Welcome to Team Thunderpuss, Sebastian!

Sebastian at the pumpkin patch.

Sebastian at the pumpkin patch.

We made it back from China and we are settling into parenthood while Sebastian is settling into his new life with us.

He is sleeping much better now that we’ve convinced him that he should be on Eastern Standard Time. Most nights, he sleeps from around 8pm to 6:30am without too much trouble. While we were in China, he hated being put in the crib, so we usually let him fall asleep in bed and then transferred him to the crib. Since we’ve been home, he’s a lot more receptive to the crib and often asks to be put in, which is a huge change.

His obsession with food is still a little tough to deal with. Sebastian eats pretty much constantly. While on the playground, he will put the snack cup down for 30 or 40 minutes but that’s about the limit. If he’s home, he wants nothing to do with the high fiber “Cheerios” in the snack cup, because he knows where we keep the bananas. Our pediatrician said to let him have as many healthy snacks as he wants, so eating is one of his number one activities. This is very typical of kiddos who have been in orphanages. The pediatrician said that he’s a healthy guy and tall for his age and not overweight. So, the food obsession should pass eventually.

We’ve  been teaching him some baby signs and he seems to be understanding a lot of English. His speech is going to be delayed a little because of his cleft palate. He can say a few words, and communication with him is getting much better.

He had his first round of doctor/dentist/speech therapy appointments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We should have a date soon for Sebastian’s cleft palate surgery and to have tubes put in his ears. The audiologist says he has a little temporary hearing loss from fluid in his ear canals, and that’s pretty typical for kiddos with clefts.

We have applied for a morning preschool program at the Methodist Church in Decatur. In a week, he will go Monday and Friday mornings, so I can get some editing and promotion work done for my business. I’m going to try to freelance as a profession. No more corporate job, woohoo!

Overall, Sebastian is a fun loving little dude and we are so happy to have him home. We’ve been rediscovering Atlanta with trips to the zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, children’s museum and almost every park within driving distance. We have been doing a lot more walking in our neighborhood, and have met lots of nice families who live nearby.

We can’t thank our friends and families enough for all of the love and support they’ve shown us. We were showered with delicious meals and beautiful second hand clothes for Sebastian when we got home.

We are especially grateful for our friends Laura Louise and Nick Ingkatanuwat. Their kiddo Leo is very close to Sebastian’s age, so we’ve been hanging out with them almost every day. They have  helped us survive our first couple of months of parenthood!

We will try to keep everyone updated on the date for his upcoming surgery. We have been that told Dr Williams is one of the best surgeons in the world for cleft palate surgery, so we are confidant that he’s in good hands.

-Bonnie (Robert and Sebastian)

Away we go!

photoWe fly to China a week from today! Are we ready? That’s a big question.

We still have some baby furniture to put together for his room, and a little child proofing left to do. But, that’s not the answer to the big question.

Are we ready to be parents? Wow. We have been preparing for this big change in our lives for a few years. Now that we’re so close to having our son in our arms, it seems a little unreal. I don’t think any amount of reading, studying, parent podcast listening can really prepare us for parenthood.

Everyone is saying, “You guys must be so excited!”

We are super excited. Over-the-moon excited. But, we’re also scared, too. But, I think that we have a rational balance between excited and scared. I think if we were 100 percent excited, and not a little nervous, we would probably be delusional. We know it’s not going to be easy. Bonding may take a while. There will be a lot of things we will have to figure out about how to take care of a toddler. Our lifestyle is about to change for the next 17+ years!

I think we’re as ready as we can be. Let the great adventure begin. Away we go!

-Bonnie

Surgery success!

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Sebastian looks a little dazed, but he’s recovering well from his cleft lip surgery.

So this was the week Sebastian was due to have his cleft lip correction surgery performed in China. We’ve been a little stressed all week, concerned over how it would go for him and we just learned this afternoon that the surgery was a success and he’s recovering just fine! It’s a comfort to know he’s under the care of the loving folks at Peace House and that one of his playmates was there with him (and underwent surgery as well).

In just a couple of short months we’ll be bringing him home, so we’re finishing up some work on the house and filing the last of our paperwork. We’re estimating that we’ll be traveling around August 16th to pick him up.

Happy Birthday, Sebastian!

sebastianzitonglambA few days ago, we received our Letter of Acceptance from China! It’s official, folks!!!

We have a few more pieces of paper work that go back and forth between us and China, but if all goes well, we will be traveling to pick him up in August.

In the last round of paperwork, we got to pick out a name for him. We’re keeping his Chinese name as his middle name… Sebastian Zitong Lamb. This way his name includes a little of our history, a little of his history and something entirely new.

