Monday, September 28, 2009

A great time

Sunday after church we headed up to Great Salt Plains again. This time, we were meeting a family from Kansas who have four children — two of whom they adopted from China. We had "met" them before on blogs and various message boards, but this was the first time we met them in person.

Gayly brought the clan down from their home near Dodge City to check out the fun things at Salt Plains, including crystal digging (which we did earlier this year) and the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, her husband, Shawn, couldn't make it, but it was great to finally meet those we could!

Their latest addition, son Nate, is from Shaanxi Province, but is from a different orphanage than Jake. He is 5 days older than Jake, and he's a cute little guy. Their daughter Abigayl is from Hunan and is a doll. Their other two kids, Lenna and Eli, are precious, too.

We had a great time just taking it easy and enjoying their company. Hopefully, we will be able to get together with them again.

Our Shaanxi princes

Jake flying

Climbing the steps to the top of the dam at Salt Plains

Looking at the lake

Hopping like a bunny

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Season of sadness and happiness

I love this time of year, and there are so many reasons to look forward to fall now with Jake home. There's his gotcha day and birthday coming up, and then there's our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, cooler weather ...
But there's also time, as in every season, for sadness, and I am feeling it now, as my dad died two years ago today.
He never got to see his grandchild, and that I regret for my son. So many things in his young life to miss, but kids are resilient, and they teach us adults to live in the present, for which we receive so many blessings every day.
Monday would have been my Dad's 72nd birthday, and it also is the day our agency will receive our final paperwork regarding our adoption — a joy for us and another bittersweet ending. We are so glad our adoption obligations are over, but we never will forget the journey that led us to our dream a half a world away.
In this season of sadness and happiness, I'm going to work harder at focusing on the blessings God has given us, but I will remember those things that are sad, for they are close to my heart, and my memories truly are God's blessings as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wow, government sure moved fast

On Thursday, Sept. 10, we took Jake for his 6-month checkup on his cleft surgery. All is going well, but he may need more surgery in the spring. We will know more later.

Then, we went to the Oklahoma Department of Health to get him an Oklahoma Certificate of Foreign Birth. We didn't need to do this, but it will make it easier come school time if everyone has a copy of an Oklahoma certificate, as opposed to the Chinese documents we have.

After a long, sometimes frustrating time dealing with the bureaucracy, we finally got in to see the woman we needed to see. We had been prepared ahead of time when she told us there would be a 72-hour time period during which they researched things before they could process our request. Then, it would take 2-3 weeks before we received the certificate.

Well, on Saturday, I went out to get the mail and there was a letter from the Oklahoma Department of Health. Uh oh, what was wrong? What more documentation did they need? I opened it up wondering what was up and was I surprised. It was Jake's Oklahoma Certificate of Foreign Birth - only 48 hours later and not the 2-3 weeks we were told to expect. Absolutely amazing!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cowboy Jake

This past week we celebrated Cherokee Strip Days. It's the annual celebration of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893, which settled the area.
For those unfamiliar with Oklahoma history, much of the state was settled by land runs, and the Cherokee Strip Land Run was the biggest of them all. How it happened was like this: The government bought the land of what actually was the Cherokee Outlet, but more commonly called the Cherokee Strip, from the Cherokee tribe. Then, they marked off 160-acre plots of land, as well as town sites and individual town lots. Then, on Sept. 16, 1893, everyone who was participating (and it was open to anyone) lined up on the border of the Cherokee Outlet, which encompassed most of what is now north central and northwest Oklahoma. At noon, a gun was fired and everyone raced by whatever means to stake their claims on the land of their choice. Some people ran. Some rode horses. Some rode on trains and jumped off when they got to the spot they wanted. All the towns in the area sprang up overnight. If you have seen the movie "Far and Away" starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, the Cherokee Strip Land Run was portrayed at the end of the film.

OK, enough history. They had a parade in town Saturday so we went to enjoy the fun.

Beforehand, Jake had to pose in his cowboy duds (that's clothes to you city folk. LOL). Thanks to our friend Marla for the stuffed horse and the nice western belt.

Then it was off to the parade.

Two happy parade watchers.

A clown came by and gave Jake a sticker.

Sometimes a cowboy just has to hitch up his britches.

Jake took this picture. We thought he showed good composition skills.

Watching the stage coach go by.

Look what's coming now!

Wow, a whole herd of longhorn steers. (These animals obviously have the parade routine down. They didn't let anything bug them. They just walked on down the street.)

After the parade, it was time to hop on Lightning and ride off into the sunset.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Court appearance, home study and an ear infection

On Aug. 31, Jacob became officially ours in the eyes of the state when District Judge Barefoot signed our petition for readoption. Jake was ours in our hearts from the moment we saw him and he has been legally ours since our adoption day nearly one year ago. It was a formality we are hoping will make our lives easier, as we can now file for an Oklahoma birth certificate for Jake that the schools and other agencies will more readily accept.
Today we had our last home study with our social worker, our 12-month report. We will miss her, as all of those who have played such important roles in our lives since this journey began.
Each of our friends, from our agency workers to our coworkers and the doctors to the therapists, have been such a support throughout our adoption process. Thank you all.
We were so glad Jake's minor cold was in latter August, as he would be well again for his 6-month followup with his cleft doctor. The last checkup (the 2-month) found him with a cold. It is hard to determine progress when your nose is stuffed. However, a clean bill of health was not to be. He got over his cold only to develop a worse one, and we found out today he has a minor ear infection.
He hasn't felt the best today, but he's doing OK, and still has had a smile on his face most of the day.
Here are two photos from adoption day:

Like father, like son -- Jake and Daddy wait for the judge

Our family portrait with Judge Barefoot