Sunday, August 16, 2015

Article 5 drop off

We received our I-800 approval on Monday, August 3rd.  Most people had received theirs 14 days after they applied.  I think our officer was out of town, because had we followed the 14 day timeline, it should have been approved the Friday before.  So we were delayed a couple of days with that.  After we got approval, we got our GUZ number and filled out the DS-260 form.  This form is a visa application from the view point of Evie. (The DS-260 online form is known as somewhat of a villain...most people have to try multiple times....sometimes get in and it takes them days.  We got right in on our first try!  Thank you, Jesus, for that blessing!) We submitted that, and waited for our PDF letter from the NVC stating that our file has been forwarded to the consulate in Guangzhou.  We received the email with our PDF the day after we got our GUZ number, and emailed everything to our adoption agency.  The next step is Article 5 drop off.  This is when the agency representative in China drops off all of our paperwork to the US consulate in Guangzhou.  The consulate looks over all of the immigration forms, LOA, the visa applications, and gets everything squared away.  This process takes 10 business days.  We had our Article 5 drop off this past Thursday, August 13th.  We will have Article 5 pick-up on Thursday, August 28th.  This is when the Travel Approval wait starts.  When we get travel approval, we then send in which dates we would like for our consulate appointment (the last appointment we will have in China before traveling home).  The consulate appointment confirmation usually comes just one day after travel approval.  This is the last thing we will be waiting for from China!!!!!  Once we have travel approval, we can book our flights!!!!  We are sooo close!! 
We just booked our hotel stays for both weeks we will be in China!   We should be leaving on October 16th, and coming home on October 29th!! 
It's getting real, guys!!!!
We will have our baby in our arms in 2 months and 3 days!!!!! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


After we received our LOA, we were able to request another update on Evie.  We got a new video, 4 new pictures, and answers to 5 questions.
1.  What name does she answer to?  Does she have any nicknames?  (I'm not sure we can share her Chinese name publicly yet, but we did get an answer)
2. Updated measurements including foot length.
    A: Head circumference - 44cm (17 in.) // Chest circumference - 45cm (17in.) // Height - 81 cm (31.8in.) // Weight - 9.5 kg (20.9lbs) // Foot length - 12cm (4.72in.)
    --She's very tiny for her age!
3. Does she take a bottle when she goes to bed?
     A: "She takes a bottle when she goes to bed at night."
4. How does she like to be comforted when she is upset?
    A: "When she is upset, her caregivers hug her or interact with her.  She would be happy soon."
5. Did she have a note with her when she was found?
    A: "No, there wasn't a note with her when she was found."

Now that we're closer to travel, I can start buying her shoes!!  I haven't bought any for her (ok...maybe one or two pair that I know she'll grow into) because I've been holding out for an updated foot measurement.
We bought pretty much everything we need for her when we go pick her up, and I already have it all packed into her suitcase!
Someone is reaching for the suckers. :)

We should be receiving our I-800 approval tomorrow.  It's hard knowing that we could technically travel some time in September, but we have no choice but to wait until October.  I know it's all in God's timing, though.  We will get her exactly on time.

Now for the new pictures.  There is no possible way this child could be any cuter than what she already is.  She just takes my breath away with her beauty!

That smile though :)

I love you so much, sweet girl!  We'll be there soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Letter Of Approval!!!!

We received our LOA, so we can finally share a picture of our sweet daughter's face here on the blog!!!!
Here she is!!

Our sweet Evangeline!

We received our LOA (letter of approval) on Tuesday, 7/14.  We got an email on the Wednesday before (7/8) that we were out of translation and in review.  Monday, 7/13, we received an email that our dossier status had been moved to "matched".  One day later is when we got word that they issued our LOA.  Today, Wed. 7/15, we got a call from our case worker, telling us that she received the hard copy of our LOA at their office.  She's shipping it overnight to us.  It would be awesome if I received it early enough in the day to be able to get our I800 sent off, but we'll see. 

I'm so excited!!  Chi*na now views us as Evie's parents!  We just have to fill out a few more forms, wait for visas and paperwork to be delivered to Guang*zhou, get travel approval, and we're outta here!!! 

We love you, Evangeline!!!  We're coming as fast as we can!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lost in Translation

Oh hey there, we're still waiting.  I'm sure I've annoyed our case worker so many times this week and last, asking her to check on the status of our dossier and our LOA with the CCCWA.  According to her, we are still "in process of translating".  The translation part of the LOA wait is the longest, lasting around a month, so it's not surprising that we are still in this part - our dossier was logged in on June 3rd.  Our case worker did tell us that we should be out of translation or getting close.  She said that sometimes the CCCWA will just send out the LOA without updating the case status online. 

