Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Pictures And Travel Plans!

Wow!!!! OMG!!!

What a huge surprise today via email. Our adoption agency emailed us some updated information on our baby. This information was taken on the 7/15/2008 and some additional pictures were taken around the same time.

Height: 71.2 cm
Weight: 8.2 kg**
Head Cir: 45.3 cm
Chest Cir: 45 cm
HepB: negative
Foot Length: 13 cm
Teeth: 8
Sitting?: Yes
Standing?: Yes
Walking: Yes
Speaking: Yes
How long has the child lived in the orphanage? 0 months
How long has the child been in foster care? 12+ months
Does the child currently reside in the orphanage or foster care? She currently resides in foster care.
Where does your child sleep? She sleeps in crib by herself.
Other information? Everything else is normal.

Walking, talking, sitting, and standing! We are so excited. And we have two new pictures.

Prepare to fall in love...

And we have booked our international travel. We will be leaving Baltimore on August 13 at 9:25am. We fly to Detroit, change planes, and arrive in San Fracnsico at 2:14pm. We're going to spend that night in San Francisco.

Then, on August 14, we'll leave San Francisco at 2:00pm, fly to Tokyo, change planes, and fly on to Guangzhou, China, arriving in Guanngzhou at 11:00pm on August 15. (You lose a day traveling to China...China is 12 hours head of Baltimore time...)

We will leave Guangzhouo on August 29, at 8:20am, fly to Tokyo, Detroit, and finally arrive back home in Baltimore on August 29 at 7:10pm. This lose a day, gain a day stuff will make it so confusing!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Visas and Travel Dates

The anxiety over getting our Chinese visas is over. This morning, UPS delivered a package to Mark's office that contained our visas. It feels so good to have them in hand.

A special thanks to Steve and Laura at the Assistant Stork for helping with them, and for convincing the people at the embassy that Mark's only reason for traveling to China is to get his baby.

We also heard from our agency this morning that we now have an appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Our appointment is for 8/27/2008.

Based on this Consulate appointment date, we must arrive in Guangzhou, China on, or before, 8/15/2008.

We will be able to depart China on 8/29/2008.

As luck would have it, Beth is home today on leave so this afternoon, she'll try and book our international travel.

Before we leave, we'll post our itinerary for you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Still Nothing From The US Consulate

Our agency emailed us this morning and said they still have not received a Consulate appointment. They are still hopeful that they will receive confirmations within the next few days. Remember, the Consulate can take 1-6 business days to reply to requests.

We must have a confirmed Consulate appointment BEFORE we can estimate travel dates, begin planning travel, finalize arrangements with the adoption agency's China staff, etc.

Beth returns home this afternoon after a long weekend business trip to Denver. While she was gone, Mark pulled together all the necessary travel documents and made copies. It sometimes seems like the paperwork will never end.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Surprise, But Very Welcome Letter

We had an interesting letter in the mailbox when we got home today. It was from our adoption agency and included a narrative from the Chibi City Children’s Welfare Institute (the orphanage) that tells us more about our baby. The narrative was dated April 24, 2008.

Our baby was found abandoned in Chibi City on June 18, 2007. She was found at the entrance to the old Civil Administration Bureau. Families often abandon children near buildings of this type because they want the babies to be safe and found quickly. We she entered the orphanage she was wearing light-colored cotton-padded clothes and was barefoot. She was wrapped in a blue blanket. She had been placed in a basket along with a bottle. She weighed a little over 6 pounds when found, and the doctor estimates she was just three days old, so her birth date was listed as June 15, 2007.

Her nickname is “Na Na.” When she was three months old, she could raise her head, make sounds, and dance her hands and feet about. At four to five months, her head was steady when sitting and her line of vision could track. She could differentiate between familiar people and strangers. At six to seven months she was sitting up on her own. At eight months she was grabbing toys near her while sitting. They say she already knows the gestures for “bye bye” and hello.

Note -- As a future Ravens fan, we have to teach her the gesture for “move those chains!” And in a home of parrot heads, it won’t be long before she’s doing “fins up!” You can count on that.

