Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A special song for us!

Third Day is one of my favorite groups. There is a song on their Christmas album written by a bandmember who was in the process of adopting a little girl from China. Daniel told me that the song touched him so much as he heard it last Christmas that tears filled his eyes. This was before we had even talked again about adoption. God was preparing his heart, even then. Now this year, as we listen to it, the song has a whole new meaning! Here are the lyrics to this beautiful song. I hope it touches your heart, too!

Merry Christmas by Third Day

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
and we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
and prepare a place for us
so we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 2, 2007

LID November 2, 2007

So quick! We just received word that our dossier was logged into China on November 2, 2007! LID- Log in date. We are finally official. China has logged us in and we are on the list! Yippee!! We are so excited. We feel one step closer to little Hope. The adoption agency told us the current wait is 2 years with a trend of increasing quickly. We don't care. God is in control. Whenever it is time for us to receive little Hope, we are ready!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our Dossier has been sent to China!

On Friday our dossier was completed and sent to China! We are elated! It is such an incredible feeling for us both and it just makes it feel all the more REAL! Our dossier was sent in a package with other dossiers from AWAA. The families that were in the same mailing will be together until the end. That means that we will travel to China to get our children all together and that our children will be from the same orphanage. So we will get a listing of these families and their contact information and be able to get to know them and keep in touch until we all travel together! Fun!

Now, we wait. We will get a LID, log-in-date, in a couple of weeks when China has logged in our dossier. We want to ask you all to continue praying for this process and for Hope. We want to pray that something changes in the CCAA and the wait time decreases. Thank you all for praying with us!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

We received our I 171-H form!

This is the magic little paper that says we are approved to bring an orphan into the United States. We will use it in China! We have to copy it and get it notarized and then send it off to our family coordinator who will complete our dossier! This was the LAST thing we needed to complete our dossier! We did it. Now, just a month or two of authenticating the dossier and we will be mailing it to China! Looks like we will make our 2007 deadline now!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Slow Boat to China

Wait, wait, wait. We have a lot of waiting to do. We just got an email from our adoption agency saying that China has changed it's policy on concurrent family building. Before, if you got pregnant or started another adoption besides China, you were dismissed from the adoption process. Now China is allowing people waiting on a child from China to do either of those. To me, this was sad because I know for them to change their policy means they aren't even seeing things getting better. They say they are doing everything possible, but I really don't believe so. It is part of the process. We knew this going into it. But this was still a blow to me.

One website predicts that the wait we are facing could reach 5-7 years. At the current trend and slow-down, this would be possible. They are currently STILL processing people who were logged into China in November 2005. They are processing only about 7 days per month. So next month at this time, they could still be in November 2005.

We had to really think and ask God about what decision to make? Were we supposed to switch countries and adopt a child from somewhere else? We could have a baby within a year if we switched to several other countries. Why should we wait so long for China when there are millions of orphans all over the world ready now? Or were we supposed to stay with China? We have prayed and we feel a peace. We are called to China. To bring this little girl Hope home to the Hook family one day, no matter how long that is.

I think about the dynamics, how everything would change if the wait were that long. The gap in between Johnny and Hope would be much bigger. I would be OLDER and starting over with a baby!!! But none of that scares us. I talked with someone who pulled out of China 6 months ago and switched countries. She said that they KNEW they were to switch and a peace was no longer there for China. I believe God speaks to us. I have no doubt that we hear His voice. In the last month Daniel and I have been broken before God, ready to listen to Him. Changing things about us, broken with a heart of repentance. We feel closer to God's heart. We are to do this no matter how long it takes.

I don't want China to win, and everyone else pull out. I believe Hope will be there. Born at the right time, ready for God to bring us together. She already is a testimony of God's faithfulness. We can tell her that before she was even born, God had a plan for her life to be chosen for His purpose....and we are a part of it.

