Thursday, May 29, 2014


Chris and I had the chance to read through our home study last night and we had no suggested edits for our social worker.  We sent confirmation of our approval last night and then signed some forms this afternoon verifying that we were satisfied with the content.  Just now I got this in my e-mail from our social worker:

"Your Home Study, I800A, and supporting documents are in a FedEx drop box and will arrive in TX tomorrow! HOORAY!!"

There *may* have been a few cartwheels, clapping, whoops of joy, sighs of relief, and a few other embarrassing gestures of elation.  Just maybe.

Please join us in praying for an approval that occurs in the 50 day time frame they have seen recently, rather than the 90 days?  Pray for a favorable review and approval.

USCIS, here we come!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's In My Inbox?

What is in my e-mail inbox today?  Oh, nothing too special or important....certainly not a completed home study for Chris and I to review with our final edits!  Oh yes, yes it is!  There is a home study sitting in my inbox, calling for me to read it, review it, and send it back!  But alas, it came while I'm in the thick of my data entry for Benchmark this month and it shall have to wait until at least this evening for my eyes to thoroughly feast upon it.  Once Chris and I review it, we'll get that magic word I mentioned a few posts ago: finalized.  Finalized is a BIG means it is ready to head to USCIS for immigration review and approval.  Perhaps (maybe, just perhaps) we can get that sent off prior to our 11 month mile marker of this process?  I won't get my hopes up, because in the past that just leaves me disappointed, but it gives me something to shoot for.

It is just a regular Wednesday.  The Wednesday my inbox chimed and I saw a completed home study.  Some day down the road it will be a regular Friday (or whatever) and my inbox will chime and I'll see my daughter for the first time.  What day that will be!  Something so basic, like getting an e-mail, can take a regular 'ole day and make it into something worth remembering.

Happy Wednesday!  I have fun e-mail in my inbox!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Sometimes I find myself looking at photos like this one:

or this one:

and I try to imagine our daughter to be in it.  I try to picture her dark eyes and straight jet black hair and my mind tries to put her in them.  Will she be sandwiched in the middle of a silly giggle squeeze?  Or will she be dramatically trying to steal the show with a cartwheel or twirl in front of everyone?  Will she be the only one who actually looks AND smiles or will she be the one looking for food in her bucket or better yet, wearing the bucket on her head?  I try to imagine what her silly antics might be and how they will be captured in our log of memories.  I can't wait to know her.  And not just meet her, but know her.  Years of intentional love, part of the family, know her.

We've had some books from the library recently about Chinese adoption.  They have been great children's stories and some share the perspective of the siblings waiting at home and others tell it from the adopted child's perspective.  Reading these books has been a great thing for us and has generated a lot of good conversation with the kids, Grace especially.  She keeps saying she wants to hold her baby sister, but of course, she will likely be too big for Grace to hold.  So we've told her how sweet that is and how wonderful it will be to cuddle, but perhaps she may not be able to hold her like she would a baby.  One morning at breakfast, Grace sweetly declared, "I can't hold her, but maybe I can hold her hand?"  Yes!  Yes!  You can hold her hand through many parts of her life!  Please, hold her hand!

For now we are just left with lots of wondering.  Will she be subdued?  Will she be introverted or extroverted?  Will she be wild and dramatic or quiet and reserved?  Where will she be in the photos?  Who will she want to be closest to?  For now, we just look at our photos and wonder.  Sometimes I dream of who she will be.

Ten Months-Oh Happy Day!

The last couple of weeks have been adoption roller coaster weeks.  The, "I'm so filled with excitement I could burst" down to the lows of "This is so hard, why are we even trying?"  I've been filled with so many emotions I experienced when we were trying to get pregnant each time.  I've been quite surprised by that.  I never really expected to feel those sorts of things, but I have.

