Friday, February 29, 2008

Better and Better!!

I missed writing last night. Things went very smoothly yesterday morning. We met everyone at the US embassy at 8:00, were called to the window around 8:45, and about 30 minutes later we had Olivia's passport with visa. She is now an American citizen when we arrive in Dallas!!!

Since we finished so early, we went straight back to our hotel and arranged our car and driver to pick us up at 12:00. We had a little time to kill since we had packed the night before, so we hired a tuk-tuk to take us around for about an hour. Olivia hated our hotel room at the Amari, so we tried to stay out of there as much as possible! The drive to Hua Hin was uneventful but pleasant. We enjoyed the scenery, and Olivia slept a great deal of the drive. When she wasn't sleeping, she was actually playing with some of her toys.

When we arrived at the resort, we settled in and headed down to the beach and pool pretty quickly. I must say it didn't go so well though. She wanted to stand up in the sand and put her feet in the water, but the minute the waves came up (just to her ankles!) she decided it wasn't for her! She cried a great deal of the time we were walking around on the beach, unless we were looking at the horses. She LOVES animals- except barking dogs. The pool didn't go much better. We went to a Thai place for dinner and that didn't go so well. We got our ice cream to go, so you can imagine. She also cried herself to sleep when we got back to the hotel. I'm not sure I have mentioned, but she does sleep well at night. She sleeps with us, usually wakes up twice for a drink of water, and goes right back to sleep.

Unfortunately, today started off about the same as last night. Breakfast, although the food was wonderful, consisted of Brian and me taking turns eating. I grabbed a danish on my way back to the room, so again I'm sure you get the picture! We spent the morning in the room, and Olivia fell asleep while I was holding her. When she woke up, she seemed to be a different child. We played in the room before lunch and she had a great time. Then, when we went to Burger King, she had so much fun. Afterwards, we walked around with her in the stroller and she loved that. By the way, we had not tried putting her in the stroller since the first day we met her, which was a disaster, so I put Bunny (her Build A Bear rabbit) in the stroller and pushed her around the room. After she saw Bunny could do it, she was ready for her turn! She practically threw Bunny out so she could get in! I think you will be able to see how much more relaxed she is in the pictures. She really had a great day today- other than this morning!

Anyway, about 4:00 we decided to try the pool again. We were hoping she would take a nap after we had lunch and shopped, but she wasn't interested in that and just wanted to play. (Some of the pictures are from that period of time.) So, at 4:00 she and Brian changed into their swimsuits and we went down. We were really trying to ease her into it, and she was doing really well until she jumped in! Brian was already in and she was standing on the second step. I was standing right next to her- touching her almost the whole time- practically on top of her. They were throwing this ball back and forth, and when it didn't come right to her, she decided to jump on in after it! Of course, everything turned south for a few minutes after that. We almost gave up and headed back to the room, but it wasn't long before she was over it, and although she didn't want to get back in the water, she did sit on the side for awhile and walked all around the pool. She also lay down on a lounger for a few minutes and let some man take her picture. She was totally relaxed and happy by the time we went back up to get ready for dinner.

Dinner went great. She loved her spaghetti, so we are glad she is starting to eat better for us. She was so happy, and all of a sudden she asked for her little pillow, put it on the table, and fell asleep!

So that's what has been going on the last two days. Overall, things are definitely getting better, but it's not smooth sailing yet! I'm praying for a good day tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. It is just wonderful to see her loosening up! I have the internet in the room for 24 hours, so I should be able to write again tomorrow evening, and then Sunday night we'll be back at the Amari in Bangkok.

I hope everyone has a good weekend!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For!!

Today has been a great but long day. We started off by getting up at 6:30 to get the 3 of us ready, eat breakfast, and meet everyone at 8:15 to go to the Thai board meeting. This was the day to dress up and hear the words "you can keep her"! The board consisted of about 4 people, and they were very friendly and easy to converse with. We were in there around 5-10 minutes, signed the paperwork, and we were finished. There were other families with other agencies and from other countries, so we visited with some of them. We noticed one family was adopting an older child with behaviors similar to Ians. Brian began visiting with them and the boy was in fact blind, non-verbal, etc. They were from the UK.

