Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thoughts On Johnny's Blog

*Note to Johnny: As you read this – please know that the pure sulfur enriched waters of the Florida aquifer bring these thoughts to blog.

Actually, I (we) would much prefer a dry red such as Toasted Head but we have made the decision not to consume any alcoholic beverages on Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s & Thursday’s. We are however, good to go on any other day of the week. I should fess up right now and tell you that we do refer to the first day of the week as Champagne Sunday for the reason most obvious in the title description. However, reds are our favorite, especially those rich in tannins and as dry as a desert breeze. And cheap. Cheap ranks high…

Enough already, (as I sip the cool natural waters of Florida with the distinctive boil eggs bouquet). I am trying to type out some thoughts on the language, culture and the melting pot thread you have going over on your blog

I had commented to you that the First Coast Families with Chinese Children are very active in our area. We got an email a couple of weeks ago announcing that language classes were forming up once again and to get you and your child signed up if you was of a mind too. Nothing hard sell. Just a notice, more of a friendly announcement. Which got Aly and I thinking more on the subject of how much of our daughter’s native culture, which she will know nothing of, do we foster (uh, how bout’ we use the word shepherd) into her life?

Quite frankly, we don’t know. Egad! Admitting to not having the answers to all of life’s questions…. Shame and ruin are sure to follow. Seriously though, our first thoughts were to jump on it as soon as we got Alyzabeth and to do it as a family. And this thought hit us, by doing the class thing, she would get to meet and interact with other children with similar beginning of life experiences. Why, we could see it plainly – she would be making a special, unique bond with some other little girl that would almost certainly end with each of them serving as the other’s bridesmaid 20+ years down the road!

OK – maybe not that far but you get the drift. We also thought that by our being a member of this cultural adoptive support group (read that as other folks who have adopted from China) it would serve as a virtual cornucopia of insights, tips, tricks and overall “if you remember one thing I’m telling ya, remember this” advice team of experts. And then these thoughts drifted in…

We hate joining things we know we will not continue with. First of all, because it makes you feel lousy for not doing something you said you were going to do. (I still plan to lose that extra little 100 pounds) We have the excuses – we get up each morning at 4am, we get home on the good days around 7pm and the phone can ring at anytime of the night or weekend and its back to that which puts money in our bank account. Which, without the check – no adoption. *Disclaimer Notice: Before the Dr. Laura crowd starts calling for our heads, we are making arrangements to have one of us home with Alyzabeth (and by the way, we admit to listening to Dr. Laura. We don’t always agree with her but that comes as a surprise?) I mean come on, how long do you think the Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday wine free days are going to last? We have had wine with our dinners for as long as I can remember. So far, neither of us has shown signs of needing intervention or a membership in AA. Of course, if you don’t drink, it is much like if you don’t smoke; I don’t therefore you shouldn’t. But I ramble, back to the language, culture and melting pot.

Will we acknowledge and promote Chinese culture in our home? Yes. The same as we do for any and all other cultures that we have either an interest in or a connection to. Still, as stated in our opening introduction on our blog – Alyzabeth is to become an American with Chinese ancestry. First and foremost she will be an American. Please, please simmer down - those of you wondering if the flag waving is slapping me in the face. We love our country; we love our diverse makeup that makes us uniquely American while easily embracing the richness and individual patriotism found in folks from each country throughout this world. Ours included.

So, are we signing up for Chinese immersion classes?

We were thinking more about how we plan to fund her prepaid college tuition plan. How big a bite the medical insurance deductible is going to be and whose check is it coming out of? Are we going to put her in St. Johns Country Day School (private) or save the big bucks and go the public route? How much extra term life insurance do we pick up in case we check out before she gets out of college and meets Mr. Perfect? Oh, and the big one staring at us down the road – Do we spring for the upgrade and get the business class seats on the plane going over and back or just back or not at all? Do we buy 3 seats or just 2?

I’m thinking business upgrade with 3 seats coming back. And American Sign Language. My sister teaches American Sign Language and taught each of her children how to communicate what they needed before they could even speak. Unreal – it works. Learn Chinese or do the American Sign Language thing?

