Sunday, August 30, 2009

for our Benjamin..."Angels Among Us"

I must admit - we truly have some amazing people surrounding us! During this time of the unknown...the unknown of when our home study will be finalized and the unknown of any updates...many of our family and friends have taken charge and done something totally amazing & mind blowing! Seeing how we are so desperate for seeing any of the smallest sign to let us know that this will happen, our wonderful support team has set up a beautiful site to help us raise some much needed funds to bring our Benjamin home. As many of you know, this time, the process for us has truly taken its toll...not only emotionally, but also financially. With double the paper work and in some cases double the fees, the funds we had placed aside for our final adoption, has slowly been disappearing. After hearing our story of how we are struggling to bring our Benjamin home, a web site has been designated into doing just that! Our wonderful family & friends, and yes - even "strangers" have come forward to donate some amazing prizes to be raffled off to help raise some funds for our Benjamin. (in fact there are 15 incredible prizes that are being raffled off) So without keeping you all in suspense any longer, we here at the Leonard household are very excited to introduce to you...

Blogging tutorial

Click on the photo above for a direct link to our Benjamin's site!

There are truly some terrific prizes and even a very special one that only requires you to get out there and spread the word about bringing our Benjamin home.

Finally something to get excited about - THANK YOU...ALL!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Play Date

with B & E!

Thank You K for hooking up our two families! We truly love you & your girls company and can't wait for some more "play dates" together!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Road Blocks & Detours

Since starting this paper chase once again, we have truly hit a zillion road blocks & detours...along with a ton of "other" things that have come up. Within the next few days, our social worker will again be sending in another unapproved home study (this is now #5 if you are all keeping track) for our agency to review. Our agency contacted us (and our social worker) late Monday evening with once again changes that need to be made to #4. I am truly hanging on by my finger nails at this point! It has been over 3 months...YES OVER THREE MONTHS...since we received our PA for our Benjamin. You know how hard it is to answer questions from love ones who think you have it all "wrapped up" and are just waiting to travel! It totally sucks to have to explain to them that we are STILL working on our home study report (the same home study report we "thought" was going to be completed by June). I know that eventually we will get an approved home study, that we will get our 797C clearance and that we will finally have a log in date, but right now, it just seems like there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

Seeing how this is such a downer post, I just have to post some photos of the girls to bring on a smile (at least to my face)! Hope you all are having a better week than I am.



*this is what keeps me going...*

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where do I begin...

This past week has truly been a crazy one for us in the Leonard household. With a trip to PA to visit Grandma and a few other is never dull around here!

The girls and I had a wonderful time in PA while visiting Grandma! The girls were so very sad when we left yesterday. Francesca cried for the first 45 minutes of our ride and repeatedly questioned me on why Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma can't live together. It was super hard on my mom as well for after spending almost a whole week with the girls - she did not want to see us go.

While we were in PA, I did have a visit with our social worker. As some of you know, our social worker submitted an unapproved homes study to our agency for review back on July 23rd, which was returned unrevised because it was not Hague related. Back on August 7th, our social worker sent in another unapproved home study for review and this time it was Hague related. It took our agency almost 1 week for them to review it and get back to our social worker with the corrections that needed to be made (which now makes it August 14th). So last week, I meet with or social worker to make those corrections and get the now corrected, once reviewed - waiting for approval - home study sent back into our agency for another review. I am so hoping that we hear that all is well and that this home study was finally approved so we can move forward with sending in our I800A.

Since the home study has been taking us a lot longer than originally "told". Our agency advised us that we start the certification & authentication process of the documents we already gather for our dossier. Birth certificates, marriage licence, financial report, employment letters, state police clearances, adoption petition, and doctor reports were dropped off today at the Fed Ex box for delivery. Even though we are still waiting on our approved home study, I am feeling like we are moving forward with what we can do.

OK - now here is some news on our Benjamin. I have been in contact with some volunteers that are currently at his orphanage. So far, they have not been able to locate him. They are thinking he has been placed with a foster family but so far no one has gotten any information. To ask the question, am I a little worried about not being able to find out anything on our little guy - you bet, but I am not stressing over it. When I last spoke to our agency's waiting child department two weeks ago, I was told that a request for an update was placed (along with a request for some updated photos). Now, only time will tell on whether we will get anything. According to our agency, any thing is possible - and we might not get anything at all....sigh

Since this post is getting way too long, I'll start wrapping it up here. One last thing to post - while we were in PA, the girls got their hairs cut...short! I think they look adorable and here are a few photos just to prove that I am so right! Love those girls of mine!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Before & After - Dress Up Style!

This past weekend was truly one of the best! The Fitch Family (Al, Lori, and Hannah...who were one of the families we traveled to China with back in 2008) came to our neck of the woods for a weekend visit! With a trip to DC's Zoo and DC's Chinatown...many wonderful meals...two bottles of wine...three nights of very late night introduction to True Blood (which Keith & I watch every Sunday)...two "accidents" (OK I admit I have a little problem when I get to laughing & trust me - we all shared many laughs) and some incredibly-shocking-&-totally surprising news (but not ours to share), we all had one A-M-A-Z-I-N-G weekend! We are so looking forward to our next get-together in October!

And just for the record ~ the girls all had a great time too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Oh ya - Big brother IS Watching..."

Look what was installed across the street from our new house about a month after we moved into our new home...

Do you know what it is?

OK - here are a few hints...(and a closer look)

Any guesses?

(I had no clue what "it" was when "it" was being installed, but I soon found out!)