When we finished there, the van dropped Brian, Olivia, myself, and our worker (Mo) off at USCIS to file our I600. We were there a long time, and I started getting a little nervous. They were looking for a paper we didn't have, and people were making phone calls to track down this paper and confirm that Olivia was an orphan. Anyway, after waiting about 1 1/2 hours, they called us in and we were approved. What a relief! We immediately ran across the street to try to get our meeting for tomorrow scheduled. The office closed at 3:00, and we got there around 2:30. This means that tomorrow we will be able to join the other families at the US embassy for the next step of the visa process, which is one last interview. (For those reading this who are in the process, it is not typical that you file your I600 in Bangkok. You usually do it in the states and have the approval before you leave to come to Thailand. Ours just didn't work that way, and I just don't want to cause you any confusion.)

So, tomorrow we meet everyone again at 8:00 to go to the embassy. We will then get Olivia's visa either tomorrow afternoon or Monday. I think when that's done, we're set! We also are planning to leave tomorrow evening to go to Hua Hin, which is a few hours drive. Brian arranged for a car and driver this afternoon, so we will leave as soon as we finish at the embassy. We will be at Hua Hin (a beach resort) until Sunday, and then Monday pick up our visa if we don't have it already. Because we couldn't get a good flight schedule on Tuesday, we won't be leaving until Wed. I can't believe I'm already mentioning that word. The time is going by quickly! Brian is packing for our trip tomorrow right now.

As far as Olivia's transition goes, we got our first smile today! It came as we were on the bridge crossing a major street from one gov building to the other. She even let out a little laugh! Brian was the one holding her when she did it, so it made his day! He said he will never forget it and neither will I. I said "be careful what you wish for" because I was really wanting Olivia to bond with Brian and let him carry her, care for her, etc. And, this morning she was all his! I thought I was going to have to jerk her out of his arms! Well, I did finally get my turn again this afternoon! Of course, I am so glad she will come to both of us!

I guess that's it for tonight. I've got to run across the street to the store and pick up some things for our road trip tomorrow. I'm not sure what our internet situation will be in Hua Hin, so I'm not certain we will have an opportunity to write. We'll just have to see when we get there. When we return to Bangkok on Sunday, we'll be back here at the Amari Hotel, so we'll definitely have service that night. I'll try to write while we're gone though too.

Hope everyone is doing well.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The First Day of Forever!!!

Today was a bitter-sweet day for sure! The hand off went okay. Olivia stopped crying long enough to get the group picture taken anyway. (It has been great having Tracy and Hirally's families here too.) After we got her this morning (which was a bit teary for everyone), we went up to the room for awhile and tried to play with some toys. She was somewhat interested and then fell asleep. When she woke up, we went to the mall. That went great actually. She even let Brian carry her around in the pack and fell asleep again. She is now letting him hold her and carry her but doesn't want me out of her sight. Right now she is standing next to me with her bottle and pillow, which she loves. Not clinging and crying is a big step! A big concern right now is her eating- she isn't. She did drink a yogurt and 1 1/2 pretzels. That's it though. Hopefully, she'll eat tomorrow. We looked for some Pediasure across the street from the hotel but only found it in the powder. Don't they make it premixed in the cans?

Tomorrow we meet everyone at 8:15 to go in front of the Thai board, and then since we were unable to file one of our documents before we left the US, we will go to a section of the US embassy after that. We're free for the day when we finish. We may go to the palace and river in the afternoon. Olivia seems to do better when we're out of the room and on the move. I prefer that myself!

We are really enjoying being in Bangkok. It is busier than I remembered and busier than Kuala Lumpur. I must say the whole feel of the city is different than KL. I think it's primarily because of the Muslim influence. It just seems morals are higher there.

I am adding a couple of pictures, and hopefully as she adjusts, we'll have more to post. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to receive encouragement from those of you who have written. This is a wonderful experience but definitely not stress free!!

'Til tomorrow!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Whaaaaah: A Few More Tears, But It's Getting Better

Thanks to everyone who has responded to our blog. We are enjoying reading your responses.

