(This picture was taken on 10/28 with her new little purse/dog carrier from Sara Beth's family... and of course Bunny who is wherever AnnaClaire is! She LOVES her doggie and doggie bag so much! Thanks again R family!)
So I know I've posted a lot lately, and given you a lot to catch up on, and you really don't need more... but I just need to ramble for a bit. (oh but do be sure to scroll down and read all my posts!) I think it's a combination of just meeting up with our good adoption friends, AnnaClaire's 2nd birthday, and our gotcha anniversary coming up, but I have really been thinking...
Here I am, sitting in my bed listening to Christmas music and I hear AnnaClaire making noises in her sleep. I am suddenly reminded of how much she means to me. We are one of those families who gets an idea and acts quick on it. We don't just sit around for years trying to decide if this is the right thing. So.. in October 2005 when Mom had the dream of adopting from China, we acted pretty quickly. We all knew this was the right thing for us, undoubtedly. We did research, but didn't drone on over it. We picked an agency that we felt right and in January 2006, we started the process. Like I told you... we don't sit on things for awhile... we act on them. The paperchase went by pretty slowly but 7 months later we sent our dossier of to China. We had heard about the waiting children program before, but when AWAA sent us our dossier packet is when we really discovered it and became interested. Right away we began talking about it and were put in the interested families list. Just to see the timeline, we were DTC 7/7, went on the interested families list on 7/16, and were approved on 7/18. On 7/21, I read on the AWAA site that they had recieved a surprise batch of 4 referrals. My heart skipped a beat as I read this... although it was highly unlikely has other people had been waiting months and months for this, and we had been waiting less than a week. On the 24th, we came home from Target (where we bought AnnaClaire's carseat, and thought we would be holding onto for many more months!) to a message from our family coordinator. She needed to talk to us. Mom had called her earlier asking some questions, she we automatically thought this was just a response. By the time we got the message, the AWAA office was closed, so the next day, 7/25, Mom called back. After trying a few times, our FC finally got through to us. I was in my room and heard Mom say, "This is so unexpected! We would LOVE to see her file! So young, too!" I ran downstairs. Her name was Chen Xun Hui. She was 8 months old. She was living in Chenzhou SWI in Hunan. She sounded perfect. 15 minutes later, we were emailed the pictures. She was gorgeous. She was AnnaClaire. She was ours. We could've missed her. You see, we were within an hour of missing the deadline to have our dossier go out on the 7th. It was going to go out on the 14th. It it had gone out the 14th, we would not have gotten our WC info in time to be on the IF list by the 21st. If we hadn't been on the IF list, we would not have been considered in the matching of the 4 children. Another fun fact is that Lucy and Shaoey (both of who we saw this weekend) were 2 of the other 3 surprise referrals. The 3rd was a precious little boy who was adopted a few months later. Anyway. We could've missed her. There's two times. If we had not acted quickly starting the adoption. If we hadn't been DTC on 7/7. There were 2 little pictures we had of "Xun Hui". For 4 months, I lived through these 2 little pictures... in her bright red coat. 4 months to the day after sending our LOI, we were united with our precious AnnaClaire. She was 13 months at the time, and had just began walking the week before. She was healthy and happy, the sweetest and most beautiful baby I had ever seen. We had the most amazing time in China. I remember our very best meal the whole time we were there was the day we visited AC's orphanage- Chenzhou SWI. We ate at a small place nearby. It was pooring rain and the people greeted us at our van with a huge yellow umbrella and walked us inside. We sat in a private room where we were attended two constantly by 2 waitresses. It was the most amazing meal. Terra root was the best part of it. I will never forget terra root. I will also never forget the van driver trying to teach Will how to use chopsticks. It was the best meal we had the whole time we were in China. The price? The equivalent of $16 USD. That was for Mom, Dad, Will, me, AnnaClaire, Amy (our fabulous guide), and the driver. WOW. We came home from China 5 days before Chirstmas to a huge crowd of friends and Drew. We landed close to midnight and there everyone was to greet us with signs and balloons. It was the most amazing site. I started to cry when we saw everyone there. Until you go through