Got to go. It’s time for our American Sign Language flash card study session…(now where is that Toasted Head bottle from last Monday?)

Monday, October 24, 2005

The White Swan - The Rest Of The Story

On our 20th Wedding Anniversary I presented my wife with an ivory necklace of two swans intertwined. For those of you who have read our journal you will recall the significance of a particular swan in our ongoing efforts to adopt Alyzabeth. With that as a background, I began looking for an anniversary gift that had a “special meaning” for the two of us. As easy as that sounds, finding a necklace or bracelet of a swan proved to be anything but. I was quickly running out of time to find such a gift. Alyson and I were soon to be leaving for Maine to celebrate a series of family events, a mix of anniversaries and birthdays. I simply was not finding the “swan” locally and the timeline to buy online was slipping away since it would have to be mailed and received before we left for Maine. I was down to pretty much my last day to either find the swan or forget it.

Then this happened. I arose early before Alyson was up and typed in swan – ivory – necklace on the infamous Google search. I must have had done this two dozen or more times in the previous days with nothing coming back that even remotely struck me as the “gift” for Aly. Until that morning, the last morning.

There in front of my eyes was the necklace of two swans intertwined. As gooney as this may sound – to me, those two swans represented Aly and myself. We were the two intertwined swans. We had received our “sign” in the form of a swan and this necklace was to serve as our permanent reminder of what He had done for us. I immediately emailed the Jewelry store with my offer to purchase along with a short note explaining briefly that it was a gift for my wife for our 20th anniversary and that the swan carried significance regarding our adoption hopes of an infant baby girl from China.

Below is the reply I received from George, who along with his wife, own the jewelry store that sold me the necklace. I copied this letter and put it in the box containing the necklace and gave it to Aly while attending the celebrations in Maine. The necklace and this letter from George will always be remembered and treasured. Aly was looking at this letter today and asked if this was something we could share in our journal. Why not… We shared the story of our swan – and as Paul Harvey would say – and now you know the rest of the story.

Our Swan Story; The Rest of the Story

Hi Ford,

This is George from J Jewels. I really felt compelled to write you this email in regard to the Ivory Swan necklace that you are purchasing.

A big part of my life is dedicated to the Lord, I do ministry work and I have a very close relationship with Jesus. About a week ago I listed this necklace on Ebay, it had been at auction for about 4 1/2 days on a five-day auction. That night before the necklace was to end, on my way to bed I always start to pray as I enter my bedroom and ask the Lord where he would like me to read in the Bible. Yes, I do hear Him speak to me in my Spirit all the time but for some reason lately I had felt Him distanced from me and I did not feel His presence as strong as I normally do, I guess I was going through a “Spiritual Valley if you can relate to that. As I was going to bed I cried out to God and asked Him "please speak to me tonight God and let me read with some understanding and let me absorb whatever it is that You would like to speak to me." I heard Him softly speak to me to read the Book of Amos. So I open my Bible and started to read along. I got to verse 15 in chapter 3 and it read: "I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house. The houses of Ivory shall perish, and the great houses will have an end. Says The Lord.

This scripture for some reason jumped off the page at me, and to tell you the truth I still do not understand the meaning. But the next day when I awoke I came out to check my emails and found that Ebay had canceled my listing on this necklace because they said I used the words "Elephant Tusk Ivory" and that it was not appropriate to sell on Ebay. I was quite confused, I didn't really understand what or why this happened, and also because there were about 1200 other items for sale on eBay that were made out of elephant tusk.

And then again I heard the Lord speak to me out of the blue and He said to me "It was I who canceled this listing off Ebay". Many times I do not understand how He works but I try and do as He instructs me the best I know how. I knew there was a significant reason this happened but couldn't figure it out. Then I had to laugh to the Lord and say.... "Lord I ask you to let me read with understanding, but Lord I don't understand any of this." So I listed this necklace onto my shop’s business site.

