Archive for May, 2008

Yep, our family van has a big owie–but not as big as I had imagined it would be!  Dan took Brock and Luke to a Cub Scout Day Camp in a nearby town today and had two other scouts and one other parent riding along.  Sure enough, a deer jumped out right in front of them, and Dan crunched the van.  Praise God, no one was hurt (except for the deer!), and the damage wasn’t nearly as bad as I had pictured in my mind when Dan called me after the accident.  He has already been in contact with our insurance company, so hopefully our van will be on the mend soon.  We are going to Denver on Monday for Kara’s check-up on her foot, but my parents have graciously offered us their van so we won’t have to risk driving our beat-up vehicle.

Other than that mishap, Dan said that the boys had a very good time at the Scout Camp.  Luke was the youngest one there, but it is reported that he was quite a trooper and stuck in there to the very end.  He got tired, but didn’t get whiney or frustrated, so that is really good.  I thought the boys would immediately run to the Wii when they got home, but instead they took John, Kara, and Cosette outside to teach them the fun games that they had learned at camp!  I thought that was pretty neat.

This is a video of Luke and Brock reporting about camp. There’s some pretty cute stuff in the last moments of the clip, so please watch to the very end.  I am glad that my kids missed each other today!

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5/30/08 Update:  This family now has their new referral, and it looks like things are beginning to smooth out for them.  Pictures of their daughter can be seen on their family website at http://chinacaboose.blogspot.com/ .  Please take time today to join me in praising Jesus Christ for His mighty work!  This will be my last update on this story.

5/29/08 Update:  I am reading great news about this family’s situation on the Yahoo group where I learned about it!  I will post another update as soon as there is official information.  In the mean time, please keep praying for this family.  Their time frame is pretty tight, and they still need God’s direct guidance.

There is a dear family in China  right now that I am in contact with that is experiencing a similar adoption situation that we experienced in 2006.  I would really ask you to pray for them–this is really a difficult time for them, and they are waiting to see what direction their journey will take.  The website where that family is posting updates is at http://chinacaboose.blogspot.com/ .

As a result of this situation, I have noticed that several people are searching The Prairie Family Chronicles for Kara’s story because our journey was so similar.  That happened back in 2006, so it is many pages back in this journal.  To find those entries easier, type “September 2006” into the search engine of The Prairie Family Chronicles, and it will bring up a listing of the entries made on those dates.  The main entries of interest are at the following links:





If you are looking for this information, I hope this helps.  Please take time to pray for the family in China–they really need the encouragement and direction from God that we so generously received in 2006.  Their current situation reminds me just how blessed we are to have Kara in our family.

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I have been taking a lot of pictures, but haven’t been putting them in Smileboxes lately.  So, I decided to combine some of my favorites from the last couple of weeks into an unthemed, unrelated slideshow!  Enjoy the recent pictures of the Prairie Family Chronicles clan!

Click to play May Pictures
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More information about this film can be seen at http://www.mandiemovies.com/ .

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     During the summer we have “Movie Day.”  This started several years ago when our local movie theater had free afternoon matinees for kids.  Back then, they had several good movies on their schedule, and I enjoyed taking my kids to the movies, and they enjoyed the popcorn!
    Our local theater still does this, but for the last few years there have been no movies that I will allow my kids to attend.  So, we decided last year to start our own “Movie Day” once a week during the summer.  This is a rare treat for us because we really don’t watch television very much, let alone watching movies.  But we have gathered quite a collection of nice movies, and the kids like watching these DVD’s and eating our homemade popcorn almost as much as going to the theater.
     Last week we started our “Movie Day” for this summer by watching the second volume of the Sugar Creek Gang movies entitled The Great Canoe Fish.  In the films, Circus is a GIRL!  Yes, a girl!  In the books, all of the gang members are boys, but they have a really cute tomboy character playing Circus in the movie.  As we watched the film, we noticed that not only does this girl-version of Circus act like Cosette, she even kind-of looks like a little-older Cosette too!  Since then, Circus has been Cosette’s hero, and she asked me to try to make her hair in braided ponytails like Circus’s too.  So, I gave it my best shot, and now it is a regularly requested hairstyle! 
     Actually, I think Cosette looks pretty cute trying to imitate Circus.  The actress that plays that part, Lexi Johnson, is also playing the part of Mandie in the new Mandie movie “Mandie and the Secret Tunnel” due to be released in 2008.  This new movie is based on one of the Mandie books, which is a series of books similar to a girl-version of the Sugar Creek Gang.  I figure we might as well start reading those books, because I am sure Cosette will love them, and will love seeing “Circus” playing the part of Mandie! 
     I will post a video clip of the new Mandie movie trailer in my next post. 





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Kara’s New Shoes

Dan and I have noticed over the last several months that Kara has gotten to where she falls down more and more often.  In fact, right now she has bandaids on both of her knees from falling down outside, and that is not unusual!  We have seen a trend that she does pretty well until she tries to turn, and that is when she has a tendency to fall down.  We have been concerned that maybe she is having problems with relapse of her clubbed foot or something.  She has a scheduled appointment with Dr. G. in Denver a week from tomorrow, so we have been looking forward to sharing our concerns with her then–especially since Kara is planning on playing t-ball this summer.  Falling when turning corners and playing t-ball don’t mix very well!

