Category Archives: Family

Two Weeks of Silence

The last adoption update I shared was two weeks ago and while in the grand scheme of this two and half year long process that is a very short wait on an update it has been two of the longest weeks for us.

Every day for the past week and a half we have waited patiently to hear if our fingerprints had been reviewed yet and if so if they had passed.  As the days have drug out I have more and more felt at peace about the wait.  I want to hold Judah in my arms and eagerly look forward to loving on him but there’s still lots to do here stateside before we are truly ready to become a crazy functioning family of five.

It’s helped me consider our initial invitation to get him on February 20th as a wake-up call.  During this time I have kicked packing into high gear and have really begun to think about everything we need to finish and streamline to have the house move in-ready by the time we get back.  Speaking of Whistle Haven I’m sure many of you are ready for visual updates and I promise I am working on them.  Behind the scenes not much has changed.  Floors were installed but are covered with cardboard to protect them during the remaining work and my bathroom floor is basically nothing but dirt.

My to-do list has been daunting lately.  Finally, with all the girls old clothes loaded in the van and ready for the consignment sale, most of Esther’s birthday party preparations out of the way, and taking two hours out of my morning to pack I felt less burdened.  Sure there’s still appliances, light fixtures, and paint colors to select, and nearly an entire apartment to pack but I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  God has shown me that I needed this time to get things done so that when we return I can focus on my family.

So, I’m having all these peaceful thoughts and thanking God for so far two weeks of extra time when the phone rings this morning.  It was Michael Luke wanting to add me to a call he was in on with our social worker, Sarah. Sarah was beyond excited to share with us that FINALLY we had received our last approval from the U.S.!!!

Yes!

Now, all that’s lacking is booking our appointment with the U.S. Consulate in China.  Earlier this afternoon we submitted our request for appointment dates and expect to hear back by the end of the week.

One thing that God has taught me through adoption is that waiting can be hard, and each day can seem like its holding you up but in the end you don’t think about any of those days because the wait is worth it.  Soon. Very soon our little boy will be living on this side of the world with us and I won’t be dwelling on any of these days because I’ll be living in the moment. It’s kind of like waiting on heaven.  It may seem like the wait takes forever…. eighty or ninety years sometimes but when we get there the last thing we will be thinking about is all the years we had to wait before arriving in the very presence of God’s glory.

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Can We Make It Work

Umm… so this post is long and very short on pictures and for that I’m sorry but there’s a lot of catching up to do.

It’s been a while since I shared an adoption update.  And like most big gaps in my adoption update posts it’s because there has been limited activity and progress.  Before I catch you up to speed let’s take a look at where we were in the process In mid-December.

  • Homestudy
  • Letter of Intent/ Pre-Approval
  • I800A sent/approval
  • Dossier to China
  • Letter of Action
  • I800 Sent
  • I800 Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Article 5
  • Travel Approval from China
  • Consulate Appointment Date in China – Then entire trip revolves around this date!

Right after we received our Letter of Action (LOA) in December we sent our I800 to the U.S. government and just before the new year we got U.S. approval to adopt Judah specifically.  This step was really special to me because he was approved by immigration to become a U.S citizen.  And while I seriously doubted there was a chance he would be turned down it’s always nice to see everything in writing.

Immediately after getting the green light from the U.S. we sent everything off to China and began waiting on our Article 5.  Article 5 looks like this: a courier will pick up the Article 5 from the US Embassy and deliver it to Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (Chinese branch of government that oversees adoption).  The Article 5 lets CCCWA know that you are approved by the US government to adopt that specific child and have appropriately jumped through every hoop and paid every fee our two governments could think of.  After this step CCCWA issues TA.

While all this was going on we had to do something that wasn’t listed as one of the above steps.  We had to apply for an extension to our homestudy because our original homestudy was set to expire February 12.  This doesn’t typically happen to families while waiting but this adoption has taken us a while.  We are currently over two and half years into the process since we started.  If you are considering adoption please don’t let this scare you.  This is no where near the typical length of time it takes to adopt from China… or Hong Kong.  Some countries can take much longer but agencies are really good at having guestimated times for each country that you can look at before beginning the process. Our process has been slow because we moved in the beginning, Michael Luke switched jobs, and we switched countries.  Things like that can really slow an adoption down.  So moral of the story… try to avoid that if possible.

