Friday, September 30, 2005

Updates, Consulate Appointments, Possible Travel Plans!!!!

Hooray, says Kate! What a day it's been! We received our U.S. Consulate appointment for November 3rd, which means we'll probably leave the States on or around October 20th. Boy (or girl!), have we got a lot to do.

As if that wasn't enough, look at the update we came home to!

These pictures are from MONDAY!!! She was 15 months and 1 day old. Here are her vital stats:

Height: 28.74 inches
Weight: 18.74 pounds
She's sleeping in a crib next to her foster parents' bed. She is standing, walking, speaking and imitating words. She has eight teeth and, in this lucky mama's estimation, a variation of the mohawk!!!

It's so nice to see her without 15 layers of clothing. Looks like the 12 month clothing we have packed for her will do just fine. We can't believe how much we can miss someone we have never truly met. Our hearts are bursting!


Scott & Melissa
aka, The Lucky Ones

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Miss Kate-the-Great HaiYang Braun!

(Such a big name for such a little girl. I have no doubt that you'll be able to live up to every syllable of it!) We love you, we miss you (and yes, we realize you can't read this, but we need to write it anyway), we hope you are having the best of days with your first family, and we pray that we will be spending your 16-month birthday with you. More than anything, we wish you laughter, silly moments, and gentle hugs from those who have blessed our lives by blessing you.

Make sure to scroll down to see pictures of Guilin!

And now, for our updates:

  • We are waiting on our Travel Approval (which is all contingent on the U.S. Consulate's datebook).
  • We are waiting to see if we will be allowed to travel to Kate's city of Guilin before her adoption in the capital city of Nanning.
  • We are waiting to find out our travel itinerary. We can expect anywhere from one to three weeks notice. We do know that the very earliest we might travel is October 22nd.
  • We are waiting to find out if we will get updated pictures and medical reports.
  • We are waiting for our travel agency to process our visas.
  • We are waiting.... You get the drift. Luckily, this is something we've gotten VERY used to doing.

Progress made:

  • We have chosen a pediatrician, who looked at Kate's medical history (what we have anyway) and has said that she looks great. She's definitely on the small side, but proportionate. She has low iron in her blood, but this is not unusual in these situations.
  • Melissa has arranged to take a leave of absence through the Family and Medical Leave Act. She is taking 60 work days off, plus also gets any of the holidays already scheduled for the school system. She LOVES her students, but you know what they say: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." They also will have a great substitute teacher who is already preparing for her 3 months of teenage fun.
  • Melissa has made arrangements for daycare when she has to return to work. She is seriously considering smuggling her child into work and then, when people ask about the baby, just giving them the deadpan look and saying "Baby? What baby?"
  • Kate's room is almost done. We will post pics when it is. An artist friend of ours, Bobby, whom Scott works with is painting a mural on Kate's wall. Once we found out that her Chinese name means "Ocean," we knew we had to honor that somehow. We still want to keep the girly pink and green, so Bobby is going to paint a little ocean / surf mural on part of the wall. In fact, it will look something like this, over a pink wall:

  • Our house is almost entirely repaired at this point. For those of you who don't know about our fiascos, let us just tell you: new plumbing, a/c, redoing the ceiling and part of the walls in one room, gutting and redoing one entire bathroom -- these all make for stressful -- not to mention expensive -- times when what we really want to be doing is getting ready for our little one. Ah, the joys of home ownership.
  • Scott's parents have agreed to stay at our house to take care of the dogs for part of the time while we're gone. If we are gone from November 7 - 13th, we're going to see who else we can get to stay with them. Keeping them in a kennel is expensive and we also think that it wouldn't make for the happiest reunion when they're meeting our little Ocean Girl.
  • We are busy obtaining the prescriptions we need for our travels and hoping to get a flu shot before we leave.
  • Melissa has written and rewritten packing lists for us. As we are going Carry-On Only, this is an art! (It also gives her something to do when she's stressing out, tired and needing to do something related to Kate.) We truly believe that we don't need to bring much, that they have laundry services there, and most of what we can buy here, we can buy there (only a heck of a lot cheaper).