Today was somewhat smoother. We met the babies at 10:30 this morning, and Olivia walked in holding her worker's hand. She was not crying at the time, but she had a little tear so I know she had been. About 30 seconds after she saw us she did start crying. We took her outside and it subsided a bit. We all got in the van, and headed to the shopping center for lunch. She at a little bit, and we had just had breakfast so we didn't eat. She cried off and on during this time. When we finished lunch, we were free to shop and walk around. A social worker went with each family. We bought Olivia some white sandals, and she cried the entire time she was trying them on. However, she eventually stopped as we toured the toy section! The worker stood back out of sight, and that seemed to make a big difference. After shopping, we returned to the hotel for a little while and stayed in the room. Olivia did stand up by herself- she's usually all over me- and let Brian help her push buttons on her book. When we left the room, she walked holding my hand. So, I think we made a little progress today- not a lot but a little. I expect things to improve when we get her for good tomorrow. The children will be telling their foster families good-bye for the last time tomorrow morning, and will meet us here at the hotel at 11:00. We will have them to ourselves the rest of the day, and we are looking forward to that! Hopefully, things will improve quickly. We haven't made plans for the day yet. We'll just see how it goes. We might take the boat ride down the river and canals and visit the grand palace, although we did those things when we were here several years ago. I wouldn't mind seeing them again though or we might spend the afternoon swimming.

We haven't spoken to my parents but received a wonderful email from them saying everything is going really well with Ian. That is such a relief for us! (and my parents too)

I guess that's it for tonight. Please pray for a smooth transition tomorrow! We're doing great but are really tired. Hopefully, we'll have a great night's sleep.

I hope all is well with all of you. See you tomorrow! I'll add some more pictures then.

Leah and Brian

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quite A Day!!!

I'm not sure how to describe our day today, but I will say it was about what we had expected. I didn't sleep all that great last night- awake from 1-2:00 and tossing and turning the rest of the night- and we got up a little earlier than we needed to. We went down for breakfast, anxiously walked around outside the hotel a little bit, and then went upstairs as we waited for 9:45 to roll around. When we got downstairs, the other two couples and social workers were already there, so we went on into the meeting room to review the schedule, watch a video, and prepare for the kids to come. 10:30 was the magic minute when they started to come in! We heard one child out in the hall crying, and guess who that was?! Our dear Olivia was letting all know how she felt about what was going on! She stopped crying in a couple of minutes and came on in behind the other two children and their workers. She still had tears in her eyes but was calm. Then it wasn't any time until she got fired up again. One of the other two children was also crying off and on. We tried playing ball, blowing bubbles, looking outside at the trains, and pushing buttons on books. Finally, she calmed enough to play a little bit but would easily start crying again. After quite awhile of this, they had me go ahead and take her from the social worker. She cried off and on, and Brian tried holding her but she also cried with him. By the time we went to lunch, around 11:30, she was calm and went to sleep in my arms in the hotel restaurant. After lunch, we went up to the room (the two social workers with us) and showed her our room, and before long the social workers left and we were with her by ourselves for awhile. At 2:00 we were to be back downstairs to go to the foster mother's home, which was about 1 1/2 hours outside Bangkok. Olivia was good all the way out there- she slept most of the time- and she was so happy when we arrived.

The family was very friendly, and we enjoyed our time with them. The social workers acted as translators, and we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted. The foster mother asked who the primary caretaker would be and if we would send pictures over the years. Olivia was her first foster child, so I'm sure it is going to be especially difficult for her. We have been told she has been the "little princess". Olivia seemed to feel comfortable and happy, but still wary of what we were doing there. When we prepared to leave, she began to cry a little. I am sure she was afraid we were going to take her away.

Fortunately, we were not surprised or devastated with her behavior. We were prepared for anything to happen, and I was able to cuddle with her, and she did lay her head on my shoulder and snuggle up to me, so she definitely was not crying ALL the time, but off an on- except when she was asleep. It was a long but exciting day, and it looks like we're going to have our work cut out for us. She is so beautiful though, and I know in time she will be a totally different child. We did get a glimpse of that while we were at the foster mother's house.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, and although I know we will experience some of the same things, it should be better, and I'm anxious to see her again. We are taking the kids to a big shopping center, having lunch there, and then coming back to the hotel for awhile. Then all three kids will return to their foster homes for one last night. Wow, that's going to be tough on the foster parents.

I am posting pictures from today, but unfortunately they aren't too smiley. Maybe tomorrow!

Brian is about to fall asleep on me and we're downstairs in the lobby, so I'm going to have to get off. I'm tired too! Will write more tomorrow.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Arrived and Settled In!!

It's Sat morning here (your Friday night) and we are ready to start the day! The flights were good but of course very long- 13 hours and 8 hours. We quickly got a cab and made it to the hotel just fine. Had a good night sleep and great breakfast this morning. Brian has been trying to get his bearings, and we're getting ready to hit the town! Well, just look around anyway. The hotel is very nice, and the location is going to be convenient. It's close to the train, and there is a little grocery store and outdoor restaurant- like Naan Corner- nearby. We're having many flashbacks of our time in Malaysia!

