Saturday, July 30, 2011


Thursday, 7/28/2011, was quite an eventful day for the Burris household. After Phil left for work I walked in to the kitchen and saw MaKayla’s medication sitting on the counter. I picked it up to put it away but did not hear any pills clanking around inside. Sure enough, it was empty. I asked her if she took her last pill and she said, “No Mom, I had about 18 to 20 left!”

“EVERYONE, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING!” Within seconds, we all scrambled through the house trying to find any trace of her pills. Sure enough, we found five half masticated pills in one of his Thomas the Train building toys. I immediately called Phil, then poison control. Yep, take no chances and take him to the ER. I called Phil back and he was out the door. As soon as Phil arrived at our back door, I handed Brandon and the diaper bag to him, told him poison control already called the ER, and Phil was off.

When he got to the ER the lady at the front desk told him to hold on a minute. When she finally waited on him, he pulled out the medicine vile and said, “My son just swallowed 15 of these pills.” Within seconds he was surrounded by doctors, nurses, ENT and docs in training. He said to himself, “Now that’s more like it!”

For the next eight hours they took blood, gave him an IV and kept a close watch. But boy was he doped up. He kept saying, ‘daddy, daddy, daddy’ and sat in the bed the whole time connecting two magnetic Thomas the Train toys and alternate his wording to include, ‘Percy, Percy, Percy.’ They asked him if that was normal and he said he really didn’t know. So, when he called me I said, “OF COURSE THAT ISN’T NORMAL!” If any of you know my son, he NEVER sits still and repeats the same thing over and over in monotone. It was as if he was displaying autistic behavior. Now don’t get me wrong, Phil was pretty sure his behavior was abnormal, but since I am with him all day he wanted to make sure.

All I wanted to do was run to the hospital to be with my little boy, but Daddy was right by his side and I knew he was in good hands. Finally, in the evening he comes walking in with Brandon and wouldn’t you know, he throws up for the first time the entire day. Nooooo, not right after he takes the pills, not while he is at the hospital, only when he comes to mommy (yes, I know, I opened myself up wide here for numerous jokes and comments). So, that’s two days in a row I deal with vomit from my kids. I was up with him till early the next day as he would NOT fall asleep. He just kept repeating the same words over and over, was VERY monotone and was glued to those two Thomas the Train toys. If you took them away, as far as he was concerned, there would be no existence.

But, I am happy to report that he is back to his old, rascally, over active self today. He did, however, take an extra long nap. When I went to wake him up, he was quite upset that I wasn’t letting him sleep longer. Nonetheless, the little Brandon I know and love is back in his truest form and I can’t be any happier!!


On Wednesday, 7/27/2011, Amornthep received surgery for his cochlear implant on his left side. He has been waiting for this for so long and everyday he runs to the calendar to count the days. Ironically, the day before his surgery, our new van got a flat tire and Phil planned to change it the next day while I was at the hospital and he was home with the kids.

Wednesday morning Amornthep and I got in the Honda Civic and halfway down the road I sensed something was not right. Sure enough, the Civic also had a flat tire. I lugged it back home and was able to find a sister in our Ward that has the proper stickers on her car to get us on base for his surgery. We were only 15 minutes late and he got right in. He did great, except he did vomit as they were getting him in the wheelchair to release him. But, that is to be expected. Anytime you do surgery on the eyes, ears and abdomen, nausea is very high after surgery. He was sure groggy the rest of the day, but Thursday and today he is the same happy, kind, jumpy, overactive little boy he always is. Every now and then he grabs his ear to say it hurts as the bandages were removed the day after surgery, but it dissipates quickly and he goes off to play; one brave little tyke.

