Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lessons in the Desert

It is too early in the LOA wait to be lamenting the difficulty, but yet, here I am...just shy of 20 days into the wait and all the stuff that everyone said about this wait being the most difficult wait....they were SO right.

Some days the wait seems easy.  I am busy and content with preparing to bring our daughter home.  I breeze in and out of the day buried in house work, school work with the kids, and family activities.  I feed myself with a daily dose of all the wonderful blogs people are posting of their own gotcha days.  And I am at peace and content.

Then there are days when I read the blogs and posts of LOA and TA and my heart aches.  I watch 60 second video clips over and over and over and over again.........  Longing.  I know God knows my heart.  I know He knows my daughter's heart.  And I know He knows when it is THE time to move in our adoption.  I trust all of that.  But sometimes this wait known as the LOA wait is just....so....long (and I am admittedly VERY early in this wait!).  And hard.

Right now at our church we are working through a sermon series based in Numbers and I'm thinking of the years the Israelites spent in the desert.  Rather than praising God for the miracle He had accomplished and expectantly looking ahead for what He was yet to do, they spent their time grumbling and complaining.  It was contagious and grumbling took over the camp, leading to further misery.  God was using this time in the desert to train and prepare the people.  The time was not right for them to enter the Promised Land.  I feel a bit like we have been lead into the desert called LOA WAIT.  I have a choice, just like the Israelites.  I can complain.  I can whine.  I can grumble.  Or I can rejoice over what God has accomplished.  The miracle that just took place.  There is one less orphan in this world and she will soon be a daughter, sister, and grandchild.  She will be dearly loved and cherished.  I can rejoice over that and humbly thank God for for this miracle or I can grumble and my misery will only be heightened.

Lord, let me rejoice and expectantly look ahead for what You are yet to do and accomplish in this adoption.  While I sit in this dreaded desert known as LOA WAIT, I am going to choose YOU.  I am going to choose to allow YOU to quench my thirst.  I will keep my eyes intently upon You, trusting You will move according to Your plan.  Lord, help to to learn all the lessons You have for me in this desert and prepare my heart to enter the Promised Land of holding our sweet daughter close.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Way to Help

So many of you have been so gracious to encourage us in our adoption journey and we are so grateful for all of your help, well wishes, and prayers!  Some of you have even given time, energy, and precious financial gifts to make our adoption possible.  Thank you seems completely inadequate!  You are all helping us to bring sweet Little One home!

Some of you are wondering how you can help, or feel what you have to offer is too small.  Let me tell you honestly.  Nothing is too small for the Lord to work miracles with!  We know that with each gift we receive there is a story and the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit upon it.  We receive those gifts with such joy and thankfulness!

We have a new way to help us boost up our adoption fund right now!  If you love Mary Kay products (I have used them for years and will never ever go back to regular drug store cosmetics!), this is your time to jump in!  Not only can you stock up on all your favorite Mary Kay products, you can also help us bring Little One home!  My mother-in-law is a Mary Kay consultant and she has graciously offered to donate 100% of her profit to our adoption fund for Little One!  If you are not already connected with an outstanding Mary Kay consultant, all you have to do is shop and place your order between September 19th and September 29th!  You can place your order through her online catalog (www.marykay.com/jburris27), or you can contact me via facebook or e-mail and I will take care of placing your order for you!  No need to worry if you aren't local!  We will ship it to your doorstep!  You get the products you would likely purchase anyhow, and we get the profit to help bring our daughter home!  We both win!

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping us make this adoption a reality! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Us" in Six Photos-A Care Package

We are currently in the process of putting together a care package to send to Little One while she waits for us in China.  I found a small baby photo album that we will use to introduce her to our family and hopefully help her become acquainted with our faces.  There is room in the album for just six photos.  This presented a huge challenge to me!  If you know me, you know I take pictures all....the....time.  Having my camera conveniently located on my smart phone has only added fuel to this fire of subjecting my kids to constant, "Wait!  Wait!  Look this way and say cheese!"  Needless to say, it was a challenge to dig through photos and choose just one of each person.  I did have some specific guidelines in mind as I got started.  I wanted the photos to be current...current hair, etc.  I also wanted the photos to focus primarily on the face, so that Little One is able to study us without distracting images in the background, etc.  I thought I'd share what I came up with.  I am pleased with my choices and hope they make it into the hands of Little One safely.  We still have some items to gather up for our care package, but I do hope to mail it out within a week or so.


Big Brother-gege

Big Brother-gege

Big Sister-jiejie

Our Home

Our Family-家庭

We had space for a smaller sized photo on the front.  I'm considering including this one:

Little Sister-mei mei

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding Our Mei Mei

It has been fun to experience this adoption through the eyes of Little One's future older siblings.  We've talked to them often throughout the process and tried to keep them a large part of it, but even at  our most clear communication, adoption is a rather abstract concept for a child to grasp.  We've spent a good bit of time talking about China, reading books about China, and learning about China.  Now that we have a picture posted in our home, things have really taken flight.  I thought I would share some of their thoughts, questions, and prayers.

