Monday, October 25, 2010

Nothing new to report

The wait continues, but for how long we just don't know. Our name is moving up the list toward an official match with Twiggy Four and pre-identified, waiting children seem to be the priority over healthy infants. Our agency is hopeful that our adoption will be processed within a year. My gut feeling is that we'll be matched by the end of the year, or shortly thereafter. What happens then is a child history will be sent to us for review (with a doctor), then once we agree paperwork is begun to issue us the much awaited "To Whom It May Concern" letter inviting us to travel and take custody. That process could take 6-8 months, maybe shorter. My goal is to have Twiggy Four home before he turns 5, February of 2012. Any time before that is good with me. Age 5 just seems to be a turning point and I'd like a little bit of time with him before he becomes a big boy.

This may all seem discouraging, but I'm actually encouraged. Our agency has been corresponding with us more recently so that seems to indicate that action is happening on our behalf.

Twiggy One and I just returned from a mission trip to Twiggy Four's country to teach English. We were there in 2008 and it was fun to think that we were so close to Twiggy Four both then and on this trip. Prospective parents are not allowed to visit a child prior to taking custody and I was o.k. with that. It would have been fun to peek in on him from a distance, but that opens the door to heartbreak if we are not matched with him. I was at peace leaving it all in God's hands. I also know that he is in a good place and seems happy. That made it much easier.

Several students from my English class were from a home for children of Christian prisoners so I was able to pour out my mommy love on them for a few days. 45 students accepted Jesus' free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, two of them from my classes. Praise the Lord! I'm ready to go back...we'll see what next year holds.

The rest of the twigs are doing well. Twiggy Two and Three joined Twiggy One at the Christian school and all are thriving there. I was hired as the Children's Coordinator at our church (which is right across the street) so financially it made private schooling possible. That had been our goal all along and we are so thankful for God's provision. I only work part time and will be able to work from home once Twiggy Four arrives. God is so good!!!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Step Closer

We heard from our agency yesterday that our dossier was to be mailed overseas either yesterday or today. Yippee!!! A step closer to being officially matched. They also told us that a volunteer at the orphanage said that he has Cerebral Palsy, which is what I suspected from watching him on the video. Clearly it's mild and he gets around quite well. We should get his "Child History" file once we're matched then we'll get a professional medical opinion of a prognosis. So, my day was made yesterday. With adoption, you can go weeks without hearing anything new so to get 2 pieces of information in one day was huge.

Last Friday we had to drive up to Yakima to get our Fingerprints done for immigration. When we adopted the girls, we had all kinds of troubles with scheduling and grumpy government workers. This time was difficult getting a computer generated appointment that we could attend. Finally after speaking with a live human being we were told to just walk in. Seriously? After our previous experiences I doubted that this would be anything short of a nightmare. We were all prepared as we drove to fight the battle. Well, when we arrived we were welcomed in and ushered directly to the fingerprint window. No questions asked. In and out in 15 minutes. We were even given an evaluation form to fill out. Seriously?! Wow, what a change. I should have known then that good things were going to happen this week.

The more I think about this little guy, the more I wonder if he isn't just meant for us. He appears so gentle and sweet in the video. It that's so, he would be such a balm for my heart after the struggles we've gone through with Twiggy Two and Three. Life has given them each challenges that we've had to put in a lot of energy figuring out and dealing with. It's not that our Twiggys aren't sweet, I love each of my children dearly and I can't breathe when I think about one of them getting hurt. It's just that the last few years have been really hard. Now that we have some answers, life feels much more positive. A sweet little guy would be the frosting on the already scrumpscious cake (is that spelled right?!).

We're very busy with fun, summer activities. Free lunches in town, free movies, swim lessons, piano practice, spring cleaning chores for pay, and a little bit of homeschooling keeps us all busy and tuckered out at night. I collected several projects to keep interest, so I haven't heard the "b" word yet.

