So far, nothing today. Still praying that things will work out sooner than later. Sadly, it's all that we can do right now.

On a lighter note, we spent a great day together as a family yesterday. Matt made a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast including homemade cinnamon rolls. He rolled them up short-ways instead of long-ways so they turned out HUGE, but nobody complained. (Yes, he bakes-and sometimes answers to 'Mathew Stewart.') We went to church mid-day and the kids sang in sacrament meeting. I'm not sure they knew half of the words but they were certainly cute standing up there. After church, we took a much needed nap and then headed out to a symphony concert in the park. On the drive home at about 8:30 pm, it was still about 94 degrees! We came home and ate brownie sundaes for dinner-perfect!

One of the positive things that have come through this crazy wait is that I hug the 4 kiddos that we have at home a little tighter, appreciate them more and try to enjoy the small things and the quiet moments with them. I found a plaque the other day that said, "My greatest blessings call me Mom" and that's exactly how I feel.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

If Hell Were Personalized...

I've said out loud before that if hell were personalized, mine would be spent standing at a kitchen counter making sack lunches throughout the eternities. In fact, my kiddos only have 12 more days of school left to finish out the year and I'm already counting down the sack lunches!

Anyway, I change my mind. I am a problem solver by nature and somewhat of a control freak so you can imagine how the current adoption situation we find ourselves in makes me feel. Our baby has been born. She is in China. She is in an orphanage. We don't know who she is but we have loved her for a very long time. I have no idea about the standard of care that she is receiving. Her file has been prepared. It is sitting on a desk. She is ready to be matched with a family and to come home but the whole process is at a stand still. And there is not a darn thing I can do about it. I can stuff my face with chocolate, make lists and buy diaperbags all day long but it's not going to bring her home any faster. I'm tired of waiting. I'm even tired of complaining about waiting, believe it or not. I know that it will all work out as it is supposed to in the end. But in the meantime, this is hell.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Well, it's official...

Our agency emailed this morning and confirmed that CCAA is delaying referrals this month due to the outbreak of the Swine Flu. There is no indication as to how long this delay will last. We are praying that things will resume asap. Each day that Meili's file sits on a desk in China is a day that she won't get to spend at home with her family.