Friday, October 23, 2009

Hearing is Normal!

This week was a bit traumatic for our little one. We needed to perform a hearing test because his doctor and therapist suspected hearing loss. So we tried the traditional methods a few weeks ago however we have a feisty child and he would have no part in anything that looked like it would go into his ears. So we scheduled an ABR in which the child is sedated and then the hearing test is administered.

The best news is there is no hearing issues!

But to get this result, our little guy wanted no part in the test. Even though the sedation was administered orally, he refused to fall asleep. He displayed typical orphanage behavior while we waited for the meds to take effect (that we had not seen before). Between the rocking, banging his head on the bed/wall, crying without tears, it was exactly what we had read about. I guess it is amazing that after 4 months of being with us, this is the first time that we saw this kind of behavior. It's easy to read about these behaviors but when you actually see them first hand, its heartbreaking. So after a lot hugs and kisses, he finally succumbed to sleep and had a great nap while the test was administered.

Th ABR test was also the last part of a series of tests to get SoFlaKiddo into the local school system's early intervention program. Now we are waiting for an appointment for a full evaluation and then we are in the home stretch! We met his Visual Impairment Counselor who will be with us at the full evaluation. She adores SoFlaKiddo and can't wait to start working with him. She gave us some pointers that we are implementing at home.

The picture is from our local FCC Autumn Moon Festival. We had a great time celebrating at the beach. What better place to watch the moon rise than over the ocean.


Friday, September 11, 2009

We Have a Flush!

This week AJ has finally mastered flushing the toilet. This may not be a big step for most but this has been a 3 month work in process. When we first met AJ, he did not have the muscle tone to flush the toilet. He could put his fingers on the "flusher" but he could not turn it. So mom and dad would have to help him move it along. We have been working with him everyday having him try applying more pressure. This is also a form of occupational therapy (I am guessing) using the pincer movement of the hand. Now that he has mastered the flush, what's next? Door knobs, light switches, scissors?


Monday, September 7, 2009

We Have a Voice!

Its been a long time coming but all of the speech therapy is finally paying off. This week we got 3 words:

Anana (banana)

AJ speaks very softly; almost a whisper like he is afraid. But he is repeating the words. Now, we wait for the next big step...speaking without being prompted. We can see this happening any day now. It's interesting watching AJ overcome obstacles that he should have done as an infant/young toddler. I am no child development expert, but what he experiences everyday is like living with a really big infant. The difference is when he overcomes an obstacle, he knows it and shows us with a great big smile and a hug. This just warms our heart watching him flourish.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Firsts

Last week, AJ attended his first wedding. He looked so cute in his tux. It was an evening affair so we hired a babysitter to join us at the wedding. During the ceremony, AJ and the sitter played in the hall as not to disturb the ceremony. At the cocktail hour, AJ enjoyed the people, lights, music and food. His look of amazement in the room was priceless. The affair was lavish with ice sculptures, test tube shots, sushi, cervechi, and much more. As the cocktail hour continued you could see how tired AJ was getting. The time was after 9:00 and his bedtime is usually between 7:30 and 8:00. So we had the babysitter set AJ up in a private room equipped with a couch and some books. AJ was asleep within minutes...poor guy. All the stimulation really knocked him out! Thanks to the babysitter we were able to really enjoy the party while AJ slept in the next room.

Another first this week is the use of a straw. This is a huge step for self feeding and speech. When you use a straw, it helps to strengthen the muscles used for speech. A feeding specialist helped us understand how to adjust the straw so AJ could use it. Today is the 2rd day using a straw and now all the drooling that he had when he drank straight from the cup has stopped. You can see in AJ's face how proud he is that he is using a straw just like the other kids in his class.


Friday, August 7, 2009

First Hair Cut

SoFlaKiddo looks really good in long hair. I prefer guys with short hair but he is just so darn cute with the long hair that we decided to keep it long with a paige boy cut. Now SoFlaKiddo is ready for his first wedding...yes tux and all; SoFlaKiddo is attending a wedding in 2 weeks.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Where is SoFlaMom?

