Thursday, December 22, 2005

We are getting there!

We are getting there!
Originally uploaded by
It is starting to come together now. The outside was painted and we are getting so excited. I have already picked out Mia's bedroom furniture and can't wait to paint her room and get ready for her arrival.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Ornament

Christmas Ornament
Originally uploaded by
My secret pal sent me a package this week and one of the gifts was this christmas ornament. If you look closely, she has a pink bow with a ladybug on her head. It is adorable.

December Secret Pal Gifts

December Secret Pal Gifts
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Our newest addition... Marley

Our newest addition Marley
Originally uploaded by
Marley is the newest addition to the Harrell family. She is only 4 months old and likes to squawk. We have taught her to whistle and she give kisses and makes the kissing noise when she kisses you. I know we must be crazy, but we definately are animal lovers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
Here is an updated picture of our house. The windows are in and the drywall is going up this week. Our builder has given us a late January/early February finish date.

Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
Mike and I at our front door.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


We finally got power back this afternoon. It is our 3-year anniversary and what a gift! We were without for 16 days. The sounds of generators are long gone and the neighborhood is so quiet now. We actually did pretty good during the storm. Mike had to report to work at midnight before the storm and I rode the storm out with the dogs. It definitely was a nerve racking experience. We are grateful for friends and family who shared their showers and laundry rooms.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Kenedy and Torey

Kenedy and Torey
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Big Sister Kenedy!

Torey is getting big and his sister loves him. I can't believe how much he has grown since I last saw him. I can't wait to see them playing together when Mia arrives. Kenedy is always asking me when we talk on the phone, "Is Mia here yet?" She can't wait to meet her cousin.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mia's bench

Mia's bench
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
Courtesy of Hurricane Wilma, Our neighbor Joe's Maple tree went down and he decided to make a bench for Mia. He is so talented. The piece he is carving is the seat. He cut 2 blocks for the bench seat to sit on. He is going to seal it and give it to us to take to our new house. Her uncle Joe Joe loves her already!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Here we go again!

Need I say anymore. . . .

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Roof Is ON !!!

Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
Oh my God! I've got packing to do. Time is flying by and I am not complaining.

Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Friday, September 23, 2005

September Secret Pal Gifts

These gifts are from my secret pal. This months topic was "The Labor of Love" Mia got some cute PJ's, and a soft pink bunny, and I got a Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul book. I love my gifts and I can't wait until my secret pal can be revealed

Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Our new house!

Our new house!
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
I went up to visit my parents this weekend and of course I had to check out the status of the house. Last I saw was a cleared lot getting ready for the foundation. I can't believe how things change so quickly. Let's hope the rest of the building moves as fast.

Moving right along.....

Moving right along.....
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Cybershower gift
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
Last night was my Cybershower. A Cybershower is a baby shower that is conducted on line. I am a member of a Yahoo group of families that have their Documents to China (DTC) in June 2005. We are formed together by our document dates. This group is compromised of families using different agencies and the members are worldwide. I have seen members from as far away as Norway and Australia. We also have a secret pal exchange where every month there is a theme and we send a little something to our secret pal until we reveal ourselves at the end. It is sort of a way to pass the time during our wait. This was my gift . It is a mix of things and has turtles on it. Very cute!!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Aunt Barbara Uncle Mike ---AGAIN!!

Torey Cameron Lucas

Deanna and Vince had their baby yesterday 8-4-05. Torey was born @ 10:16am in Philadelphia. I am flying out to meet our newest addition on the 17th, I cannot wait! My parents will be grandparents to 3 now. They will jump from 1 to 3 in one year. I hope they are ready!!!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Famous Brown Envelope

The Famous Brown Envelope
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
The brown envelope contains information about our interview at the US Consulate's office in China. It describes info on Mia's medical exam and vaccinations, etc.

Welcome Letter

Welcome Letter
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.
This letter from the US Consulate General-Guangzhou. Our packet has a case number and various forms for us to fill out for Mia's visa to enter America and automatically become a US citizen as soon as she touches American soil!!!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

We got our permits!!!!

Our New House-July 2005
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

Our property is getting cleared and that means we are officially underway. Let's pray for good weather so things can go as planned. We hope to be in our house before Mia arrives!!!

Our New House- July 2005

Our New House- July 2005
Originally uploaded by cygnal20.

The builder is trying to save as many oak trees as possible. I met with the pool contractor yesterday to pick out colors and options. So much to learn and choose. Very exciting and nerve racking at the same time. Mike and I can't believe we are finally at the land clearing stage.

