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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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”

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!

Last week

We’ve been busy. I know you are thinking that we’re always busy, and I guess that’s true. But the last 10 days or so have been really busy for us.

My parents closed on their new house today! I’m so excited for them to move into their beautiful new home that is only two minutes away from our house! Because they were downsizing from a big house, we’ve been with them pretty much every day for the last two weeks, helping them pack, taking stuff to keep for them, and also taking items they no longer want so that we could add them to our yard sale collection. I’m not sure I’ve ever handled so much bubble wrap in my life. But they are all moved in, and now unpacking. I sold my childhood bed for my parents, and got to keep the $100 from the sale to go towards our adoption.

Thursday night we had our fundraising night at Moe’s, and it was a huge success! We had so many people there to support us that the line was almost to the door! It was a lot of fun, and really cool to see so many different people come out to support us. We saw neighbors, Austin’s classmates, our bible study groups, coworkers, and old friends. The Moe’s staff worked incredibly hard, despite the fact that they were short staffed and working without air conditioning. (It had broken earlier that day). The manager told us this was the busiest fundraiser he’s ever done, and invited us to do it monthly until we bring our son home! How awesome is that? They took such good care of us, and everyone had a great time. It was pretty easy for us, considering all we had to do was get people to come. I didn’t have to cook or clean, and just got to mingle and eat! And we not only raised $250 that night, we also received $155 in donations! And to top it off, one of our dear friends matched that $155, so that night we brought in more than $550 towards our adoption! We were amazed by people’s generosity, good spirits, and in the Lord’s provision.
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Saturday morning, we had a yard sale. It was the start of a scorching heat wave, but that didn’t keep people away. Other than the big yard sale we had in May, this was the best yard sale we’ve ever had. It was neat to connect with different folks and share our adoption story with them. When the day was over, we had made $800! Unbelievable! We have so much stuff left over, (and being added,) that we will have another one in a couple of weeks, and then continue to have them every few weeks thereafter, just to keep raising money and clearing room in the garage. I know I can’t expect each yard sale to be as lucrative as this last one, but even if we make a hundred dollars or two at each one, it would really help!
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We sold a bedroom set this week, too! Now the big guest bedroom is a clean slate so we can get to work on readying our boys’ new room! I don’t know if I ‘m more excited that the old furniture is gone (I’ve wanted to get rid of it forever!) or that we’re working on the boys’ room. Oh who am I kidding? I’m very much looking forward to readying that space to welcome our newest boy home. Plus, it will give me something to do while we wait for our approvals to come in….

So all of that, plus about $100 that we are waiting on from some other sales that haven’t been paid for yet, and we raised about $1850 last week towards our adoption! I also sold a few bracelets, and we got a big donation, so in the past two weeks, we’ve raised about $2,000. It’s simply amazing! It’s a big push, and I think we’re at about 70% of our estimated costs having been raised/saved.

Right now, we are running a very cool fundraiser that anyone can participate in, whether you are local to Charlotte or not! If you buy a restaurant.com certificate at our fundraising link, half of what you spend goes towards our adoption! And for every $25 you spend, you get a $50 certificate. So please buy certificates for your family and friends, and help us raise the money we need to get to our boy in September!

Oh, and a care package was sent out to the orphanage this week. A backpack for our cutie to keep his possessions in, and lots of treats for his nannies and friends.
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We are just amazed and grateful for all of the support we’ve been shown recently. It really helps keep us going when we are busy, busy, busy. It’s exciting and motivating. Not to mention encouraging. We are thankful  beyond measure for how blessed we have been. The Lord provides in ways we never could have imagined.

We’d appreciate your continued prayer that our paperwork in China is being handled carefully, and is approved swiftly. September! September! Please pray we get there in September. Thank you!