They also included a full immunization record.

They note, again as of April 24, she weighed 18 pounds and had already sprouted "five cute little teeth."

Three months ago, she was napping twice a day, for a total of four hours a day. She has one BM a day, and pees seven or eight times a day. The letter says “she urinates when she hears an adult’s whistle.” That’s interesting, wouldn’t you say? We have her full eating schedule and a list of what she likes. It even tells us she likes to eat "bananas and apples and can drink yogurt through a straw."

Here is the last paragraph verbatim:

“Cute little Na Na is a little fussy. When she is particularly fussy, she wants to be outside – where there are lots of people – and play. She loves listening to music and likes watching TV. When she sees brightly colored things, she will not take her eyes off of them. Her round eyes are very sharp and cute. She is truly adorable!”

We can’t wait to get her in our arms, and to share her with you! As for adorable, you bet!

The Friday Update

Not much new to report today.

A short email from our adoption agency:

"We did not receive Consulate appointment confirmations for your group today. We are hopeful that we will receive confirmations within the next few days. Meanwhile, thank you so much for your patience as we wait to hear back. The Consulate can take 1-6 business days to reply to our requests."

We do understand our travel visas have been approved. Our courier will pick them up on Tuesday, and we should have them in our hands on Wednesday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We Have Travel Approval!

We received an email from our adoption agency today that said:

"Wonderful news! Today we received Travel Approvals for your family! With the arrival of Travel Approvals today, we have requested appointments hoping for families to be in China by August 15th. We’re very excited for each family!!! "

Now we have to wait for the U.S. Consulate - Guangzhou to schedule an appointment for us. It usually takes the Consulate 1-6 business days to reply with a date for our appointment.

We need to have that appointment before we can finalize our international and in-China travel.

We're still waiting for our visas as well. We hope to have them by tomorrow, or early next week.

It all means we're just one more step closer to Merrilee!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heavy Rain In Hubei

One of the benefits of the job is lots of late breaking news information.

This was reported on major wire services late Wednesday.

At Least Six Dead After Heavy Rain Hits China

Heavy rains causing floods in the central Chinese province of Hubei have killed six people and affected 584-thousand, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. (July 23)

CLICK HERE to see video about the flooding.

We don't know if this will have any impact on us.

Boxes To The Orphange!!!

We have an awkward situation. We have many friends and family that are asking about our baby registry. While we appreciate your thoughtfulness, we really don't want anyone to go to any trouble or feel obligated to send us gifts.

Beth is already out of control on buying pink things for our daughter and the holes in Merrilee's shoes in the orphanage pictures nearly pushed her over the edge. I somehow think baby Prada shoes are in our future.

At any rate, these are hard economic times and we really prefer that everyone hold onto their money. However, for those stubborn folks out there that insist to buy gifts, we did finally register at and

We really don't need much. We have had many friends and family already send us new toys and clothing as well as folks at Beth's office who have donated wonderfully used girl clothes that look nearly brand new (thanks, LTC and Mrs. Bigelow).

This morning, Beth shipped off two boxes to the orphanage in Chibi. Here she was, walking out the door (today was a civvies day – no BDUs…)

One box contained some clothes for the orphans. The other is a box of items for our Merrilee – including a stuffed animal and baby blanket. We also included a disposable camera, and we’re hoping the people at the orphanage will take some pictures and give the camera to us when we get Merrilee. We’re hoping all will make it there okay.

We’ve previously written about Beth’s sister Brittany in Arkansas. Here’s a picture of her family…

And here are the three kids. First Madison…

Here’s Blakely

And here’s Cade

We appreciate all the comments on the blog and will print them out for a book for Merrilee so she will know how much she is loved without all the material things.

We have already been blessed beyond belief. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The World Seems Smaller

The incredible thing about this blog is that it allows us to reach out to so many people.

We’ve been amazed by the number of people who have posted comments here and emailed us. The world certainly seems to be a much smaller place thanks to the internet. We’ve heard from people in other states and other countries. Wow!