Twiggy One got registered this morning to take Algebra I this summer. The school was slow in getting it all set up...I've been asking about it for 3 months now. She'll have to hustle, but she says she's ready to do it. I think she'll do fine since she got an A in Algebra 1/2 last year. It's just that she's a year younger than her classmates and here she is taking a 9th grade class at age 12. It's fun to get ahead, we'll just keep a close eye on her. Any sign of it being too much and we'll take a break.

Twiggy Three has overcome his very large fear of putting his face in water. A special swim teacher has worked her magic the last three weeks and he now wants to have a competition to see who can pop up out of the water first. After lesson this morning he got some noodles and wanted to float around the pool. Amazing!!! Last summer he would scream if a drop of water was splashed on his face and would claw my arms as I held him and walked around the pool. I cried on Monday when he dunked for the first time all by himself. I love these moments as a mother...seeing your child accomplish a task that was difficult.

My sister and her family are here with us this week then on Sunday we'll head to Family Camp. Our favorite event of the year. Well, it was our favorite event last year and I'm just positive we'll come home ready to start planning for next year. I always wanted to take my family to Family Camp so last year we felt we were ready to tackle it. It was such a huge success. Can you tell I like Family Camp?! It's just so fun having the kids get to extend their freedom a bit and for us parents to set aside our responsibilities. Also, I don't have to even think about cooking for 6 whole days!!! I take limited snacks and tell the twigs that they better eat when the dinner bell rings. I am not in charge of their tummies. I can't do laundry so they just run around dirty. And the cabin doesn't get too messy since we're busy playing all the time. Wow! Can't get much better than that.

Mama Branch

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Trying Again

Our agency went overseas at the end of April and brought back info on one little guy. They told us that his info did not match our criteria, however, a couple of weeks ago they sent us the video of him out of the blue. What a cutie pie he is! This is how they describe him:

***** dresses himself, tells when he has to go potty. He came first of April from another Baby Home. He has a weakness on his right side but seems to get along quite well. He is friendly and has a warm and easy smile.

He looks directly into the camera and flashes an adorable grin. Just because of that, I feel like he could be a good fit for our family. As the 4th twig, he would need to be easygoing.

We are unable to get a child history that includes medical diagnosis (hopefully) until we are in process with him so, after much thought and prayer, we have decided to move forward until God closes the door. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for us.

Thanks for being patient with no update for awhile. I'll keep you posted. (And sorry this is brief, I have a busy day ahead but wanted to get this out there).

Mama Branch

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sad News

Well, I was going to update on what we got accomplished today and announce that we would have the dossier complete tomorrow. We were hurrying to get our dossier overseas so that a "hold" could be placed on our little guy. Well, we weren't quick enough. We received an email this afternoon he is no longer available for adoption. Heavy sigh! We're not sure why. If it's that he got adopted within his own country, I'm happy for him. Ultimately we want his best, right?! It's hard, though.

Twiggy Three seems to be the most disappointed. He really wants a brother to play with.

I'm not sure where this leaves us. There are no other boys on the waiting list that seem to be a fit for our family (age or health wise). There were 3 right off the bat that we looked in to but they had already found homes. Then we started looking at "*****". I think our agency will be getting a new waiting list in May. Should we have our agency proceed with the items that take a couple of months to process in hopes there's a little guy on that list? Or do we quit now and maybe get some money reimbursed? I must be tired tonight; the easy way out seems enticing tonight. Hmmm... things to think about on a better day.

Mama Branch

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Twiggy Four!

"Happy Birthday dear son of my heart! I am praying so hard that you become my son in name as well. I wish I could hold you today and tell you how special you are."

What we know about Twiggy Four: he was placed into care at 3 months of age, has an underdeveloped left arm that he's had some surgeries on, gets bronchitis when he gets sick and needs an inhaler, and has a solid build. In the video we have he's very intent on kicking a ball around and the videographer states that he's "a very active little boy". The first thing that stood out to us was his name (sorry I can't mention it). Part of his name is a nickname that Twiggy Three had from a man in our church when he was a baby due to his solid build. We keep calling Twiggy Four by the nickname and I'm not sure if we'll give him an English name or keep his Asian name. It's just too cute. It would probably be confusing for him down the road in school and such so we should give him an easier name, but he's "(insert nickname)" in our hearts. We kept the girls Chinese names as a second middle name so we may do the same for Twiggy Four.