A few people have asked me to detail them on how much longer it will be and what the next steps are.  Since this is our first go round, I have to check with other seasoned adoptive moms quite a bit on what happens next.
Right now, as I mentioned, our dossier is being translated.  The next step will be "in review" in which they will make sure we meet all the qualifications to adopt our girl.  After they have reviewed everything, we get our LOA (letter of approval) which is China telling us they approve us to adopt Evie.  We are hoping to get this letter in a week or two from now!!  After we receive our LOA, we will apply for her visa to enter the US and gain citizenship, which is known as the I-800.  This process takes about 2 weeks.  After this step of her visa approval, the NVC (National Visa Center) will issue us a GUZ number (I have no idea what GUZ stands for).  This number will replace our immigration SIM number and shows that our case has been assigned to the Guangzhou consulate.  This takes about a week after I-800 approval.  After that, we take our GUZ number and fill out yet another visa application online, from the view point of our child.  Next we wait for Article 5 drop off/pickup, which is where they drop off all of our paperwork at the US consulate in Guangzhou...they will then look over everything (immigration approvals , LOA, visa applications).  Our agency rep will pick up that packet and the approval paperwork is sent to the CCCWA in Beijing.  All of that takes about 3 weeks.  Then our TA (travel approval) wait begins!  This step takes anywhere from 7-10 days on average.  China will issue us a "Notice of Coming to China for Adoption"!!!  Once we have that, we schedule our CA (consulate appointment) and travel plans.  Whew!  I think all of that is correct, or at least it's close... :)

The travel schedule should look something like this:  We will leave on a Friday, arrive in her province on Saturday, spend Sunday getting all rested up...jet lag and all...(haha!) and finally meet our daughter on Monday!  We will stay in her province until Friday, signing papers, getting her passport, and doing a little shopping!  Friday, we will leave for Guangzhou, where the US consulate is located, and the finalization of the adoption will take place.  Saturday will be her visa medical exam, Monday will be preparing paperwork for her visa, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will be the visa appointment (this is our consulate appointment), and then wait (hopefully just a day) for her visa to be issued!!!   Once we have that, we can return home!!  All of this is obviously subject to change, as we don't know the exact days of the week these appts will happen.

If this timeline plays out correctly, we are looking at leaving Oct. 16th, which is a Friday.  We could possibly leave earlier, but our adoption agency only travels once a month to her province.

Things we would love prayer for:

1. For the process to be smooth and quick, with no unusually long waits.
2. For our biological kids' hearts - their lives are about to change forever.  Please pray that God will speak to them and prepare their hearts and minds to accept this change gracefully.
3. For Evie's heart - this precious child is about to be removed from everything she knows and is familiar with.  She is about to enter into a world where she knows no one, doesn't speak the language, and can't verbalize what she is feeling.  Please pray for God to protect her little mind, to make this transition as easy on her as possible, and for her to feel accepted, loved, and at peace.  
4. Please pray for God to provide the rest of the money we need to be fully funded.
5. Please pray for my heart and Mike's heart and that the sting of this wait will pull us closer to each other, and to our God, and teach us to rest in His perfect plan.
6. We as parents are entering into a lifetime of caring for a child with a disability.  Pray that we will be advocates for her, that we will look beyond a diagnosis, and to teach others to do the same.
7. Pray that we are connected to the best doctors, groups, and schools that will help Evie reach her full potential.

 We're getting closer, angel girl!!!  Mommy can't wait to snuggle you, kiss you, and rock you to sleep, sweet love!! 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

LID and secret sister

We have a log in date!!  After our dossier was sent to China on May 29th, we didn't know exactly how long the wait would be until we were logged in to China's adoption system.  We were pleasantly surprised when we saw that we were logged in just 5 days later!  Sometimes, it can take up to 2 weeks to be logged in, so we were very happy that our wait was short!  God has opened so many doors for us through this adoption, and sometimes, I just have to step back and look at how far He has brought us.  There have been so many obstacles that we thought we would have a hard time overcoming, but none of them have been an issue.  We have had short wait times on everything so far in the process, and that is nothing short of miraculous!  Of course, we don't know what from here on out looks like, but I know that God's plan is best, so we will rest in Him.
I've joined a few adoption groups on and the women on there are so encouraging!!  I don't know how people did this without the help and support of so many other people who know exactly what you're going through.  Social media does have it's perks.  One of the groups I'm part of is a secret sister group.  Each person has someone they mail a package to every month.  I've been enjoying buying goodies for my secret sister, and of course, I've loved receiving my package every month.  I have an awesome secret sister, and she's been spoiling me with really cool packages each month.  She sends different things for Evie, and a few yummy things for me!