Really, I have not fallen off the face of this earth! Time has escaped me between being a new mommy, to work, to school, to just plain life! Here is snapshot of firsts since we have been home:

First time using a spoon by himself
First time using a fork by himself
First time feeding self with fingers - well not consistently but we have seen this once or twice
First day of school
First day he did not want to leave school (AJ loves his pre-school class)
First time on a swing - not quite sure what to do on this thing was the expression on his face
First time on a slide- not too keen on the slide thing
First time mastering the slide without assistance - Thank You Pre-School!!! Slide is a hit!
First time in water play - his favorite school activity besides lunch
First time signing for more - Yippee, we now know when AJ is hungry
First squeal in delight - we just love blocks
First Video - Disneyland Sing Along Songs is a favorite
First time in the pool - hesitant at first but really turned it around
First Road Trip - 5 hours to Jacksonville

More to come later!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pictures of Gotcha Day

We have 2 batches of pictures to share! This is our travel group. Some of the pictures did not come out clear but you can see the joy and happiness in all of the families faces!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still No Pictures??

Yes, still no pitures :-( Since we have been home I went back to work PT in the AM and SoFlaDad has slightly shifted his schedule. Our goal is to have SoFlaDad back on his normal schedule next week. In order to make this goal, we need to ensure that AJ is immunized for preschool. AJ will be attending PT AM to help him with emmersion into the world of English. He understnads more and more each day. He loves when we start counting 1, 2 ,3 because he knows at the end he will either be bounced on a bed, somersaulted, or some other boy rough and tough rumbling. Therefore I can say he can count to 3. Now if he would verbalize this, we will be on out way to the world of toddlerhood!

I'll try to get some pictures posted as soon as I can!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Happened to the SoFlaFamily?

We're Home!!

It was an interesting week(s) to be traveling in China. The beginning of June was the 20th anniversary of the Tinnemen Square uprising. The gov't was afraid of a repeat so they blocked most of the blogging sties including blogger and twitter. Facebook was up the entire time. I am not sure why the gov't did not block this site too??

Anyway, we arrived late evening / early morning on 6/13 and were utterly exhausted yesterday. Today we are doing better and AJ is falling into his new routine. I will need to backtrack the trip and add posts and pictures as time permits. Right now we are getting ready to get the last of our 4 legged family members and we will be complete.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Details, Details, Details...

We are sorting through paperwork ensuring we have everything in order before we leave. The mail and newspaper is stopped, the plants will be watered by our neighbors, bills will be paid, and dogs are at their respective vacation homes. We are having some issues with Skype but I think we will have the kinks worked out by tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow we will go to work while SoFlaKid takes the last of his finals at school. Then one last sanity check for packing and we will be on a plane! We are going to use our Wii as a scale to ensure the luggage does not weigh more than 44 lbs. Otherwise we will have to pay an extra charge in China. Who knew that a Wii would come in so handy! Well, it's really the Wii Fit that we invested in and it certainly has paid off for us. One piece of luggage is solely full of donations thanks to the E family. Since baby A can no longer fit into her beautiful clothes, some lucky children in China get the benefit of some great Gymbo, almost never worn clothes.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick...

We are getting closer to the start of our China journey! This week we had a conference call with our tavelmates and our agency. We found out that due to the Swine Flu, Americans and Canadians are not allowed to make orphanage visits. Does this mean if we were from Europe or Australia we would be able to visit? It's sad but understandable. If the swine flu made it into an orphanage, the results could be devistating.

Anyang will not be an option for us this time around but maybe when AJ gets older we can take a heritage tour to see where he was raised the first few years of his life.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Puppy Love

It is such a relief knowing that our dogs will be well taken care of while we are gone. We have to thank our friends M&L, SN, and CF (and their families)for helping us out!!! Each dog is so special to us and the thought of leaving them on a kennel for 3 weeks was killing us. But now that we know they will vacationing at some of the finest homes in South Florida, we are at peace.

