Thursday, September 9, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!!

Wow, what a day for our last day in Taitung!! We were supposed to leave by plane to fly up to Taipei, but wouldn't you know it...a tropical storm blew in that was upgraded to a typhoon! We were down to the wire as to whether or not we were going to be able to fly or had to take a train. We finally decided that we couldn't risk it and took the train. We got to the train station with about 15 min. to spare!

The train ride was NOT ideal with our Teething Timebomb Tiger!! I think it was a 5 1/2 hour train ride, but ended up being closer to 6. Needless to say, Abi did not really enjoy herself, which in turn, made Mommy and Daddy not enjoy themselves either! I think it's safe to say that we were both (well, all 3!!) quite frazzled by the time we made it to Taipei! I do have to say, if it had been a clear day out, the scenery was amazing! This is truly a beautiful country!!

After the always exciting taxi ride in downtown Taipei (it's amazing more people on scooters aren't run right over! Also amazes me that it seems like most foreign cities love to make 3 lanes out of 2!!) to our hotel, we find when we go to check in that our credit card has had a hold put on it. Seriously NOT a good time to mess with me by this point!!! I had called our credit card company the day before we left so we wouldn't have a problem. Turns out, the last hotel had entered the wrong security code and Visa put a fraud alert on our cards. We called visa right there from the desk and got it taken care of. Evidently, today there is still a problem (not with the hotel trying to use, but with something else we tried to use it on) so when Abi wakes up, we will be on the phone with visa again! So annoying! Lance uses it ALL over the world, why would we have a problem now? Probably don't have to answer that for me...I already know! LOL!!

This morning we had our AIT appointment. It went very well. We were in and out of the building in about 1 hour 15 min. Abi's passport/visa will be done today and delivered to our hotel this afternoon for us. Nice to have the last thing taken care of and done!!!

We have 3 full days left in Taipei before we leave on Tuesday. One thing we have to do is visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. I have a picture of my grandparents in front of it when they visited Taiwan many years ago (they are both gone now). I would love to have a picture of us in front of it as well. I think it'd be pretty special!

Here's to more exciting adventures the Gustafson's can find! :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last Day in Taitung



Today is our last day in Taitung. Pretty bittersweet. I would love to spend more time here and see more of the area our daughter was born and has ethnic roots, but I am also extremely excited to be one step closer to going home to see the rest of our family!

I've had a hard time with the internet, so I haven't been blogging as much as I would have liked. I will try to recap the last few days as best as I can!

Sunday, we went to church with Deana and her family. Deana is the lady that runs the home that Abi was in. She is married to a pastor, and they have established a wonderful ministry. Her heart's burden is to prevent abortion and help the girls that are pregnant and often don't know where to turn. I pray that her ministry grows leaps and bounds and that God blesses and guides her efforts.

After church, we went to lunch with Michelle (our translator and guide). We then came back to our room for a while and let Abi nap. Later, we went to the night market with Deana and her family and Michelle. It was so much fun! Lots of things to see, eat and people to watch!

Monday was a big day. We first went the Household Registry to do some paperwork. Then we went and met Dr. Li, who delivered Abi. Then off to Hannah's Hope to tour the home that Abi has been living in. At Hannah's Hope, we got to play with the babies that are there, waiting for their families to come and get them. They are all so precious!!! I can't wait for each of them to go to their forever families! Then after playing, we got to put crib skirts on the cribs in the boy's room. I had been asked if I'd make them. My Mom and I had started to make them, then we found out that we had three days until we had to leave for Taiwan, so bless my Mother's heart! She finished them for me!! They are beautiful!

After spending that time at Hannah's Hope, we went to the lobby and waited (very nervously) for our meeting with Abi's birth mom. I can honestly say that meeting her was one of the hardest, heart-wrenching things I have ever done. All the mental preparation I thought I had done, didn't help. But at least we were able to meet her, she saw that we loved Abi, we assured her that Abi would know that she gave her up out of love, and we thanked her choosing life for this sweet little girl. We have pictures to give Abi when she is older. I know that she will cherish that.

Tuesday, we went to the beach and toured the countryside. It's such a beautiful area! It was weird to think that when we stood at the beach, that we lived on the other side of that same ocean. We went to some local shops and got some local souvenirs. The people here are so giving and gracious. One shop gave us two items to give to Abi when she was older! They really love babies here. We've even had people stop us to take her picture! Everyone has to look at her and talk to her.

Today, we were going to go to the mountains, but there is a tropical storm off the coast that brought a lot of rain, so we went to the local market, Starbucks (had to visit that! We're from the Seattle area!!), had a wonderful lunch of dumplings (I am so going to start making these more often!), went to the History Museum and the local Aboriginal Arts Center to buy a few items from the tribe that Abi's biolocial family is from. Tonight we are going out to dinner with Deana and her family and Michelle. We are hoping our little tiger will be able to handle going to the show that they put on in the hotel. It's aboriginal dance from her tribe. We haven't been able to see it yet, last chance!