Evie is already so spoiled!!  Mommy, grandma, mamaw, her cousins, and her aunts have already been buying clothes, toys, bows and headbands for her!  She is so loved already!!  Our whole family is so excited for her to be here! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

We are DTC!!!!

I'm on multiple adoption boards (mainly China adoptions) and for four months, I have been reading these words from so many others, wondering if we were ever gonna get to the point where we could say that.  And we are finally here!
Being DTC (dossier to China) is a gigantic step.  Most of the paperwork is behind us.  We still have a little more with immigration, visas, travel, etc.  Once we get our LOA (letter of approval) which should be anywhere from 45-60 days from China, we can share her picture!! 
I just received word that the package we sent to her with our photo album in it has been delivered to the courier there, and she has translated our card to Evie's foster family and has shipped it off to the orphanage.  I'm really hoping we get pictures of her receiving it!  I would love to see her reaction to seeing her family for the first time.  I know her understanding of it will be limited, but it will still be sweet. 
So we wait again.  I'm praying for a fast LOA!  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Getting close to DTC!!!!

The funny thing about adoption (international adoption, at least...I don't know anything about domestic adoption) is that so much of it is this weird cycle of hurry up and do 47 things in one day, and then wait for weeks and weeks for the next thing.  Then another hurry up and rush around getting everything done, and then wait again.  It exhausting, mentally and physically.  So much of the process is out of your hands.  You are relying on others to do their jobs and to do them quickly.  And sometimes they do.  Other times they don't. 
We were waiting for one last document to come in for our dossier to be ready to send to China - our I800a approval.  We finally received it last Tues, and received that hard copy on Thurs.  Our approval wait was 39 days, which wasn't bad at all, considering there were some people waiting 90 days.  I took it to have it notarized (three times, because, oh my goodness, the wording has to be PERFECT) and then to the Secretary of State's office to have it certified.  I was too late to send it out that night, so I FedEx overnighted it on Friday to the lady that is taking it to the Chinese consulate in Chicago to be authenticated.  She will take it in on Tues. and pick it up on Thursday.  Hopefully.  We paid for the express service at the Chinese consulate, so it should be done by then.  I'm emailing her an overnight label so she can send it to our adoption agency and they can have it by Friday.  They only send dossiers on Fridays, so I'm really hoping to make this next shipment! 
The dossier is essentially the most important part in this whole process. It's our entire lives on paper...home study, medical info, financial info, background checks, education records, info on our families, etc.  It's everything about us.  After receiving our dossier, the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) will send us an LID, or a log in date.  After we are logged in, we will get updates that our dossier is in and out of translation, being reviewed, being matched, and then we will receive our LOA or letter of approval.   This whole process currently is taking about 45-70 days. 
Once we are DTC (dossier to China), most of the paperwork is over.  We still have other immigration paperwork, visas, and other documents to get ironed out, but I've heard they are nothing compared to the paper chase that is the dossier! 
We are still hoping for a November family day, although it could still very well be in October!  Which is fine by us, the sooner, the better! 
We continue to trust God in His timing and for His provision.  His hand is guiding this, and no matter how fast or slow the government and the agency move, it will all work out in His timing.  And it will be perfect. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

You Can Be Her Missing Piece

We just started our 2nd fundraiser...The Missing Piece.  I got the idea for this from other families going through adoption, and thought it was so cute and would be a great thing for Evie to have in the future!  I can imagine sitting down with her, pointing out every single person who helped bring her home.  Telling her about everyone who loved her before they even met her, everyone who gave of their resources to get her into the arms of her forever family.  What an amazing day that will be!

