Potty Training & Hurricane Harvey

It's been a whirlwind of a week. We went into the weekend with potty training in mind. We've been prepping June for two weeks and were ready to tackle this. Underwear-check! Pee Pads-check! Chocolate-check! Stickers-check! Potty ring-check! We got this! And what do you know, it was the perfect weekend to start since it would be raining all weekend. If we were going to be stuck at home, might as well be on a rainy weekend, right?


Day 1 was full of accidents but day 2, we were getting it down. Then Day 3, Harvey made landfall and the potty training was not going so well. We were trying to keep an eye on the water level outside and the news, that waiting for June to do her potty dance wasn't going so well. All day, Phi was slowly moving important things upstairs just in case anything were to happen. We were trying to protect the furniture downstairs by putting the legs of the dining table in cups. We lifted our bed and pulled out the drawers to our dresser. We were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

We've lived here for over 11 years and it's never flooded, ever! We purchased flood insurance after Hurricane Ike in 2008 as a precaution. This year, we decided to let it lapse after August 29th. It's been almost nine years and it's never flooded and we've never filed a claim. However, as the day continued and the rain would not let up, we were getting nervous. I decided to give the company a call to renew the insurance, just in case. Fortunately, we were able to renew it over the phone.

We continued to watch the water levels creep up the driveway with no end in sight. The radar continued to show bands of red. When would the rain let up?


We decided to put June to bed early so I could help Phi move things upstairs. As we were transporting our valuable items upstairs, I noticed water seeping through the walls. It didn't even come through the doors first, it went through the walls! We grabbed all the towels we had and tried to stop the water. It started coming in so fast that there was nothing we could do but watch our home slowly fill with water. We moved as much as we could upstairs before it would be destroyed.




Then I broke down in tears in the middle of our bedroom as we watched the water slowly come into our house. I felt helpless. There was nothing we could do to protect our home. We were forced to hunker down upstairs while it continued to rain and water continued to fill our home.

We tried to sleep but I couldn't. My mind was racing, "what if we lose power?", "what if one of us gets electrocuted?", "what if the house catches on fire?", "what if...?". I couldn't shut off my brain. But I turn and hear Phi snoring. How could he be sleeping right now? I woke him up to share my concerns and started crying again. How could this have happened? I was so worried about us getting electrocuted that every time the AC kicked on, I would jump. I was finally able to sleep a little but jerked awake thinking I heard Phi say the roof was leaking. Fortunately, it was just a nightmare.

It was eerie sitting in our game room and the only sounds we were hearing was from the helicopters flying above or the boats going down the streets. There weren't the usual sounds of the cars driving by or airplanes flying over.

I did not get much sleep that night. I woke up earlier then usual, concerned that the water had risen more. I grabbed the flashlight to check the water level and it was above the baseboard, all the while, it continued to rain. My poor Sadie didn't go out to potty since the evening before and refused to go on the pee pads I laid out for her. Every time one of us would stand up to check outside or downstairs, she was anxious to go outside but we were afraid to open the doors because more water would come into the house.

Fortunately, June slept in later today, so we were able to grab more items downstairs, come up with a game plan for the day and check in with family and friends. We lost internet the night before so cellphone reception was spotty for me. However, Phi was able to use his phone to get weather updates. Having limited information was frustrating. We couldn't get on the tv to check, we were relying on family members and friends to update us on what was going on outside.

Phi would check the water levels inside the house every hour while I kept June entertained upstairs. Poor thing kept wanting to go downstairs to eat or play. Her routine was turned upside down and she didn't quite grasp what was going on. I tried to show her the water downstairs and in the retention are in the back, but she just wanted to play in it. I tried to keep her day as casual as possible but just ended up snacking her all day and letting her watch Mickey Mouse on the iPad. The whole time I was concerned with what I was going to feed her. We had cereal without milk for breakfast and sliced bread, peanut butter and canned fruit. Not the most nutritious of meals but she seemed happy. She kept saying, "we're eating upstairs." It was a new, fun adventure for her.

