Numbers and Letters

I completely overlooked posting a First Friday update last week, as we were heading down to Myrtle Beach for the weekend, and I had a ton on my mind. I was hoping for a phone call, an email, something to tell us that our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) had been issued. I was also working for the majority of the day, and had to help Chris with some Tobu stuff before we could get on the road. I also braided my whole head to try and have some beachy waves for the weekend. Oh, and I had to drop something off at my parents’ house. So… I just completely forgot.IMG_20150703_114953491_HDR The beach was a great trip. We stayed Friday through Monday, and the long weekend was just what we all needed. It was full of family, friends, great weather, love music, fireworks, and food. What more could we ask for? Oh, and on Monday we finally got word that our LSC/ Letter Of Approval (LOA) is on it’s way! Yes! It only took 41 days. 41 very quick, but equally long days, if that’s possible.

Austin built his first sand castle, and loved holding sparklers. He brought his football and basketball everywhere we went, and asked to go to the beach every single day. I think he loved having lots of time with us, and he was not a happy camper come Tuesday when he had to go back to “school.”

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So, as for adoption updates. Lots of things happened last week. We were moved from “in review” to “to be matched”. And on Monday we found out se have soft LOA, which means our approval is heading to our agency right now! It should be on US soil this week! Next for us, is US immigration stuff. Visas, and getting our boy approved to be adopted here. From the timeframes we’re seeing of those going before us, it looks like we can expect to travel in 8-12 weeks! Yes, that’s white a range, but it just depends on if there are any hold ups, typos, holidays, etc. But, September is looking very likely, now, and we are so excited! And just to secure a September date, we went and bought ourselves some concert tickets for our anniversary. The concert is on 9/23, so, I’m willing to bet we will be given dates that overlap it! I think a little China trip is worth missing the concert, though! 😉 We can see the light at the end of this long tunnel. Please be praying that things move smoothly and quickly as we progress! To celebrate (and hopefully help our nannies prepare our son for travel), we had a toy airplane sent to the orphanage.

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So in the next 8-12 weeks, we have to finish some education, figure out our travel stuff, finish (we’ve barely started) the boys’ new room, and do our best to prepare our little family for the big change that’s coming. That, and raise about $10,000. That’s, like $1000 a week, y’all. Holy guacamole. Where do we even start? Well, tomorrow we are having another Moe’s dinner, so hopefully that helps a bit. I have this weird feeling that we won’t have nearly the turnout that we got last time, but I am hopeful that I’m wrong. If you’re in the Charlotte area and would like to come eat with us, please stop by! You don’t even have to bring the flyer this time. And we’ll do another Moe’s dinner next month, and one in September if we’re still here.  We are not doing a yard sale this weekend, but the next few weekends we definitely will be. We’re still selling puzzle pieces, hoping and praying for a grant, and you will soon see us asking if anyone has hotel and airline miles they can donate to us. We’ve also been selling random things here and there, and I am working a wedding in August. But we’re running out of ideas… and time, for that matter. Not that we’re complaining. The sooner we can bring our little guy home, the better!

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Here are our First Friday Funding Figures, on this second Tuesday of July. We’re 72% there, folks. It’s hard not to stress about that remaining 28%, but honestly I know we will be fine. The Lord will provide a way for our little family to be together, I have no doubt!

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image009 (1)image008On a completely different note, Chris’ disc golf store is open for business! Please check it out! We’ve got two birthday parties this Saturday, and some of our favorite folks are in town, so we’ll visit with them on Sunday. I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting to mention…. Guess it will have to wait until the next post!

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Google Font’s “Give You Glory”

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Yard Sale #3, and OOT!