Here's the info from our You Caring site:
We are launching our current fundraiser: "The Missing Piece".  Truly, Evangeline is the missing piece to our family.  Mike and I talk about her all the time and how we can't help but already feel her absence in our home and how desperately we want these rooms filled with her love and her laughter.  
We purchased a 100 piece puzzle that we will hang in her room when she is home.   The puzzle is a picture of a panda bear...we call Evie our little panda! :)

For each puzzle piece you sponsor, your name (or anything else you may want) will be written on the back of that piece/pieces.  We will hang the puzzle in a double sided glass frame so that all the names are exposed.  Can you even begin to imagine how precious this will be to Evie as she gets older?  She will have tangible evidence of the body of Christ working to bring her home.  There isn't a price tag for that type of eternal impact.
Each piece has a corresponding amount.  Example, piece 1 is $1.00, piece 12 is $12.00, piece 94 is $94.00 and so on.  When this puzzle is complete, we will have raised about $5,000.00!
We have so many family and friends that have already come along side of us to offer prayers, support, monetary gifts, and words of love.  We would love for you to be a part of this journey we are on.
If you are interested in purchasing a piece, click here to go to our You Caring site!!  All the info on how to participate will be there!

Adoption is expensive.  There are fees for everything you could possibly think of.   The financial aspect alone is the main thing that deters most families from adopting.  To see a bill of $35,000+ staring you in the face is intimidating.  Like most families, we don't just have that kind of money lying around.  We aren't rich by any stretch of the imagination.  Well, we are rich, but not because of how much money is in our bank account.  We have each other, we have love, and we have our family and friends.  More importantly, we have Jesus Christ.  He owns it all, and I know He's not worried about how we're going to afford this.  He already knows.  He put this desire and this passion in our hearts and He will see it fulfilled.  He is writing a beautiful story for our family, and that includes Evangeline.  This precious life that God has created is worth more than all the money in the world.    He is writing her story. And it will be amazing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Roller Coaster

Some days, it's easy.  Other days, I so badly want it all over with, I can't even think straight.  I don't think anyone could have prepared us for exactly what it would feel like to go through the adoption process. The things my adoptive momma friends have been telling me, like, you're in for the roller coaster ride of your life, or your patience will be tested like it's never been tested before...I get it now.  It's like the second you give birth to your first baby, it all becomes clear.  All the feelings and emotions and the overwhelming love that you hear about actually happens right before your eyes.  The way you fall in love with this tiny little squirmy thing you've never met is instantaneous.  You get it.  It clicks and you get it.  You can imagine how it will be like all you want, but until it happens, you don't truly understand it.  It's also how I feel about when we finally set eyes on this precious girl in person.  When we are able to actually hold her, hug her, and kiss her.  I just can't fully comprehend that moment right now, but when it happens, I know it will be more than what I could ever have imagined.

 Just the fact that we are 7,888 miles away from her (yep, I looked it up) is just enough to make my mommy heart want to break into a million pieces.  Along with the fact that we know she's our child and we love her more than words can say, yet she doesn't know a thing about us, and doesn't know how her world is about to's just a feeling I can't describe.  I know she's taken care of.  I know she's fed and clothed and bathed and looked after.  It's just that I want to be the one doing all that. I'm her mom.  That's my job. To say that this is the hardest wait we've ever had for anything would be an understatement. A GIANT understatement.

We received an update yesterday.  New pictures and a video, answers to questions we had, and updated measurements were all wonderful.  (She's a tiny little princess...just 22 pounds and 31 inches tall.)  The video revealed that she's a little bit rough on toys and it looks like she's got a little bit (or a lot) of spunk!  She's going to fit right in!!  I told Mike that it almost makes the waiting even harder, being able to see her but not hold her.  I know in my heart that when this whole process is over and we have her in our arms, we will look back and think that the time we waited was all worth it.  The tears we shed over not being able to hold our baby and rock her to sleep will be gone and we will be shedding new tears of happiness and thankfulness that God placed this amazing little girl in our lives.

We have 3 months behind us and approximately 6 months ahead of us.  We are waiting for our I-797 approval (US immigration), which will hopefully be coming in the next few weeks.  We sent our I800a application in on April 9th, with a receipt date of April 14th.  Our fingerprint appointment was scheduled for May 1st, but we took a chance and went in early on April 24th.  They took us right in fingerprinted us, and we were out in about 10 minutes.  Now we wait to be assigned an officer to go over our all of our info, and eventually approve us.  Once that approval is in and we get it state certified and authenticated by the Chinese consulate, we can officially send our dossier to China!!! 

