Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life; if not through me, and no one can come to the Father" (John 14:6)

Isaiah 43:5

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Twenty Five Years

Let me just start by saying , I am way too young to be married for 25 years. Or I feel to young to be married 25 years or I was a child bride. You know , child brides were very popular in NYC 25 years ago. If you would have asked me 25 years ago what my dreams and hopes for our future was, I could have never in a million years imagined the adventure that God was planning for us.
In 25 years we have-
-lived in California, Chicago, New York  & finally settled in North Carolina.
-Greg finished medical school, residency & built a practice that he loves.
-paid off both of our school loans.
-traveled to Disney World, more times than I can remember because its Greg's  happiest place on earth.
 -can't imagine how many loads of laundry, but we have gone through 3 sets of washers & dryers.
-blessed by  seven children.
-visited the ER a few times.
-got my passport.
-traveled to China 3 times.
-got my wisdom teeth out.
-watched baby teeth come in  & fall out.
-graduated 2 children from high school, one more soon to follow.
-graduated 1 child from college.
-sent one off to law school
 -have two in elemenatry school.
-still have one at home in the nest.
-lived through the the 80's ,90's and the millennium event or non event of New Years 2000.
-we have lost loved ones along the way.
-made treasured friendships.
-introduced to pagers, cell phones. iphones,  texting, emails, facebook. blogging, computers,CDs, DVDs
- went from a compact light blue Nissan Sentra without cup holders to a dark blue Chevy Suburban that we can eat. sleep and survive in to the end of time.
-kids were in car seats until they were 4, now I think they will be in carseats until  drivers ed.
-the trees I planted in our yard are towering over the potted trees I put in the ground.
-I accepted Christ as my personal Savior after many years of rejecting the gift. Many years of fighting against the truth. Many years of making it on "on my own".  Many, many mistakes along the way. But God never left me. Without Christ, I know Greg & I  could have never made it here, not on our own. We would have been lost along the way. Every day is not easy, every day is not good, but everyday is the day that God has given us. I pray that in the next 25 years  we can do things to glorify God, on our good days & bad, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. in sickness & health. So thankful today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Catching Up

I feel like I kind of left the story of our adoption journey unended. As most of you know, we made it home safely. The trip home took about 24 hours, 3 planes later and a short ride home from the airport, we were home. We were welcomed home at the airport by good friends and family-LOVE! Mia did great on the trip and at the airport.  She loves the dogs, she actually gave her first kisses to the dogs and of course they are loving another little one who shares all of her food with them. We are figuring out the best sleeping arrangements. I think we are good for now. I took the bunk bed down so they are two single beds and then there is one more twin bed in the room. Tylar offered to give Lily her room, but Lily said she still wanted to share a room with Cali & Mia.
We visited the UNC cleft clinic. Mia is scheduled to have her surgery on September 19th. She has has also seen the pediatrician, to whom she was not very happy with. She definitely knew who a doctor is. She cried for about an hour, all he did was take out his stethoscope . That was enough for her. Poor kid. Never know what their previous experiences were before coming home. When we went to UNC, she was seen by about 6 different doctors. One came in wearing a, white coat, she started tearing up and he immediately took off his coat, and all was good!She is a happy affectionate child. There are times when she gets a bit sad (mostly at bed time or when first waking up) but she is easily consoled. She is my little buddy.
She loves rice, noodles, fish, shrimp, warm milk, all kinds of soup, pasta, crackers, gold fish. No sweets, no ice-cream .

