Friday, December 21, 2012

Journey: another step complete!

Baby, it's Cold Outside (in Beijing, that is!)
What a busy but great week! The Christmas season is very fun and there seems to be something to do each night. It's been great to celebrate with concerts, together time with friends, and fun time with family! We managed to complete one more step for the adoption this week too!
Part of the I-800A process is getting our Biometrics (fingerprints) done. We get an appointment date from USCIS and have to go to Fort Worth for them to be processed at a USCIS center. We got our appointment date in the mail and it was for January 2nd- the day we return from California. I had read on a message board that some people had been able to do an early walk-in appointment so we decided to try it.
On Wednesday morning we drove up to Fort Worth. We were at the USCIS office a little after 9 a.m. We let the officer know that we would be out of town for our appointment date and we wanted to get our fingerprints done early. They were so NICE! We filled out some forms, got our prints done, and were back home in time for me to finish the day at school.

So what now? Now the USCIS Hague Unit has to go through our application and approve us for our adoption. Then we fill out the I-800 application which is the formal application for David specifically. Our agency told us that the I-800A applications were taking about 50 days to be approved so hopefully by mid January we'll be onto the next step!! I'm hoping the time will fly by and spring will be here soon!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Journey: to one more trip

Sic 'Em Bears!!
Those of you who know us well know that we love to travel. As I was updating our adoption papers for the Waiting Child program I was also planning our 10 year wedding anniversary trip. We were planning on going on a European River Cruise. Well, our plans changed and we're going to China instead and Europe will have to wait for now- which we are MORE than happy with!!
So, when it was announced that Baylor would play in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl we decided it would be a fun Babymoon (a trip taken before parents welcome home their baby). We are excited to cheer on the Bears on the 27th and spend some time touring in San Diego. I'm proud to say we will have been to all the bowl games in the last 3 years. While in San Diego we are planning a trip to the zoo (of course!) and a whale watching cruise. Rich and the boys are going as well and we are looking forward to spending some fun time together. Steve and I are going to spend New Years at Disney Land (even though it's their busiest day of the year)! We are also going to the Rose Bowl parade while in the area. So we are making the most of our trip out to California.

He's growing so quickly!
We don't have any new updates on David. I know that New Day is getting many packages and I'm anxious to see pictures of all the children opening them up- what a fun time!! We're picking out his room color this week and I can't wait to paint his room!! My parents hosted their annual Christmas party today and it was so fun to tell people our story and share his picture. I tried to talk to lots of people today since I know at next years party I'm going to be chasing after a 2 1/2 year old- and I can't wait!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Journey: to a new decoration!

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care..."
 David's stocking came this week and we quickly hung it on the mantle. We love decorating for Christmas and having three stockings this year makes the season much BRIGHTER! David's foster home recently sent 12 new pictures of our little guy, one of which will be featured on this year's Christmas card. When I grow up I want to go be a photographer for New Day, what a fun job that would be!!

My Tri Delta big sis and former roommate and her family are traveling through Texas and we had the chance to see them. It's been a really long time since we've seen each other and she is now mom to 4 boys! It was awesome to visit with her and see how God is working in their lives right now. We talked a lot about our adoption as they have adopted as well. They have a son adopted from Korea. She had a brilliant idea to get a recordable book and send it to David. We found the best book called Under the Same Moon. It's a PERFECT story for us and our son. We enjoyed recording the story and imagine David listening to the story and hearing our voices- how cool is that going to be! So now he'll see our faces and hear our voices. We cannot wait to travel to China to get our little boy!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Journey: to 16 Months!

 My son is 16 months old today!! I love saying "my son"!! For so long we were prepared to have one child and that child would be a little girl from China. God works in amazing ways though and 16 months ago a little boy was born over 7,000 miles away and God knew he would be our son!! Several people have asked "what about Emily (the name we already have picked out for our little girl)?" We are planning on adopting again! We have to wait though, per different regulations we cannot adopt within a year of bringing David home. We can start the paperwork though and since we know what a process it is, we will start it early! Right now David has a "sister" at his foster home and he loves her very much! We will more than likely adopt via the Waiting Child program again!
The picture for today was from Christmas 2011 when David played Jesus at New Day. Incidentally, I played Mary at some point growing up :) New Day incorporates many holidays! If you haven't checked out their blog, please do!! The pictures from their Thanksgiving feast are precious!!