So if the boat ride is long, we will enjoy the scenery along the way. Prepared to wait. But expecting our time to come sooner. We would like to ask you to continue to pray that God will move on the hearts of the CCAA and they will speed up. Their slow-down has caused MANY more babies to miss an opportunity to be adopted.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Yesterday was our fingerprint appointment in Oklahoma City. Daniel and I drove in the night before to make an overnight getaway of it, and make sure we were there on time that morning. There was a mix-up because only I had received an appointment, and not Daniel. This appointment took 2 months to get. When we got there, they wouldn't let Daniel in the building, only me. I explained my situation but you know how it goes, "Mam, I am sorry, I don't work for immigration. I only do my job. I cannot help you." It seemed as if there was NO ONE in the entire building to help me. I knew if we left there it would be forever getting back in. It was as if I was at the Pentagon or something, trying to find out secrets. I tryed to roam around just to find a breathing person to tell my sob story to and maybe get some pity, but I got caught and was escorted away.

I was already emotional for the morning after seeing a Chinese girl outside and thinking how Hope is so far away, and it is just taking SO LONG. I fear the Chinese will close their doors. They are already DRAGGING things out so much and I do not have faith in them. But I must have faith in God. He will make a way for these children to get out of China and into forever families!

Finally after realizing hope was gone, Daniel and I started home to Tulsa......MAD. Then I thought to call our adoption agency who heard my situation and confirmed that immigration is very hard to work with and get exceptions made. She made a call, and voila! we had clearance. We turned the car around and accomplished the mission....and then celebrated at the Cheesecake Factory afterwards!

So one more thing down...fingerprints. Now we wait for the form to come back (could take months), and then we will almost be done. All this work since April and the countdown hasn't even begun. It's really hard for me because it's like I am pregnant. But not for 9 months......2 or 3 years or more! How do you handle that? If I think about it everyday I get sad and wonder how I can last. But do I NOT think about her....? Impossible. I just pray that China will have a breakthrough, and clear out the orphanages! There are plenty children in orphanages right now to let all the families waiting (probably over 20,000) adopt.

We'll see....

P.S. I was going to take a photo of us standing in front of the Department of Homeland Security sign but NO CAMERAS ALLOWED.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nothing to do but wait

For so long I had so much to do and think about. Now, we are waiting. Currently, we are waiting on our fingerprint appointment and our 171-H form to be sent back to us. The dossier cannot be authenicated without these things. Bummer....

Saturday I went to Panera Bread for a baby shower for a friend and ran into the Tulsa Families with Children from China group having a shower for someone who is about to go to China to get her little girl! It was so fun and I am so excited about getting involved in their group. We are also going to get involved in our church's adoption cell group. So even though Hope is maybe 2 years away from us, we will be making new friends and thinking of her as we enjoy the families around us with adopted children!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Daniel, the criminal!

Daniel had an illegal right turn show up on his police record. He is required by China to write a repentance letter for the "crime." In the letter he had to state he was sorry for breaking th law and that he will try harder to uphold the law and be a responsible driver as to not put Hope is any danger (or me, for that matter!). However, after weeks of him joking that he was NOT going to write a letter of such, our Home Study coordinator found a loophole around it and we had a police report run on him that did not include his driving record.

I was enjoying the thought of this letter so much. I was going to post it for all you to read. Sorry you missed out on that one!


Today I am mailing our dossier off to America World. From this point they will send it on to the Secretary of State and Chinese Consulate to get certified and authenticated. All we have left to do on our part is to get fingerprinted. Then we wait on the US 171-H form to arrive from the Department of Homeland Security to give us clearance to adopt.

I think about Hope everyday. If estimates of a 2 year wait are correct, then I estimate she will be conceived around November of this year. If the wait is shorter, she may be conceived by now. When you think of us, ask God to be with her and her mother for the next 2 years until we can get to her. She is truly blessed to have someone thinking of her and loving her and planing a lifetime of happiness for her even before she is born!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

sorry so long gone

Sorry I've not blogged lately. I know everyone is hanging on my every word! Daniel has been so busy (Yea!) that I don't have as much time on the computer to play since he works at home now!

We are ALMOST done with our part of the paperwork pregnancy! Our doctor's exams have held us up. We had to have physical exams and I failed the hearing exam in my right ear! It was because the room was loud and the nurse didn't know what she was doing with the machine. So because of that and Daniel having a previous surgery (tonsils taken out when he was a child) we had to get a letter written from the doctor saying he thinks we wil still be able to raise the child with these issues!

