Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ashley turns 3!

We had a great birthday party, pirate themed of course. But on Ashley's actual birthday we went for a golf cart ride, made her picture and then came home to eat bacon, biscuits and grits (her request).

Gotcha Day Anniversary

We got Ashley in July 2005 and every year celebrate it with eating out and give her one of her China gifts we purchased in China. We ate at Mikata (yes, I know Japanese but she loves their rice) and then gave her a "Pucca" doll. Pucca is a very popular Chinese Disney female cartoon character. Our friends Doug and Kim joined us, they are waiting parents for their China baby. We had fun!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I go "tumble"

That is what Ashley says on Wednesdays. She wants to go to tumbling (gymnastics for toddlers). Which is ironic b/c mostly she cuts line and just wants to run around like a rabid indian. Some days she is good and does all her stations correctly. Last week she was the only one doing her handstand (up against a mattress with instructor Valeri hanging on) up on her hands and not her elbows. She loves the trampoline! When they complete a station they are taught to stand up & say, "ta-da" (what she is doing in picture). She so cutely says, "Ta-wa-da".

Ashley and the Coach

OK, I have had requests for this photo. Hope Tommy T. images are not copyrighted! Tommy Tuberville (Auburn Football coach) is a member of the same country club as us and we see him often and thus why it was strange to ask him for a 'fan' picture. And even more funny because he knows we are ROLL TIDE fans. Anyway, I thought my Uncle Jim (AU grad) would like this for his desk. Uncle Jim is set on Ashley going to Auburn, so he is welcomed to pay for the tuition and we will allow that, lol:)

So, we got the picture. I came home and emailed it to Mike and close family and friends with some haha's. Well, Mike doctored it a little with the added verbage (it said"This ain't Bear Bryant, Momma") and we were very careful who we sent it to but it apparently made it back to the nice coach. Luckily he has a good sense of humor...

Later Mike asked me why I didn't get her picture with the rest of the gentlemen playing golf with Tommy. I replied that I did not know them, they were just some old farts. Mike said they were about his age (50's) and were some other famous coaches and one was even a hall of famer. And I am thinking...Big wooo! I only recognized one!

A Pirate looks at 3...

Ashley loves anything pirate (piyate, as she says). Oma and Opa got her this pirate get up and she had to sleep in it the first night. She likes to say, "aaaarg, Matey". Her favorite pirate stuff is: "Dora's Pirate Adventure", Captain Feathersword of the Wiggles and an episode of Miss Spider that has pirates in it. She is always telling me that her 'Da-dee' is a pirate too!

China Group Reunion 2007

We have had these wonderful 8 daughters for 2 years now! Our travel group (7 families) that all went to China to adopt at the same time with our agency have worked hard to stay close and most importantly keep the girls close. They essentially are "sisters". One family did not get to travel this time but one that we had not seen since China was there this year, they live the farthest away.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Were moving...again

From Ashley:

Well, ‘My Da-dee’ (as I call him), decided we needed to live on the golf course so we all are movin’ across town to a new neighborhood!!!

As of July 20, 2007 our new address:

2304 Heritage Drive
Opelika, AL 36804

Same phone & email!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Visit to Mobile

Mike & I went to Mobile to see my parents and get some errands done. Mike and Ashley were playing peek-a-boo in the backyard. She loves for him to chase her!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Children of the World Adoption Agency

I often get asked what Agency we used to adopt Ashley so here it is:

I, in no way get paid to promote COTW but they really were great. I like to do adoption seminars for them to promote adoption for all their countries but mostly China, we are partial to China. They are a non-profit adoption agency. They adopt out children from several countries, including the US.

***Side story---As some know we started with one of the big agencies, GWCA, b/c we felt that a big agency would have their foot in more doors and be more organized in the paperchase trail. But they have a quota for how many dossiers they can turn in each year b/c they are so big. That is not a minimum quota, but a maximum quota, we misunderstood. GWCA has a minimum $2000 application fee and for that all you get is a book to help you start your dossier and info on the entire process. Well we started in February of 2002 and did not reach the cutoff for their quotas by July 02 so we were going to have to wait until December to turn in our dossier, which our paperwork would start expiring (everything is dated and has time limits in all adoptions). So we decided to pull out but could not get our money back, that's right they got our $2000!!! We begged, pleaded and if and when we got word back it was letter or email saying sorry no can do! Our loss. We even called the BBB but their contract covered them well that we signed. So on top of no baby, they took our money and did not feel bad about it. That company is so big that they do not have the feelings of love for us and our baby that we needed.