Dossier update: We had the formal family picture taken yesterday at church and I just downloaded it to Walmart along with the photos of the house and each twiggy. Will pick those up tomorrow. Today's task is to call the CPA contact I was given on Saturday. Please pray for ease. It seems like this financial statement has the potential to be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Later this afternoon I will call the doctor's office to ensure that the letter is ready for the notary to sign tomorrow when she's back in the office. I don't want to be a nag, but I also know better than to sit back and wait for things to happen. There's a little boy in an orphanage who needs his mom and dad. I will do whatever I can do shorten the wait, be it a week, day or even an hour!

Mama Branch

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday progress

Today's progress: people lined up to do reference letters on letterhead, photos of house taken, passport renewal mailed, and a couple of contacts recommended for a CPA.

Will get formal family photo tomorrow when we're dressed up for church.

The girls and I did a service project this morning planting flowers and pulling weeds at a retirement home. Mr. Branch and Twiggy Three are at grandma's house doing yardwork. I think I'm about ready for a nap...

Mama Branch

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Study Done, Dossier Here We Come

The social worker emailed Wednesday night with just one question, then finalized our home study and sent it to our agency. We haven't heard if it's been approved yet, but we were able to start on our dossier paperwork. The dossier is the packet of papers that go overseas. There are a bunch of letters/certificates that need to be notarized then several miscellaneous items.

Notarized: Letters from Physician, Letter of Employment, Two reference letters on letterhead, Financial Statement by a CPA or bank, Official country Application Form, Copy of Marriage Certificate, Copies of Birth Certificates, and Police Reports on letterhead.

Misc: Statement of medical plan for child, four passport photos of each parent, passport size photo of each child, formal family portrait, and 4-6 photos of the inside and out of home.

My goal is to have this completed by next Friday. Here's what we accomplished today:

1. Mr. Branch dropped off sample letter at our doctor's office while he was there for his allergy shot. Will pick up on Tuesday after notary returns.
2. I attempted to have our credit union do the financial statement. They would not do it. Made some phone calls to try to find a CPA who would do what we need. No luck yet.
3. Retrieved birth and marriage certificates from safe deposit box.
4. Visited police station and got both letters.
5. Retrieved passports from safe deposit box and realized my passport will expire in July. Printed and completed passport renewal form. Will mail tomorrow.
6. Went to Costco and got 4 passport photos of each of us plus 2 extra for my passport renewal.
7. Completed our adoption training DVD's and answered required questions.
8. Completed I-800A immigration form, got certified check from bank, and mailed back to agency.

Not a bad day's work!

Mama Branch

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Doubt and fear

I'm not usually one to be overcome with fear, but last night I was overcome. The social worker had been here for three hours questioning us to expose any reasons we are not good parents. OK, that's a bit harsh, but thats the purpose of a home study, isn't it? She was very kind, in fact, reminded us of a family member. We're pretty sure she'll write up a good home study, however, for the rest of the day I felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy... as spouses, parents, providers, etc. I know I'm not perfect, but it's no fun having to face your flaws. Then the devil threw another punch as Mr. Branch and I were in our van last night. We were discussing it's developing squeaks and rattles and I realized our van is 13 years old and the vehicle replacement fund tends to be spent repairing instead of building up to replace. Fear started to creep in. Doubt had arrived earlier in the day. The devil then reminded me of Twiggy Three's hospital bill waiting for me to call and make arrangements to pay... And Twiggy One's braces bill due in a couple of weeks... Suddenly I was laid flat. I couldn't be a good parent. I don't have the money for an adoption. I can't do this!!! I'm scared.

Well, I was right. I can't do this. Some good sleep helped my perspective, but this morning I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast of Ken Davis when I came to a decision. He was speaking about the Apostle Paul being persecuted for speaking about Jesus' love and he told his persecutors that he would willingly give his life. It was not a loss to him but a gain. I choose to go through this process even if it lays me flat, time and time again. If it brings glory to my Savior, I'm willing.

