Saturday, December 17, 2011

Q and C's Christmas Program



We are so proud of the boys for their superb performance in their first Preschool Christmas program! The program involved dancing, singing, moving like animals, counting, and reciting the alphabet. It was so cute to see them excited on stage with their friends. After the program we enjoyed cookies and juice with other Preschool families.

We got a chance to visit with the boys teachers after the program. They said that Q & C are very well behaved and have the best manners. They also said that Q is the first to enter into the preschool program already reading! The boys both also know their numbers, shapes, colors, alphabet, basic math, Sign language, and Spanish. We really enjoy our time together playing and learning as a family!

S was a very good boy during the program and was happy to watch his brothers too. He stood in the back of the room clapping for them and dancing as they sang. Everyone commented that he was so sweet.

Great job boys! You make Mommy and Daddy proud! We love you!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

NVC Letter and Cable

This week has been full of more great news! Our NVC letter came on Dec 13, 2011 and the next day it was sent electronically, cabled, to the U.S. Embassy. We are thrilled to be moving one step closer! We will now wait to get our Article 5 and travel approval from China. This will take approximately 4-6 weeks. After this happens, Holt will set up appointments in China for us. We will at this time have travel dates and know when we will be able to meet our daughter!

Lord, thank you for each day that we get to spend together as a family, with three amazing boys. During this holiday season our hearts are full of love and joy as we continue to grow as a family. We know that your timing is perfect. Please help us to be patient and remind us that you continue to hold her in your hands. We know that you are preparing her heart for a family, and our hearts for a daughter. Thank you, God, for knowing exactly what we need and supplying us with such great love.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I-800 Approval from the USCIS

We are thrilled! Our I-800 has been approved!! On November 17th, 2011, we sent our paperwork to the lockbox in Texas. Today, December 5, 2011, we received our notification of approval from our officer.  The I-800 is our official approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adopt our specific little girl. 


So what's next? The way that I understand it is....

  • After approving our file, our officer will mail our approval to the National Visa Center by 2nd Day UPS Air. Upon receiving our approval, the National Visa Center (NVC) will enter our information into their computer system.
  • Within 1-3 business days, the NVC will "cable" (basically emailing/sending electronically) our file to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China. This is approval of our visa petition.
  • Upon doing this, the NVC will then mail us a letter stating that our petition has been forwarded to the Embassy.
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After all of this...

  • It's time for our Article 5 letter to be issued by the US Embassy. Our China representative from Holt will take our NVC letter to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China along with our child's visa application (DS-230) application and Parental LOA (Letter of Acceptance or our official approval from China to adopt her). 
  • The consulate will review the DS-230, make sure it meets the qualifications for an immigrant visa, and then sign off that everything is in order for the adoption to be completed. This is called the Article 5 letter. We will need this letter to be issued in order to get parental custody of our baby! 
  • The process will take approximately 2 weeks. Once the paperwork is picked up from the consulate, it will be delivered directly to the China Center for Children's Welfare & Adoption (CCCWA) for Travel Approval! 

In short, we are hoping that this process will be complete by the end of December or beginning of January. Our estimated travel is February. We are praying that we get to spend her 2nd birthday with her on March 1st, 2012! 


Lord, please help us to continue to be patient, as some days it seems so hard. We long to meet our little girl and hold her in our arms. Please gently remind us that each step is a small victory towards bringing our daughter home. Give us strength and courage as we continue to move forward on a road that we have yet to travel. Thank you, God, for continually blessing our family and our adoption journey. We are over the moon to be one step closer!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pass

We found out this weekend that Mike has passed his boards! He has been studying for a long time and this is a big milestone in his career. We are so proud of him and thankful for all that he does to provide for our family. He is thrilled to now have more time to spend with us! I have a feeling his new focus will be researching details of our China trip! Yay! We love you!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Our LOA

