Saturday, February 6, 2016

An update on our adoption...

is that there is no new news.

All of our paperwork has been turned in.  China has received it and is reviewing it.  All we can do for the time being is to wait, and to pray for our little girl.  Kathleen has become our little prayer warrior as she prays for little sister all the time, though waiting is not Kat's strength.  Truthfully, she might get that from her parents.

But many of our friends and family have inquired as to the status of our adoption.  Our status is to wait as patiently as we can.  We are waiting for a phone call from our agency with our daughter's file- her name, age, picture, social and medical history. This is called our referral. And once we receive the referral we are matched.

After we are matched, there is more paperwork. More fees. And travel plans. And more waiting. 4-5 months from our referral we will travel to China to bring her home!!!!

The benefit to waiting is that we have already bonded with our little girl, whoever she is. We long for her, we pray for her, we imagine what family life will be like once she gets here.  We are excited, and certainly eager, and as soon as we hear, you will hear.

Specific prayer requests as we wait:
Peace and patience
God's miraculous and perfect timing for travel
Last $5000 of adoption expenses
And for her- Praying for our baby girl 

If you are looking to catch up on our journey, here are links to our past posts:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fundraising and your generous support

As we have previously mentioned, probably more than once, the process for us to adopt our little girl is an expensive one.  Once we made the decision to pursue adoption, we immediately started saving and allocating monthly income to go towards the costs.  But from the very beginning we knew we would have to look for creative ways to help us meet the costs.

As we talked about different ways we could use our skills to raise money, we knew that it had to be more than just a fundraiser; we wanted to get people involved in our story and excited for our little girl.  Well, our recent efforts, and your incredible (and yes, surprising -Adam has been very surprised and humbled- by the amount of money that has come in to support us) generosity have helped us in a huge way.  And we want to say thank you to those that have given or supported us, and explain what that money is allowing us to do in our process.

In case you missed them, here is a quick list of the different ways we worked to raise funds:
  • family photo sessions
  • Instagram auction 
  • homemade cake pops and caramel corn at a craft faire 
  • Mama t-shirts 
The out of pocket cost for us has been minimal.  Everything auctioned was donated, the supplies for the homemade goodies were all purchased strategically with coupons.  The t-shirts were given to us at below cost.  So while we put in a little money at the front end, we have been successful at using these opportunities to generate funding for our adoption. All said and done: we raised over $3,800!!  

Furthermore, November 8th was Adoption Sunday and we were given an opportunity to speak briefly in church.  You can watch most of it here. As we finished saying our few words, we were blessed with a special offering that will be used to pay adoption costs on our behalf.  

We have also received notification that we have been approved for one of the 5 grants we have applied for (no word from the other 4 until the end of the year at least)! Add to that a number of checks and envelopes of cash given to us in person or showing up in our mailbox, and the funds just keep growing.  Every time someone gives to our adoption it is humbling and exciting.  Every single time.  Every single dollar.

Overall, we have $25,000 out of  the expected $35,000 total.  We have almost 3/4 of our adoption expenses! Where will your generosity get us?  It will allow us to pay all filing fees for the US government, all filing fees for the Chinese government, all fees for our adoption agency, and all the in-country fees and expenses (like visas, orphanage fee, medical exams, paperwork and more paperwork!)   All that we have left are the travel costs to and in China to pick up our little girl.  We cannot wait to announce that our adoption is fully funded! To even write that statement, I get a little choked up.

This is an incredible feat and we are so thrilled.  So thrilled.  And blessed.  Adam continually reminded Laura to keep her expectations low because he was afraid she would be disappointed.  Shame on him!  She continued to remind him she could pray big. Laura was surprised.  Adam was certainly surprised.  We are blown away by your incredible generosity.  So thank you all so much for supporting us so greatly.  

And the best news is that since we can pay for all the fees, we can process all our paperwork which means we will be matched with our little girl soon!!!  Can you even stand to wait to see her picture?  Or a video?  We are so thankful that right now, money is not a hindrance to us being matched.  Although there is much to be done before that can happen (translation: paperwork and government bureaucracy), as each approval occurs, we are prepared to pay for the next round of fees.  Praise the Lord from whom all blessings come!

He is faithful to provide.  We knew He would, but it has been amazing and humbling to experience it.  Thank you for being a part of God's calling in our lives.  May the Lord bless you each for allowing Him to use you to bless us in this journey!  

Thank you for your support and prayers generosity. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I-800A Approved

We received notification that our I-800A or the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country was approved!

This a big step in the right direction.

We are now able to submit all of our dossier paperwork for authentication to the California Secretary of State.  And then to the Chinese Consulate.

Please pray for expediency in these next two rounds of approvals.

Friday, October 16, 2015

from the mouths of babes

This whole adoption thing has really turned our world upside down. It is a regular part of discussion in our house.  Every day we talk about our "new baby sister" with our kids.  We don't force the issue, it just comes up.  They are clearly thinking about her and processing, which is a great thing.