So we decided to take a look at COTW in Fairhope Alabama. It had a small board operation, kinda family run (several members of same family as employess or on board) and it was in the small town we were living in at the time. We were brought in and treated like family immediately. They actually talked us out of a faster adoption (more cost) from Vietnam because they were honest and told us that at the time that was an unsteady program. We worked with Terri who is very organized, that is important to me and she worked in a timely manner. Even when we found out we had to move to another state she worked with us thru that too. They were very 'hand-holding', we needed that after fertility let downs and another agency taking $2000! I could always hear back from them with in 24 hours unless the person we needed was out of country then someone would at least get back to us to tell us that and then try to help too. Adoption is a very emotional roller coaster. Mike likes to keep his thumb on every dollar until the last minute and then is reluctant to let it go. He suspects you first then gives the money with some proding. COTW was always up front about all the costs and exactly which ones were not exact, some you won't find out until after referral. They were always truthful and helped out where ever they could. They want the children to get homes and are not there to make the money even though any money they might make would go to their missionary needs. But I know how much they get from each family and how much general things cost, they ain't makin' any!
Everytime something changed with the Chinese adoption affairs, we heard it. They would call or email, no waiting on the mailman. They are up front with their info. I don't know which door they have a foot in but it must be the correct one or a really good one b/c they know what is going on in a place that is very secretive. That would be the CCAA, Chinese Adoption Affairs. The CCAA are very secretive about the process your paperwork goes thru after it reaches China and gets logged in. And if you are lucky they update your agency, not all agencies get that, COTW does. They have made friends or connections with the right people over many long years of relations. They are often noted about how nearly perfect their paperwork is sent and done. Because if your paperwork is wrong, either the family or agency missed a mistake, the only person that looses is the family when they have to hold up everything to get things correct. COTW makes very few mistakes, if any. Our paperwork was perfect. However I didn't get it to them that way, I missed a few errors but COTW found them before it went to China.
When we actually went to China to get Ashley our paperwork person (liason/dossier prep person) was the one who traveled with us to be our guide. And had she not someone we already knew would have. No strangers. As we arrived in China our translator was someone they had known for decades and only ever use her, she works for COTW in China. Our trip was wonderful and went smoothly, thanks to the years of tradition & continued success of both our translator, guide, US Consulate and CCAA working together. The translator and guide picked us up at airport and dropped us off to go home, never with strangers or a 3rd party they were not familiar with. And you could tell they had this down pat, no hiccups. However, they could have provided a little cooler air in July in South China!
When we got home they checked in on us about future paperwork needed and what to do to do our followups and final two home study reports at 6 & 12 months. And as we go to their annual Chinese New Year parade we feel like family coming home. Miss Pat (known as Grandma Pat to all the girls) and Miss Terri light up when they see our Ashley, she is one of theirs too. we look forward to seeing them everytime.
I felt the need to post this information as we have friends who are currently using another agency (highly recommended to them by other friends) and having some lag in communication. They don't seem to be stressed about it until I bring it to their attention, because they are first timers and never have had the great treatment we have had at COTW. When you are waiting on something so dear, expensive and tied to your heart you need good communications. Because they are not on the usual message and forum groups they did not always hear about CCAA changes as quick as I did and I would let them know. They were very appreciative. I am sorry it is too late for them to change to COTW, they have missed out on a family oriented great experience. Let's hope their 'big agency' experience is as great as our 'little agency' experience becasue they are good people and deserve it!

Mike built Ashley a playset

Ashley loves her playset (with 27 tons of sand), she wants to spend all day out there. She can now have playdates in our own backyard!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is Ashley's Spring School Pic and the Easter picture b/c she was so sick so much during that time we could never get to get anymore pictures. SHe was sick in this one.

Chinese New Year 2007

She was in no mood for her picture to be taken! But isn't she the cutest little Empress!

Daddy's Girl at the beach

Christmas 2006

I was very sick, didn't care about pictures, thank God Mike did! We did do our traditional Chinese dinner on Christmas Eve.

Birthday 2006

Her 2nd birthday! Big family party...

Ashley got her own dog

She loves this dog so much and he loves her too. He drowns her with kisses in the mornings when it is time for her to get up and they nap together. He also lays next to her when she is getting her diaper changed in the floor. We named him Quigley b/c he is a miniature Australian Shepherd. He was plucked from a burning building at the breeder's business and is a little dumb, must be smoke inhalation...

Ashley US Citizen Celebration Picture

This is also her arriving home outfit!