Our little pack all share toys, bones, even food dishes. We just ran out to get each dog their own set of bones and food/water dishes. Next to divide up the toys and they are good go!

THANK YOU!!! {{{{M&L, SN, CF}}}}

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time to Pack!!

Today we booked our flights and we are good to go. The most recommended travel agencies for adoption in China were JC Travel, Lotus Tours, and Sue Sorrels. We worked with all 3 but in the end, we chose Sue Sorrels. JC was way overpriced. Lotus and Sue were really close in price but what put us over the edge was service. Sue Sorrels was the only agency that returned our calls and emails in a timely manner. We were concerned because Sue is small; works out of her home. But she assured us that if we had a problem, she constantly checks her email and phone. We left a message for Lotus yesterday and we did no receive a call back until today. Can you imagine if we were stuck and needed the agency??

Now the suitcases were pulled out of the garage and we are ready to start figuring out how to fit all our "stuff" into 2 pieces of luggage. A big thank you to all the previous families who posted their packing lists on the various Yahoo groups!!! And to our local FCC families for sharing their travel stories with us THANKS!! We have work to do!


Friday, May 8, 2009

The CA Fairy Arrived Today!!

It is official! We have a Counsulate Appoinment on 6/9/09. Finally, we can make travel plans. Here are our tenative plans...

5/27 Fly to Beijing (arrive 5/28)
5/29 Tour Beijing
5/30 Tour Beijing
5/31 Fly to Zhengzhou
6/1 Gotcha Day! Meet Little AJ
6/2 Adoption Finalized
6/3 TBD
6/4 TBD
6/5 TBD
6/6 Fly to Guangzhou
6/7 TBD
6/8 TBD (expect medical exam to take place)
6/9 CA!
6/10 Sworn in at American Embassy
6/11 Fly to Hong Kong
6/12 Fly Home!!!

I'll try to fill in the TBD's as I learn more about the process.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

The TA Stork Did Arrive...Now Where is the CA Fairy?

TA 05/06/09!!!

We are free to travel to China! We are so happy.

Our agency told us to expect to travel next week however when they tried to get us a consulate appointment (CA) they were not able to do so. This left us with 2 options....

Option 1
Leave for China 5/18
Meet AJ 5/21
Travel to GZ 5/26
CA 6/1
Home 6/3

Option 2
Leave for China 5/27 (our wedding anniversary)
Meet AJ 6/1
Travel to GZ 6/6
CA 6/9
Home 6/12

Each option has its good points and its bad points. We would love to get our little boy as fast as possible which leads us to Option 1; a bit more expensive and we loose 2 days in the process due to the Chinese Holiday (Dragon Boat Festival 5/28 - 5/29) but we can have him in our arms in 2 weeks! Option 2 is definitely much better price wise and we will be traveling in a rather large sized group. But it will delay us an additional week.

In the end, we are leaning towards option 2. SoFlaKid is finishing his 1st year in high school and the extra week would help him finish up some school assignments. He was so relieved when we told him about option 2. So, to help him out, we asked our agency to try to get us CA 6/9 so we can travel with the May 27 group. We are hopeful to get our CA date tomorrow so we can book our airfare.

AJ, hang in there...we'll be there soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is the TA Stork in Route?

We received a call from our agency yesterday. They are expecting our TA today. If it arrives, they want to move quickly on the CA to try to get our appointment the week of Memorial Day. If all of this pans out, we will be traveling next week! Yes, you read this correctly...we will have less than 1 week to book flights, get our affairs in order, pack, and get our son. If there are no appointments available Memorial Day week, we move our travel plans out 1 week. Better, less travel stress.
Let the fun begin!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Visa 37 - Check!

Our updated fingerprints and I-171h were sent to GZ on 4/28. We are so lucky to be using the USCIS office in Miami. The officer that processes adoptions is so nice. She personally called me to let know what day our paperwork was sent to the NVC (National Visa Center) in NH, and the day it was processed and sent to China. Thanks A.L.!!!

