There’s No Place Like Home

Brian already posted our triumphant and barely conscious return to the US with our son, but I thought I’d add in a few photos from today.

We were up around 4 am and on our way to Hong Kong...

We were up around 4 am and on our way to Hong Kong…

Three hours and two van rides later, we cleared Hong Kong Immigration and were on our way to the airport. It was HUGE-- It took us about 20 minutes after checking in to find our gate. We saw a gate numbered 503!

Three hours and two van rides later, we cleared Hong Kong Immigration and were on our way to the airport. It was HUGE– It took us about 20 minutes after checking in to find our gate. We saw a gate numbered 503! Here, Alexander still manages a huge grin– he doesn’t know that he’s got a 14 hour flight ahead of him!

Just a random side note on our immigration through Hong Kong. We crossed over via van, and it was strangely invasive. A woman with a face mask came into our van and shot each of us with a temperature gun– checking to see if anyone was sick, I guess. It felt very sci-fi. I’m glad Alexander is in good health– it’s fairly common for institutionalized children to arrive very sick. You might notice that he’s always got his pacifier– in addition to using it as a feeding utensil, he’s teething like crazy!

Our flight was fairly terrible. Fourteen hours on a plane is too long, especially in coach. We paid for a little extra leg room, but it still felt like steerage on the Titanic about 6 hours in. It was a rocky flight– several folks got sick, including a few adoptive families. I’ve traveled outside of the US quite a bit, but let me tell you– it felt amazing to step off that plane onto US soil.

Immigration for Alexander was a breeze, with much gratitude given to our friend Ken, the adoptive dad and O’Hare employee I mentioned in our departure post. He assisted in clearing the way for us to speed through the process, and we were met with smiles, handshakes, and hearty congratulations from Customs and Border Patrol. We were barely coherent by the time we got off the plane (though Alexander got at least 6 hours of sleep sprawled out on us! This kid can sleep ANYWHERE!)

We're here! Meet the newest US citizen!

We’re here! Meet the newest US citizen!

Our friend Adam was circling the airport waiting for our signal, and he promptly arrived to chauffeur our tired selves home in addition to helping us adjust our car seat to fit our little guy.

Alexander had a note waiting in his car seat from his new friend Josh, Adam's son. He grabbed it and wouldn't let go-- this photo is NOT staged!

Alexander had a note waiting in his car seat from his new friend Josh, Adam’s son. He grabbed it and wouldn’t let go– this photo is NOT staged!

We arrived at home to a wonderful surprise. Balloons and banner, which will stay up for awhile! Our neighbor and friend across the street was waiting for us– we are so very grateful for all the help of our friends and family in taking care of our home and felines while we were away!

There's no place like home!

There’s no place like home!

We made a big effort to stay awake to fight the jet lag– our bodies are 13 hours ahead of Chicago, so it’s really 10:30 am, and we’ve been up 30 hours. We managed to take Alexander on his first stroller walk through our neighborhood, and we even unpacked a bit. Now, we’re settled in for the evening with a celebratory cocktail, child bathed and snoring happily in his crib, and cats ridiculously cuddly in appreciation of our return.

This will be an Independence Day to remember.

Auld lang syne

Sometimes, the unplanned moments are the most memorable.

The happiest and healthiest New Year to you from!

As many of us have already done, the year’s beginning is a great time to make resolutions. Let’s make this the year to get healthier, to love more, to worry less, and appreciate our lives’ blessings.

Believe it or not, this past year has been one of great anticipation and frustration for us.  We keep saying to each other “This time next year…” things will be so different. It’s a fairly surreal feeling knowing that our lives will be changing dramatically this year. Somewhere out there on the other side of the world, there’s a little guy or girl in a crib completely unaware that their future parents, family, and community are incredibly eager to bring them home and make them feel safe, secure, and loved.

But for now, while we wait and I jump every time the phone rings, I resolve to remember this year and this feeling of hope. The above photo, taken when my dad tried to capture a New Year’s Eve celebration in our new Hawaiian garb from my namesake and honorary Aunt Kathleen, might be the funniest photo ever captured of my mom, myself, and my first childhood pet Missy. Though I couldn’t look at this photo for a solid year without crying, seeing it now makes me laugh. Life happens– loved ones enter and leave our lives, the news is full of surprising altruism and inexplicable tragedy… and sometimes your pets photobomb a well thought out photograph. May we all learn to accept and appreciate the unexpected joys and laughs of this year.