Anyway, today Kara wore a fairly casual dress to church, so I put on a pair of sandals for her to wear.  Her clubbed foot has always been and will always be smaller than her other foot, but we have never worried too much about that.  She has just worn regular shoes and has never really complained.  When I put on those sandals, though, I could see just how BIG that shoe was compared to her foot!  But, like I said, that is what we have always done, so I didn’t give it much thought.  During the church service, Kara said she needed to use the restroom, and between the pew where we were sitting and the restroom door, she tripped three times on that big sandal.  That set me to thinking…

Could it be that Kara’s tripping is caused by the big shoe on her clubbed foot?  When we got home, I measured her feet and used a sizing chart off of the internet to see what size of shoe would actually fit that clubbed foot, and I was a little surprised!  She has been wearing size 9 in kids shoes, but her clubbed foot actually measured size 6 1/2!  I talked with Dan about what I was thinking, and we both agreed that I should buy two pairs of shoes, one in size 9 and one in size 6 1/2, to see if wearing the two different sizes might reduce the falling down problems.  We really wanted to get these shoes as soon as possible so we can have several days to observe Kara before her appointment with Dr. G. next Monday.  So, I went to Walmart to see what I could find.  Finding two matching pairs of shoes in those sizes is no easy task!  I looked and looked, and finally found a cute pair of pink shoes that Kara seemed to like. 

So, am I onto something???  Only time will tell.  We’ll definitely be talking to Dr. G. about our concerns and thoughts and will be looking forward to her advice.


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Well, here it is:  this year’s completed Abeka Academy curriculum in semi-organized piles.  By the time it’s all put in one place, it kind of seems like a mountain of stuff to try to put away!  I hope to get it all boxed up today–then I’ll have to try to figure out where to put the boxes!  I have to sort the books pretty carefully so we don’t have to re-buy the non-consumable books.  Abeka has a nice “family kit” program where their fees are reduced for re-used books (within a single family).  So, I’ll need to label the boxes well.  Looks like a busy day…..

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Word has gotten around pretty quickly that Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest daughter adopted from China, Maria Sue, was killed yesterday in a tragic accident at her home.  She was 5 years old.  That family must be experiencing tremendous grief today, and we in the adoption community are all grieving with them.

I was touched by this video clip of Steven Curtis Chapman singing a song that he wrote after hurrying through bedtime with Maria and her older sister.  He realized that his time with her was short, as is our time with all of our kids. 

Hug all of those precious children while we have them….

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5/28/08 Update:  A family just contacted me about another agency offering the Xing Fu program. The agency is Hand in Hand out of Arizona.  They are assigned to the Nanjing orphanage in Jiangsu Province.  The family providing the information has just signed on with Hand in Hand and are very pleased with the agency and process so far.  Hand in Hand appears to call their program United in Hope for the Special Needs Children of Nanjing, China, and more information can be seen at their website  http://www.hihiadopt.org/ .  Thanks to the family that provided this information.  I am glad that there is at least one more agency with this special program!


Even though we are not currently pursuing further international adoptions, I do try to keep current with adoption processes and trends because I get asked about it on a fairly regular basis.  It is constantly changing, so it’s kind of hard to keep up with it all.

Today I got an email from an agency that summarized some of the changes involved with Chinese adoption, particularly the special needs process.  I wanted to summarize some of that information here for my readers who may be considering this.

The first interesting point was about non-special needs adoption.  The email emphasized the continued lengthening of the process by stating that the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) has only matched 72 days worth of log-in dates in the last 12 months.  The wait times for non special needs kids continue to increase, and this agency (along with many others) does not expect that to change any time soon.

Because of this dramatic wait-time increase, many families have opened up to adopting special needs kids.  Unfortunately, there are many changes in the special needs process from China as well.  First of all, photolistings are nearly non-existant or are difficult to access.  Although I understand the need to protect children’s identities, seeing those pictures has helped parents in the past to “connect” with a particular child.  It is harder to find that connection with generic, non-specific listing of gender, age, and broad description of special need.  This has also made advocating for these kids very difficult at best, and impossible in reality.

The next big change for SN adoptions is that the CCAA has transitioned everything to an online system through their website.  Previously, each agency that had a special needs program received paper files.  The agencies that now have access to the CCAA’s SN files have a special computerized “key” to access that information.  Again, this promotes privacy, but it also complicates parents being able to be matched with a child.  I will explain that more in the following paragraphs.

