Monday, December 31, 2012

and the saga continues

The morning dawned with low hanging, grey clouds. Rain fell from the sky and the day seemed to get started much slower than previous ones. Similar to the weather, our night also took a turn for the worse as Sage moaned and groaned all through the night. Sleeping hardly more than 10 minutes at a time, she was miserable. A low-grade fever kept spiking and she was covered in sweat. Xian, though fever-free, also boycotted large portions of prime-sleeping time as her nose ran with green gookety-gook. Our plans for the next day fell into place - a trip to yet another hospital.

That's it! The girls are getting tubes put into their ears when we get back to Taiwan. Months of infection and antibiotics are no fun.

By dusk, we were all starting to catch a case of cabin-fever so we decided to head out to the weekend night market. The girls loved it! Rock, hip hop and other tunes rang out from different stalls and Xian kept dancing away. Sage flirted with all passer-bys and enjoyed a few sips from Mom's drink.

Pink sweater shopping

Busy food stalls

Tamarind (I think....)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Phi Phi Island

In the span of a week, the girls have been on planes, a train, cars, vans, and a tuk-tuk. Why not a boat? We were picked up from the hotel early in the morning and headed down to the harbor. Our destination was the Phi Phi group of islands a little over 40 km from Phuket. The girls were great and alternated between taking naps, staring out the window and roaming around the boat. As a mountain girl, Sage proved herself to have quite the pair of sea legs as she shuffled along on the boat. The first stop on this tour was a cove of Phi Phi Leh.

The setting was absolutely stunning though this stop over did not include getting on land. The Sea Angel anchored inside the cove for people to swim. The girls were not ready for deep water so they watched the brightly colored fish surface as people fed them.

We also soaked in the scenery before the boat departed for a short trip to Phi Phi Don.

Lunch was served up and the girls shared a seat to eat (high chairs are not to be found in abundance here). They were a bit cranky from the heat of the day which translated into fussiness and a lower desire to eat. The two of us were starving from baby wrangling and were saved by a group of ladies we had met on the boat ride. The ladies were on vacation from Shanghai and took an interest in the girls. Xian met them by rubbernecking at the sound of Chinese being spoken. Her demeanor changed as her ears perked up to hear the familiar tones.

After lunch, it was time to explore the area and get the girls into some salt water. Xian once dipped her toes into the Taiwanese straight but this was Sage's first time. It seems as if the wide open expanse had her a little scared.

Back on the beach, the girls loved playing in the sand. Xian tried out her writing skills and wall building as Sage sampled the local variety of grit.

Thumbs up for fun in the sand!

More than one helping of sand went down the hatch.

Trying to cover Sage with sand.
In the end, it was time to get back on the boat and return to Phuket. Visions of island beauty remained with us...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Out and about in Phuket

300 baht. 300 baht. 300 baht. A baht is about the same as a Taiwanese New Dollar and 300 of these things are roughly worth $10. This 300 baht seems to be the going rate for getting about anywhere on this island though the cab drivers are willing to begin much higher in negotiations. We went a little bit north of Phuket town to the Butterfly garden. As the taxi drove up a lady appeared with glasses of a nice cool hibiscus-type beverage on this 30+ C day.

The first phase of the exhibit had all sorts of ground dwelling insects in tiny terrariums. Do they really need so little space?

Outside of the insect hall was a fish pond and the air swirled with butterflies. Nets hung from up high to keep the butterflies in and they zoomed a bit everywhere.

Krista and Xian feed the fish

The girls were especially interested in the fish. Maybe the day at the aquarium primed them to look for the sleek bodies in water. Butterflies can be difficult to catch on a photograph. Sage complained about the heat as I lined up to get this little guy. Each time, the wings closed into a resting position just as the shutter winked. Finally, we got a picture of the butterfly.

A special room to towards the back of the butterfly garden was labeled "Breeding Room". The doorway hung with chainlink to allow people to pass through but to keep the butterflies either in the room or out of it.

Inside the breeding room
After our visit, we decided to head into Phuket town for lunch and a wander about.  Ready for the 300 baht line, we encountered a surprise. Most of the tuk-tuks / cabs were already occupied by people visiting the garden. It is common for people to have the driver wait. Fortunately, the baby-card worked its magic and a nice lady at the reception desk called a cab to take us into town (for...300 baht of course).

The Portugese made Phuket one of their stopping points and the Old Town is influenced by their buildings. Only a few streets appear to be kept up and we had an enjoyable walk around before settling in for lunch.

