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“Ni hui shuo yingyu ma?” [Do you speak English?]

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

[April 25th, 2012. Published August 13, 2012…because he is now safe at home and we feel safe sharing this.:) ]

My phone rang at 5:52 today.  When the caller answered in Chinese, I thought it was a courtesy call. Completely uninterested in whatever they had to say, I asked the caller in Chinese if they spoke English.  “Ni hui shuo yingyu ma?”

The reply came in Chinese, “I can’t.  This is Pu Min Yu!”  *GASP*  I almost yelled, “Pu Min Yu!?  Really??”  And his sweet little reply, in English, “Yes!”

I handed the phone to Todd, since my Chinese is not so hot.  He asked him how he was doing, if everything was okay, was he happy, etc.  I think he was trying to make sure there wasn’t a specific reason for calling us.  Unfortunately, we got disconnected after about 4 minutes or so.  And he didn’t give us any reason for calling.  So it seems he just wanted to say hello to his family.  I have thought and thought about that phone call, and am probably trying to read too much into it.  Does this mean he’s ready to come home?  Does he think about us as much as we think about him?  Does he miss us terribly?  Is he feeling impatient?  I’m still wondering…

Pu Min Yu called us!!!  I love, love, LOVE that sweet boy!  I don’t know how he did it, but I have never been so grateful to receive a phone call in my entire life.  I still can’t get over it!  Love that boy. 🙂


Monday, March 19th, 2012

I am SO grateful today!  In addition to our LID last night, I discovered another happy email when I woke up this morning.  I’ll back up a bit first.

We took a big giant step in faith when we started this adoption.  Financially, we were not ready to begin this in the fall, but we felt very strongly that we should.  (And then discovered our son’s file was already prepared.  Good thing we didn’t delay!)  To be perfectly honest, we had spent all of our savings on our previous adoption, and then the move here to China.  And then the little that we thought we had left was quickly drained to cover mortgage payments for our unsold house during the fall.

So we have spent every extra penny (about $15,000 since August) on this vacant house.  Ugh.  We could have paid over two-thirds of the adoption fees with that.  But this morning, we got an email saying that we are ready to close on the house!  It came just a few hours after the LID email.  Yea!!!  This will be a HUGE burden lifted once we close on this sale.  Until now we have had to put all our adoption expenses on a credit card–that is now almost maxed out.  But it looks like we’ll close just in time to save enough for the China adoption fees which must be paid in cash.  Phew!

My mom has reminded me several times now, “God is never late, but he is almost never early.”  So true. He has answered our prayers and rewarded our faith.  Again. 🙂 We feel so incredibly blessed.


Monday, March 19th, 2012

We finally received word about our log in date.  It was today, March 19th!  Woo hoo!  China has logged us into their system and now we’re waiting for our LOA (Letter of Acceptance from China).  Should be here in about 5-8 weeks.  Then another 2-3 months for TA (Travel Approval).  And THEN we bring home our boy!

Speaking of our boy, I promised pictures in my next post.  As promised!


Pictures :)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

[Published June 2, 2012.]

I’ve done it again.  If you recall, during our last adoption I had the brilliant idea to search for our daughter online in Chinese.  I had been searching in English with no luck.  Well, when I searched in Chinese we ended up finding at least 5 more pictures, plus some pictures of the children from the Puyang SWI.  (And then the whole “searching for your child in Chinese” became this huge craze.  Had no idea it was such a novel idea.  Ha ha!]

So…I decided to do it again!  I actually searched for Minyu before we made our trip to Puyang and found a couple pictures.  Like these:

At the zoo. Summer 2011.

8 years old. Since this is the now the youngest picture we have of him, I guess that makes this his "baby picture."

I searched some more a couple weeks ago and have now found over a hundred pictures from the SWI.  And our son is in quite a few of them.  (I even found a couple more of Jasmine when she was there!)  Between the pictures given to us from the SWI, pictures we took during our trips, and online pictures, we now have about 80 pictures of Minyu!!!  If you haven’t adopted from China, I cannot begin to describe how incredible this is!  When you receive a child’s file, you may get lucky and receive 7-10 pictures.  Sometimes only 1-3.  And if you get any updates during the wait, you might get 1-10 more.  So a LOT of pictures would be 20 or so.  Some people have less than 5.  Total.  So…80+ pictures…definitely something to smile about! 🙂

Summer 2010

Summer 2010


Monday, March 5th, 2012

YAHOOOO!!!  We got the email from our agency on Friday that we were DTC!  (Translation: “Dossier to China.”)  The big stack of paperwork that began the moment we got Minyu’s file the first week in November is complete and has been mailed to Beijing, the place where all dossiers for China adoption go.  (Which is still ironic since we live here.)

