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 hard...to 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!!