"Dear God, thank you for this day.  Thank you for my sister in China.  Please help her to eat a yummy lunch.  Amen."

"Dear God, thank you for this day.  Please help my sister in China to be safe from the thunder.  Amen."

"Dear God, thank you for my baby sister and that we get to share a bunk bed together."

"Mommy?  Was I born with a cleft lip?  What about Daddy?  What about Grandmama or Granddaddy?  Nobody?!  Well, surely someone was.  Our Baby Sister has a cleft lip and she's ours, so someone must have been born like her, too!"

"Mommy?  Can I look at my baby sister?"

"Mommy?  Isn't our baby sister beautiful?"

"Mommy?  Can I see my baby sister play with the water?  Can I see her play with the balls?"

"When my baby sister gets home I'm going to hold her hand and play with her."

"When my baby sister comes home I'm going to share all my toys with her!  She can play with my kitty and dollies!"

"Will our baby sister go with us to the ball games when she gets home?"

"Will our baby sister get to go to church with us?"

Without further adieu, Jacob, Joshua, and Grace would like to introduce you to their precious Mei Mei (Little Sister):


Yes, you read that correctly!  Instead of giving a, "woot! woot!" for celebration, we're all about, "oot! oot!" here!  Why?  Because our dossier is out of translation (hence, OOT), folks!  Let me remind you, this is just five days since we got PA!  Hip, hip hooray!  Our family exists in China, on paper, in Chinese!  Now all the really important officials can read all of our really important documents and make sure we are a great match for Little One.

From here, we move into the pool of families waiting to be reviewed (making sure we meet all of the criteria to adopt a child in China), then match reviewed (good fit for Little One), then......drum roll......LOA (Letter of Acceptance)! 

Our social worker told us that the translation portion of this journey is most often the fastest and the speed at which we completed this portion is no indication of how quickly we will get to the ultimate LOA.  That is fine by me.  It is still progress and any progress is BIG progress to us!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Next Steps

Many of you have contacted us, commented on posts, and shared your joy with us over the announcement of our match with our daughter.  We are so thankful for you and your encouragement!

We know the adoption process is a very confusing thing and many of you are wondering what comes next or what all this even means.  I'd like to try to explain exactly where we are in the process and what comes next.

This week we were "matched" with a little girl and China granted us PA (pre-approval).  This is not the final approval in the process, but it does tell us that after preliminary review of our dossier documents, China found no reason we could not adopt this Little One.  This is a huge milestone!  It also directly links our dossier to this child's file.  No one else can review her file or inquire about her.  She has our name attached to her and essentially, she is ours in the computer system.

What does PA do?  It moves us up in the adoption process.  No longer are we a prospective adoptive family just hanging out in the queue of hundreds of other adoptive families.  We are a family matched with a waiting child and we get to jump up in line to get things processed.

What are we waiting for now?  We are currently in what is called the LOA wait (Letter of Acceptance).  The Letter of Acceptance is an even more formal document indicating China has translated all of our documents, reviewed them, compared them to this child's needs, and officially agrees we are the right match for her.  The LOA wait is long.  We have seen families moving at various speeds through this process, but I know a lot of that speed depends on the needs of your child, if you have reason to medically expedite the process, and whether you were matched with the child prior to LID or after LID.  There are lots of factors.  With all those factors in mind, we have seen people go through the LOA wait in 60 days and some take 100+ days.  Our social worker gave us a general guideline of about 3 months.  The LOA wait is the hardest.  We are here, on the brink of going to get her, and yet, China has not invited us to come get her yet.  We see her face and watch videos and know she is ours, and still, we wait.

When do you think you will get to travel to get her?  Everything at this point is an estimate (hasn't all of it been an estimate?!).  We realized this week that estimates are great to work from, but not evidence of precisely what to expect.  God can, and will, move mountains when He sees fit.  We were given the estimate of 6-9 months from the time of LID to referral.  We got a referral four days after we were LID. We were given the estimate of two weeks to get PA.  We got it in 24 hours.  Anything is possible.  All that aside, we'll talk about the estimates we've been given.  We have the LOA wait ahead of us and that is approximately three months.  That puts us in early December (that would be a wonderful birthday gift!!).  After we get LOA, we have to wait on TA (Travel Approval).  This takes typically about 2-3 more months, which puts us somewhere in the February or March range for travel.  We do have some very specific prayer requests regarding this timeline.  February also happens to be the month China celebrates Chinese New Year.  It is the biggest holiday of the year and the government shuts down for many days of celebration.  This year, Chinese New Year will be on February 19.  This could cause delay for us...either in processing the final bit of paperwork to get us to TA or in our travel plans altogether.  We know God has a plan and timed all of this precisely and we know if we wait through Chinese New Year, He has purpose in it.  Chris' vacation schedule also rolls over in late March.  While our hearts desire is to get there as quickly as possible (prior to her 2nd birthday would be HUGE!), we also need to be certain Chris will have enough time off to travel and spend some time adjusting at home as well.  We are certain God knew about all this and is working this into His plan for our journey.