Now, if China would issue our TA. The swine flu outbreak has the world up in arms. While I feel really bad for anyone who has the flu, I hate being the position that this could delay our travel plans. Another bump in the road. We'll just have to wait until next week to see what transpires.


Monday, April 27, 2009

We Have an Update!!

What a nice surprise!! AJ has gained 8 lbs since January. What are his foster parents feeding him?

Here what we received:

His current health is good.
He can walk, run, dance. His speech is normal.
He does not know color yet. (that's OK, neither can his dad)

They call him Mao Mao. (hmmm...very different than his given name)
He likes sweet foods and is not picky.
He is active. (just like his big brother!)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Visas - Check!

Yesterday we received our visas to travel to China. What a great memory this page will make in our passports. We will look back at this time in our lives with fond memories.

In addition to the Russian Visa (from another blog) and stamps from several cruises, our passports make us look like world travelers! In reality, we live in a small little world consisting of the Caribbean (Miami is the cruise capital of the world), Orlando, Gainesville, and Jacksonville. Our big splurge is when we fly to the NE or Denver. So much for the world traveler theory. Maybe when AJ turns 18 we can be true world travelers and go to places like Europe, Australia, etc.

In case you are wondering what agency we used to get our visas, I posted the link below. The service was prompt and accurate. I highly recommend her if you are in need of a Chinese visa.

Chinese Visa


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Hurdle Completed!

Fingerprints - Check
Updated I-171h to GZ - in process

The USCIS started a new process this week. Under the old process, it took 2 - 4 weeks to process and get the paper I-171h to GZ. Under the new process, the I-171h is scanned, sent to the NVC (National Visa Center), processed, and electronically sent to GZ. Being that I work in the world of computers, it just amazes me why we cannot electronically place this information into a database which should be shared by all the consulates. I'm all for imaging a piece a paper (the future of all businesses) however, in this instance, a nice relational DB with access by the officials should suffice (am I getting too techy?) Long story short, we are hoping that GZ has our updated info next week.

Anyhow, IT'S DONE!!! If we get our TA soon, the CA should not hold us up.


Friday, April 17, 2009

No TA Yet :-(

We are so happy for our cyber friends who got their TA/CA this week. We were not among this group. However, it kind of is OK. I've been busy working on the fingerprint issue (mentioned on other posts).

I got my invitation to get my fingerprints redone on 4/29/09. This is cutting it really close to when our fingerprints expire (5/1/09). So, based on the advice of my cyber friends (that I can't wait to meet when all of our boys are home!!) I took a chance and just showed up at the USCIS office. The officer that took my fingerprints originally came up to me and said, "What happened?!?!" She ran to check the computers and the extra work that she took the first time (paper fingerprints as well as electronic prints) both FAILED. The paper prints that we all thought would be a no brainer to "pass" delayed my failure letter by 1 week. She was so upset that she took me in right away and processed me electronically only. This way, I should have my second failure registered in their computers sometime today.

Our agency is going to follow up with USCIS on Monday to hopefully expedite the next part. I now need an appointment to visit the main USCIS office in Miami (and not the greatest of neighborhoods to boot!) with police clearances, ID, and my invitation. With these in hand, I can be sworn in that I am not a criminal, terrorist, or any other "ugly" term you can come up with that would prevent us from bringing into our family a foreign born child. The last 2 times I went through this process I received my updated I-171H immediately. So I expect the same to happen again.

But this is not the end. After the I-171H is fingerprint updated, it needs to be sent to GZ which takes another 72 hours (not sure why electronic data transfers takes so long???). Once the GZ officials have the data, then we are free to get CA. Long story short, even if TA came this week, we are still in jeopardy of not being able to get a CA until the end of next week. This means we have a very small chance to travel with our friends J&S.

More on the saga later....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Yesterday we had a travel conference call with our agency. Another family on the call reported to our Yahoo group that they could be traveling in 2 weeks! Could this be true for us??? So soon? Yikes!!


