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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On Race and Family

I just finished reading this article that was written by a transracial adoptee. I encourage you to read it, whether you are adopting, adopted, a parent, or a child. If you’re a human being, and ever interact with anyone who doesn’t look like you, read it. Of course, I began reading it knowing that we are adopting a kid of a race different than our own…well, at least mostly. But I was surprised at how much resonated with me from my own experiences. Though not an adoptee, I was made up of all kinds of minority, and even in the melting pot that is California, my family stood out in our small town. Not because of our accomplishments, manicured lawns, or jobs, but because of our faces. As a child, I experienced a lot of what this young woman writes about.

Chris and I have talked about this topic many times. With him being a part of the majority, and me being a minority, our experiences and the way we look at things can be very different, whether we realize it or not. And we realize that our kids will deal things unlike what we have dealt with, especially with us adding adoption to our mix.

“Race is on your son’s radar,” I promised him. “Even if you think it’s not an issue for you, it will be for him.”

One thing we all forget to do is remember that people’s perspectives are different, and they are different for a multitude of reasons. I think a lot of times, we try to pretend like race doesn’t matter, and we wonder aloud why people are making such a big deal of it all the time. The truth is that race does matter. And that’s ok. But we have to be aware of it. For parents, that means not being afraid to talk about race issues, even if you don’t know that there is an issue. It means more than just taking your Chinese adopted child out for Chinese food and celebrating Chinese New Year. It means exposing them to people with faces that look like theirs, and while you’re at it, to other races, too- and often. It means facing issues instead of turning a blind eye to them, or making excuses for them. It means being an advocate for your child, as every parent should be. All. The. Time.

Some Hard Things

We knew when we decided to pursue adoption that it was going to be a bumpy road. I’ve never heard an adoption story that was smooth sailing from beginning to end. It’s just… a process, and a difficult one, at that. So, we expected to encounter roadblocks and disappointments. I will tell you though, we (or at least I) didn’t expect so many, so early on in the process. From the two years it took to get us to where we are now, (start here, if you’re new to our story), which still kind of feels like the starting line, we have encountered many frustrations and setbacks.

No matter what the setback has been, there always seem to be people out there who just don’t understand our heart for adoption, and who don’t understand that we are being called down this road. But they care about us and our journey. Every time we update them and there’s a roadblock, I hear these people telling us that maybe this is not what we should be doing, or that maybe this isn’t the right time for us. And they say it with good intentions, and are trying (I think) to be reassuring, but all it really does for me is add to my frustration. It trivializes my feelings, and just makes me feel like I don’t have the support that I was hoping for. You don’t have to know exactly what I’m feeling, what my intentions are, or where I’m coming from to know that sometimes you should just keep your opinions to yourself. Harsh? Maybe, but that’s how I’m feeling about it at the moment, so I’m laying it out there. Folks just don’t get it…

Anywho. I bring this up, because shocker!- we’ve come up against something… hard. We have been moving towards an orphan in the China Special Needs program, hoping to be matched with a child with minor to correctable special needs. Last week, we were told that China would only approve us to go through their Special Focus program. This is a bit different  than the Special Needs program. Ok, a lot different. The children in this group are either older (6+ years) or have more moderate to severe medical conditions. We’re not sure what all that entails, but I’ve got to be honest with you, we’re nervous about it. We don’t feel like we are ready to parent a child with major special needs, and are not looking to bring home an older child at this time. But, what is considered special needs and special focus is kind of… fuzzy. So we’re talking about the types of conditions we are willing to accept, and which we are not, and hoping to get some questions answered, and fears relieved. We know of folks who’ve gone the Special Focus route and brought home a perfectly healthy kid. We also know of people who were matched with a Special Needs child, only to discover that there were other issues they weren’t aware of.  It’s really all a big unknown, no matter what road you go down, and all we can do is hope and pray.

Tomorrow we have a call with our agency to talk about our reservations, and to go over the special needs we are willing to take on. We will hear from them if these are conditions they see in the Special Focus group, or if we’re going to have to take another detour to our child by choosing to adopt from another country. I’m praying that we will be told that there are cases that fall within our “criteria” in the Special Focus group, and that we can continue in our current direction. I hope this because I don’t want to waste more time, but also because I know that we can be matched more quickly in the Special Focus group, and I’m hoping that this is just a small issue that leads to us bringing home our child that much sooner.

