China or Bust!

Today’s the day! I’m sitting in the admiral’s club at the airport, sipping on my jamba juice, and trying to think of what to write. I have so many things to share, so many thoughts going through my head, so many emotions… I also am realizing that this will be a short post, since I’m typing on my phone.

So… First, let me say thank you. Thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, encouragement, and support. You have gotten us this far in our journey, and we appreciate you! Please continue to think of us as we travel to bring Evan home.

This morning, Chris and I took Austin out to breakfast. We talked about our trip, and were trying our best to get him to understand that we’d be gone for a while, but that when we return, he’ll have a brother. I think he gets the brother part…. It’s the period of time he doesn’t get. At one point he told us we’d be gone for five weeks (as he held out his hand to show five fingers)! Thankfully it will not be five weeks. We know he’ll have a great time with his grandparents, and he has lots of fun in store for him.

When we dropped him off at daycare, we took our last photo as a family of three…

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We are excited to explore China; less excited about flying there. Thrilled that we’ll finally get to hug the son we’ve been praying for; anxious for him, as he is about to lose everything he’s ever known. I cant tell you how eager I am to hear his voice, his laugh, and even his cry. I can’t wait to introduce him to his brother via a video call next week, too. There’s so much that we’re anticipating….

We know you are excited for us, and eager to meet Evan. When we return home, though, we will be in a period known as “cocooning”, where we will be focusing on establishing bonds and attachments with Evan. We will be staying home as much as possible, and limiting outside interaction. We want you to meet Evan and show him the love you’ve been pouring out on us, but we ask that you bear with us during this time. We don’t know how long it will take. If you do stop by, please keep your visit brief, do not hold Evan, and any gifts need to be given to us to give to him. I know it sounds weird, but it’s very important that we do things this way until Evan understands that we are his primary caregivers. Thank you for your support in this way!

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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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What’s in a Name?

Some of you may already know what we have decided to name the little boy we are adopting. For the rest of you, this post is the big reveal! Super dramatic, right?? I have been meaning to write this post forever. I didn’t because, well, aside from life being crazy (but wonderful!), I just felt like it was very final, and… well, what if we changed our minds??

Chris and I love names. It’s fun seeing how one of us reacts to a name that the other suggests, sometimes seriously, and other times to get a laugh. We love rolling names over our tongues and seeing how they feel and sound. More than a pleasant sound, though, we want our children’s names to have meaning. We pored over names for this child. Did we want the meaning to tie back to his past? To our hopes for his future? Should it tie to his story? Do we even want to change the name he was given? It was tough to decide what to do. In the end, we decided that we would not legally keep his Chinese name. But he will always have it. Just as I have a Chinese name that my grandparents chose for me, he will always have his Chinese name too. It just won’t be on his American citizenship papers.

So, for his first name, we chose the name “Evan”. Depending on the origin of the name, it has several different meanings. The American and Hebrew meanings are the same: Stone. We thought this was appropriate, because the city he comes from is a mining town. The Celtic meaning of this name is “young fighter.” As a baby with a special need, abandoned at just a couple of days old, our little one has already overcome so much, so we thought this meaning, too, was appropriate. Lastly, we learned that the Welsh meaning of the name means “God has been gracious.” We feel this applies not only to our little boy in his young life, but especially, too, to our own lives, where the Lord has shown favor and mercy. So there we have it. His name will be Evan. And on this baby name website, they include a “SoulUrge number”  and an “Expression number” that relates to each name. It’s some horoscopey, nonsense numerical value, I’m sure, and I put no stock in these things, but I thought the one that corresponds to Evan was interesting, none the less:

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The second name for him was harder. We know of many families who adopted from China and kept their child’s Chinese name as their middle name. Is that what we wanted to do, too? The name he was given at his orphanage was chosen by his orphanage director, not his birth parents. While the meaning was nice, it just didn’t resonate with us. If he were older, we’d have thought more about keeping his Chinese name, or letting him make a decision, but we decided that giving him a new name is what worked best for us and our situation.

As with most middle names, we were testing out the string of first name-possible middle name-last name to see what sounded best. The names we thought sounded the best following Evan just didn’t have the meaning that we felt would be significant to him (or us) in any way. So we changed tactics. We looked at the meaning of the city where he’s spent his whole life. It is known as the “deer city.” I jokingly suggested “Buck”, but Chris turned that down in a heartbeat. (Part of me thinks it’s super cute and hope it ends up as a nickname one day!) We asked a friend in China to help us breakdown the name of his city, to see if we could use any part of the Chinese word, and that started us down the path to the name we decided. The Chinese word “lĂą” means “deer”. So we looked to see if there were any names that contained “Lu” in it, and researched the meaning of the many names we found, and asking for input from our family.

As we were going through the names, we realized that if we chose a name that begins with “Lu”, instead of containing it in the middle or at the end of the name, it would be even more special to us for a couple of reasons. First, Evan’s initials would be the same as Chris’ dad. That would be cool. Secondly, my grandmother’s name is Lucinda, so it would start off the same way as her name does. So it would kind of connect Evan with our families in a way, which we thought was pretty awesome. I’ve always liked biblical names, and the most obvious male biblical name that starts with “Lu” is Luke. We went back and forth over that one as we searched through other names, but finally, we decided on a variant of Luke: Lucas. It means “light”. We hope that we are changing the outlook of Evan’s future, giving light, but most importantly, we hope we are raising a son who will be a light to others. We have a name picked out for a girl if are ever blessed with one, and her name also incorporates the same meaning. So we thought it was perfect.

