We Accept!

We Accept!

We’ve been keeping a secret, but we had to work out some details before we could share anything further.

The first full week of March was a crazy and emotional week for us for so many different reasons. We had workers in and out of the house disrupting our normal routine. Our big girl had a stiff neck that was diagnosed as torticollis and then we later learned at the end of that week that it was actually strep throat. I was volunteering to work at a consignment sale for the last 3 days of the week. We were deep into planning an online fundraiser auction that was set to launch that coming weekend. Oh, and we had some pretty big, emotional anniversaries – Eisley’s birthday, our big girl’s family day, and the 1 year anniversary since Eisley had passed away. It was a full week and I didn’t plan to add anything more to that week.

Until we got THE CALL.

I was 2 minutes away from pulling into the parking lot where the consignment sale was being held and where I would be working for the next 4-5 hours. My phone rang and I noticed the phone number was our adoption agency. Initially, I didn’t think much about it because our caseworker was on vacation. I had pushed the thought of us getting a referral to the back corners of my mind. It seemed like the files of children available had slowed and I was trying to convince myself (and failing miserably) that I was okay with waiting for a while longer.

Shortly after answering the call, the caseworker said they had a file of a little girl and wondered if we would like to review the file. My fingers were shaking and tears began streaming down my face. When they told me more about the little girl, I had this peace about it and knew deep in my heart she was my daughter. For you see, I had “known” this little one for a few months. I had seen her photo months before on our agency’s social media page and had inquired about her. Our caseworker said she didn’t know anything about the file other than she was with one of their partnership orphanages. But she also clarified she had no idea when or even if that little girl’s file would come through and even if it did, our family may not be next in line to review the file. It would all depend on the order of families waiting. I asked a few other times, stared at her picture often, and prayed for her in the meantime, but then put it out of my mind for a while as we had a lot going on.

We sent her file to several doctors and asked them to review the file and follow-up with us. We requested an update from her orphanage. And last Thursday night, after receiving an encouraging report from the orphanage, we said YES. We said YES to this little girl, our soon-to-be daughter. We filed our paperwork the very next day. And yesterday we received word that China had approved us to adopt this precious, little girl! We have found our daughter!

Here is what we are able to tell you for now. First, a little detail that causes me to marvel every time I reflect on it. In early February of 2016, Eisley was going down to the operating room for a procedure. She was not stable. I was very, very concerned for her and wasn’t convinced that she would make it through that surgery. As I sat there in the waiting room, while grappling with the reality that I could lose my child that day, I had a stirring in my heart that if Eisley didn’t make it, I hoped we would one day adopt again. Looking back, it seems that our newest daughter was born within a week or two of that very day. When I think upon the timing of those things, tears spring to my eyes.

Second, for almost a year now I have prayed and asked God to bring a baby to my arms again. I didn’t have enough time with Eisley. My empty arms long to hold a little one again. In China, it isn’t common to get a referral for a child under the age of 12-18 months. This doesn’t happen very often these days. You do see some stories, but I would guess they aren’t the norm. Typically, you see children from 24 months – 13 years. I knew that and yet I hoped we might find a child as young as possible to fill those empty arms again. And guess what? She’s 13 months old. We got to see a video yesterday of her scooting across the floor. I’m an absolute puddle every time I watch that video.

We are beyond excited to make plans to go to China and bring home our daughter. I’d leave tomorrow if they allowed it. And that auction we were planning? I got lovingly kicked out by my sister so that I could focus on being with my family through the hard anniversary. But our amazing village was so generous and we were humbled by the generosity of everyone involved. Because we accepted that referral, we had a large payment due to our agency TODAY that I was able to send a check for without a deep inhale. That auction covered the needs of this payment so that we could accept that referral with no delay. To say that we are forever grateful doesn’t feel like enough, but truly we are.

 

 

 

Catching Up

It’s been a few weeks since I posted last and I wanted to catch you up on several things that have happened over the last several weeks and months.

The Housing Situation – If you have read one of the more recent posts, you know that we put a contract on a house shortly after Labor Day and listed our house for sale. We decluttered and cleaned, organized and got our house in the best shape that we could to make it market ready in a week’s time. We had a lot of showings. I loved having the house so clean and tidy, but at the same time grew tired of always having to maintain that look. We began to feel like we were living in a museum rather than a home. We had a lot of interest in the house, but no offers. Then around election time, we seemed to hit radio silence. Oddly enough, interest peaked around Thanksgiving with 6 showings in 6 days. We had 2 very interested parties, but neither of those resulted in a workable offer. The contract on the new house expired on Nov. 30th, we had a showing two days after and an offer came in the next day. We looked at all of our options and walked through several houses before finally deciding to reject the offer, take the house off the market, and stay put for a while. While we were hopeful that we would find a new place that would allow us to grow as a family, we also didn’t want to increase our mortgage at a time when we were taking a step into the uncertain world of freelance work. We do love our home, our street, our neighbors, and our neighborhood. And we’ll make it work for the immediate future. As difficult as the decision was, I’m proud of us for sticking to our original intention of not increasing our mortgage.