Old Town Corner
Lunch was a little late and we are quickly coming to grips with extra limits put upon our travels by the two wee ones. They were tuckered out and hot. We're members of the Ergo-carrying army and 30 C temperatures makes for hot people. The girls wanted out of the carriers and home for the day. For 300 baht (I'm still not sure how that works: 300 baht got us to the butterfly museum which is north of Phuket and 600 baht was needed to return us), a tuk-tuk gladly provided wheels back to the swimming pool to cool everyone off.

First tuk-tuk ride

Thursday, December 27, 2012

to the Aquarium

The girls are adjusting to life away from home and we decided to head out to the Phuket Aquarium on Christmas day. It's relatively small but captivated the girls.

Would Sage be a good snack?

A bit more hesitant, Xian peers on.

The girls gravitated to the tanks with bright displays and really liked the ones that they could walk up to by themselves.

After being inside, the girls still had a lot of energy so we checked out the small nature trail adjacent to the aquarium. It wound along the ocean's edge though was tucked underneath mangroves and other coastal trees.

Sage is becoming a good little walker and often likes to hold on to someone's hand. We were amazed as to how long she walked on this trail.

In the meantime, Xian becomes more and more adventurous each day as she is now capable of going the direction her little heart desires. 

The ending point of the trail is a turtle hatchery and it was fun to watch the baby turtles frolic in the water.

After all that walking, the girls quickly began to crash. Sage fell fast asleep on Mom's back though Xian managed to keep awake likely knowing that her parents could not resist ice cream back at the aquarium. Her staying up award...a popsicle and she loved it!

Wow! A day of activity in the heat can surely set a couple of girls back. The went to bed early (even for them) but decided to wake up in the middle of the night to raise hell for many hours. Needless to say, the next day was a "nap day" as we hung out and recuperated. 

Christmas Celebrations

While in Phuket we are staying at a small family-run place that is a bit out of the way. While there are other travelers like ourselves, the overwhelming feel of the place is that there is one big family of Thai and westerners hanging out. From a little guy born about the same time as Xian and a couple of little girls who love playing with ours to lots of grandma-types, almost all age ranges are covered. Some people return each year so a holiday vibe was definitely in place. A living tree was decorated as a Christmas tree and the girls had lots of fun playing with the ornaments.

A few pics..
Xian and the tree

Sage with a couple of ornaments

Hey! Why did you drop it?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Journey

The flight from Taipei to Bangkok is only 3.5 hours yet our Taichung-to-Phuket jaunt took nearly 24 hours before we were settled into a hotel. Our flight was a late one in the day so the girls were able to participate in the dress rehearsal for their school's holiday performance of The Nutcracker. The costumes were quite...umm...adorable!

While is was great to see the girls before the rehearsal, our presence did not bode well for their performance - at least Xian's (Sage appeared to be in a drug-induced haze.).

After their show, we boogied back home leaving the girls at school. Bags needed to be packed and the house cleaned - Mamie-O and Ole Far are returning from Thailand with us! We got back to Paradise to fine the school completely quiet for nap time. After letting the girls get a bit more sleep, we snagged them and were off again to begin the journey.

Step 1: Cab ride to the High Speed Rail station.

Step 2: Take the HSR about 1 hour north and transfer to a bus for a short ride to the international airport. Note to travelers: Terminal 1 has been renovated and is now serving many airlines. We almost missed the stop in favor of the typical Terminal 2.

Step 3: Thai Airways is awesome! They spotted us coming in and as we did some last minute bag arrangements, a representative walked over and explained that they would put us in a special seating arrangement so that we could be together. This welcome was quite different from the summer flight to the States. As it turned out, we sat in the middle section of the plane. The section has four seats across so I guess there are enough oxygen masks for the two wee ones. We quickly passed security and were soon finding ways to use up time. Walks...

 Choosing a religion - Xian ran from them all.

Gazing at reflections

Step 4: Air Travel - the girls were quite good!

Step 5: Lay-over hotel in Bangkok. We arrived after midnight and the wake up call was set for 5:30 am.

Step 6: Crazy taxi ride from one Bangkok airport to the other.

Step 7: Air travel to Phuket. No special treatment this time. Just prior to take-off, a flight attendant moves Sage and I away from Krista and Xian.

Step 8: Taxi ride to hotel - yep, the girls are getting tired of transport and so are we.

Step 9: Arrival at hotel. Unfortunately, our room was not ready so we waited, and waited, and waited.