Stay tuned for Twiggy Four's brithday post on Monday...his 3rd birthday!

Mama Branch

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homestudy Appointment

Yippee! The social worker called tonight to schedule our homestudy for next Tuesday morning. She said she'll have it written up and back to our agency within a couple of days. Wow! Now that's what I like to see. Our agency told us last Monday to let them know if we hadn't heard from the social worker by Friday. I called this morning and had to leave a message. No response by lunchtime, so I called again and our contact person was gone for the day. Argh! The receptionist said she'd call the social worker. By 5 p.m. tonight I had given up hope. At 6:30 p.m. she called!!! We had a good chat on the phone and I like her a lot. Twiggy Two and Three are out of school next week due to parent-teacher conferences so they'll get to be here. We'll have to work on getting Twiggy One out of school for the morning. She has class pictures that day so we'll see... The twigs don't have to be here, but the social worker said she likes to talk with them a bit and I'd like them to be a part of the process.

Ah, now I'm excited...things are a happenin'!

Mama Branch

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Home from Church/Twiggy One

Twiggy Three has caught Mr. Branch's cold so I'm home from church with him this morning. Mr. Branch had to be at church early to run sound so I took the girls and my brother in law to church then headed to Walgreens. I spent $8 for $41 worth of stuff and will get a $15 rebate. HeeHee! Last week I got 39 boxes of fruit snacks for about $5 (and I still have a $3.50 coupon to spend on my next purchase). WHY on earth do I need 39 boxes?! I kept asking myself that, but it was just too good of a deal and way too much fun!!! I know they'll come in handy while we drive to Disneyland in May, plus it's always nice to have a snack to hand out to hungry friends. And BTW, I only made one special trip out to the store...the rest of the purchases were made while already out and about.

Yesterday the Twiggys participated in the Awana Olympics and did very well. Their teams came in 3rd, but we were proud of their performances and attitudes. While we drove I worked on a knitting project that I've been working on for 1 1/2 years. It's a poncho for me to wear around the house in winter. Obviously I haven't been very good at getting it done, but out of 344 rows, I only have 48 left. I got 12 done yesterday in spite of making a bad mistake and having to take out 2 rows. I really detest taking rows out because I tend to lose stitches and make a mess of it as I try to put it back together. Shhh...don't tell the serious knitters out there. They'd be ashamed of me that I call myself a knitter. Actually I did pretty well yesterday undoing the rows in spite of the bumpy road. You can't even tell I made a mistake.

Alrighty, on to a Twiggy One update. (I think I forgot in Twiggy Two's update to say she's in 3rd grade.) Twiggy One is in 7th grade at the Christian school our church founded. She is a grade ahead of others her age because I started home schooling her at age 4 1/2 since she was asking me to teach her to read. That was in January and we continued the curriculum through the summer so that by the time school started that Fall, she was ready to do 1st grade. She has always kept up with the material. We always planned on transitioning to regular school once she hit middle school so last spring she tested with the school's 6th graders and received flying colors. We were a little worried about how she would transition as well as being a year younger than her peers, but she has done splendidly. She is getting mostly A's and B's as well as having the highest grade in her history class. She is well liked and one wouldn't even know she is younger except that she is shorter. She has to watch her head as she walks down the hallways at school...too many elbows right at head level!

A couple of weeks ago our three nieces spent the weekend with us and Twiggy One took sole care of the 1 year old; even had her sleep in her room and took care of her when she was awake for a couple of hours without getting me for help. She took a babysitting course last year and is finding she's a real natural with children. We try not to take advantage of her too often, but it sure is nice to have arrived at the stage in life where we can have her watch her siblings. And what's really amazing is how well they all do while we're gone. With all the usual fussing that goes on, you would think it wouldn't work but it does.