As the day went on and the rain continued, I was getting nervous. The winds were howling outside and the rain kept pouring down. We were informed that there were more red bands of rain coming down. We kept seeing boats down our street with our neighbors evacuating. I was trying to reach out to as many neighbors I could via Nextdoor. Some were waiting to evacuate while others decided to stay put.

Phi was talking to his brother and they were thinking about having him come to our house via float and take us back to his house. He was not sharing his plans with me, which made me nervous. I was just reading the exchange through group chat and not sure if this was really his plan. Were we really trying to evacuate by float through this torrential rain and winds with a 3 year old and a dog who was scared of water?

Our neighbor a few doors saw that there was a good Samaritan who had a kayak, going down the street, asking if anyone would want to be evacuated. She sent them our way since she knew we had a little girl. He was able to help us evacuate but he would have to make two separate trips. I did not want to be separated, in case something were to happen to one of us. When Phi opened the front door to talk to the kayaker, he saw that the water wasn't as high and finally convinced Sadie to go outside to try to use the restroom. After some coaxing and reassuring, she finally found a "dry" spot on my juniper bushes.

Our plan was to have our bags packed and ready to go, if needed. I packed 3-4 days of clothes, diapers and all the medicine we needed. We were told more red bands of rain was on it's way and would last a couple of hours. Then we heard people yelling. We didn't know where it was coming from but we heard it. Phi decided to open the window to see if he could pinpoint the location to see what they were saying. We couldn't find where the yelling was coming from but we did see our next door neighbor outside trying to move the floating fire ant piles away from his truck. Not only did we have to deal with flood waters and strong winds, now we were dealing with floating fire ant piles!

Now I was getting really nervous. It was about 1 pm and getting darker outside. I told Phi I was ready to evacuate. I wanted to be out of the house before it got dark in case we lost power. Who knew what was in store for us for the rest of the night. Phi thought we were able to last another day but I didn't want to risk it. We heard a boat go by the house and I was able to flag them down. They happen to be Channel 13 and said they'd be back for us. We had a new plan, we were going to leave.


We had our bags ready to go and I was trying to feed June lunch as she watched Mickey Mouse. All the while, I was telling June that we would need to get on a boat and that it would be wet and windy. I told her that she didn't need to be scared because mommy and daddy would always protect her and keep her safe.

The time continued to tick away but we did not see the boat come by. An hour later, we still didn't see them. We heard the boats go by down the main street but nothing down our way. Phi wanted to see if we could stay another night and evacuate the next day. I wanted to leave.

We decided to put June down for her nap. When I was singing her to sleep, tears came rolling down my cheek because I knew this would be the last time in a while that I would be able to put her to sleep in her crib at our house.

We came up with another plan. I tried to contact the Coast Guard, but only got a busy signal. I asked family and friends to call for me while I put out a white sheet and spelled "HELP" with painter's tape on the window. As I was finishing up, we saw a boat slowly come down our street. I asked them if they would be able to help us evacuate and they said they could!

I scooped June up from her crib, put her on my back using our carrier and grabbed her puddle jumper. Phi grabbed Sadie and our bags and we climbed into the boat. It's a strange feeling to leave your house in a boat instead of a car. As we were pulling away, I looked up at our house one last time, saw the "HELP" sign and white fabric on the upstairs window and wondered when we would be able to go back home.