Group Reunion #1 of 2006

We all got together for the year anniversary of having the girls. One family were not able to attend, they had moved to Maryland. But the other 7 girls were in attendance. It was great that Dick & Brenda invited all of us to have the reunion at their home. And they happen to have a red couch so we had a one year update red couch photo of the girls.

Chinese New Year 2006

This was also the first time we had seen everyone we traveled to China to get babies with!
Our agency in Fairhope, Children of the World has a big parade in downtown Fairhope every year for Chinese New Year. It is non-mototrized, so we dress up and decorate wagons or strollers.

US final Adoption Day

The only reason we did this was to get a Georgia Birth Certificate, she was a US citizen when that big plane touched down on US soil on 07/13/05!!!

Going to court to finalize Ashley's adoption-We had to wait to see the judge but we were only second. The courtroom was full of waiting divorce cases and Ashley entertained them. At least they had a few laughs that morning.
Her pic with the Judge!
She signed off and now she is a Georgian Peach, even though we just moved back to AL she still will have a GA birth certificate. Very sweet judge too!

Ride em' CatGirl!

Rainey, one of our cats is very friendly and sits with Ashley when she is still. Ashley decided to roll around and love on her and then decided that Rainey was just small enough to ride!

New Family Tradition

Starting this year our new family tradition is to eat Chinese on Christmas Eve. We went to one Chinese restaurant in Auburn and the hostess and waitress were in love with Ashley. They said she was "very lucky girl". They even brought her some ice cream.

Ashley in her Golf Cart

She loves this golf cart but is still to small to get in by herself. Mostly she just stands behind the wheel and drives while talking on the cell phone (sound like anyone you know?).

Birthday girl! Her first...

Sunday, September 25th was Ashley's 1st birthday! We had a small family party for her and it was great fun. She got to visit with some of her relatives and show them that she could use her activity walker. her and her Dad did their "Gunsmoke" skit. that is where she stands in front of his recliner and he plays gun shooting and she falls back like she is shot. Only Mike would get her to do something so animated!!! It is really cute though. She wore her Birthday Dress and hat. yes, I made the hat but purchased the dress (too busy to smock). She got lots of great presents-Shout Elmo, a baby sofa chair, books, dolls, clothes, piggy bank and of course moolah! Four people got her the Leappad Little Touch, two are going back and one will be at Oma's house. Oma is what she will call my Mother.

Daddy's Girl-Right from the start!

Famous Red Couch Photo

The famous red couch...
Every group that comes to Guangzhou to adopt has to have their travel group's babies picture on the famous red couch in the White Swan Hotel. It is tough getting eight babies to cooperate.

Gotcha Day 07/03/05

Recap of Adopting Ashley (Long)

This is a summary of our adoption for adopting Ashley from China for any new folks that ask me about adopting from China. I copied this from my old blog.

Adopting from China starts with alot of paperchasing...
May 2004
We started our paper chasing as we in adption world call it in May 2004. That is all the documents (26) that have to be certified by the county they originated in and then to the state of that county then to Houston for the Chinese Consulate to give them a good lookiing over to make sure they are authentic and not forged or changed in any way. This takes several months because you have to order many of these from the originals sources. We had to get copies of our birth certificate, marriage certificate, employment letters, referance letters, etc. And of course not all those actions were in the same county or state!
While that paperwork was spending time mostly on fed-ex trucks we were going through our home study. Our Social Worker, Joyce, was wonderful in instructing us how to keep Ashley's Chinese heritage a major part of her life until she gets to an age that she can study and learn it for herself. Joyce was very understanding that we were worn out from a Guatemalan adoption that fell through because of politics in that country. The home study was not bad at all. They did ask many personal questions but we answered them and did whatever we needed to do to get through the process. We got Georgia's approval (Department Human Resources) and in July 2004 she sent our home study to INS (BCIS) so that we could get their approval to adopt. We also got fingerprinted by the FBI that month. In September we got approval from INS that we could adopt so that meant the good ole' USA liked us.
Then we had to wait for our agency (Children of the World) in Fairhope to get together a big enough group to send the paperwork to China. Our Dossier of paperwork and six other families dossiers left on a Fed-Ex plane October 28, 2004. It arrived and was translated into Chinese. Then the dossier went to the Center for Chinese Adoption Affairs (CCAA) where it was logged in on November 19, 2004. If you see any posts that have acronyms they are as follows: LID-log in date for paperwork in China, DTC-dossier to China.
Then we were just in the waiting stage of the process. As of November 2004 the wait for a referral was 6 months (shortest ever in US/China adoptions). We are group 31 of the waiting parents of Children of the World Adoption agency.