The girls painting-Mia's first art project!
Cali is feeling better about miss Mia. I think part of it was Cali was just not feeling great in China. The time change and her fever and a bit of the stomach bug and then throwing in a new 3 year old was a lot for my Cali to handle. But we are falling into a routine that suits our family, so all is good. We have  even been to play group so Mia has met some of her new friends! She loves bath time and the swimming pool. She is a perfect fit for our family. We are so very blessed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Changing of Power

I know there are elections and campaigns going on all of the world. The US, Arab nations, ect. But there is also a changing of power much more local to us. It is a battle going on inside of our family. Cali is not letting go of her status of power too easily. Mia seems to be oblivious to the battle going on around her. Mia , at this point is easily distracted but I know that will most likely change too. Give the kid a spoon and a container containing cereal or crackers makes her happy. Throw in some noodles and broth and she is good for an hour.
There is a little outside play area set up at the hotel. It's actually nice because it is outside and completely contained so Cali & Lily can be "free". It has a nice garden and some fountains. The pool is nice too, if I would have known how nice it was I would have brought a swim tube for Mia. I even went in, I know shocking!
We bought some nice things for our kids at home and for some of Madison's friends. I bought  my  mom and I matching tea sets. Not sure how I am going to get some of the stuff in our suitcases, but I have faith!
TV has been fun to watch. Cali's new favorite movie is Fast and Furious 2. Lily is liking Erin Brokovitz. Don't ask. Madison is catching up on every movie from the past 5 years or so. But at least they are in English. When we traveled for Lily we watched Stuart Little in Chinese several times. Table tennis was big on TV then too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Consulate Appointment

We made through our consulate appointment. They did question why Mia's passport was issued December 2010. When I explained why, they said no problem - her hair has grown so much. Wait till we get home. The changes that occur both inside and outside of these kids are nothing short of amazing. I have had to assure some of the first time adoptive parents of the transformation. Some of them don't look so sure. They will be OK! More than OK !!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The mountain and the Jade Market

We went to the Jade Market  yesterday . Today we are going back to the medical clinic to check Mia''s TB test. Then we are off to the Baiyun Mountain. Hopefully the rain will hold off. Yesterday there was quite a down pour but that is usual for this area of China during the spring and summer . Madi continues to be a great help.she is tired of Chinese food. Yesterday I got her a chicken pannini sandwich from Starbucks. Last night at dinner Cali ate mini hamburgers.
So today we went to Shamian Island. Sadly, the White Swan Hotel is closed. Thousands of Chinese orphans adopted into American families have traveled through that hotel. If the walls of that hotel could come alive, what incredible stories it would tell. Stories of  tears, joy, sorrow, survival, blessings, laughter, incredible  miracles .
As we were walking around the island many of the stores were closed. But one of the store keepers remembered us from our previous trips. It was sweet.
This trip has brought up some more questions from Lily (not surprising) . She just looked at me and said, "what would I do without you ? "  . " did you look on an the adoption website and just know I was the one?!? "
Oh my sweet Lily, "what would I do without YOU ?!?

Saturday, May 26, 2012


We made it , the flight was good our hotel is excellent and the weather has actually been wonderful. I think a bit of a virus is going around. Cali had a fever for a couple of days, then Madi and now me. But it will pass. I think a good night sleep will do me wonders. The Internet here is harder to access than in Fuzhou. Tomorrow will be going to the jade & pearl market. Some of the others families from our agency that we just met  today in GZ don't want to go but Madi and I want to go so we will be setting out for the market tomorrow. Then we will going to a mountain and the island although The White Swan Hotel is closed. We went to the medical clinic today and that is no longer on the island either. Mia had to have a TB test and that did not make her too happy! She is a carb monster. Noodles, rice... Can't find a fruit or veggie that she will put in her mouth. The first morning she ate watermelon but none since the first day. If I put any thing green in her soup, she will push it to the side. No mistaking what she likes and doesn't like. Greg will have her drinking kale shakes when we get home. Good luck to him!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orphanage Visit