I am so incredibly happy with this!  We were able to get our dossier finished in UNDER 4 months.  That is just awesome.  Some of that swiftness was due to our crazy paperchasing, some was because of our fabulous agency, some because of our social worker, and the rest was just lucky.  (Who am I kidding.  It wasn’t lucky.  It was meant to be. 🙂 )  Anyway, the estimate to complete a dossier is 4-6 months, and we beat it!

We should be bringing our sweet boy home this summer–June at the very, very earliest and September at the very very latest.  With the way things have been flying along so far, my feeling is that he’s meant to come home sooner.  So my best prediction is LOA around the 1st of May and TA the 1st or 2nd week of July.

So, here is the new timeline:

  • PA:  11/8/2011 (Pre-approval from China to adopt Min Yu)
  • DTC:  3/2/2012!
  • LID:  3/??/2012 .  We will receive a “log in date” sometime in the next couple weeks, which means China has received our dossier, logged it into their system, and we are officially in line to complete our adoption.
  • LOA:  1-3 months after LID we’ll receive our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) from China.  This is now the biggest unknown.  Once we have this we’ll probably be able to estimate our potential travel dates within a 2 week range.
  • TA:  (Travel Approval) just over 2 months after LOA.  There are about 5 little steps between LOA and TA, but they go pretty quickly.

So happy!  4 months down and only 4-5 months to go!  We are half way there and are all MORE than ready to bring Minyu home.  I hope we can make these next months fly quickly while we work hard making our home and family ready for our sweet boy.  Fly time, fly!  (And U.S. and Chinese governments, please issue our approvals in a quick fashion–lightning quick would be preferred!!)

Letter from Minyu! And a name.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

[Written 2/23/2012.  Published 3/13/2012.]

We received our second letter from Minyu yesterday! Love that boy!!! It’s almost like Christmas at our house when we hear from him.  He received our 3rd care package and wrote a response to our letters. (He previously responded to our first letter, but not the second.) In our last letter we asked him about the English name we had chosen, and he says he likes it! So, Minyu now has an English name!

He likes it!

It’s Matthew. 🙂  “Matthew” and “Jasmine” actually have the same meaning: gift from God. It just seemed so fitting.  All of our children truly are gifts, but these last two gifts were unexpected surprises, both given after we thought we were finished receiving “gifts.” 🙂  I have to tell you a bit more about this name.  I went through hundreds of names–literally.  It had to have a really special meaning, and it needed to sound nice too.  Well, after going through aaallll these names I made a short list, and then narrowed the short list down to the “real short” list–to about 10 names that I thought I could live with.  Then I picked my two favorites–Matthew and Evan.  Well, later that day when I realized “Evan” rhymed with “Trevin” that one was out too. 🙁  Phooey.  Only one really good name left, in my opinion.  ONE.  Out of hundreds.

So, before I told Todd what I’d come up with, I emailed him and said something like–hey, I’ve come up with a short list of names, but I don’t want to influence your thinking with my list until you let me know if you have any opinions on names.  So let me know if you have any thoughts before I send you the short list.  And I rambled on for another 4-5 sentences or so (like I am innately inclined to do).  And I did NOT send him the list yet.

A few minutes later Todd sent a reply.  Man-Of-Many-Words wrote:  Matthew.

That was it.  A one-word email.  Yeah, he wasn’t even interested in my short list, or my “real short” list, or how I’d combed through names for hours.  It was decided, and fortunately he decided right. 🙂  (Only joking!  Mostly!  Ha ha!)  And fortunately, Minyu really liked it too!  I was a bit worried that he wouldn’t like it…because we had nooo backup name if he didn’t. 🙂

Now back to his letter.  The very first thing he wrote was, “I’m so sorry I didn’t write last month.”  He explained that he had been very busy with homework–and I believe it.  (Our kids attended Chinese school for a month and it was pretty demanding.)  He gets very good grades and is always at the top of his class.  Yes, I am certain he’s working very hard.

We have some family coming to visit us in Beijing next month, so we asked him if there was something he’d really like to see when he comes.  (I was thinking maybe the Great Wall, or the Forbidden City.)  Minyu knew what he wanted to see.  He wrote, “When I come to Beijing, what I want to see most is my dad, mom, brothers, and sisters.”  Why didn’t I think of that.  That’s what we want most too–just for him to BE here.  He then thanked each of his siblings individually for the things they had sent him.  So sweet.  They all loved hearing from their brother.  We ALL loved hearing from him!  I know every parent think this about their children, but he really is someone special.  Really!  We are all so anxious to have him here with us, but until that day comes, we are grateful we can exchange letters. 🙂


3rd Care Package!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

[Written March 15, 2012.]