Twiggy One's activites: Piano, of course. She's just beginning some of the classics. Sure is fun to hear your child playing those. Gymnastics up until last year. She's incredibly flexible so much that I can't watch her do a backbend. Ouch! We couldn't afford the higher classes, so she quit and joined me at my cleaning job where she gets paid. Knitting. She recently made a baby hat for one of her teachers and had to use 3 needles to make it circular. That's a bit tricky, but she did an excellent job. Cooking. She has several recipes that she now can make on her own and would love it if I would hand my kitchen over to her. I would be happy to oblige, however, she's quite a messy cook and I'm not sure if I could look the other way. (I'm a bit obsessive about clean counters). M&M fan. I don't need to say anymore.

Catching her first fish at family camp...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Mr. Branch emailed me this story from their Monday night drive to gymnastics. Twiggy Two and Twiggy Three were giggling and calling each other "Fergurburger", a nickname Twiggy One received at school. They went on to list the whole family: Daddy Fergurburger, Mama Fergurburger, Twiggy One Fergurburger, Twiggy Two Fergurburger, Twiggy Three Fergurburger, and Twiggy Four Fergurburger. Clearly they're adjusting to the idea just fine!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just read this wonderful post. Well said! I really needed that today. We received our home study packet last Friday and spent the weekend answering 6 pages each of questions regarding our growing up home life, marriage, personality strengths and weaknesses, current home life, parenting styles, resources available to us, etc. Also, included in the packet was a financial statement, committment forms, background clearances, immigration paperwork, and a training DVD. Ah, let the fun begin! We finished all but the immigration forms and the DVD, so we priority mailed the first part back to the agency so they can set up the home study. That should take about 1 1/2 months. During that time we will be preparing our dossier documents so that once the home study is done, our dossier can be forwarded overseas. I'm hoping we can have it there by the end of May. That's probably wishful thinking, but once I set my mind to something, I'm pretty good at getting it done quickly. I talked with our ageny today and found out that we probably won't be able to put a "hold" on our little guy until our dossier is in his country. Apparently that was an option up until just recently. Argh! Now I'm nervous. What if someone else is looking at him and it's just a race to see who gets their dossier there first. BUT, I'm reminding myself of a couple of things. First and foremost, I serve a Mighty God whom I firmly believe has a plan for my life and that He orchestrates each event for good. I KNOW it'll all work out in the end. I guess what I'm worried about is that it won't work out the way I want it. Youch! That's some brutal truth. So you could be praying that our dossier prep and home study go quickly but also that we would trust God with this situation. It's going to be a few months before we get an official match, so have a while to be patient. Second thing I'm reminding myself of is that this is a small program. I believe our agency is the only agency that has this particular list of waiting children, so how many others could really be looking at him? I guess he could be adopted within country, but I just can't let my mind go there. As we do with everything, we'll just take each step forward until the door closes.

The reason I was encouraged by the earlier post is that I paid for the agency fee and home study fee today. That's a real shocker to the savings account. I just have to remind myself that I'm storing up treasures in Heaven. The opportunity to change a child's life is worth so much more than a well padded savings account or college funds. As my husband said, "It's just money!". Sure we worked hard to save that money and hate to see if go away, but God is our financial manager and if He opened this door, it's up to us to walk through it in obedience.

Well, on to the Twiggy updates. Here is a classic pose of Twiggy Two...

You can see from the picture that her laugh comes all the way from her toes. It was one of the first things I remember calling home from China to say, "You're gonna love her laugh". She loves to be silly and she and Twiggy Three often get into giggle fests. Just last night we could barely get them out the door to gymnastics due to all the sillies going on. Her giggles are good for our hearts because she is our more emotional, sensitive child. When she's happy, she's really happy, and when she's sad, she's really sad. The sad days are getting fewer and fewer as she learns how to navigate relationships. Her favorite place to be, besides climbing a rope and twirling on bars, is on my lap. Boy, is she a snuggler. She would snuggle day in and day out if she could. Actually, I think she would rather curl up with animals, but since they're in short supply around here, she has to take what she can get. She is an animal lover! After having a "Panda" birthday party a couple of weeks ago, today she brought home a Giant Panda book to do a book report on. Her knowledge of animals is amazing. She's always telling me this or that about that newest animal she's read about. She would be a monkey if she could. She can scamper up the rope at gymnastics like nobody's business. Those tummy muscles of hers are rock solid. She's skinny but very strong. Oh, and daring! "Slow down" is not in her vocabulary. A couple of years ago she was riding Twiggy One's big girl bike and decided to race around the cul-de-sac as fast as she could. Not a good idea! At one point, she stood up and stomped on the pedals. That action cause the steering wheel to turn sharply and catapult her over the handlebars and onto the edge of the sidewalk...knocking out three teeth in the process. Thankfully they were baby teeth, but we're still paying for that one. First the visit to the ER, then the retainer to correct a tooth as it came in behind the bottom teeth, and now possibly another retainer as the final tooth to come in is crooked and also in a partial cross-bite. Sigh! I have the feeling that won't be her last visit to ER. (BTW, Twiggy One is now jealous that Twiggy Two and Three have now had ER visits and she hasn't. Goofy girl...)

