Thursday, April 16, 2015

i can hear their footsteps



two days ago we sent luke's documents off to immigration--wahooooo!

percy the wonder cat is guarding the documents until we can get to ups.

he did a mighty fine job of guarding them and is seeing them off now
they were delivered at 9:30 the next morning--when you are in the final stages of brining your little home, hours mean EVERYTHING to you!

his package will sit in a "lock box" for 10 days while the check for $720 clears (the fees paid to the department of homeland security for the processing of immigration paperwork). after that, our immigration officer will review it and issue a provisional approval. once we receive that, we can fill out another form for his visa. once we do this and receive the confirmation email,  we send it to our agency who forwards it to their contact in china. shortly after this, we will receive travel approval (TA). 

our agency worker is sure we will be with our children on the 18th of May---the 18th of May!!!!!! that means we'd be leaving on the 15th. leaving on a jet plane. like rocket man: except not depressing. 
i'm pretty sure there is a way to work ALL of sir elton john's songs into these blog posts. :) 

right now, it seems surreal to me. we've been in the process to bring lucy-girl home for over a year now, and though we've only been in process to bring the dude (luke) home since december it still seems as if it's been forever. every week without them is a week our home is not complete, and a week two precious pieces of my heart are missing. i can hear their footsteps now. i can hear them running up the stairs and i can hear the ruckus of their playing on the floor above us. i can hear them giggle as they feed bird-catcher mcfuzzy paws (birdie) waaaaaay too many treats. i can hear them laugh as they watch gnarls roll onto his back to avoid having to go "home" (his crate) at night. it all is so vivid in my mind now. a very probably date will do that to you. <3

she won't complain though

he's mastered the pitiful "feel sorry for me" look  :)

once we arrive home, luke will require surgery to correct some physical issues. we and the doctors agree it will be best to do the two corrections at the same time to limit his exposure to anesthesia. please join us in prayer for this--that he will understand the pain of the procedures will only be temporary and it is for his best life we are doing this. they really are necessary, and are most certainly not merely "cosmetic-preferred".

lucy is fine as far as we know and will require no immediate medical intervention, aside from a visit to a pediatric cardiologist to check the condition of her repaired hear and then subsequent yearly follow up visits. :) 

when i first meet people and the adoption comes up, the initial reactions are usually "oh, how sweet! so precious, how old are they?" and when i explain they are 8 and 11, the following responses are often of bewilderment and forced excitement. quite a few strangers really don't know how to react to hearing of an older child adoption. however, there are some amazing friends and internet friends that share in the uncontainable joyous excitement we have. i love what a dearly sweet friend said: "rather 8 months and 11 months or 8 years and 11 years, it's worth celebrating!" we agree!  we've been asked by a few people if we've registered anywhere--we hadn't, but we do need plenty to prepare our home for them! we've put together this little registry, as we haven't had 8 and 11 years to build up their rooms, lives, possession and whatnots. :)  


lucy-girl and luke-dude would love anything you would like to send! 
(stores don't have adoption registries, so it is listed as a baby registry with due date of May 15th (when we expect to travel :)). 

thank you for sharing in this joy with us! we can't wait to have pictures of us all together to share!

Monday, April 6, 2015

progress and the light

:cue dancing clowns and other scary things that are supposed to be happy:


i know he's a legend, but, c'mon, mimes are just clowns who don't talk (because they're too busy plotting!)

the C3 (CCCWA) (governmental office in china that oversees the adoptions) *finally* was able to pair our luke-dude's file with our lucy-girl's. this means that we had a 23+ day "log in date" (lucy's was 2 days if that let's you know about the delay).  but, never fear! madison is here! our agency is amazing as i mentioned in a previous post and was there to ensure it was resolved. luke-dude's full file was loaded into the system on 3/25 (after being received on 3/2). that didn't bode well in my little heart for the timeline I wanted.  i wanted so badly to at least be on a plane on my way to them by mother's day. when reality hit and i knew that would not be possible, i had a slight meltdown. maybe i ate a few cookies and drank a soda or two.  but i most certainly did not spend an obscene amount of money on them buying tea collection clothes off zulily. nope. nope. we couldn't afford that. sure glad i didn't....

despite my fleshly emotions and hurt, i know He is sovereign and i know He has all their days--i can rest in that. not because of anything i can do or say or pray or proclaim, but because the fact that He is good and faithful.  when the storms rage, and i just want to tuck my little head between my knees and not look up until it's all over, i return to this:



right now we are are at the "matched" step in the system--which means they FLEW through his approval, and we should have the coveted LOA in hand by the end of this week.