The internet has also made it possible for us to gather a lot of helpful information in preparation for our trip. We’ve gotten little tidbits of advice from lots of you, and we’ve watched a number of China travel DVDs for adoptive parents.

We’re also happy that so many of you have bookmarked our blog, and check in on a regular basis.

A special shout out to our friends at DINFOS! We know you’re checking in often, and we appreciate your interest.

As we say in the broadcasting business – check back four, five, six times a day. You never know when there might be a new post. This is the greatest period of uncertainty for us.

Until now, the timetable was somewhat predictable. But now, there’s no way to know for sure when we’ll have our visa, travel approval, or international travel itinerary.

As soon as we know, we’ll try to let you know!

Presents, Pictures and More

The heat index in Baltimore this weekend was around 100 degrees. So we tried to take it a little easy. We had some family over Sunday, and everyone got to enjoy the swimming pool. The water in the pool was 88 degrees, but still, it was refreshing.

We do have some new things to report.

First, we know in our travel group to China, we’ll be making the journey with families from all across the country. There’ll be a couple from Alaska, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and three from Colorado. There could be another couple or two, but we know of at least these families.

Beth has been shopping for gifts to take to China with us. That’s right, we have to give some gifts. It is suggested you give gifts to the foster care family, Chinese notary officials, orphanage caregivers, the orphanage director, and other government registration officials. Among the gifts they like to receive are t-shirts, baseball hats, Swiss knives, good quality cosmetics, compact tool sets, perfume, bath gels and body lotions, nice pens. American made candy and chocolate, scarves, and neckties. Beth has done most of the shopping. Let’s just say when we leave, there will be a few new Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens fans in the Hubei province of China. By the way, do you know how hard it is to find ties that are actually made in the U.S.?

Mark’s nephew Douglas, his wife Kadie, and their son Jordan, came to visit, as did Mark’s brother Glenn and his wife Sandy. Jordan loves the pool and he's become quite adventurous. He dives to the bottom now and even tries the "dead man float." Here’s a picture of Jordan…

Jordan is very excited to have a baby joining the family. He says he can’t wait to give Merrilee a big kiss, and he asked a lot of questions about our trip to China. Jordan and his parents also brought over some nice gifts for Merrilee – some cool books and a Leap Frog musical desk. It was very sweet of them to think of us, and we know Merrilee will love all of her presents.

Speaking of gifts, we got a package last weekend from Aunt Brittany that was filled with bath toys. Lots of floating toys that squirt water. A lot of Chinese babies are a little afraid of their first few baths, so these toys will help make bath time play time for Merrilee.

Merrilee will have a bunch of cousins in Arkansas. Brittany has two girls and a little boy. Here’s a picture of Madison, Blakely and Cade...

We just know Merrilee will love being able to go visit them, and we’re sure she’ll want them to come visit us too.

We’re hoping to hear this week about our visas. It will be two weeks tomorrow that we got our referral, so we’re counting down to our trip. The June group left just one month after they got their referrals. Who knows how quickly we’ll get to take our trip?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Papers Completed -- New Travel Information

We have completed the latest round of travel documents we received from our adoption agency. It would appear many trees have given their lives for us, as the stack of paper from the adoption continues to grow.

We’ve also sent off the paper work for our Chinese visas. There are courier services you can use that will hand deliver all of your paper work to the Chinese Embassy. We decided to use one to handle the task for us – The Assistant Stork. It will save us a day of vacation and the drive down to D.C. They are pros at this, and as such, better equipped to handle any bumps in the road that might arise.

Yesterday, we were on an hour-long conference call with all of the families from our agency who received referrals this month. Not a whole lot of new information, but there was one important nugget.

Usually, when traveling to China for the purposes of adoption, you enter the country through Beijing or Hong Kong. Now, because of the Olympics, those two cities will be out of the mix. (Both cities are hosting some Olympics events.)

It is now very likely that we will enter through the city of Guangzhou. That’s fine with us. We would have to visit there anyhow, because that’s where the US Consulate is located. And, it’s also the home of the renowned White Swan Hotel...

The White Swan is usually overflowing with new adoptive parents and their children. Check it out HERE. Chances are pretty good that we’ll be spending part of our trip at the White Swan.