They say things that melt my heart and make me want to pray and cry and laugh all at once.  They are so thoughtful it makes my heart ache.

Starting before we ever told our kids about our adoption plans, Garrett clearly had a heart for orphans.  I will just let their little voices speak for themselves (we keep a notebook of the tender and funny things these monkeys say).
Garrett: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for the little boys and girls who don't have mommies or daddies who love them.  Or grandmas and grandpas.  Please keep them safe. Amen.

Garrett: Mommy, why are there little boys and girls without mommies and daddies?
Mama: (thinking to self, why do theses conversations never happen when DADDY.IS.HOME?) Well, bud some mommies and daddies can't take care of their kids because they don't have any money, or they are sick, or they die, and sadly, sometimes they just don't want to
Garrett: What happens to them?
Mama: Well, if they don't have grandmas or grandpas or aunts or uncles to take care of them, they live in an orphanage.  That is where there are a bunch of kids and not enough adults.
Garrett: Not enough adults?
Mama: Well, the grownups have to feed, and clothe, and clean so many kids that there isn't enough love to go around. So, if they fall and get hurt, there might not be someone to snuggle and kiss their bruise.
Garrett: What can we DO???
Mama: Let's think.  What can we do?
Garrett: We could send money or toys.  (thinking thinking thinking- then jumps up and throws hand up excitedly) Or we could bring one of them to live with us and we could be their family!
Mama: (holding back tears) Yes, Garrett.  We could do that.

It was here that we decided Garrett was ready to hear about our plans to adopt.  When we told him, he jumped up and down and did a happy dance.

Kat: My new sister be Kathleen?
Mama: No, I don't think her name will be Kathleen.  I don't know what her name will be.
Garrett: I think.... Lily.

Mama: Kat, I have a surprise for you.
Kat: is it my new sister?!?!
Mama: No. Bummer.

Kat: Dear God, thank you for my new baby sister.  I love her. Please bring her home soon.  Because I want her NOW.
Mama: Me too, baby girl.  Me too.

Garrett: Will my new sister be happy when she comes home?
Mama: Maybe not.  She won't understand that we are her family right away.  Everything will be different and she might be scared.
Garrett: We can tell her that we love her and she doesn't need to be afraid.
Mama: Yes, we will.  But she probably won't understand us right away. 
Garrett: Because she will speak Chinese and we speak English?
Mama: Yes.  She will learn very quickly.  But she won't understand us right away.
Garrett: We need to learn Chinese so we can tell her we love her!

Daily we have theses conversation.  As if I wasn't on the verge anyway, these conversations are almost too much for my mama heart.  It makes me ache for our baby girl.  It makes me so proud of the thoughts my kids have.  The concern and love they have for their baby sister.  And it astounds me how deeply they think about her.  About what she is feeling right now.  About what she will feel when she comes home.  I am so thankful God has called us to adopt.  For us.  For our kids.  For their future families.  Because we have been changed already and I am excited (and super duper scared) to see what God has in store for our family.

Friday, October 2, 2015


we received our approved home study (Yay!)

submitted our I-800A to the US Department of Homeland Security (ok, our check was made out to the US Dept of Homeland Security; we submitted it to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services lockbox where it will then be forwarded to the National Benefits Center)

submitted our first grant application (and started 3 more)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Let's talk money

The very fact that we are talking about money today means this post is brought to you by Laura.  Adam will tell you that I am the financial mastermind in our family.  And so I have the privilege of looking at the overwhelming cost of international adoption and helping to explain where all that money goes!

So, I made a little pie chart.  Because I am nerdier than most people realize.

We have established that adoption is expensive, international adoption especially so.  So, why is that?
 In the life cycle of an adoption, you pay for all kinds of things.  Small things like passport photos, online classes, books, notarization, certified copies of birth certificates for EVERYONE in your family, etc.  You also pay for big things like agency fees and travel expenses.

Let's work our way through each category.

When looking at the chart, you can see that travel is the single biggest expense, however, it is still only about 1/3 of the total cost.  Frankly, it is expensive to travel internationally on relatively short notice.  Additionally, we will be in China for about 2 weeks which means accommodations and additional travel in-country as we travel from our arrival city, to the province where the orphanage is (and China is big, so that travel is not a little taxi ride...), to the Consulate to finalize the adoption, to a major airport.  Also, it may surprise you but neither of us have a secret talent in speaking Chinese (although I have just started Rosetta Stone...), so we will need to utilize a translator during our trip.

The next largest expense is country fees.  That is different from travel.  Travel costs includes what we will need to spend in order to be there.  Country fees include a fee to submit our paperwork to the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption), translation costs for documents, visas, and various civil affairs fees. The largest cost in this category is a donation to the Children's Welfare Institute in China.  This donation enables the orphanages to continue to provide care.

Agency fees are fairly self-explanatory. We have an adoption agency and they provide a number of services for us including completing our homestudy, verifying all documents, submitting documents for authentication and translation, wiring all payments required in China, and facilitating our referral.  They also provided 10 hours of required education and have answered countless emails with questions and concerns.  Our agency fees are very reasonable, and thousands less than many others for an adoption from China.

