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!