Speaking of Twiggy One, watch for her update soon. And news about when the social worker is coming for our home study. Do you think I ought to clean or not? I know that's really not what they're looking at, but still!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twiggy Three got an Owie

Twiggy Three was on a 4 wheeled scooter at church and got swung into an open door. Ouch!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm starting my twiggy updates with Twiggy Three since he has been at the forefront of our attention lately due to his hospital visit. More of that in a minute. The above photos are two of my favorites because they show him in at his utmost happiest. He can be quite goofy and loves to have the family laughing at him. He also loves, loves, loves to be tickled and wrestled with, hence the above photos where I was flipping him on my knees. I also love these photos because they remind me of his good days. He has given us a lot of difficult days over the years so the happy moments are cherished. Don't you just want to kiss that face?!

He is currently in kindergarten, gymnastics and Awana. I am attempting to teach him some piano, but he has a high frustration level so we keep lessons and practice time to brief spurts when he is interested. He excels in school and is loving learning to read. A couple of months ago his teacher did the kindergarten end of year tests with him and he scored nearly 100% on all of them. That's why he and I do a first grade curriculum in the mornings. He's a mama's boy until Daddy walks by with his tools, then it's "see ya later, mama" and off to do a man's job! He is very intrigued with how things work, and especially with changing battteries. It seems like every time I turn around he's got a screwdriver and is "checking" the batteries on something.

Now on to the hospital visit: A couple of weeks ago he woke up with extreme lethargy and was in and out of wakefulness, so off we went to ER. Discovered he had very low blood sugar and was admitted to be watched overnight. Since that time we have been monitoring his blood sugar levels and just had his follow up with his pediatrician yesterday. He and I also had an appointment with a Diabetes Educator this morning which encouraged me that I had been doing all the right things but gave me some additional resources to help us keep Twiggy Three's blood sugars at a good level. He does not have Diabetes, but his numbers are on the higher end. My main objective is to keep his carb intake consistent throughout his day so that his blood sugars stay the same. Highs and lows wear out cells over time and eventually can lead to diabetes. (I hope I said all this right...anyone out there who knows more than I do, please feel free to comment)

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Average Day at our House

Mr. Branch heads out early to get to his property management job by 7:00 a.m. Twiggy One gets picked up for 7th grade at private school at 7:30 while Twiggy Two does her daily reading homework then meets the neighborhood kids to ride bikes or scooters to the public school around the corner for 3rd grade. Twiggy Three and I hang out in the morning doing household chores as well as a 1st grade home school curriculum before he heads out to kindergarten at the public school at 12:20.

Before the school pickup at 3:15, I do one of two things: teach piano lessons or donate plasma. I have 11 piano students, most of whom are home schoolers so that I'm free after school for my twigs. Some may laugh at donating plasma, but it's a pretty good income for 2-3 hours of my time. While I'm in that area of town, I do whatever shopping I may need to do so my gas is not wasted.

After the school pick up, piano is practiced, homework done, and Awana verses practiced. If the weather is nice, all the neighborhood kids are out and lots of bike riding, trampolining, and basketball happens.