So we have gotten birth certificates, marriage license, passports, physical exams, employment verification letter, NON-employment verification letter (for me!), financial statements, application letters, and police reports all done. Our home study is now officially complete. It was lots of fun for us, I am actually sad it's over. We made trips to Stillwater and I always love road trips!

What's next for us: our dossier is now being sent to be certified by the Secretary of State. Then it will be sent to the Chinese Consulate here in the states to be authenticated. Noramally we would have to do ALL THIS which is very tedious and time consuming, and if you don't do it right, you are in trouble. But we hired a dossier assistance program to take this part over and I am very thankful! We are also waiting on our form from the government that says we are cleared to adopt. This is what everyone waits on lastly, and our was just mailed yesterday. Your home study has to be complete before you can apply for this. It is said to take around 3 months, we are hoping not!

So when we get the form back, and our dossier is certified and authenticated, we will be ready to send it to China. We pray it will all be ready by September. From that point, we will begin our WAIT, which is currently around 2 years.

We are excited to can't wait to hold Hope in our arms, no matter how long the wait is! Until our day, I will keep myself busy reading other people's blogs who are adopting, and watching their videos, which are extremely addictive! Beware if you start this, you may find yourself up till all hours of the night!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Special meeting in Beijing...

Here is an update on China: they are WAY behind, as I've said before. Current wait time is around 2 years. People are getting their babies that were logged in to China in November 2005. And we are not even logged in yet! So this is making China look bad, and they don't like to look bad! Especially with the Olympics coming up in Beijing next year.

We heard they had a special meeting in Beijing to discuss how to get more babies ready for adoption. Currently, not ALL the orphanages in China adopt babies out. Only certain ones that have prepared paperwork on the babies. Now, they are running out of babies in these orphanages! They need more babies ready! Praise the Lord. We are sending a message to them...we want your precious babies that you don't want!

So here is my THEORY....Something is going to happen, a miracle from God. And lots of people are going to be hired to get paperwork on thousands of babies and they are going to catch back up. I do not believe it will take 2-3 years to get Hope. I never have believed that. And here is a neat thing...I believe that Hope and thousands of other babies will come from an orphanage that never was before in the adoption process. Saved by the grace of God, picked from an obsecure orphanage, and destined for a family of love on the other side of the world. Isn't God awesome?

So pray and believe with us for these things! Miracles. For all these babies! Who knows, maybe one might find their way to your heart and home!

not your average adoption...

We got our passports in! We had heard rumors that even after paying the expedite fee (which we did) that passports were taking 4 months! I told Daniel, "we are going to get our passports in soon, and it will be a confirmation of God's favor on us." And what happened not 3 days later....passports! And today I got my birth certificate. FROM LOUISIANA!!! These were both things that I thought could hold us up for months!

So here is what is left for more home study appointmet, Daniel to design our family photo pages, our physical exam forms to be completed, and then waiting for the special form from the US government that says we are approved to bring a child home from China!

We have moved at an incredible pace. Nothing stressful. Everything has gone perfect!!! We take no credit, it is ALL God's grace on us and His divine favor! No matter what the time frame is for the average person, we don't go by that. We are not average! When you have God on your side, and you are trusting in Him and believing He is in control, His timeframe is perfect!! Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ni Hao Kai Lan- a new show coming to Nick Jr. that is about a Chinese American girl!

Would you like some nuts with that photo?

Why is it so hard to get a passport photo? If anyone needs to get one, go to a REAL portrait studio like MotoPhoto or something, NOT Walgreen's or Kinkos. Sometimes I feel like nobody cares anymore. After arriving at Walgreen's to take our photos, the man behind the counter (which happened to be the manager) grabbed a digital camera and proceeded to have us stand in front of a "make-shift" background amidst the snacks and film for sale! At that point, Daniel said, his expectations were lowered. So when our photos came out pathetic, orange and hazy, Daniel wasn't surprised. But it made me mad. We paid good money for this. Don't advertise you make passport photos if you can't produce a decent photo!

So I kindly asked the man to retake Daniel's (his was fuzzier than mine) and explained to him the reason why we came here was to get a professional photo for a government document and this wasn't going to do. I didn't want a retake, I had already decided the peach polo I chose for the photo shoot was a poor choice and made my auburn hair look orange. There was no hope for mine. But Daniel is always such a perfect subject, we had to get re-takes.

