Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Rest of the Story...

July 14th I received a message from our agency stating that our Dossier had finally been logged in to China's computer system.  This was the official beginning of The Wait.  (Note: The Wait is capitalized because of its significance- it deserves to be a pronoun... as does Dossier- since the amount of work that went into creating our Dossier merits the respect of a capitalized letter... at least according to me)  For so many adoptive families, the hardest part of the process is not the mounds of paperwork.  Nor is it the travel to an unknown country.  The hardest part is the wait for their referral.  Since our Dossier had taken the slow road to being logged in, I was actually looking forward to The Wait.

Here's the rest of the story.  Our agency also informed us that the same day our Dossier had been logged in, several files of children partnered exclusively with our agency had shown up on the master list as available for adoption.  (Quick explanation because it is confusing: many believe this is the 'new route' of Chinese adoptions.  Agencies make agreements with particular orphanages to find families for children from that orphanage.  The orphanage prepares the files (which takes money and time) sometimes with the assistance of their new partner agency.  Once the files are completed and through the Chinese bureaucracy, they are available only to the partner agency.  The agency then advocates for those kids and attempts to find them all families.  The agency may also provide additional assistance to their partner orphanages- funding, support items, programs for older children, etc.)  The nine files were from a brand new partnership orphanage.  Our agency rep had visited the orphanage last August, made the arrangements, and then had heard nothing from the orphanage.  So they were surprised to see nine children on their list the same day that our Dossier was logged in.  And one of files was a little girl they had not met or anticipated having a file for.

You can see where this is going...

We received this little one's file the night we were logged in.  I was actually at a meeting when I checked my phone and saw our agency director's name in my email with a file attached.  It took everything in me not to immediately walk out the door and drive home to look through it!  When I got home, Austin and I finally began looking through the file.  Two big surprises- the little girl was actually 2 1/2 (would be three by the time we traveled), and she was medically healthy.  We had said all along that we were open to a little girl, ages 0-3.  I knew the youngest most Chinese children are adopted was around 12 months (very rare).  But I was hesitant about going for the top of our age range.  The reality that we would have a 2 year old, 3 year old, and 4 year old in our house was daunting.  And for the first time I realized I had an unspoken desire to have a little baby girl.

It took me two days to acknowledge my feelings, stare at this little one's face over and over again, and grieve the loss of her first (almost) three years of life without a family.  And ultimately I realized that once we had seen her, we couldn't turn away.  (By the way, Austin was on board all along.  He read through the file, saw that she fit our 'criteria,' deemed her 'cute,' and wondering what the heck was taking me so long to figure it all out!... Men!  Engineers!  Arghhhh!)  I filled out the needed paperwork and sent China our Letter of Intent to adopt her.

So without further ado, I'd like to give you a first glimpse of our daughter.

We are hoping to bring her home to her forever family- where she will be sandwiched in by two rambunctious brothers on either side- this November or December.  I hope that twinkle I see in her eyes means she likes trucks and rowdy little boys!  We are waiting for more information from her orphanage before deciding on a name- most likely we will be giving her a name that fits into our family but still keeping part of her Chinese name in some capacity.  (And if anyone has followed our family through my two pregnancies, you will recall that naming children is DIFFICULT for the two of us!!)  

Thank you for praying for our little girl- now there's a face to put those thoughts and words to, though we have been comforted that our Heavenly Father has known this little one all along.  We are waiting for China to complete translation and review of our Dossier and then will begin working with the US side to arrange immigration approval, visas, etc.  We will have a better idea on travel dates after we receive the next official paperwork from China.

She can't come home soon enough- though there is plenty to do to prepare for her arrival now!  Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  We will be continuing to fundraise but God's got this! If you'd like to be a part of the story, our youcaring page is still up and running.  Stay tuned for more updates!

You are already so loved little one!