When I read your email, and saw your offer to purchase, and that you are adopting a little girl from China, and that this was going to be for your wife on your 20th Anniversary... I welled up with tears. I know, that I know, that I know that the Lord did all of this so that you get this Necklace. You must be very special to God and He definitely has your interest and your steps at hand. I felt His presence very strong; this is truly a wonderful blessing. God is going to honor you greatly, and I pray that he renews your marriage with a youthful spring, and that this little girl will bring great blessing, and deeper love to you and your wife. I am so blessed to have been a part of this. I can't stress to you how much for certain I know that He loves you and your household. May He continue to bless you. A modern day miracle for sure. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Thank you so much. A very astounding moment.
George & Evelyn @ J Jewels

Sunday, October 23, 2005

USCIS Second Filing Mailed

One additional step towards China has been checked off. Last night we logged on to our agencies website to see if anything on our personal timeline had changed and lo and behold – we had an UPDATE. The following two items now have check marks in the boxes:

  • USCIS Second Filing information received at CCAI:

  • USCIS Second Filing information mailed to USCIS:

I’m positive Alyson knows exactly what happens next but I’m going to have to go back to our dossier guide and catch up with where we are and where we go next in the paperchase. I was already informed this morning that an afternoon review of our progress is in order (just another reason I need to get up to speed).

It is amazing how uplifting to the old spirit it becomes to see something as simple as two checked boxes on your timeline. We both went to bed last night with smiles on our faces. We feel as though we have been putting together one of those picture puzzles you have layed out on one of your tables and for the life of you it seems you work on it but the picture doesn’t seem to be any closer to being finished than when you first started. And started seems like a long time ago…

Friday, October 21, 2005

Catching Lightening Bugs

I was wondering. How would Americans feel if the rest of the world were adopting our kids? Happy? Indifferent? Mad? Would you feel something or nothing at all?

These weird little thoughts flutter around in my head like lightening bugs, flashing on and off except I don’t have a jar with holes cut in the lid to keep them in. I’m at that point where I find sticky note reminders, already forgotten; in the back pockets of my pants emptied out before putting them in the dirty clothes hamper. Years ago I searched frantically for my car keys sure I was going to be late for work before remembering I had put them in the icebox or as they say in places other than southeast Missouri, the refrigerator. Don’t ask. I had an absolute well thought out reason for putting the keys in there. What I didn’t plan on was forgetting the plan along with the reason.

So, back to the thought about others adopting our kids. I was thinking about this because in reading the adoption blogs of others who have been or who are in China right now, you read about the reaction of the Chinese people when these American families with their new Chinese little one ventures out among the masses.

Overwhelmingly, what you read is positive. The Chinese people seem to respond very favorably to what has to be a very strange and perplexing sight of non-Asian adults obviously parenting an Asian baby. On occasion you will read of a family who encountered the rare incident of disapproval. And that is what got me to thinking. How, as Americans, would we react to foreigners strolling along our parks & neighborhoods with our babies, knowing they soon would be leaving with them, never to return? Raising them to speak a different language, a different culture – a world away…

We’re at peace with our adoption plan. We both are reading as much as we can on what to expect and what is expected. We’re in contact with other adoptive parents. We’ve joined a local group of families who have adopted from China. We want to think that when the time comes, and it will, when Alyzabeth questions how she came to be a part of our hearts, our American hearts, we will have answers that brings peace to her awakening adoption reality.

We don’t have all her answers yet but we’re working on them. We will. Still, there are all these lightening bugs. Flashing on and off…

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Moment of Silence - All Cardinal Fans

The Cardinals lost. This is a sad day for the Redbird Nation. I wonder if my cousin R was even able to go in to work today? A wave of sorrow is adrift over a sea of red. The only thing worse than a Cardinal loss is a cub’s win… BTW - we wish the Astro's all the best.

On a positive note however, our local hippie dippy weatherman says we have a cold front blowing down from the north, strong enough to keep hurricane Wilma from blowing through us. Now understand, we don’t wish harm on our fellow Floridians in the southern part of the state but we also don’t care to rebuild our dock for the third time either. Still, I think we’ll fire up the old generator today and check to make sure the gas cans and vehicles are filled – again…

The paperchase hit still another bump in the road. CCAI says the doctor’s letter explaining how the pill I take to keep my blood pressure below the boiling point & thus makes me an absolute excellent candidate to raise yet another child - does not meet the standards specified by the Chinese government. I’m not surprised. It’s not the Chinese government that’s causing the hassle – it’s my own doctor’s office. CCAI even provided us with a form for the doctor’s office to follow. Did they? No. So, it’s back I go again. I’m just going to schedule another doctor’s appointment and speak to the doctor face to face explaining very politely why I need the form in the like manner we have supplied as an example. I don’t see a problem. No big deal. Piece of cake. Simple form. Routine…

Maybe I do need to see the doctor after all – I’m starting to not feel so well…..