We're meeting Holt tomorrow 9:45, and Olivia comes at 10:30. We are also scheduled to visit the foster mother's house tomorrow afternoon. I'm very anxious and a little nervous too!

All is well. We're writing this from the business center in the hotel and are trying to figure out the best way to access the computer.

Will blog more later- not sure if later today or tomorrow.

Leah & Brian

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My apologies for being so slow to write. I usually try to put some thought into my updates and proof them, but it takes time that right now, I just don't have a lot of, and I'm not sure how it will be when we're in Thailand. So, from now on please disregard mistakes, sentences that don't always make sense, and ramblings.

My parents arrived Monday afternoon, and we had another birthday party for Ian. He had a great time opening his cards! Thanks to everyone who sent money, cards, and gift cards. Again, I can't believe he is 7 years old. My parents were shocked at how much he has grown just since Christmas. I knew he had put on a lot of weight and filled out quite a bit, but they are still commenting on how much bigger he is, which is a good thing because he needed to add a few pounds!

We have been very busy since Pops and Memi have been here, and we are SO thankful they were able to come. We have had fun running around, going through all the gifts from the shower, playing with Ian, and just preparing to leave. I thought it would be fun for them to send a Build A Bear with us to give to Olivia when we meet her. We had quite a laugh yesterday as they recorded their own message (several times) to be inserted. I know that's going to be a great keep sake, and I think they enjoyed doing it.

Brian has also been very busy. He wasn't home from work until 10:00 or so last night and said today will be nuts too. He has recently taken over a new department, so he's busier than usual right now. I know we both will breathe a huge sigh of relief once we get on the plane.

I also want to mention the shower the church gave us Sunday afternoon. Thank you to everyone who came to support us and help us celebrate Olivia's upcoming arrival. Especially thank you to the hostesses: Lisa, Crystal, Vivian, Lori and Barbara. I'll be anxious to see the pictures!

Brian's dad started his chemo at MD Anderson Monday, and that seems to be going well so far. He has even been feeling a bit better, and I think the doctors are trying some different medications to manage the pain he has been experiencing for so long. They are most concerned about his liver, so that is the area needing the most attention. The cancer is not in his bones, which is of course great news, but it is in his bone marrow, which is not the same thing as being in the bone. Brian's mom is staying with him at the hospital around the clock, and his sister is staying in an apartment right there in the vicinity.

Well, I have gotten mine and Olivia's bags just about packed, but I've got many things on my list to do today. I just wanted to make sure I took time to write before we leave TOMORROW. The schedule is to the right, and the time difference is 13 hours, so if it's 10:00 am here, it's 11:00 pm in Thailand. If it's 9:00 pm here, it's 10:00 am (the next day) there. The schedule reflects what is going on at that time in Thailand- not here. I hope that makes sense. So, we will be meeting Olivia for the first time around 9:00 Sat night your time , which is 10:00 am Bangkok time.

We'll do our best to blog and download pictures daily. I don't know for sure what our situation will be, but we will really make an effort to update each day.

I've got to run! The clock is ticking!!

See you in Thailand!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Birthday Boy in the House!

Today is Ian's 7th birthday! As people always say, "I can't believe where the time has gone", I also am saying that today. Development has been very slow these past 7 years, and because of that you might think the time has gone by slowly, but for us it hasn't worked that way. It has still passed quickly, and Ian has taught us many things we would never have learned had he not been a special needs child. Hopefully, Brian and I are better for it! We're planning to have a little party for him today and another one when his Pops and Memi come from OK on Monday. Ian isn't a big sweets eater, so a treat for him is going to be a huge bowl of Fritos with a lighted number 7 in the middle! Brian is also planning to come home early so we can light the outdoor firepit and roast marshmellows. (Ian loves to be outside.) Gifts can be tricky, but anything that promotes movement is usually a hit. Happy Birthday Ian!! We love you!!

Our trip to Houston went pretty much as we anticipated. Brian's parents arrived Wed. (the day before us) and settled into their hotel. However, they were able to move to an apartment Friday night. There were no appointments Sat or Sunday, but they started testing yesterday- Monday. (Brian's sister arrived Sunday night- just a few hours after we left.) They said yesterday's testing went well but of course they were tired. The testing will continue until Wed, and Thursday afternoon they will meet with the doctor to find out what the treatment options are. They are prepared to stay in Houston for the treatment if that is the recommendation. Brian is considering going to the appointment on Thursday but has not decided for sure. Please continue to pray for his mom and dad. It is such a difficult situation but very inspiring to watch a couple married for so many years care for each other when the chips are down. What a wonderful example they are for us.