Daniel was so nice that he told me I could get a retake somewhere else. I later went to Kinko's to get a "better" photo. At least the lighting was better. It HAD to be better. So after I looked at my new photo, I inquired about the "heavenly glow" upon my forehead. "Oh, that's just the lighting," the worker said. Exactly! I thought! The lighting! Shouldn't that be the MAIN THING when getting photos made! She said, "It'll do." She rudely snapped, "I can take it again, if you want." Yes please. But then we realized it was the lighting and we were at its mercy.

Daniel says it's just passport photos. My theory is, we paid good money for a professional, or at least adequate photo, and none were either of those! It brings back bad memories when Chantel and I hired a DJ for a Karaoke party years ago and totally got taken advantage of by the guy (because we are girls)! It's hard to find decent help, right? I just wanted a passport photo. One that didn't make me look like a orange or washed out!

Besides, our dossier guidelines said to send extra passport photos to China which "they will look at while they are placing a child with you." So I wanted them to be perfect, NOT PERFECTLY PERFECT IN APPEARANCE, just perfectly representing us....happy, healthy US! Daniel's photo looked like someone MADE him take the picture and that he's not a cooperative person. His second one is better, but still not representative of HAPPY, DISNEY LOVIN Daniel. Maybe we need to watch the Disney videos before we go take the photos!

So when we get them scanned in, I will post them for all to see and you can judge for yourself. Lesson learned, go to a REAL photo studio with REAL lights when you want a photo. And don't take bad pictures home. Last night, between Walgreen's and Kinkos we spent about $55! And we have nothing good to show for it.

Oh, well, at least we are sending in our passport applications today. Of course, they are EXTREMELY backed up and say they are being hit with an unprecedented number of passport applications, so we are paying the expedite fee. We are still waiting for my birth certificates from LA. Daniel's from Texas got back in about a week!! Daniel says I should've been born in Texas!

Even so, I am so happy that we are where we are. Things are moving along VERY quickly in the paperwork process. And at Kinkos the two men there waiting for help had both been to China and one of them had adopted 2 girls from there and showed me photos! Thank you God for the encouragement. Hope is worth it all!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Without a family, without a home...

More joy in walking with God through the fire, than on beaches without Him!

Today we had our second of four home study visits. Questions such as why are we adopting, why China, how we met, strengths and weaknesses, etc. It was fun! We are having so much fun. At the same time, it is still so overwhelming and emotional for me. I start reading information to Daniel about the adoption and I can't make it through the sentences without crying. We are so amazed right now that we are actually doing this. It feels so good. To know that God is using us to change Hope's life. The more we read about adoption, we actually wonder why we didn't do it sooner. It just seems so natural to us. Here is an excerpt from John Piper, a father who in his fifties adopted a child with his wife who had the desire for years! It touched me so greatly, I wanted to share it:

• Adoption is from God. Ephesians 1:5 says, "In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace." So adoption was part of God's plan. It was his idea, his purpose. It was not an afterthought. He didn't discover one day that against his plan and foreknowledge humans had sinned and orphaned themselves in the world, and then come up with the idea of adopting them into his family.

• Consider adopting children into your family as an overflow of the inheritance that you have in Christ from God, your Father.

• We adopt a child not for our own glory but for God's glory. God adopted us for the praise of the glory of his grace. Therefore we adopt for the praise of the glory of his grace. The questions you ask as you ponder adopting a child who needs a family are not first questions of feasibility or affordability. The questions you ask first are: Is my heart fixed on glorifying the grace of God? Is my aim in this to make the grace of God look glorious? Is Christ the center and goal of this decision?

• We dare only adopt children if we have a firm faith in the all-sufficiency of God's future grace. The pain of adopting and rearing children is sure. It will come in one form or the other. Should that stop us from having children or adopting children? No. The self-centered world "cuts their losses" by having few or no children. But we grieve, hoping that they will see that the grace of God is sufficient for every new day no matter how difficult, and that there is more true joy in walking with God through fire, than walking on beaches without him.

• What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing in this life, but that while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God's hands, not ours.