once our agency receives the LOA certificate from china, they will scan it to us, and we can use that to fill out his i800 (needed for his immigration). once we fill that out and send in a sizable check, we will receive a provisional approval and with that we can file his DS260 (to get his visa).  then we can go get him and lucy!
--since lucy was already at the visa step once we added him on, her visa is ready to be dropped off in china. our agency is having this done on april 9th--and then within a few days of that, we will have travel approval FOR HER. once we get travel approval for her, and have him caught up in process, we can roll his travel into our approval for hers.

our agency still tells us to expect travel by the end of may. yay!

oh, but check out these precious pictures of him as an itty-bitty! oh, my heart just swoons! <3



and yay for travel during summer in china! i hear the weather is just lovely  :)

(and really, i'm kinda glad i didn't bring them home earlier into this horribly cold and icy winter we've had. now that, that would be traumatizing!)

if all else fails and disappointment abounds--when my head is tucked in between my knees and tears stream down my face, then i will lift my tearful eyes up because i know He is faithful, and there is nothing i'd rather gaze upon with tears in my eyes than Him. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

ah-ha! technology!

the hubs called our agency today to follow up on luke-dude's dossier, since there was something askew with his progress and their tracking of it.

it turns out, our agency is AMAZING!

when the computer system the CCCWA (department of China that oversees and processes adoptions) uses was upgraded recently, a small bug occurred. families that were already in process with one child and were adding on another--the two children's files were not being linked making it appear the family for the second child was starting from scratch--and that they did not have a lot of the other documents (because they were linked to child #1). this doesn't bode well for them reviewing child #2's dossier (whenever they get to it, since it's not a priority and is pushed to the back of the line). as soon as our agency discovered this "bug" was causing our delay (and two other families') the assistant director FLEW OUT TO CHINA! to follow up and work with them. she will be there through next week, pushing for them to do us and the other two families manually. i cannot tell you what a relief it is to know your agency cares so much they are actually in country to follow up until the issue is resolved.

our case worker and the assistant director are still assuring us we should be in China with our children by the last week of May. hooray!


here's a picture of luke pushing lucy away--what a perfect little brother he is ;)


Thursday, March 19, 2015

we wait for you

We're still waiting on our LOA from China (when all our documents for Luke have been reviewed and they give us the big "thumbs up!").

We were hoping it would be super fast, which would be by the end of March (our dossier for Luke-dude was received in China on March 2nd). If this happens, we'll be able to likely travel at the end of May. Hooray!

We dream of what it will be like when we are there, finally together as a family. We look at TripAdvisor recommended activities and wee picture us, as a family of 4, touring the zoo together, having family dinners tougher and eating street dumplings together.  There was also a zoo recommended, but they have clowns, so--NO!



i wish that donkey would kick him really hard!


the only way i could be happy seeing these clowns like this is if they fell. 

I'm so desperate to embrace my children.

Please continue to pray with us for quick approval of Luke-dude's documents, and quick turnaround for his Immigration and visa approval. <3


Until then, here's a few cute picture of them as itty-bitties! :) 







Monday, March 16, 2015

because it matters to this one

this is "clarice"




isn't she precious. oh, and her smile--it could light up a room from a hundred thousand miles away. she has such a beautiful soul, such a joy, such a light in her eyes. so much hope CAN lie ahead for her. all she needs is a family; but, her time is running out. :( 

when she turns 16 in july, she will no longer be adoptable. 

poof! her chance of every having a family, a safe environment to live and grow in, to experience love and a mother's touch and embrace--gone. she will be transferred to an "institution" where on average, children live less than a year once there. the neglect is unimaginable, and it takes it's toll--on these precious soul's.  

but, there's hope for her. YOU. you are her hope. 

there are so many loving families whose only hinderance to adopting is money. the average adoption (depending on the country) total fees span from $22,000 to $38,000; but, this is what makes Reece's Rainbow so amazing! the most vulnerable and most over-looked children are given a better chance of finding a family because the financial burden is eliminated, or at least lifted.  clarice has over $21,000 in her grant. that means her adoption is PAID FOR! the only fees a family would need to front would be their home study (or home study update) and USCIS fees, these are minimal, and likely from $2,000-$3000. and honestly, if a family committed to clarice and had to begin the process form scratch, they could set up a gofundme account and have a community (including my husband and i) rally around them to even help with that small amount. 

that seems so soon--july! but, there is enough time! luckily, only certain paperwork needs to be filed for her before her 16th birthday--you don't actually have to be in country picking her up by her 16th birthday, so, it is VERY feasible to give her the promise of a family in time! 

you can read more about her by clicking at the end of this post. if you would like more information on the process of adopting sweet clarice, contact debbie@reecesrainbow.org.

even if you cannot pursue her adoption, please share this post, so that someone may see it and they would be her forever mommy and daddy! we cannot let her light slip away, she has too much hope within her. 

