Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LifeBook Progress!

Creative Memories to the Rescue!
It was nearly like opening presents on Christmas Eve when the FedEx truck stopped by yesterday afternoon with the package from Creative Memories ( My scrapbooking material (for the LifeBook) had arrived! I ordered extra writing notecards since this book will contain much more writing than a traditional scrapbook. (Of course, my urge to take pictures means I will also need significant space for pictures of anything and everything pertinent to Rai's story.)

LifeBook Sections
Today, I went through a series of websites for ideas on the various sections in include in Rai's LifeBook. So far, here are the sections (in no particular order):
- The day you were born: Birth Information, Other events on this day
- The first year: Foster Family, Milestones, Celebrations, Tol (1st birthday)
- The story of your adoption (Adoption Milestones: Application to Travel)
- A baby shower
- Our journey to you
- Our very first meeting
- Coming home (date, your trip, you wore)
- Your new home (baby's room, what we did your first day)
- Introductions & Celebrations
- Your announcement
- Your adoption buddies
- Your first year with us
- Firsts and favorites (word, toys, sleeping, foods, walking, songs, others)
- Your first birthday with us
- Your adoption day
- What we know about your birth family and where you came from
- Family trees
- Our family
(based on forum post on

We need your help!
What categories have we left out? What should we add? We also need pictures, stories, and anything you think we can include in the book. Nothing is set in stone so far, but I've managed to finish a few pages.

Here are the sources we've looked at so far for ideas:
(And several others I can't find at the moment...)

I'll post more later this week!

Monday, December 15, 2008

One small step but every little bit helps!

Homestudy Approval through Lutheran Social Services!
We finally got our packet from our local agency which stated that our HS was approved on 12/12/08 and sent to USCIS! YAY! We should get a phone call (or letter) from USCIS any day now to schedule our fingerprinting, so that they can approve our I-600A immigration paperwork. In the meantime, Holt should be reviewing the homestudy sometime this week and sending our official referral. YAY!!! The timeline on the right is finally moving along!

Holiday Gatherings
This past weekend was rough. Being sick among all of these social gathering is frustrating, but I'm pulling through! The lunch with my old roommates was so much fun. We have more video of everyone and called Katie to wish her a happy holidays!

Not too long after our lunch, we met up with my cousin, her 3-year old son, my aunt, and my parents. I haven't seen my cousin Melina is years, and it was so much fun to meet her son, Vance! My parents got a little taste of grandparenting, and I'm sure my mom's shoulders are worn out from holding Vance up to see the cats in their various hiding spots!

My stomach bug nearly got the best of me, but I managed to pull through until we could go to Heather's party. Seeing their babies' room (yes, twins) for the first time was such a treat. Now, I need to get started on Rai's room!

Christmas Cards!
I finished up the last of the Christmas cards on Saturday and realized we had 60 extra! Yes, 60! I didn't realize that Walmart had a promotional offer where they gave you 20 extra cards with so many, so we ended up with 60 free. *sigh* I think I've given nearly every family member, friend, co-worker, and a few neighbors a card. We even gave everyone on our co-ed soccer team a card. So, if you would like a card, send me an email with your address! Rai will look a little different next year, so they're not exactly easy to re-use. :-)

This morning, I sent the last of the Christmas cards to our list from the Holt Bulletin Board. Only a few hours later, I checked the mail and we had 5 more cards from families on the board. Our mantel is looking so festive, and it will be so much fun to show Rai the cards next year as they flood in! So many families who have been touched by the adoption process!

Well, I should get back to work. I promised myself I'd play a little piano for once in many years before I get back to researching. With less than 1 month before spring classes begin, time is running out on my to-do list! Before you know it, spring will be here and soon Rai will, too!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2008

No baby updates but some progress on our end

I-600A & Homestudy
Our social worker has been working diligently on the homestudy, and we hope to have approval from both the regional office soon! Once the regional offices approves the homestudy, they send it on to 2 places:
1. Department of Homeland Security (Dallas Office) - awaiting homestudy for our fingerprinting appointment to process our I-600A form (1st immigration paperwork)
2. Holt - awaiting homestudy for approval before sending our official referral

Hopefully, you'll see the dates on the right column fill up soon!

Rai's Room
We're slowly making decisions on what furniture, toys, and decorations will go in Rai's room. So many people have given us ideas, so I hope to post pictures as we get the room put together little-by-little. It turns out that my best friend from middle school (yes, middle school) is pregnant with twins, so we're planning a trip to Babies R Us to start decorating.

Christmas Cards!

It has been so exciting to finally share pictures of Rai with family and friends through our Christmas cards. I can't tell you how great it is to have this approval before the holidays! We'll wait until our official referral is processed to post pictures online. By then, we might receive an updated picture to share.


Now that the semester is over and grades are done, I finally have time to get started on Rai's lifebook. For those of you not familiar with the term, a lifebook is a baby book which contains the story of a child's life through personal stories, pictures, copies of documents/legal paperwork, etc. It was believed many years ago that children were not capable of understanding adoption until much later in life and keeping the adoption a secret was the best solution until the child was ready. Based on our reading, adoption classes, and many other resources, we've come to understand that this concept is no longer supported. In fact, the more information an adopted child know, the better. The lifebook serves as a method for sharing this information. This will be just one of Rai's many books we will read, and as he grows, he'll understand more and more about his birthfamily, foster family, and adoptive family (us).