We applied for our extension in late December and honestly felt like we would have it approved by mid-January.  Essentially leaving no room for conflict with travel.  That was not the case.

Last Wednesday we got an email from our social worker at Lifeline letting us know that we had received Article 5 from China.  Michael Luke and I were beyond excited because we knew that travel approval was just beyond the corner.  Later that night I hopped on the China Adoption group that I’m a part of on Facebook to see how quick people receive travel approval after Article 5.  It looked like anywhere from three to ten days.

“We are going to have Travel Approval by the end of the week.”, I told Michael Luke.  Then I started praying that God would give us travel approval by the end of the week.  I prayed and prayed.  Thursday morning after I dropped the girls off at their Mother’s Day Out for Homeschoolers I received a call.  I almost didn’t answer it because the number wasn’t saved in my phone.  It was Logan with Lifeline letting me know that we had just received Travel Approval!!!  I could not believe it.  It had not even been 24 hours since we got Article 5.  Overjoyed doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt… especially when our passports with stamped visas arrived at my door shortly after.

But that wasn’t all.  Logan shared with me that the orphanage Judah was in wanted to know if we could be in China by February 20th to pick him up because they were already traveling to the capital city to bring two other kids and felt it would be easy to make the 3-4 hour journey one time with all three.  I could not believe it.  The 20th?  So soon!

Could we make it work?  That would mean we would need to leave by February 15th at the latest because we plan to spend a few days in Hong Kong before traveling into China.  Talk about running around like a mad women… a mamma on a mission. I knew we could do it.  It would be frantic and I’m sure items would be left behind. We would probably make a mad dash to the airport with all our stuff we haphazardly threwn in a suitcase… hoping it was enough, and then crash exhausted in our seats Wednesday morning. We could do it.

Except for one little problem… it’s the middle of February and our homestudy extension has still not been approved!  So we had to turn down the offer to come much quicker than most families are normally allowed to after receiving Travel Approval because we technically don’t have the green light from the U.S. yet.

What do we lack to get the green light?  Well our social worker talked to our immigration officer and she is going to approve our request for an extension… once she get our updated fingerprints so they can check our criminal record again.  You know, just in case I’ve committed any notorious crimes you might have heard about in the news over the past few months.  And unfortunately the need for fingerprints has been in demand lately so the government has been bogged down trying to get everyone’s processed. Go figure.

We had already been told weeks earlier that our letter for our fingerprint appointment should be in the mail.  So where was it?!  Turns out it really wasn’t.  They don’t mail them until about two weeks before your appointment and after checking with our immigration officer our social worker shared with us that our appointment wasn’t until the 22nd. Two days after the day China wanted us to get Judah.

So the only thing standing between us and Judah was getting our fingerprints scanned. Ironically, this same thing happened with Esther.  Only in that case our fingerprints weren’t set to expire until two months after we got back home but the U.S government requested updated ones before we traveled.  That’s when we had them scanned the day before we left.  Mine then failed because they couldn’t read my pinkies. So we had to visit the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong to have mine scanned again. Then they failed again but thankfully we had a Plan B that worked to get me back home. That’s how we ended up staying an extra week in Hong Kong.

For that reason we will not be booking any travel until we hear from the U.S. government that my fingers have been clearly scanned.  Adoptive parents with only one final step standing between them and their son don’t just sit around and do nothing though.  Nope.  Friday we finally received our letter in the mail letting us know that we did indeed have an appointment on the 22nd.

So yesterday morning I met Michael Luke at the fingerprint office and we requested to have our fingers scanned early.  We talked to the lady in charge and shared with her that this was the ONLY thing standing in the way of our travel to China.  She wasn’t easily swung by emotions though and told us that she knew this was important and that the government understood and that’s why we had an appointment date of the 22nd.  Come back then. I really had to rely on the Holy Spirit for self-control at this point.  “Can we just wait and take someone’s place if they don’t show up?”, I asked.  There were 61 names on the list for that day and she didn’t sound hopeful but she said if we wanted to wait we could.