Our son turns one today. Although we’re a little sad not to be with him on his one year birthday, we’re excited to be making plans to bring him home in just a few months.

He’s having surgery to correct his cleft lip in China next month and a few months after he comes home, he will have cleft palate surgery. We are nervous about his upcoming surgeries, but we consulted with our (soon-to-be) pediatricians at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. They assured us that Chinese doctors do good work on cleft lips, and it’s best to have some time between the surgeries.

As you can see, he’s a happy little guy! We can’t wait to bring him home!

 

Music has the Right to Children

ImageOur dossier is done! It’s on the way to China as I type this. Several of our friends have asked, “What is this dossier you guys worked on for so long?” Well, it’s a huge bundle of paperwork, including our home study and several important documents (birth certificates, marriage certificate, letters of employment, etc) all notarized, certified and authenticated at the county, state, federal and international level. Whew! We’re incredibly relieved to have that done.

Now, everyone might be wondering what the next steps are. When can we go pick up our son?

Here’s a quick list of the steps that we will be doing in the next several months.

1. Wait for CCCWA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) to translate and review our dossier, then send us a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) which may take approximately 3-5 months.

2. After this letter is returned to the CCCWA as well as the I-800 paperwork is filed and returned to the agency and then forwarded to China the 8-10 week wait for the Travel Approval will begin.

3. After our agency receives the Travel Approval, the Travel Coordinator will make an appointment with the US Consulate in Guangzhou and coordinate the other essential meetings in the child’s province. Next, travel dates are arranged.

4. We travel to China for about two weeks to pick up our baby! (With all of these steps to go through, we are estimating it will be in the fall.

In the mean time, we get to send our little one a CD of comforting music. This makes us so happy, that he can get to hear some music in China, and hopefully be soothed by the same music here in our home. We debated several musicians including Sigor Ros, Tycho, and Radiohead. We finally settled on “Music has the Right to Children” by Boards of Canada, one of our favorite albums of all time!

We have a referral!

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We hope to share photos soon. The little guy was born in the year of the dragon.

We have big, big news! Our agency sent us a referral last week. The kiddo is a little boy who will be a year old in April. He has a pretty severe cleft palate and cleft lip, but we had a doctor look over his medical file, and she told us that little Tong Tong (his nick name) is doing really well, developmentally. We just emailed Holt with our Letter of Intent, which is the first step in the process for us bringing this little guy home.

You might be surprised that we got a referral for a boy, but since we are on the special needs list for adoption from China, there are a lot of boys who are up for adoption, some of them with very repairable special needs. Since we asked for either a boy or a girl, and several families are still asking for girls, we received a referral more quickly.

We’ve learned that Children’s Health Care of Atlanta is one of the best places in the county for surgery for cleft palates and cleft lips. They have a very comprehensive program that includes plastic surgery, orthodontics and speech therapy. We know that he will have to go through more than one surgery, and there may be other medical procedures, like tubes in his ears. But, we are hopeful that he can get the best care here in Atlanta.

This is both exciting and a little overwhelming We have one piece of paperwork to be authenticated, which should come back to us very soon, perhaps in the next few days. We will Fedex our dossier to the department at Holt and they will forward it to China. Then, there are several more steps and weeks of waiting in between before we can make arrangements to travel and pick up our son.

We will keep everyone posted, but please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we move forward with this process.

Love,

Bonnie and Robert

ALSO: We hope to share photos with everyone soon, but we have to check with our agency to see when we have the OK to post pictures. They even sent us two short videos, which are especially encouraging, because we can see him standing, with assistance from a bar, and laughing at his reflection in a mirror. He is currently in the foster care program, which is a much better situation than orphanage care.

The Paperwork Pregnancy

It’s been a while since we updated our blog, and lots of our friends have been asking us how things are going. We’re slowly moving forward. We completed our home study a couple of months ago, and are almost finished with our dossier. The dossier is a file with information that is sent to China, which includes the home study.

In two weeks, we’re going to have our THIRD (hopefully final) set of fingerprints and our dossier will be done. Then, we enter a period of waiting for a referral. We’re not really sure how long it will take to be matched, but it’s probably going to be a few months. Then, we wait a few more months after that to travel and pick up our little one. Realistically, it might be this time next year before we are parents.

Rob has started working on some grant applications to help us afford the process.

In the time that we’ve been working toward this goal, several of our friends have had babies or become pregnant. I can’t say that it hasn’t been difficult for me. I just have to remind myself that I can’t change our situation. All I can change is my outlook on the situation. I try to remind myself to be thankful for a very sweet and loving husband and lots of supportive friends and family.

-Bonnie (and Robert)

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