In the end, I know that God has a child picked out for us, and that all of the roads we are taking are leading us to them. I am remembering that, reminding myself to trust His plan and let go of the control I don’t have anyway. If you could be praying for us- for our call tomorrow, for the decisions we have upcoming, and for our child- somewhere out there, I would certainly be grateful. Thank you.

SortaKinda Fundrasing Update

This Friday is a first friday. Which means I should be giving you a fundraising update. I’m telling you right now that isn’t going to happen. Not only am I swamped with things that are sucking up my time, I also don’t really have much to tell you. We still haven’t received the numbers of what was raised when we ran the Chosen Marathon last month. We have one final UNCC Football volunteer event next weekend, and we are still selling friendship bracelets and MantraBands. In addition to that, our garage is slowly filling with donations from friends and neighbors that we plan to sell at yard sales in the coming months. That being said, there will be fundraising updates soon, but probably not in two days.

We have been really fortunate to have the support of people from all different areas of our lives. People are praying for our adoption, donating items, and giving money as well. We have practically stopped asking for support in the form of monetary donations lately, because we were trying to get involved with the Abba Fund, who helps adoptive families to raise money, and also gives interest free loans for the purpose of adoption. Now, we can say that we are blessed to have this relationship with them. Donations can be made to us through our profile, and because they are coming through this non-profit, your donation to us is tax-deductible, and you can receive a charitable contribution receipt. Isn’t that awesome? I only wish we could have gotten in on this sooner, so that we could have offered that to the folks who have given to us already.

Anywhoo. What else has been going on? Lots of relational time with friends- old and new. Chris went on a men’s retreat last weekend, and is away at a conference again this week. So looking forward to having him home tonight. Austin is busy being awesome and adorable and bringing us lots of joy. Work has been cah-ray-zee for me, and I am so ready for a day to just be supremely lazy. Halloween happened. And we start our home study (again. finally) on Friday. We’d appreciate your prayers around that.

So, yeah. I know I didn’t have much to give just then, but that’s all I got at the moment. I’m kinda shocked i found time to write even that much. I’ll make it up with some pictures.

Presedential nominee, monkey, dark fae.

presidential nominee, monkey, dark fae.

with his banana bag

with his banana bag

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loving that apple-sauce

loving that apple-sauce

wearing my horns

wearing my horns

love.

Some Updates

This post is going to be all over the place. I have pictures that I should have posted weeks ago, but I’ve been working all hours, and honestly have put lots of other things before my blog. And that’s ok. It’s not the way to be a good blogger, but I have a life to live, and I am going to live it! 🙂

So, the last UNCC Football event, was another chance to raise some adoption funds, and our good friend Steve tagged along for it. It was a good time, and I enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers. I got to work as a cashier alongside Chris, this time. He’s a hard worker! Who knew! 😉

silliness. always silliness.

silliness. always silliness.

holy corndog!

holy corndog!

I started a new women’s group at church, and am enjoying getting to know these women. We meet at the neighborhood right next to mine. Next week, while Chris is out of town, the ladies will be meeting at my house. Love that they were flexible enough to shift so I could take care of Austin and still have some fellowship! Love these ladies already!

Last week we made another quick trip to the beach. We enjoyed the beach, and enjoyed the family time. I’m so glad we were able to squeeze in another trip before the summertime weather fades away.

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I can’t remember if I shared that we have applied to another adoption agency, and are feeling really good about it. The communication so far has been great, and they really try to equip you as parents, so that you are better prepared for some of the things that come along with an adoption. We’ve been talking with our case worker, and feel like they will really be working with us and for us here. I’m excited to be getting the ball rolling again (yet again!). I’m also realizing that we have a short 12-15 months to raise a LOT of money. So we need to tighten our belts and kick the fundraising into high gear. I foresee a yard sale in the not too distant future. I know I missed a First Friday Fundraising Update, but I need to revamp it now to fit the new agency. There will be an update in November.