The CCAA now has several SN programs including the individual agency lists, the XingFu program (which I will describe later), and the Shared Agency List.  The individual lists given to agencies are quite limited and small, and the XingFu program is only available from one or two USA agencies, so by far the largest program is the Shared Agency List.  The Shared Agency Program is just that, a list of available children that is shared by many, many agencies.  Although this program does offer the files to the largest number of potential families, this can complicate matching for those families.  The competition for these kids is unbelievable.  For example, this particular agency has its staff member with the shared agency “key” in China, so she can monitor the shared list in Chinese time.  Here in America, most of the files are added during the night, while it is daytime in China.  The kids that have “minor” special needs are literally placed on hold within minutes of being listed on the CCAA’s shared list, so by the time American agencies open the next morning, most of those files are already on hold.

The CCAA also has new time-frame requirements, and there are pro’s and con’s.  They really want these kids placed quickly, which is great.  Unfortunately, it also causes difficulties for the adoptive families.  First of all, if a family is able to get a child placed on hold off of the shared list, they only have 48 hours to submit a Letter of Intent along with several other documents or the child’s file will be returned to the list.  Again the time difference between China and the USA really limits this time frame to 24 hours.  So, basically a family must really have an understanding of the requested special need and its treatments because there will be no time during the referral process to consult with physicians or other professionals.

There are also time limitations on submitting a complete dossier (including the homestudy and immigration approval) when pursuing one of these Shared Agency List children.  Using this program, a family has to submit the completed dossier within one month of accepting a referral.  If the child happens to be on an agency’s individual list, there is a three-month time frame to work with.  So, basically a family has to be pretty far along with the paperwork to be matched with a waiting child.  Again, this expedites the process of placing the children, so I guess that part is good.

This agency is suggesting that families be open to a variety of special needs.  The kids with the most requested special needs are put on hold very quickly, so being open to a variety of conditions opens up more possibilities.  Just a personal thought, though:  don’t jump at a special need that you are not prepared for just to end the wait.  I highly recommend careful thought and a lot of research, which, of course, has to be done in advance because of the new processes.

Finally, I do want to mention the XingFu program.  This, I think would be the program that I would pursue if we were going to start over again.  Currently the only agency that I am aware of here in the USA that has this program is Homeland Adoption Services.  Their website is http://www.hometown.aol.com/brightinfo/ .  This really is a neat program that I would love to see expanded.   The best way to explain this program is the description on their homepage that says the following:

We invite you to explore the possibility of adopting a wonderful waiting child through our XingFu Program! Through agreements with CCAA, Civil Affairs, and orphanage officials in Jiangsu Province, we are currently placing all the waiting children from Wuxi, and Changzhou. The children range in age from under a year up to 12.  There are boys and girls, and most have correctable medical needs. Call us at 845-727-0500 or email:homelandadoption@aol.com.

I have read that there are currently more kids available through this program than there are families waiting.  There are other advantages to this program as well.  The Homeland staff have direct access to these kids and can often provide detailed medical reports, photos, and even videos. Even more information can often be requested if needed.  Families are able to exclusively review files and have more time to carefully consider children and get advice from professionals.  The process is expedited, and families often travel in groups similar to other programs.  Although I have had no personal contact with Homeland Adoption Services, I am a member of their Xing Fu program discussion group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeland_xingfu , and it seems that the families there cannot say enough good about the agency and this special program.  So, like I said earlier, I think this would be the route that we would take if we were to begin another adoption.

I would defintely advise any family considering SN adoption to be in close contact with their agencies.  The process seems to be continually changing.  Although this new process is definitely more difficult than what we had when we adopted Kara, if God has layed SN Chinese adoption on your heart, I would not be discouraged.  He will show you the way and will move the world to bring your child home when it is in His will.  We personally experienced this when we brought home Kara.  So trust Him, and procede in faith.

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Well, believe it or not, I have completed my first major goal for the summer: getting all of the Abeka DVD’s and grade reports ready to mail back to Pensacola.  This is the first step to getting school put away, so I am glad to have that done–it really takes more time than it looks like it would!

On another subject, yesterday Kara and I watched our home videos of when I got her in China and our first few months with her in our home.  It’s always interesting seeing how she responds to those.  She wondered if she used to be a boy because her hair was so short then.  I explained to her that she has always been and will always be a girl, and that her hair was short because it was easier for the nannies to keep the kids clean in the orphanage during the hot months to have short hair on all of the kids.  She noticed on the videos how scared she was in China, but she told me that “I’m not scared any more!” She thought it was strange to hear herself speaking Chinese too! 

It was equally as interesting for me to watch those videos.  Now that I know Kara practically inside-out, I can understand her behavior from those early days together better.   Even after being home for a couple of months, I could see how she was often in the background of the videos observing what everyone else was doing so she could copy.  It must have been so confusing to that sweet three-year-old!

As I was discussing this with my Mom, I mentioned that I don’t know how or when the transformation took place–it was probably too gradual to notice.  But I am so thankful that Kara is happy and confident now.  She has developed her own personality, and she is such a precious girl.  We named her Kara Joy which means “Pure Joy,” because we were confident that God would use her to be a pure joy to our family.  We had struggles and adjustments back then, but I can honestly say that God has been faithful–Kara truly brings pure joy to our family each and every day.

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