Seattle Children’s Hospital will turn his left cochlear on in about a month, which is standard healing time from the surgery. He is beyond excited and now is counting the days on the calendar until we go to Seattle for his left side to get “turned on.” He is doing amazing with his cochlear. I remember the horrible fight I had with Seattle Children’s Hospital just to convince them to implant him with the first cochlear. A few months after his first surgery, I had to go to battle again to convince him that he needs to get his left side implanted. They pushed back because they felt he was too old to be implanted. For the second implant, they pushed back because they wanted to wait a year to see how well he was doing with the first. I told them all the studies and experts we’ve spoken to say having dual cochlear implants is better than one side being implanted. And, if one ear is implanted too long before the second is implanted, you risk ear dominance. Ultimately, in the end what finally convinced them is the fact that he is doing above and beyond where they thought he would be. I originally told them I know my son and that he will go beyond their expectations, which he has proven in spades. We’re so proud of him!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Yeah – one more step closer to bringing home our children. Our dossier arrived at our agency’s office on Friday and they are mailing the documents to China today. For those of you new to the international adoption process, all countries require a dossier, which is a collection of papers giving detailed information about ourselves. The country examines the dossier and can deny or approve your adoption based on the information from the dossier. However, denial by the country is rare since most of the qualifying process is done by your adoption agency even before you start putting together a dossier. Every piece of paper in your dossier has to be notarized. China requires all dossiers be authenticated, which means the dossier is sent to the Secretary of State where they make sure all notary seals are authentic. Once authentication is complete, it now can be mailed to China.

Our hope is that by tomorrow, Mr. Li, AAI’s employee in China, will receive our dossier. He will then translate the entire file and hopefully get it to the CCCWA by end of the week. Once the CCCWA receives our dossier, we wait for a log-in date (LID), which usually takes about two weeks. A LID indicates that China has our dossier, it is logged in to their system and they are now working on getting our Letter of Approval (LOA). Receiving an LOA has been averaging two months right now for China’s waiting child program. Waiting for the LOA is where we pray China will expedite our file so we can receive our LOA in only one month or sooner. Once we have the LOA, we then submit it to U.S. immigration (USCIS) to get visa approvals for Joshua and Maelynn. Most likely the USCIS will expedite due to Joshua’s severe medical condition. Most couples that have a severe medical issue request assistance from their Senator or Congressmen to help expedite. This step usually takes three weeks, but with state politicians involved, it is usually shortened to only a few days.

The USCIS will submit an Article 5 letter, which states that the U.S. has approved the immigration of these two children. Once we have the Article 5 letter, we are able to start making travel plans. As you can see, we still have a way to go before we travel but having dossier authenticated and off to China is  quite a colossal step. We are still on track for travel by year's end, so please keep us in your prayers that China will expedite our file so we can get Joshua the medical help he so desperately needs. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I have one amazing husband. Tonight, to help ease my frustrating day at the social security office, he brought me flowers and chocolates. And, I get the night off and will be catching a movie without any little ones hanging on my sleeve. I have been so blessed!


You read that right, I went ‘postal’ at the Social Security office this morning where they had to call security. I admit it is not one of my better moments, or something I should be proud of; especially since my children witnessed their mommy go insane. And, at the moment of insanity, I also knew that no amount of ranting and raving would produce a new social security card for my daughter. However, I have to admit…I DID FEEL A LOT BETTER!

Here is what happened. I went in to change Hana’s current social security card to reflect her new name change. Now keep in mind, I went in to change her EXISTING social security card. Existing to be defined as ALREADY HAVING ONE; ONE IN EXISTANCE; HAVING POSSESSION OF…you get the idea. Having three previous adopted children, one being international, I have learned to always call ahead when dealing with business involving the government. Thus, I had already called the national social security office to ask exactly what documents I would need to change her social security card to read Hana Rebecca Burris. So, with all the required paperwork and finalized application in hand, I proceeded to drive 45 minutes one-way to get to the social security office the moment the doors opened at 9:00 AM with all four children in tow.