Journey: to new Friends!

The first picture of David with a buddy from New Day!
6 Months Old
I love New Friends!!
We're still in awe of the news we got this week about David and where he is right now! I've been up late several nights reading blogs, emailing new friends, and searching for more pictures of our little guy.
At New Day each child is sponsored by several people. The sponsorship is used for:
*    Food and Clothing
  • Basic Medical Supplies
  • Childcare Supplies
  • Adoption Paperwork Preparation
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Staff and Caregiver’s Salaries*
  • Facility Maintenance Costs

  • As a sponsor you choose which child you want to sponsor from their website. The children have multiple sponsors and those children without sponsor receive the same high care as those fully sponsored. The family that sponsors the child receives an email update on their child each month, including a photo! We will definitely be sponsoring a child at New Day!!


    David~ 14 Months
    David is fully sponsored and I've now "met" two of his sponsors who are now my new friends. It is so awesome to have people share our JOY about David, especially those that have known him for a year. Thanks to the amazing power of the internet, two of David's sponsors found my email address and contacted me. They let me know how much they've been praying for David. They told me how much they love him and how happy they are that he is being adopted into a Christian home. It was also stated repeatedly that New Day is an amazing place. Since they have been sponsors for David since he's been at New Day they have updates for him from each month. I was overjoyed when Emmy sent me all the updates (including pictures). Reading about how he's grown each month as been incredible! As we've prepared for our adoption it has made me sad that I wouldn't have many pictures of him as a baby, well I can cross that sadness off my list :) I am now on the update email list so I'll get those from now on- though hopefully I won't have to get to many as we'll have him with us soon!!
    I've also been in contact with the director at New Day. She's been so helpful with questions that I've had about some things including how to get David our care package :) She's been so kind and I look forward to meeting her soon. When we travel our first stop will be Beijing and we are already planning some time to visit New Day.
    I took our care package to FedEx to mail and it was going to cost $195 to mail, $195!!!! So, I didn't mail it and asked Karen what was the best way to get a package to David. She said USPS was the best way. Good news is that it is about 1/10 the FedEx cost to mail his package via USPS :) I hope he will get his first one by Christmas!! If you check out New Day's blog they have a picture of all the packages they've been getting for Christmas- love it!!

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Journey: to a discovery!

    (Had to change picture due to China guidelines...)

    What an incredible few days it has been!!! We are certainly on a journey to discovery!
    First off- good news on the paper chasing front. We sent off the I-800A tonight. It is the next step in our journey to get David. The I-800A has to be processed which could take up to 50 days. At that point there are still more steps but for now we're done with paper work for awhile.

    Now for the amazing news! We found out that David is not only in a foster home but he is in an AMAZING foster home in Beijing- New Day Foster Home. We've been thinking that he was in his province- Xinjiang, so this news was a little strange. We've gotten to see more pictures and learn so much more about our son!

    So here's the story- I shared our blog address on a message board that I check and read often. They have a place to show off your new child :). I received a message from another member saying that she thought David was the little boy she is sponsoring via New Day Foster Home in Beijing. I was a little confused thinking that he was in Urumqi. She shared the web address of the foster home and told me how to find "Calvin" on the site. I skipped over to their address and sure enough under the kids in "Beijing Foster Home" was a beautiful picture of our son. At first I was just confused- how was this, we're they using his photo? But it wasn't a photo of him that I have... then I got worried and panicked a little. I called Steve who suggested I call our agency. They were super nice and helpful and reassured me that this happens. A third party organization is contacted by the orphanage to provide care for some special need kids. She said though that any information about David's medical condition has to come from his home orphanage and when we go to China we will pick him up in his home province and city. So, yes- he is in Beijing right now!

