Sunday, December 31, 2006

Referral Party

Last night we finally had our official referral party. Let's face it, we've been celebrating our referral since Dec 1st but last night we got together with our travel group. These are the greatest people in the world. We are so lucky to be part of CB group #244. We will be travelling and hanging out with all these people in China. We all get along so well and have a great time when we get together. Thank you to Brian and Andrea who opened their home to all of us (over 20 people including four children!) and were great hosts. Their house is beautiful and little Emma has the cutest room all ready and waiting for her. They did a great job on it. Brian and Andrea also gave us all a little gift of stickers for our lifebooks. How thoughtful. Thank you so much.

We also received another gift from Paul and Angela. I'm telling you, these people are so thoughtful. Angela put together little personalized packages for all of us. She made her own fortune cookies with personalized messages for us. There were gold coins (chocolate) and the best was a little red beaded bracelet for Samara with a ladybug on it. So cute. Thanks Paul and Angela.

It was so nice seeing everyone again last night. You could just feel the excitement in the air. It was great! We feel blessed to be part of such an awesome group of people.

See you all in China!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Care Package

I'm a little late with this post but here it is anyway. Last week I got Samara's care package all together and sent it off to her orphanage in China. I included a little photo album with her picture, pictures of mommy and daddy, pictures of big sister Victoria and big brother Austin, our house, her bedroom, etc. I went online and found the Chinese characters so I could label each picture. Hopefully she'll get a chance to look at the pictures before we arrive there. I also included a little stuffed penguin (beanie baby). I sent along a digital camera in hopes that the nannies will take some picture of Samara for us during the time we're not there. Hopefully when we get home and develop the pictures, we'll have some nice shots of her at the orphanage. Some people have had success with this in the past and I figure we have nothing to lose. I also had a receiving blanket that I used for Victoria and Austin. It's been in our house for a long time so it smells like Samara's new home. I stitched her Chinese name on it so the nannies would know it belongs to her. I also added some pretty note paper for the nannies. I'm hoping Samara gets to see some of this stuff and maybe sleep with the blanket and little penguin. You never know. It's really hard to be away from her at Christmas but knowing we're just a little over a month away from meeting her helps a little.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Travel News

When we received our referral on December 1st, we were a little disappointed to find out that we would have to wait until after Chinese New Year to travel to bring Samara home. But we got used to the idea and we figured after the huge wait we've endured up till now, we could probably handle a few more months. We were given an initial travel date of February 23, which was almost three months after receiving our referral.

Well just yesterday we received an email from our agency stating that due to the fact that everyone wants to travel ASAP and they've gotten a lot of feedback from our group about having to wait so long, they've moved our date up . . . considering all goes well. Soooo, we will now be leaving January 30. That's right folks, a mere 48 days away! We are so excited to be bringing Samara home almost a whole month earlier than originally expected. Hooray! She'll now be home for her first birthday too and we can celebrate as a whole family.

Oh ya, the only catch in the email was that our referral file has to be back at their office by Friday at 4:00 pm. I was frantically calling and calling our social worker last night to see if the package had been sent yet and when it would be there. I just had visions of it either not being sent out yet or being sent out by snail mail (sorry Donna, I know you're way more reliable than that - the stress was just getting to me!!) Anyway, I finally left a message on her machine and she called me back later to say the package had been sent out by overnight courier! Yes!! And this morning we already got a confirmation email that it has arrived at its destination. So providing there are no delays with the Ontario Ministry and the CCAA, we will be leaving January 30.

Look out China . . . here we come. Hang on Samara - Mommy and Daddy are on our way!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Scrapbook Page

I had to try to create one myself. I downloaded a trial digital scrapbooking program from online (thus the line going across the bottom of the page). It's so fun and perhaps a little addictive. Here it is:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chinese Characters for "Samara"

Here is the Chinese name for Samara:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Samara's First Scrapbook Page

My friend Debbie (Olivia's mom) put this scrapbook page together for us (thanks Deb). She used one of those digital scrapbooking programs. Isn't it cool? I love the one with all the little pictures of different parts of Samara. Look at the one of her little mouth! Isn't that so cute? I don't think I'll ever get over how beautiful she is. Sigh!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Samara (what else?)

Ok, so I guess I've kept a few of you in suspense . . . sorry about that. I went to my mom's this afternoon to scan some of the papers so that I could email them to our social worker. She just wants to review the information before meeting with us. Then my mom invited us for supper, which of course I couldn't refuse. Then tonight I went to get my flu shot which I've never had before but need for China. So ya, here I am finally updating my blog.

Well, I called Mike as I was opening the package this afternoon so we could read it together. It was a lot more emotional than I thought it would be. Let's face it, that's my daughter they're talking about. Reading about my baby being abandoned and found by the police hit me harder than I thought it would. Anyway, here are a few things we now know about Samara:

- She was found near a big banyan tree on March 11, 2006 (seven days old), wrapped in a dark red cloth
- Her initial diagnosis was a low-weight newborn (which didn't surprise me since she's still quite tiny)
- There was a note left with her (there were no details about that but I hope maybe we'll get a chance to see it when we're in China)
- She has been sound in growth and development
- She has never had any serious illness - just some common colds and fevers
- She is fond of sleeping face down (yikes!) and is apparently a deep sleeper
- She gets up at 6:00 am, naps from 12:00 to 2:00 pm and goes to bed around 8:30 pm
- Her most favourite activity is playing on exercise mat
- Her most favourite toy is "sound making toys" (great!)

