Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yippee...another step closer...

I have been a bad blogger of much going on around here (school, kids, laundry, meals... the nerve...). Anyway I had to blog today to share the news that our Article 5 (don't ask me - I have no idea what that is but it is some form) was express mailed today from the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China to the CCCWA (China's Children and Women's Agency) in Beijing. Once there, we wait another 2-5 weeks to be given our travel notice (called the TA). This will give us a window of dates in which we can plan our trip. I can't believe it! We will probably be given a window of late Feb-midMarch. We will opt for early March.

This week I will be sending our agency a list of questions, and a request for updated photos of our little one! I will be asking things like - what does she like to play with, how does she comfort herself, what sort of personality is she, what does she weigh and how big are her little feet! Can't believe we are this close and that it has been nearly a year since we first saw her little face.

At this point we have so much to do - we have prayerfully decided to take our four oldest children with us on this trip! These four treasures are my heros - I will devote a post to them soon on that matter. They have given up so much, endured the last three years of ups and downs while adjusting...and have hearts to allow it to happen again! They have gained so much in their characters through our experience traveling to Africa and having awareness of the orphan plight and need. We only feel as tho' they should experience this trip - we see it as continued training - a mission trip in many ways.

Our little girls will stay home for this trip. We would love for them to be a part of meeting Ting and seeing her homeland but they haven't received their citizenship papers yet (should come any day now) and thus still have Ethiopian passports...don't need to have anything about us flagging us for extra scrutiny during out travels! lol Not sure they would be up to the stress of a trip like this and we will need to devote so much to Ting and her emotions.

I am sad to leave them. Very sad. They will probably miss us for about 15 minutes and be off to play with the cousins and have a blast at Aunt Jill's. My sister is a saint...enough said....


So glad you asked...

1. PRAY! We are in the midst of lots more paperwork, planning for the trip, logistics of the girls going to my sister's and missing school. We are getting some needed immunizations, and organizing money needs. We still have one more social worker visit before we travel, and a bunk bed to make and dressers to buy...

But mostly we crave your prayers for Ting's little heart, for safety when we travel, and for our little girls at home to adjust well. We know we will probably see some backsliding on some of their behaviors. The return to real life once we are back will be tough I know. Not looking forward to jet lag and parenting 7 kids who are cranky and starved for affection. Please pray for John and I!

2. BUY A T-SHIRT or COFFEE! We still have our stores at the right. Our t-shirt store will close soon. If you have been meaning to do so, or just want to help us in that way - just click on the icon to go to our stores.

3. DONATE! We are still receiving Cha-ching for Ting banks back full of our wonderful friends' and families' loose change. If you have a bank, now is the time to return it. We will be rolling coins soon. I am excited to see the final count - we have already received A LOT of change! If you didn't get a bank or have wanted to help in some way, we still have our Pay Pal Chip-In on the right (you will only see it if you are logged onto a computer). Many of our wonderful donors have just mailed us their donations rather than use the Pay Pal Chip-In.

I have been blown away by the way God has moved people to help us financially. Adoption is expensive, traveling is expensive. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and can't wait for you to see the little girl whose life you have changed forever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Coming into the home stretch...

Happy New Year to you! It just dawned on me that I haven't sat down to even check out my blog in about a week. Lots happening here and I am excited to say that we are down to the final steps in our adoption process. Woo-hoo!!!

Over the last couple of weeks we have hit two more steps in the process. We received our I-800 immigration approval for T. That paper and other supporting documents were then sent over to our adoption agency's representative in China who in turn took them to the some office (immigration in China - at least I think that's where it goes). This step has happened.

After a short time there, it was picked up and taken to the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Ten business days later (we are at day 2 now), we will receive notification (called the Article 5 - scheduled around 1/23) that the paperwork has moved from the US Consulate to the CCCWA (China's Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption). So this is what we are waiting on now.

Two to five weeks later we will receive our TA (Travel notification)! This will give us a window of travel choices. Once we choose one, a CA (consulate appointment - for T's visa out of China) is made and the trip is planned around that. We have already had one phone conference regarding what to expect in China and will probably have one more regarding the actual travel and trip.

Hard to believe...we are hoping for travel in mid-March!!