Step 10: Finally! A little relaxation in the pool.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Singing in the car

Practice, practice, practice. Car rides are the best place to get ready for the upcoming Holiday performance at school. Xian keeps the ride entertaining with her daily songs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Silence surrounding antibiotics

We’ve been so thankful that two healthy beautiful little girls spend their quality time with us. This past weekend though, all of that was drawn into question when we realized that our youngest, Sage, wasn’t hearing. We did the normal “try to scare the &*$# out of your daughter”: snap in her ear, play music next to her head, and sneak up on her making noises. None of it did any good-Sagey couldn’t hear us. First, we did what many people would do in this situation - we freaked out. We wracked our heads thinking back to see if there were any signs. Of course there were and yet we justified them, “Sagey is independent,” we would say, “She’s focused on something else,” or even, “She’s ignoring us on purpose.” There were many excuses we used over the past few months to explain why Sage wasn’t responding to us. However, with month 11 drawing nearer and nearer and Sage not acknowledging her name, we realized what Sage has probably known for a long time, she can’t hear. This was followed by long periods of silence, and then long conversations of what ifs, until a game plan was finally decided upon. We’d start at the beginning-a hearing test with a specialist and then move forward from there.

We have been incredibly fortunate to have a close friend whose husband is an ENT. He was available to see us on Sunday to check Sage’s hearing. Our fears were not laid to rest-Sagey’s ears were definitely not working properly. However from there, the good news was that she has a massive middle ear infection-well not one, but both ears are infected. This means that with medication (and a lot of it) her hearing will hopefully be restored. Sagey was put on an aggressive antibiotic with strict orders to take it four times a day for two weeks. Hopeful that all would be well, we returned home.

While giving Sagey the dreaded meds (she detests them) I noticed that we had enough meds for 3 days. Hmmm. . .perhaps there was some sort of miscommunication, I had thought she was supposed to take them for two weeks. I called and was told, yes, she was to take them for two weeks. Confusion really set in at this point. Finally, the dispensing of antibiotics in Taiwan was explained to me. The national insurance company allows you to pick up three days of antibiotics at a time. This means, I will have to return to the pharmacy to refill the antibiotics Sage needs every three days. I will not be provided an entire course at once. This also explains why every time I have been given antibiotics, the doctor reminds me I am supposed to take ALL of them. I thought the girls had been, now I’ve learned otherwise. Our poor darling daughters have had three different prescriptions, and yet have never finished a course because I was unaware of the Taiwanese laws regarding the dispensing of medication.

So, two weeks worth of medication, 5 trips to the pharmacy and hopefully, our daughter will hear again. Lesson learned-if you live in Taiwan the first prescription given is probably just the beginning of a long course and many trips to the doctor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guest Post on O'Sullivans Abroad

Below is a post I wrote at the request of a close friend of mine and fellow expat. Adoption is common among the expat community and is made even more beautiful when there are friends within that community to share your ups and downs with. Allison has been there every step of the way for Frank, myself and the girls. She is also doing her part to help raise awareness of adoption. Allison and her husband are currently living in Nepal. Check out their fabulous blog here.

National Adoption Month {Guest post!}

Before November is through, I wanted to recognize National Adoption Month.  When I was young, my mom worked for an international adoption agency for the China department.  Since then, hearing stories of families working so hard to adopt babies who so desperately needed a home, I have had great respect for families who come together through adoption.  A number of our good friends have adopted children internationally as expats and I asked one of them to write about their experience.  Krista and her husband Frank have 2 beautiful girls; they have been blogging about all the great activities and ways they are honoring National Adoption Month over here.  Enjoy! 

My husband and I are international educators living in Taiwan. When asked to write this guest post from a former coworker and current amazing friend, I was beyond honored. November is a special month in the McGowan household; it’s a time when we honor adoption, our two beautiful girls, and the amazing natural families who made our dream come true. Adoption for us wasn’t out of necessity, it was a choice we made, my husband and I--together. This choice came with it’s ups and downs, as all choices do. 

Our story is perhaps a bit different from many adoption stories in that we wanted a private adoption in a foreign country. Navigating through the legal hurdles and obstacles was mind numbing. We finally discovered all we had to do was get a baby, then deal with the legal stuff later. Easy right? Well, that’s where things became difficult. I’ve written about some of the bumps and bruises we experienced along with way on our blog Taichung Teachers

Adopting in a foreign country is not for the faint of heart. We were 100% dependent on local friends, translators and hope that everything was going smoothly. We spent thousands of dollars translating documents into Chinese and then Chinese documents into English. As court dates drew nearer, we were met with list after list of new documents needed by the Taiwanese courts. These documents were not always accessible. For instance in Taiwan, all nationals are registered to a household and our adoptive girls needed to be registered as well. The problem was, we aren’t Taiwanese nationals and therefore could not have anyone registered to us. The solution by the Taiwanese officials, “just have a friend register the girls under them.” The courts also required we show them our US household registration-which of course we don’t have because there are no household registration cards in the US. This idea was completely foreign to the courts and caused us quite a bit of stress as initially, they were unwilling to bend.

