Friday, August 29, 2008

We're going to China!!

We leave September 11 and return home on September 27 with Anna Kathryn!  Gotcha Day will probably be on September 15 or 16.  

After the frustration of this week Mark and I are so excited... and relieved... and excited!  Yesterday we heard that more consulate appointments had opened up and that AWAA was trying hard to get their families into those slots.  I tried not to get my hopes up too much, but of course I did anyway.  We didn't hear anything further the rest of the day, and we went to bed wondering (hoping) we'd hear something today, before the long Labor Day weekend.  

I even checked my e-mail at 10:15 last night, hoping to hear something... if only I'd been a few minutes later!

This morning when I got to work and opened up my e-mail it was waiting in my inbox:  an e-mail titled "Concrete Travel Dates."  I gasped so loudly my media assistant came running in to see what was the matter.  

So the day has been a blur of grade level meetings (I scheduled myself to do a media center orientation for the faculty in all three grade levels), e-mails and frantic phone calls about flights, and confirmation of plane tickets.  

We have one minor issue to deal with, still.  I also got an e-mail stating that the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou does not have any record that we were re-fingerprinted last December (which we had to do to renew our paperwork for USCIS, which allows us to bring AK into the country as a US citizen.)  We got our updated form in late April, after we finally made it through the homestudy update.  I panicked for a minute, then settled to down to figure out what to do.  I tried calling 4 times, but never did manage to talk to a human.  I ended up leaving work early, going home, scanning our official document, and emailing it along with a rather pleading message to the Charlotte USCIS office.  Hope they get it and send along the information ASAP.  Please pray that we get this particular bump smoothed out quickly.

So, this weekend, we are cleaning closets (and my grungy house), making lists of stuff to pack, and gathering what we need.  I can hardly believe we have plane tickets to China!  In 2 weeks, we'll be there, and a few days later, our daughter will be in our arms.  As Allison would say-- wowzers.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So close, yet so far away

According to our agency, September travel is pretty much out of the question due to the fact that, after years of waiting for approvals from China, the US Consulate is now the holdup.  They are (allegedly) booked through the month, and although a few other families have gotten September appointments as late as today, we were not that lucky.  We have been told, possibly early October.  Or not.  Who knows?  

I can finally quit being utterly frustrated with C*hina's government being so slow and return to being completely fed up with my own.  Without this appointment, and the papers we will get at it, we cannot legally bring our daughter home.  So no travel plans can be made until we get the CA.  Until the last month or two, families usually got their CA within a day or two of getting their travel approval.  Tomorrow will be six days for us.  **sigh**

I wish we might have heard something today, but our agency was closed for a planned staff development day.  I'm having a hard time not being totally frustrated with them, too. I feel like they needed to spend today on the phone requesting/begging/bribing the consulate folks to give us an appointment as soon as is humanly possible so I can go get my daughter out of an orphanage already and BRING HER HOME.  

Plus, I need to be able to get something done at work except hit the refresh button on my e-mail and Rumor Queen.

I know I am blessed to even be able to complain about this.  I could still be waiting in the long line.  And I believe wholeheartedly that this delay is a part of God's plans for us... but as usual, I am ready for "someday" to become "tomorrow."  I can't stand the thought of Anna Kathryn growing up without us being with her.  

Speaking of tomorrow, my sister is scheduled to give birth to daughter #3 in the early hours of the morning... please be in prayer that all would go well for mama and baby Allison Hope during the delivery and after.  Hospitals are still difficult for Hillary, and I'm sure there will be many memories of Natalie and lots of emotions that will go along with Alie's arrival.   We cannot wait to meet Alie, our new little joy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Moving at the Speed of Life

Why haven't I been blogging much, despite all of the major happenings in the Kovach household over the past few weeks?  Well, we've been really busy!  Here is a small sampling of what Mark and I have done and have been up to:

  • Celebrated Mark's son Abe's wedding at the SC beach (this was our vacation, too) and welcomed new daughter-in-law, Karen, into the family
  • Celebrated Mark's son Caleb's wedding in the NC mountains (yesterday, in fact!) and welcomed new daughter-in-law, Leslie, into the family
  • Traveled to Florida to visit my parents and grandparents
  • Traveled to Ohio to visit Mark's parents and brother's family (and bring home a crib for Anna Kathryn)
  • Many phone calls with Hillary about Alie's impending arrival
  • Registered for baby stuff
  • Shopped for and selected a day care
  • Gathered our visa paperwork, and mailed numerous documents to our agency!
  • Painted the nursery, ordered and set up crib bedding, clean out closets (sadly-- not done with that part yet!). Mark put the crib together early one morning while I slept in a little-- I'd better enjoy that while it lasts!  We are recycling some of my childhood furniture and a few "pre-owned" and loved items into nursery furniture.
  • Packed up Mark's classroom at his former school and moved him into his new room at another middle school
  • Spent an afternoon at my school-- I needed Mark's help with assembling media carts and hanging new signage in the media center
  • Spent a LOT of time on the phone and on e-mail discussing the good news!!  Also much time has been spent online gathering travel and packing information, and reading more about attachment and bonding.  A little too much time, as always, has been spent on Rumor Queen's site.  
  • Survived a week of teacher workdays (meeting after meeting, mixed with some visiting, and not enough shelving) and prepped for the first day of school-- August 25!
I bet I've forgotten something... but you get the idea!  The time moves so fast, and yet so slowly as we wait.

Friday afternoon at 4:30, as we were driving up for Caleb's wedding rehearsal and dinner, the phone rang just as we got into Boone (and better cell service).  It was the travel coordinator at our agency telling us that we just received our Invitation to Travel from the Chinese government!  Well, we were floored-- I was driving and had to pull over so I could listen and take notes without wrecking the car.   Mark had been snoozing and at first didn't know why I was pulling over.  Much excitement ensued as we headed on to the rehearsal, despite getting totally lost on Beech Mountain.  

We have two possible windows for travel; AWAA is trying to make sure we travel with a group. We could travel September 11-24 (or 25, depending on travel arrangements), provided we can get a consulate appointment (CA) in late September.  The CA is crucial because that gives us Anna Kathryn's travel visa and citizenship papers.  If we can't get a CA in Sept., we will have to wait until mid-October or later to travel.  We are praying hard that we can get a CA for September travel.  (September is very busy, sandwiched between the Olympics this month and the National Holidays and Trade Fair in October.  I've heard that appointments are becoming scarce.)  Obviously, we would rather travel sooner than later!!  Still, we know God has this all planned out-- if it's in his plan for us to be united with AK sooner rather than later, it will happen.  

It's been six weeks exactly since we first saw Anna Kathryn's sweet face.  They have been some of the busiest weeks of my life!  Sometimes I wish things would slow down just a little, so I could catch my breath and really reflect on all the changes in our family right now.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anna Kathryn at 9.5 months

Today we got a long-awaited update on Anna Kathryn BoDi from Ladybugs and Love.  They were able to call the Poyang SWI and get updated measurements, answers to 10 questions, and -- best of all-- new pictures!!

Anna Kathryn can sit up, crawl, and stand up by holding on to something (as seen above).  She likes to eat formula, congee, fruit, and crackers.  (We actually asked what her favorite food was.  I'm not sure if these are truly her faves or if it's just what she eats).  She is still a good sleeper; she only wakes up if there are loud noises, and takes a daily nap around 1:00.  She prefers to lay on her back.  Mark is very very excited that her favorite activities are outdoors.  She has many friends, but no special friend.  Her favorite toys are colorful and make sounds.  Most surprising, she has 2 teeth already!

She weighs 15.4 pounds and is 27.75 inches long.  (She actually weighs less than our cat, Ellie!) I'm excited that she will probably fit into all of her cute 9-month size clothes!!  She looks well nourished and very happy in the pictures.  Angela, the contact person who placed the call to the orphanage, said that they told her she is doing really well.  We are so thankful to hear this, and to see her looking so happy and healthy.  Everything I have read and heard about the Poyang SWI is that the nannies are excellent and the level of care is very good.  The babies are well nourished and loved.  

I just love how they captured two different expressions in the pictures.  Anna Kathryn is so cute, sticking out her tongue and smiling in the top photo, and I just am captivated by the one of her looking up, standing by her walker in that sweet pink dress.   I was also excited to see her in the wicker walker-- I have seen photos of other Poyang babies in those walkers, and have wondered if she was ever put in them.  

It's wonderful and yet so hard to see these pictures... to see how much she has changed in 5 months... to wonder how much more growing up she will do before we travel and are united with her.  I WISH we were leaving now.  I really, really wish that we get our travel approval soon and can start booking flights and packing suitcases.  I look at her sweet face and just long to hold her.