Woot! Woot! It finally arrived! Our LOA is here! On November 9, 2011, we received the call that the LOA had arrived from China. Our packet was sent right away and on November 11, 2011 it arrived at our home. To our excitement it came with more paper work...which means that we are getting closer! The estimated time to travel is February. Obviously, the sooner the better for us as the anticipation to meet her is almost unbearable. In the same way that we anxiously awaited for our boys' delivery, we are waiting for her to come home. In fact, I may be nesting. I never imagined... adoption nesting... but I feel the same as I have for the last 3 pregnancies. Ecstatic! We are washing her clothes, preparing her room, and getting ready for every last detail. Yesterday, we bought her and Bird matching tooth brushes with animals. His is blue and hers is pink. The boys picked it out and insisted that she will like this one the best. Every day we talk about her as a family and each of us have a special place for her in our hearts. In fact, as we made muffins this morning, Bug said, "Mommy, let's bake this row of muffins for sister. I bet she'll appreciate it!" It amazes me to see how God is preparing them (and us) to welcome her to our family with open, loving arms. Thank you, God, for blessing us with incredible children that have a heart for you. Please continue to prepare our family as we take another step in this adoption journey.  Please help us to be patient and know that you have a perfect plan for her arrival home. Thank you for knowing the desires of our hearts and for showing us the the depths of your great love. Thank you, Lord, for helping us appreciate the little blessings in our every day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Bumblebee!

Happy birthday to our sweet little man! We can't believe that you are already 5 years old! We are so proud of you and love you more every day. Thanks for making us laugh and for your many showers of cuddles and kisses. Yesterday you said to me, "Mommy, I love you soooo much...just the way that you are! Thanks for all that you do for us!" Thank you for being so sweet! Hope that your day is as special as you! We love you buddy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pure Joy

Pure joy is dancing with my boys before dinner to our favorite Christian music. It's watching them stop to enjoy the flowers on our walk.  It's singing our made-up songs before bed. Pure joy is watching our boys blossom and grow. It's watching them dream, imagine, and pretend. It's learning invaluable lessons from them that only they could teach. It's enjoying their shower of kisses every day and the many cuddles that come along too.  Pure joy is loving so many of the little moments with our children.

We started our blog in the midst of our excitement in our adoption journey, but I'd like to share about the excitement that we get to experience every day with our boys. We love them more than we ever thought imaginable to love. They fill our heart with such pure joy, love, blessings and thankfulness.

Our oldest son, Q (or Bumblebee, as he wants to be called, after the transformer) is almost 5 years old. He is our little Professor (that's actually what he named his first, and only, goldfish at age 3) with brown hair and glasses. He is full of wisdom and insight for such a young man. He is incredibly smart and enjoys taking in each moment of every day. I'm so proud that he is tender hearted, loving, and compassionate. Bumblebee loves to make others happy and enjoys telling jokes to make us laugh. His top interests are Super heroes, transformers, snakes, sharks, and space. He loves to read, listen to music, and play games together with us. He could spend hours watching educational TV (if we would let him) and loves to play the iPad (I think he knows how to run it faster than I do). He is quick to learn and soaks up any information given to him. Bumblebee is a dreamer with an incredible imagination.

Our second baby boy C (or Cuddle Bug as we call him) is 3 years old. He has bright red hair and every where we go, people comment on it's color. Before I can explain that red hair runs on both sides of our family, he will rub his hair and say, "you like it? Thanks I like it too" with the biggest smile on his face!  He has a fiery personality, as is said with red heads. He likes to wrestle with his brothers and is the definition of "all boy". Bug enjoys sports and has more energy than I do on any given day. He loves life passionately and wakes up in the mornings with a smile that brightens my entire day. He loves to cuddle and dance (he got his groovy moves from his dad...you would know what I mean if you saw him dance :) ).  He is vibrant, fun, and has a zest for life that I admire. His personality is contagious and everyone enjoys him.