The Adoption Status – The Saturday after Thanksgiving we received our fingerprint approval from US Immigration Services. I took the last of our paperwork for certification through County Clerk and Secretary of State and then shipped the rest of our adoption paperwork to our agency. Hopefully in the next week, the last of our paperwork will be sent from DC to our agency. They will review and translate our paperwork and then hopefully we will reach the milestone of being DTC (or Dossier to China). Our dossier is a fancy word for a big stack of paperwork that represents months of appointments, running around to various offices, multiple meetings with our social worker, a CPA, 2 doctors, 3 letters of reference, police clearances, and more. Once our paperwork is logged into the system in China, they can officially begin to search for our child.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be logged in by the end of the year.

The Love Tree Fundraiser – Oh mercy. Where do I begin? I am humbled by the outpouring of support for our first fundraiser. In a month’s time, we have sold almost 150 ornaments! Many thanks to each one of you who have purchased ornaments. I love seeing pictures of them hanging on Christmas trees.

The Newest Addition(s) – Our oldest daughter has been asking for a kitten for some time now. We decided we couldn’t entertain that thought while our house was on the market. (But that didn’t stop me from looking!) I had been in touch with a girl I had met through Instagram who was looking for a home for some kittens. This past weekend, we drove out into the country, down a gravel drive, and further down an even smaller gravel drive and ended up in front of the most charming home. I went with the intention “just to look” at a kitten. When we found two kittens curled up together and they instantly started purring as we approached, I knew then I wasn’t coming home with just one. Truth be told, I may have wanted a kitten just as much as my daughter did. We came home with two grey tabbies who are the most loving, snuggly, funny creatures. And here’s the small world part to the story. The lovely people we got the kittens from? It turns out they are longtime friends of my brother. I was apprehensive about going through the holidays without our Eisley girl. I think our newest additions will help lighten the mood when things feel heavy. They have already brought many laughs and lots of smiles. My new favorite ritual is to curl up in bed and get some kitten snuggles before falling asleep. As my 5-year-old said, “All my dreams have come true, well, except for being a ballerina.” Without further ado, here are our kittens Gidget Fluffelpuff and Gizmodgery “Gizmo” Squigglefizz.

kittens

AdoptTogether – If you would like to further support our adoption and make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so HERE at our AdoptTogether profile. In only 5 years, this wonderful organization has helped over 2,300 families raise funds for their adoption expenses.

The LOVE TREE – A Crafty Fundraiser

The LOVE TREE – A Crafty Fundraiser

First, a quick update for those following our journey. We were fingerprinted in early November and found out yesterday that our fingerprints have been approved. We are currently waiting on a hardcopy of this approval. Once received, we will have it notarized and state certified and then send it along with several other documents to DC to be certified at the US Secretary of State level and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy. After we get these documents back, we can FINALLY send months of paperwork to our adoption agency. And then the unknown wait really begins to be matched with our child.

In the meantime, we are entering the phase where the adoption fees start rolling in. This is the part of adoption that is hard for me to discuss – the financial aspect. How do you put a price on the life of a child? Each one is priceless and absolutely worth it. But someone (or many people) did determine there was a price involved. The fees for adoption through China include fees paid to our social worker’s agency, fees paid to our adoption agency, fees paid to the US government for paperwork, and fees paid to the Chinese government as well as a required orphanage donation. If you have been wondering about the cost to adopt from China, it averages around $30-35,000. Woah. That number can be staggering if you look at it in its entirety. But when you look at the face of your child, that number melts away so quickly and you realize you would go to the ends of the earth and do whatever it takes to bring that child home. So you break that number down and you approach it in small hurdles. What is the saying about how you eat an elephant? (Side note – who would really want to eat an elephant?) You do as much as you can to whittle down that number. For us, we have been selling anything and everything we can find that isn’t necessary to daily function in our house. If there’s something you’ve been looking for, let me know as we more than likely are trying to sell it. Both of us have been working extra hours. We will be applying for grants in the coming months. And we more than likely will do some other fundraisers as well.

And here is where we introduce our first fundraiser. I’m calling it the Love Tree.

emsie-and-ornaments

Do you see that Christmas tree filled with ornaments? Or were you distracted by the beautiful girl beside it? I borrowed that tree from her and have decorated it with 100 different ornaments. And we need your help to UNDECORATE it in the coming weeks. I have spent the last several months working most evenings on handcrafting 10 different varieties of ornaments. Some of them have a connection to China and others have a connection to hearts – 2 themes that have been prominent in our lives the last few years. A lot of love and care has gone into making each ornament. We kindly ask that you consider purchasing an ornament (or several!) to adorn your Christmas tree or to give as gifts to friends and family.

You can purchase ornaments via my Etsy site HERE.

I’ll be posting pictures over the coming days and weeks of the progress we are making in emptying this tree of its ornaments.

And here’s a first look at all of the ornaments:

Thanks in advance for your support in our first fundraiser. We fully believe that it takes a village and we are so very grateful to those of you who have chosen to come alongside us in this adoption journey, walked with us through the last year of heartache and joys, and for those that have been with us long before adoption was even on our radar. Our wish for you this season is tremendous love – may you receive and give this love just as it has been given to us.