Getting Ready, or, a Summer Update

I’ve been really bad about updating the blog. And there’s so much going on to share! I don’t quite know where to start… I will tell you though, that this will probably be mostly pictures. 🙂

Well, first, I should say that we got our Travel Approval! Our TA came in on August 27, in time to make a September Gotcha Day. Our prayers for September were answered! But, due to some circumstances, we are not travelling until October. It’s hard knowing that we could be in China RIGHT NOW, but we are still here waiting… But it’s ok. We’ll be boarding a plane to China in 21 days. Here’s hoping we make the most of our time here, but that these next three weeks go by quickly!

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While we wait, we I’ve been nesting like crazy! I just finished refinishing a dresser and nightstand that were mine as a child, to go in the boys’ new room. It was my first time attempting anything like this, and I think they turned out pretty well. The beds are put together and made up, and artwork is on the wall. We just need a few details, like a picture of our boys together to put in one of the empty frames, and we’ll be done! I think it’s coming together nicely.

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My grandparents came for a visit, which was so awesome. They were here for two wonderful weeks. It was full of conversation, food, and family. They were helping me with learning Mandarin so that I would have some useful phrases on hand while we’re in China. They also gifted us with a tour of Beijing that includes hotel, so we’re now able to sightsee a little bit of China while we are over there!

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The ladies of my small group surprised me with a shower to celebrate Evan. It was very sweet and thoughtful, and lots of fun! There was Chinese food, and Chinese lanterns, and an American Flag cookie cake. There were also fortune cookies with hand written “fortunes” that were scripture and quotes about families, children, and adoption. It was so cool! I am so blessed to have these ladies in my life, and thankful for people who are excited about Evan coming home as we are!

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As far as we can see, even with the added cost of traveling during Trade Fair, our adoption is fully funded! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us! Your support means so much to us!

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There were a couple Myrtle Beach trips.

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Chris and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last week. My parents kept Austin Friday and Saturday nights so that we could have a nice dinner on Friday (our anniversary) and go to a music festival to see our favorite band play the following day. It was awesome.

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And lastly, I’ll just say that this was the summer of trains, swimming lessons, and Okra.

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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!

Adoption Grant Approved!

I love being a part of Forest Hill Church for so many reasons. Chris & I had lunch with a pastor from our church today and really just talked about ideas and goings on and life.  It was really great to just sit and chat with him. Over the last 20 months or so, we’ve really started to feel connected to the people at Forest Hill. And it just keeps getting better.

The church, through the grace of God, is able to provide for us on so many levels. And today, I was able to pick up a check that will go straight to our adoption agency to help us further our adoption process. Isn’t it amazing and wonderful? The $2,000 is exactly what we needed to get our home study process going. And we were planning on getting that our early next week. The Lord’s timing is so perfect. I can’t wait to see how else He shows up for our family during this time in our lives. 🙂

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Holy Wow, You Guys!

This morning, I was enrolling Chris and I in some education courses we’re required to take for our adoption. And of course, it was something we had to pay for. It wasn’t a crazy amount, but we had just done our monthly budget yesterday evening, and this wasn’t accounted for. We had just paid $300 on Monday towards this process, to boot. Chris said we might have to hold off until next month… and I promised we could come up with the money before August. Today is only the first of the month, so I told him I’d eat crackers for the next 31 days, and forgo that new swimsuit I was about to get. I pretty much begged him not to stretch just this little bit out even further. Chris agreed that we could pay for the course and that we’d account for it somehow.

I had no doubt that this process would be costly, but I didn’t anticipate that you’d have to pay for this and pay for that so early in the process. I feel now, that this will be an ongoing thing. But we’ll manage. I know the Lord will provide. None the less, I decided to post our GoFundMe Fundraising page on our Facebook timelines, just to see if we could garner any early support. And boy, did we!

I posted that link about 5 hours ago, in the middle of most people’s workday. I figured a few people would see it, and if we were lucky, we’d get a donation or two in the next couple of days. Within minutes of me posting it, a friend shared the post on her own timeline and encouraged her friends to contribute. She followed that up with a donation. Twice more that happened. And each time someone shared it, there were comments from other people who may not have ever seen it on my own timeline, but because it was shared, we have the support of others. All kinds of support. Monetary, of course, but also many words of encouragement (from strangers, even!) and offered up prayer. It’s been so wonderful.

I have seen comments from people saying we are inspiring, and selfless. Which really caught me off guard… Inspiring? Selfless? ….Us…..? If anything, I have a selfish desire to hurry up the process and grow my family! LOL. I don’t ever really think about how we’re being selfless. It’s what we’ve always wanted, so I guess it’s tattooed on our hearts, now. It’s not that it’s the right thing to do- it’s the right thing for us to do. But thank you for your kind words. I am humbled to think we are inspiring anybody… and hopeful that maybe we are inspiring somebody to action.

The first person to make a donation today was someone from a past life. I see her and keep up with her on Facebook, but we haven’t seen each other in 10 years. And she didn’t hesitate to open her heart (and her pocketbook) to help our family. And that has been the case with most of the donations we’ve received. They have come from people whose voices I haven’t heard in years, yet they want to be a part of our story. It’s beautiful. I didn’t imagine that the Lord would be bringing all of these people together for us. And with each donation, words of encouragement, and spurred conversations. We’ve been getting notes and comments and prayer from every direction. I’ve loved reading them, and have shed more than a couple of tears out of pure gratitude and awe. You guys are AWESOME.

One person that reached out to me is someone I went to high school with. I love how Facebook allows me to stay connected, even if we don’t stay in touch. Neither one of us live anywhere near where we went to school, but we have been able to watch each others’ lives and encourage each other here and there along the way. She recently started her own Jamberry business, and I’ve been happy to see her doing well with that. She reached out to me and said that she thinks it’s wonderful that we’re adopting, and that adoption has been on her heart, too. She also wanted to help support us, and offered to host an online Jamberry Party, of which 20% of the profits will go towards our adoption fund! How awesome is that?! She gets a little business, we all get to have fun, and a portion goes towards bringing our waiting child home. Talk about a Win-Win! I had been holding out on getting girly and trying Jamberry, but now I have no excuse! I’m excited to try some nail wraps, but also looking forward to the online party with friends! If you’d like to join, the live event will be Thursday, July 10, at 8PM eastern, but the party will be open for shopping 5 days before. Come get girly with us! Or if you aren’t into fancy DIY nails, but know someone who is (or might be), send them our way so they can get in on the fun and help out our cause, too. You can RSVP to the event and check out what Jamberry is all about here.

So, yeah. Today’s been really uplifting. And a whirlwind of emotions for me. I am happily anticipating continuing this journey with all of these wonderful people who support us. It’s crazy to know that this is just the beginning, too. It’s hard to imagine it getting any better than this. But as I see time and again, the Lord’s plan is waaay better than anything I could hope for.