Although this is far more personal than a scrapbook we might show to others, I hope to get the help of friends and family by asking for your:
- Stories about the adoption and our family in general
- Pictures of our family and friends

The supplies will be in by Tuesday, thanks to our neighbor Paula and her scrapbooking business! Hopefully, I can get organized this weekend and have our pictures, stories, and paperwork for the stages so far ready. Who knows, I might even get a story or two out of Aaron. :-)

Holidays and Friends
This has been a good few months not only for our adoption but also our friends. As I mentioned before, many of our friends are expecting new additions (babies not rooms) to their families. This adoption has been a wonderful way to reconnect with old friends, celebrate with current friend, and meet many new ones as well!

Tomorrow, we're meeting up with three of my old roommates (Biju, Kimsan, and Mili) from college for a holiday lunch. I'm sure the guys are not nearly as excited about our holiday lunch, but they'll live! :-) It's not every day that we can all get together and catch up.

Speaking of old roomies .... a BIG CONGRATS GOES OUT TO KATIE ON HER STEM CELL RESULTS! (Yes, Katie. I'm reading your blog!) I nearly cried reading the good news! Now, I'm keeping fingers, toes, and eyes crossed until your stem cell transplant is complete. Poor Rai will wonder what's wrong with his mother's eyes until then...

I know I've already mentioned the Christmas cards, but have I said how great it is to get Christmas cards and updates from everyone this time of year? It was a rough year with so many great friends moving away, but each card, email, and phone call reminds me of how wonderful it is this time of year to have the holidays as a reminder of keeping in touch with those we are close to.

Well, I've rambled enough for tonight. I'll post again when we have baby news. In the meantime...


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting Ready!

Now that we have approval from the Waiting Child Committee at Holt, we are in high gear to get ready! Our social worker thought it would be about March (2 months earlier than I expected) when we travel, so we need to get moving with the house let alone the immigration paperwork! Four months sounds like a long time, but once spring classes begin, March will be here before we know it.

The goal for this month: Finish Registry.
Now that we know how much Rai weighs (19.1 pounds in Nov.) and approximately when we will travel to Korea, we can start to estimate what he will need when he arrives. The Holt Forum is a wonderful first start, and the books in the What to Expect series have been really helpful. Now that we have the baby quilt fabric chosen, we have the furniture chosen, but there are few things that match black/white/green/red. The panda theme will definitely come in handy, though. We're hoping we'll get a flood of panda things for Christmas to get us started. I say that because I've been told that I am not allowed to buy anything until after Christmas. :-)

The goal for next month: Baby-Proof.
Somehow, we never end up at home on the weekends. Although Aaron did start baby-proofing the house, we still need to think about office solutions (primarily computer cables) and slowly putting away furniture/small items that will need to go when the baby gets here. I'm thinking the glass top living room tables need to go in the garage... I've also been told that preparing space for the baby (especially in the pantry, fridge, and cabinets) takes a while. We may need to reorganize little by little to make room.

The goal for February: Finish Rai's Room!
I can't imagine we will get the travel call any earlier than March, so I think February is a safe month to finish Rai's room. Of course, it is now primarily bare with the exception of Christmas presents and a few items that need to go to Good Will, but it will take several weekends of furniture assembly (Aaron's favorite) and decorating to get everything together.

But first, the goal for this week: Get Immigration Paperwork Moving and Make To-Do List

Immigration Paperwork
Our social worker is finishing our homestudy this weekend to push the immigration paperwork through. Until we get our formal referral from Holt, that will be the next step in getting Rai home as quickly as possible. We'll try to keep everyone posted on the various immigration form completion dates as we proceed. It's this incredibly long list of paperwork that prevents us from going to Korea any earlier.

To-Do List
There are several things that will go on the bottom of the priority list once Rai arrives, so I'd like to start writing down this To-Do list before the wait is over. Some of these things include:
- Prepping summer classes: Music Appreciation & Asian Music
- Finish video/audio editing from summer fieldwork in Japan
- Read several articles and books related to summer fieldwork in Japan
- Finish all photo albums! (I've done nothing since I returned from Japan!)
- Play a few more rounds of Quake with Aaron & Mark
- Take a few naps :-)

Well, that is all for now. I'll post updates as soon as we hear anything.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The committee met today and said YES!!!!! Yipee! Hooray! Woohoo! Ok... Gotta run but will blog more later...

By the way, here is the video of Rai:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nails are officially bitten off...

First of all, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and stopped for a moment to be thankful about something. We had a busy four days between hosting Thanksgiving for my side of the family and then leaving to visit Aaron's side of the family for the weekend. As a side note, Aaron's mom, grandmother, and I picked out fabric for Rai's room and we decided on pandas! Yes, pandas are found in China not Korea, but they're cute! And the chances of finding panda things for a baby room are pretty good considering the popularity of Kung Fu Panda. Now we're just hoping Rai doesn't have a fear of pandas... I'll scan the material and post pictures later this week.

Monday's appointment with the pediatric neurologist went well, although we had so much information to cover in such a short period of time. We have a game plan now that we're been in communication with our social worker and Holt after reviewing the notes from our visit.

So that makes it officially 2 down and 1 to go!

We just heard a few minutes ago that the video is on the way from Holt! We should receive it tomorrow morning, so if all goes well, we can review it and send our notes in time to allow Holt to re-present us to the committee this Thursday. I'm not sure if it is all the grading at work or the adoption process that is to blame for the poor condition of my nails., but in either case, they're gone! :-)