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Visit With GD Kilee

It is still Sunday and we have some news to post (besides the joyous news of the Jaguars winning today).

Justin arrived with grandbaby Kilee (19 months old) so we were able to have a fun afternoon visiting and playing. A couple of pictures to show her off are a necessary part of “Grand-parenting”. We hope you will enjoy or at least understand. Birthing new babies into the family and deaths are something to remember. Our daughter Leaa & husband Jesse are parents-to-be so more “grands” are on the way.

We also have sad news today; we received a call today informing of us of the passing of a co-worker who was battling cancer. He began his battle against this insidious disease in February and leaves behind a beautiful family. We know he will be missed greatly by his wife & children and a soon to be daughter-in-law, along with the whole of his family and many friends. Our prayers today are for the Richard A. family.

Gator Hunt

Earlier this year Florida had its annual "gator hunt".
Our son Justin and grand-daughter Kilee celebrated
their success! Please - no PETA assaults. The hunt
is over and the gator population continues to thrive.
Come down here and go swimming if you have any
doubts about that - just be careful, very careful...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nana & GD Kilee

"Nana Aly" & Grandbaby Kilee

GD Kilee & DS Justin

Grandbaby Kilee & her dad Justin

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Call For Blog Help

I am a blog neophyte. I can admit that. However, unlike the bad rap many males are hit with – I WILL & DO STOP AND ASK FOR DIRECTIONS. So, consider this as a request for help because I am LOST.

I need help from the experienced ones out there!

I added a web counter and a guest book to our site this morning, however, they are not located even close to where I wanted them to appear. The counter is at the bottom of the webpage but it would be nice to have it higher so you can see it when you open up the webpage and if you look to the side where previous posts are listed you will find the guest book – ugh…

I have typed and pasted up and down the template section but it is now plain to me that I am a lot closer to screwing things up than I am figuring things out. (There is noticeable shame as I type this – if you could see me – my head is bowed and my shoulders are definitely slumped. It’s a sad sight of despair, forlorn and defeat).

I like how the guest book shows up under each post like on Gwen’s and in color no less! In fact, I would like to find a way to just simply steal Gwen’s site and slide our stuff in and make like we did that – oh yeah, we have this blog thing down….. (Not).

In advance of your kind and considerate HELP – thank you and thank you again…

Saturday, October 15, 2005


October 14, 2005

We received a message from CCAI concerning checking the accuracy of our home study report. We did not have a copy of it yet, so Alyson sent an email asking whom should we ask for the copy.

In a message dated 10/13/2005 8:01:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Alyson,

I’d check in with your social worker to see if he will be submitting you a copy of the study to review. If not, then you will see a version of the study that will be mailed to you from the FL office after it is submitted to immigration. Hope this helps! Let me know if you need anything else.

Have a great rest of the day!

AC, Assistant Manager, Dossier Department


-----Original Message-----From: [] Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:00 PMTo: dossier1@chinesechildren.orgSubject: Re: Reminder: China Home Study

Thank you for the message.
We do not have a copy of the home study and are not sure when or how we obtain a copy. Once we have a copy, we will review it as you recommended. If you know how and when we will receive it, please let us know. Thank you.

Alyson & Ford

In a message dated 10/13/2005 1:44:21 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Alyson and Ford,

Just wanted to let you know that I reviewed a copy of your China Home Study Report. ( This note is a friendly reminder for you to coordinate with your social worker to make sure that what you have stated in your dossier documents matches to what they have stated in your home study.

Please make sure to compare the content of these two sets of documents carefully! In particular, make sure to check that the information is consistent between the particular items listed below and the home study.

 Your employment information from your employment verifications or non job letters
 Your physical exam information
 Financial information from your financial statement

Let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great rest of the day!