So next stop on our acronym parade- OOT! OOT stands for out of translation, which means our dossier is done being translated by the CCCWA (Chinese adoption officials), and is now being reviewed! After review, which seems to be taking just a few days, then our file is matched with our son’s file, and we get LSC/LOA which means Letter Seeking Confirmation/Letter Of Approval. So we’re really close to being done with this part of the process! We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, folks! And if there are no hold-ups, (prayers please!) we should be on track to go get our kiddo in September!! SEPTEMBER! Please, please continue to pray that September is the month we leave to get our boy!

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So… if we were to leave the very last week of September, that gives us just over 13 weeks before our life changes forever!

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*Google Font’s “Give You Glory”

Depending on how you look at it, that can seem like a very short or pretty long time. I’m thankful to know that summertime usually flies by, and that September will be here in a blink of an eye! We have a lot to do during that time. A last batch of education, preparing the boys’ new room, and fundraising. A lot of fundraising. We still have about $10k to raise, and only 13ish weeks, so we know that we’ve got a lot of work cut out for us. How can we raise almost a thousand dollars a week??

Well, the good folks at Moe’s have offered to host a monthly fundraiser dinner for us until we leave for China. How awesome are they? They are even going to put a poster in the window a week ahead of the planned events to help us draw more folks! We had such a wonderful time last time, and were taken such good care of. How could we turn them down? If we have turnouts like the last time, we’ll probably make $1000 between all 4 of the events combined. That would help us a lot! So if you are in the Ballantyne area, please plan to be with us the second Thursday of every month for the next few months! We’d appreciate it!

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In addition to that, we’ve been so blessed by family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers who have donated to our yard sales. We had the big one in may, another one about 2 weeks ago, and had one this morning, despite impending thunderstorms. The rain held out today, and we made $815!! Last time we made $805, and at the big one we made almost $2,000.  We have so much stuff to sell, that we will continue to have yard sales every two to three weeks until we can clear most of it out. I can’t imagine we’ll make these large amounts every time, but man, we are so thankful that we have thus far! Yard sales are a lot of work, but these numbers make it so worth it! And God kept the rain at bay until 5 minutes after we got everything back in the garage!

There are a few items I’m selling online, that are bringing in some cash, too, so we might make our $1000/week goal for this week. We’ll see if we can keep up the momentum! We’re still selling restaurant.com gift certificates, so please buy one for yourself, one for a friend, and share the link with anyone else that might be interested! And of course, we’re still “selling” puzzle pieces for $15 each, and we will write your name on the back of your pieces! Our puzzle is almost 3/4 of the way complete. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to it thus far! We can’t wait to complete it, frame it, and hang it on our wall!

So that’s our update! Our dossier’s moving along, and we are plugging away at the fundraising. We know that the Lord will provide the funds we need, and in His timing, so we are not really to anxious about the money. Not yet, anyway…! We appreciate your prayers and support more than you know!

First Friday Funding Figures- Update #8, May 2015

Are you shocked? It’s not only the first Friday of the month, but also the first day of the month, and I actually have an on-time update for you. Honestly, it wasn’t terribly hard because not much happened in terms of fundraising/spending on the adoption front in the month of April. But, just the fact that I found time to sit down and post it on the day it was promised is nothing to scoff at! In terms of dollars (spent, earned, saved, and donated) next month’s update should look a lot different!

Tomorrow we are having a massive yard sale. We are blessed with lots of generous people in our lives, who are not only donating stuff to sell, but also their time, to setup, load, unload, bargain, reload, unload again, and just be with us during this event. We even got 5 dozen donuts donated to us, which should help feed those volunteering and make us a little extra cash! I’ll try to update the blog this weekend with the results of this effort. Yard sales are a lot of work! I’d forgotten that minor detail… lol.

We expect our last item to be authenticated this week, and then we can send our dossier to China and a big check to our agency. I. Can’t. Wait.  Not that I’m excited about sending off a big check, but that once we’re Dossier To China (DTC) it will really feel like we’re moving towards bringing our son home. Gah! Every milestone from that point will feel momentous, I’m sure.