Friday, June 24, 2005

South Florida Meeting

Last night Mike and I went to a South Florida Waiting Families meeting. It is a meeting for families who have children from China or are in the waiting part of their adoption. This group was just put together and last night was the first meeting. We had a great turn out, it was unbelievable, there were 45 people in attendance. Some people were local and some came from West Palm Beach and a lady drove from Key West. We met at a chinese restaurant in Pembroke Pines and it was so awesome to see the children playing. They are all so beautiful and played so good together. Many of them know each other from different play groups, and some just met last night. We sat with a lovely family who have adopted 2 girls and have 4 biological children already. What a nice family!
The group will meet monthly and we want to invite the grandparents next meeting, I know they will enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dossier to China

We just received a letter from USAA, our adoption agency to confirm that our Dossier has been sent to China. We are group #111. We are grouped with other families who sent in their paperwork when we did. Usually this group will travel together to get their child. All of the families from Group #111 will be in touch so we can get to know them prior to our travels. It will be very interesting to see how many are in our group as well as finding out where everyone is from. Most of the families who use USAA are from California.

We didn't hear from USAA regarding anything about our paperwork when we submitted originally, so I guess we did good! No problems and the papers are off!

adoption-a gift of love Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005

In Marco Island doing what we love to do, hanging out on the boat and relaxing 6/2005 Posted by Hello

after dinner at the Sand Bar Posted by Hello

Marco Sunset Posted by Hello

Marco Island, here we come. . . .

Mike and I take this week every year at our timeshare in Marco Island. We meet several other families there that we have been vacationing with for several years now. Most of the families knew Mike and I when we were dating and have been through our engagement, our wedding, and through our desires to have a family. All the families have children and they are like our nieces and nephews. We often let them dye Mike's hair, jump off our shoulders in the pool, our yearly pottery class, and last but not least ICE CREAM!!

I could not wait to get there and share the good news. As I expected, everyone responded with such enthusiasm and joy for us. We cannot wait to bring her next year to meet the extended family. I have had offers for babysitting already.

Throughout the week I was often asked about the adoption process and the obvious question, WHEN? I told them if all goes well she be our newest member of the Marco week #23 crew.

At the end of the week, all the kids were in one room with the door locked. I wanted to go check on something that we were cooking for the group dinner. They told me I couldn't come in and I was obviously curious. A few minutes later all the kids appeared with a tote bag that they decorated with paints. They wrote Mia's name on one side and everyone signed the other side. They also made her a bracelet with shells and an adorable door hanger with rhinestones and a starfish. Their thoughtfulness brought me to tears. Week #23 is an incredible group of people and we love them all. Mike and I always look forward to our Marco Island vacation.

goodluck ladybugs Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

171-H !

The 171-H is the approval that INS gives you to adopt. After running home everyday on my lunch hour to almost jump the mailman. It finally came!

My mother and I were leaving to go meet my sister Deanna and my brother in-law Vince and of course Kenedy in Disney. My mother picked me up at work and I asked her to swing by my house on the way to the Turnpike so I can check the mail. When I opened the mailbox and looked thru the pile and saw Department of Homeland Security I started to get butterflies. I opened it and started jumping up and down. I called Mike at work and he was so excited. Our second major hurdle down.

Disney was great. I enjoyed going on the rides with Kenedy and seeing her interact with the characters. I can't wait for Mia to go with her cousins. It was amazing to see so many families with little girls from China. I couldn't stop dreaming about us with our little girl.

Disney 6/2005 Posted by Hello

Kenedy Posted by Hello

Mom, Deanna, Vince and Kenedy
Animal Kingdom Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Dossier to USAA

A dossier is our file with all the completed paperwork needed by the Chinese government. It includes copy of our homestudy report, and all the other information we have been gathering for several months now. This file is being sent to our agency USAA for authentication on the state level as well as authentication by the Chinese Consulate and then translation of all documents into Chinese.

We mailed out our Dossier Fed-Ex overnight, and I was a nervous wreck checking and double checking that everything on my checklist was in the folder. I was so nervous that while I was at the counter filling out the shipping slip, I sealed everything in the envelope and realized I omitted the check which was right under the Fed-Ex mailer. I had to open the mailer and ask the girl for another envelope.

I really could not believe how nervous I was. I hope my double and triple checking was worth it.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Fingerprinting Day

Today Mike and I went to the INS building in Davie and had our fingerprints done for the FBI check that is all a part of the approval. Very high tech, no ink pad, all electronical.

