Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Katie!

We are too busy packing for China to have a big celebration, but Katie doesn't care.  She split a can of tuna fish with Louie in honor of her 5th birthday.  That's all it took to make our sweet birthday girl happy.DSC03598
Happy Birthday Our Dearest Katie!  We love you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Shower for Natalie

Gary and I are both so fortunate to work with people that we really like and enjoy seeing every workday.  A few weeks ago the people at Gary's work place threw us a baby shower and this week my coworkers gave us a shower for Natalie.  Quite a few people picked up on the owl theme as you will see in the below pictures.  Natalie was given some very nice gifts which we greatly appreciated, but our favorite part was the loving support that we received from our friends.  Natalie is loved already and not just by us.DSC_0354

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Gary trying out Natalie's new owl themed hoodie towel
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Give Me a "T"! Give Me an "A"! What's That Spell?

We are going to China!!!
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For those of you not familiar with the China adoption world, T. A. is the coveted acronym that stands for Travel Approval.  Today Gary and I, along with our travel group, received our beautiful T.A.  Now we just need our appointment date at the U.S. Consulate in China and we will be able to buy our tickets and rush around finalizing the last minute details.  Between two and three weeks from now we will be on a plane headed towards our sweet Natalie.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Newfs, Two Humans & Two Rivers

On October 1st, the day after we saw Natalie's face for the first time, we decided to take the new pedestrian Two Rivers Bridge for a test walk. The bridge crosses the Little Maumelle River and takes bicyclists, runners and walkers directly to Two Rivers Park which is nestled between the Little Maumelle and the Arkansas Rivers.
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Twilight over Pinnacle mountain
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After crossing the river we took a nice walk on one of many beautiful trails.
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"When can we go back?"
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

Natalie's given Chinese name, which we will keep as her middle name, is Wan Han.  Although our adoption agency gave us a translation of it, I was having a hard time putting the meaning into words until I did some research on the characters myself.
Wan, the first character, literally means 10,000, but the figurative meaning is infinity.  It is considered to be a very auspicious and lucky number.  The Forbidden City is said to have 9999 1/2 rooms - one half room less than the 10,000 rooms that are in heaven according to ancient Chinese culture.

Han, the second character, means contain.  When I first heard this I thought it was a very strange meaning for a name. Now I understand that the two characters are meant to always be interpreted as a set.

When Natalie arrived at the orphanage she was given a name which says she contains an infinite amount of luck and good fortune...a beautiful name for a very special little girl.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Caring From the Other Side of the World

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Natalie in August 2011 reaching for someone...wish it was me!

Two days after we got our referral for Natalie I sent her a care package containing a soft cuddly blanket and two of her favorite kinds of toys: a stuffed animal and a musical toy.  I also sent a couple of disposable cameras in hopes that her foster parents will take pictures of her and return the cameras to us.  The photo album we made several months ago to familiarize her with our faces was also in the box.  The chocolate truffles are for her foster parents - I hope the weather is cool enough now to keep them from melting.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Enough Red Threads to Make a Quilt!

“An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but never break.” -Ancient Chinese Belief

Since last Friday we have seen so many signs which tell us that Natalie Wanhan, was meant to be our daughter.  One of the first things we learned when we got the referral call for Natalie was her birthdate of January 27, 2010 - the same day as Gary's father's birthday!
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This picture was taken on August 10, 2011.  Natalie was 18 months old at the time.

Another red thread...Gary, Louie and Natalie are all Aquarius and born in late January. (Katie and I are both October girls.)

During this long wait I have made some very dear friends who were also logged into the China adoption system in July of 2006.  Three of those women will be traveling with us in China to meet their daughters.  All three of them have daughters in the same orphanage, but Natalie is in a different one.  I had so wanted her to have that connection with some families from our close knit group, so when I first learned this I was a little sad.  But very soon thereafter I learned that several families in our group who are leaving for China this week have daughters from Natalie's orphanage.  There are estimated to be 1,000 orphanages in China so it is truly miraculous that Natalie will be able to share this connection with some girls in our little group.  There is a chance that one of these families might get to visit our sweet girl and take some pictures for us next week.

Now, the next incredible red thread... I was recently contacted by someone who adopted a daughter from the same orphanage as Natalie's in August of this year.  She said she thought she had some pictures of our daughter and she sent them to me.  I confirmed that "YES! That is our Natalie!"  I was so thrilled to get the most recent pictures I have to date of Nat. The above picture is one that she sent.

Even better than the pictures though was finding out that her daughter is Natalie's foster sister.  I didn't even know that Natalie is in foster care.  Now we have pictures of her being held by both her foster mother and father, pictures of her with her foster sisters, and a connection to Natalie's past.  This is such a wonderful gift for our family.  The person that traveled in August had previously discovered another of the five foster sisters, so if we can find the other two in the next several months these girls will be able to have a lifelong connection to their whole group of foster sisters.  We are just thrilled about this.  I know it is going to mean so much to Natalie as she grows up.

Now for the grand finale of the Red Threads:  What does the above picture have in common with the two below?
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Natalie's Room

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A stunning red thread.   Do you see it?  It truly blew Gary and I away when we did.  There is no doubt in the world that this precious little girl is our daughter.  Amazing!  Yep, that's our baby :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

All About Natalie

Seeing our daughter's face for the first time yesterday, magically wiped away our 6 year, 8 month wait since we made the decision to adopt in the beginning of 2005.  All those years of waiting - sometimes patiently and sometimes agonizing over the slow process - make complete sense now.  If we had gotten our child match earlier we wouldn't have been chosen as the parents for Ling Wan Han.  Gary and I both feel a connection to Natalie already.  Even though we haven't met her yet we just sense that she was meant to be part of our family. Her Auntie Leah said the same thing.


The following pictures were taken May 30, 2011.  Natalie was 16 months old at that time.
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Here's what we know so far:

Natalie is in the Province of Jiangxi in the Shangrao City Children's Welfare Center which has a nutritional program sponsored by Love Without Boundaries.  I was so happy find out about that.  She drinks milk and a rice-based formula.  She also eats porridge and noodles.

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Her favorite activity is to play outside and her favorite toys are the musical ones.

Natalie is a deep sleeper and she is potty trained (her Daddy was particularly happy to hear this).  She can walk if someone holds her hand.   She is a talkative, extroverted girl who likes to play with toys and gets along well with others.  

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I am so happy that I have been crying off and on since 10:30 yesterday.  My heart is just so full of joy that my body can not contain it.   Natalie Wanhan is a dream come true.  I am so ready to love her and do my best to give her the nurturing she needs.
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