The wait from dossier to China (or DTC) to travel is approximately 4-6 months.  So we are still hopeful for a November family day.  It could possibly be in December, though.  So we wait.  We pray over her, we talk about her, we look at her pictures, and watch the videos of her.  November can't come soon enough!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Learning about our new normal

I stopped by the library the other day to pick up some books about Down Syndrome and adoption.  There aren't any (that I could find, anyway) that discuss both.  So I chose these:
Babies with Down Syndrome was suggested to me in one of my adoption groups.  It's supposed to be one of the best books to read when you're expecting a child with that magical extra gene.  We read My Friend Has Down Syndrome to the kids, and it was really good!!  I would like to find more children's books that have to do with sibling that have DS.  I'm sure they're out there...we just need to find them!
Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected is something that I started reading here and there when we would browse around Barnes and Noble.  I've read about half of it...I'll probably buy it at some point, I would love to own it.  The author, Kelle Hampton, does an amazing job telling the story of the birth and the first year of her daughter's life.  Nella was born with Down Syndrome, after a perfect pregnancy, labor and delivery.  Kelle had no idea she was giving birth to a baby with DS.  I would not recommend reading this book without tissues nearby.  Kelle explains how heart wrenching that first 24 hours was after giving birth to Nella.  Realizing that she wasn't the baby they were expecting, and how they had to grieve the baby they thought they were welcoming was heart wrenching.  One of my favorite parts in the book is when she wrote about the minutes after she had her.  This is what Kelle writes: "I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over...she locked eyes with mine and stared...bore holes into my soul.  Love me. Love  me.  I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me." Gah! *tears*  Looking back, they wouldn't have it any other way.  (That's pretty much the only thing I've ever heard from parents of children with DS.)  Really though, this book is so good!  If you know anyone with DS, or even if you don't, please read this book!  You won't be disappointed, I promise!!  Kelle has a blog that I started following shortly after Nella was born.  She also writes about her family; her husband, her stepsons, her oldest daughter, Lainey, and their newest addition, Dash, along with Nella, of course.  You can find her blog here.

We've joined the Down Syndrome Guild of KC, we've contacted Children's Mercy Down Syndrome clinic, and we're getting in contact with more and more families of children with DS.  This is a whole new world for us.  One we know nothing about yet, but one that we are excited to explore!!  We just need our girl here with us!  asap!

Our First Fundraiser!

We're starting a silent auction this coming Monday at 32 Auctions.  Everything we make from this will go directly towards bringing Evie home!  If you have something you would like to donate, please leave me a comment!  We are collecting anything to put up for sale!  We plan on having more throughout the year, so stay tuned! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The home study is done!

We had our last home study visit on March 19th, and were just informed a couple of days ago that it was approved!  Our lives are an open book...there is nothing that our adoption agency doesn't know about us.  If there were any secrets before, there are none now.
Our next step is to file what is known as the I800a.  It's basically an application that we submit to US immigration to receive approval to adopt a child from China.  This may be the longest wait that we have.  The approval for this takes anywhere from 40-90 days.  Once we get that approval in, we can submit our dossier (all the paperwork, info about us, home study, etc.) to China.  This is a big step!! It means the huge paper chase is essentially over with!

Our agency also just informed us that we can now request an update on her!!  We get to ask five questions, and request more photos and videos.  Narrowing our questions down to five was not an easy thing to do.  How do you squeeze "I want to know everything about her!  Just tell us everything!" into five questions?! So we went with the basics (her size, eating habits, sleeping arrangements, info on her foster family, and medical issues).  I think we get one more update before we travel, so we'll ask more specific questions then.  I'm really hoping and praying that we get a lot of pictures and an updated video of her!!

There are days when this process feels like an eternity, and sometimes it feels that we will never actually get there.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced this.  I was trying to compare it to being pregnant, and honestly, this wait has proved to be much harder than the pregnancy wait.   With a pregnancy, you get to watch your belly grow, you get to feel your little one moving around, you get to hear your child's heartbeat, occasionally get a chance to see him/her on an ultrasound screen, and you are always with your baby.  ;) The adoption wait is excruciating, mostly because you know your child is so far away from you, and there's nothing you can do about it.  Knowing that they are halfway around the world, being taken care of by someone else, wondering if their special needs are being's just a helpless feeling.  The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that God has called us to parent this sweet child.  We know she is in His hands, and there are no other hands I would rather her be in.

The kids are also anxious to get her home!  We talk about her daily, look at her pictures, and watch the video of her - anticipating the day when she is with us.  We wonder what toys she will like, which books she will love for her big sisters to read to her, how her big brothers will protect her, and how much fun she will bring to our family.  Sometimes Jett will ask, "Mommy, how many more days till Evangeline will be here with us?"  Too many days is what I want to say, but I just smile and tell him, "A little while longer."