    Now onto more fun stuff! Someone who adopted via New Day emailed me and shared what an amazing place it is. She also told me about their blog and suggested I email the director, which I did. Seriously such an amazing place!!! I read some posts on their blog and then saw they have there posts organized by child. So I clicked on "Calvin" (that's the name they gave him but after I emailed the director they said they would begin calling him David- awesome!!!!, they've already changed his name on their website) and found lots of posts featuring David- I read it one carefully and cried tears of joy knowing that our son is being loved on and prayed for by so many people- many people who I've never even met! How awesome is our God- AWESOME!! So, the waiting hasn't gotten shorter but maybe a little bit easier, maybe. Knowing the David is being loved, hugged and prayed over each day does help!
    So how can you find out more about our little one? 
    Google- New Day Foster Home and click on "kids", then "Beijing Foster Families" and the first little one on the third row is our guy!! To see the blog visit Love Grows Here. Once their scroll a bit down and click on "Calvin" and you'll find lots of information on our son. Also, they're on facebook which is where I got the pictures for today's post (had to take those off, these pics are from their blog). LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!
    Thanks so much for following along on our Journey to David!!!

    New Day is not an adoption agency- they are a home for kids who are waiting for adoption via the CCCWA (china's adoption organization). People sponsor these kids and through that New Day is able to provide for the kids at their home. The foster home houses kids and there are many foster families. David visits the foster home but he is with a foster family. He has a little sister (not biological) at his home. Like them on facebook to get lots of neat updates about kids who are in China now and ways to support them!

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Journey: to a room

    For so long now we've had any empty bedroom upstairs- well it does have a rocking chair, books, and some stuff animals but that's it- it looked sad! So now that we have David on the way we need to get busy!
    We took advantage of some deals this weekend and started filling it up!
    We've picked out a crib (I think) and will paint during the Christmas holidays. I've been eyeing some cubical shelves and got those for a great price- so worth waking up at 5am! During our shopping we also got David some toys :) It was very hard not to buy every fun toy out there but I tried to hold myself back! I did buy something for his birthday- I like planning ahead :) We went ahead and bought "Elf on the Shelf" as well. I've seen so many ideas on Pintrest that I knew we would be starting that tradition with David. We now have a chest for his clothes as well- progress!

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Journey: through paperwork

    One thing I've learned a lot about through our adoption process is organization. The number of papers that we have to keep up with is crazy! I have multiple copies of passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, emails, receipts, and many, many other papers. We originally had 1- 3 inch notebook and recently started a second one due to the amount of stuff we have to keep up with our move to the Waiting child list. With our most recent FedEx package we got a list of papers to take with us to China, it's getting more real every day! I have become addicted to page protectors and tabs :) That can't be a bad thing, right!

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Journey: to an update!

     We got updated pictures of David on Friday- so exciting!! It's also a little frustrating that he's growing up in China and not in Waco! We're so ready to travel! Along with the pictures we received an update on David's development.  They haven't done another heart check so that will probably happen when we go to China. His foster parents say that his favorite toy and thing to do is "kick a ball" and play with other children. They also report that he can say simple words- melt my heart!! Seriously, this waiting is for the birds!!
    We bought furniture for David's room this weekend along with new furniture for our den. We're deciding what colors we want to use in his room- so many choices! We're so excited to get his room set up! I am having a hard time reining my shopping in... there are certain stores I just can't go in without buying something for our little guy. It's so fun!! I've read some blogs recently that discuss the wait and how to make it easier and most suggest starting a project. I do have to get my summer trip shutterfly book done and with Christmas around the corner there will be lots going on with seasonal activities. Oh, and I do have school every day which does keep me on my toes. My students love seeing David's picture and talking about getting him from China- they're so interested! Guess I need to go upload summer pictures if I'm going to get that book completed!!