AC, Assistant Manager, Dossier Department


We arrived home from work and had a message from Leon and a copy of our draft home study report. This is exciting (and a little bit scary) to be able to read the report before it becomes final.

In a message dated 10/14/2005 1:43:01 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Hi, Alyson,

I am attaching the completed report for your adoption home study. I have checked as carefully as I could
to be sure everything matches, but I will appreciate your checking it over to see if you spot anything that
needs to be changed.

As soon as I receive your okay, I will print the necessary originals and send them off to be signed and notarized.
If no corrections have to be made, I can get them in the mail tomorrow morning.

Have a good day!



We both read the report and couldn’t be more pleased at how well L was able to tell our story complete with his observations of our qualifications as parents. The report is nine pages long. We found a minor correction that we will send to L. Reading the report gave us a glimpse of what our referrals submitted. It is overwhelming and very much a humbling experience to know that these friends expressed such caring and loving sentiments about us as individuals and as a couple. Clearly, a simple thank you to them and Leon cannot truly do justice in repaying with words what they have done for us. Please know how much we appreciate what you have done and how much a part of this family you really are.

Now that this phase of our adoption process is competed we have more paperwork to do but each (baby) step onward gets us that much closer to China and Alyzabeth!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Name #2 Found!

Classic name #1: Alyzabeth An (according to Leaa D this qualified as “classic”).

Classic name #2. (We were searching - as in - we didn't have a clue)...

Last thing Ford said to me was it had to be a classic name for our second daughter (we don’t know if we will get a second daughter, but since it is a possibility, we needed a second name). Can you imagine being over in China, possibly tired, exhausted and having a second daughter given to you and no name picked out? I needed a name. Since Delaney didn’t work for us (nor for our daughter Leaa D.), I went through most of our genealogy again and came up with common female names from our family lines. Martha? Jane? Nancy? From my family list of names, I loved “Leighton”, “Apphia” and “Whitney”. Ford’s side had a cute Irish name “Delia”. None of those seemed to fit or sound right.

We recently sent emails to family and close friends explaining about our “blog” and where to read it. On Monday morning at work, J R, one of our friends we sent our blog address to, stopped by my office door and peered in and said “Alexandria”. I asked what was he talking about and he said, the classic name we needed. I said, well, no, thank you, no. I really wanted to find a “family” name that suited both Ford and I. (We also now know that people are reading the blog!)

Here it is Wednesday and talking to Ford on the way home about names, I told him about J’s suggested name. Well, after about 5 minutes, we agreed on a name. Unbelievable as it is, it just sounded right. So here is our second name. We don’t know if it will be used (can you say “twins”) but at least we are prepared (am I a planner or what?). Drum roll please…..

Alexandra Lin

Alexandra Lin

What do you all think? Ford had mentioned using Lin as a middle name as it means “fine jade” in Chinese. Since I didn’t have a first name I wasn’t willing to commit to a middle name. Now that the first name is perfect, the middle name of “Lin” sounds good to us! I didn’t want to commit to it too soon either as it is my younger sister’s middle name. Some how everything works our perfectly! It is a long story but Melissa, my younger sister, was a big part in trying to come up with a strategy for Ford & I to have a baby. It didn’t work out so this will be wonderful to honor Melissa with naming our hoped for second daughter with her middle name too.

We are relieved!! We are delighted!!

ps: This also means that you (J) are on the hook as an un-official God-Parent. Gifts, Money, Baby Sitting - the usual kind of stuff. You'll do great!!! (Thanks to you and L for the name).....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Two Lights State Park - Maine

At Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
We were in Maine to celebrate Alyson's parents 50th
Wedding Anniversary! (We ate lobster everyday :))

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta Motor Speedway - We got to do EVERYTHING
but drive the cars as guest of the race sponsor MBNA.
Our friends, Lee & BeLinda who invited us,
were actually in the Pace car to start the race...

Home Study - FINAL Visit!