We're going as fast as we can, sweet baby girl!!  We can't wait to hold you in our arms!!  Just a little while longer!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What it means

I knew going into this that we would get bombarded with questions from everyone - family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.  I get that people are curious about why we're doing this, how long it will take, if we have to travel, how old our daughter is, etc.  I honestly love the questions, because number one: I love that people are interested in our daughter, and number two:  I love talking about her.  I also expected that people would question us about why we're adopting a child with Down Syndrome, which is totally understandable.  What I didn't expect was how many people don't get that we do actually know what we're getting into.  I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, "You know what this means, don't you?" or "You do know that this is a big responsibility, right?"  We just might be able to fund this whole adoption with that.  

I get it.  I get that people are just trying to prepare us for a hard journey ahead.  And bless their hearts.  But to those people, I just wanna say, Thank you! Thank you so much for the encouragement and the positive outlook.  you can't see it, but I'm rolling my eyes.
I would bet that most parents would agree that it's not easy raising any child, whether they have disabilities or not.  Yeah, we will encounter trials and daily struggles, maybe more than parents with children without a disability, maybe not.  But the fact of the matter is, we will do whatever it takes to make sure this precious girl reaches her potential.  We do that with our other children. You do what you have to do, no matter what it is.  It's called being a parent.

I do think it's a little bit funny when I get these kind of questions, the kind that come with a side of  disapproval... especially since we're the ones that are adopting her, not them.  We're the ones that have made this decision after years of prayer.  We're the one who have researched and studied Down Syndrome.  We're the ones who have to raise this child.  We're the ones who will be responsible for her for the rest of our lives. We get it.  Do they really think they're going to say anything to us that we haven't already thought of a thousand times?  Really?  I promise, we've thought this through.  We aren't just blindly jumping into this. 

I know that this is just the beginning.  The questions are only going to get tougher and more critical once we get her home.  Not from family and friends, but from strangers and people who genuinely think that they have all the answers we need.  I have to remember that not everyone thinks the same way we do, not everyone gets why we're doing this.  Grace and mercy is what I receive from my Father.  It's what I have to remember to give to others. I honestly don't think that most people mean any harm by their questions, I just wish I could adequately express what Mike and I are feeling when they ask.  I feel like we're on the witness stand.  Like we have to defend our decision.  
 Obviously things like this get under my skin and I'm trying to get it all out now, I'm trying to be better.  I don't know why it irritates me so much.  I should be used to the looks and the questions.  After all, when we drag all 5 of our monkeys into public, the crowd looks at us like the circus has come to town. 

For the most part, everyone we know has been amazing, and so supportive!!  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and prayers and good wishes!!  We appreciate all of you so much and we don't know how we would do this without you! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

We're doing it wrong

I guess most people follow the timeline of:  1.apply to adopt  2.home study  3.dossier  4.child referral 5. LOI (letter of intent)

We didn't do it like that.  We sent in our application, looked at the waiting child photo listing, sent a request for more info on Evie, received the info on Evie, sent in our LOI, and we're just now doing our home study and working on our dossier (i.e. paperwork, paperwork, paperwork).  We're doing it a little bit backwards, but that's okay.  It will actually speed things up for us, which we're totally fine with.  We're hoping to have her home before the end of the year, which feels like a lifetime away right now, but I know it will go by fast.  Time flies when you have kids, I think all parents can attest to that.  Especially once Summer rolls around. 

The kids are definitely ready for their little sister to be home.  We usually get passes to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun every year.  Since adoption is, uh, not cheap, we decided to not get them this year.  When we told the kids, their initial reaction was met with groaning (of course.  Mine was too a little bit, to be honest) but when we told them it was to save money to bring Evie home, they were totally cool with it.  Seriously, their demeanors changed in an instant.  We were driving home from church yesterday, and Isaac said "Mom, I think we're missing someone."  My first instinct was, alright, where's Elijah?  Did he even get in the car?  Then Isaac says, "Oh, I know who it is.  Evangeline."  He loves her.  He talks about her more than the other kids do.  I think he's gonna have a special connection with her.  I think he already does.