It’s pretty much official. We’ve written Evan Lucas on official documents now, so I guess that’s what made me feel ready to share. Thanks for your patience! Austin talks about Evan with us, and his name is used in conversations in our home all the time. It’ definitely solidified the name in our hearts and minds, and I can’t wait till I can hold him and say his name aloud, with his sweet face looking back at me…. which, in case you are wondering, is in 39 days!!! I’ll write another post on all that has happened soon.

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First Friday Funding Figures- Update #11, August 2015

Hi y’all! I have your August FFFF post, but it’s going to be very short, because we are about to pack up and head to visit family. There’s just never enough time! So… in July we wrapped up our restaurant.com fundraiser, had another Moe’s event, had another yard sale, a Mary Kay party (or two), and sold more puzzle pieces. I didn’t have time to make the pretty cost/fundraising breakdowns that I normally use, but guys. GUYS. You have helped us get to 91% Funded. I could scream! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! We are almost there!

And speaking of “almost there”…. Did you notice that it’s already August? August. Where has the summer gone? If we travel in September, we could be leaving in a short 5 weeks! If we don’t make September (and yes, we’re still in danger of missing those dates), we’d be leaving in less than 9 weeks. We’ve got a lot to do in that short period of time! We’ve still got $3,660 to raise, and have a wine and canvas party, another Moe’s event, a bedsheet fundraiser, and finishing out our puzzle to help us get there. We have to finish decorating the boys’ room (which includes refinishing a dresser and nightstand), look for stuff (a high chair and car seat for grandma’s house, diapers, etc.), and get our adoption education completed, as well as preparing ourselves for travel.

We’re so excited, but I tell ya, not knowing when we are actually going is hard! If we go in October, our hotel and flights could be much more expensive due to a huge trade fair going on in China at the time. But, it would give us those extra 4 weeks to save, fundraise, and get ready. And the weather between the months is very different too, so we can’t even think about what to pack until we know when we’re going. Gah. I know we’ve been praying, and asking you to pray for September, and believe me, I want to get my boy home as quickly as possible. But now, I just ask you to pray for peace for our hearts no matter when we end up going. It’s so easy for me to get anxious and worried, and you know what? Ultimately, the end result is the same, whether we travel in September or October- Our family of three becomes a family of four!

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 #9, June 2015

You know what day it is! I can’t believe this is update number nine! What a long time it’s been already… But it’s getting closer to the finish! Things have been crazy busy for me, but I was determined to get this post published. I mean, it’s just a few images, really! I will not give you an excuse today!

So last month was a good one as far as fundraising goes. We had our huge yard sale, which made us almost $2000, and we were awarded a $1000 grant! We got a tax refund that went straight into our account, and managed to save a bit, too! I really need to do a good audit of our accounts and our fees, but as the numbers stand today, it looks like we are 63% funded! With (hopefully) 4 months to go, and $13,846 (ish) left to raise, we are going to kick it into high gear! Please pray that we hear from the other grants we applied to, and that we would have successful fundraising over the summer. Next week we have our Moe’s fundraising dinner, which should be a lot of fun! I hope we get a huge turnout and make a lot that night. I’m looking forward to it, just because it’s like a big party with a bunch of friends where I don’t have to do the cooking. Ha!

In addition to the Post Adoption Credits chart I added last month, I also included a Post Placement Expenses chart. Looks like those credits are going to end up going back out in one way or another. I didn’t even include the possible medical trips we could be taking, because I just don’t know how many, and how long the trips will be… so it’s hard to estimate. Here’s how the numbers are looking:

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image008 We still have a ton of stuff from the yard sale, so I think next weekend, or really any weekend this month, we will be having another one. We’re looking into different rewards credit cards, trying to see how we can rack up airline and hotel miles to save us some of those costs. If you have any you’d like to donate to us, let us know! I have one more fundraiser in mind, that we might do in July, but other than that… I’m just praying we find the funds! We are scrimping and saving, and doing everything we can think of, but if you have any ideas, please share them!

Yesterday we got an update on our boy. It had pictures of him in the Hornets hat that we sent him, which made me so happy! I know it made my parents happy, too, as the hat was their contribution! He’s got a little piece of our home with him, now! The update said that he knows he is being adopted, and that the nannies read the picture book we sent and tell him who everyone is. I wonder what he thinks when they read it to him… is he anxious? Confused? Happy? I wonder how much he really understands about what a family even is…

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When I showed Austin these pictures, he asked about their hats, and then he picked out his own “bed” in the picture of the cribs. He’s starting to get it. Somehow, he’s starting to get it.

Folks, we appreciate you keeping up with us. We appreciate your support and prayer. Please keep praying for things to move along without issue, and that we would be traveling to China in September. Thank you!

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Raisin’ “Moe” Money

Next Thursday, June 11 (side note – how is it already June?!) We are having another fundraiser to raise money for our adoption. Thus one is easy. You don’t have to buy things, make online payments, write checks, or anything like that. All you have to do is eat! You already do that multiple times a day! Not only that, but it saves you from having to cook!

So if you are in the Charlotte area, please join us at Moe’s Southwest Grill in Ballantyne any time from 5-8. 20% of all sales from our supporters will go towards our adoption! Moe’s is good food, and a fun environment. It’s not expensive, and not fried fast food! Won’t you join us?

Just print out this flyer and be sure to bring it with you. Share the flyer with your coworkers, friends, and family, too! The more supporters we bring in, the more money we raise to bring our son home! Thank you!!

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