Our last home study visit began right on time at 9:30 a.m. this morning. Mr. P basically scanned his report and asked us questions where he didn’t have all the information. We discussed our parenting philosophy relating to disciplining children (I really like John Rosemond’s writings). We also gave him information on our guardians, Mia & Michael. They meet the age requirements and will write the needed letter. We are thankful they are willing to do this for us. We did not get to read any of the home study report so will wait for the official copy to reach us in a few weeks. This is an important step in finalizing the dossier.

We decided to drive to the nearest Barnes & Noble to purchase a few more books to read. We bought one on travel in China that emphasizes the culture and history. Once we know what areas of China we will be traveling, we will purchase a travel guide. We also bought a John Rosemond book on parenting and one on raising adopted children. Now off to do the lawn chores - very much dreaded in a still hot and steamy Florida.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Decision To Share

We have made a decision to open our adoption journal up to family and friends. There was a hesitancy to do this for reasons we are sure you can all understand.

Obviously, this is a very personal account of a very personal experience in our life. The original idea behind our journal was to record the process so that down the road we could look back and relive the ups and downs associated with adopting Alyzabeth. Alyson is excellent at keeping a written account of our day trips and vacations and without that we would soon forget the details that made each trip special and unique. Also, once she was older, we envisioned the journal as a way of allowing Alyzabeth the opportunity to glimpse what “mom & dad” did to bring her home to her American family. The journal would also capture our excitement and love for her.

So why make it public? Well, for starters it makes it easy to share with you – our family and friends, all the fun and drudgery we are going through to make the adoption happen. We have been reading the adoption stories of other families for quite some time now on other websites. You will find links to a couple of those sites on our webpage. It was reading those sites that got us to thinking about building a webpage of our own. Similar to what we did when we had the 50th birthday party down in Key West! The webpage will help us keep you in the loop and share in the adventure and pictures of China once we travel next year to get Alyzabeth.

Secondly, this gives us a way to share with other adoptive families. You cannot imagine the tips, tricks and information we have already gathered from reading the experiences of the families having already adopted or still in the process. We generally will not share with anyone what we paid for a dinner much less what our adoption is costing us. In fact, we find it rude of people to ask anyone what they paid for anything. That’s just us. One of our little quirks. We have however decided to include the fees we have paid and will pay in our journal. Why? The cost associated for Chinese adoptions are fairly similar from agency to agency. However, each agency fee will vary and it is one of the things each family has to consider when choosing the agency they will ultimately place their faith in. The direct cost to the Chinese government is pretty well fixed. The cost on the US side varies from state to state depending on what each state charges for their “paperwork” certifications and authentications. US federal fees are the same for all adoptive parents. We are showing the cost for other adoptive families to use as a way of verifying the expenses in their process.

Allow me to step on my soapbox for just one moment.

Yes – we are buying a baby. If you are adopting you have expenses whether the adoption is domestic or international. If you are having a biological child you also have expenses but rarely is it expressed as “buying” a baby. That’s it. Off the soapbox….

Finally, in sharing our adoption process we would like to thank you for all the kind words and support you are giving us. Our families have been and continue to be an unbelievable support system. If we have written or in the future write ANYTHING that in ANYWAY hurts or offends you – we apologize and ask you to understand that it was and is totally unintentional. In fact, email us and we will edit our website to remove whatever it is that you find troubling. We love you all too much.

Well, that’s about it. Our postings will eventually slow considerably once we have completed the dossier process (we hope to have the dossier completed by December). The time frame between now and Alyzabeth being home will take close to a year and approximately 7-8 months of that time is simply waiting for a match from China and receiving the travel approval.

Thanks for coming along on our China adventure. Eventually – Alyzabeth will be thanking you in person for all your love, support and prayers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Final Home Study - SATURDAY!

Alyson just called to say Leon called her to set up a time to meet with us this Saturday at 9:30 AM for our FINAL home study meeting. We also believe he will be reviewing his completed home-study report on us. This is a major step forward. The home-study report has to be sent to a couple of different agencies along with making sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted. Don’t take this as a complaint. We know it is just part of the process; a process that is tedious to say the least. This is good news. Really good news. This helps to keep us on target to have everything to CCAI by December. We hope to make it – so much left to do.