So right now, we're just waiting on our first home study visit, which I am assuming will be some time this week.  We're getting our house ready for two more little feet.  I guess that baby gate we took down a few months ago will be going back up in another nine months or so...  maybe even sooner!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Depraved Indifference

I LOVE this video. There's really nothing I can add to its message...I think he pretty much says it all.  It was a major life changer for me when I watched it a couple of years ago. 
This situation isn't exclusive to Liberia.  There are children in every country of the world who need food, clothing, love, compassion, and a family to call their own.  

Matthew 25:40  "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Have a Family!

Just recently, it was brought to my attention that under our daughter's photo on Holt's waiting children listing it says "I have a family".  I was freaking out a little bit when I saw it because I hadn't heard anything from them.  They originally told me that no other family was looking at her file, but here was one of those "what if" situations.  I took a breath and called the lady that had sent us all the info on Evie, praying that the news would be good.  When she picked up, I told her that I had seen her updated picture, but that I hadn't heard anything about it.  I think she could sense a little bit of anxiousness in my voice, because she laughed a little bit and said, "Don't worry.  That would be your family."  Yay! 
Thankfully, I saw it on a day when they were in the office because I don't think I could have made it through a weekend not knowing!
Something else a little bit exciting happened today...we had a meeting with someone from Holt this morning and she told us that since we've been matched with a child already, the process will go much faster!  That's amazing in that we will get her sooner, but it also means that we will have to raise the money faster.  I'm not sure right now what type of fundraising we will be having, but we will for sure post it when we know!
We have so many family and friends that have offered support and help along the way.  We're so grateful for all of them!! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Her name!

Obviously from the title of this entire blog, her name isn't a surprise or something we were planning to keep a secret.  We went back and forth with about 5-10 different names.  Gianna, Roxie, Everly, Ellis, Lucy, Stella, Piper, and Sloane were all on the list.

The name we finally settled on is --
EVANGELINE!!!  Surprise!!  ;)
I think it's so pretty and classic.  We will call her Evie for short, because one thing I decided I definitely wanted was for her name to end in the -e sound.  You know, Laney, Chloe, and now Evie.

The other thing that we loved about this name was the meaning.  Her name means "good news". I can't think of any better news than that she will be joining our family.

I can't wait for the day when we can share her picture!  She is a doll!  I just want to squeeze her and kiss her!  But more than that, I can't wait for the day when I actually can squeeze and kiss her!

We love you, Evie!  We can't wait to meet you!!

A little step...

To hold a particular child until your home study and dossier is done, we had to fill out a few forms and write a letter of intent, basically saying that we will provide her medical needs and that she will be treated just as our biological kids are.  I sent all that in and I just got an email yesterday that our Letter of Intent has been sent to China.  After the home study and dossier are done and sent in, we will get the official approval from China that she is matched with us. We're kind of in the "pre-matched and pretty for sure she's yours as long as everything goes okay" stage.  A lot of this process is going to be a hurry up and wait situation, and we were fully aware of that when we started this.  I have no patience and all, so this will for sure be a test for me.  God knows how to grow and stretch His children. 
I'm hoping we get a call from our social worker early next week.  Tomorrow, we have an appt. with the Holt director here in our city.  (We are so blessed to have a district office in the city we live in.  It makes things much easier.)  Hopefully, we can get everything turned in to her that will get us started on the home study process. 
With the way that everything has worked out so far, I feel like I've totally underestimated my God.  There are so many what-ifs in this process and so many times I think "well, what if God is just testing us and we won't actually be able to see this through?"  Every time I've thought that, something that I've been worried about has been worked out just fine. 
So we announced it last night on  I went back and forth on when to announce it, thinking that maybe I wouldn't want everyone to know so early, especially if something were to happen and it should fall through.  But all of that is nonsense.  If I am to trust God, I have to trust Him with every single step of this.  And to put it all out there allows us to have the support and prayers of our friends and family.  Yeah, there are going to be bumps in the road, but whatever happens, He will work everything out according to His purpose.  He has already promised that.