it... you never know how amazing it really is to come home from China and see everyone there waiting for you, supporting you, loving you. We got home and our house was filled with food. Our yard was decorated so our Christmas decorations consisted not only of wreaths and holly, but also a big "ITS A GIRL" sign and pink ribbon hung on every tree. It was amazing. The months have gone by. AnnaClaire has grown up. She is no longer that 5 month old baby from the pictures that we first came to love. She is no longer that 13 month old baby that we first met and fell in love with. She is now a 2 year old princess (and she knows it, too!). It's hard to believe she was ever living in an orphanage. She is spoiled rotten, now! She is perfect. I know she's not literally perfect... but she is perfect for us. I can in no ways imagine having any other mei mei. She is the only one. I look at all the other children. I follow so many blogs, we've met so many adoptive families. Each and every child is gorgeous, sweet, and I love each and every one. But... AnnaClaire is the only one for us. God made the perfect match. I love how God plans everything out. He planned everything perfectly so that we would get that call on July 25, 2006 at 1:04 PM telling us there was a little girl who who matched our criteria... Were we interested?! Adoption amazes me. It really does. So many people ask, "Could I ever love an adopted child as much as I love a biological child?" Although I can't answer that, I can tell you that I love AnnaClaire just as much as I love Drew and Will. Sometimes I forget that she is even adopted. It doesn't even matter. She's my sister either way. Adopted or biological?! She is perfect for us. One of my favorite quotes ever is, "God made you for us". Another mother had AnnaClaire. A mother I think about all the time. But that birth mother was never meant to keep AnnaClaire. She was meant to have AnnaClaire for us. I love that. AnnaClaire was born to someone else, for us. I love everything about her. I love her cheesy smile, her silky black hair, her chub chub legs, her buddah belly, her rosy red cheeks, her teeny fingers, and sweet little toes. I love her little giggle, her adorable voice. I love the way she walks, talks. I love the way she always says "please". Even if her answer is, "no", she says, "no PLEASE!" When she wakes up, she always says, "Mommy PLEASE!" and if Mom doesn't come right away, she starts saying "Sissy PLEASE, Daddy PLEASE". It's so sweet. When she wants something like water, she says, "Wa wa PLEASE". I love how when she does something wrong or something falls, she says "OOPSSS!" with a big smile on her face. I love the way she puts so much emphasis on all her words. I love the way the runs around care-free. I love how she repeats EVERYTHING you say. EVERYTHING. I love the way she says Mickey Mouse... as Mickey has become a new favorite in our house! I love how she has the best memory and will go to pictures ant point out people she's only seen a handful of times. I love the how everytime we pass Chickfila, she says, "Mama large COKE!" without Mom even telling we're passing a Chickfila. That's how amazing her sense of direction is. I love the way she plays peekaboo at any given time and her face just lights up if you play along. I love how when I'm upstairs and she comes up, I can hear her on the stairs saying, "SISSY!" and she runs down the hall to my room and opens my door with the biggest grin. I love how tonight we were all sitting around the table and all of a sudden AnnaClaire rides in on her trike with Mickey and Bunny in the "trunk", with the absolute biggest smile on her face. I love the way when she eats something good, she licks her lips and says, "mmmmmm". I love how when she counts, she always leaves out 7 and ends with a really big TEN! I love how she'll just randomly start counting all the time, but when you ask her to, she says, "no" with the most, "haha I'm not going to do it because I know you want me to!" look on her face. I love the way she always greets me when I get home from school. I love the way she is always joyful and always has a big smile on her face. I love the way she looks when she discovers something new, a look of happiness and also an "can I do this?" look. I love the way she gives the sweetest kisses, biggest hugs, and cuddliest loves. I love everything about her. I love that God created her just to be my sister, that he knew before she was even born that she would live in china for 13 months and then a family would come from North Carolina and make her part of the family. That her name would be AnnaClaire and she would be loved more than words can describe.
So that's my rambling for the night... and finally, I love how not only does adoption bring together families, it creates life long friendships along the way.