DS Justin, Kelly & GD Kilee

Our Son Justin, Kelly & Grand-Daughter Kilee

A Second Name - Classic

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I am up. I just had two root canals performed and I hate to sound like a total WUZ but a dull throbbing pain is enough to wake me up and keep me up. So it’s time to update the journal. I’ll proof-read this later with every expectation of finding sleep deprived errors…

Alyson does not want to get to China and not have a second name picked out in the most unlikely event we get handed twins. I can’t blame her. I’d hate to be scrambling for a second name under those conditions as well (the little one has to have a name for the paperwork, visa & etc.). I’m thinking - scrambling for an additional airfare home might be a bit of a concern as well. Still, the prospect of our getting two little girls is very remote even if our home study caseworker thinks it would be GREAT!

We have knocked around a few name ideas. Delaney was big on our list. It is a family name on the M side. Delaney was making a serious bid until a phone call from our daughter. Leaa D said she didn’t want to burst any balloons or sound very un-PC but somehow she didn’t quite make the Irish connection to our China sweetie. Thought maybe we might want to think about it more. We couldn’t help but laugh – she was right of course. Scratch Delaney. Leaa says we need something classic; something similar to what we did with Alyzabeth. Classic. No problem….

Alyson has gone through our family genealogy books time and again looking for our second “classic” name – still no classic as of yet. However, the name Kathryn is starting to move into the picture. I was named Ford after my Grand-Mother Kathryn whose maiden name was Ford. We may have to run this by Leaa D. Classic….

Also – I HAVE TO CALL M. Since we need a guardian’s letter as part of our dossier and the guardians have to be over age 30 – Leaa & Jesse are out because they are too young. There’s a problem many of us wish we had… At any rate, Leaa & Jesse will be our legal guardians for the little one to be. We are scheduling a meeting with our attorney to complete the paperwork but for our adoption process to move forward we plan on asking sister M and her husband M to provide paperwork saying how unbelievably excited and happy they would be to have this little girl as their own. In all honesty – they are the type of people who would be excited to be parents to just such a little girl. They are good people. My sister married well. I will call today especially since we need to talk anyway – they are coming to visit in a couple of weeks from Illinois. Too good!

Ok – it’s time to try and get back to bed and get some sleep. Part of my problem is I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Friday and I am not allowed aspirin for 7 days prior. I could use some aspirin. I could use a hammer over the head if things don’t get better soon. I like my dentist. We have known C for a long time. Great guy. Great dentist. I hate going to the dentist. Love seeing C. Hate going to the dentist… Good Night or should that be Good Morning?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The White Swan

The Story of our White Swan

Some months back I read in my local paper about an organization making a presentation at a local church in regards to adopting abandoned infant girls from China. I decided I was going. At the time I can’t tell you why I was so drawn to going but I knew I would be going. Later on that week I spoke to my wife about what I had read and that I thought it might be interesting to attend.

I need to explain something here. My wife had been reluctant to consider adoption as she had continued to hold out the hope that we would be blessed with a biological child of our own. However at 53 and & 47 the prospect of us having a child was beginning to take on the biblical proportion of Abraham & Sarah. Additionally I knew that adoption options were dwindling due to our ages, mine in particular. My wife said she was open to attending. With that backdrop, I slipped off before going to the adoption presentation and quietly asked the Lord in prayer to open my wife's heart to the idea of adoption if it was part of His plan; both for the two of us and the little girl.

The adoption presentation was interesting and informative. We also were definitely the oldest couple there. For the following two weeks my wife and I spoke occasionally about the adoption presentation but it was more of a soft dance towards, around and to the side of the issue of our adopting. Then the dance began in earnest. One evening as I was sitting in the kitchen, Alyson approached with the adoption application papers we had gathered up with all the tons of information packets we had brought back with us. A decision had been made. We laughed, we hugged, and we each shed a few shared tears of joy.

Because of our age, mine in particular; I knew it was not a certainty that we would be approved. We mailed the paperwork off and began the wait to see if we were approved for an adoption. Because we mailed the documents going into a holiday period we expected the response time to be somewhat longer than usual.