As we were riding on the boat, we were surprised at how high the water levels were. We were seeing tops of cars that were abandoned on the road and trucks that tried to get to higher ground but got stuck. We were shivering and wet from the rain. I held on tightly to June's hand and kept looking back to make sure Sadie was safe. June and Sadie did so well on the boat and we were so proud of them. June just kept saying "we're on a boat". She didn't cry or scream once during it all. She didn't get upset that her hoodie kept coming off or that she was all wet and cold. She was a brave little girl and we are so thankful for that.

video

We were taken to Phi's brother's house, who lives in the same neighborhood as us, about a mile south of where we live. As we were headed that way, other boats were telling us that evacuation was the other way. The streets leading up to his house didn't look promising either. As we got closer, I told Phi that we had to come up with a Plan B, in case his house took on water. Fortunately, his house was still dry and we hunkered down for the night. It continued to rain throughout the night and we were nervous that we would need to evacuate again but, luckily for us, that never happened. A special thank you to the good samaritan, Scott, who came down from Austin to help with the rescue efforts. He will forever be in my thoughts and prayers.

We are safe, we are dry and we are together.

The flood waters receded enough for us to get to the house on Wednesday, August 30th, to start the clean up process. We are temporarily staying with family until we're able to rebuild.

We have been blessed with loving family and friends who've helped us during this whole process. Thank you to all who came to clear the flooring, demo the walls and pack up our entire downstairs. We cannot thank you enough. And thank you to The Busch's for watching our Sadie for us during this process of rebuilding! We love you all!

One Year Later

Let me start off by apologizing for not updating this sooner. I had grand plans of posting while we were in China and throughout our journey home, but life with a toddler got in the way and here we are. I cannot believe it will be a year in a few days. As I reflect on our year together, I've come to realize I am much more capable then I could imagine. This year came with a lot of challenges and obstacles. Many times I felt defeated and at a loss. I asked myself many times, "How could I care for this child? I know nothing about being a mom." I could not thank the many moms in my life enough and of course, my hubby. I have become a stronger mom because of them. Here are some photos from our trip to China.

First Family photo in China
First month home
The first few months were difficult. I was struggling with post adoption depression and how to take care of a two year old. Our worlds were turned upside down. We were trying to teach her how to communicate with us and let her know that she would be safe and loved. I remember thinking, "What did we get ourselves into?" But those few months are a blur now. She knows so many words, making sentences and recognizes all her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. 

She loves Sadie. She loves watching her eat her food and treats, drink water and run in the backyard. They are two peas in a pod.

First time meeting




We've learned that she has a lot of personality. She loves to sing & dance, run, eat, make you laugh and give hugs & kisses. Here are a list of her favorite things so far:

Color: Orange
Toy: Varies by day but usually her LeapFrog Remote, LeapFrog Laptop, "Sadie" dogs from Lego Duplo, Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse stuffed toys, Water Table and Little Tykes Car
Food: Coconut Rolls, Cashews, Peanuts, Almonds, Cha (Vietnamese Ham),Cereal, French Fries, Hamburgers, Egg rolls, Ham, Chicken
Favorite Books: Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Octopus, Goose on the Loose, Alphabet Books/Rhymes, Little Gorilla, Always
Favorite activity: Eating, Bath time, Playing with Mommy & Daddy, Reading, Running/Chasing, Watching Mickey Mouse, Playground, Swimming, Playdates with Cousins & Friends

I could go on and on about our little June-bug. She is a ball of energy and full of smiles. She continues to learn everyday and teaches us something new about ourselves constantly. Everyday is a new adventure with her. I can't wait to see what the next year brings us.



We have travel dates!


We have travel dates! I cannot believe this last part of everything has gone by so fast. All this waiting and finally we have a date to pick up our little girl. 

We're officially approved


We just received word from our agency that we're officially approved from China. There are a few more steps to take before we can bring our little girl home. Here's a handy little chart a friend of mine made for reference.
Waiting Child China Adoption Paperchasing Acronyms
ACRONYM STANDS FOR WHAT IT MEANS (BASIC) LEVEL OF CELEBRATION
Dossier To China Your agency has sent your dossier to China, or, the CCCWA, where it will be translated into Chinese and logged into the system.
Out Of Translation Your dossier is out of translation.
Log-In-Date The date your dossier is officially received by the CCCWA.
Letter Of Intent Your agency submits this letter to China after you have accepted a referral.
Pre-Approval Pre-approval from China (effective June 2013, PA is not required for LID-already families).
Letter Of Acceptance, or, Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) Official approval from China (effective June 2013, your agency will receive an electronic “soft LOA” prior to the hard copy of LOA).
National Visa Center NVC sends you an email with a PDF indicating your file has been forwarded, or, “cabled” to the US Consulate in Guangzhou (printed copy arrives later).