Isn't that beautiful? I know that not everyone is where we are right now. Last year, I wasn't here. But God has brought me to this place and it is so lovely and pure and fulfilling that I must share with you these things as I walk down this new path in my life. I hope it touches people along the way. And I hope that others will decide to adopt as well as God speaks it to them. Hope.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We are number 20,000 in line!

Still confused about how and when we get Hope? Here's a rundown:

Right now, the CCAA (Chinese officials handling all adoptions) are sending out referrals to families that had a DTC date of November 2005. That means these families were done with all their paper work and sent their dossier to China in November of 2005. And since then, they've waited for this long, a year and a half.

At the current pace, which could speed up or slow done, our wait time is expected to be around 2 years.

If China sends out over 10,000 precious babies a year for international adoptions, and we are 2 years away, that means that 20,000 babies will probably be adopted before we get our turn! Crazy!

So me, and my predictions, came up with this:

If we are DTC in September. add 18-24 months to that--we'd get Hope in March or so of 2009.
And if she were around 10 months old when we got her (average age of adoption) then she would be born around June 2008, and conceived around September of this year!

So we can begin praying God's favor and protection on her life as He forms her in her mother's womb. And for her mother that will have such a long road ahead of her, coming to the painful decision to abandon her baby...our Hope.

When Daniel and I really start to think about it, now that we "know" Hope, we are sad for her...that she will be abandoned somewhere unsafe and scary. Maybe she will be one of the few that are safely left in a public place out of harm's way. Maybe not though. Either way, she will not be alone for long. We are coming as fast as we can!!

Our first Home Study Appointment!

Today was our first home study appointment! It was so exciting. Now, it really feels REAL! It's like when you go for your Today the Home Study Coordinator, Amber, did a walk-through of the home, checking for safety features such as fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, car seats, etc. (There was also a question about rodents that we passed!!) In preparation for today, they had sent a letter saying not to clean your home TOO MUCH in case it doesn't look welcoming for a child to come live in. This was defintely not a problem for me!! I had to clean the house for days to make it look like I hadn't cleaned it too much! : ) Everytime I got one room cleaned, a little tornado named Johnny has destroyed another room! But really, it gave me a good excuse to clean out closets I needed to. And she didn't even see the garage we had cleaned out!!! Oh well, at least it is clean. We probably never wouldn't have gotten rid of a bunch of that stuff!

Amber talked to us about the wait time. Apparently, this is devastating to many couples, having to wait 2 years for a referral. We are blessed we have 3 children to help make this wait easier, but for all those who don't, my heart goes out. Some couples have even dropped out of the China program because they want to try to get pregnant. Once you are in the China program, if you get pregnant, you are disqualified. So this would be have to wait SO long and purpoesly NOT get pregnant when you want a child so bad. But other countries have shorter wait times, such as Ethiopia.

We heard a rumor among the internet that China was considering stopping applications for 3 years so that they could "catch up" on referrals. I really don't believe this, however, Amber said that if this were true, China has a history of always giving people ample time before they change rules, etc. My concern was when the cut-off would be, if it were indeed true. Amber gave us a estimated DTC date (that is when our Dossier To China goes) of September. We don't think it will take that long. I have been so eager, having gotten many documents together already. So it's likely if this rumor were true, they wouldn't stop accepting before September and once we get a DTC date, we should be in.

PRAYER: That China DOES NOT quit accepting appicants. That we get our dossier done efficiently and off to China.

The ride has truly begun. We are excited. We have 4 more home study appointments this month. Next Amber will interview Daniel and I together. Today she "interviewed" Phoebe Grace alone. We heard her ask PG if she thought we'd be good parents to the little girl! Why do I so often feel like Phoebe Grace has the upper hand!??!!!! Let's hope she responded to our advantage! : ) I guess we'll never know. The question PG said was the hardest, "Do you ever get in trouble?" Hmmm, I think that one was the easiest!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Doubting Adoption?