It was during this time that I began to privately question our reasons for adopting. One major fear I harbored was the fear I was doing what I wanted to do with little to no regard for what the Lord wanted. I was concerned that Alyson and I were putting our wants ahead of what God really intended for us. He had already given us Justin and Leaa D from my previous marriage years ago, maybe we were not suppose to have other children. Maybe God did not plan for us to adopt but rather we were pushing ahead thinking only of ourselves. I began to wonder if I was pushing my wife into doing something that maybe she did not really want to do and I wasn’t listening to her or God. It was a very troubling and confusing period for me.

Time dragged on slowly with no word from the adoption agency. During this time we each settled in to enjoying a rare day off from work together enjoying the 4th of July holiday. I still remember getting up that holiday morning and taking the Salty Dog out to do his morning "duties". We've been fortunate to live on the St. Johns River for a number of years now and in all that time I had never seen what I was seeing that morning. Sitting (or maybe floating would be a better choice of words) close to the riverbank, in our backyard directly beside our dock was the largest, most beautiful white swan I had ever seen. I called to Alyson to come look. We each couldn't take our eyes off of the swan. Interestingly, our dog, Salty Dog, would normally run down the dock barking at the wading birds that regularly gathered to feed in the shallows. But not this time. Salty Dog stopped at the foot of the dock walkway. No barking, no running. He was content to join Alyson & myself as we quietly watch this huge beautiful swan. I cannot begin to describe to you the peace we felt simply watching the swan. Then I remembered something from the night before that I had read with regard to our agency and what we could expect on our adoption journey.

I quickly logged on to our computer, found the information site and read it again. To adopt our daughter and return to the USA as an American citizen we will fly to China and eventually at the end of our stay; go to the American consulate to finalize the adoption papers and take an oath. The entire trip normally consists of about two weeks time. Signing numerous papers creating our family will make up the final days of our stay in China. During those days our agency would most likely have us stay at The White Swan Hotel. Alyson and I just looked at each other and then went back to look at our swan. Could it be?

The next day we hurried home from work to see if the swan was still there. It was, still swimming only around our dock and still, Salty Dog was not chasing or barking. After work the following day we hurried home and once again there was our swan, we were not disappointed. Coming home to see "our" swan provided some excitement and a strange sense of peace with everything going on. We looked forward to seeing "our" swan. We also had a message on the answering machine from our agency saying they had tried to contact us and could we please call them.

We went to bed that night not knowing if the agency had called with good news or bad news. We said our prayers (me still filled with worry about if we were doing the right thing) and went to sleep.

The next day around 10:00 AM my wife and I made the call to the agency from her office. I vividly remember my wife's eyes filling with tears as she was told we had been approved and that this time next year she would be holding her daughter. We were beside ourselves.

That evening we raced home to see our swan only to discover it was gone. We felt a definite sadness about the swan being gone but we were still miles high from receiving the great news from our agency - we had been approved. The worry was over. Everything was fine. We were going to get our daughter.

It was then that God's plan for the both of us became clear. We then knew that our visit by a white swan did not just happen and why it's appearance had given us so much joy and peace.

The White Swan Hotel. You see, we knew how nervous we were while waiting for our adoption approval. So did God. I was worried about if I was doing the right thing. God knew my heart. God sent the white swan and put it in our backyard for 3 days as His sign but we only felt the joy and strange peace in seeing the swan, we didn't recognize it as from God. Once we had spoke with the agency and found out we were approved - the swan was no longer at our home because its work was finished. God had given a sign of His approval and had answered our prayers. Along with providing some much needed distraction and comfort. Our swan.

And that is the simple but truthful story of our white swan. Now, we understand how this may sound to many of you. A swan shows up at our house. Big deal. It hardly represents the parting of the Red Sea. However, for us it represents our conviction that God is holding the hand of Alyson and myself and that of Alyzabeth An – our daughter.

Happy Anniversary!

Today is our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I love you Aly…

The Sign

The Sign

DD Leaa & SIL Jesse

Our Daughter Leaa & Son-In-Law Jesse

Saturday, October 01, 2005


October 01, 2005

Mr. P called to let us know that for the adoption home study, guardians must be over the age of 30. So we will ask someone else to write the letter even though Leaa & Jesse will be the legal guardians once the adoption is finalized. The guardianship letter that goes with the home study is not a legal binding document.