We had another chat today with Anne, our social worker, who did our home study for us. She’s a terrific lady, and we chatted a bit about the challenges of accepting a child raised in a foster home versus the orphanage. Anne has been a great source of support for us through this entire process.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Update On Our Baby's Foot

The kind people at CCAI have really been doing a lot of leg work to find out more about the burn our little girl suffered.

Today we got a telephone call to update us, and we received pictures via email of the burns.

Beside her foot, she also suffered a burn to the thigh.

Again, the burns were second degree burns. Beth has already talked to our pediatrician, and she doesn't seem too concerned. We'll take these pictures to her and get her to take another look.

The agency tells us the burn was from boiling water, but we don't know any of the circumstances of how the accident occurred.

Here are the two pictures we received today via email. Please don't be freaked out by the purple. This is some sort of jell / ointment that they are applying to treat the burn. But Merrilee may not be wearing shoes for a while until this fully heals...

And here is the burn on her thigh. This appears to be more minor than the burn to the foot...

Thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, and concern. We're confident she will be just fine.

We have been hard at work processing the travel documents needed by our adoption agency, and we're beginning the work on our travel visa.

By the way, as a footnote, Bacall has returned home from the vet, after spending one night in puppy intensive care -- a very expensive night. She had some sort of GI tract issue and was dehydrated. She is taking an oral anti-biotic twice a day, and she is on a bland diet for the rest of the week. But Monday night, she was running and jumping like her old usual self.

Beth comes home later tonight and we'll all be glad to have her back.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Paperwork

Mommy Beth left today for a business trip to New Jersey. She made it safe and sound. Daddy Mark is holding down the fort. Mommy comes back Tuesday.

Our puppy, Bacall, got sick yesterday and we had to take her to the emergency vet. She needed some IV fluids and had to spend the night. She might come home later tonight or tomorrow.

We received another packet of paperwork from our adoption agency on Friday. Most of it involves agreements and release forms for our adoption travel. It also includes the visa application information for our travel visas to China. Many families need couriers to walk this information through the process at the Chinese Embassy. Mark plans to take a day off and walk this through himself. It's one of the advantages of living so close to D.C. and not being intimidated by government processes and bureaucracies.

We also found out that since Merrilee is from the Hubei province, we'll be able to wire our orphanage fee there in advance, which means we'll have to carry less cash with us to China. We're happy about that!

We also have a conference call this Wednesday with our agency and the other people in our travel group. We're looking forward to that!

Finally, thanks to all of you who have left comments on this blog. We read them all and they will be a terrific keepsake for Merrilee! A special thanks to those of you who've already made the trip and have offered us good advice. How did people do this before the internet? We're especially grateful to hear from those of you who got your little girls from the same province and even the same orphange!

Keep the comments coming!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Pictures!!!

While mommy Beth is holding down the fort in Baltimore, daddy Mark is attending some business meetings in New York. Hence, the slight delay in publishing this post.

Since daddy was away, it was up to mommy to get the latest photos scanned. Merrilee is already quite good in her walker --

And, in this next photo, it appears she's already anxious to learn guitar and keyboards too. But despite the tambourine, I think it's best we don't play any Bob Dylan records around her. Hopefully, our little girl will be better at carrying a tune --

We signed all the documents we needed to sign, and sent them off via FedEx before Mark hopped a train Wednesday afternoon for the Big Apple.

Now our adoption agency will send them back to China, and hopefully we will soon have our travel approval. We won't know anything about our travel timetable until at least then. Also, Beth took all of Pu Fu Na's medical records to the pediatrician and she has looked them over. She says everything looks good, though there is no immunization record. So Merrilee will be going to get some shots as soon as she's in the United States.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Fed Ex Package Arrived

We got our overnight package just after noon.

It has more information and two more pictures. It looks like they were both taken the same day and she is wearing the same outfit as in the referral picture. We won't get those pictures on line until Friday though.

We love reading about her personality and all the things she can already do.

She is a cutie!

An Unexpected Call

I think we are already starting to feel like parents.