Monday, April 6, 2009

SoFlaDad finally posts

As SoFlaMom wrote this weekend, we received our LOA (Letter of Acceptance). I was under the impression that this letter was China giving us their acceptance to adopt An Yi Fei. Had no idea that it was another letter, signed by us, stating that we wish to adopt him (SoFlaMom is shaking her head right about………now).

Every milestone that we reached, we knew we were one step closer. our home study; our dossier; our fingerprints; our physicals, etc., it didn't feel any different. However, when we received that e-mail of our acceptance letter's arrival, we realized that this is a reality. We are almost there.

Being almost there, we know how all those who went down this path before us felt. We also know how it felt to watch others receive their LOA, but not have ours. To those of you who are still waiting, do not fret. Your day is coming, and the emotions that you will feel will make all the waiting (80 days from LOI to LOA for us) worthwhile.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


3 little letters that mean so much in the adoption world. It brings hope, fear, joy, faith, and love. Our LOA arrived yesterday at our agency's office!! Today it came to our home in a FedEx envelope which we promptly signed for and are on our way to a FedEx office to ensure it gets back to our agency on Monday. The sooner the LOA is received in China, the sooner we will be on our way to meet our newest family member.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still Working on a Name...

High on our list is Aaron and Ari. We would like to stick with the AJ name because from what we understand our son is called Fei or Fei Fei in China. Fei Fei rhymes with AJ so we think this transition could ease some of the pain he may be feeling. We know when we get him home he will be missing his foster parents, nannies, friends, language, food, sites, and smells. We want to help him the best that we can and if calling him AJ will bring him any comfort, we will continue to do so. As for the J name we are leaning toward Jared or Justin. Any other suggestions?


Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Know Some Of The Nicest People!

Yesterday started out a regular weekend day. We got up, had some coffee, read the paper, and started to get some household errands completed. Later we went to the dentist (in the afternoon) for a cleaning. SoFlaDad had his done about a month ago and casually mentioned to the Dentist that we were adopting from China and starting a toothbrush collection to donate to the children of Anyang. Dr. G said that he would like to contribute. I didn't think anything would come of this but when we arrived yesterday, Dr. G had a box of children sized toothbrushes waiting for us. We were thrilled that our dentist that we see only 2x a year went out of his way to ensure that every child in the SWI will have a toothbrush. I was told there are 80 children at the SWI and the box plus what we have collected will ensure that all children, plus 20 future children will all have a toothbrush. We are so lucky to have such caring peoplein our lives!

Thank you Dr. G!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finger Print Appointment!


We have an appointment in early April to get our fingerprints redone. Things are moving along...


Anyang, Henan China

I thought I would post a few links about the Henan region and Anyang. One interesting fact I found was about a city in Henan called Kaifeng. Kaifeng had a small jewish community that no longer exists. However some of their customs are still present today like not eating pork. Take a look at the last link to learn more.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

So What's Up in SoFla?

We are working on updating our home study that has expired. This includes criminal background checks, child abuse checks, physicals, and employment letters. This is the easy part. The harder part is the fingerprinting. Homeland Security will not allow us to redo our fingerprints until 1 month before expiration. That means the earliest we can get an envision to redo our fingerprints is 4/1/09. This is a cutting it really close. Based on my previous post that I need to fail 2 times before I can be sworn in, it could be until the end of April until the process is completed. If we travel in early May, the American Embassy may not have our updated fingerprints in time. Another headache in this paper pregnancy. We'll just hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

For those wondering where we will be traveling to in China, we will be in the capital of the Henan province called Zhengzhou. The families that have traveled there in the past usually stay at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Our son is located in Anyang which is in the northern region of Henan. From what I have read, Zhengzhou is known as a transfer station for trains that travel N/S with trains that travel E/W. Anyang is the birthplace of Kung Fu and this region is part of the silk road. As I learn more about the region, I will post in the blog.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wait, Wait, Wait

Still waiting for the 3 magic letters L O A

We are so happy for the families that will be traveling soon and the families that just returned home with their newest family members. I know this time (wait, wait, wait) will be forgotten as soon as we have our little guy in our arms. We are just trying to stay busy.

