Monday, September 29, 2008

We got our TA!!!!

We just received notice that our Travel Approval has arrived today at our agency (according to CCAI, we still could be traveling as soon as mid October). Now, all we need is the date of our Consulate Appointment aka CA and official travel arrangements will be made!

Our weekend...

This weekend was so very crazy for us...We never made it out for our anniversary lunch celebration on Saturday for my aunt took another turn for he worst and we were down at the hospital for most of the time. I know I said I was going to update our web site some time this weekend, but I just have no energy. I did accomplish something though...this morning (before Keith had to head out for D.C.) I got all my spring/summer clothes put away and my fall/winter clothes out and ready for wear. The weather here has been both warm and cool, but I so know that sooner or later, the colder weather will be creeping in.

I promise to get our travel site updated some time this week with the updated info and video of our Annabelle and I am hoping to post some updated photos of Francesca to here as well (I can't believe how much she has changed since the beginning of the summer).

And one more thing...we still have not heard anything on TA...With China celebrating a major holiday soon (I believe it is from Oct 1st-6th) and all offices will be closed, our only hope is that is comes some time this week. We shall see....

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Today Keith and I are celebrating our 9th year wedding anniversary! I could remember that day, 9 years ago, so clearly as it is truly one of the best days of my life!
I do have some good news to report...
*as of yesterday afternoon, my aunt (who was badly injured in an auto accident in Savannah, GA over a week ago) return back to Pennsylvania yesterday and was admitted into a Care First Center. She is expected to be there for the extension of her rehab. Her health has improved better than everyone could have expected. She still has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but at least she is "home" (or as close as we can get her to be...).
*PAs and LOAs rolled in this now where are the TAs?'s to hearing something maybe today (what a nice anniversary gift that would be! (I'll keep you all posted if we hear anything)!
*Keith and I are marking this year's anniversary with a lunch date at my favorite restaurant, Twigs located in the beautiful Endless Mountains of northeastern PA.
*I am officially about 85% packed for China! I only have our clothes to pack and a few odds and ends...
*We received an update from our agency today on our Annabelle and let me tell you, she is a "ball of fire" (from what they have said) and also we received some video footage from when another family was visiting Hope a few weeks ago (I am going to be posting both updateds to our baby jelly beans account some time in the next few days...)
Here's to our TA coming...soon!?!?!?!?

Monday, September 22, 2008

An estimated time-line....

I just spoke to our agency today and if everything goes according to plan we could be leaving for our Annabelle as soon as October 16th...that's only 3 weeks away! Our agency has not heard a definite this is just an estimate...but according to them, that's what we should be preparing for...OK, I was some-what calm up to this point, but now I am freaking-out!

More photos of our Annabelle...

Isn't she just truly adorable! we can't wait to get our hands on her!
(I have photos updated to our many of them are just priceless! You must check them out!!!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

FINALLY...GOOD NEWS to report!!!

On Thursday, my family and I made the very hard and painful decision to return home (starting out on Friday) and leave my aunt under the care of the hospital. As hard as that decision was, my aunt understood fully why we had to leave and what we will be doing. First, my mom is going to be working on getting her transferred back a hospital in/or around our area. There is so much work that needs to be done and it was nearly impossible to do anything while in we left to return home on Friday. As I said before, it was very hard to leave, but after hearing the nurses and doctors confirm to us how much my aunt has improved over the past few days, we did what we had to do...Since we return home, my aunt health has improved tremendously and it couldn't have been possible without all your prayers and support...THANK YOU! (it is truly amazing how my aunt pulled through...from at first hearing that she only had a 10% chance of surviving to hearing that she can be coming home is truly amazing!)

Once we finally made it home after a very VERY long ride and I had a chance to sit down and go through my mail...guess what we got...OUR 797C!!!! That's right! So all that's left to do is send a copy of it off to our agency and get our visas for our travel to our Annabelle (which I am currently working on...)

Finally, I feel like things are moving aunt is really pulling through this terrible grandmother's health has also improved do to the fact of changing around her medication...and we are one step closer in bringing our Miss Annabelle Faith home!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So Much To Tell....

We are still in Savannah, Georgia and my Aunt is still the same (in the Trauma IC Unit). Please continue to pray for her and my family during this desperate time of need....I am not sure of when we will be returning home.

As for news on our adoption and travel for Annabelle...everything is on track. We heard back from our Congressman's office that our 797C is currently "in route" to our home. Our agency is telling us that we can be traveling as soon as October 15th and that once I return home from Savannah, I need to get our visas completed. I finally got the mountain of paper work completed and sent off to our agency before we left for Savannah that we received once our LOA arrived. And after checking in with our agency today, both departments (Waiting Child for signed LOA and Travel for our travel documents) received all necessary paper work needed to be completed at this time.