So, as you can see from the figures below, if we are looking at a total cost right in the middle of our estimated range, we’re about 58% funded. Hopefully tomorrow’s yard sale will make a dent in what’s still remaining. We’re working on some other ideas, too. I’ll let you know as more details are finalized.

We have been super busy, so hopefully I can update y’all on some other things happening around here.

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In the Adoption Fund Status section, you’ll see a new line added- Blue Star Auto Detailing. Our wonderful neighbor details cars, and is currently donating $10 from every job towards our adoption. How awesome is that? How are we so lucky to have such kind and giving friends? The first job was earlier this week. Woot, woot!

I have added one new section. These are funds that we should be eligible to receive after our adoption is finalized. Praying that we are able to receive these funds so that we can take more time off to bond as a new family, and also take our newest son to see specialists as needed for his medical needs.image009

And of course, in the Google Font “Give you Glory” is our estimated/hopeful countdown.

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this is taking too long (1/20)

****this is a post that I wrote during our wait for PA. Which we got YESTERDAY! So, I’m sharing now. There will be others to follow from the days we were waiting. *****

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We’ve been on this road of adoption for a long time.

I knew this was part of God’s plan for us, and so, as we started this process, I just had this feeling that things would “fall into place” and “go smoothly.” If you’ve been following our story at all, you know that smoothly (or quickly) has not been the case for us at all. After starting down the road to a domestic adoption through our home state, we were blessed with a beautiful biological son, who we love so much. We hit the pause button, and resumed when he was 6 months old. Then, we were told that domestic adoption would take us forever and to try another route. We decided to go international, selected an agency, and set our eyes toward China. While our hearts were pulled toward China, we were not feeling content about our agency. So…we switched agencies, and love the one we are currently with. Then we were told that our circumstances limited us to “special focus”, which was not the path we thought we wanted to take…..  There was a lot. A lot, a lot.

And then, in December, we found our boy.

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We tried to write a letter of intent (LOI) while our caseworker was on vacation for Christmas, hoping she would get it and submit it as soon as she saw it in her inbox. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way, and there was more that had to be done before it could be submitted. Finally, on 1/07/15, our LOI was submitted. We were told it would be 1-2 weeks to get our Preliminary Approval (PA), but I’d heard of folks getting them within 24hours. I just knew that since we’d been on this road for so long, and that since God wanted to unite this child with his family, that it would be a quick turnaround. I secretly hoped we would get PA on my birthday, which was 1/12. Well… today is 1/20. Tomorrow we will be at two weeks since our LOI was submitted. I honestly never thought that we would be the unlucky ones who were at the lengthy end of the waiting period. But here we are… still waiting. It’s agonizing, the wait. I’m trying to learn to be patient. I know that the Lord’s plan is greater than my own and that His timing is perfect. It doesn’t make the wait any less hard.  But what can I do….?

As much as I know that getting our PA will just lead to more paper chasing and waiting as we have this Acronym Parade, I just need to see those two little letters. I want to shout out to the world that we have a son! But for now, I keep it to myself… and hope, and pray.

News, news, and more NEWS!

I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks.  We’ve been sitting on a secret. One I was hoping to share with y’all much sooner than today, but had to wait. And wait, and wait. I am so thankful  to be able to share some things with you today! Yes things- plural! During the time we’ve been waiting, many wonderful things have been happening, and so, in addition to the big news, I also have lots of mini updates. (I guess it’s weird to call them updates since you’re hearing about this for the first time now, as you read, but just go with it!)

Back in December, we requested to see the files of a few kids on our adoption agencies waiting child list. There were two little boys that I was especially curious about. The next day, I waited and waited to get a response, and got nothing.  The following day, about an hour before I was logging off of work and heading home, the files came over. I looked them over briefly and headed out to start the long ride back home. I was especially hopeful and nervous. More so than the other times we’ve looked over files. It was a busy night for us, and I had a Christmas dinner with my life group to attend. Before leaving the house to join those ladies, I asked Chris to look over the files while I was gone. Then, I went and enjoyed the potluck with my friends.