Thank you to everyone who has been very supported and called us after every step of the way. We appreciate it and can't wait for you to meet Mia!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wrapping up the paperchase. . .

We are just completing everything and getting a few documents notarized. Thanks to Soris who works with Mike, she lived with her ink pad and stamp in her hand for almost 2 months straight, notarizing everything we had. I just completed my child and infant CPR and need to get our papers back from Mike physician and we are done.

Mia's grandfather Wayne is so excited for his granddaughter, he can hardly stand it. He is already planning a car seat in his truck. Can't wait to see that!

Mia's other grandparents are planning to join Mike and I in China. My father is going for sure, but my mom is a little nervous about the flight. I'll think she'll go, I told her to take some pills and sleep the 15 hour flight away. My dad says he won't go without her. Everyone she meets tells her its a trip of a lifetime.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Construction Mortgage

We closed on the new house today. Although we do not have the house yet, the construction portion is just beginning. (Like our life isn't busy already). If I make another copy of a bank statement or a w2 I think I'll scream. Between the adoption and the mortgage I have papers flying everywhere.

We hope our home is done before Mia arrives. We want to get her room ready and get our boxes unpacked before our trip to China. Lots of action happening at the Harrell house. As I told Mike, It's all good things!

Mike is still hanging on at the police department and is looking forward to retiring. We both have a light at the end of our tunnel. Tomorrow we go to the builder to pick out our colors and choices for flooring, cabinets, etc.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Psychological Evaluation

Today was the psych test and we were definitely very nervous. The test consists of 563 questions, which were very odd, however; they say they can tell a lot about you from your answers. Mike was most concerned about the test because he said "After 22 years as a police officer, you do not think like a normal person". Our social worker, Nohra told us not to worry and just answer the questions honestly. So we did and 3 hours later we were done. The test is multiple choice and after testing he sat with us to talk about our lives and our relationship.

After the test which was in a beautiful part of Fort Lauderdale on the intracostal, we had a nice lunch at a restaurant down the street. Of course, all we did is compare answers to the questions that really stood out. It was very interesting to see the difference in our answers and our rational for answering that way.

Mike is very relieved that we have that behind us and Dr. Demartini said he did not foresee a problem and he would grade the test within a couple of days and call with the results.

We'll see.........

"Our Home" visit

Nohra came today to visit us in our home. She spent about 4 hours visiting with us. She spent some time with Mike alone, myself alone, and then she talked with us together. She said we have a lovely home and she has no reservations in recommending us as parents. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, it was very casual and relaxing.

I was hoping it wasn't going to be all day. I bought Marlins Spring Training tickets for this afternoon and we were able to go and have a great afternoon. The weather was great! We needed it.

Slowly but surely, we are making our way down the papertrail checkoff list. Thank GOD!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Meeting with social worker

Today we met with Nohra. She will be creating our homestudy. Our homestudy will be a short story of our lives, from childhood to now, our family life growing up, our view on disciplining our children, our education, our relationship with our family and friends, our hobbies. It's basically a biography of our lives to date. We are required to have 5 letters of reference. 2 from family and 3 from friends, we have asked Tommy and Stacia, Joey and Rich, Chief Magill, Mike's dad Wayne and Deanna and Vince. Their letters were so thoughtful and most made me cry. We are so grateful!

This has been very excited and emotional. Mike and I cannot wait to have a child. We have so many things that we want to share with her. We cannot wait until we can say we are a family.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Today I dropped off our application for the homestudy part of our adoption. The homestudy is required by China and US Citizenship and Immigration. The homestudy has very many parts to it, one being document collection, a home visit, drug and alcohol screening, psychological evaluations, more background checks, FBI fingerprinting and a parenting class. WHEW!!!! More checks than Mike needed to be hired at the police department it seems.

We have our first meeting in a couple of weeks with our social worker, Nohra. Wish us luck 0:)

Friday, January 21, 2005


I have started Mia's scrapbook and it is coming out so nice. I started one for my niece Kenedy when she was born. I have made her pages for the major events in her life. I told Deanna that I will continue until she's is 18.

Deanna is pregnant and due in August, so she asked if I would do the same for the new baby. I told her that the next one is hers, I now have one of my own to do!! I will attach a picture of the book. It is titled, "Once upon a time". Sounds like a good theme for the nursery huh????

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Today we received our passports and our official paperchase has begun!!
Lots and lots of documents to gather:
Birth certificates/marriage certificates/tax records/medical forms/FDLE background checks/employment letters/bank letters/financial statements, the list goes on and on. . . . .