Just as I planned, I am one of the first to be assisted. I handed all my paperwork to the male agent. During this 15 minute silence, he is reviewing the information, typing everything in to the computer and nodding his head in agreement. Thus, things seem to be going well. Finally, he turns to me and asks if I have proof of her citizenship. I told him that she is automatically a citizen when she enters the United States, that her adoption decree and birth certificate and permanent resident card are all the proof required. He continues to tell me that he needs a certificate of citizenship (COC) or U.S. passport. I politely correct him and tell him that I called the National Social Security office to confirm what exactly is needed to change her name and all the documents I have produced are all that is required. I then acknowledge that I was aware that she would be put in the system temporarily as a non-resident until I eventually provide them with a copy of the COC or a passport, but in the meantime, she can still get a social security card.

He then tells me he doesn’t know who I talked to but that I am talking to him now and that he needs a COC or passport. I again, politely, pointed out to him that in his very hand, he is holding her EXISTING social security card that she received from her first family that adopted her and that they were able to get her card without a passport or COC. He abruptly responded that he does not know how she was able to get the card without those documents, but that I need to show proof of citizenship. I told him my son from Thailand has a social security card and I did not have to provide a COC or passport. Again, he told me until I provide those items, she can not have her social security card name updated to reflect her name change.

Now, I’m getting a little steamed. I just dragged my children 45 minutes one-way to be told I can’t get my daughter a new social security card and that I have to spend another 400+ dollars to get a COC or passport, which could take months to get in the mail. I’m steamed because I KNOW what he is telling me in NOT correct, that I confirmed this prior, that he is physically holding her social security card that was obtained without those items. I also proceeded to inform him that I was able to get my son’s card, who also came over on an IR4 visa, without those items.

But, to no avail, he just kept pushing me aside and told me to come back when I have proof of citizenship. I requested he contact his main office to verify if what I or what he was saying was true before pushing me aside since my drive was quite lengthy. He just kept saying he didn’t have time to do that and that I was dealing with him and what he said goes. Okay, so this is where I got LOUD, and I mean very loud. I expressed my disgust for his incompetence, that his lack of knowledge and unwillingness to look in to this issue further was causing a great inconvenience. I then openly expressed to their entire office how tired I am that the right hand never knows what the left is doing among government employees, etc., etc. He kept telling me to move aside, but I stayed my ground and told him exactly what I felt. No, I did not swear, but I was very adamant in my disgust for his lack of service and knowledge. So, this is where security was called. No, they did not escort me out. I think seeing my four children they probably felt I had enough escorts. But, in the end, I am so tired of government agencies hiring people that either have no idea what they are doing, or have a ‘God Complex’ and like to mess with you just because, and/or BOTH! So, what will probably happen is I will return tomorrow, with the same paperwork and pray I get another agent and will eventually get her card updated. Not that I’m advocating murder, but I can seriously understand and, in a way, empathize with people that do go postal at government agency offices.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Phil just called stating that he just received an email that his 4187 was approved to move his Captain’s Career Course date from January to May. This is a big deal for us as it means he will be able to be with us for a few of Joshua’s surgeries. We intended to go with him in January, even though it meant Amornthep would suffer a few months without deaf resources. We felt it was more important the family stay together. However, now that Joshua will be with us, as well as Maelynn needing possible surgeries and a cochlear implant, going to Fort Leonard Wood is just not in the cards. Joshua’s medical care is much more severe and will require too many surgeries to move to a base that can not accommodate.

Though the six month separation will not be easy, especially watching six kiddos all by myself running to numerous doctor, hospital and therapy appointments, it can not be helped. The Lord is aware of our circumstance and we are very confident he will help lighten my load during our separation. We are also aware that he will most likely be assigned command of a company that is either deployed or deploying right after Career Course. Therefore, we will be separated another 12 to 15 months. Again, it will not be an easy time, but with faith in our Lord, we will get through these difficult times. For now, we will revel in our 'win' that his career course has been delayed five months. 