Instead of rushing through the dinner to get home, like part of me wanted to, I relaxed and enjoyed the fellowship of my girlfriends. I told them that I was anxious and excited about these files, and they were hopeful, as well. They told me they’d be praying for our family as we wished each other Merry Christmas and parted ways. I got home, and Chris and I chatted about my dinner and about things Austin did during the evening. I finally asked Chris if he had a chance to review the files, and he had, but wanted to go over them again with me. So we sat down and reviewed them. We talked a lot. Did lots of online searches over medical terms and things of that sort. And we prayed. We prayed hard.  That night we emailed our case worker and asked her to put the file of a little boy on hold. Putting a file on hold is similar to checking out a library book. While you have the file, nobody else can move forward with trying to adopt that child. You have 7 days to talk to doctors, pray, do research, and figure out whatever you can before making a decision. Our hold was going to coincide with Christmas, so we were given an extended hold period.

But we knew… We knew we wanted to move forward with him. We did send his file to a doctor friend of ours, and he responded quickly, and also had another doctor review it, too. We prayed and researched, prayed and researched…. And didn’t take the full 7 days to decide. We wanted to bring this boy home. We just knew he was our son! Because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and other documents we had to gather, our Letter of Intent (LOI) wasn’t officially submitted until January 7th. In the meantime, we have been completing education, gathering documents, working toward completing our home study, and trying to get a head start on our dossier.

During this time of waiting, we were praying and praying, and praying some more! But, I was also joining groups on Facebook and other internet forums, and making connections. It’s kind of crazy how many people the Lord has brought into our lives that are able to lift us up during this hard time. We met an American woman who lives in the city where our hopeful-son lives. She volunteers at his orphanage! How crazy is that? When I was given her name and reached out to her, she responded that she knew exactly who he was and loves him dearly! That made this momma very happy! She has been able to tell us about her interactions with him, and about how he is spoiled by his nannies. She says he’s a charmer! She will speak English to him, now that she knows an English speaking family is adopting him, so that is wonderful! She will also talk to him about our family and our pictures (that we plan to send the form of a Photobook in a care package), and will give us updates and measurements and the like, when she can!

I also connected with a Lady on Facebook who was leaving to pick up her child from the same orphanage in mid January. She was able to find him and send me a couple of photos of him. It was a wonderful blessing and surprise, and came just when I was starting to feel lost in this wait. It was enough to tide me over for a few days.  Another lady on Facebook that had adopted from the same orphanage last year told me that she had met our little guy, and that he was wonderful. She said our kids are in a Half the Sky program, which was music to my ears! The Half the Sky Foundation teaches nannies and caregivers how to nurture children so that they can better form bonds, attachments, and relationships. They are also able to work on their development since they are forming relationships based on lots of interaction with the kids. They have school programs for the older children, too. I was so happy to hear that they were involved in the orphanage where our hopeful-son lives.

So we’ve had lots and lots and lots of good news to tide us over until today, when we finally got our Preliminary Approval (PA) to adopt this little boy from China! It’s been a longer wait than we anticipated, and it was hard. We know there’s lots more waiting in our future, but hopefully the next months will go as smoothly as possible. We will just be loving our second-son from far away, and focusing on the little one we have with us now. It won’t be too long before this family of three is a family of four, so we will be making memories and enjoying the time that we have just the three of us. The ball is really rolling now! We have a face and an approval to keep us moving forward! We would greatly appreciate your continued prayers.

We got pre-approval to adopt this sweet boy!

We got pre-approval to adopt this sweet boy!

This post is already too long, but I have so much I want to share. You’ll be seeing several posts from me in the coming days. I’ll be sharing what I’ve been writing, but unable to post, as well as giving updates on the process and next steps. We are so excited for what’s in store and are glad to have you with us on this journey!