All of these things were problematic, but would have been accepted more positively had all our friends who have adopted gone through the same process. The problem is, every single case required different paperwork. It was as if the judge pulled out of a hat which paper she needed on any given day. 

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, we thought we would finalize our adoptions at home in the good ole U-S-A. We found a lawyer to deal with the re-adoption end and then the search was on to find a lawyer to help us with the citizenship end of things. This is where we hit a wall. Being expats with no desire to head home any time soon, we fall into a grey area. If we wait two years, no problem. If we want it done immediately, major problem. We have to start from scratch with a US home visit and go forward from there. 

Adopting abroad has been difficult at times, but worth the struggle. Adopting has been the single best thing I have ever done in my life. However, I’ve found there are little to no resources available for our type of situation (one that I am planning on rectifying as soon as possible). Adopting abroad has expanded my world view beyond what I expected was possible. I now see immigration differently and have been frustrated with my government’s lack of acknowledgement of my children. 

With that said, I have found that the greater adoption community is beyond supportive and our friends have stood by us throughout the whole process. At the end of all this struggle, we have been blessed with two darling little girls. Due to the way we did our adoptions, we walked out of the hospital with our girls being 1 day old and 2 days old. This probably wouldn’t have happened for us back home. 

We have a rainbow family and one we are incredibly proud of and honored that we were chosen to raise these little monkeys. I don’t refer to myself as an adoptive mother, or my children as adopted children-we are a family built on love. Every night my husband and I read the girls a story, tuck them into beds and kiss them goodnight-just like every other family. Every morning we are greeted with peels of laughter and monster hugs. Whatever difficulties we have experienced become quickly melted away when our little girls look at us and give us big ole cheesy grins. At the end of the day, we are parents, they are our children and we are a family.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Whirlwind of Activity Part II-Saturday #3

After leaving the amusement park, we headed down the mountain a bit to the town, Puli to meet Sage’s natural family. Our meeting point was McDonalds and they quickly arrived out front with Mama Wang, Baba Wang, Grandma, Grandpa, brother and sister. The look of pure joy was evidenced on their faces and without thinking, I handed Sage through the window of their car and headed back to the Freeca to follow them to our lunch spot. The shrills of Sage’s unhappy abandonment could be heard as we walked away, but upon realizing my mistake, there was little I could to do fix it.
Sage & the youngest Wang
Xian with the youngest son
At the restaurant, we were treated to an amazing meal of chicken leg, pickled cauliflower and soup. Xian was jazzed to be able to practice walking while Sage was still a wee bit upset about the car situation. As time went by, more and more family arrived-we met Great Aunties and second cousins. Sage had jungle gym time on her sister.
Three generations
The girls had a fabulous time and again we were reminded how fortunate we are. Sage’s natural family made a tough choice but they also realize the importance of maintaining a relationship with her. It was obvious that brother and sister missed their mei mei and loved her dearly. Xian was embraced as one of their own. Even with the language barrier, the feeling of love was overwhelming.

Mama & Baba Wang w/ Sage
A pileup!

As the visit came to a close, the entire family walked us to the car, waved farewell and we were off. . .to our next adventure.

A Whirlwind of Activity Part I--Saturday #3

Family Saturday #3 proved to be an insanely crazy love filled day and one that will be broken into three posts. We began our day by heading up to Sun Moon Lake in the attempt to learn more about Sage’s cultural heritage at the Formosan Aboriginal Museum. Upon arriving at the Aboriginal Museum Amusement Park, the rains began and didn't stop the entire time we were there. The Aboriginal Museum was tucked deep inside of an enormous amusement park, complete with a gondola overlooking the famous Sun Moon Lake. We made a quick inventory of all the places we wanted to visit in our two hour window; deciding on a gondola ride, a tour through traditional housing structures and finally, a walk through the museum. We learned very little about Sage’s tribe specifically as it was not one of the previously recognized 12 major tribes of Taiwan, but we did enjoy our two hours in the rain.