This morning, we got an unexpected call from our adoption agency.

Apparently last weekend our little girl was burned.

They don't have many details. Just that it was a 2nd degree burn on the instep of her right foot. She is still in foster care and being treated, but they wanted to let us know. No details about how it happened.

The agency is trying to find out more and trying to get pictures of the burn.

Our hearts sank a little at first, but we're glad it was no worse and we're glad she's being treated.

Guess this is just the first in what's likely to be a list of cuts and scrapes and other growing-up injuries.

Note to selves -- add her to our health insurance the moment we get back in the U.S.

We're grateful she is in foster care and has someone who obviously loves her watching out for her.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Long Happy Day


What a ride it has been today! We have received so many emails and calls. And thank you, everyone, for the comments. We have read them all and we will try to reply to them in the next few days.

By the way, if you see any typos, it's all because of anxious, sleepless nights the past few evenings. And, it's because we're generally trying to do 15 things at once while writing for the blog. But we know you get the message.

Meet Merrilee!!!

Dear Friends and Family:

As most of you know, since March 2005 we have been in the process of adopting a baby from China. Today, after years of waiting, we finally got our referral. We got the phone call just after noon. This means the Chinese government has chosen a child for us, and that information has been passed on to us by our adoption agency (which is Chinese Children Adoption International in Colorado.)

Here she is:

Here’s what we know about our baby:

Her name is Pu Fu Na
Her surname is Pu. Her first name mean blessing/happy. Her middle name means feminine.

She is in the Hubei province of China, in the Chibi orphanage

She is 13 months old. She was born on June 15, 2007, and was taken into foster care on June 18, 2007.

As of April 18, 2008, she was 26.57” and weighed 18.04 pounds

They tell us she rises at 7am and goes to bed at 8:30pm. She is a good napper (perfect for us) and a good eater (again, perfect for us!) She is on formula. She is close to her foster mom and loves to play outside. Her favorite toy is a pretty toy that makes sound. She can hold up her head while on her stomach, she rolls from side to side, she can stand with support, can pick up small things, and can sit alone. She likes to tear paper, and she is crawling.

Since many of you will ask, here’s the process we will go through now. There will be a flurry of activity during the next 48 hours. We will receive an overnight package of information from our agency. In this packet will be our “letter of acceptance.” This is the document we must sign for the Chinese government accepting the child. We return that to our agency and they send it on to China. Upon receipt, the Chinese government will then send along a “travel approval.” Once that is in the hands of our agency, they then begin to schedule the multitude of appointments in China. It is likely we will go to the child’s home province for what’s known as “gotcha day.” Then, we will ultimately end up in Guangzhou, the home of the US Consulate, and exit China from there.

We don’t know anything about our trip yet, except that travel usually occurs between five and eight weeks after you get your referral. One big question everyone has now is what impact the Olympics in Beijing will have on travel schedules. Once our travel schedule has been put together by our agency, we will only get 7 to 10 days notice before we will have to leave. We are likely to be gone 17 to 21 days.

We have decided to name our little girl Merrilee Margaret Miller. Merrilee comes from Beth’s mother’s name (Mary) and her grandmother’s name (Lee.) Plus, we have a very dear friend named Merrilee. Margaret was the name of Mark’s grandmother.

We’ve started a blog to keep you updated on our progress and our trip. You can read all about it at:

So there you have it – you know what we know. Thanks for hanging in there with us and expressing an interest in this process. We’ll keep you in the loop.


Mark and Beth

Today Is The Day!

As we anxiously await our referral phone call, this seems a good time to thank a lot of people.

When we first started on this journey, the wait time was about 12 months. Little did we know our wait time between log-in date and referral would be 30 months!

First, we have to thank Anne Pearce, from the United Methodist Board of Child Care. She did our home study and updates.

Then, our friends Rob, Sharon, and Jeff, who all wrote letters of referral for our dossier. And a special thanks to Kim and Andy who agreed to be guardians in the event anything happens to us.

Also, to Bill and Julia and all the folks at the Baltimore County Police Department, for helping with fingerprint documents.