Everyone has been really supportive and excited about our adoption. However, I know that some people wonder about this HUGE decision we've made and not vocalize it. This post is for them, and maybe you, too! Have you ever known beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were supposed to do something. Whether spiritual or not, it doesn't matter, just something you were 100% sure about. Well, that's how sure we are about this adoption. Jesus says that His sheep will know His voice. I don't claim to hear God speak huge life-changing things to me all the time. There have been several times in my life that I have felt His call and heard His voice so strongly in my spirit that I knew it was Him. And I know that He guides me because I submit myself to Him. And Daniel, too, is very sensitive to the Holy Spirit's calling.

Adoption has been a BURDEN to me in the past year. Not a bad, heavy one, but an all-consuming one. I don't know if I can describe how strong it was for me in the past year. When I heard stories of the little girls being killed, abandoned, or left to die in China it was hard to turn a deaf ear. Now, the years before, it was a more like a nice dream. And when I thought about it, it was light and free. But when I decided to give up the dream, it became a burden. Obviously, I was not supposed to let this dream die. And when Daniel and I made the final decision, it was the most beautiful feeling I've ever felt. It was all joy, light, wild excitement, and PEACE. There is no fear. And I believe when we are walking in the LIGHT that God desires for us, there is no fear. We have no fear of finances, we have no fear of another child, we have no fear of what Hope will look or act like, we have no fear of her health, we have no fear of her future, we have no fear of any disruptions in our lives, we have no fear. Neither of us.

Again, I quote: Adoption is not about families finding children. It's about children finding families. I challenge each one of you rent the DVD China's Lost Girls from the National Geographic series. You know, there are needs all around us. We are presented with them everyday. We give money to our church, we give money to missionaries, and we do things OURSELVES to make a difference. My brother in law Andy has said that if every family would adopt just one child it would make a big difference. Could you imagine?

To know that God is trusting one of His precious children into our hands is amazing. What are the chances that Hope would live a safe life, die, and go to Heaven? Very, very slim. But now, we know that Hope will be given a chance in life to fulfill her dreams, and purpose that God calls her to! She will never know what it's like to be an orphan. She will never know what it's like to not be loved and accepted. She will never know what it's like to NOT believe in Jesus as her Saviour! She has hope now! And that is so beautiful to me. No matter what the cost, it is worth it. We look forward to the good times, the bad times, and the ugly. We are ready for the challenge no matter what it be. We know that God has given us the GRACE, for we can already feel it! It is such a good feeling to know that we hear the voice of God and even better to follow it! It is such a good feeling to know that we have a little girl waiting to join our family! It is such a good feeling to know we are saving her life from Satan's grasp and she is destined for greatness.

The Bible says that caring for orphans is true religion. Does that mean we should go visit them and pray for them? Yes, but what if we really dig deep and do more? Would that make God proud? Don't you think that is His heart? Is there ANY chance that God would NOT want these precious abandoned children adopted by families who are blessed way beyond measure? When you really examine it, it doesn't seem like such a "big, scary" decision. It just seems NATURAL. It just seems like the right thing to do. And we are doing it.

We are ready to it, today, tomorrow and forever. We can't wait. You know, we are adopting Hope, but once we get her, she won't be adopted anymore! She will be ours! Our very own. Adopted on a certain date, but into our family forever! We feel honored to do it. We know that Hope is changing lives RIGHT NOW. She may be changing yours!

We now have a family coordinator...and a clean garage!

Moving along...we got a call today from Kim at America World. She is our family coordinator. She will be with us along the way and help us each step. She is mailing the packet today with all the information on how to compose our dossier. I am so eager for this because until I get that packet, I have had nothing to do!! I did, though, go ahead and order Daniel's birth certificates because we couldn't find his original. I ordered 4 originals, just in case, and now I find out I only needed one! Oh, well, better to have too much in this case! Now I am ordering mine and hopefully it isn't lost in New Orleans!

Also, Kim said that the current wait once we are logged into China is around 18 months. I was prepared for her to say 3 years! That is a blessing. I am believing for a miracle and that it will not even take 18 months though. China has set some new requirements that go into effect this month. These requirements, such as BMI, net worth, education, and marriage, are causing a lot of stir and unfortunately are cutting out a lot of people who were considering China. This may help the wait time decrease as well.

We have already made changes in our home preparing for Hope. This weekend we rented a dumpster and cleaned out our garage and shed. It is amazing how much junk we had! People love a dumpster. Neighbors all took advantage of our dumpster and contributed!! We know Sol will be so proud of our garage, as he has told us before that it is "unsightly!"