Post-adoption reporting is done with an agency social worker at regular intervals following the completion of the adoption.  China requires 4 reports.  Our agency will complete the reports and submit them on our behalf.  These reports enable our agency to maintain good relationships with agencies in China in order to allow China to remain open to adoptions in America.  So, kind of a big deal.

And lastly, we have education and documentation.  This includes our submission fee for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to be approved to adopt.  Also, our additional online education, forms, passport photos, and notarization all fall here.

It is a lot.  A lot of information.  And a lot of money.  And truthfully, we are not exactly sure how we will cover all of the costs.  We pray daily that the Lord will provide exactly what we need in order to bring our baby girl home soon.  We aren't exactly sure how we feel about fundraising, but the reality is that we will need help to make this happen.

A little statistic to provide food for thought... 33% of Americans consider adoption. 79% of those are concerned about the costs, the biggest deterrent. Less than 2% adopt. (source: ABBA Fund)  We hope to be in that 2%.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why China?

Once we decided that international was the way to adoption for us, we needed to decide where in the world to adopt from.  International is a pretty broad term, after all.  Since we had already chosen Nightlight Christian Adoptions as our agency, that narrowed our country list very dramatically.  Nightlight has a program in the following 14 countries: Bulgaria, Canada, China, Ghana, Haiti, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Nicaragua, Panama, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Romania.

Now, some people know they want to adopt from somewhere very specific.  They have always imagined themselves adopting a little boy from Ecuador, or a baby girl from Ghana.  Others feel very specifically God calling them to adopt a child with severe special needs from Korea, or they have a deep connection with South Africa and so they pursue adoption there.  Adam and I were in a strange spot at this point in the process.  We felt very clearly that international adoption was right for us, but we didn't feel especially drawn anywhere specifically.  Neither of us said "THERE, let's adopt from there".  So, we prayed that God would direct us somewhere specific.  And honestly, we looked at our options and started to narrow them down.

Let me walk you through our process.
Canada and the UK were out because Nightlight only processes relative adoptions in those countries.

Romania was next to be crossed off because one parent must be a Romanian citizen.

Latvia, Panama, and Ukraine went next because there are primarily children available older than ours.

Uganda and Nicaragua were both eliminated because they require visits of 45 days and 90-120 days respectively.  Kyrgyzstan requires three separate visits. Those travel requirements seemed logistically prohibitive with 3 small children.  This was a serious consideration for us.  We simply could not imagine taking our children with us for those visits, nor could we imagine leaving them home for that amount of time.  The travel requirements became a real factor in this process for us.

Bulgaria and Ghana can take up to 30 months for a referral after your dossier is logged in country. That could make the entire process 3 years- that's a long time to be in limbo.

This left China, Hong Kong, and Haiti.
Haiti has the highest program fees of the three.  And since we were already looking at very high costs, it scared us to walk into an especially pricey program. 
Down to 2.

Hong Kong and China.  Now, I wish I could say that we received super clear direction from the Holy Spirit and we simply walked in obedience.  But honestly, it was a much less spiritual experience.  Both Hong Kong and China have primarily children with special needs available for adoption.  I won't lie, that SCARED us.  We have three super healthy children today whose biggest health challenges included lactose intolerance as an infant and ear infections requiring tubes.  So to walk into an adoption expecting a special needs child was scary.  We wrestled with that.  We talked with a representative from our agency as we walked through that.

What led us ultimately to China was two-fold.
One, many children available in China have "minor or correctable special needs".  That seemed like something we could handle.  It was explained to us this way- if a child was born to us in the States with these needs, the issue would be addressed early on with little to no residual effects.  However, because of the Chinese "one child policy" and its lasting effects on parental expectations, children are abandoned.  Hong Kong has children primarily with more severe special needs.

Two, they offered a discount.  I know that sounds awful, but the cost of this whole endeavor was, and continues to be scary.  So, we thought it seemed prudent to take into account the cost.

Additionally, Nightlight has had a Chinese adoption program for 19 years and has upstanding relationships with 4 different orphanages in China.  They have had the opportunity to provide training and support to the caregivers in these orphanages which in turn allows for better care of the kids placed there.  With these relationships also comes more complete information about the kids- information is gold in an international adoption.  Nightlight is also given the first opportunity to place children from these orphanages which can make for shorter referral times and an overall smoother process.

Obviously this process is unique to our family- the ages of our children, the issues we feel prepared to parent well, our financial resources, our support system, the people in our lives, where we live, medical resources available to us, and our agency.  This process will look very different for each family.  But we figured we could provide a candid discussion of how we chose the international program to pursue.

The information provided about children available from specific countries can vary by agency.  Different agencies may work with different orphanages.  Also, program fees vary by agency.  So, if you are considering adoption and have your heart set on a specific country, don't let this information change your mind.  Find an agency you trust and work with them to make it happen.