Article 5
(drop-off and pick-up)
Your immigration information and child’s visa application
are dropped off at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, and then picked up 2 weeks later.
Travel Approval Your agency has received TA from CCCWA, which means you are one step closer from traveling to China. Start packing!
Consulate Appointment Your agency will request a CA with the US Consulate in Guangzhou in order for you to obtain your child’s US visa when you are in China.

Pre-Approval!

***UPDATE***
We received our i800A approval in the mail! Now our dossier is ready to send to China!

We received our pre-approval (PA) today! Now, we're just waiting for our i800A to be approved so we can send our dossier to China for official approval. We're one step closer to getting our baby girl!

It's been awhile

Since our last update, things have been steadily progressing in our adoption. We had to redo our dossier since China could not accept documents over 6 months old. We also had to update our i800A form and submit updated bio-metrics/fingerprints information. One other item to update was our home study. With everything completed, we were able to mail our dossier to our agency in June.

The agency had enough information from our dossier to start the matching process without the actual dossier being in China. There were a couple of forms for us to complete, including a medical checklist of special needs that we would be willing to accept. With that form turned in on July 31st, the agency started to look for our little girl.

On August 18th, we received our first referral! I was in total shock. I was actually at my doctor's office receiving my infusion so I had no idea what was going on. The hubby found out first and tried to contact me but I was sound asleep. Once I woke up, I was in a state of disbelief. Was I still dreaming? I couldn't believe any of this was happening. We've been in this process for so long, its been hard to stay hopeful. But it was real! All I could think was, "could this be our baby girl?"

We received a packet that included some pictures, medical history and a video of her. We weren't sure how old the pictures and video were but we had a rough idea. I immediately contacted a friend who had adopted from China to get her advice on what we should do next. Luckily, a friend of ours is a pediatrician and she offered to review the records. We also contacted Texas Children's Health Center for International Adoption to review the information. We thought the more eyes on the medical information, the better.

We had our first pre-consultation meeting with TCH on Monday, August 25th. I was full of nerves all day. We had some idea of what her medical situation was but we didn't know what to expect from the meeting. After our pre-consultation, we had a few concerns about her health. We sent some followup questions that our agency forwarded on to China. A week later, we received answers; answers that calmed our concerns.

On September 4th, we accepted the referral and now we wait for Baby Nguyen to come home!


There's been a change

It's been a while since we posted an update, so here goes. Back in January, we had a conference call with our agency to discuss the progress of our adoption. It's a phone call that we've been waiting a while for since it has been over two years since we started this process. We were given some good news and bad.

Here's the bad news. The agency has decided it's time for them to pull out of the Moldovan program. It was heartbreaking to hear but we knew it was coming. I'm part of a FB group for families adopting from Moldova and one by one, each person was posting that their agency was leaving the Moldovan program. Simply put, the government adoption officials are not moving forward as they stated they would. It breaks our hearts that there are children in need but cannot be in a loving home; it's just out of our hands. Even though we cannot bring a child home from Moldova, we would still like to help them. If you would like to purchase one of our Simply Love shirts, all proceeds will go towards a Stella's Voice. Just click on the button to the right to purchase.

Now, here is the good news. We have options and all is not lost. We have decided to move forward with their Minor Special Needs Program in China. We do not have to start over with our dossier but it will need to be reevaluated to see what documents can be used and what documents we need to provide. But at least we know what to expect with that. The agency has given us a rough time line, believing that we should have our child sometime later this year. We'll continue to keep you all posted as much as we possibly can. Thank for your continued prayers and support for our family.