Visiting the orphanage is such an incredibly emotional trip for me. My heart aches like I can not explain for the children left behind. This orphanage is probably one of the best in China but my heart just aches. The staff was so so so very sweet to us. Their reaction to seeing Li Xiaol Li or Cali as we all know her was so unbelievable . As we were looking around , it seemed as though word got around that Li Xiaoli was back . Several of the staff members came to find us and all wanted to love on Cali. Many many photos were taken by them so many smiles, hugs and holding her. Some of you know parts of Cali's story and I think they all were amazed by how love of a family can make a little girl so beautiful and strong . They all just kept saying, she is so beautiful. Honestly at some point in the orphanage I just broke down . I can't even explain why I just could not control my emotions but I just could not. I think part of it was their reaction to Cali and me thinking what if ... What if she were one of the 300 children still left in that orphanage. And for the ones that are part of that 300. And really I do believe that this orphanage is one of the best , it is still a life without a family to call your own.
Then my Mia, today was a bit harder than the previous days. I think for one thing she is having a hard time pooping. :(  She is completely potty trained, she is dry even at night. But she has only pooped once and it was very painful. She cried on and off today but if I had to describe her in one word I would say SWEET. She is easy to console and laughs quickly.
When we were at the orphanage, Mia definitely knew she had been there before. But she was in no way frightened of the place. I guess she was hungry so she sat down and ate with some of the other children. The food looked fresh ( rice & cooked vegetables) and the kids really seemed to be enjoying it. Mia liked it better than the hotel food !
The directors took us out for a lovely lunch. At lunch they asked lots of questions about life in the US . They were especially interested in the concept of homeschooling. I also got to ask lots if questions. At points in the lunch i had to kind of remind myself where i was because it was a bit surreal.  They also gave Cali & Lily gifts, each one got an art kit. They asked us to come back and visit Xiamen again - and bring our whole family next time. I assured them we would be back again .
Then we said our goodbyes and headed back to the train station. A day that will last me a life time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the way to Xiamen

Looks like the weather for our orphanage visit looks great. We will be departing Fuzhou on the 8am train to Xiamen. It should take about 2 hours. On our previous visit the train line did not exist so it was a 4 hour van ride. The orphanage building is also new. I am praying it will be a great experience for all of us and them as well. Mia continues to go with the flow. Simply amazing .

View from the hotel

These are some pics from our hotel window in Fuzhou. We actually saw the sun shine today. We really never saw a blue sky with the sun on either of our previous trips, so waking up and seeing the sun was pretty exciting for us!

Fuzhou- May 21

The weather was great so we decided to walk around Fuzhou for a bit. We went to a area that had been renovated for pedestrian traffic, so that was refreshing. The girls could walk and look at stuff and I didn't have to worry that a car, bike, bus, scooter, or taxi would be within inches of their bodies! We bought a few things. Madi bought a really pretty dress. Madi has been an incredible help to me, could not have done this trip with out her. She is still sleeping, but this will be her first full night  sleep since we have arrived in China. She has helped me with the girls during the night. Lily & Mia are also still asleep (5:30 am). Cali has been awake for a while.
Everything went fine at the civil affairs office yesterday. I signed more documents and answered some more questions. Lily had to go to the bathroom toward the end of the appointment .thank goodness she has retained her talent/heritage of being a gifted scatty pottier.
So as our journey continues, all is well !


Three little monkeys jumping in a crib

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mia's First Bath

 Apparently Mia loves a bath. Not so crazy about showers. Lily wanted to give Mia her first bath, Cali slept through the event. Lily just didn't want Mia to poop in the bath.

All went well , no poop !

We got her !!

  We got her and she is laughing, playing & busy with her sisters! Praise God. I was honestly feeling a bit nauseated this morning ( from nerves) but God is so good and He calmed my fears. She is lovely and obviously has been loved! The orphanage director seemed so happy to see Cali. They kept saying how beautiful she is and amazed at her independence. Cali sat down and even chatted with them for a few minutes. I explained to her that they knew her when she was a baby. All is well  here in China...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sleep mix up

Please pray that our sleep will return to some what normal. Cali went to sleep at 4pm China time and slept until 1am . Now we are all awake , it's 3am. We doing the best we can but we really need to get on a better schedule. We met our guide, she is really sweet , super helpful. She gave us an update on Mia. True to Brannon toddlers- she does NOT like to nap. Really another kid that does not nap. The guide said she saw Mia a few weeks ago and she said "wow, she has alot of energy ! " where are the stereotypical quiet Asian girls- not in the Brannon house!