Evenings find us either at gymnastics for Twiggy Two and Three, my cleaning job that Twiggy One gets paid to help me with, or Awana at church (where I'm a leader). Sundays, all Twiggys participate in the children's choir at church and Mr. Branch picks his brother so they can sing in the adult choir. Every 4th Sunday, I teach the 3's class during the morning church hour. Once a month, Mr. Branch runs sound for the morning service. He occassionaly runs sound for other events like weddings, funerals, and the special programs.

Now for some personality tidbits... The best way to describe Mr. Branch is that he is a quiet servant. He is the good guy that everyone likes and that likes to help folks with whatever they need. He's an amazing deal finder! Just for example, he recently got a $200 store credit for turning in new, unexpired printer cartridges that were being excessed at work. Way too funny! He is a supportive husband and father, encouraging us all in our endeavors. His sense of humor is dry but very funny if you wait for it. One of my favorite things to do is to make him laugh. His belly laugh is priceless.

Hmmm...I thought it would be easy to talk about myself, but I'm finding it hard to describe myself. Maybe I should have family members do this post. Uh, on second thought, maybe not! What I think other people see is that I'm organized, frugal and resourceful, a hard worker, a fun teacher, and mission minded. My overall goal in life is to grow in my relationship with Christ and to share His love with anyone I can. My next goal is just to have fun. The Bible tells us that God intended us to have life abundantly. That means deep, meaningful relationships. So for me, meaningful means having lots of fun together. I love to laugh and be a kid. One of my friends call me her "fun" friend. I'm not sure what that says about her other friends (grin) but I like it. So, combining my frugalness with the desire to have fun means lots of resourcefullness goes on around here. We have a VERY old tent trailer that doesn't even fit all of us and an even older, 70's green boat. But, boy, do we have fun camping and tubing. Two of the three twiggys have never been to Disneyland, so when Disney began their "Give a Day, Get a Day" program, you better believe we were all over that. We all volunteered a day and received a free Disney ticket. So, between the free tickets and driving instead of flying, we're making a dream come true in May for not very much money. And yes, I coupon. It is such a rush to walk out of a store with free or nearly free stuff. I save our family so much but I also have lots of fun in the process. For a busy mom, a little bit of couponing fun goes a long way!

Well, it's time for lunch so I'll have to save writing about the Twiggys until a later post. Twiggy Three has a followup doctor appointment tomorrow after his stay in the hospital 2 weeks ago for low blood sugar. I'll let you know what the doctor says.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who We Are

While we wait for our agency to review our application, I thought I'd share a bit of our story for those who don't know. Mr. Branch and I met at Multnomah Bible College in 1990 but didn't start dating until 1993. We were at the "just friends" stage for a long time until suddenly one day we weren't anymore. As soon as we began dating, I just knew that he was the one. It all made sense why we were such good friends. After graduation, he moved home to find a job and as soon as he did he proposed. (For those who need details, he changed the words to a choir song we had performed together and gave me a ring he had designed...wonderful memories!!!) Our wedding day was full of meaning and special moments. We both hold dear the first time we saw each other that day. Since pictures were before the ceremony, we had reserved time in the prayer chapel for some quiet time together. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw me in my dress...

Being that Mr. Branch was already 28 and I was nearly 25 (oh, so old), we decided to start a family right away. Well, that was our plan anyway. God had a different one, however, and after 4 years of infertility and miscarriage we adopted Twiggy One from China. I had taught English there during college summer breaks so it was a natural decision. Three years later we returned to China to adopt Twiggy Two.

Between their adoptions I began struggling with severe endometriosis and had several surgeries locally that had little effect. We were told that there was little chance I would ever get pregnant again. In desperation, I visited a world renowned specialist who performed two successful surgeries. Six months later I was pregnant with Twiggy Three.

Our journey has had it's ups and downs, but through it all God has been faithful to be all that we need. His plan has been much better than ours and we trust Him for our future.

Next post: What we're up to these days...

Monday, February 15, 2010

All Twiggys Now Know

Happy Presidents Day!