Will you be able to share a picture of her?  Yes!  We are in the process of securing photos of her that we can have printed and carry with us to share with people.  We also have permission to post her photo to our blog, but we are still considering this.  While everyone is so excited to meet her (and we are beyond excited to introduce you to her!), we also need to be wise and understand that someday this blog will be a keepsake to her.  We want to be sensitive to her and what her heart might desire.  Hopefully in the next day or so I will have a hard copy of a photo and I do have a "photo of a photo" on my phone.  If you see me in church or out and about, please, do not hesitate to ask to see!  I am thrilled to share her!

How can you pray for us?  There are many ways!
  • Pray for our daughter: That she is safe where she is, that her caretakers give her excellent care and love, that her heart will be prepared to meet us soon, that her nutritional needs are met, and that she will be able to quickly bond and attach with our family.
  • Pray for our current children: That they will be prepared for a new sibling, that they will be able to share their things and their parents in a whole new way, that they will overflow with love and compassion for their new sister.
  • Pray for us: That we will lay the groundwork needed to meet her medical needs when she gets home, that we will find many resources to help us prepare to care for her, that our hearts will be open and ready for bonding and attachment to occur, that we will experience peace in this leg of the journey and understand God has all of us in the palm of His hand right now.
  • Finances: Pray God would continue to provide.  We are in the home stretch and nearing the end of our financial commitment to this adoption, but we have not crossed the finish line yet.  Pray His provision would continue and we are continually able to give glory to Him!
Thank you all for rejoicing with us.  We are ecstatic.  Next on my list of things to accomplish in the next several days is to send a care package!

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Less

Tuesday, September 2, 2014.  It was a regular day.  Back to the grind after a glorious long weekend with the family.  We were running behind.  We were all tired and dragging.  Auntie Fred stopped by to surprise us and the kids welcomed the interruption from school.  Right as Auntie Fred was about to leave, my phone rang.  Our social worker's name popped up.  Any expectant adoptive parent knows that when the social worker calls, you answer!  I answered and heard our social worker say, "Hi Katrina!  Do you have a minute?"  I knew then that this was "the" call.  "The" call we'd imagined and played over in our minds many times.  Somehow I stammered, "Actually, I have company right now, but she's heading out.  Let me call you right back after I get the kids down for a nap."  I think I about shoved Auntie Fred out the door and rapidly ushered the kids off to rest time.  I called back, all the while convincing myself this surely wasn't "the" call.  I'd written an e-mail with some questions, so surely she was just calling to answer those for me. I quickly learned it was, indeed, "the" call.

We were informed there was a file from the shared list and would require us to act quickly.  That said, we knew we would need to move very fast to make a decision and Chris quickly agreed it would be okay for me to open the file before he got home from work.  One click and I began a text message barrage.  "Oh my..."  "Wow."  "This could be her!"  "I think we need to contact the IAC to have this file reviewed."  I quickly began taking photos of photos and videos of videos on my phone so I could text them to him.  They weren't great quality, but they gave him a quick glance.  We decided very quickly Tuesday afternoon to proceed with having a doctor take a look.

Wednesday night, very late, we heard back from the doctor.  She gave us great insight and information and confirmed our heart's leading...this would be our daughter.

Late Wednesday night I e-mailed our social worker and confirmed to her that we were saying a resounding YES!  This is Little One!  She is the next Burris!  We submitted the documents we needed via e-mail and she confirmed very early on Thursday morning that it had been submitted to China.  Now, she said, we would wait for PA (pre-approval).  We were not allowed to "share" her until we got that.  PA typically takes 1-2 weeks.  Talk about torture! 

Miracle of all miracles, somehow, we submitted our Letter Of Intent on Thursday morning and received confirmation of our PA late Friday evening!  I do not know how that is possible, but it happened and we are so thankful for God's graciousness to us.

We are happy to say that tonight, there is a little girl across the ocean, who has no clue what is about to happen to her or that she is about to become a Burris.  She is one less orphan.  She is our daughter.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Prayer

Some days there are no words for the journey of adoption.  I am thankful I serve a God who already knows them, knows my heart, and provides the words to say.  I am thankful I serve a God who already knows my daughter inside and out.

A Prayer for Little One
Psalm 139
A Psalm of David

O Lord, you have searched me and know me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O Men of blood, depart from me!
They speak agains you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?  
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

When all is out of our hands and all is out of our control in the process of adoption, there is always this.  His words to my mama's heart.  HE made Little One, HE numbered her days, HE knows who she will be and when she will come to our family, and HE knows each delicate little piece that he wove together to create her.  HIS presence is so much better, so much safer, than anything I can provide.  HIS love is so much greater, so much deeper, than anything I can ever provide.  And so, I just pray.  Lord, be with our Little One and help me to trust in the journey to find her, knowing full well you created both of us, numbered our days, and prepared us both for the life you have us to live.  Lord, I am so thankful and grateful that your hand is upon her always.