Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baby Shower

My great friends Mili and Biju are throwing us a baby shower in February, and it's exciting to hear that the invitations have been sent! If anyone feels left out, I truly apologize. Our guest list contains quite a few more than we originally thought, so we had to create a back-up plan for parking (see below). I'd like to reserve the few spots in front of our house and in the cul-de-sac for grandparents and close family that may have difficulty walking, but we may get Aaron to run a shuttle in the Lincoln in between the community parking and our house. :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No adoption updates, but we're still here :-)

There was a slight hiccup with the official referral paperwork we sent to Holt two weeks ago when the notary accidentally signed the wrong year, but we had the paperwork re-notorized and overnighted to Holt within 24 hours of the problem. Now that the referral paperwork is making its way to Korea, we will just focus on USCIS (immigration). Our scare about the moving offices was short-lived. The immigration paperwork and legals arrived at the new Irving USCIS office on Jan. 20th, but we have yet to hear about fingerprinting or a receipt of the forms. We'll wait patiently.

This week was a bit exciting with the completion of our care package to Korea. Aaron and I went shopping over the weekend for everything that would fit in the box: 2 incredibly soft blankets, 1 soft stuffed horse (which Aaron thought was a cow at first), 1 stuffed soccer ball, 2 disposable video cameras, 2 disposable still-image cameras, DVD of our crazy family (in PAL and NTSC formats), laminated pictures of us, a photo album of the family (the Hangul translations for each person), clothes, and a Texas blanket for the foster family. I have a USPS tracking number, so I'll keep an eye on it until it arrives in Korea sometime later this week. Rai's foster mother will hopefully pick it up at his next Well Baby Check at the beginning of February.

We have tried to keep busy to steer our minds away from this incredibly slow wait through immigration processing. Aaron has been learning Korean at lightening speed, and I have kept busy with class prep and fieldnotes from Japan.

If everything stays quiet this coming weekend, we'll take out the world map puzzle that is in desperate need of repair. (Greece has fallen down behind Libya.) We also need to put together the Panda puzzle so the walls have a little color.

Other than that, everything is ready. I'll post again as soon as we hear something.

Stay warm!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Updated Pictures

Here are the updated pictures of Rai's room (with the finished quilt and the new rocking chair).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The updates just keep coming...

USCIS (Immigration) Update
Not every update is good news. We have tried waiting patiently with the Dallas USCIS office regarding our pre-approval fingerprinting, but the general responses were a bit odd. Why would it take over a month for paperwork to make it from one side of a building to another? It turns out that the Dallas USCIS office is moving to Irving. *sigh* We didn't know this until after we had already mailed the paperwork to the old Dallas office. With many people traveling only 2 months after the legals were received, the March travel time sounded quite hopeful. I'm not giving up on an early travel call, but it will be interesting to see how long before Rai's entire file is in tact.

Medical Update
About one hour after mailing the completed adoption forms to Holt and USCIS (Immigration office in Dallas), we received another medical update from Holt. As of January 5th, Rai weighed 20.72 pounds and measures 29.7 inches (a little over 2.5' tall). He has 8 teeth total (4 on top and 4 on bottom). The most exciting update is that he can stand alone and walk 2-3 steps alone!

What I would do to be there for those first steps, but we'll be patient. There will be so many other firsts for us to witness and with any luck, his foster mother will have pictures!

Care Package
Tomorrow will be a busy day. Now that we have the official referral paperwork complete, we can send Rai his first package! The family picture book is ready, but I still have about 2 hours worth of video editing to complete before we can send our first package to Korea. Our referral paperwork also recommended that we send some small, laminated pictures of us so that he can hold them. Awww....


The flood of immigration forms and referral paperwork needed to get Rai home is going out to today! I knew that being organized would pay off, but I was thrilled when every document we needed (ex. W-2 forms from the last 3 years) was within arm's reach!

As promised, here are the pictures of Rai Yun-Taek Young!

Rai's 1st Birthday (Tol)

Earlier Pictures

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Referral & Legals!!!
Very interesting timing! I was half-way through a sad blog that said we still haven't heard anything, and my cell phone rang. I sprang up (scared poor Lucy out of her comma) and nearly said the Holt secretary's name before I could see if it was her or not. It was her! They just FedEx'ed the official referral for Rai today WITH HIS LEGALS!!! This is great news! We fully expected to get the official referral and then wait another possible month before they sent the legal paperwork.

The legals, by the way, are the Korean equivalent of birth certificate, and that is the paperwork we need to file our I-600. (The I-600A is the preapproval for adoption while the I-600 is the actual immigration paperwork specific to the child.) Since USCIS has not yet fingerprinted us, they will process both forms together rather than waiting until the pre-approval is complete. We have been told that this generally speeds up the travel process, so we will keep our fingers crossed! We have been told that 2 months of wait time to travel has happened! Rai, Mommy & Daddy are coming!

(Oh and as soon as our official referral is accepted, we can begin posting pictures, so check back soon!)