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First Friday Funding Figures – Update #5, February 2015

The greatest thing about having had some posts stored up for y’all, to read after we got PA, is that I’ve been so ridiculously crazy busy lately, but could still “talk” to you. It’s pretty wonderful, let me tell ya. Not that I don’t enjoy writing and updating and sharing and all that comes along with this blog. I’ve just been so exhausted. Like, falling asleep in the car on the way home from work everyday, exhausted. (Oh- in case you didn’t know, I carpool, lol. I’m not falling asleep at the wheel!) If I didn’t have those posts in my back pocket, things would have been very quiet around here.

OK, so numbers. l was updating the figures, and realized some of the line items I had were lightly off. Not sure how that happened, but I corrected them. Also, since we’ve been busy writing checks, some of the lines that had ranges for amounts have been narrowed down. It’s looking more an more like it will cost us just over $37k to bring home our little boy. In addition to that, Chris and I have been talking and praying about what things will look like after the adoption is finalized. Of course, we have no idea how long it will take to adjust to being a family of four, but we want to make sure that we take the time that we need. My employer offers three months paid parental leave, even for adoptions, so that is a huge help and blessing. In addition to that, I can take 14 weeks unpaid, and we are trying to figure out how much we need to save to make that possible for me. We also want to make sure Chris can have as much time at home as possible, to recover from jet lag, and also bond with our son. So, we’re working on those numbers and tightening our belts.

Yesterday, when talking about a last minute invitation to go see a band play this weekend, Chris said something like, “We’re allowed to have a little fun.” That just put my stomach in knots. I know we are allowed to have fun. But I want to try and plan for that fun, and not just jump up on a whim because we’ve been asked to. I just feel like what we are sacrificing for is so worth it. Of course I’d love to go see live music. And yes, with a cover charge, it’s probably only $20 or so (assuming we don’t eat or drink), but every time I think about that $20, I start adding up every penny that doesn’t go into our adoption fund and get anxious…

Maybe I need to loosen my grip… I just don’t know. I am trusting in the Lord, and trying not to be anxious about it. We will make this work somehow. Families do what they have to do- everyday and everywhere. We are no different. But, I still feel like we just need to keep doing what we can and cutting back on the things we’re used to even more than we have already. That, and look into applying for a grant!

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Anyway. On to the numbers.

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image001 (8)image002 (1) image005 (1)So, assuming our expenses are $37,500, we are at about 54% there! How awesome is that! A big boost came from a pledge from my grandparents, and we are so grateful that they are excited about us growing our family. As soon as the weather warms up, we are planning on a big yard sale or two. Our garage is filling up with items that have been donated by friends and neighbors, with more promised to us. We’re also hoping to take advantage of airline miles to help us get to China and back, to help us offset some costs and save it for my time at home.

So that’s it for the numbers portion of this post. The rest, I will show you in pictures.

Our puzzle is coming along!

Our puzzle is coming along!

Our first care package to our boy! It has a xylophone, warm hat and scarf, treats for his nannies, and a jump drive that we hope they will fill with pictures and video!

Our first care package to our boy! It has a xylophone, warm hat and scarf, treats for his nannies, and a jump drive that we hope they will fill with pictures and video!

Chris' Kickstarter campaign was funded! They reached 109% of goal!

Chris’ Kickstarter campaign was funded! They reached 109% of goal!

That’s all for now! Until next time!

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!

First Friday Funding Figures – Update #4, January 2015

You thought I was gonna let another FFFF pass without a post, didn’t you?

Things have been crazy around here. Crazy good. My grandparents are in town, we’ve had lots of time together, no work for many days, and hurrying to finish up adoption paperwork. Myrtle Beach, Christmas, Austin’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, New Year’s…. our days have been jam packed.

I will have to try to post again soon, to recap all of the sparkly, singing, eating, present opening fun. It’s been full of joy and good things. We are incredibly, incredibly blessed. But for now, numbers.

We haven’t made any payments to our agency this month, as we buckle down and get documents notarized, pictures gathered, interviews done, and letters written. So, these first few images of our cost breakdowns are the same as in our last update. Next month, these figures should start changing as we finish up our home study, hopefully have log-in fees and orphanage partnership fees paid. You read that right… but more on that on a later post! Continue reading