3.29.2013

PA - Two Letters Never Meant So Much

It happened! We got PA...Pre-Approval that Tucker can be our son! The first time I laid eyes on him, he looked like this:


I just stared at his picture and cried, asking the Lord, "Is this my son? Could this be him?" Ryan and I tried to protect our hearts, afraid to fall too fast and then lose him somehow. But before we knew it, this little boy filled a space in our hearts and consumed us just as much as Noah and Liam.



I tried to imagine what that must have been like to be taken outside to the playground, specifically to take pictures for his adoption file. I wondered if he ever got to play on that playground just for fun. I found this picture from another momma's blog about her trip to Tucker's same orphanage. Seeing this picture brought me to tears.


This is where Tucker lives. It is enormous, and he has never had a mother or father to love and care for him. Heartbreaking. So happy that Tucker will come home to a family who will love him forever and ever.

In mid-March, an incredible momma went to Tuck's orphanage to pick up her son. She was able to meet Tucker, play with him, and give me some new pictures and videos of our sweet boy. It was truly one of the biggest blessings of my entire life. For the first time since seeing his face, I was able to see that he was alive, healthy, happy, and well.

The first picture I saw of Tucker from her trip


I stare at this picture all throughout the day. The smile that tells my heart, "I am ok. I will be ok until you get here." The dimples that remind me of Ryan, Noah, and Liam. The adorable little fingers that I can't wait to hold. His beautiful eyes that I can't wait to look into for the rest of his life. I yearn for the day that I can hold him, kiss him, and tickle him. I can't wait to hear his laugh and to hear him speak. I look forward to the day that I can show him that I will never leave him...that he will never be alone. When he falls, I will catch him. When he cries, I will comfort him. When he is sick, I will care for him. Forever. For always. I will be his mom.

3.28.2013

Answers, Answers, I Have Some Answers!

A couple weeks ago, I asked if people had questions about the adoption process, especially as it relates to China. Here are some answers to your great questions! Let's start with the easiest one first.

How did your family decide on China?
Once we decided to obey God's calling to adopt a child, we found ourselves praying a lot for direction. Family, friends, and people reading our blog were all praying for the country to be made very clear to us. It's overwhelming when you are considering international adoption. I have always been drawn to Asia and Latin American countries, and so we started there. For whatever reasong, we did not feel drawn to Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa. Those are all wonderful areas from which to adopt, and it is unexplainable why we were initially more interested in the others. You kind of have to trust your gut instinct, pray through it, and go with it. Then, as I started researching specific country requirements, we learned that every Latin American country required an extended stay (like 4 week minimum but one as long as 2 years), or you had to travel more than once. It was our preference to travel one time, meet our child, and bring him/her home. This website (http://adoption.state.gov/) was a starting point for learning about each country. There is a difference between Hague Accredited and Non-Hague Accredited countries, too, and we ultimately decided to pursue an adoption with a Hague Accredited country. I have always felt drawn to Cambodia, but their international adoption process is currently closed while they work to attain Hague Accredidation. We were initially very interested in Taiwan; however, we learned that adopting a child with CL/CP from Taiwan would take much, much longer than in China, just for sheer size difference. China has a population of approximately 1.3 billion, while Taiwan's population is 23 million. There are more children with CL/CP available for adoption in China than any other country in the world. Because that was our focus, China made the most sense. As we have learned more about the China adoption process, we were very pleased, as more adoptions have occurred with China than any other country. The process is quite predictable and streamlined due to the years of experience. There is a lot of great programming and resources working to support the orphans in China, which only helps the outcomes for children and the people working in the orphanages and foster homes.

What are the travel requirements in China?
When we pick up our little one from China, we have been told we will be there for approximately 10-17 days. This can vary and depends  on from which province of China you adopt. When adopting from Beijing, for example, we have heard it can take a bit longer (like maybe 21 days). The first part of our trip will actually be in the province where our little one lives. Our child would live with us at the hotel after we initially meet, and the adoption will be considered FINAL in that province after completing the appropriate paperwork. The second half of the trip occurs in Guangzhou, which is on the south coast of China. This is where the US Consulate is located, and you have to have a Consulate appointment prior to leaving China with your child. You obtain your child's visa to enter the US sometime after that Consulate appointment.

So how is that for some answers?? Next time, I will address the following two questions:

What qualifies a child as special needs?
How do families handle the cost of adoption?

If you have any new ones, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog or post on FB. :)

3.25.2013

Log In Date


L-I-D. Three little letters with so much significance! These letters mean that China has officially logged us into their system, as they now approve us to be adoptive parents for a child in their country!

WHOO HOO!!!
 
YAHOO!!!

We applied to our agency on September 6, 2012, and since that time, we have had to complete so many requirements, each having its own specific purpose, all to protect the little one we bring home. All of that work was compiled into 15 different documents that were sent to China in the form of a dossier (Dossier to China = DTC). Receiving our LID means that the officials have reviewed our Dossier and are giving us a thumbs up!

For people who have not yet found their child by viewing Waiting Children lists, once they have LID they can begin getting receiving referrals from their agency for children who are released on the Shared List each month. The shared list comes out tonight (8:00 a.m. China time), so families will start getting referrals sometime tomorrow.