Romans 8:28  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The beginning of our Journey

I started this blog to journal the entire process of our adoption.  Me (Sarah) and my husband Mike have been married for 14 years.  We have 5 wonderful kids -  Laney (13), Chloe (11), Elijah (9), Isaac (7), and Jett (5).
Michael and I have always talked about adoption since even before we were married.  I guess it has always been on our minds and in our hearts for the last 14 years.  We also wanted biological children.  We've done that 5 times, and it's been amazing...knowing your child is growing inside of you, feeling the squirms and the kicks, and just watching your belly grow...there's nothing like it.
Mike has told me that when we were first married, we both came to an agreement that we wanted 6 kids.  I don't remember the conversation, but it sounds like me, so I'll go with it.  After our 5th was born, I thought, well...we're close.  Maybe that 6th just isn't in the cards for us.  But God.
He started stirring our hearts for adoption again a few years after Jett was born.   Mike and I talked about it and we both felt like it was something we wanted to do, but we agreed to wait.  He had just started taking classes to earn his degree in electrical engineering, and we were planning a move to Florida after he was done.  We decided that it would be easier for us to just wait until he was done with school, and after we had moved.  But that's the doesn't really matter what's easier for us.  What's easier for us is not what Christ has called us to.  He hasn't called us to an easy life.  He's called us to a life of sacrifice, a life of serving, and a life of taking care of those who can't care for themselves.  A life that shows people His love and His grace and mercy. 

So here we are a couple of years later...

We're finally taking the plunge.  We've been talking about it for a while and now we're here.  The story behind it is this:

My heart has always had a special place for people with special needs - Down Syndrome, to be specific. I've visited homes for people with special needs...working with them, playing games with them, sharing meals, and just loving them. The desire to adopt a child with Down Syndrome has been in my heart since then.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago...  Mike and I attended a concert here in KC, called Winter Jam. If you're not familiar with it, it's a concert featuring well known Christian rock bands. As it was completely sold out, and there was no assigned seating, Mike and I had to sit about 10 rows apart - I had Laney and Isaac with me and he had Chloe. During the concert, they feature the adoption organization Holt International. The speaker was sharing his life story, about the life he had lived in foster care, and how he and his wife had adopted one of their daughters through Holt. I didn't have to listen hard when I heard God tell me that it was time. It wouldn't have been any more clear had it been on the jumbo tron. I turned around in my seat to see if I could make eye contact with Mike. I couldn't see him, but was hoping that he was hearing the same thing. We got home that night/morning around 12:30am and after we got the kids to bed, Mike called me into our bedroom. I walked in and saw him standing there with tears in his eyes. His first words were "Sarah, it's time to adopt." He told me how he heard God's calling, the same as I did, and that we shouldn't wait any longer. It was time. We were adding another child to our family and we knew it was to be a child with Down Syndrome. We both knew. We both heard it and we both felt it. We prayed together that night and just asked God to lead us, to open doors for us, and for guidance as we start this journey. I woke up the next morning and checked our bank account, as I was hoping to see our tax refund in there. I saw that there was a deposit that was a few thousand less than what it should be. I started thinking that the IRS had screwed us over, until I checked and found that it was a refund from something completely different. Something we were totally not expecting. I called my good friend, who has adopted 6 times and told her the whole story. The first thing she told me was that she was getting goose bumps, the second was that the amount that had just been dumped into our bank account unexpectedly was the amount we would need for our home study. I think we got an answer.

We logged on to Holt's website and started looking through the waiting child photo listings.  There were three little girls that we had our eye on.  Something inside me kept going back to one in particular.  I can't explain it, but I just felt something drawing me to her.  We requested more information on her...she's a sweet, 2 year old girl from China, who has Down Syndrome. We received her information, went over all of it, including her medical records and her history, and have chosen to move forward with this amazing little girl. We've been told that no other family is looking at her file right now. They told me to send in a couple of different things and once I did, they would send our info to China and hold her for our family.  I'm done with that and from what I understand, we need to fill out one more form after we receive it from Holt, then they will send it to China and we will get the word that she's waiting for our family.

That's where we are right now.  I had a meeting with the KC Holt director this past Monday, Feb. 2nd, and she went over a ton of stuff with me.  Mike of course wanted to be there but he had to work, so we decided I should go to get things rolling.  There's just so much, it's so overwhelming.  There was just no way that I would have been able to remember everything and repeat it to Mike, so she told us she would meet with him at a later date.

We have so far to go.  We are just now at the beginning, and while I know that this is going to be a long, drawn out, emotional process, I know it will all be worth it in the end. The next thing on the to do list is to get started on our home study.  After (and a little during) that, we will complete our dossier, then wait for immigration.  After that, it's a waiting game.  That's going to be the hardest part of this whole process.  The waiting.

We know that whatever happens, it's God's doing.  He has been so faithful through this whole process and we don't want to take one tiny step without Him.  We want to do his will and everything according to His plan.  We want every part of this to be to His praise and His glory. 

We're coming for you, baby girl!