The Ever-Evolving House!
After another decluttering weekend, Aaron and I had another trip to Good Will and Half-Priced Books to make on Saturday. Just as last time, we used our sell-back money from Half-Priced Books to buy a few baby books for Rai's room, but this time we found one book in Korean and several books in Japanese! Aaron is studying hard to learn Korean and says several new words/phrases each day. I'm trying to talk Aaron into getting Rosetta Stone for Korean, but he's not convinced it's worth the money. He'll settle for online sources until the library books come in. :-)

In addition to the books, my parents brought over the stroller and high chair we registered for, so we spent an afternoon learning how to fold up the stroller (only weighs 10 pounds) and got around to putting the car seat in both cars. Aaron doesn't think we'll need two, so I had him put it in his car and then transfer it to mine. Needless to say, it's still in my car. :-) I like it in there though! It's like a little reminder that in a few months there will be a little guy in that seat! We did decided against putting the high chair together as we don't have a place to store it, and we would just assume not let Lucy get too attached to having a new chair at the bar. She already has a favorite spot in Rai's room - on his convertible sofa (converts to a bed with sleeping bag).

We also made some progress on the playroom and living room. The furniture is now cleaned out and ready for the explosion of toys and the living room is finally child-proof! The glass tables have a new home in the attic, and I effectively moved the amp/DVD/VCR high enough in the entertainment center to be out of reach until Rai grows a little taller. The TV will just have to fend for itself! We also moved around the bookshelves, and now my ever-growing collection of photo albums has a home! Yay!

Now some people have misunderstood these weekends of preparation as worry. I know that I always sound busy, but I've always found just enough time in my week to never miss an episode of House, Bones, or American Idol - at least until Rai gets here. I've caught many family members and friends saying, "Don't worry. Everything will be fine." Of course it will be fine. :-) We're not worried. We know our lives will turn upside down, and we'll probably never get 8 hours of sleep again until Rai goes to college, but we're not worried. This "nesting" phase is fun! Just like the car seat, each bit of progress we make on the house is a nice reminder about this great change that is about to happen. It was so much fun to see Aaron run around the house "testing out" the stroller. So the next time you hear the laundry list of projects we have going, just remember that it's like Christmas. If you start shopping and wrapping gifts in October, you'll be in the Christmas spirit long before anyone else!

So here is to a wonderful few months of preparation!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

No Updates on the Paperwork End...
So much for posting "later this week." It has been several weeks since my last post, and yet there isn't too much to tell from the paperwork standpoint. Holt is waiting to "hear back from Korea" before they can send the official referral. With the holidays, things are slow both here and in Korea, so we'll be patient. In addition, the USCIS office finally responded to our email with a general comment that because the office is so large, it takes time to ensure all mail is sent to the appropriate office. (This means that as soon as they match up the homestudy sent over 2 weeks ago with our application, they will contact us for fingerprints.) We were warned that the slow processing times would be difficult, so we're hanging in there! But we have some good news! As soon as we receive the official referral, we can begin sending Rai things directly to Korea! Holt gave us the address, so we'll be sending clothes, a photobook of our family, and a DVD. Speaking of which, I should finish editing our family DVD next week so that we're just waiting on the referral.

Progress on Rai's Room
There has been progress here at the house, however! My dear friend Heather (who is pregnant with twins!) and I went shopping at Babies R Us the Monday before Christmas, and I managed to get several things for Rai's room. I picked a little sofa bed that I thought would be fun and convenient and several red baskets for toys. The most exciting purchase that day was the black toddler bed on sale. I had been eyeing it for some time, and between the sale and my persuasive friend and husband it was a no-brainer. Shortly after our shopping trip, the bookcase arrived that we plan to use for his toys and books (red baskets in a black bookcase), so Aaron and I finally got started on his room. After putting together the bookcase and bed, we picked out a dresser which arrived on Tuesday. Yay!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holidays! We enjoyed visiting everyone, but there are not enough days in the holiday season to spend time with everyone. I have a feeling, we will be traveling quite a bit before Rai gets here. From what I have been told, we will need to lay low once we get him home until everyone (including us) is adjusted.

Passing the Time
Speaking of traveling, we'll be headed down to Austin tomorrow for Aaron's alumni soccer game! It's too bad Rai will miss it, but you know I'll have the entire game on video! It will also be a busy weekend since Aaron's mom thinks we can finish Rai's quilt. Although the wait will seem long before we can travel, each step we take toward preparing for his arrival will help us pass the time!

A New Year's Tradition
In Japanese culture, families clean the house from top to bottom immediately before the new year. Clealiness is considered to be part of religious (specifically Shinto) tradition in terms of the self as well as the house. Although we didn't have the house spotless by time to ball dropped in Dallas this morning, we started working on a decluttering project in the house that has brought us peace and yet helped us prepare for the baby!

Aaron wanted to move his office so that the "Child's Retreat" would actually become a child's retreat - a room for Rai to play in since his room is a bit small. After a week of "pondering" this major change in our home, Aaron decided that we could share an office. This was no easy task mind you. Aaron is like his father in many ways, but this was a classic Mark process. We took everything out of our desks and bookshelves (as I cleaned the furniture which would make my mom proud), and then Aaron sat and stared at the furniture. I don't know why I thought this would only take half a day because we nearly missed lunch when we hadn't even begun putting our books and computers back. Now, the room looks wonderful, and this "sharing" bit may just work afterall. :-)

Today, we decluttered the kitchen and actually made room for Rai's kitchen cabinet. My friend Jennifer got us a Toddler Workbook that has great ideas for activities. One of the tips includes making a cabinet, generally in the kitchen where it is close by, dedicated to toddler activities. Once again, this was a day-long process with Aaron carefully "pondering" each cabinet's contents and how to best utilize the space we have. The kitchen doesn't look as nice as the office yet, but a short trip to Home Depot after we get back should help. I have a feeling we will be decluttering every room in the house until Rai gets here!

Well, it is well past our bedtime and there is still packing to do. Have a wonderful 2009 and keep us posted as well!