Because we have already found the little guy we want to be our son, officials are now reviewing our Letter of Intent (LOI), which we wrote at the beginning of February. Our little guy could not be officially "matched" with our family until we had LID, though some children are eligible for matching prior to LID.

So, now we wait for two more very special letters...the letters I have been most anxious to receive:

PA = Preapproval

If they give us PA for this little boy, I will be sobbing like a crazy woman and posting his picture for all to see! Prepare yourselves for one of the most precious little boy you've ever laid eyes on.

Thank you for your prayers while we again do our least favorite four letter word!

WAIT

Timeline Update:

07/19/12 - Felt calling to adopt a child with CL/CP
08/04/12 - Made the decision to adopt
09/06/12 - Submitted application to Lifeline Children Services
09/24/12 - Submitted application to a MLJ for Home Study
11/02/12 - Submitted binder to MLJ with Home Study requirements
12/18/12 - Finalized Home Study Report completed
12/20/12 - USCIS received our Immigration application
12/31/12 - Fingerprint appointment date and time received
01/23/13 - 10:45 a.m. Call from Lifeline - saw our son!!!
01/23/13 - 11:00 a.m. Fingerprint appointment at USCIS
02/11/13 - I-797 Approval - Allows us to bring a child into the US
02/21/13 - State Authentications
03/01/13 - Chinese Consulate Authentication
03/01/13 - Letter of Intent (LOI) - not processed until after LID
03/04/13 - Dossier to China (DTC)
03/20/13 - Log In Date (LID)
               - Pre-Approval (PA)
               - Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
               - I-800 (Immigration Application for our son)
               - National Visa Center
               - Article 5
               - Travel Approval (TA)
               - Depart
               - Meet Our Son!!!
               - Consulate Appointment
               - Home!!!

3.22.2013

A Love Like This

Love. It's such a crazy thing. Sometimes you see it coming, and then it gradually builds and fills you up. Other times it takes you completely by surprise, and before you know it, this love has completely consumed you. The love of a mother is unconditional, powerful, and overflowing. This love gives way to many joys, many sacrifices, many tears, and many celebrations. A mother would give her life for the children she loves without giving it a second thought. I have to believe it is the kind of love that Jesus felt when He died on that cross.

What's amazing about a mother's love is that it knows nothing of gender, color, ability, or country. It is not bound by rules of our culture or by rational thinking. This is a love that at the second of conception begins to grow and fill a mother's heart and soul. A woman carrying her child loves that baby from the moment she knows it exists. She thinks about the baby at all times whether waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready, going to work, driving home, enjoying dinner, or going to bed. A mother loves that child and is aware of her baby's existence every moment of every second of every day as it grows inside her.

What I learned on January 23rd is that this love is not experienced only by women in pregnancy. This unconditional, I-would-do-anything-to-keep-you-safe-and-protect-you kind of love is also completely experienced by a mother going through the adoption process. It is all-consuming, all-encompassing, all the time. The little boy who is nearing his second birthday, a child I have never met, has blessed me with a love like this. He feels like my son in the same way that Noah and Liam felt like my sons as I felt them rolling around in my belly and stretching their tiny bodies inside me. God did not form this little boy in my womb, but this sweet child was born in my heart. You begin doing everything in your power - and pray to God for all that is not within your control - to bring your baby home.

A love like this, my love for all three of my children, is what keeps me strong while we wait and wait and wait. Our dossier was sent to China 18 days ago, and we are eagerly awaiting the news of our LID (Log-In-Date). Then we will wait again for PA (Pre-approval), and once received, we will shout our son's name from the rooftops and post pictures for the world to see! We will be a forever family, with a love like this.

3.14.2013

Questions, Questions...Who has a Question?


I know so many of you are following this journey, and we have so appreciated your support and encouragement the past 6 months. Now, I am hoping to accomplish a few things by sharing our story and experiences with the adoption process.

First, I want to bring awareness to the orphan crisis in this world

Second, I want to provide information about the adoption process.

Third, I want to encourage others who are considering growing their family through adoption and/or want to be part of the movement to end the orphan crisis.

Fourth, I want to inspire people to take this exciting leap of faith. Outside of my pregnancies and deliveries of Noah and Liam, I have never experienced anything so incredible in all my life. Because it has been so amazing, I naturally want others to share in this experience!
So, what kinds of questions do you have about adoption, in general or specifically? For example...

Some of you might be curious why there are boys available for adoption in China? I've heard so many times, "Aren't there only girls available in China?" Let's talk about it!

Other people might want more information about the cost of adoption in China. I would love to tell you about it!

People want to know why the adoption process takes so long? Are you one of them?

Some people will be curious about the support you can find during the adoption process, as they worry what family members or friends might think (Hint: it's amazing!!!).

People will want to know about special needs adoptions (e.g., what SN means, why you would pursue a child with SN, etc.).

Some have wondered what happens to orphans in China if they are not matched with a family? I can share that with you.

Others know that adoption is not in the cards for them right now (or maybe ever) but want to get involved. They have asked how to help. Would you like to know?