Sent February 13th!  I’ve decided that since it is such a huge hassle to try to print real photos, I’m just printing them in the letter instead.  Besides, it’s easier to include captions this way.  In addition to a letter with pictures, this package included lots of things from the kids to their brother.  Letters, drawings, and a book.  All of our kids love Harry Potter, and since our two oldest just finished reading the whole series this past year, they thought Minyu might like it too.  So, we sent the 2nd book, Chamber of Secrets.  I hope he loves reading like our others do!  If he doesn’t yet, we’re hoping “Hā lì bō tè” (Harry Potter) will help get him hooked. 🙂

2nd Care Package

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

[Written March 15, 2012.]

We sent our 2nd care package to Minyu on December 31st!  All of the kids received a new book from us for Christmas this year.  (They love books, so yes, new books were a good thing.)  We’re not sure if Minyu likes reading, or if he really gets much of a chance to, but we also sent him a book.  Our kids love the Harry Potter series and the oldest two just finished them all this year.  So we thought we could try to find it for Minyu.  That way when our kids talk about Harry Potter, at least he’ll be able to participate in the conversation.

“Hā lì bō tè” or “哈利·波特” or “Harry Potter”

We were able to find the entire set of 哈利 波特 (aka Harry Potter) books in Chinese and bought them off of Taobao (a Chinese website–like a cross between Amazon and ebay??).   Yea!   So we sent the first one, The Sorcerer’s Stone, to him for Christmas (a little late).  We hope he likes it!

We also sent a letter, pictures, and some goodies.  I hope he know how much we love him and think about him!

The most amazing update of all…

Friday, December 16th, 2011

[Written December 16th, published March 4th.]

…A handwritten letter from our son! 🙂 I received an email this afternoon from the Puyang SWI containing a scanned copy of a letter from Min Yu.  Wow!!!  It seriously made our hearts leap. 🙂 We were so overjoyed to get a letter from him and the kids were so excited to hear from their new brother. We have been missing him since the moment we said goodbye in October, and have been puzzling over what he thought about our visit. It is so good to finally know!! The ayi told us he composed the letter the very day he received our package. (Below is an actual clip of the letter.)

In his letter he said (paraphrasing from Chinese of course), “I’m writing this during lunch break and my time is almost up.”  Which means he spent the first possible moment he had that day to write that letter.  For us! Talk about making us feel special. The ayi also said how surprised she was after reading it, and could hardly believe a young boy had written something so moving.  After reading it I had to agree.  Wow.  I can hardly think about the things he wrote without getting emotional. I had wondered and hoped he would write us back, but I never imagined a letter like this.  I expected something more…superficial? child-like?  (Think of a “tween” boy that you know. What kind of letter would he write?  What would it be about?  His favorite video games?  A cool TV show?  Favorite foods?)  Instead, I read a letter that was touching and thought-provoking, an honest look into his thoughts.

There was one other thing I did not expect; it was comforting.  I forget that on occasion we can switch roles with our children, and they can comfort us. Todd and I don’t feel we should share the entire letter because it is personal and special, and we want to respect his privacy as a child, as our child.  But I do want to share a couple of things that have provoked much thought. One of the first things he wrote was something that was music to my ears, that it was his dream to have his own father and his own mother. We can give him that!! And then there was the line that brought so much comfort to me.  I have been so worried about the long wait, not because I’m terribly impatient, but because I really despise making my child wait!  At 12 years old, I’m sure he is quite aware of the passing days and weeks and months. I have worried that he might wonder what was taking so long, why we hadn’t come yet.  Or that he might begin wondering if we would ever come, or if we’d changed our minds.  (Before I quote him, I will tell you that this is a fairly accurate translation, and it sounds as sophisticated in Chinese as it does in English.)  About the wait he said, “I know you must go through the effort of the adoption process procedures, but please rest assured that I will patiently wait.”  Reading those words brought such relief!  He understands about the wait.  And if he can wait patiently, then so can I. 🙂 I told him in our first letter that we would write him every month until we came.  He replied that it was okay if we didn’t have time to write each month because he knows we’re very busy taking care of the family.  He sounds so selfless to me.