Well, a few hours after posting this, Phil contacted me to let me know that he received an email from his Branch stating that he can not go to Fort Leonard Wood (FLW) because it does not have the resources to accommodate our son, Amornthep. We are in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), which means that by law, the military has to send you to a base that can accommodate the special needs of your family members. However, this does not mean that you are always guaranteed to stay together as the needs of the Army will always come first.  

FLW definitely does not have resources for the deaf. This we know as I have been battling with the local School Liaison and School Special Education programs at FLW over the past few months. We had always planned to attend Career Course with Phil before our decision to adopt, even knowing that they do not have all the resources for Amornthep, as we felt it was more important that we stay together as a family. Therefore, I have been having discussions with the local school agencies regarding Amornthep and the best they could come up with is having him sit in a room, with a TV monitor, and attend school online with someone that can sign from a school district in another part of the state. NO...I don't think so! Nonetheless, looks like it is a non-issue at this point.

So now they are looking at Phil attending Aviation Career Course at Fort Rucker Alabama, or Maneuver Career Course at Fort Benning Georgia. At this time his Branch needs to investigate which base will best accommodate, if at all, Amornthep's special needs. However, they do not know about the special needs of the children we are adopting and can not research this until they are in the system. Thus, it's a big headache all the way around. We had planned to pretty much stay here while he attends Career Course, but I guess we would have had to submit paperwork to do that anyway. Oh, the joys of being in the military. The disadvantage to this change is that he may not be able to go now until end of year if that, which really puts him behind his peers for Command. The good news is that they are trying to keep us together. Nonetheless, the ups and downs of military life.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011


As I mentioned at the start of this Blog, our decision to adopt Joshua was not an easy one, but one we could NOT ignore. The Lord truly wants this little boy to be our son, and our little girl, Maelynn, though a lot easier in the choosing is also meant to be our daughter. Today, we feel the Lord has blessed us for acting upon his inspiration and remaining faithful to his will.

Today, Saturday, July 09, Phil brought in the mail and with an earnest look and stern tone told me to read the letter. At first, I was concerned something was wrong, but immediately became overwhelmed once I read the beautiful message. It was a letter sent to us by a loving couple in our church. They expressed how impressed they were that we are so willing and wanting to adopt such beautiful children with special needs in to our family, that they felt compelled to assist us with our endeavor. Inside the card was a folded check for a large amount of money to be used for the adoption. Phil broke in to tears and I just stared in amazement. The Lord used these two amazing, God-loving people as his servants to pour out his blessings upon us.

At first Phil felt like we couldn’t accept the money. However, we realized they found joy in giving us the money and that the Lord will truly bless them for their generous act. But, the day didn’t end there. That evening we took the kids to the park and afterward, went to a small restaurant for dinner. Upon leaving, our waitress informed us that a nice couple paid for our entire meal. Once again, we were overwhelmed. Phil has paid for people’s dinners on numerous occasions, but this was the first time we were recipients of such an act. What an amazing surprise. We may never see that couple again, but the joy they brought us will be a long-lasting memory.

The kindness of humanity showed bright today. All Phil and I keep thinking is that the Lord must be pleased with our decision and act of faith in bringing these two beautiful children in to our home and family. May the Lord pour his blessings upon these couples for their acts of generosity and incredible kindness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Yesterday, after we left the temple, Phil’s mom and Ernie took the kids home and we went to the Homeland Security office in Seattle to get our fingerprints done. We thought for sure we would have to wait a long time, but we were in and out in less than an hour. We were VERY pleased. We then went on base and had all our dossier documents notarized and mailed everything to our agency, AAI.

Today, I received I-800A Approval via email. GLORY DAY! I sent this to Ky at AAI and hopefully she will get our dossier paperwork mailed off for authentication very soon. If all goes well, my hope is that we will have our dossier to China no later then the end of this month. Please keep us in your prayers that everything continues to move quickly so we can bring these little ones home.