I was telling Chantel that we really wanted the house and garage clean for the home study. She asked me if they were really going to look in the garage?! Who knows? But if they do, they will be impressed. I plan to paint it next. It reminds me of when my friend Lane in high school cleaned out her garage AND painted it because a particular boy was coming over! Those of you who know Lane will get a kick out of that!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We are approved to adopt!

We just got the call today from America World saying our application has been approved! We will be receiving a packet filled with all the requirements for our dossier for China. We will be assigned a worker who will help us with this. Then we will be completing the home study. So from here on, my days will be filled with calling and emailing and faxing and sending money for birth certificates, marriage licenses and so on. We are celebrating this week by going to get our passports! Yippee! All the kids will have to get one too! I can't wait to see Johnny's passport photo!

Most people take about 6 months to complete their dossier and have many stressful times doing it. We are believing that we can get it done within 3! I am taking on the task and ready to meet the challenge.

So here is a basic rundown of how our adoption process should go. There are three major steps in the initial adoption process which are interrelated: (1) file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to bring a foreign adopted orphan into the US, (2) complete the "homestudy" wherein a qualified social services agency examines us as individuals and as a family to determine our worthiness as parents, and (3) gather, prepare, certify, notarize and authenticate lots and lots of documents.

We are at the very beginning. Many call this phase "paperchasing" or the "paper pregnancy." Soonafter, we began the homestudy process which involves: tons of paperwork; several interviews and visits with the social worker; extensive medical testing/evaluations; local police record clearances; fingerprinting by several non-communicating government agencies; writing individual autobiographies; attending adoption workshops, etc. The agency also required letters of reference.

Once your dossier is complete you sent it to China. The date it is sent is called your DTC (Dossier to China). Once China receives it, it goes into a ever increasing stack of dossiers like ours. When they get to our dossier, they will match a child to our family and send us a "referral" with a photo of Hope and her medical statistics. Some lucky people get a few photos! We receive the referral and tell China yes, we want her, and they prepare for our journey to China. Within 1-2 months after we receive the referral, we are on the plane to get her!

It is a little odd to feel like you already have a baby, but now we have to wait so long. Right now, China is SO backed up. They basically have not employed any other people to help in this referral process since adoptions in China began. Since so many people are adopting from China now, thank the Lord, they cannot keep up with the referrals. So here is a prayer request: let's pray that something amazing happens in China and they employ enough people to catch up and get those babies to families! Wait times in the past years have been 6 months to a year. Currently, wait time for a referral is 2-3 YEARS. That means we may have to wait a little longer for our Hope than had anticipated. But we know it is all in God's hands and that we have His favor upon us! And we are so thankful for the Chinese government for allowing adoptions, we don't want to complain!

Friday, April 13, 2007

China Doll

So how did we choose China? Years ago, when Daniel and I used to speak of adoption, I would always see a girl from the Russian orphanages in my mind. Daniel said, "Mmm, that's funny, because I have always seen a little girl from China." I had never thought of adopting from China before that moment, but since then, I've never thought of anything else!

So after that I researched china adoptions and was amazed to find out how many little girls are abandoned the day after they are born and left to die because of China's "one child per family" rule and the people's desire to have a boy over a girl. Over the years, the more I read and saw, it was not just a desire to choose China, but a must.

And so our little Chinese baby girl awaits us. We believe right now, she is in her mother's womb. We pray for the mother that she is healthy and at peace. We pray that God would speak to her about us adopting her baby and giving her a future. We pray that Hope is perfectly formed as the days go by. We know that God has chosen her for our family. For me, for Daniel, for Phoebe Grace, for Rob, for Johnny, for Sol, for Linda, for my mom, for Joe, for Hayley, for Steven, for Ryan, for Jamey, for Christina, for Chantel, for Andy, for Tim, for Meggie, for Neilson, for Wesley, for Zach, for Jakey...get the picture! We believe! And we can't wait!