I had come prepared with an entire bag full of activities for the girls and I wasn’t about to give up that easily and just wait until the 22nd.  So Michael Luke and I took a seat and waited…  and prayed. We waited and waited some more.  After only an hour and half of waiting with no cell phone or television we were BOTH called back to have our fingerprints scanned.  It was an answer to so many people’s prayers and for that I’m thankful.

What’s Remains

  • Homestudy
  • Letter of Intent/ Pre-Approval
  • I800A sent/approval
  • Dossier to China
  • Letter of Action
  • I800 Sent
  • I800 Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Article 5 
  • Travel Approval from China
  • Consulate Appointment Date in China – Then entire trip revolves around this date!

So now we wait again.  It should take a few of days for our fingerprints to be checked and then once the approval is mailed to our agency we can contact the U.S. Consulate in China to ask for an appointment. Typically that date runs about a month out from Travel Approval or in our case when we have fingerprint approval.  So, I’m a little bummed that we missed out on the opportunity to travel early and skip the month long wait but at the same time I’m thankful.

I’m thankful because I have a little girl turning six at the beginning of March and we plan to have her party before travel. Even if it’s a spur of the moment party on a random weeknight she will have her party because once we return home we really won’t be getting out much as we go through the bonding process.  There’s also this little house project we have going on and preparing to move once we get back from China.  I’m also a huge fan of consignment sales and have been busy listing the girls old clothes for one of the sales coming up that I also plan to volunteer and shop at.  I love being able to knock out almost all my shopping for them in one trip so I really hate to miss out on that.  So even though we won’t be traveling this month we’ve got plenty to do to keep us busy until it’s time to travel.  Through all this God has been reminding me that he is never a day early or a day late but always on time.  For me to have it or wish for it any other way would be against his plans. I can rest in that.

For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. – Habukkuk 2:3

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Christmas Break

For the non-homeschooling people out there you may wonder how Christmas break is different than a school week for my girls since we stay home everyday anyway.  Or, how is it different for me?

It’s no different for us than any other family. The girls seems to believe that no school for two weeks is going to be the most amazing thing ever!  When asked what they were going to do all day they each replied, “play”.  I told them they would probably get bored of so much free time and be begging for school to start back after the new year. We shall see.

For me, it’s an intentional break from staying caught up with the lesson plan and straggling the line between mommy and teach while trying to maintain cooperation and order in the classroom… dining room/ bedroom floor, sofa.  It’s two weeks to try to catch up on house cleaning and maybe even organize a thing or two.  It’s two weeks to plan stress free crafts, movie dates, and special excursions with the girls. Who knows we may even get a little crazy and skip quiet time one or twice!

Christmas break is also a reminder that this is my last two weeks free with just my two girls.  My last extended special time with them before Judah joins us early next year.  I’m soaking it up and making the most of by doing things like painting our nails and watching movies like White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life with them.

We are so excited about bringing Judah home next year but I know that enjoying this special time with just the two of them isn’t something to be wasted. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was enjoying my last few weeks with just Noah.

Adoption is a lot like pregnancy in that at first you don’t know much about your child. Then you get those first sonogram pictures or decide on a country and you really start to envision this child and picture them in your future. Next, you have the gender reveal or matching. Then. Then you can see those hands, the feet, the eyelashes, little bits of a personality and you are ready for to hold that little one in your arms and give them all the love that they need.

Well that’s where we have been since July….and why thinking of him lying in a crib with dozens of other little ones makes me sad and eager to bring him home.  God is using this time to remind me to pray for him.  To be thankful for the caregivers he has there and that he is being cared for.  To be thankful that we are only three to four months away from travel.  And to be thankful that last month we received an update on him with pictures and a twenty second video.  Twenty seconds… it’s not much different than what an expecting mom sees of her little one on sonogram. Enough to cause us to fall even more in love with the little on God is entrusting us with.  Enough to cherish.

So besides singing Christmas carols and drinking eggnog what special activities are you planning these last few days before Christmas?

Until we travel to China next year we are not allowed to share identifying pictures of Judah. Please know that we wish we could share his beautiful face with you but that we are just following guidelines.  To follow our entire adoption journey click the adoption tab above or use this link.

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