Eleven years ago today, a message was left on our answering machine while we traveled that our adoption agency had a match for us. Much to our chagrin we had to wait until the next morning to find out details. We were delighted the next morning to hear that we would share our anniversary with Twiggy One's birthday. A little over a month later we held her in our arms. I can still remember how she felt... And how Twiggy Two felt... And how Twiggy Three felt...

... And now my arms are aching to hold Twiggy Four.

This morning as we began our holiday, we reviewed our Pastor's sermon yesterday on First Corinthians 13:7 where it talks about love always protecting. We talked about how special a family's love is for each other. Then we showed Twiggy Two and Three the video we have of our little guy and told them that we'd like to bring him into our family to love and protect. They were very receptive, even excited.

So, we'll get our application in the mail tomorrow and see where this all leads. We may be denied from the country as our family is considered a large family, but if this is God's will, He can make it happen.

**We are not allowed to post pictures or mention online which country our little guy is from. Sorry!**

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How We Got Here

As I said in my profile, Mr. Branch and I have often wished Twiggy Three had a brother to play with and do "boy" stuff. It concerns us just a tad bit that his favorite color is pink. That's what happens when the girls outnumber the boys in the house. LOL. But the time has not been right, nor did we think it ever would be. We both had pretty much dismissed the idea. Well, in January God put it on my heart again. As I pondered, I realized that this time, the time may be right. I requested some info on Waiting Children and quietly let God work in my heart. I did not mention this to Mr. Branch because I was praying that God would bring it to his heart without me. Well, one day we were at our bank getting a document notarized and the teller helping us was one that assisted us years ago with the girls' adoptions. I could see that she wanted to ask if we were adopting again so I casually put her mind at ease by telling her "no". Well, much to my surprise, Mr. Branch added, "Well, at least not yet!". My heart did a flip-flop! Did he just say that?! We hadn't talked about this in a looooooong time. Hmmm.... As we drove home, I had to fill him in on my "covert" actions...a DVD of Waiting Children was due in the mail any time. He just grinned. He knows me too well!!!

When we adopted the girls, we were open to minor correctable medical conditions, and actually were told that Twiggy One had a condition when her referral was sent to us. Shortly thereafter, we were advised that she was, in fact, completely healthy. And she was! We were glad for her sake, however, a bit disappointed that we didn't get to adopt a little one that may not be so "adoptable" due to special needs. The desire to adopt an older child has remained through the years.

Since we don't qualify for China due to income levels per household member, we had to look elsewhere. Twiggy One and I went on a mission trip to Southeast Asia in 2008, so it was quite natural to look there. As I scanned the Waiting Child list, I primarily was looking for a boy born in 2007. That would make all 4 twigs three years apart all the way down. Plus, a 3 or 4 year old seems like a good fit for where we are as a family. Twiggy Three will be 6 next week and we really don't want to start completely over again. I was also looking at birth dates. We have a thing for birthdays at our house... Twiggy One's is our anniversary, Twiggy Two's is Valentine's Day (who needs to go out on a date?!) and Twiggy Three was due on Twiggy Two's birthday but waiting 4 more days to be born on a very special great-grandpa's birthday. So, how do you match all that? Could there be a birthday that could fit in there somewhere? Well, sure enough, there was. At first I overlooked this little guy because his birthday didn't stand out to me. Shallow, I know! Some of the other birthdays would be a stretch, but we could make it work. However, once I requested more info on them, they had already found homes. I prayed that God would show us if there was a child we were supposed to look at or if we were supposed to consider this little guy. Well, one day it came to me. His birth month is the same month as my dad's and his birth date is the same as my mom's! So, there you have it. The perfect combination!! And his birth month fits neatly between the other three twigs.

Since that day, we have been praying and pondering if this is where God was leading us. We just sent family an email bringing them up to speed and asking the to pray with us. Is this from God or just a selfish, human desire? (Of course, I have to chuckle at the selfish part because who's going to be doing the caretaking??? That's the part that makes me swallow I ready to sacrifice myself again for another person? Do I have it in me?)

Most of the family has given us a hearty "yippee", so Mr. Branch and I just need a few moments of quiet (when we're awake enough to talk about it). Maybe we'll get the application mailed out this weekend...