Our 3rd baby boy S (our love bird) is 15 months. Although his personality is just showing its colors, he appears to be a wonderful mix of our 2 older boys. He has blonde hair and big blue eyes. He is confident, empathetic, genuine, and very loving. He enjoys playing with his brothers and is now trying to keep up with their every move. He will love on them with hugs, kisses, and cuddles all day if they would allow it. Bird enjoys reading and can sit for long periods of time to read a book about his favorite subject....animals. His closet is full of stuffed animals we call the zoo. He loves to imitate animal sounds, discover their pictures and see them on the TV. Bird also loves to be on-the-go,  traveling with his family, but his favorite time in the day is spent in my arms. His grin makes us laugh and his whole-heart sweetness makes me melt.

Pure joy is my boys. In all instances, we find it true that God has amazing plans far greater than we could dream. We couldn't have hand picked such wonderful children ourselves. Thank you God for your gift of children. Thank you for giving us such true rewards in life, incredible blessings to experience every day.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011 - Supers!


This year the boys insisted on being Super Heroes for Halloween! And of course, we never miss an opportunity to dress up for Halloween as well. We started early, trick-or-treating at a couple of neighborhood houses. It wasn't long before we were back home handing out fruit and candy...the boys' favorite part! We love seeing so many of our friends dressed up in their costumes! We really enjoy the time to be silly with our boys and teach them the positive aspects of the Halloween. We were so thankful for the opportunity to give to others, visit with neighbors and enjoy time with our friends. God is good! 




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stretch Marks of a Different Kind

 We rejoice as the Lord continues to bless our family and stretch us beyond measure. Our hearts are filled with love and amazement as we continue on our adoption journey.

The last couple of weeks have been good. We are currently waiting for our Letter Of Approval (LOA). It has been almost 5 weeks since our dossier has been logged into China (our LID). Every time the door bell  rings, we race to the door to see if it is here. Always hoping its the Fed Ex man, we throw open the door, out of breath and almost knocking each other over. It's another neighborhood child selling goods to support an area school or agency. So, we buy another bag of popcorn and check the door later, just in case we missed a ring. And we wait. Oh, waiting is hard. Our hearts are stretched. But we know that God has a plan and the timing is always perfect.

When we first envisioned traveling to China, we thought that we would do it only together as a couple and spend the first two weeks with our daughter bonding alone. But the closer that our travel date draws near, our hearts ache just thinking about leaving our boys behind. Our hearts feel stretched to be in two places at the same time. We pray that God will direct us in the right path. Do we take leave the boys at home or take everyone? The choice isn't so easy when you see that it isn't just the two of us who long to cuddle and kiss our little girl. She has 3 wonderful boys at home who talk about her daily. The boys have a spot at the table reserved only for her. She has a special place in the car waiting to hold her as she giggles in the back seat. The boys helped us pick out her clothes, painted her room, hung up her Chinese lanterns, and continue to find toys that she may like. They tell everyone we meet that they have a sister in China waiting for us to come get her. We pray as a family for her day and night. She is ours. And they love her every bit as much as we do.

So we went ahead and got their passports...just in case.

Just after the passports arrived, we received an update on our daughter's status. We continue to invite you to pray for our family and our daughter as she is making great strides. A little over a year ago, her surgery was done to repair her myelomeningocele. The surgery was a success and a large scar reminds us that God had a hand in protecting her, even before we knew her. He not only gave her a biological mother that loves her enough to leave her where she would be found at 3 months, but gave wisdom to the surgeon to correct her spina bifida, and gave her a home until she could come to ours. He knows her intimately and holds her when she needs a daddy most. When we first said "Yes" to our daughter, there were some unknowns regarding her physical development. In the update it states that she is now crawling, standing unassisted, and walking with help. We believe that He will continue to answer our prayers and repair her legs. We are reminded that even though we are broken, He makes us beautiful. Through prayer, He makes all things new. Lord, thank you for saying "Yes" to us and for leading us to say "Yes" to our little girl. Thank you God for stretching our faith to still believe in miracles!