As we continue to wait, and as Kate continues to grow in our absence, please keep her in your thoughts / prayers. She has a big adjustment ahead of her and we're sure she will handle it well, but the truth is that she will have some grieving to do. Children shouldn't have to experience these kinds of losses and changes, but as these changes are ultimately good, we just pray that we'll be able to provide her with a safe, loving environment in which she can adjust at her own pace -- whatever that pace may be.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures of Guilin (Kate's city):

ABOVE: Sunrise on the Li River in Guilin City. The rock formations are the Karst mountains.

BELOW: A panoramic view of the small city of Guilin, with Karst mountains in the back.

BELOW: Pictures from Guilin Social Welfare Institute, where Kate spent her first 9 months. (This is also where Melissa believes -- for no known reason -- that Kate HaiYang's foster mother works.) The Guilin SWI is considered excellent, thanks in large part to Half the Sky Foundation ( who trains nannies, teachers, foster parents; who funds special projects such as playrooms or classrooms; who provides for basic needs so that the children can be healthy, etc. We are incredibly grateful that Kate is from here! Clockwise from left: Guilin SWI exterior; teaching /playing time; crib room; play area.

And finally, we bid you farewell for now, with a toast of snake wine, a tempting taste treat from Guilin City. We wonder if it goes better with fish, chicken or beef. I guess we'll find out soon!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Kate's Care Package

What fun we had today, as we assembled Kate's first care package! Our agency told us we had to limit our package to a regular-sized shoe box and we crammed it full!

Above: Kate's care package, empty
Her chinese name, HaiYang, is spelled out in ladybug stickers!
Above her name is the phrase "We love you."
Below her name it says "Hugs and Kisses, My Angel."

Here's what we included:
~Soft photo album with family pics
~Musical nursery-rhyme fun toy (after I took it away from Papa)
~Pink blanket I've been sleeping with for a few weeks
~Rattle with a plush puppy on one end
~Lipstick and Clinique lotion for foster mother
~Hershey kisses (popular item to send, I've heard) for foster mother
~2 disposable cameras we hope will be used to take pics of Kate-the-Great
~A long list of questions we're hoping the orphanage director / foster family will be kind enough to answer
A special xie xie ni to Kristen Hu, our translator, a former student and current friend of Melissa's, who is here from China to study (and hopefully to stay)!
Who says it doesn't pay to have big feet?!!

The first two pages of Kate's soft picture book. The center note, which you can't really make out clearly, has the chinese character and English word "Family."


Thank you, everyone, for your sweet comments and congratulations. We didn't think we could be any happier until we get our daughter, but your thoughtfulness proved us wrong. Sharing this joy increases it tenfold.

Xie Xie! (Thank you!)

~The Lucky Ones

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Two More Pictures!

Each of these pictures, as well as the original pic in Saturday's post, was taken on March 31, 2005 when Kate was just over 9 months old. I can't wait to see what she looks like now. I also can't wait to peel all those layers of clothing off and put her in something cute and comfy! Just wait 'til Grandma and Mama get a hold of this child.... :-)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Meet Kate-the-Great!

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
~ "Blackbird," John Lennon

With unparalleled joy, humility and gratitude for all that has brought us to this moment, we introduce you to
Kathleen (Kate) Hai Yang ("Ocean") Braun.

Birthdate: June 25, 2004
Province: Guangxi (City of Guilin)
In foster care since March, 2005.

She loves playing with toys, rattles, anything that makes noise. She is described as active, lively, independent. She loves crackers, to play with her foster parents, and to tear paper.

How have we lived this long without her? I can't even imagine!

More later, this lucky mama and lucky papa have phone calls to make. We love you all for thinking of us and supporting us.

Tomorrow Should Be the Big Day!

Just a quick update: Our agency received the huge envelope filled with our babies information this morning. They will spend today confirming information and translating it, as well. At 11am tomorrow (9 o'clock their time), the phone calls will begin. I'll post her beautiful face and vital stats as soon as I get them.

Thanks for your continued prayers and love. We are so lucky to be getting Kate and so lucky to have people like you in our lives.

~~Melissa & Scott (aka, The Lucky Ones)

PS: If you haven't particpated in the "Join the Guessing Game" post, scroll down and give it a shot!