Tomorrow we fly back to Taipei. We have an appoitment at AIT on Friday. We are hoping to leave on Tuesday to start the long treck home. In the meantime, we hope to explore a little of Taipei.

Please pray for our safe travels. Also, that little Abi's teeth would stop hurting her. She's got both top teeth and we think one of her bottom teeth coming in right now. Poor baby! We feel so bad for her!!!

PS~ I have tried to upload pictures three times now, this is all you get! We'll post more pictures soon! Sorry!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

She's Amazing!!!





Yesterday was our Gotcha-Day!!! I have to admit that I was a bit nervous for our meeting with Abi. With our adoption of Ana, we spent a month bonding with her in her orphanage before we were given custody of her. With Abi, we went to Hannah's Hope (the home where she has been living) they brought her out, and she was ours!

Thankfully, God was in control, as always! We have prayed that He would tell her that we were her family, and He did! Abi was a little unsure of what was going on when we first met...here is this woman looking at her trying hard not to bawl her eyes out, and this man (what's a man?? She's probably not seen too many of them before!!) with this furry thing above his lip! LOL!! But after a few minutes holding her, playing with her and cuddling her, she must have realized that we were those funny people that God keeps telling her about! ;-)

She had just had her bottle before they brought her out to us and was sleepy. After 15-20 min. she cuddled up and fell asleep on my chest. Mommy was in heaven!! So for the next hour or so I got sit there and hold our new baby girl, cherishing every long-awaited minute she slept in my arms.

Besides the sheer joy of finally having her in my arms, we got to sit and visit with the lady that runs the home, and two other incredibly sweet ladies. Everyone we have met have been amazingly gracious and friendly! Taiwan is certainly on the opposite spectrum from Kazakhstan! People go out of their way to be nice to you here...it felt like in Kaz, people would go out of there way to be pushy and rude to you! LOL!!!

Once Abi woke up, we went back to our hotel. We haven't left since! We just have been enjoying every second with her! She is such a sweet, cuddly, happy little girl!!! She has the funniest little giggle where she crinkles up her nose and almost snorts! Just adorable!! She has slept amazingly well for us, eating very well, and joyfully discovering new things! She has shown us all sorts of tricks that she can do...sitting up, crawling, and pulling her self up to a standing position! And she is quite proud of herself for doing it!! We can't take our eyes off of her for a second because she is fast! So there will be no resting for this mom and dad for a while! LOL!

We are heading to church in an hour, which we are very excited about. Deana's (the lady that runs the home here) husband is a pastor and we can't wait to visit! We need to go get some breakfast for now, but I will post more later!!

Thanks for the prayers!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Leaving TOMORROW!!!

Yep! You read that right!!! We are leaving tomorrow, Sept. 2, 2010!!!!! We will arrive in Taipei on the night of Sept. 3rd, and fly to Taitung on Sat., Sept. 4th to get our Abi!!!!! We are beyond excited!

It's been a whirlwind couple of days. We have had months to prepare, but only about 3 days to get it all together once we knew we were traveling. I will be posting much more than I have recently! Please keep an eye out this weekend for pictures!!!!! I can't wait to show her off!

Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Urgh.....

I just need to vent a little this morning. Just a little. Turns out, what was supposed to be a 10 day wait period for us has now evidently turned into a 20 business day wait period. I guess it's a 10 day wait period if the birth mom signs the court paperwork and gets it back in. Turns out, our birth mom didn't get the court paperwork, so obviously she could not sign it to turn it back in. I can not even voice with words how frustrated this makes me... on so many levels! First of all, if the birth mom knew to be looking for the paperwork, why didn't she let someone know she didn't get them? Secondly, we have done FAR more than 20 business days that she could have changed her mind, can't they just physically talk to her about this and wave it somehow? Maybe not, but it seems quite ridiculous to me.

And the worst part about it is that Abi has to go that much longer without being where God intended her to be...home with her forever family. I just want to fly over there tomorrow just so I can be there so she can get to know us!!

I can't tell you how many people have told me, "You know, it's all in God's timing. Trust in Him!!" or, "Maybe God is just trying to teach you patience!" I guess if they knew me well enough, they would know that I am VERY aware of God's timing being the perfect timing and I trust in Him with every fiber of my being! And I think I am one of the more patient people I know! LOL!!! BUT...some days I swear, if I hear someone else tell me that, I just might SCREAM!!!!!! (see, I told you I needed to vent a little! hehe!) The one thing I do find funny about this, the people that tell me that, are almost always people that have never gone through this!!! I usually don't ever hear adoptive parents tell me this. I just find that interesting.

PLEASE PRAY that we will be allowed to go over there SOON!!!!! PLEASE PRAY that once the 20 day wait period is over (which should be Sept. 3rd) we will be allowed to get her VERY soon after that!!!!! This Mamma is getting a bit impatient, and just might hop on a flight and go deal with it myself!!! (just kiddin'....maybe!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Know...It's Been Too Long!!!