On Tuesday, July 5, 2011, our beautiful daughter, Hana Rebecca Burris, was sealed to us for all eternity. We were blessed to have Phil’s mom, Wray Beth, and her husband, Ernie, visit for the week. It was a gorgeous day and one never to be forgotten. Weary eyed, we all awoke at 5:00 AM to prepare for the day. Since we just celebrated the 4th of July the night previous, we were all quite exhausted, but the excitement of the day kept our fires burning and by 6:30 AM, we were out the door.

The travel to the Seattle LDS temple took us 1 hour and 15 minutes, not too bad considering the traffic in Seattle. Wray Beth and Ernie were the children’s escorts. The Seattle temple has a beautiful waiting room for children so after they got dressed in their whites; they were able to keep busy with the fun toys supplied in this gorgeous room.

While Wray Beth and Ernie were dealing with our four kiddos, we were having our paperwork taken care of and then changed in to our temple clothing. Once changed, we anxiously sat in the sealing waiting room for our little ones to be brought to us. MaKayla, Amornthep and Brandon had all been sealed to us before, but they are blessed to witness the sealing of their other siblings. This is a special treat, since most children only do baptisms at the temple once they are twelve, and usually do not enter a sealing room until they are endowed and getting their own marriage performed or sealing a couple and/or family for all time and eternity via proxy for those that have past on.

Of course, the first voice we heard was little Brandon. Our hearts leapt as we couldn’t wait to see them all in their whites. Sure enough, one by one, they came in the waiting room and just looked angelic. We were soon escorted to the sealing room, where all three of us knelt down at the altar, Hana to our side, hand in hand. Our sealer, through the power of the Priesthood, sealed Hana to us for all eternity. Of course, tears flowed and while the sealer spoke, she gazed up at us with the largest smile, just beaming, squeezing our hands as we squeezed back. In the sealing rooms, they have gorgeous mirrors on each side of the room. When you look in one mirror, you see yourself and your family go on forever and ever without an end. Hana and the other kids were just enthralled with this and I believe it really made an impact to Hana about what forever truly means.

After the ordinance was completed, we went outside to get pictures and later Phil toured the grounds with the kids. They were all so touched by the incredible beauty and powerful Spirit the temple holds. Later that night we went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate and we all crashed a tad bit early. It was an amazing and powerful day!

Friday, July 1, 2011


This is a huge deal when you are in the waiting game for international adoption. The I-800A is immigration's approval to allow you to bring a child in to the country. The process to get your I-800A approval usually takes about 60 days. We have an amazing agent at the USCIS office working for us to help expedite the file. Her name is Margaret Wilson and I highly advise anyone that is adopting internationally see if they can use her as their agent. She has been helping us from the beginning to get this process expedited and in so doing, made this 60 day process turn in to a 18 day process. She is truly, and literally, a life saver.

Margaret emailed our fingerprint appointments to us today so that we don't have to wait for them in the mail. On Tuesday, we are going to walk-in to the ACS office, get our fingerprints done, and should have our approval emailed to us the very next day. Then, our agency will send all our documents to get authenticated at the San Francisco Secretary of State office, which usually takes about a week. We will then be ready to submit our Dossier to China. This puts us ahead of my schedule by two weeks, and ahead of the normal schedule by a good month plus. For all of you that have been praying for us and these two adorable children, keep it up because it is truly working!!!

On another note, my husband called me today and said that his Battalion Commander contacted his Lt. Col, who is currently his 'boss', to tell him that she felt he is adopting too much. You see, he submitted a 4187 requesting that his Captain's Career Course date in January be moved to May due to our adoption. Phil's response is that he would like to see her put that in writing on a legal, military memo as JAG (military legal dept.) will have a heyday. That is like telling soldiers they are getting pregnant too much. Very illegal. But, in the end she has the right to decline his 4187, which means he will have to leave in January for Career Course in Missouri, leaving me here for 6 months with all the children, all the hospitalizations, doctor appointments, therapies and surgeries. Well, we knew what we were getting in to, especially being in the military, so such is life!!