Friday, July 17, 2015

July Update

We're just skipping over June- kay?  No, a lot happened between my last blog post and today so I'll try to fill in some of the gaps to keep everyone up to date and happy :)

In May we were waiting for our provisional immigration approval from the US government.  The wait was averaging 45-60 days and it seemed we still had a long way to go. Our family was blessed with the opportunity to take a beach vacation- which was amazing- but also a fantastic way to pass the time waiting for paperwork that is completely out of your hands.  Upon our arrival home, I discovered our I 800a approval in our mailbox and we were very happy- 37 days total wait time!

It took another week or so for me to rush the last few parts of our Dossier through the authentication process.  Despite a misinformed notary requiring me to meet a courier on the side of the freeway with part of our adoption paperwork, we made it- compiled and copied multiple times- a complete Dossier! And then I fedexed it to our agency's office in New York after praying over the fedex man and threatening bodily harm if anything should happen to it (j/k... kind of).

June 16th we were officially DTC- Dossier To China.  Fancy adoption world talk for saying all of our paperwork was on its way to China.

We were told to anticipate about 10 days for China to 'log in' our Dossier- the next acronym milestone in the adoption community (LID).  Ten days came and went.... but there was a Chinese holiday in there so I wasn't worried.  We enjoyed mail from our agency.

Twenty days passed.  From adoption Facebook groups, I 'met' another family who was on our same timeline.  We lamented the wait together.  Misery loves company-right?

After a month of waiting for China to recognize our Dossier, I started to get nervous.  The doubts crept in- "What if China doesn't approve us to adopt at all?" "What if our Dossier was lost?"

I went a little crazy.  Mostly depressed crazy.  I knew- KNEW- that there were long wait times involved in adoption.  I just didn't think we were at the 'long wait time part' and so I began to question if God really wanted us to pursue this crazy endeavor.  "Did I miss something God?"

After a lot of hand- wringing and soul- wrestling I came to the conclusion that if this was the end of our adoption journey- if for some crazy reason we had committed to giving a child a family and a home, implored our friends and family to support us through prayers and finances, employed major discipline in living on a budget and cutting out lots of the extras- and then it all ended here, that God would still be glorified and our lives made better by choosing His way.  It would be awful.  Absolutely.  Because while we are adopting out of obedience to our Lord, we are discovering the true joy and desire of our heart is to love a lost child.  So we would grieve that loss.  But God would still be God in the end.  

The night before the beginning of our fourth week waiting for LID, I felt an urgency to pray for our paperwork.  I don't like making too many public, emotional appeals but the need was too great to keep silent.  I posted a photo of the ginormous crafty mess I had made to keep my mind of the 'what ifs' and asked our friends and family to join us in prayer.  I also added praying for our Facebook adoption friends and their Dossier to my personal prayers.  The outpouring of love was overwhelming.

More overwhelming was the next morning I received a message from our friends that they were finally logged in and that I needed to check my email.  I quickly checked but there was no news.  I was disappointed.  But strangely at peace about it too.  I was thankful that God answered my prayers- for our friends who are working so hard to bring their son home.  I went about my morning- busy driving Corbin to VBS, running errands with Leo, and then waiting until I needed to pick Corbin up.  I had a chance to chat with our adoption friends and they urged me to call our agency.  I had been holding off, not wanting to convey that they weren't doing their jobs but I finally agreed.  I sent a message asking about our Dossier- as politely as possible.  In response:

"Anna, you are logged in.  Call me ASAP!"

We were indeed logged in to the Chinese computer system. Four weeks of waiting, LID on July 14th. The best part was hearing the cheers of our family and friends when I posted thanking them for storming the gates of heaven with their prayers and the awesome way our God answered- the very next day.  

Every step of this process has taught me something about God.  Waiting has taken my desires and held them under a magnifying glass and looked for selfishness and pride.  Its looked into my motivations and made me scrutinize my actions in a whole new light.  Waiting has brought others into my life who are on the same journey and share the same passion for putting children into families.  And it has given me a deeper appreciation for God's heart for the orphan.  As my own heart has ached for an unknown daughter, I am comforted that God's heart has held her since before she was woven together and longed for her.  My yearning is small in comparison- but instead of feeling insignificant, I am awed by the greatness of our God.  

So many more steps ahead on this journey.  So many more opportunities for God to continue to show up and remind us that He had really been there all along.