Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Together At Last!

Here are some pictures from Christmas, most of which I don't remember. (can you find the picture of our dog Viggo in one of the photos?) We were all exhausted. I can't tell you how elated I was to see my beloved boys and feel that our family is now complete. This is definitely it for us!! How blessed I am to have an amazing, loving, supportive husband (and so cute too!) three healthy wonderful children and a beautiful home that we love. Could my life be any more perfect??? Well, from looking at these photos I guess I could stand to lose some pounds. Maybe in 2009!! Happy New Year to all!!

Home Again Home Again Jiggidy Jig

The 10 hour flight from Taipei to Seattle went very smoothly. Kate was a wonderful travel companion! She actually seemed to enjoy the adventure with lots of smiles and barely a complaint. We stayed the night at the Hilton in Seattle as planned and arrived at the airport the next morning at 9:00 a.m. for our 11:00 a.m. flight. With this and that delay we finally left Seattle about 4:00 p.m. and arrived in Helena about 7:00 p.m. Having Kate home was an amazing Christmas gift to be sure, but I have to tell you that she and I slept through almost all of it! With the time change and the excitement of the trip neither of us slept much during the 48 hour period we were making our way home. No big deal at immigration in Seattle. They let you go to the front of the line with your baby. Here are some pictures from the air.

Fianl Taiwan Pictures

Well, you didn't ask for it but you're getting it anyway. Here are some of the final shots of Kate in Taipei. (I'm becoming like the tiresome relative who has to show all of her travel photos I know!)You will see Kate's red couch picture with the two teeth that she had when we picked her up! The others are Kate and I at the Grand Hotel where we went for Dim Sum one afternoon, outside her foster-mother's home and relaxing at the Golden China.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kathryn Pei-Jung Sullivan

A few more pictures of our little ray of sunshine!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dispatches From Taiwan Part II (the good stuff!!)

I have been a bit hesitant to post about our experience with the glorious Kate Pei-Jung because, superstitiously, I suppose, I don't want to jinx it! Kate (whom we have yet to call Kate) is the most ridiculously easy baby we have ever known. She is JUST LOVELY: happy, mellow, smiley and playful. She would love nothing more than for you to sit with her all day and gaze into her beautiful almond eyes. I thought I would be worried if our child did not react with sadness when she left her foster mother, but she didn't and I don't worry because I think that is just who she is. Mrs. Lee, obviously adored her and told us she was a VERY easy cuddly baby. Last night Kate cried for about 20 minutes (we think it might have been constipation) and up until then she literally had not cried for more than 30 seconds. When she's upset it's always easy to turn it around and make her smile. She seems the most happy when we are together quietly in the hotel room playing. She is less animated when in a crowd. She isn't upset, but she puts on her game face and just watches. She's definitely a watcher. So here are the details:
Day five: Thursday, December 18th is the BIG day. We pile into Mei-Ru's Toyota (sort of like a land cruiser, very nice) and begin our two hour drive to Taichung. We listen to the English radio station, which plays mostly hits from the 80's and a Bing Crosby Christmas C.D. all the way there. Mei-Ru is very friendly and easy to talk to so if you have questions about her life or life in Taiwan, this is a great opportunity for conversation. On the way there and back there are several nice rest stops with large clean bathroom facilities and a restaurant/grocery store. The only surprise, if you have not been in Asia before, is that the toilets (for women anyway) are simply basins buried in the floor. Be sure to check if you need to get your toilet paper BEFORE you enter the stall as some, but not all of them, are that way. We arrive at TWCA and meet Carridee, as many of you know, a really lovely young woman. You are asked to leave all your gifts with TWCA instead of taking them to the foster mother. We are at TWCA about 10 minutes while Carridee gets some papers together and then we all get back in the car and make the short drive to Mrs. Lee's home. Mrs. Lee is wonderful!! She radiates a kind gentle warmth. I would guess she is between 30 and 35 and according to Mei-Ru and Carridee she is married and has a 10 y.o. daughter. I felt we could stay as long as we wanted and ask as many questions as we would like but, of course, I was so overcome with emotion that I could not remember anything to ask. Pei-Jung is TINY! She seems very healthy and happy but she sure is small. She does NOT look that small in pictures but I promise you that she is. I thanked Mrs. Lee profusely and made Carridee tell her repeatedly how MUCH we appreciated all she had done. Then it is back in the car to TWCA where we do about 5 minutes worth of paperwork and sifting through Pei-Jung's things (all of which I got back, I must say after being here and meeting everyone I have total faith and the highest regard for TWCA).

