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!