Speaking of fundraising, the Chosen Charlotte race is just 8 days away! My new work schedule/commute has really put a damper on my running, but I’m excited to do what I can at this race with our team! I’m also looking forward to meeting adoptive families and their supporters. I think we’ll be able to make some good connections. And I’m hoping that will start tonight! We are hosting a BBQ dinner for the adoptive families who are running the race. I think at least 5 families will be joining us. I’m really hoping we can share stories, form friendships, and be able to support each other through our adoptions and beyond.

Busyness

We have been slammed. So incredibly busy! We have done so much that I have not updated you on. I’m slapping myself on the wrists for that one. So, this post is going to have some updates, some pictures, and hopefully not be too lengthy. I don’t even have the time to get down to the level of detail that I’d like to, but I’m going to fill you in, none the less.

First- the cruise! Our friends Brian & Shamin were getting married on a cruise ship, and Chris was a groomsman in the wedding. Chris’ parents and sister and brother-in-law all gathered in Charleston for the wedding on the cruise ship, too, which was nice. The wedding and reception were fun- short and sweet. Then, the non sailing folk debarked, and we continued on to the Bahamas! While on the boat, we swam, took dance lessons, sang karaoke, ate (a lot!), went to an art auction, shopped, saw a comedy show, hung out in the casino, and hung around with our friends from the wedding. In the Bahamas we shopped, beached, toured a brewery, and rode around an island on a scooter! We met some folks there who were on a different cruise ship, and we met up with them in both ports. They were from Myrtle beach, and we hope to see them again when we head down there to visit. We had a great time.

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Second- UNCC Football Game. We served in the concession stands almost two weeks ago, and had a great time. Our friend Stephen rode up with us, and we met our friends Josh, Jess, and Ana there. Together with folks who were raising money for missions trips, we served food and beverages (lots of beverages!) on that sweltering hot day. It wasn’t as busy as we were expecting, it was super hot, and our team blew the other team out of the water. All in all, we had fun, met some cool folks, and enjoyed each other’s company. We’re signed up to do it again the weekend after next. Who wants to join us?

10649955_10152653527869029_6358827804397089700_n Last week was Chris & my anniversary. 4 years! We took the day off and dropped Austin off at daycare so that we could spend the day together. We went for a trail run/hike, had a great lunch outside on a beautiful day, got massages, and did a little shopping. We ended the night with wine and cheese, and cake that our neighbors had given us. It was a perfect day!

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Last Saturday, Chris did a workout with some guys from church, which included exercise and fellowship. He got to meet some new people, and feel strengthened in more ways than one! On Sunday, we had a cookout at our house to give our friends, Matt & Jen an opportunity to garner support for the long-term missions work they plan to do in Japan. I had marinated 3 tri tips, and we had three trays of drumsticks. Chris and my dad handled the grilling. Our friends all brought a side, and we had tons of food. The house was full of old friends and new, and lots of kiddos! It was a fun time. Afterwards, we spent some time doing some much-needed catch-up with Matt & Jen, who are only in town from California for a couple of weeks. We miss them, and it was so great to have them here. Be sure to check them our, and sign up for their newsletter.

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This week I started working in the office again. It’s been an adjustment. I’ve had to be up early every day, instead of being able to saunter down the stairs in my PJs and log on. I’ve had to get dressed up (and buy clothes), put make-up on, wear heels. I haven’t been able to do laundry, grocery shop, or run (which is not good for the Chosen Race in 5 short weeks!), but I know I’ll get used to it. I have been carpooling with my friend, Lisa, from my neighborhood, which has been nice. It’s helping with the expenses of paying for gas and parking, and also giving us time to just chat and talk about life (read: our kids). I’ve been drinking way more coffee than normal, but hope that after another week or so of this, I can start feeling normal with this routine and cut that back. We’ll see!

what happens when we walk in the door after a long day.

what happens when we walk in the door after a long day.

Tuesday night, we went to LifeGroup Connect at our church to try to get connected to new LifeGroups. This time, Chris and I split up, looking for Men’s and Women’s groups. I found mine, and Chris is still hoping to get plugged in. I look forward to getting to know the new group of ladies, and growing with them in our walk.