To Doctors Rothschild and Donahue, who filled out all of our medical forms, wrote letters, and updated them several times.

To Robin and Claire who notarized all of our documents in our dossier.

Thanks to the Angel and Randy, who shared with us so many tips about their journey to bring home little Samantha from China. Who would have ever thought a chance meeting in a restaurant could lead to such a friendship?

We’ve met many people from our agency and the adoptive community at large who have shared so much of their time and knowledge with us. Especially to Jen and Rich, and Nikki and Billy, who are our long distance, internet friends.

A word of thanks to National Geographic and Lisa Ling, for the program China’s Lost Girls. Produced in 2004, it helped motivate us on this quest.

Thanks to our companies, co-workers, and family, for their support and encouragement.

And to all of the people at the Baltimore County court house, at the Maryland Secretary of State’s office, at the U.S. State Department, and at USCIS. You made the whole dossier process a lot easier for us!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tuesday Will Be The Day!!!

Our adoption agency says Tuesday will be the day!

They received matches today for families logged in January 23 and 24, 2006.

They say they will be calling all of the families on Tuesday!

As luck would have it, we have an appointment Tuesday morning with a pediatrician. We think Beth will go, and Mark will have phone duty.

We're hoping to be able to record the phone call when the agency contacts us.

Won't that be quite the keepsake!

The Nursery Is Ready

Our nursery has been ready for almost two years. It looks a little like an Easter egg. It's pastel yellow, green and pink. We have a white crib, white armoire, and white toy box.

Over the back of the crib is Merrilee's first baby blanket. This was a special gift from Aunt Brittany in Arkansas...

Here's a view showing you a little more of the room...

Merrilee's toy chest is already filled with toys and books. We love to read and we look forward to reading to Merrilee every night. Hopefully she'll love books, and she'll love movies (like her mom!)

We already have Merrilee's first bear. He's guarding the crib for the time being. Once we know where Merrilee is, we plan to ship the bear (and some clothes for the orphanage) to China. Hopefully, everything will make it to her...

Okay. One more picture. Here's the armoire...

And, we hope to have some panda bears soon for Merrilee too. We understand that a lot of Chinese babies love panda puppets. So, we've been on the web shopping and we hope to have one we'll pack in our luggage during the trip. We already have a lot of clothes, toys, books, etc...packed for the trip. Believe it or not, we're going to travel light. Fortunately, we expect to travel while it's hot, so we won't have to pack sweaters or heavy coats. We'll be there for shorts and t-shirt weather. When we started this process, the wait was about nine months. Now it is closer to three years. It seems like the wait lasts forever. But, once you know your log-in-date and you know that date is in the next batch of referrals from China, a little panic sets in. You wonder, "Where did the time go?" and it seems like you don't have enough time to do all the things you want to do and need to do before you set our for China.

We're Waiting For Our Sister

Mom and dad are all excited about their new baby, and we're pretty excited too.

We're Bogart and Bacall. We're two Italian Greyhounds who have been a part of the Miller family for a long time now.

I'm Bogart and I joined the family five and a half years ago.

And I'm Bacall. I arrived five years ago.

We've been spolied for a long long time, and now we're excited about having someone in the house that we can spoil. We are two very exicted puppies! We're going to be spending a few weeks at a puppy condo resort on vacation while mom and dad are in China. When they come home, they'll give us lots of treats. But our new sister is going to be the best treat of all!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In The Mail

We expect that the latest batch of referrals from China is in the mail, or arrived over the July 4th weekend.

We're hoping to hear from our adoption agency, Chinese Children Adoption International, on either Monday or Tuesday of this week.

We've waited a long time, and now it seems like we won't have enough time to get all the things done we need to get done before we head to China.

An Introduction

This is a journal of our journey to Merrilee.

We decided in late 2004 that we wanted to adopt from China.

We started the process in March 2005, and our documents were received in China on January 23, 2006. That's the date referred to as our log in date.

With any luck, later this week, we'll have all the paper work and a picture of our little girl.

Sometime later this year, probably in August or September, we'll go to China to meet her in person and bring her home!