Included in our update were a couple of pictures of our baby. In the picture, we could tell that she had been crying. Now, we know that the intentions to include pictures were to allow us to see her as she changes and grows (which we are forever thankful). And we also know that babies cry on a daily basis as this is their way of communication. But, I have to tell you that my mamma heart broke. I realized at that moment that I'm not there to hold her when she cries or kiss away her tears when she is sad. I can't hold her close and tell her that it will be alright. But I know that there will be a day very soon that I will hold her hand and tell her that I am her mommy. I will kiss her and introduce her to her forever family. I will love her and promise to never leave her. I will possibly forget one day that she was so far away. And in the meanwhile I find comfort in 1 Samuel 1:26-28. "Yes, I am the woman who stood here praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child and the Lord granted me what I asked. So now I will give (her) to the Lord, let Him be the Lord of (her) life. Our hearts stretch as we desire to hold her close, but we find peace in knowing that God is holding her in His hands as we lift her up to Him.















Saturday, October 15, 2011

We Can Run, Walk & Roll

We were very excited to participate in the 1st Annual We Can Run, Walk, & Roll event sponsored by our local hospital. The goal of the event was to break down barriers of physical disabilities. The proceeds from the event were going towards purchasing equipment that will help individuals with disabilities lead more active lives. There were 416 participants that could choose a 5k or 1 mile course. We chose to walk a 1 mile...though C ran almost the entire race!! It was an awesome event to be able to participate in. There were so many special families with journies of hope, love, and determination! Thank you Lord for your many blessings and for all of the people who touched our lives today!





Friday, October 14, 2011

The Same Sun

This last weekend, we went to Omaha to enjoy some family time together. We had the opportunity to stay with the boys in the same hotel that we stayed in for the Holt gala.  This hotel also has a Starbucks in the lobby and happens to be the place that we had our first home study. So many great memories!

On the way home, we were talking about our little girl and realized as the same sun was setting on our side of the earth it was asking her to rise and shine in China. We wondered if she wakes up with a smile (like C) or if she will be slow to rise (like her oldest brother, Q)? Will she enjoy being cuddled in the morning or be more interested in her new toys? What will she like to eat for breakfast? We can't help but dream about her.

As we drove off into the sunset, I was reminded of how BIG our God really is today and always. That the same God who made us, who made the Heavens and the Earth, is also shining His light on us both. God not only loves us and wants us to walk in faith every day, but He wants us Believe Big that He has incredible plans for our lives. Believe Big to dream. Dreams to love one another. Dreams to end children living alone without a mommy and daddy. Dreams to answer the call when we are led by His love and grace.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Another BIG week!

Just a quick note to give praise! It's been an awesome week! We found out that last Friday our dossier was sent to China with our daughters name on it. Then on the 20th, we received our Log In Date! Today we have learned that our Letter of Intent has been uploaded to the CCAA website in China. Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we continue on the journey full of love, hope, and lots of faith! Our family is so excited to be one step closer to bringing our little girl home!

Friday, August 26, 2011

You Are Chosen

Us? Chosen? "NO WAY", were the only words that I could say. "You choose our family?!?"I exclaimed as tears run down my cheeks. I gathered myself to give praise and thanks! At 2:12 on May 24th, the sound of now having a daughter was so sweet. We saw her face and fell in love. We knew that she was the one. The daughter that was meant to join our family. We were chosen by God! We said from the moment that we decided to start this journey that we could only continue if we felt that God was leading us. And He has, in only a way that He could.

We have only dreamt of the day that we would be able to adopt. It's been nearly 8 years since we first talked about adopting. On our first date, we made it a priority that this time would come. We talked about being led to adoption at some point...and now our dreams are a reality! As the last few years have passed, our dreams of adoption have become a more common topic of conversation. On January 23rd, we submitted our application to learn more about the process. As is said in Proverbs 24:12, "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God weighs our heart and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." So we prayed, "God, we have three young boys. You know that most people will think that we are crazy. Are you sure that this is the right time? We heard Gods soft whisper, "Trust ME, not the world."  We then came across another verse that said, "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord, and not for men." Colossians 3:23. We knew what to do and were completely excited!

We completed our PIP class in March and met some of the most amazing families. This was exactly where we were supposed to be! In April, we moved forward with our home study and attended a Holt gala for adoptive parents. Again, God tugged on our hearts and our love for a daughter-to-be continued to grow. The families that were involved in this organization were amazing...to say the least. The culture was so loving and giving that we felt incredibly humbled to even be there. The direction that God was taking our lives felt so fulfilling, so right.