Interesting flight conversation for Madi

Madi was sitting next to a Chinese woman for the 16 hour flight from RDU to Shanghai . They did not talk until the last 20 minutes or so of the flight. I could hear the question the woman probably was dieing to ask Madison the whole flight but she didn't have the nerve. But then she asked the typical questions about why we adopted, how old where the girls, do they know they are adopted from China ? Then the odd question/statements- Does Lily like her dark skin ?!?! We can be certain that they will be good in math and science. The last statement reminded me of a utube video I watched a few weeks ago. It was you know you are adopted from China if .... It was made by two adored Chinese teenage girls. One of the things they sa

Friday, May 18, 2012

Shanghai for one night!

We made it to China. We arrived safely this afternoon. We will be spending one night in Shanghai and then on to Mia's province. I caught up on all the movies that I missed this year in the theaters. New Years Eve, The Descendants, the Facebook movie (can't remember the name), and one more that I can't remember the name either. Perhaps later in the post it will come to me. For those of you who know my sweet Cali, you will know that incredible sense she has in fashion. By incredible I do mean creative, unique or one of a kind in the states. But not so one of the kind in China. Our guide that picked us up from the airport was a pretty 20 something year old, that had on a cute t shirt, shorts, shoes and of course tights under the shorts. Polka dot tights. Perhaps she is Cali's long lost sister. Madi and I just had to chuckle. Cali was wearing a dress, polka dot leggings (although her usual is tights) and her red boots. At home in the US on most days at least one person will comment"oh cute outfit Cali is wearing" or something to that affect with the look of really, you let her wear that?!?. Not here in China, she looks quite normal. LOL!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here we come!

See ya'll in China! XOXO

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mishap #100

So now I have lost my glasses. I was assuming I would find them today but I can't. So I am thinking I may have left them at Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, the grocery store or who knows. Because I have been running around so much that they could be just about any where!! So if you see an extra pair of glasses by the side of the road, perhaps they are mine.. Two more sleeps until we land in China. 2 more sleeps until Mia is sleeping with us!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bags are packed....sort of!

Our bags are packed...sort of, I know it will get done. In the last two weeks we have celebrated my mother's 80th birthday with a wonderful group of family and friends, my oldest daughters graduation, my two college kids moved back home for the summer & getting ready our our China adventure. We depart on Thursday 5/17 at 8am. We should arrive in Shanghai at 2pm 5/18. Some of the fun things we are bringing are lots of coloring stuff, favorite snacks and our new (bargain of the year $27) DVD player from Target. My friends will know that i am a bargain shopper so this purchase made me very happy. One other item that I had promised Lily was a REAL camera so here it is...then she asked "Where is Mia's?!?" I guess I will have to start buying things in threes, especially if they are pink!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Updated blog format

If anyone from blogger is reading this - why did you update blogger . I hate it ! Why can't I "list" things. Why does it force it to look like a paragraph when I am listing!!! Not a good time to change things Mr. Blogger company.

Lists, list, lists

It is that time, two weeks to go so I list and then list and then list some more- To Do- 1.Organize clothing for the trip -myself -3 little girls 7 outfits each X 3 girls (we will do laundry),2 pairs of shoes each, 2.Organize meds-what ifs -stomach bug, colds, food poisoning, fever, headache, lice, scabies, too much poop, not enough poop, sleep aide, bandaides, anti-itch cream, anti infection cream,,, 3.Organize paper work,originals & copies 4.Go to Verizon store and talk about phone, data service 5.Date time with Greg 6.Number 1 daughter graduates college, moves out of apartment 7.Number 2 child, number 1 son, finishes semester in college, move him out of the dorm 8.Get 4 more passport photos of Greg & I 9. Make copies of itinerary 10. List, list and list some more...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Does the title seem like some secret coded message? I think it is, at least a foreign language spoke in the international adoption world.Should I shed some light? LOI 5/27/2011 - received our "Letter of Intent" . Basically we were matched we Mia and ask permission to adopt her. DTC 12/16/2011 - "Date to China" . Our paper work went to China to be reviewed and processed. LOA 2/20/2012 - "Letter of Acceptance" China has reviewed & accepted the paperwork. I800 3/18/2012- United States approves us to bring specific orphan into our country. NVC 3/15/2012- National Visa Center approves paper work to apply for a visa for Mia. TA- 4/20/2012- Travel approval issued by China, allowing us to come into China to adopt Mia. CA- arrived 4/23- Consulate appointment sent out by the US from the US consulate in GZ ,China actual CA- 5/29/2012- This is the final step we do in China before bringing Mia home. They look one more time at the paper work and issue her the VIsa to come in to the USA. So really the wonderful news is that after many months of code letters and abbreviations...our flights are booked! We will be leaving the US on May 17 and return home with more in our family and one less orphan in the world on June 1,2012.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Real or fake