This is all I have for you all at this time...

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone out there who are sending us your thoughts and prayers. it truly means so much to us...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

After two days on the road...

...we finally made it to Savannah, Georgia (my sister and I packed up the two kids and headed out from Pennsylvania early Monday morning and arrived in Georgia Tuesday evening) to unite with my family during this time of need. As of today, my aunt is still in the Trauma ICU at Memorial Hospital in Savannah and is holding her own (she hasn't gotten worse, but she also hasn't gotten any better). THANK YOU...TO EVERYONE out there who is sending us your thoughts and prayers. It means so much to me and my family. I did take my laptop with me so I'll be able to keep you all updated....

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We have just received news that our aunt, Carmela...Francesca's Auntie...was in a horrific car accident in Savannah, Georgia last night on her way coming back from Disney. She is currently in ICU in critical condition and the next 72 hours are very, VERY, crucial. She has several broken ribs, a broken leg, two collapsed lungs, sever spleen, broken diaphragm, and so much more. The one thing that is so against her right now is her age, she is 79 (which if you ever seen her, you would never think she was). My mom left this morning on a flight down and we are currently waiting on news from her to see what we need to do (I am thinking Francesca and I will be taking a flight down to Savannah in the next 24 hours or so). Please pray for her and our family....we are in such desperate needs right now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


We just received another email from Kim and her family who are currently in China united with their daughter, Tian Li! They visited New Hope today and sent us a few photos and a beautiful email regarding our daughter, Annabelle! For more on this updated information, please visit our website!

*if you need the password for our website, please email me!*

(I know, I said I was taking the weekend off, but I just had to post at least one photo of our beautiful daughter!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's a girl to do?

What's a girl to do while waiting for 1) TA and 2) our 797C...well...She shops! I found this beautiful custom made dress online at a fabulous children's boutique late last night and I just couldn't resist!

I got both the girls matching monogrammed dresses (with their full names) in the color shown above. I am just so excited!!! My husband being an identical twin is about to kill me over the fact of purchasing both girls matching outfits. (and this isn't the first set) He said he has lived a majority of his life matching his 99.2% identical brother and he really doesn't want his children to have to suffer through what he did. As you can see, I didn't listen to him...that silly husband of mine! Anyway, I'll let you guys know how the dresses turn out once they arrive (in about 4-6 weeks)!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Actually I have two of them...

The first one is an update on Our Annabelle. She is currently in 18 month size clothing. She is 31" tall, weighs 22 lbs, and her foot size is 4.72". I started actually packing today for our travel to China. As of now, I have 2 1/2 suitcases full and it is looking like all I'll have to pack in the final 1 1/2 suitcases is our clothes (please keep in mind, I am taking almost 200 diapers and 4 mega packs of unscented, sensitive wipes with us because I'll have two little girls with bowel problems and we learned from the last time we were in China was not to use their diapers). I so know I am jumping the gun on the packing considering....

We STILL DO NOT have our renewed 797C from USCIS! That's right! (this is our second update) And after countless hours on the phone with one of our Senator's representatives and numerous emails to the USCIS office, they will not expedite our clearance. I can't begin to tell you how upset we are and how disappointing it is that our government is not willing to help us out! Me being the type of person not willing to give up without a fight, I inquired another "person" to contact tomorrow to see what "he" can do to help us out and get our 797C in our hands by the time we are schedule to travel. (this all goes back to our social worker and how long it took him to complete our home study update...the USCIS office is telling us that it will take 10-12 weeks for us to receive our 797C from the date our HS update was received which was August 26th...UGH!!!! That is putting us to hold off on our travel until November when we CAN BE TRAVELING sometime in OCTOBER!!!)

Anyway, between doing pre-travel paper work, packing, and fighting for our 797C with the USCIS office, life has been crazy here at our household. I am so looking forward to a weekend of just doing...NOTHING!!! (except for Sunday where we have a family dinner planned to celebrate this year's Autumn Moon Festival...we can't wait!!!). If I don't get a chance to post again before the week's end...I want to wish everyone a safe, healthy, happy, and fun weekend!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Guess what arrived today....?

Our LOA!!!!

(according to our agency...we should be traveling to China for our Annabelle in four to seven weeks!!!)

Very Positive email....