And last night we had pizza with friends before hitting the road to Myrtle Beach. We left after Austin’s bedtime and hoped that he would sleep the whole ride down… Well, this is a whole ‘nother post in itself, but it didn’t go down quite like that. Austin threw up in the car 1/3 of the way down. And didn’t stop until his last (read: sixth) round of heaving in the driveway of our destination. Oy.

And I think that’s it! Oh wait- no, it’s not. In my last post, I told you that we were still going back and forth with our adoption agency about the language of our contract. Well, we couldn’t come to terms, so we are no longer moving forward with that agency. We (read: Chris) have been talking with folks at other agencies, and we’ve been praying about our next steps. We have found that the social worker who did our home study in SC is now employed by one of the agencies we were considering. After talking with her, we have found that our education would be accepted there, and they can build on our completed DSS home study to save us time. It’s a Christian agency, and we are feeling like this is the route we should head down. We’d appreciate your prayer around that!

We’ve been like little Energizer bunnies over here. Or like little Austins… Lord knows he keeps going and going…!  He is awesome and brings us so much joy and laughter. It’s really amazing how much he is learning and growing. I’m hoping that this weekend gives us a little time for just rest and family. And I’m hoping that when we get back to the grind, we’ll have time to just slow down a bit, even though our calendar is already filling up. I’m just thankful that we have maintained our sanity during this crazy time for us. Wonder how long we can keep it up….?

Mountain Vacay

We returned home last night from a 5 day mountain trip. MOUNTAINS! I love them. We had such a great time. My parents used some of their timeshare option to book a week at a resort in Banner Elk, NC. We escaped the Charlotte heat, relaxed, and enjoyed each others’ company. I have been itching to get up to the BLue Ridge Parkway, so this was wonderful for me. Now, I just have to make it during the early fall, when all the leaves are changing color.

During our trip we panned for gemstones (to Chris’ delight). I was kinda hoping we’d find a huge ruby or something, and be able to fund our adoption with it, but alas, no such luck. 🙂 We also visited Linville Caverns and Falls, Banner Elk Winery, Mystery Hill, and lots of good eateries. The “cabin” we stayed in was a two bedroom condo with a loft, kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. Chris and I read to each other on the balcony one evening, sipping sweet red wine and munching on kettle corn. We paddle boated on the lake at the resort, brought Austin to the playground, and grilled chicken on site. We checked out a game called Imaginiff and played it while Austin was napping one day, while our chicken was roasting in the oven. Good times!

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Austin kept us all entertained, by running around, eating like a champ, and learning new words. Much to my dad’s delight, Austin now knows him as “Goom-pa”. His new thing is finding things to make music with. One day it was a sample of toothpaste in a box that he was shaking and banging with, the next day it was a packet of raw sugar. He loves music and danced and watched videos of orchestras to his little heart’s content! The best thing, though, was when we were all in the kitchen/dining area. We were all doing different things, and it was kind of quiet. I was sitting at the table next to Austin, and I put my hand on his head, leaned near to his ear, and said , “I love you.” His response? “I louwoo.” Gah! My heart melted and I might have teared up a little. And everyone was there to hear it! After that, they all kept trying to get him to say it again, but he didn’t. That was reserved for  me. Hehehe.

We didn’t really have any agendas during the trip. We just got up and did things as we decided to. I worked out every morning, at the fitness room downstairs. Still working toward that 10 mile race- even on vacation! We watched movies, cooked, had good conversations, and laughed a lot. I watched more TV on this trip than I have in a long time, but mostly because it was on while I was working out, or just on in the Living room as we were going about our day. Chris and I worked on adoption paperwork one night after everyone had gone to bed. So… some of the same stuff we do at home, but in a different environment.

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SInce my parents were so wonderful to let us join them, and we brought tons of food, we didn’t spend too much on this trip. Which is amazing considering we were gone for 5 days and got to do a bunch of stuff and spend so much quality time with family. I’m glad to be home, and feeling refreshed and happy! I am still glad that it’s only a two-day work week for me, though. 🙂 I hope we can do another trip like this again!