Sugar vs Sweet & Low
Diamonds vs cubic zirconia
Cool whip vs homemade whip cream
Fresh flowers vs plastic flowers
Strawberries vs fruit snacks
Grandma's meatballs vs frozen meatballs
Designer jeans vs Kmart jeans
Prada purse vs Chinese copy cat purse
Real parents vs adoptive parents
Real daughter/son vs biological child

Did the last two comparisons make you cringe? They sure would if you are an adoptive parent or child. I know what makes a REAL parent. I love you unconditionally, I hold you when you need it, I wipe your tears away, I am up at night with you to sooth your fears, I clean your boogers, I cheer you on, I love you unconditionally, I discipline you, I read to you. I love you unconditionally, your pain is my pain, your joys are my joys, I love you unconditionally...did I say I love you unconditionally!?!?
As we journey to adopt again there are tons of things I think and pray and honestly worry about. I pray-think-worry about bonding, attachment, safety as we travel, hearts of all my children, home schooling 3 little ones, up coming surgeries,,,. So I prepare by praying, reading, making doctors appointments, ect.,
But one thing I never never never worried about was this conversation between Lily (age 6) and "other 5 year old kid"
Other 5 year old kid says to Lily
- Are they taking you back to China to bring you back to your REAL parents?
Lily tells him "these are REAL parents! My Chinese parents had to give me to my REAL parents because they were too old, or too sick, or just could not take care of me.
(I know that we will most likely never know why my girls were relinquished but these are some of the reasons that I thought a child may understand) Yes we have had the "why" conversations. And as hard as they are, boy am I glad we did. Lily was prepared. It is our responsibility as their REAL parents to prepare our adopted kids for the world but more importantly to prepare them for doubts and questions that may arise within themselves. Are they real daughters, real sisters, are they worthy? So my prayer now is that all of my children will always know they are REAL, and worthy. Not so much in the eyes of others, but in the eyes of Christ, their one perfect REAL father.
Some books that we read that help in our conversations about adoption are:

PS yes, when I told my husband, Lily's REAL dad, he wanted to knock the 5 year olds head off because that's what REAL dads do-protect their kids.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