Many questions arose as we began sharing our journey with others. Let us list the most common. 1)"You have three young children, 4, 2, and not even 1 years old. And you want to adopt?" "Yes, amazing right," we always said with excitement as we further went on to share our story. We have prayed about this for many years. This wasn't a decision that we made lightly or on a whim.  2) Others often asked,"why international adoption when there is children here in the US that need homes?" We always smile and simply say because this is really where we feel called to go. China and Africa have always been on our hearts as places to adopt. Yes, there are wonderful children here in the US, and maybe one day we will be called to adopt from here too. 3) "Are you adopting a little girl because you have all boys?" The answer is simply, no. Did we always think that we would have a girl in our family? Yes. But it never mattered to us if she was adopted or biological. We happen to be able to pick gender this time and after much prayer, felt like a little girl from China was the best fit for our family at this time. Her brothers, will indeed treat her like a princess. 4) "Why did you come to choose a child with special needs and how did you know what medical conditions that you were open to?"God has put us in contact, prior to making our decision, with people who have children with similar needs. Our careers are geared toward families and children. For the last 10 years, I have studied development and have worked with many children with a variety of special needs. We think the scariest part of having a label such as cleft palate, club foot, or spina bifida is the unknown, not actually having the condition itself. We had to be honest, realistic, and dig deep to know our boundaries. It was important to educate ourselves and be prepared for unknowns. Looking back, with all of our education and experiences, God has prepared us for this very moment.

The most amazing part of sharing our story is that we have heard so many people say, "Wow, we have always thought about adoption. But we had no idea...where can we get more information." Passing on the Holt website or sharing contact information with other families has really brought us such joy. We hope that others are led to adopt as there are 143 million orphans without a home. Yes, you read that number right. These are children that may be starving, living with preventable diseases, disabled, abused or neglected. These children need a home and they need to be loved.

I feel "paper pregnant", I would often tell M as we shared the news. Though you can't see our daughter growing in my belly, trust us when we say that she is growing in our hearts. The love that we feel for our daughter is as real as the love that we felt as we watched my belly grow. Getting the news that she is ours is equal to the joy of seeing the two lines appear on the white stick. We didn't know her name, know what she looked like, or how old she would be. But we did know that God was leading us, and that He would give us the perfect fit for our family. And now He has!

After our home study was complete, we moved forward with immigration paper work and the completion of our dossier in August. As our paper work was in the process of getting authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. M came across a little girl on the China Waiting Child List. We were making dinner when he turned to me and said, "she may be the one". I smiled, "send a message to Holt and see if we can get more information." He did and we received the information the next day.

She is absolutely beautiful! Her big brown almond shaped eyes are full of life. In the photos she is in her crib and looking at us as though she too knows that she was looking directly into her parents eyes. She has thick black hair that has been shaved from living in an orphanage. She has a a large scar across her back from having surgery to repair her myelomeningocele, a type of spina bifida. There are so many unanswered questions, like will she be able to walk, have bladder/bowel control, or have any complications related to hydrocephalus.  It doesn't matter. We will learn as much about her as we can and educate ourselves to be well prepared for when she comes home. She is the one! She is the child that God has for us!

We pray that God will heal her body and make her new through His love. We ask that our hearts be prepared and open. We pray that He continues to bless this process and guides us on our journey to bring our daughter home. After all, God chose us! He created us in our mothers wombs, perfect to His plan. He is our Father and has adopted us by His grace. We cry Father and are so thankful for His unconditional love.

We promise to strive to love our daughter in the same way that God loves us, in the same way that we love our boys. The truth is that when we chose to have children, we didn't know what God was going to give us, whether biological or adopted. We are so blessed to have this opportunity to be parents again and our boys are so excited that she is soon going to be a part of our family. Today, we give thanks for God's love and grace. Thank you for choosing us and for accepting us for exactly who we are!