In the meantime, we received 7 new PRECIOUS photos of T receiving her care package from us. Not sure if I mentioned it but after receiving our Letter of Acceptance from China, we were given permission to send out a care package. We sent her a photo album of our family - with her picture included, a cake, a doll and stuffed panda, a disposable camera (for her foster family to document life there and special people in T's life, for us to develop and keep as a momento of her life in China), and a short letter of appreciation to her foster family for the love and care they have given our little girl during her time with them. The photos we received were too cute - and so special - we have photos of her foster parents who look very sweet and attentive to our daughter. So wish I could post them - if you are local, ask me - I have copied them onto my phone and I'd love to share!

It is still so hard to think of what "gotcha day" will be like for T. She is only 5 and has probably no memory of not being with her foster family (she has only been in two homes - this one for quite a long time and she is very attached to her foster mom). I know it is going to be so very hard - we are prepared. But it still will be emotionally hard on all of us - especially her, and there will be much grieving.

We know what we are doing is right. Her future as an orphan (and she is still considered one there despite being in a foster home) is limited. Many times, orphans - especially those with special needs (T does have some minor special needs), are considered bad luck - this affects the schooling they are given, the jobs they are likely to achieve, their overall status in society.

The name given to her - her "last" name - is given to all the children who are orphans in her county. The name is actually part of the word name for the county. This identifies her as an abandoned child. Many times, foster care parents do go on to adopt the children that they foster. I am assuming that in her case, her foster parents did not opt for this since she was available for adoption. Being a foster child, like in this country, does not mean you will live indefinitely in the home you are in. Moving from home to home is always a possibility. We all know the implications of what this can do to a child.

So even tho' we know we are doing a wonderful thing for T, the thought of taking her away from all she has known, when she can't possibly have a full understanding of the gift that it is at this time, is heartbreaking to us. Nevertheless, I am filled with awe that God has led us again to this and that each step has been pretty flawless (so different from out Ethiopian adoption where we experienced much stress and many delays and hiccups). We are praying for her little heart - and ask that you will too.

I am giddy - it's like when I found out I was pregnant with each of my four bio kids. I am stunned and so amazingly excited to be a mom again! I am not going to publish my age (for fear of horrifying you!! lol), but I am not a young chicken anymore. God is wonderful and because I know that children are one of the most special blessings he can give, I feel so overwhelmed to be given the chance to mother another!

We are deep in homeschool (each January I tweak our curriculum, begin some new ideas, and change it up a bit - so lots of new "homework" for me), new activities starting up, new exercise regimes and home organizing and cleaning out (January and Pinterest always inspire me), and planning for another little one to move into the girls' room. John has a new loft to build for the girls' room (will show pics when it is all ready!), and I have to put together T's wardrobe (won't need to buy a thing - we have so many wonderful clothes from friends - thank you!). We expect one more update on T - her sizes and more personal info about her personality - can't wait - that should come in Feb.

So that's all the latest.

We are still fundraising - if you took one of our "Cha-ching for Ting" banks, we are hoping to complete that fundraiser in the following weeks. We have already filled a large jug with the change that has come in and will be rolling those coins soon to make room for more! Thank you to all who have so graciously collected your change for us. Every bit will help!

Also, we still have our "chip-in" on the side of our blog (up top and only will be seen if you view our blog on your computer - it won't show on ipads or phones). Although our puzzle piece donations are complete (and we hope to have the puzzle done soon), we are still taking donations toward the huge travel and in-country expenses we will have, through the chip-in.

We are still selling coffee and t-shirts - also on the side panel of the blog. Clicking on either button will take you to our store. We will receive a portion of your purchases toward our adoption.

We have been so blessed by so many of you throughout this process. To see how God has moved so many hearts to help a little girl have a forever family is so humbling and has been so assuring to us that God is with us through this - He is for us and will provide for all the many things we will need to be her parents and family - not just with the money to accomplish this mission  - but with the skills and love necessary to parent her!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It was wonderful...

 Well, I am not sure we could have asked for a more wonderful, cozy, sweet, and happy Christmas. My parents and all the kids and John and I had lots of sweet days of celebrating the birth of Christ, giving and receiving gifts, eating scrumptious food, wearing pajamas all day, and playing lots and lots of games! Here's a photo-recounting of Christmas day and the days after.  We were truly blessed and I am finding it hard to get back into real life after being "cocooned" here in my home with my favorite peeps. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

(We received our immigration approval for T on Monday!)

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