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Journey: to I-800A

    What is the I-800A?
    Right now it's the next step in our journey towards getting David!
    The I-800A is the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) "Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country." So basically it's the next part of our paperchase. The I-800A includes an application, home study, copies of our birth certificates, marriage certificate, and passports. Right now we're waiting on our social worker to finish the home study so we can send our packet to USCIS. It will take from 40-60 days for our I-800A to be processed and reviewed.
    What happens after you get the I-800A?
    Once the I-800A is approved (hopefully there won't be any problems, our agency goes through everything very carefully) USCIS will send us an appointment to get our biometrics (fingerprints) taken in Fort Worth.
    So what do you do now?
    We WAIT! for the I-800A to be mailed and approved- yuck! The I-800A is not the final step to travel, there are plenty more.
    We PRAY! We pray for David and the people who are caring for him in China. We pray for his heart, that the hole will close and he will continue to be healthy.
    We SHOP! We have a little boys room to set up. We haven't settled on a "theme" but have been looking a lot. We've picked out the crib/toddler bed/full bed as well as furniture for his room. His first Baylor gear has been purchased.
    We READ! There are books, blogs and many websites to read. I especially like reading blogs of people who are home from China with their new families!
    We PREPARE! We have books to read, friends to talk to and decisions to be made about David's care after the summer and I start back to work. We have to decide on a pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist. We have to child proof our house- plug covers, cabinet locks and stair gates, oh my!
    So, you can see we have plenty to keep us busy but the waiting is hard. I especially am ready to get the I-800A sent since that MUST be done next.
    We BLOG! I'm going to try and keep things updated with where we are in our process and the fun of the holidays.

    Journey: the LSC!!

    Our LSC arrived on Friday via fedex (my new best friends!). The LSC (Letter Seeking Confirmation) is the official document from the CCCWA that says we can adopt David!! We had to sign it and check the box that says "we accept the referrel." It is a very important document that we have to take with us to China. I've made several copies of it and now have it in a very safe place. Usually it can take weeks to get the LSC- we got ours in 10 days!! One step closer to travel!

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Journey: to David!

    These three pictures are with me day and night. They're up in our house, in our offices, on our phones! These are the three pictures we have of our little boy~ David Steven Cates!
    I may be biased but I think he is pretty cute! In these pictures he is 8 months old. He is now 15 months. So how did we get here and why isn't he a she? I'll try to answer all your burning questions as we move along :) So, now you know why it was time to brush off the 'old blog and get busy!
    We've been in the process of an adoption from China since 2007 with a LID of 1-29-2008. When we started the adoption process we thought we'd wait maybe 2 years but not longer. Boy, were we wrong! With each email from our agency our wait time long got longer and longer and longer. Soon I couldn't even read the emails I just put them into an email folder.
    This past spring my sister made some new friends both of who had children adopted from China's Waiting Child List.

    The Waiting Child list is different from regular adoptions because the kids on the list have minor to severe medical needs. We had lunch with one of the couple's and their precious kids. We felt like moving to the Waiting Child list might be the right move for us. We met with our agency in May which was great. They were very helpful with our questions. We discussed and prayed about the change and decided it was the right move for us. As we were preparing to prepare our paperwork I got side tracked with the end of school and an update on our kitchen. Then we went on vacation for a month. During all that time we knew what we wanted to do we just needed to sit down an get busy- easier said that done!

    Fast forward to end of September- things had finally slowed down a little bit from the beginning of school so we pulled our the paperwork and got to work. We turned in our Waiting Child list on October 3rd while at the same time letting our social worker know we were ready to get started updating our USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). On October 4th I got a call from our agency about our profile - we had had to sort through a laundry list of disabilities and disorders of children that we were willing and able to handle as well as choose the age we were okay with and gender. About 5 minutes after I got off the phone with one worker I got another call from our agency. This time it was a different worker within Waiting Child services who said they had a file for us to review! Less than 24 hours and they had already matched us with a child!! I took some quick notes and said "YES" to them sending the file to us.

    Xin Zhengyuan is from the Xinjiang Province in China. His birthday is August 2 (our anniversary), 2011. He has VSD which is a small hole between his 2 ventricle arteries. He lives with a foster family and goes to the child welfare center during the day.
    Our agency suggested we send his medical file to a doctor for review. We sent his file to 4 doctors who all agreed that it is a small hole and will likely close on it's own. If not, the surgery would be routine.
    We were allowed to keep his file for 2 weeks for review. We sent our Letter of Intent less than a week after getting his file. The LOI was our way of letting China know that he was the one we wanted!
    There is so much more but for now you have the beginning of the story.