For the last few weeks we lacked one item in order to complete our home study.  Chris' physical.  Well, much to our surprise, God moved mountains in a big way (well, actually, should we have been surprised?!) and Chris got in for his adoption physical at a much, MUCH earlier date than we anticipated.  Within just a few days, we had all the documents back from the doctor, lab tests back, etc.  I was soooooooo excited.  Then NOT excited as I thumbed through the documents to realize that we didn't have one thing from the doctor.  A letter.  And that letter proved to be the thorn in our sides for about two full weeks time.  For some reason the doctor just didn't understand what we needed.  Chris called daily.  Showed up in their office.  Visited the doctor on site at his workplace.  Basically....we stalked her (in a friendly way!).  Finally, with great anticipation, on Thursday last week, Chris had been promised by the doctor that he would have in his hands just what we needed.  He showed her an example and explained precisely what we needed.  He would get it.  We were going to have Chinese food for dinner to celebrate and all the kids kept asking if we had "the paper" we needed yet so they could eat "Chinese chicken nuggets."  Thursday came and Chris went to the doctor's office and picked up what was supposed to be a letter.  What it ended up being was a six page dictation note from his physical exam.  All rather useful information, but not quite what we need for something that needs to be translated into Chinese.  It wasn't even signed.  I was heart broken and thought we'd never get what we needed.   I sent the six pages to the social worker just in case she might approve it, but was not at all shocked when she wrote back and said no.  Back to the drawing board.  Again....  I'm not going to lie.  This was probably the most deflated I'd felt in a long time in this process.  The kids were watching a video and and was hanging up laundry and sort of hid in Grace's closet for a bit and had a huge sob.  I just couldn't believe it.  I felt so....stuck.  And I felt like our daughter was stuck too.

Then, Friday came.  With renewed spirit, Chris wrote the letter for the doctor just as we needed it, printed it, and took it to the office.  He asked the receptionist to simply place a piece of letterhead in the copier and copy the letter onto their letterhead.  Then the doctor signed it and like that....we had it.  WE HAD IT!  Oh happy day!  We got the letter we needed!

Home study complete....yet to be finalized (but that should be soon!).  I-800-A off to the agency!  And what else?  What is sitting open on my desktop?  Oh....just a dossier manual!  Already I had some major heart attack inducing panic moments when reading the dossier manual, but a couple of quick e-mails with our social worker cleared all of that up and I'm not really sweating collecting those documents.  Our agency does all the authenticating for us, so we don't even have to get a single item notarized!  Just all originals.  I've already requested our birth certificates and we already had our marriage license from when I renewed my passport.  Just need to track down some original documents and get them off to our social worker.  So here is how it works and what we're doing now:
  • Social worker and supervisor finish home study and make edits
  • We review home study and make edits
  • Home study finalized
  • Finalized home study sent overnight to USCIS, along with our I800A application and hangs out there for a bit (the wait time is typically 90 days, but we've been told turn around right now is actually 50 days, so we hope we catch that wave of quicker processing with no hiccups!)
  • While USCIS processes our application, we work on gathering the 13 documents (plus some extra items like photos) for our dossier
  • The moment we receive our approval from USCIS, we scan to social worker
  • Social Worker immediately begins authentication process on all dossier documents (this is a series of checks and balances to assure China all signatures are "real" and from authorized individuals)
  • Authentication is finished within 2-4 weeks from time of start
  • D-T-C....DOSSIER TO CHINA!!!  This is a big step and will likely be celebrated with more Chinese food in our home!
What does this mean to us?  Well, we're still in a bit of a paper chase, but soon that will be over.  The fees at this level of the game are mounting.  Fee to agency to finish the home study, fee for I800A application, fee to agency for submission of dossier, fee to China that goes with dossier, fees to several agencies to authenticate dossier.  So far God has been providing the needed funds to get this far.  Would you please continue to pray this would be the case?  We are open to all fund raising ideas you might have!

Ten months.  This is NOT where I expected us to be at ten months in.  Never did I imagine I'd still be waiting for a finalized home study at this point in time.  Never did I imagine we'd be nearly half through 2014 before we even began our dossier.  I guess that isn't really what matters, though, is it?  It isn't about what I imagined and despite the tears and anxiety over all this, I wouldn't have it the way I imagined it.  It is all about Him and His ultimate plan.  When the road gets rocky there is so much peace and rest in that.  He knows!  He knows how long this will take and He is timing it just so....just so....just so....because one day, at the end of the rocky road, is a little girl and all has to be "just so" for her to be ours.  And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Ten months.  Home study complete and almost finalized.  Oh happy day!