Thursday, May 25, 2017

Consent to Adopt

There are so many steps in this adoption process.  We didn't realize how many there would be after N came home.  It isn't bad, it just seems to keep going.

Last month we received the Consent to Adopt from ICAB.  This is a big step.  Up to this point we were just N's care takers and her official guardian was the placement agency in CA.  Now that has all changed.

We could stop at this point.  N is officially our daughter and I believe a US citizen.

We are choosing to not be done though and are in the process of readoption in VA.  This will allow us to do a name change, get a VA birth certificate and we will also apply for an social security number.  In all, this will likely take a few more months.

So we continue to move forward in this process.  We are now 4 years and 3 months from when we first got notice that we could apply.

Correction: I apparently I jumped the gun a bit.  N is still in the legal custody of the CA adoption agency.  She also is not yet a US citizen, just a legal resident.  This will all hopefully change in a month or two as we finalize the adoption in the Virginia courts.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time in the Snow

Well this post is a little late.  N had her first experience with real snow.  She loved it.  Except for that time when her foot got run over while sledding.

The kids all got bundled up and spent a lot of time outside.  So much time they came in with frozen toes and fingers.  There were forts built, a hill to sled on and imaginary houses for all.

We all continue to have new experiences constantly.  As well as things are going we do get reminders that we are all still adjusting to our new family dynamic.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Post Placement Visits complete

Today concludes six months with N as part of our family.  That is an important number because it means we can now officially apply to finalize the adoption.  During the last six months she has officially been a ward of our placement agency in California.  We have now completed four post placement visits and will shortly be asking ICAB's consent to finalize the adoption.

It has been an amazing six months.  We continue to marvel at how well N is doing with the transition.  She seems to have accepted all of our family as being hers.  Now not everything is perfect. We definitely have our moments and everybody is still adjusting to the new look of our family.

This past week N started swim lessons.  She was very excited, very worried and then very excited again.  In the end she had a blast.  Although she does like to ask why a lot.  Why swimming lessons? Why brush teeth? Why is it time for bed? This is great though, because she also asks "what does that mean," a lot.  Like when we were driving home from swim lessons and she decided to tell me "that's so weird" followed by "Daddy what does weird mean?" Although her spoken language is great for only being in the country six months we are coming to realize she doesn't always know the meaning of what she is saying.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Many Firsts

It has been an exciting month and a half.  We have had many firsts.  N has seen her first snow, albeit just a dusting.  We have had our first Christmas, hike, the first swim in a pool and first time ice skating.

N continues to amaze us with her ability to adapt to all these new things.  We spent Thanksgiving with family in South Carolina where she met many aunts, uncles and cousins. While in SC N was able to meet her Filipino cousins for the first time.  We also were able to convince her to try the pool.  After some hesitation she decided she loved it.

Then it was on to Christmas.  There was definitely some adjustment at Christmas as we all learn what it is to be a family of five and are reminded what it is to have a five year old.
The first Christmas pajama.

The first ride in a convertible with Mama.

 First time ice skating.

 First New Years day hike.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


It it seems to be the time of year to express your thanks and reflect on the past 12 months.  We are very thankful to have N as part of our family.  Her smile, joy and excitement for all the new things is very fun.

She has enjoyed experiencing Halloween (above) and the fall leaves for the first time.  She even helped me rake the leaves and compact them in the trash can (below.)  G helped too!

We are just about at the three month mark.  Everything continues to go well.  N very much enjoys her teacher and learning.  She continually amazes us with how well she seems to be transitioning.  Things aren't perfect. There is adjustment for everybody having another person in the house.  

Even during all this joy there is uncertainty.  Being a white male I have not often thought about the color of my skin and how people react to it.  Over the last week there seems to be more people who feel comfortable expressing feelings that are less than inclusive of non white people.  As a father of somebody who is in this category, seeing this is troubling.  I don't know what the future will bring but I am hopeful that our country can become a place that is welcoming to all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Two months and a different world

The kids at the Science museum in Manilla
Just two months ago we were still in the Philippines. At the time N was quiet and reserved.  She was definitely still just figuring us out. In the last two months a lot has changed.

First up we all celebrated J's birthday.  He had an ice skating party with some friends.  N joined us but decided not to ice skate, it was to "cold, cold."

She has gotten to meet most of her grandparents and an aunt, uncle and cousin.  Hopefully with the holidays coming up she will hopefully be able to meet more.

  We also had the chance to do some adventuring as a family.  We took a short trip to a National park for some hiking.  We also had a chance to make some treats together.