                                               Traditional Atayal living structure
                                          The fish were enjoying the rain as well
Sun Moon Lake-view from above

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Stop @ One? Saturday #4

Why stop at adding one holiday tradition, when you can add two? This is the final Saturday of National Adoption Awareness Month and will be the first of many years where we honor our baby girls’ natural parents and families. One of the most awesome parts of adoption for us (aside from our beautiful babes of course) has been the opportunity to extend our family. Xian has a fabulous natural mother while Sage has 5 terrific brothers and sisters, plus a caring extended family. 

This holiday season would not be the same if not for the decisions made by these amazing people. So, we will be starting a new McGowan holiday tradition--Christmas for the other "rents". We went shopping on Thanksgiving and bought Sage’s siblings gifts while today was spent crafting.

These fabulous explosion boxes I’ve been DYING to make for quite some time and finally had a reason to make them. Now I don’t want to give everything away, so I’m only posting the work in progress-I think you’ll get the idea. They are quick, easy and I’m hoping, a great gift.

Also the girls, Frank and myself enjoyed a bit of baking while we crafted. We tried our hands at salt dough ornaments. Xian experimented with tasting the dough and quickly decided it wasn’t for her; Sage thought the dough was great fun as she attempted to grab handful after handful. At the end, the kitchen was a mess with flour from floor to ceiling, but our task was accomplished. We cannot wait to get them finished, painted, and mailed off.  

Taking time out of the holiday season to remember Sage’s and Xian’s other families is important to us and we feel it will be important to the girls as they grow older. The natural families’ relationship with the girls did not end once they were placed in our arms and we are grateful for that. Instead, our little girls have more people to love them and care about them than they would have if they had not been placed. We feel fortunate and are happy that our wee ones are surrounded by love.

Just a Reminder

With December right around the corner, National Adoption Awareness Month will soon be coming to a close. I’m reposting the list of ways we would like to honor adoption this month for a few reasons.
  1. I’m behind on my posts-I have A LOT to catch up on and need the reminder
  2. We have learned a tremendous amount this month regarding adoption. We’ve networked, completed a service learning project, made new family traditions and researched our children’s heritage-it’s good to recognize what has been done.
  3. Remind you all what this month is about-honoring those touched by adoption and with this last week, perhaps you will want to do something to raise awareness as well.

So, here is the list we made at the beginning of November. We’ve learned that some of these things will not happen and yet, we’ve added items we didn’t think of before. An updated list will be published at the end of the month.

  • share history of national adoption month
  • November Saturday family days (4 days)
    • Saturday #1
    • Saturday #2
    • Saturday #3
    • Saturday #4
  • commit to sponsor a child for 12 days of giving
  • Pre adoption--bumps and bruises along the way-preparation
  • celebrate Xian’s cultural heritage
  • celebrate Sage’s cultural heritage (find out which tribe she is from)
  • celebrate with family scrap time (photos will be put into albums!)
  • share Xian’s adoption story
  • share Sage’s adoption story
  • learn and share info about appropriate adoption language
  • get family photos taken
  • file re-adoption paperwork
  • file citizenship paperwork
  • share children’s lit focusing on adoption
  • request letters from family members to the girls for their “got ya” books
  • Why not adopt?
  • create a new McGowan family tradition that celebrates family
  • a special way to thank our adoption angel
  • share valuable international adoption links
  • celebrate National Adoption Day with our students
  • light a candle for our girls’ birth parents
  • honor those adopted and seeking adoption
  • paper dolls for those in orphanages seeking homes in Taiwan--raise awareness
  • struggles with adoption and societal views
  • employee benefits
  • Send thank you to birth families-picture of candle
  • Hopes and Dreams for the wee ones

Friday, November 23, 2012

A New Holiday Tradition

Slowly, slowly, I will be attempting to catch up on the posts I’ve fallen behind on. However, today is not about catching up, it’s about enjoying where we are right now. Today was a rare, rainy Black Friday in Taichung. Our youngest graced us with her typical 4 am wake up but spent the next few hours surprisingly quiet and went back down for a nap at 5:30. Frank and I enjoyed an almost extinct private morning complete with an extra two strong black cups of coffee. Being parents to these energetic babies at times is trying; however, this morning we enjoyed each little girl as well as some quiet adult time.