We also received her growth chart from months one, two, three, four and five which is really nice to have. There's a lot of lab work and other tests that our family doctor will have to explain to us but everything looks normal from what we can tell. We have all her measurements from August 31 (almost six months) but we received that already with the initial referral. They tell us when she started eating solids and what she likes to eat. Apparently she "tended to cry much" when she was one to two months old but then "cried less often" when she was three to four months old.

There's more (the summary was four pages long) but I can't put it all in this post - I'd be here all night. We are so happy to get all this information. We want to know all we can about our precious Samara. I hope we'll get information on her from six to 12 months when we're in China.

Oh ya, one more thing the file said that made me laugh was this: "She is a fairly cute child". FAIRLY CUTE?!?!?! She's more than fairly cute! Again I say, that's my daughter you're talking about . . . she's adorable . . . not just "fairly cute". Isn't that funny?

It's here, it's here, it's here!!!

Ok, the package just arrived . . . should I open it?? Just kidding - I have to call Mike so we can open it together on the phone. I'll let you know later what we find out.

Special Delivery

Ok, now I'm stalking the Purolator website. Our official referral package has been translated and sent out by our agency. We should be receiving it today. I can't wait to find out more info on Samara.

As of right now, the Purolator website says that our package is "On vehicle for delivery". Does the waiting ever end???

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Samara's friends

If you'd like to check out pictures of Samara's little friends who she's been hanging out with the last few months, CLICK HERE. They are all so cute and we're so lucky to have such nice referral pictures. All of us parents have become good friends as we've waited and waited and waited . . . and now we get to travel together to China and pick up our children. We are so blessed!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Spoiled already!

Well it looks like Samara is being spoiled already. I guess it won't be all of Victoria's hand me downs for her. She's got her very own brand spankin' new outfits that are just for her.

Here's what Grandma Carmody found for Samara:

Here's what Grandma Zandstra found for Samara:

And here's what Victoria found for her baby sister Samara:

So we were walking in the grocery store on the weekend and just happened to be going down the clothes aisle. Victoria asked if she could pick something out for Samara - so of course we said yes! :) She picked this cute pink sleeper. Well, it wasn't until we were almost at the checkout that I realized it has ladybugs on it! How cool is that? She picked a great one. (For those of you who are reading this and don't know what the significance of that is, ladybugs are a sign of good luck in the adoption community!)

My sister in law sent me this poem and I thought it was really nice so I'm posting it here. Thanks Michelle.

How Could You Know?

As you lay sleeping far away as still as you could be...
How could you know the joy today this photo brings to me?

A few short weeks and you'll be mine, and "I" will soon be "We".
How could you know the love I feel? It's something you can't see.

So have sweet dreams, my precious babe. Sleep well and tenderly.
Some say that you're the lucky one. How could you know it's me?

--- Kris Laughlin

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Day After . . .

Well we woke up this morning and guess what? It wasn't a dream! We have pictures of this cutie patootie little girl . . . and she's our daughter! How awesome is that? We can't stop looking at her picture.

Yesterday was such an amazing day. We received so many emails and phone calls from family and friends who have been supporting us and praying for us and waiting for this day right along with us. It's great. God has been so good to us!

The kids are pretty excited too (Victoria more than Austin). When I got off the phone with our agency, we told the kids that they have a little sister. Victoria was just shaking with excitement and she said, "I knew it! I knew it was going to be a girl!" Austin said, "hey mom, look at these books." Basically he didn't really care at that moment. Then about a half an hour later, he came up to me with big tears rolling down his cheeks and said, "I wanted the baby to be a boy!" I think he all of a sudden realized that he now has another sister. He already has one of those - why would he want another one? :) He got over that pretty fast though and he carries her picture around the house now. He can't quite get her name right though - he's been calling her either Sasara or Masara or he just calls her his friend. Cute! Victoria already has Samara's picture in her backpack all ready to take to school on Monday so she can show off her new baby sister. She can't wait!

It's so hard to believe that it actually happened. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again . . . it's such a long wait . . . but it's so worth it!

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's a girl!!!

"Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land."
Proverbs 25:25

We are so excited to introduce the newest member of our family!

Samara Michelle Juan Carmody
(Samara means protected by God and Michelle is mommy's middle name)

Chinese name: Xiao Juan Hai
(Xiao means little and Juan means beautiful/precious)
Birthdate: March 4, 2006
Orphanage: Nanhai Social Welfare Institute
City: Foshan
Province: Guangdong - southern China
Personality: They say she is quiet and loves to play games and with her toys.

She's soooo cute!!!

Well, today may be the day. My stomach feels a little funny. I'm so excited and anxious all at once. This wait has seemed to take forever and as soon as we see that precious little face, I'm sure it will have all been worth it.

I am feeling much more calm and at peace. Now that I know we're getting our referral very soon, I am not feeling so jittery and crazy. I know the wait is almost over and I can handle it. What a good feeling.

Thanks again to everyone who is following this journey and cheering on that stork with us!