Our decision to Adopt

My heart is so full right now. This is a dream come true for me. Adoption has always amazed, impressed, consumed me with it's heart and passion. From the time I was little and heard that some friends of mine were adopted, I was amazed by the unconditional love that I saw. How could those parents love that baby as their own? What if something were wrong with the baby once they accepted it? These were questions I had as a child. As I got older, I used to watch programs on television late night about the horrible orphanages in Russia. It broke my heart. It was something that once I had seen, I could never forget. It burdened me.

After meeting Daniel I shared my love for adoption. He too said it just felt like a good thing, something we could definitely do. WOW. Someone that is open. That made me happy. We are so much alike. A perfect match in every way and more as the years go by. So we talked briefly here and there about when we'd adopt. I had always imagined adopting a child in between our biological children. I thought about having 2 biological and adopting one. But as the years went on, and 3 perfect, happy children later, I realized we didn't ever do it. It seems like a fog (a happy fog, don't get me wrong)....when I think about the "baby years." Pregnant, baby, lose weight, readjust emotionally, start cycle over, etc. Mothers know what I mean. So last year I started thinking about adoption and thought that our "window" had passed. I even thought maybe we were just supposed to donate financially to someone who was adopting. Yeah, maybe that's why I felt so burdened, I thought. Because after all, it didn't happen. We have three children. If it was SUPPOSED to happen, surely it would've, right?

WRONG. You know, my quick-witted sister Christina has a current saying that we all laugh at. You know how everyone says, "Everything happens for a reason." Well, she says, "What if everything DOESN'T happen for a reason!" And you know, when you think about it, she's right. Saying everything happens for a reason is a cowardly way of not taking responsibiblity for things that happen in your life. Granted, I know that there are things we have absolutely no control over. But think about this in relation to my desire to adopt. I could've just assumed that since I had three children (which was completely our decision) then we weren't meant to adopt. Our live is complete now, right. Biological children that look and act like us. Perfect, right? Perfect, yes, but not complete. When God gives you a desire that burns in your heart and soul, don't let it go.

After throwing away the adoption packet that I had kept for over 7 years last summer, my heart began to burst. If I thought of adoption, I began to cry. I am not a cry-baby. It takes a lot to make me shed real, uncontrollable tears, but this did it!! I would hear songs that made me think of it, and cry. It was bad!! : ) But it was good! My heart was broken and open to God and He was definitely speaking to me and preparing my heart and literally changing my personality in some cases. He was in control and I knew it. I knew that I could not CONVINCE Daniel to adopt a child after we have 3 already. I didn't even try. I kept quite for almost a year, knowing in my heart that God sees Daniel and I as one. If He gave me this desire, He would give it to Daniel with the same undeniable, supernatural burning!

And He did! It almost shocked me how simple and easy the decision was made. In the natural, it just didn't seem like "a good time." But God doesn't work in the natural. God has His own plans for our lives. And they don't include a house, a boy and a girl, a car and a boat! That is the American dream. And while that is great, most of us don't have that. Life comes with unexpected heartache, trauma, and dissappointments that ruin that dream. So to me, life is about finding out what God desires for you to do with your life while you have it. That's a place that we just came to now. In that place, we were able to see clearly that this is God's will for our life, and we are so honored!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why have this website?

We are so excited to share this wonderful news with everyone! This website is the our journey to bring Hope home! By now if you are reading this, you already have heard this great news. I wanted to share a bit more of our story with you about how we came to this decision and where we are in the process. To some of you, this must be a complete shock. But to a few of you, you know how my heart has always been drawn to adoption.

After we made the decision I started looking online for more information. I came upon hundreds and hundreds of websites, blogs, if you will (I don't like the word blog!), just like this one that tells the family's story of adopting their child. At first, I didn't understand why. I didn't make a website for my children. But then again, times have changed, and I thought maybe it was the thing to do. But the more I read these adoption websites, the more excited I got. If we hadn't already made the decision to adopt by then, reading their stories would have sealed the deal!

So the purpose of this website is firstly, to keep you updated on our process. We are expecting. It's a longer wait than 9 months, but the excitement is there. Just as with my pregnancies when I thought about the baby and preparing for it, I am in that stage now. And secondly, I wanted to share this journey with you because I really feel that God wants to use it to introduce others to adoption and see this miracle in their own lives. So here goes, this is our journey to Hope!