Monday, December 7, 2020

State of the Family 2021

2020 has been a weird year. We feel like we're frozen in time. We'd just as soon forget it ever happened. We're in roughly the same place as we anxiously await permission to travel to China to pick up Jesslyn and bring her home. It's maddening to think about how we've missed out on a year of her life due to the global pandemic.

But in a way, an otherwise uneventful year is a blessing in itself. We know that so many have been impacted by the pandemic and ensuing economic downturn. We've had to endure only a modest loss in income, which has been largely offset by decreased vacation travel costs. Nonetheless, we've been able to travel domestically with minimal risk. We stayed in a mountain house in Aspen, a beach house at the Gulf Coast, flew over to Everglades National Park, and drove to Big Bend National Park.

Jaedyn is attending 2nd grade in person. The schools is taking reasonable precautions, and while there have been several positive COVID cases this year, they've been able to contain them and carry on. Many of her friends have opted for virtual instruction, and we know that it's hard on her to not be able to do many of the fun things she's used to, including dance and soccer. She attends Chinese class virtually.

Kaleb is getting bigger so fast. He's starting to learn the alphabet and knows how to spell his name. He still goes to daycare on days that both Kyla and I are working. Sometimes we wonder whether it's worth it to have him struggle through virtual Chinese classes, but then he'll unexpectedly know some random Chinese word and what it means — like 海豚 (dolphin) — and we're reminded that he must be absorbing some of it.

Kyla volunteered to work at her company's COVID clinic where she's a pediatric nurse practitioner on the frontlines of testing and diagnosing potential COVID patients. She was just recently able to get the vaccine well ahead of the rest of us, which we're hoping may enable her to travel to China to get Jesslyn sooner than she otherwise would be allowed.

Jake is still working as a product manager for Administrate, a training management platform. In all the additional spare time that the pandemic has afforded him, he's finally made good on a side project that's been on his list for over a decade: an online event sequencing game called Chrologony. It's also available as an app for iOS and Android.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Adoption Update

The timing of the COVID-19 outbreak couldn't have come at a worse time for our family.

After being disappointed not to be able to bring Jesslyn home before Christmas, and then just barely missing our window in January prior to Chinese New Year, we were all set to travel to China on February 14th. Even in early February when we were counting down the days, we were hopeful that the virus would not spread much beyond Wuhan. Our destinations include northeast and southeast China, a fair distance from the more centrally located ground zero for the new disease. We had planned on doing some sightseeing while there, but quickly realized that wouldn't be in the cards for us given the new travel restrictions. Still, we thought we could successfully get in and get out without too much fuss.

And then the world went mad with panic. The day before we were going to purchase our tickets, U.S. airlines started canceling flights to China altogether. We found some alternate foreign airlines that could still get us there if we were willing to endure an overnight stay in Japan. Both the local Tianjin authorities and the U.S. Consulate were still willing to honor our appointments. We were ready to pull the trigger on that when we received word that the orphanage hosting Jesslyn itself was shutting its doors until the outbreak subsided. We were gutted.

It's difficult not to be angry when we hear of people in our own community rushing out to stock up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper as if the zombie apocalypse is upon us – in spite of there being zero cases in our metropolitan area, and only 8 in all of Texas. While it does appear that the death rate of those infected with the disease is higher than the annual flu, all its other stats pale in comparison. It's frightening to think that the general populace needs basic hygiene reminders at all, let alone why stores are selling out of products that facilitate it now as opposed to any other time. People have just flat out lost their minds over it, and as a result we must remain in a holding pattern while our little girl is growing older without us.

There is now the added complication of mandatory quarantine both upon arrival in China as well as upon return to the United States. We are hoping one or both will be lifted by the time we travel. Otherwise our original plan of traveling as a whole family will have be reconsidered. Jaedyn can't just miss 4-6 weeks of school, and we're not willing to be apart from our children for that length of time even if we could finagle childcare. So we may have to resort to one of us traveling to get Jesslyn while the other stays home.

Kyla has been keeping tabs on the daily statistics of the virus' spread, and new cases in China are on a decidedly downward trend. We're hopeful that it won't be too long before regular air service is resumed, and all applicable agencies in China are able to see us. We have informed our adoption agency that we're prepared to travel at a moment's notice. We have been fortunate to receive more recent videos and photos of Jesslyn, and have even sent her a video of our family introducing ourselves and letting her know we hope we'll get to meet her soon.

We appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We'll post an update when COVID-19 blows over and we have the green light to bring Jesslyn home.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

State of the Family 2020

The biggest news we have this year is the imminent arrival of our 3rd child via adoption from China, Jesslyn Zora. We were hoping to be able to bring her home before Christmas, but unfortunately the authorities that be have conspired to keep that from happening. We are still holding out hope that we can get it done prior to Chinese New Year at the end of January, when the whole of China will shut down for weeks. Everyone is anxiously awaiting her arrival!

Jaedyn has taken to 1st grade well. In particular, her reading skills have improved drastically, and we're continually amazed at the way she can sound out multisyllabic words. But then she gets tripped up by some simple word that we take for granted is, by all accounts, just weird – and we remember that she is still just in 1st grade. She continues to attend Chinese classes and is improving on that front, perhaps in part due to our disingenuous insistence that otherwise she won't be able to communicate with her new baby sister at all. She's also started a more serious (read: expensive) soccer program, and seems to like it fairly well.

Kaleb is doing well. He loves Paw Patrol and PJ Masks. He's learned to spell his name. He's still in soccer, and we've started him in a Chinese program as well. He got a new bike with training wheels, and we're trying to get him transitioned from his balance bike to that.

Kyla has recently become certified as a lactation consultant after after 3 years of hard work. She continues to work part-time at a pediatric clinic, and her new credential has opened up opportunities to work with breast-feeding mothers.

Jake has switched jobs as his entire division was let go from Oracle due to dwindling revenue. He's now working as a product manager for Administrate, a training management platform. He's enjoying making a big impact in a smaller company again and has quickly taken a leadership role.