And the last thing I want to share is his feelings about being adopted.  He said his “heart was so excited” when he found out he had a family, and that it was our family specifically. Yea!!! It would be so rosy to leave it at that, but he continued. “Although I am happy that I will soon have my own family, because of the life I’ve had here for many years and the care and upbringing of my ayis, I am also reluctant.  I am happy that I had a relationship with them for 6 years, and I will treasure the next 6 months I have here.” Wow. I am so glad to have a glimpse of his feelings in all this. I am incredibly grateful that he feels safe enough to share this with us already! Yes, he wants a family. Yes, his “heart was excited” to find out he had one. But he realizes that adoption means he will leave–permanently–the “family” he has had for half his life. I think sometimes as adoptive parents we forget that our children have a real life before they come to us.  (Guilty.) Even if it’s not an ideal, traditional family, it’s what they have and know.  And sometimes (though not always) it’s what they even love. It’s at least familiar and known.  There is loss and grief in adoption. Pre-adoptive parents are taught this, but sometimes I think we forget when we’re waiting. And when most children come home, they’re too young to express this in words. I think this is why it was so different hearing this from Minyu. He is old enough, and comfortable enough, to tell us.

First Care Package!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

[Written December 7th.  Published December 27th.]

Care packages!!!  Sending a care package is so much more than a box of goodies.  In China adoptions, a care package is about the only way of saying, “We love you!” and “We haven’t forgotten about you!”  Especially since our son is older and understands what is going on, I will be sending a monthly care package until we bring him home.

I began preparing a care package a few days after receiving our pre-approval from China.  The kids made artwork, I began writing a letter, we chose pictures to send and picked out some tasty treats from the store.  And then I let everything SIT for a whole 2 weeks.  Sort of.  I had to prioritize.  I could use my spare time on adoption paperwork and hopefully bring Min Yu home a bit sooner, or I could spend my time finishing up our first care package.  I chose the former.

In the U.S. I probably could have done both, but I’m still figuring things out here in China.  Things like how and where to print photos, where to get a box, and how to mail things at the post office.  There was one thing that was much easier this time around–finding someone to translate the letter to Chinese!  Yea!

Well, I’m happy to report that I figured it all out!  First, I put everything in a bag since I didn’t have a box.  Then I gave it to Todd and said, “Could you please mail this today at work?”  Ta da!  (Yeah, I passed the buck.  What would YOU do if you didn’t speak Chinese?!)  But to my credit, I did get the photos all printed!  Really!  There’s a convenient little shop, a 3-minute walk from my front door.  3 minutes!  THAT’S convenient.  They print photos in 24 hours.  So I gave them all my pics and picked them up the next day.

Okay, funny little tangent about my “convenient” little photo place.  A couple days ago I gave them a 4×6 picture (6 little passport photos on one photo) to print, and they charged me 10RMB for the 4×6, instead of 1 RMB.  I was able to communicate what I wanted, but my Chinese was not sufficient to ask them why it cost so much.  (Well, actually I can ask them why it costs so much; it’s their response that I wouldn’t be able to understand.)  So I sent Todd to pick up the finished pictures so he could ask about the huge price difference.  Long story short, the lady got really defensive and then got downright ugly, so Todd told them we’d take our business elsewhere.  He got his money back and left without the pictures.  So…it looks like I’ll have to find another “convenient” photo place that’s only 3 minutes away.  Ha.  Yeah right.  The one part of the care package process I thought I had figured out.  Back to the drawing board.

Anyway, what I’ve been trying to say for the last 5 paragraphs is…We FINALLY sent our first care package to Min Yu!  I wanted to send it by mid-November, but we didn’t finally send it until today.  It contained a letter, pictures of our family (including the ones we took when we were with him), and some snacks to eat or share with friends. I kept it small, knowing that we’ll be sending him Christmas presents soon. 🙂

I won’t include the letter itself, but let me say, it was hard to write!  I had a bit of experience writing these letters from our first adoption, so it wasn’t as hard as the first time.  There are a thousand things you want to tell them and ask them, and then you remember that you’re writing a child you don’t even know.  And what can you actually include?  And if it’s more than a few paragraphs, will they even want to read to the end, or will it be boring to them?  Anyway, my method for writing letters to my waiting children includes laying out a spreadsheet of every topic I feel needs to be discussed, divided up over the number of months until they come home.

Here’s what I included in the November (but sent in December) letter.

  • We are his new family and are all so happy that he will be our son.
  • We explained how LONG the adoption process is, and that he will probably come home in the summer.
  • We promised to write him each month until he comes home.
  • We asked him to tell us about himself.

The one thing I forgot was to take a picture before sending the package.  Doh!  I’ll try to remember next time.  Instead I can include a few of the pictures we sent to him.  We sent some of the pictures from our time together in Puyang.  And I also included some pictures of our family that are in our dossier.