As I said, Pops and Memi (my parents), are coming Monday to learn the ropes on taking care of Ian while we're in Thailand. Needless to say, I'm nervous to leave him for two weeks. Trying to figure out what he wants is a constant quandry I'm in, and figuring it out ASAP is of utmost importance- or you better have nerves of steel! As far as safety, I've told them, "Just don't shut his fingers in the car door!" That probably sounds like a funny request, but when you have a blind child, their fingers are pretty darn important! Oh, and their backs! I hope they've been hitting the gym this month!

Preparations to bring Olivia home are going just fine. Sometimes at night, when I'm lying awake in bed, my stomach starts doing flip-flops and I question whether I will be able to concentrate the last couple of days to wrap things up here. I know I'll be able to, but it can be a bit overwhelming! The next time I write, I'll post the tentative schedule on the right so you can see what will be going on once we arrive in Bangkok.

I've got to go! I can't stay on this computer all day! I've got birthday presents to buy!

Hope everyone has a good week!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Family Update- Medical Treatment In Houston

As I have posted before, Brian's dad has been very sick. He was diagnosed with lymphoma this summer and started chemo. It appeared to be working, and he finished his last treatment a little before Christmas. But soon after the last treatment, he started experiencing a lot of pain and was admitted to the hospital. After a few weeks he was released, but Friday we found out the cancer has spread to several areas of his body. He and Brian's mom are flying to MD Anderson (from OK) tomorrow, and Jerry has an appointment on Thursday at 1:00. Brian, Ian, and I are planning to meet them there Thursday and will stay through the weekend. The hospital will conduct a lengthy evaluation and decide what the next step should be. Please pray for Jerry's recovery and strength for the family to be able to support him and each other in the days ahead. Brian has been out of town this week and will return tomorrow. He also has a sister, Beverly, who will be coming down from Phoenix on Sunday. Luckily, we are in pretty good shape in our preparations for going to Thailand, so I am thankful I planned ahead as much as I have. Some things I can do while we're in Houston. We appreciate your prayers.


Friday, February 1, 2008

A Break From Painting

I thought I would take a little break from painting Olivia's room and write an update. We thought the new pictures were the cutest things! I think everyone is in agreement that there may be some drama in our future! We can't wait to meet this little bundle of personality! Although I think she looks big in the pictures, she only weighs about 18 lbs and is 31 inches at 19 months. Many of the kids are small, so we're expecting her to be little.

We've done some shopping the last week or so- bought her a couple of bathing suits, something to wear home on the plane, and a few toys for our first meeting, which is in a hotel meeting room. We're now at two weeks and 6 days, and the time has been going pretty quickly. I sewed 32 bows on her bedskirt the last two days and am going to attempt to put a wall hanging together after I finish painting. It seems like I can always find "one more thing" to do! Oh, we also booked our hotel at Hua Hin, which is a beach resort a few hours from Bangkok. We're looking forward to spending the weekend there.

It has been a lot of fun emailing and talking to the other two families that will be in Thailand with us. One is from Oregon and the other from Mississippi. It's also been fun keeping up with our neighbors who are supposed to be returning from China today with their little girl, Cathryn Grace. I told the mom I wouldn't come over until she invited me, but that I'd sure be looking out our front window about 6:00 this evening when they should be pulling in! What a coincidence we moved into a house across the street from them! Olivia will have a playmate right away! No one will understand what anyone else says, but it will be fun watching them learn to communicate with each other. . . and us!

Ian's 7th birthday is coming up on the 12th, and I'm almost positive I heard him sing the Birthday Song yesterday! He loves to sing, and although he doesn't talk, he uses some syllable/sound to sing the tune. It's very sweet, and we are very proud of any accomplishment. They are all a big deal to us! He has recently learned to kiss us good night and that is HUGE. It almost makes my cry writing it. Anyway, I'm including one of the pictures of him we took on Christmas Eve, when we had an unexpected hotel stay in Oklahoma. I can't wait for Ian and Olivia to get to swim together this summer. Ian loves it, so I hope Olivia does too.

I guess I better get back to the painting- or maybe I'll eat lunch first. That sounds like a better idea!