After breakfast, the girls blessed us again with peace and quiet as they decided to nap at the same time. Rather than sitting around idly, we kept ourselves busy with what we hope to be will be our new McGowan family tradition. Being teachers, we almost always travel over Holiday break. This means our girls will never experience a traditional Christmas like Frank and I both had growing up. Determined that we will establish a strong home culture that closely mirrors our American culture, Frank and I decided we would bring a bit of Christmas with us on our travels. Now, I know it is only the day after Thanksgiving, but Christmas has begun to arrive in the McGowan house! 

We made a flannel Christmas tree out of the girls’ old receiving blankets. Every year, each girl will make a felt ornament to add to our tree. Since the tree can be folded and packed up, it will come with us on our holiday adventures to adorn the walls of our hotel rooms.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Adoption Story - The Raineys

The following adoption story is one of a former coworker who is very dear to me, Scott Rainey.  The Rainey family’s story is incredibly moving as they adopted three sisters who were previously in foster care. A special thanks to the Raineys for sharing their story with us.

I have often been told that God answers all prayers, but in only three ways:  yes, no, and, sometimes, most distressingly to our limited, impatient minds - wait.  It is in this third way that my wife Katrina and I have most clearly seen Jesus at work in our lives – the times when it seems He is not there, are, in reality, the times when He is closest to us.
Upon realizing that having children biologically was apparently out of the question for us, we turned to the idea of adoption.  We first explored adopting from the Marshall Islands, a small, poor nation in the South Pacific.  We prepared ourselves emotionally and practically for our new child – setting up a nursery, reading up on how to care for a baby, alerting our families that a new addition was on the way.  Katrina’s friends even threw her a baby shower.
Finally, the baby we were arranged to adopt was born, and we got as far as giving the adoption agency her name for the birth certificate when the adoption fell through.  Shortly thereafter, all international adoptions from the Marshall Islands were halted, owing to shady practices by some adoption agencies.  Shocked and saddened by the loss, we turned to God, and looked for answers.
After a short time, we redirected our energies towards adopting a child from Ukraine.  After several months and endless miles of bureaucratic red tape, we found ourselves in an eerily similar situation:  all international adoptions from Ukraine had been shut down, owing to a scandal within the adoption ministry in Kiev.  With this avenue closed as well, we again sought solace from the Lord.  
Several weeks later, we were contacted by a friend who was a pastor.  He introduced us to a woman who had become pregnant in an unfortunate situation, and wanted a Christian couple to adopt the baby.  Shortly afterward, our lawyer introduced us to a woman in a similar situation.  Within weeks, I myself was contacted by a young woman who’d been a student in the youth group at my old church.  Now 26 and unhappily married, she told me she was pregnant with her sixth child, and wanted to know if we would consider adopting the baby.
All of these situations fell through.  Our despair deepened, as it seemed we would never get any children.  We began to ask ourselves, what if God really doesn’t want us to have kids?  It was a valid question – after all, we had now experienced five failed adoption attempts in a little over 2 ½ years.  Our nursery gathered dust; bottles of Enfamil began to expire with age.  
Our attention turned to the foster care system, and older children awaiting adoption.  We sent in countless inquiries on older children, from all across the nation.  We inquired about children of all races and backgrounds, desperately hoping to find our kids.  Weeks dragged into months.  Every inquiry became a dead end.
March, 2005.  Katrina and I had made a nightly ritual of looking at the countless faces of children in foster care, awaiting homes.  A photo of three small girls – two redheads and a blonde – flashed across Katrina’s screen.  Meet Emily, Nikki and Kayla! the first line of the profile read.  The three sisters, 10, 8 and 5, had just become available for adoption that day.  We sent in an inquiry.  Their social worker responded the next morning, asking for our paperwork.  We sent it via overnight mail.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” I cautioned Katrina.
“But these girls are different,” she offered.
We were told two weeks later that we were among some 40 families who met the basic requirements to adopt the girls, and that we would be hearing more shortly should we advance in the screening process.
Through April, May, and June, we passed hurdle after hurdle, until it came down to us and one other family.  We took part in a conference call with several social workers, and were told we’d know the next day what their selection was.
Less than an hour later, the phone rang.  The only words I remember the social worker saying are “… and we would like you to consider becoming Emily, Nikki, and Kayla’s parents.”
Three weeks later, we nervously entered a meeting room at a small church in western Colorado, and discovered the truth of the previous three and a half years:  Jesus had never abandoned us.  To the contrary, He had led us through the desert for all those months, holding the two of us close by His side the entire way, telling us wait, wait, wait…  and now, I saw before me what we had been waiting for:  the most beautiful little girls in the world.  Our girls.

The girls - 2012

Adoption Day 2006