Sometimes life is most memorable when you least expect it.


Three letters that say so much- we are finally DTC! This is the Chinese adoptive families community’s acronym for Dossier To China, or All Systems Go! Our complete application has been processed through our agency, filed, and overnighted to Beijing. Probably within a week, we’ll be logged in to the official system, and we’ll be ready to meet our future son or daughter!

In other news, our Sunday night dinners took an exciting turn, as we tried making bao for the first time. For those who aren’t familiar, bao is a steamed bun often filled with meat or vegetables. We made bbq and ginger pork bao– which turned out fantastic! We cheated by using this recipe for a lazy Sunday night dinner, but for our first time, they turned out wonderfully!

Anyone have any tips on cleaning bamboo steamer baskets?


The Silver Lining

After much complaining and lamenting, I figured it would be good to take a step back and express our gratitude to those of you who are following along, commenting, and praying for our family. For as frustrating as the seemingly-endless stacks of paperwork and red tape can be, there is something joyful about having friends and family all over the world cheering us on.  Though there are definitely times when I look down at the stack of paperwork and the long road ahead of us and it feels endless, but just knowing you’re out there supporting us and praying for our child* (where ever they are) is the silver lining that is helping us plod forward.

So thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


*which reminds me- for those of you who pray, I ask that you keep our child in your prayers. Given the average age range of children adopted through this program, it is almost 100% certain that our child has been born and is currently residing in a social welfare institution and is waiting for their family– they just don’t know they’re a Kelly just yet!


Nesting 101

This is a post for all the ladies out there.

Nesting. Wow, even though it’s the subject of many a jokes (and websites!), it’s a scary, scary, fact. There’s a strange maternal nesting instinct that kicks in at some point that screams to fill your chest freezer, knit baby booties, and make sweeping, unrealistic long-term plans.

I present Exhibit A  (aka Last Sunday’s decision to make “a little extra for dinner”)

Must. Fill. Freezer. Must. Bake. Stuffed Shells.

I’m sure all you ladies out there who have experienced pregnancy before or who are pregnant now know the cruel, cruel power of nesting. One day, you’re sitting peacefully and enjoying life. The next day, you feel a burning urge to start baking and freezing, canning and freeze-drying rations like you’re Carolyn Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. Your husband just stares at you cluelessly, and offers only the input, “Well, if you’re gonna make muffins, can you put chocolate chips in them?”

Though I don’t think it’s a horrible thing to experience, I didn’t expect it to impact me as much as it has as an adoptive mom-to-be. The big negative here? Since we still don’t have a firm date of when we’ll be bringing our child home, I spend a good chunk of my nesting energy telling Brian “I feel antsy!” This is Kathleen-speak for “I know I should be doing something to ensure that my child will never run out of frozen dinners, but I don’t know enough details to make a reasonable estimate!”  Still, I’ve managed to put several meals into the freezer, which will at the very least provide for some easy go-to meals during the holiday season.

Moms (and dads) of all ages and folks who know exactly what I’m talking about, please spill your nesting stories. You KNOW you have them. Just how many quarts of vegetable soup did you freeze??? And this would also be a great time to pass along your best freeze-and-go recipes. On your mark, get set….. Share!


Character Building

Amid everything else going on in our lives, I’ve added a new hobby. I briefly mentioned it in my Portland post, but now I’m officially fascinated with the Chinese language.  Brian and I would both really like to become more familiar with the Chinese language, both written and spoken– this is an incredibly overwhelming task considering neither of us knows a lick of Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese). Because we don’t know what provinces we’ll be traveling to until we accept a referral, I’m hedging my bets and starting with Mandarin. Continue reading


Most of you know that I have a hard time relaxing; I’m always looking for a new project to keep me busy. One of the most challenging parts of our adoption process for me is dealing with the stretches of time (sometimes quite long) when we just have to sit and wait for paperwork to go through the correct channels. As I type, our adoption application is hopefully sitting somewhere in Springfield where the designated DCFS intercountry adoption coordinator has to put her seal of approval on our packet. We’ve been told that the turnaround time for this is about 2-3 weeks. Until the homestudy comes back with state approval, we just have to sit and wait.

And it seems like forever. Continue reading