***unfortunately, this is one of the few countries/areas single women cannot adopt from, but they are open to older parents (empty nesters!) and large families. :) 

clarice's grant page

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

where we are

i thought it'd be a good idea to let y'all know where we are in process.
no pictures of george michael or rabbits on trails.

when we were told about luke in november, we had two decisions to make:
1) did we want to proceed with lucy and just leave our contact information with the foster family for (if) when a family adopted luke
or
2) did we want to adopt luke too
the obvious choice was #2, since #1 wasn't not only a NOT a sure thing, but not even likely.

after we stated we wanted to adopt him too, we had another decision to make:
1) adopt lucy in the timeframe we were going and then "reuse" our dossier and immediately go back for him
or
2) delay lucy's process so we could bring them home at the same time

we wrestled with this because we wanted lucy home ASAP, but we also knew it would be best for both of them if we adopted them at the same time; and it would also be more financially feasible for us to adopt them at the same time.

we said whooooooa nelly! to lucy's paperwork moving right along so that we could start luke's and catch him up.


we had already received LOA for lucy when we found out about luke, and were realistically 2 months or so from traveling to pick her up. we knew adding luke would extend the process about 6 months out--even with his being prioritized. 

in december, we submitted lucy's i800 and received that approval (you do this after you receive LOA). with the i800 approval we submitted the ds260 for lucy (her visa). our agency is holding at this step while we catch luke up. 

luke's "mini-dossier" was sent to the chinese consulate last week (letter of intent, amended home study, and i800a supplement 3 approval), and since it's only 3 documents it should take only a week to get back. at that point, his 3 documents will be sent to china for review. 
the majority of the entire dossier has been reviewed and approved--this is good! this means they really only have to review these additional 3 documents to send us the LOA for luke. and, i described what happens after that: i800 then ds260. once we send in his ds260 application for his visa, our agency will send his and lucks to china for article 5 pick up, after that, travel approval will be issued. 

here's how we want you to join with us in prayer: 
pray the finger of God slides luke's documents through at lightening speed! 
i hate knowing that all of lucy's approvals are done and we are essentially paper ready to go get her, but that we are "sitting on" them. it's the only way, but, i still hate it nonetheless. 

we are in day 2 of our "a tisket, a tasket, a basket" fundraiser:
we have 19 theme "baskets" up for auction. we are so close to having all the financial needs met for this process. we only need to raise *about* $4,000 more! waaaaahoooooo! :)

you can see the "baskets" up for auction here: 
CLICK ON THE ABLUM TITLED "A TISKET, A TASKET, A BASKET" and view the 19 theme baskets we have up for auction.  

we're coming sweet son and daughter! <3




Tuesday, February 3, 2015

words and the heart

i've always dreamt about what kind of mother i'd be (i've also dreamt of what kind of wife i'd be. ha! was i ever so wrong! ;)).
--i was a pretty awesome fiancĂ© though: 


even as a little girl, in a struggling single parent household, with an overworked and overstressed mommy, i knew no matter what, i wanted to be a ball of positive energy, spiritual encouragement, and sprinkle our household with sunshine and rainbows and have only happy looking spiders. like this:



i wanted to be the mommy who shielded my children, protected them, helped them to believe they were made perfectly in His image, and that there is a beautiful purpose for their life. 
i knew i wanted to be the mommy that first prayed with them when they felt attacked, sad, worried, scared and defeated. 
i knew i wanted to guide my children to first find their identity in Christ, because nothing can shake that. 
i wanted to guide them as they opened their hearts to allow God to plant those seeds and water them. 

many moments now are spent in self-examination and reflection, and i try to remain cognizant of how i respond to stressful situations, let-downs, and hardship. 
do i respond with grace? 
would this be how i responded if my lucy-girl and luke were in the car? if they were beside me? 
what words am i speaking when trials arise? when the enemy attacks? 

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. --luke 6:45

did you know there are power in your words?
what am i speaking life into when life is rough or uncertain? 
we were created in the image of God: God spoke words over dust, and dust became man, and God spoke breath into man, and man lived. we have power in the words we speak. 
we can speak life into people, ourselves, and situations.

the power of life and death is in the tongue. --proverbs 18:21

in the process of adoption you have some control, but also there is so much out of your hands. so many times the aching of your heart cannot be resolved by any person.  
so many times the only balm to ease the burning within your soul is the email that tells you it's time to go get your child.  
but it compares NOTHING to when our children are home. the grief they will experience. the transition they are being asked to make. i believe the process of adoption is hard, but the process of being adopted is harder. 

my heart must become so much stronger. 
there is no room or allowance for a weak heart when my precious lucy-girl and luke are walking through their grief. there is no room for me to speak anything out of the flesh when our family encounters trials. they are watching and listening. i want them to watch a mother who is solidly standing with Christ, and i want them to listen as i speak life into anything we may face together.