During these times we continue to be thankful for her huge smile and wonderful laugh.

 Then it was time to start school.  On the left is her first day of school.  On the right Jenn had the chance to join N's class on their field trip to a farm. Everybody had a great time.

Now it is almost time for Halloween.  N carved her own pumpkin and is very excited to dress up for trick or treating.

We know our journey is really just beginning.  There will be many challenges ahead some related to adoption and some just normal parenting stuff.  We feel very blessed that things are going so well at this point.  Just like with any adoption there are some challenges but ours have not been as challenging as many others yet.

Although I can't yet get a hug anytime I want, when I do they are amazing.  And every night at bedtime she asks "Daddy sing a song."

Monday, October 3, 2016

Travels Part 3 - Manilla

As the travel plans worked out we actually spent the most time in Manilla.  Thankfully we also had the biggest hotel room.  We stayed at a residence hotel so that we had a kitchenette, living room and two bed rooms.  This was much needed as we all needed a little extra space to be figuring each other out.

We arrived in Manilla mid day and headed to the hotel.  Thankfully we had some good tutoring and experience with taxis.  We knew at this point to insist on the meter and not a flat rate.  Even though the taxi driver didn't know exactly where the hotel was I was glad to see him ask one of the traffic cops for directions. We arrived at the hotel with no major issues.  We decided to just relax in the roof top pool for the rest of the afternoon.

The view from the roof was very striking to me.  You could easily see the big hotels and then the squatters areas right next door.

The boys enjoyed the pool.  They were always very excited to be in the water.

N wasn't so sure about the water and decided to just explore the furniture on the patio.

The next day we decided to start exploring the city.  N was doing pretty well so off we went to the children's science museum.  After not being able to get a taxi at the hotel or on the street corner, (it was rush hour after all), we decided to give Uber a try.  This was our first foray into Uber and it worked perfectly.  We used it for all of our transportation for the rest of the trip.

G is fascinated by robots right now.  This one was made all from vacuum parts.

This display demonstrated the effects an earthquake has on different types of buildings.

Here G was trying to make a gigantic bubble with him in the middle.

 It seems that each of our days had a fun activity in the morning and a more cultural one in the afternoon.  On day one we walked to the American Military Cemetery.  It was a beautiful and peaceful place.  Despite everybody complaining about the walk, which was longer than necessary because we had trouble locating the entrance at first, everyone was very impressed.
They had mosaic maps showing all the different military engagements the US was a part of in the area.

Jenn was on the trip too.  It was her phone that had all the space for photos though.

The view from the hotel at night.

On day two we started at the aquarium.  It was very different.  We heard the Filipino's like malls and there were malls everywhere.  The aquarium was integrated into a mall.  Many of the exhibits where like stores in the mall.  It was a little confusing for us to find all of them but we made it.

After we finished at the aquarium we headed down the street to Rizal park.  Rizal is a national hero as he was martyred by the Spanish while fighting for Philippine independence. 

G wanted a picture in this Jeepney that was part of the orchidium garden, unfortunately not many orchids were in bloom.

After forcing everybody to walk the length of the park they were rewarded with a trip to the playground. 

Day three in Manila brought us to the Inter Country Adoption Board (ICAB.) At ICAB we were able to get N's passport and official travel papers.  As you can tell she wasn't very excited about pictures at this point.  Everything worked out just as we had hoped.

 After ICAB we headed to the Mall of Asia to do a little souvenir shopping.  It was similar to any other mall, not sure what I was expecting.  After making a lap of the mall we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and start packing.
While Jenn and the boys hit the pool one last time.  N allowed me to read her a book.  This was probably the first time she sat on my lap. 

Friday brought us to our departure day but not until 5 pm.  Even with allowing for all the airport stuff we had some extra time.  So we walked to Ayala Museum.  For Jenn and I it was probably the most interesting museum we visited.  One of the highlights was a set of 60 dioramas depicting the history of the Philippines.  This is J standing next to the one showing the rice terraces.  They are hand build and if laid end to end would be 80 times longer than the Great Wall of China.  I think seeing them will be a part of our next trip, whenever that may be.

 There was also an exhibit on Philippine gold. This was a death mask. 

We had lunch at the Ayala Museum cafe.  It was Filipino food and the best we had all trip. The kids loved the koi pond.

Then it was time to head into the air for the next 25 hours.  Some people slept but not as much as usual.

My mom waited patiently to pick us up as we were the last people to pass through customs.  This was do to many factors including not knowing what were doing and picking the lines with the largest families around.

We made it though and we all rested some when we got home.