She never had a real job,she is just a mother

I leave most of the political banter in our house to my husband. Not because he is smarter or better than me, it is just his "thing". But I found my self thinking all day (in my free time... between making school lunches,getting the two little ones dressed & washed up, two dentist appointments, home schooling two of the 6 kids, grocery shopping,feeding my children, going to appointed play date, collecting more paper work for our taxes, going to the bank, picking up children from school, talking with our accountant, talking to the insurance company, paying some bills, doing some adoption paperwork, ect., you get the point!) about the woman democratic operative who condemned Ann Romney for not ever having a real job because Mrs. Romney had chosen to stay home and raise her 5 children. I am NOT complaining about MY JOB because unlike lots of people in this world who do not like their jobs regardless of what they do I LOVE MY JOB! and yes being a mother is my full time job! Why do we feel like that my job needs to be defended?!? Because of dumb talking heads on TV getting paid big money to say stupid things!
Our country has come so far left that I think some Americans are going off the deep end. I heard one person say well... "they have lots of money so she did not really raise her kids, they must have had cooks and nannys. So now we are bad mothers if
we have money. NO I do not have a cook or a nanny but boy have I wished for one from time to time!! And a fairy God mother too!
I do not have a great memory but I do remember some conversations more than others..these are two of them...
When I was pregnant with our first daughter I was teaching middle school. I loved my job. I worked for an excellent woman administer. She was a super mentor for me as I was just starting out in that career. I was nervous about going into her office and telling her I was not returning to work after I had delivered our daughter. After all she was a "career woman" who was actually leaving at the end of that school year to work for the Department of Education in Washington DC. She looked me straight in the eye and told me what a wonderful decision I was making. She said her children were grown, fine and healthy and they held no ills against her for working outside of the home BUT SHE missed those days of being home with them as children. And she could never get them back. She had a sadness in her eyes. That was 22 years ago...
Just last year I had a conversation with a woman, mother of 3 young adults-2 in college, one in high school. She asked me if I have other interests besides my children. She went on to add, that she had friends that lives revolved around their kids so she could barely talk to them any more.I felt like I had to defend my self worth. So I listed...I read, I garden, I blah blah blah blah... That conversation stuck with me for several days. I decided that I have not too much to talk to HER about and that was OK with me. I am now in my late 40s so I am more confident in MY job choice.
But why is motherhood being attacked?!? What little worth society has placed on our children, our families, our marriages. I am NOT for one minute knocking the moms who work INSIDE and OUTSIDE of their homes. Hats off to you, I know it must be overwhelming, and exhausting. But why in the world would another WOMAN condemn the work of motherhood. SHAME on you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New fees

So yesterday AM, we sent out our Visa applications. It took a few hours to get the papers together.
I am a stickler for making copies of everything I send out-so that takes time.
New passport photos-so that takes time.
Since C and L were born in China, more papers to gather-so that takes some time.
I check and recheck that the documents are in order-so that takes time.
Drive to the Fed Ex office, recheck,-so that takes time.
All in all it took a few of hours.
Good its done, one more item to check off the list.
No wait, later that day I get an email from our agency letting us know that that the Visa fees are going up, effective THIS Friday, yes, I sent out the packet on Tuesday. It should be delivered on Thursday. At this point I don't care about the amount of money. It's just that I am hoping that since I sent out the packet, there won't be a delay since the fees were changed, literally hours after I sent it out. Always something to keep me on my toes!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Artcle 5 delivered !

Our Article 5 was officially delivered to CCAA in Beijing this week!
This is what the next 6 weeks or so should look like-
Week of April 4th-Article 5 delivered
Week of April 7-21 -Travel Approval received
Week of May 5- request Consulate Appt.
May 12- Tylar graduates college
May 18- Travel to China
Week of May 18th- Meet Mia- Fujian,China
Week of May 25th- trav to GZ to the American Consulate
Sometime around May 31, travel home.
This is most likey what our schedule looks like, but in the world of international adoption... you never know what may pop up.
Please pray -
for the loose ends that need to be tied up
peace and calm in our home
And ofcouse for Mia's heart as she transitions into our family, her new forever family.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Article 5

Just got an email from China letting me know that our Article 5 is ready! Our agency needs to forward this to CCAA and we wait for our travel approval (TA)
TA normally takes about 3 weeks to be issued by China.
Then we request a consulate appointment (CA). Once our CA is issued we can make our plane reservations and bring Mia home! We seem to still be shooting for the May 18th travel date. My pre adoption insomnia has kicked in and is driving me crazy! Praying for some peaceful sleep in the weeks ahead. Please pray for me!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Missing Mia tonight

That's it for tonight. Just missing my little girl.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Traveling, traveling papers....

We received notice that our I800 was approved by USCIS, Yeah!! This document approves us to adopt a specific child -MIA CAILI BRANNON- !
Now the approval is sent to New Hampshire to NVC- National Visa Center then onto
the US Embassy in GZ China. This should take about 4 weeks to for the papers to travel to these offices for approval. Keep um moving!!!