First of all, it has been far too long since I have updated on what is going on with our adoption! Thank you to all of you who have emailed to check up on us! And especially for the prayers, they've been needed and much appreciated!

As you know (or can see from previous posts), we had our court date on June 1st. It was not the news that we had wanted. The judge felt he needed another social worker report on the birth mom. Evidently, the social worker somewhat dropped the ball and didn't do it in a very timely matter!! The judge finally did grant us our 1st decree on Aug. 2nd. After you are granted a 1st decree, the birth mom has to sign it and turn it back into the courts, which is the date that the official 10 business day waiting game begins (as I understand it!! It's been a bit confusing!). We have not heard that our 10 wait is over, although I am assuming (and praying that it's true!) that it was up last week. Now we need the judge to give us that 2nd decree. Please pray with us that it will happen early this week! Once we have that, we can contact the AIT (American Institute in Taiwan...like our embassy in other countries...again, as I understand it!!) and get our appointment there! I think we get to travel to get Abi a week or so BEFORE our appointment there!! So I'm praying that we can get an appointment as soon as possible!!!!!

What does this all mean??? It means that we could potentially be traveling to Taiwan within the next couple of weeks!! You have no idea how long we have waited for this!! (well, maybe you do!!)

In the meantime, I have been VERY busy trying to finish up planning out our school year. Since we school at home, and I know all the distractions that bringing Abi home will cause, I'm trying to be as prepared as possible. I want the kids to be able to do school while we are gone getting Abi, plus I really want them to be able to continue smoothly once we are home. I have some more work to do in the planning department, so I'm praying that I can finalize that early this week!!

I was also asked, as I think I've mentioned before, to make some crib skirts for the boys room. Since my life feels like complete chaos right now, my Mom has graciously helped me out! We worked together on them for an afternoon, and will easily finish them up with just one more afternoon. They are adorable! I can't wait to take them to Taiwan and help put them on the cribs!

For my prayer warrior friends, I do have some specific prayer requests for the upcoming week or two, which are:
  • That our 2nd decree will come early this upcoming week, and that we will be able to get an appointment at the AIT office very quickly!!
  • Please pray that no severe weather would happen in Taiwan. Last year about this time, they had a typhoon that delayed a friend of mine from going to get her daughter.
  • That Abi would come right to us and "know" that we are her family when we first meet her (just as Ana did!). She has been treated extremely well and has bonded very much with her caregivers and other babies in the home. Please pray that God would comfort her and that she would not mourn them too deeply.
  • And please pray that our travel to Taiwan and back will go smoothly. We have been offered some passes to fly there by some pilot friends of Lance (which will save us a TON of money!) but it would mean flying standby. Tourist season appears to be slowing and the flights are becoming less full. Pray that the flights we would need will have our seats reserved for us by a Bigger Hand! :-)
  • Pray for our kids that will be home with Grandma and Grandpa. We know that they will be well taken care of, but we will miss them very much.
Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers! It's getting close! I will keep you updated!

Friday, July 2, 2010

One Month...

Well, it's now been a month since our first court hearing...still no word. The not knowing and waiting has to be the very hardest part! I really don't like it. I know God has a purpose, as He does for everything, but I would so like it to be over with, NOW! I have met (literally met, not just in the internet world!) a wonderful family that had a court date the week before us, they just got to Taiwan and met their sweet baby boy today. It's like I have to seperate my emotions because on one hand, there's a HUGE part of me that is jumping up and down for them! I'm so excited that their adorable little guy is now with his forever family and they are finally getting to hold and love him...but then there's that little part of me that can't help but think that if our timeline was the same as theirs, we'd be getting ready to leave to go get Abi, and would probably have her in our arms next week. Oh well... I will always trust in what the Lord's plan is. He knows when she will be in our arms, and I absolutely can't wait for that day! I just pray it's SOON!!!!!

On the home-front, I've been keeping very busy (which is helping to keep me from focusing on the wait too much!). Yesterday I got an email from my case worker and she asked if I'd be interested in sewing crib skirts for some of the cribs in the home that Abi is in! They recently got a new building for the baby house and a missions team went over and fixed it up, painted and decorated it. It is just beautiful! So I can't wait to be able to contribute to this wonderful home (and ministry) in my own little way! :-)

Speaking of sewing...thank you to those of you that have sent me a piece of fabric for Abi's 100 Wishes (Blessings) Quilt!! I've only received 6 so far (many have told me that they will be sending them though), so if you'd like to contribute, remember...you don't have to even know how to sew!! All we need is either 2 pieces of fabric (the SAME fabric) that are at least 5 1/2" (larger is better!) square. If you'd like to send just one piece of fabric, a larger square about 8" would be great. Then, please write a wish (or blessing!) for Abi on an index card or a nicer piece of scrapbook type paper. Oh, and please sign your name! We will put the wishes (blessings) in a scrapbook along with a swatch of the fabric you sent, that way once we get the quilt finished we will be able to look through the scrapbook and match the blessings and wishes to the fabric in the quilt!!

Thank you for the prayers for our little Abi!