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Journey: to Branson

    We are so, so lucky that each year my parents take us on a family trip. In 2011 we spent a whirlwind week in Washington D. C. and it was awesome. After the adventures and LONG days in D. C. we all decided we wanted something a little less active for the 2012 trip. It was decided that we would enjoy the sights and sounds of Branson, MO. What an awesome trip it was!!
    We stayed in a house at a Table Rock Lake and it was perfect! We loved being at the lake and spending time at the dock fishing and swimming. We took a boat out for a day which was so fun! Along with our time at the lake we spent time at Silver Dollar City amusement park and the water park as well. Since we were in Branson we saw some shows- of course! We saw the Chinese Acrobats, SIX, Joseph, and the Stampede.

    We all decided it was the perfect trip with great fun along with some relaxing vacation time as well. Who knows what next summer will bring but my parents are already planning!

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Change in Title

    Don't get too excited... Although I do plan on brushing off the 'ole Blog at some point, tonight it's just a name change. Since 2007 the name has been Catesinhewitt but in 2009 we technically became CatesinWaco due to our move (although we have a Hewitt phone number, Midway ISD, and Waco water/trash- go figure). I've been reading a lot of blogs lately especially ones about school counseling and travel as well as keeping up with friends busy lives so as usual I'm inspired to get busy and update ours. So bear with me while I make some changes and try to add some news as well.
    Oh, and Happy Fall Y'all!!

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Dachau, Germany

    We thought that it was important that we remember the tragedies that happened in Germany during our time there. We were close to Dachau and found a good tour to take. Our guide was very good and very informative while at the same time showing respect to the memory of the many people who died there.
    Dachau was the first concentration camp that was opened by the Third Reich. It was a concentration camp for 12 years. All children in Germany are required to visit a concentration camp during their school years. The pictures below are of two of the memorials. The last picture is of the gates at the entrance which translate to "work will liberate."

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Germany Part III - Nuremberg

    Nuremberg has one of the largest and most famous Christmas Advent markets in the world. I heard about the markets from my parents and other friends who had been stationed in Europe. We planned our trip during Thanksgiving so we could experience the market (opens on the first Friday of Advent) and I'm so glad we did!! I didn't take enough pictures of the different stalls which I wish I had. We love going from stall to stall and buying ornaments. We also did some food sampling with yummy sausages and gluhwein. All the red stripes are the many stalls to visit, awesome!!

    Enjoying some gluhwein in the cold!

    I bought a nutcracker at this store. It had so many things I wanted to buy!!

    The best part of our day!

    The Christmas angel came out onto the church balcony along with trumpeters. She said some stuff in German, officially opening the Advent market and then everyone sang "Silent Night" in German~ AMAZING!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Germany Part II- A Fairy Tale Castle

    One reason our home base was Munich was it's proximity to Neuschwanstein Castle. This is the castle that was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle. We took a gray line tour that went to 2 of Mad King Ludwig Castle's as well as Oberammergau. Neuchwanstein was our last stop and it was perfect. There is a little town at the bottom of the hill. Hill, yes the castle sits on top of a hill- I would say mountain after climbing to the top :) There was a carriage you could ride but we decided to make the climb, it's all about the experience. It was a beautiful day and although it was cold it was a nice walk.
    Poor King Ludwig lived in the castle less than a year and only 15 out of the 200+ rooms are complete. Over 1 million people visit each year and it was opened to tourist less than 2 months after his death.

    Showing the way to get to the castle

    This is my favorite picture...

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Germany- Part 1

    I love traveling in Europe! I love riding trains, seeing beautiful buildings, trying new food (okay, so that's not completely true as I'm not a big fan of trying new things but I try to step out of my box a little bit when traveling), and seeing all the places I've only seen in pictures! So far, Germany is at the top of my list for all those things!

    I was born in Grafenwoehr, Germany (yes, I had to look up had to spell the city :) while my dad was in the Army. We left before I was 2 so I don't remember anything but I've always wanted to go back. I visited Munich while when I was doing my student teaching in London. We were there for less than 24 hours so I knew I wanted to go back and really see more of the country.