I can think of a dozen questions you might have, and I would love to address them. Hopefully I won't regret opening this can of worms, but if I'm going to provide information and bring awareness, I know I might need to answer hard questions along the way.

So let's do it. Who's first??

3.04.2013

Timeline Update

07/19/12 - Felt calling to adopt a child with CL/CP
08/04/12 - Made the decision to adopt
09/06/12 - Submitted application to Lifeline Children Services
09/24/12 - Submitted application to a MLJ for Home Study
11/02/12 - Submitted binder to MLJ with Home Study requirements
12/18/12 - Finalized Home Study Report completed
12/20/12 - USCIS received our Immigration application
12/31/12 - Fingerprint appointment date and time received
01/23/13 - 10:45 a.m. Call from Lifeline - saw our son!!!
01/23/13 - 11:00 a.m. Fingerprint appointment at USCIS
02/11/13 - I-797 Approval - Allows us to bring a child into the US
02/21/13 - State Authentications
03/01/13 - Chinese Consulate Authentication
03/04/13 - Dossier to China (DTC)
               - Log In Date (LID)
03/01/13 - Letter of Intent (LOI)
               - Pre-Approval (PA)
               - Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
               - I-800 (Immigration Application for our son)
               - National Visa Center
               - Article 5
               - Travel Approval (TA)
               - Depart
               - Meet Our Son!!!
               - Consulate Appointment
               - Home!!!

Hopefully we will receive our LID in the next 2-3 weeks, as well as pre-approval to adopt who we hope will be our son. Our social worker submitted our Letter of Intent (written a month ago) on Friday. Because he is designated as Special Needs and not Special Focus, we have to have our LID before they will give us preapproval to adopt him. So, fingers crossed that in the next 3 weeks we will have both our LID and most importantly...PREAPPROVAL!

Thirty

Last year when I turned the big THREE ZERO, I had no idea what an adventure God had planned for my thirtieth year of life. Since making the decision to adopt, I have often wondered why God picked that time in our lives to finally ask. Why did He wait until I was 30 to ask us to do this?

Once we chose China as the country from where we would adopt, I immediately learned that you had to be 30 years old to adopt from there. Coincidence? I don't think so. :)

I was thinking again last week about how my entire life, I would ask God His opinion about different things. God, what do you think about me going to Hanover College? God, what do you think about me marrying Ryan? God, should I go to IU for graduate school? God, where should I accept my first internship and job? God, do you think it's an ok time to have kids? I was the one asking Him questions, and He was the one giving me answers. Sometimes those answers came in the form of peace beforehand, and sometimes I had affirmation only after I made the decision.

Then I wondered...why did God wait THIRTY years to ask me to do anything for Him? I mean, He asks us to obey our parents, love one another, give with a joyful heart, etc. We know he asks of those things because they are in His Word. But, why did He wait 30 years to ask me a direct question to adopt one of his beautiful children?

I've talked about this with my friend, Dalia, several times, and last week, she surprised me with something. While completing Beth Moore's Bible study about David, she learned that David began his reign over Israel when he was THIRTY years old.

"David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years" (2 Samuel 5:4)
 
David, who was introduced in the Bible as a small, young child, yet God gave him courage to defeat a GIANT and who later was one of the greatest kings in the Bible. His reign began at THIRTY.
 
Then, while having dinner with our friends Casey and Kerri last night, I was sharing this story. Casey then shared that Jesus began His ministry when he was THIRTY years old. I was speechless! The most incredible, blameless, loving man to ever live began His greatest work at THIRTY years old. Incredible!
 
"When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age." (Luke 3:23)
 
I decided to do a bit more research to see if any other great figures from the Bible had also started something at THIRTY years old, and sure enough, there is at least one more. Joseph began his work for Pharoah interpreting his dreams at the age of THIRTY years old.
 
"Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." (Genesis 41:46)
 
I don't know where God is leading us in our journey to adopt in China. Knowing that these 3 men each began to live a HUGE part of God's plan for their lives at the age of THIRTY gives me such much excitement! I do believe this is the tip of the iceberg for our family. I believe that adopting this little boy is just the beginning for us. It is my hope and prayer to help people be exposed to REAL situations that orphans face today. In our country, it is all too easy to get wrapped up in waking up, eating breakfast, going to work, having lunch, working all afternoon, going home, eating dinner, watching our favorite TV shows, and going to bed. We think about getting that next big item - an iPad, a new car, a bigger house - and we forget to search for our PURPOSE in life.
 
We only get to live once.
 
Once.
 
What do you want to do with your time here?  I want to give this little boy (and hopefully other children) a family and unconditional love, while meeting his spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.
 
Beyond that, though, I want to INSPIRE people to take a leap of faith and join hundreds of other families who are taking this amazing journey of adoption.
 
I want to LEAD people through this process.
 
I want to ENCOURAGE people as they navigate the emotional and difficult path of adoption.
 
I want to EDUCATE people about how to help orphans if they don't feel lead to adopt.

I want God to use my life and my experiences to AWAKEN others to follow His word.
 
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18)

 
People have always said that your THIRTIES are the best years of your life. I'm beginning to think they are right. :)
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