Friday, August 14, 2009


So what do you think my husband is trying to tell me? (this is what I saw him doing while we were eating our weekly leftovers the other night)

Yep - that is his name "KEITH" he created by using one of our four leftover meals...spaghetti in homemade tuna sauce (my grandmother's recipe).

that night - we also had...
homemade pepperoni pizza
"The Ultimate Party Meatballs" (which are also on his plate...the recipe for these tasty meatballs can be found on Heinz bottle Chili Sauce)
Beef Taco Skillet (from Campbell's Soup Recipes)

I just couldn't resist taking a photo of this masterpiece! After I got a good laugh out of the whole thing - because I just know that "leftover night" is not his favorite, I ran for my camera and snapped a photo...or two...because once the camera came out Francesca insisted I take of photo of her and Daddy too...

Gotta love those "leftover night" suppers! And as my grandmother would always say, "Waste not, want not." And how true that is...

Thursday, August 13, 2009



"Stay strong, have faith, fight the fight for this little boy who has no voice - YOU are his voice!"

These are just a few words that were written in a card sent to me by one of my best friends, Sara. When I was at my darkest hours of feeling very lost and helpless over this whole process, I was reminded of who I am, what needed to be done, and that I have always been strong enough to fight this fight. Our son is waiting for us in China.

Sara, I know I told you time & time again what our friendship means to me. You INSPIRE me every day on how to live my life! I love you so very much and words will never be able to express how much these simple written words mean to me....and how I so needed to 'hear' them just at 'that' moment...You truly are the best and for that I will be forever thankful that you are a part of my life....(and just so you know, I read that card at least 5 times a day. It is what keeps me going ~ knowing that I have you out there who does believe in me, my family, and our waiting son, Benjamin)

(Here is a photo of Sara & her beautiful daughter, Mya! She is truly one of the best...)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 Beach Photos - with Papa & GrandmaC

First Stop - "MotorWorld"

Francesca was super excited when we told her where we were going but as soon as she heard how loud the place was, she was not happy. Good thing I made her ride with me (I know bad mom) because within a few minutes...

(after she uncovered her ears...)

(and away we went..)

(OK she still has her ears covered but soon...)

She truly was loving it! That is her & me having a great time around our first ride of the day...around the track!

Annabelle was just happy to be hanging out with Grandma C and her stroller! She was old enough to ride with a driver, but she is just too tiny (according to the height requirements to enjoy many of the rides).

"So you are telling me, I can't ride many of the rides here because I am too short - what's up with that!"

After that first ride with Mom, Francesca was ready to take on driving all by herself!

Since this was one of the only two rides in the park that Annabelle could ride - Daddy took her for a spin (the great workers at MotorWorld didn't charge us fro Annabelle's ride)!

Francesca had a blast jumping...

up & down!

And than went for a spin on the track with Papa in the driver seat!

(while Mom, Annabelle, and Grandma C took a much needed rest on a near by bench)

and to finish off the day, the girls took a nice ride on the dinosaurs!

Next stop - a dolphin tour!

One of the cargo ships we saw leaving the harbor...

an ocean sunset....

Mom & Annabelle enjoying some time inside the boat's cabin....

while Francesca was running around the deck on the look out for some dolphins....

We did see a few dolphins and it was a ton of fun! But it was getting late so we returned back to Papa & Grandma C house for a good night's rest because the next day we went to the....


hanging in the water with Papa...

Francesca making friends where ever she goes....

Grandma C, Francesca, and Papa!

and our little movie star!

and last but not least a photo of the light house on Cape Henry...

We truly had a wonderful time! Not only did we tackle all of that in just a few days, but we also made time for some amazing meals out, a stop for some ice-cream, a few cocktails for the adults, and some beautiful afternoon drives along the shore line and speciality store shopping sprees! So looking forward to making another trip down before the summer is officially over...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

{{{{{{{status report}}}}}}}

After returning from a stay at Papa and Grandma C's house at the beach, we are finally finding a little bit of down time. Once I find a few minutes to upload our "VA Beach 2009" photos, I promise, I will share some with you all. As for our home study status, things are finally looking up in that area of our lives. As of Friday, I did receive another unapproved copy of our home study report to be sent in for a review to our agency (which I think it was sent via email to CCAI later on that afternoon). As of today (Sunday) I haven't heard a word back from CCAI - not thinking I would seeing how it is the weekend - but I am hoping that in the next two days ~ I'll hear something positive. After reading this second copy of the home study, I am thinking our social worker is finally on track and it is looking really good. Only time will tell and I am praying that we do get an approval from our agency and an official copy in our hands very soon to send into the USCIS office to finish up our last bit of paper chase.

This coming weekend, we are expecting a house full! Two of our travel families from 2008 are coming down to the DC area for a get-together weekend! We are super excited and can't wait for all the fun that will begin on this coming Friday (having 6 adults, 9 children and one dog is going to be very exciting to say at the least). So here's to a great week ahead for all of you and as soon as I get those photos download, I will post some to our blog.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

D&D ~ a family favorite :)

Every now & than we need a little D&D so we can make it through our day....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Out Our Back Door...

Here is the newest member in our new neighborhood...Who would had ever thought that living only 12 miles outside our Nation's District, you would see this in your back yard almost every single day...! Oh how we are loving it here!!!!
We headed to the beach this weekend to spend some time with Papa & Grandma C at their new house! A little sun, a little sand, and a few - ok - many cocktails is just what we need for the battle we will face this coming Monday...(not one but two social workers in two different states ~ crazy ~ crazy ~ crazy.)