Our fingerprints expire in May and there is a good chance that we will be traveling in May so we are waiting for an appointment to have them redone. This becomes crucial for me. I have very faint fingerprints and the newest technology (computer scanned fingerprinting) does not work for me. This is nothing new for me because I work in the financial industry and have been fingerprinted my whole career. It was much easier when I was fingerprinted the old fashioned way - ink and paper! Because the newest technology does not work for me, I have the FAIL the fingerprinting 2 times before I can get "sworn in" that I am not a criminal. So again we are in the holding pattern of Wait, Wait, Wait!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Express To China

Today we sent a care package to An Yi Fei in China. We are not sure if he will get the package but have high hopes that it will at least make it to the orphanage in Anyang. An Yi Fei is in foster care so it will be up to the orphanage administrators to give the package to the foster family. We included some items to share with the children...Tootsie Pops. We also included some nice winter hats for the children. For An Yi Fei, we sent a matchbox airplane, sunglasses, a sweater, mini toy dog, and a heart shaped pillow that has Forever Yours stitched on the front (gotta love valentine's day!). We also included some lip balm and cosmetic cases for the foster family and nannies.

In addition, we took some pictures of the family, including the dogs and put them in an Einsteins baby photo album. We were given the Chinese words for mom, dad, and big brother which were taped to the pictures. We even had the word dog (singular) even though we have plural. If you haven't figured it out yet, we love dogs. To top off the care package, we added a disposable camera. Hopefully we will get this back on adoption day, commonly known as gottcha day, filled with pictures of our little guy.

All this needed to fit in a box the size of a shoebox. We used USPS to ship the box and it cost us under $50.00 to ship. Based on what I read on other blogs, this was a bargain!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What a Bargan!

3 lbs weights at Target for only $4.00! So we bought 2 and will start the year off working on our triceps with 6 lbs. Only 14 more lbs to work up to and we will be good to go!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Travel Packet #1

Today we received our first travel packet This packet gives us information on what to expect when we travel and some things we can do to prepare ourselves for the trip. For example we are asked to increase our level of exercise by taking the stairs, parking the car further from your destination...hmmm....isn't this everything that we get warned not to do if you are a woman and alone. Imagine what can happen in a stairwell or walking alone in a mall parking lot. I guess I can find another way to increase activity (besides exercising my fingers on this computer LOL!)

I think I will start by using the Wii Fit more than once in a while. Today I worked on my triceps. Great workout...It hurts just to type this entry! I guess this is one area that I will continue to work on considering I will be bringing home a 20 lbs little boy. Funny how I just lost over 20 lbs. Just a thought to ponder.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PA!! 1/19/09

Our Son An Yi Fei

We can officially post information today because we have received PA (Pre Approval) from China yesterday. For those new to adopting a special needs child, the process is a bit different from the traditional adoption program. After you accept your referral you send a Letter of Intent (LOI) to China. Our LOI was 1/13/09. China, in return, sends back a PA. This process usually takes a few weeks however we received our PA in a record breaking 6 days!

Next step is LOA (Letter of Acceptance). From what I have read, this take ~90 days. If we were on a perfect timeline, this would put us in the mid April . However, I have read that some parents have received their LOA in as little as 30 days and others as long as 150 days. So, we hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

We have not decided on a name for our son but have decided to name him after my father (as you can see on my other blog) and SoFlaDad's stepfather. Therefore we are looking at names that begin with an "A" and a "J". If you have any ideas, please post them on the comments. At this point we are calling our son AJ until we come up with a name.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's a Girl...No, Its a Boy!

Just when you think that you are going down one path, you wind up on another one. When we started this journey..our second journey...we thought that we would bring home a daughter. But life is funny sometimes and here we are.

It's a Boy!

Our LID is 8/13/08

We have changed paths from a NSN child (NSN = non special needs) to a special needs child. Special needs is a scary thought but special needs in China is much different than special needs in the US.

When you adopt using the SN path, you need to wait for a pre approval (PA). Once we get a pre approval we can post more information about our son. So stay tuned and we will give you more information when we can!