Since receiving our referral for Annabelle, I have become very close to many of the other parents whose children are also at New Hope. One of the mothers is currently in China and has been united with her daughter for almost a week. She and I have talked extensively (before she traveled) on the joys of having our daughters being cared for at such an amazing facility, but we also wondered what it was going to be like for our daughters once they left New Hope and were united with their forever families. I have heard from several of the other parents whose children were cared for at New Hope and every one of them has told me how wonderful New Hope is at preparing these children for the transition (there is so much more that I have learned regarding how New Hope prepares these children but will not go into details here). And with this parent who is currently in China has just reconfirmed to me what I have been hearing all along. This morning I received an email from her and it is all very positive information regarding her daughter and how well prepared she was...and how well adjusted she has become since being united with her family (and how much English she knows and understands). From what I learned about her daughter was that she too was extremely close to her nannies and her bed mate at New Hope. I have been warned that Annabelle will probably have a hard time seeing how well she is being cared for (and it totally concerned us), but after hearing what all these other families had to say about their experiences, it so makes us feel that more positive that this will be truly a well-prepared uniting. Now, I am not saying that that every child is the same and our experience may be totally different (and after going through what we did when we were united with Francesca, we feel that we are prepared again to take some punches as well too), but like I stated earlier, after hearing not one negative remark...we are thinking very positively! Our belief is that..."If you go into the situation with a positive attitude, positive results is what you will receive..." And that is exactly what we are doing....

Now all we need is our LOA, 797C approval, our TA and CA...and off we go!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our time at the beach....

Even thought Francesca had some medical issues while we were away at the beach, we all had a great time and made the most of what time we did have while enjoying some fun at the Jersey Shore!!!

(as you all know, Francesca has a mega colon and it is a disease that she lives with daily and will live with it for the rest of her life...we try to control her mega colon with medicine and diet, but there are times when her body just doesn't want to work as it should and on this mini get-a-away it was no exception - her mega colon was really giving her problems.)

Waiting for breakfast while at Bally's

"Mom...Mickey is hungry too!"

Our late-night walk on the beach!

(Grandma and Francesca just enjoying the ocean and the sound of waves...)

We are headed back to the beach next week to pick up my aunt after her trip to Disney. You would think that after what Francesca went through this past get-a-away that she would not want to go back, but she is already talking about what "we" are going to do when we return to the Jersey Shore. She can't wait!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So what do you do....

when you are going crazy, waiting for your LOA....YOU HEAD TO THE BEACH!!!

That's right, Francesca and I (along with Grandma) are headed to the beach for a few days of fun in the sun!!! My aunt is leaving for Florida with our cousins from the Jersey Shore on Saturday and we have offered her a ride down to meet up with them (so she wouldn't have to drive). So tomorrow, we are headed down to the Jersey Shore for some fun with our NJ cousins!!! We can't wait!!!

(When I asked Francesca last night if she wanted to go to the beach on Thursday, she got so excited and couldn't stop jumping up & down. You would think that after spending a great deal of time this past weekend in an automobile that she would not want to get back in one, but she is already packing up what she feels she needs to take! Did I even mention that our little girl has "wheels up her butt" because boy she is always so ready for any type of outing!)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Photos from our weekend in MICHIGAN!!!

What fun we all had while visiting our extended family in Michigan!!! Here are some photos from our weekend of fun!!! Uncle Owen, Aunt Amy, and Katie...we here at the Leonard household already miss you guys so much and we can't wait to see you all again...hoping very soon!

Francesca and Kate enjoying some late night golf!

Photos from our Yihuang Reunion...

(Eliza, me, Kathy, and Aunt Amy)

(Beth and her beautiful daughter, Emma)

Our Yihuang Girls! Francesca, Kate, Eliza, and Emma!

All the kiddos....Francesca, Eleanor, Jack, Eliza, Kate, Emma, Olivia, and Hannah!

Jack, Olivia, Hannah, and Emma had a special gift to present to us this past Saturday at the reunion. It was an envelope filled with money that they raised by selling lemonade, baked cookies and brownies for bringing our Annabelle home (The note that was included is a beautiful treasure that we were always hold dear to our hearts). These kids are truly remarkable and amazing young children! To the Randles..."We are so touched by what you and your family has done and it will never be forgotten...Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!"

The Whole Gang!

(Uncle Owen, Kate, me, Francesca, Keith, Beth, Emma, Aunt Amy, Hannah, Olivia, Jerry, Eleanor, Jack, Kathy, Eliza...and one missing...Emma's Dad, Matt who was on a much needed break.)

The kids sure had a great time as did the parents! We are so looking forward to seeing everyone again very soon...and I am thinking that the next time we are all together, Annabelle will be home!!!

Back at the house, just having some fun...

Katie just having some fun with me!

The girls playing dress-up!

I couldn't get her to smile for anything when I was taking this photos, but don't you just love those earrings she is wearing. I see modeling in her future!
We had such a great time and we are so looking forward to when we can see each other again!
We have all talked about some dates of when we will meet again, but with the not-knowing of when we might be traveling for Annabelle, everything is so up in the air at this time, but it will be very soon because we just can't wait too long to see each other again!