I am sorry to report, although not surprised, that we did not meet Pei-Jung's birth mother. Caridee said that she could not decide whether she wanted to come or not until the last minute and in the end decided she could not. I completely understand but I am sorry that we did not get to meet her and reassure her that we would take loving care of her/our beautiful daughter. Along with her gifts I did write her a long letter and Caridee assured me that it would be translated and given to her. After our goodbyes at TWCA we plopped Pei-Jung in the car seat, settled in the back with her and drove back to Taipei. WAIT! We did stop at the baby store and picked up a few things including the formula stackers (LOVE THEM!!!) and a couple of CD's that Mrs. Lee said Pei-Jung liked. When we got back to the Golden China Mei-Ru came inside and helped us fill out the paperwork that we needed which took about 10 minutes since all they really ask for is the I-600 and the DS 230. We brought A LOT of extra paperwork that no one cared about. I think you should bring it just in case, but I think it is rarely ever needed.

Day six: Mei-Ru picks us up at 8:00 a.m. and we drive 10 minutes to AIT. If you are comfortable in a big city, you can easily experience Taipei without a guide. To complete your work with TWCA and AIT, however, the JOH guides are an absolute MUST (in my humble opinion). Things could not have gone more smoothly and I'm pretty sure it was all due to Mei-Ru's presence. As soon as you hit AIT there were several long lines at different points but with Mei-Ru we somehow drifted to the head of the line the whole time. We went upstairs and waited about 15 minutes to talk to Mr Fu who checked our paperwork to make sure it was in order. Then we moved to the other side of the room, took an oath with everyone else and waited 35 minutes for our 10 minute interview with the American representative. Both were very friendly and it was NO BIG DEAL!

Final days: While at the hotel we have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting three other JOH families (Hi guys!!) and their beautiful children. On Friday night we had dinner at the Mongolian grill across the street from our hotel followed by a few Taiwanese beers on the putting green roof of the Golden China with The Pedinis from Austin (Mark, Farley and Neko), and I am SO sorry I am forgetting the last name of the very handsome Tommy and his parents Jeff and Lynn from Chicago, along with his darling big sister Emily, who was adopted from China. Yesterday we went to Taipei 101 with the Lees from Boston (Will, Linda and Julianna). What GREAT GREAT folks, every single one of them. We are definitely lucky to be in such wonderful company at JOH.
Today, Dan, Kate and I spent some NTD on gifts at the Holiday Market (also called the Jade and Flower market) which is only open on the weekends and enjoyed some family time in the big park about eight blocks from the hotel. Tomorrow we are doing laundry and sending Dan off on the plane. Kate and I will spend the night and leave at 11:00 p.m. (with the Lees!) on Tuesday.
Now that some of the newness and excitement has worn down, I started to really think about home today and of course the boys and can't wait to be back together again as a family. That being said, I feel so grateful that Taiwan adoptions require you to travel. It really is an unparalleled opportunity to experience your child's birth culture. We will both have been here seven full days and with a new baby (one who is VERY easy, so I can say this) it has been the perfect amount of time. I am really glad we did not bring the boys this time, but I look forward to returning as a family.

As always, I so appreciate all the good thoughts and prayers you have sent our way and hope you will keep sending them until we are safely home. I am now more excited than ever to follow along on the JOH journeys to come. Sending lots of love and blessings from Taiwan!

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Images From Taiwan

Here are a few more pictures from our pre-Kate days:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Would It Be Too Much To Request Some Extra Thoughts and Prayers??

Well this is it! We are scheduled to leave tomorrow for Taiwan to pick up our beautiful daughter! We could NOT be more excited. We are hoping with all our hearts that there will be no flight delays due to the arctic front moving into our area today and tomorrow. We are taking separate flights because I am so freaked out about leaving the kids. At ages 5 and 7, they have only been without at least one of their parents for two nights. Now we are leaving for 10 days and will be almost 8,000 miles from home! We are so fortunate to have a group of wonderful friends and family rotating through our house to care for the kids and dog when we are gone. This is one of those moments where I am stopped cold in my tracks marveling at how extremely ridiculously fortunate we are to be surrounded by so much love and support. Many many thanks to everyone who is helping out while we are gone! I also have to give a shout-out to our JOH board (you know who you are!) for all the wisdom and advice they have shared. We feel so prepared for this journey because of them. What an amazing resource!! If it's not too much to ask, please think of us while we are gone; of our children who will be home, of our flights going smoothly, of our AIT appointment going off without a hitch and, most importantly, of our daughter's transition into her new life happening with as little trauma as possible. Thank you so much! We will try to post while we are in Taiwan. In the meantime, we hope everyone is having a very happy holiday season!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

FINAL RULING!!!!!!!!!!

That's right folks!!! After waiting a mere 17 days after our first ruling we have received our final ruling which means that baby Kate Pei-Jung is officially ours!! As if that were not miraculous enough we will be able to pick her up and bring her home by Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't that incredible??? I did not think there was any way we would have our sweet baby girl home by the end of this year, but we have been given this amazing gift!!! I know I've said this before but throughout this process we have been blessed by the warmest thoughts and prayers. It gives me great hope for humanity. Thank you so much!! Woooooooooo Hooooooooooooooooo we're going to Taiwan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!