Waiting for Referral...
What is a referral? That is when the paperwork from China comes to Fairhope to the agency with Ashley's picture and her medical exam, asking us if we want to accept her and the approval to adopt her from the CCAA. Her picture and medical exam will be about 2 months old. So Mike will have to do some math to figure out her approximate size when we go to get her. It will take a few days for us to get the paperwork from the agency.
We asked for a healthy female baby, those were really our only choices unless we wanted an older child, boy, or special needs child. She is already born (probably around July-September 2004) , that means she was born in the year of the Monkey.
Referrals come out of China once a month, never on an exact day of the month.

I started Ashley a journal and have been writing to her since December 1, 2004. I want her to know someday that being pregnant for 3 years was emotionally painful!!! LOL
And I also joined a yahoo group for parents waiting for china babies. I need to talk about this adoption a lot and Mike has tuned me out because I rattle off to him for hours so I found a great Yahoo group called, a-parents-china (APC). From that group I joined a sub group of only parents waiting that have LID in November 2004. I learn something new everyday. I have learned lots more than I have from reading books and such. Learned a lot of lingo, adoption andChinese stuff. They are always posting cute ladybug clothes or red thread ideas. Ladybugs are a good luck charm in chinese adoptions, I have been buying ladybug clothes and stuff. There is an old Chinese saying "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The red thread may stretch or tangle but will never break." So all these waiting parents are collecting red thread stuff, bracelets, t-shirts, etc. The group is kinda like a sorority for others who are in our boat and a lot of them have been through the fertility stuff we went through too.

Feel free to ask us any questions, nothing is too personal anymore.Also when we get a referral the adoption agency will put her name and picture on their website under referrals, go to and you can see her picture, we are group 31.

Matching Room!
We heard (05/16/05) from the Chinese liason for our adoption agency that we are in the matching room in China. That means all is approved of all our paperwork. They will take our file and her medical exam, pictures and "personality" file and try to match us up as a family. Scary, huh??? Rumor has it that referrals are coming next week, let's pray that we are in those. If not, we will definately get referral in June.

When we will travel...
After we get our referral it will be about 4 weeks and then we will get a travel authority (TA) to go to China. That will have to go to Washington DC to get a VISA. Then we can make our travel arrangements. That travel date should be 6-8weeks from referral (July). We will spend 14 days in China and will try to post to this website some pictures of Ashley and us in China and doing all the paperchase that it takes to adopt in that country. When the tires of that big plane lands back in the US she is an American instantly.
We are already so proud and she isn't even here yet. Just pray for her, she will be in a crib, far, far away somewhere in the country of China waiting for her parents to arrive.

Where will you travel in China? We will only go to Guangzhou (gwon-zjóe) in Guangdong Province, since that is where her orphanage is and the US Consolate of China. We will be staying at the White Swan Hotel 1/2 the time and the China Motel Marriott the other 1/2.

When is the adoption process "done"? We plan to re-adopt Ashley after returning to the U.S. in order to give her a Georgia birth certificate. Life would be hard for all three of us to have to deal with her Chinese birth certificate in Chinese everytime we needed one for something.

Is Chinese adoption expensive? About $20,000. That does not count all our travels though.

Will we visit Ashley's orphanage? No, it is too far from the place we are staying and in such a remote small town. We will get to meet one or more of her care-givers from the orphanage when they bring the babies to the hotel lobby.

When in China will we get Ashley? Likely around day 2, and Ashley is ours at that point, and travels with us from that point forward.

Do we get to sightsee? Yes. Guangzhou is an island resort (well, Shamian Island) anyway. We are taking a suitcase empty just to bring home souvenirs!

How long a flight is it to China? From what we can tell, about 15 hours, leaving from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Tokyo to Guangzhou. They are a day ahead of us.

This is all the info we know now the rest is coming tomorrow and then we have to get some translated.
Already in our hearts, soon to be in our arms...
The call came at 1:47pm today (05/25/05), when our coordinator, Kimberly called my cell phone and wanted to know if she could speak to Ashley's mother (that's me).
Full Chinese name: Lei Xiao Ren
Province: Guangdong, Southern China on Gulf
Orphanage: Leizhou Social Welfare Institute on the Gulf of Tonkin
DOB: September 25, 2004
Length: 24.4" Weight: 14.3 lbs
This puts us traveling to China sometime between July 1st and July 15th. I will have her medical information by tomorrow and will post it. Check out how cute she is!!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

New Blogsite for Ashley

This is Ashley's new blogsite. Lovin' it already. Much easier to post. I will transfer her suff in a few days from the old blogsite and post the latest pictures (Easter). Thanks for checkin in with us.