    We choose Munich as our home base due to it's close proximity to several areas I wanted to visit. Since we were going at Thanksgiving we knew it would be cold and it was! Our first stop was Salzburg.

    I seriously wish we had the train system that Europe does, it's awesome!!

    Marienplatz, Munich

    Glockenspiel, Munich

    Somewhere outside Salzburg

    Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012



    July 2010

    Wow! Hawaii is amazing and I was so excited to get to visit. I had always wanted to go and when my parents decide to take us on a cruise around the islands it was a dream come true. Since Steve and I have most of July off we decided to spend some extra time on two islands before the whole family arrived.

    Our first island was Maui. Maui was awesome and we did lots while we were there including driving the Road to Hana, the Old Lahaina Luau, and snorkeling. We even fit in some beach time as well. Next we flew to Kauai which was fabulous. My favorite thing we did there was a photography tour. We were with a guide as well as another couple from NYC. Our tour guide took us to areas off the beaten path to get some awesome pics. I loved using my camera to bring back some outstanding pics. Kauai has so many places to photograph that it makes it easy. We also did a helicopter tour- awesome!!After our initial visit to 2 islands we were off to the capital city of Honolulu to meet my family for some more hang time! Honolulu was so different than the other cities we had visited- so different! It was loud and there were a ton of people everywhere. We had fun but I like the quiet beaches of Kauai and Maui more. We did enjoy a day at The Polynesian Cultural Center which was awesome, like Epcot for Hawaii. We went to the luau as a family which was so fun.

    Then we headed out on our cruise. We visited 4 islands including Maui, the Big Island and Kauai plus Oahu. We did a hike in Maui that took us to beautiful waterfalls. In Hilo we visited Volcanoes National Park which was cool (or hot, hmmmm). Snorkeling was our next adventure in Kona. It was the best snorkeling we've ever done- a little cold though :) Our last stop was Kauai where the whole family went snorkeling. My parents had done something else the day before so it was exciting to get all geared up together. As we now say- A family that snorkels together, stays together!

    We enjoyed cruising the islands, the best way to see the many different faces of Hawaii. The whole family had an amazing time and I'm already looking forward to going back!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    We'll see how this goes...

    So it's been awhile. A long time actually. I had thoughts to do a blog a few months ago but I couldn't sign in for some reason so here I am today.

    I met someone for the first time yesterday but I told her I felt like I've known her and her family for years. Why, well because I read her blog of course! I connected to this person via a college friend and in a small world coincidence her husband lead Drew's group for Chi Alpha. Anyway, this meeting has spurred me on to try blogging again. How often and how long who knows but I'm doing it today :) I love staying connected to people and facebook has been great for that but there's something about reading a story that a high school friend has posted to his blog... you just feel like you just chatted with them. So here some updates on us...

    Daily Life:

    We continue to work at our same jobs. For me working with 550 4-10 year olds makes each day different than the day before. As with most school districts in Texas mine is facing cutbacks. Currently my school is "safe" from closing but I'm not sure about what will happen with my current position. Counselors are not required so we'll see. Steve is enjoying a new semester with 200+ math students. We've really enjoyed watching Baylor sports this fall and winter. We went down to cheer on the Bears at the Alamo bowl and have seen several basketball games.

    Since last time I blogged we have visited Hawaii, Germany and some of the Northeast. I think Germany is my new favorite. Could it be that we were there during an amazing time (Advent) or that fact that I was born there, who knows but I LOVE it. Hawaii was incredible- breathtaking and 20+ days in Washington D.C., NYC, Philly, Atlantic City and Boston were fabulous too. We don't have any trips planned as of now but summer will be here soon and I know we'll be off again. We will also be cruising sometime soon.


    Yes, we are still in the process of an adoption. We've been waiting 4 years now- yes FOUR years! The most recent referral group were from August 2006 so we have some time before they get to January 2008 referrals. Honestly I don't think about it. I've put the paperwork away. I get updates monthly from our agency and that's it.

    Okay, for today that's all. I hope that everyone has a superb day!

    Cin ;-)