Thursday, June 30, 2011

the chip-in's done.

Thank you to all of you who gave so generously to our fundraiser to bring James home. We have been overwhelmed by the support and love of those most dear to us. I have so much to share but frankly I need to close my eyes and put this day to rest, so I'm off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I can fill you in.

But I just had to stop in for a second and say one last 'thank you' since the Chip-In was complete yesterday.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

there's a little boy...

...whose dreams have come true. His name is Vanya and JD and I have had the pleasure of witnessing firsthand God's mighty, loving hands at work in giving this sweet boy a family. All you have to do is take a gander at these photos and look at this child in the arms of his mother and father to know without a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful and loving and good.

Oh wait, and before you do, know that this child, who had been overlooked and overlooked (because he's HIV+) for years, asked his orphanage director everyday -- every. day. -- when a family was going to come for him.

Can you imagine?

Well, today is that day.

I dare to believe you'll never forget this little face. I know I won't. It is etched in my mind forever. And I cannot wait to meet him one day and hug his little self.

Friday, June 24, 2011


First of all, I need to let you know that our Chip-In needs correction. We received $2350 by checks from friends and family! Can you believe that!? So the Chip-In should read $3250!

That's just so cool.

And I want to mention that a woman in Australia contributed to help us bring James home. That sweet thing doesn't even know us! That is such a tender reminder to me that God's people really do inhabit all four corners of the Earth.

But there's more. I just can't share it yet. Please be patient while I figure out just how...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Norfolk fingerprinting...done!

Man, it feels like things are mooooving!

Last Friday (was that really a week ago already?), we FedEx'd our dossier to the courier in DC. It was processed at the State Department this past Monday. It was submitted to the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday. Our courier will pick it up on Monday and overnight it back to us. We will then send it to Wide Horizons who will then send it to China. I can't believe that in just a matter of a week or two (prayerfully) our dossier could be in China! That's astounding to me.

For your viewing pleasure, this is our dossier.

I once saw a photo of a dossier and, being the visual person I am, it helped me to take it in a bit. Not to mention that these two Vannas add so much to this photo! :)

We also completed our USCIS appointment in Norfolk on Wednesday! A high-five was had after we strolled out of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Immigration Services' (USCIS) office with not a single glitch to be had! I think that was a first. To think that two major milestones were crossed in just one week tickles me pink. Okay, purple. :)

Our kids are such troopers! After racing out of the house at 7:30 AM (and it wasn't even a school day!) and driving two hours for a 15-minute appointment we felt like a fun activity was due us all. So we spent the day in Norfolk touring the USS Wisconsin and the Nauticus Museum. The kids fed the koi and learned all about the monstrous battleship that so many of our servicemen called home for part of their lives. It was a great day! In more ways than one!

Monday, June 20, 2011

dossier gone!

We had two reasons to celebrate on Friday.

First, our girls completed their school year! Summer is here!


I can't tell you how much we were all counting the days. It seems that the days from Memorial Day to the last day of school just poked, poked, and poked by. As my father-in-law says, it was like watching paint dry. My goodness our girls had great years. Avery cruised through kindergarten -- and learned to read! She was so excited to start reading. Prior to starting kindergarten, she actually wondered out loud to us a few times whether she would ever read! Sweet girl. We, of course, reassured her that she would and as the letter sounds she'd come to know began to form words this year, the grin on her face was priceless.

Then our Sweet P came off the bus weeping!

What in tarnation would cause a child to come home on her last day of school crying?!

Well, it was actually a very sweet reason...she was grieving the end of her days with her much-adored 3rd grade teacher. She said many of the girls cried that day -- including she and her best buddy who cried together throughout their bus ride home! Sweet, tender-hearted little girls. I have to admit, this teacher's genuine love for our Lord and her openly sharing her faith with Payton throughout the year (as JD and I encouraged her to do if she felt it was appropriate) was more than we could've asked for. God has been so good to us with our children's teachers.

But the other thing that was great about Friday, was...

Well, two things...

On our way to Busch Gardens (!), we FedEx'd our dossier to our courier who was hand delivering it to the State Department today and then to the Chinese Embassy tomorrow!

Can you believe it!? Talk about a humungous, obnoxious, heard-for-miles exhale!

Our courier should get it back this Friday or next Monday. It will then be overnighted to us. We will then send it to our agency with six photos of us around our home. Interesting, huh?

This is where that earlier prayer request comes in again...

Remember the thing about China requiring that dossiers be sent in batches?! Yes, well, because of that requirement, our agency only sends them to China once every six weeks! Oh friends, the thought of our dossier sitting in out-going mail for six weeks makes my stomach turn. Please pray that our dossier, by the grace of God, will arrive to Wide Horizons the week before they're set to send out another batch! Just enough time for our social worker(s) to look over it and get it packaged up and sent off! That would be awesome!

Thank you, thank you! More to come soon!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


If this doesn't prove that God loves us, including the fatherless orphan, with a fierce love, I don't know what does. No matter the longitude and latitude one is born in. No matter the family one has or doesn't have. No matter one's past. No matter. Our Heavenly Father, who spoke the universe into existence, also created each one of us with our own unique gifts. Clearly, this young man has found his! Praising You, Lord, for how you redeem lives!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ready to wait.

I was able to make a deposit to our savings account today that was joy-filled. And gratitude filled. We knew that in the next several weeks, we'd have to pay a bunch of little fees that add up to a bunch of money and we're ready thanks to some of you! Get this. When our dossier is submitted to the State Department next week and then the Chinese Embassy after that, this is what we need to be prepared to do:

1. Write a check made out to the courier we're using for $15 per document. Plus, a new surcharge of $5 for the increased cost of fuel. FYI: we have about 10 or 12 documents! Yow.

2. A check made out to the "U.S. Department of State" for $8 per document. Two separate checks if more than 15 documents.

3. A money order or cashier's check (they won't accept personal checks) made out to "The Embassy of China" for $20 per document for a 5-day turnaround. Add $20 per document for overnight turnaround. Good gracious. We won't be going the overnight route.

Holy cow. I only include all this so you can 'feel' how crazy this process is. It's a weird kind of crazy. Exhilarating while at the same time exhausting. I dunno. One minute, I'm pumped up and in 'battle mode' and the next, I feel the weariness of the last eight months setting in.

I was telling some sweet girlfriends last night that the timing's perfect for us to wrap up our dossier and get it sent off just in time for summer. Then the summer will be our waiting period. Perfect. We'll be in and out, here and there and I won't have to be checking email constantly, having conference calls, running to the post office, running around town. All that will be done. Until we get a travel date. Praying that will be sooner rather than later.

Trucking right along...

Friday, June 10, 2011

yet again...

Omigoodness. This journey is such an adventure. And I do like adventure, but wow. What I think is next often is not.

Case in point...

Remember yesterday when I said I have more to tell?...

Well, I was excited to say that our dossier was officially complete and certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth yesterday, but alas...there's a snag.

(Virginia's so lah-dee-dah that we don't call ourselves a State, we're a Commonwealth). Who knows.

My mom, Brooks, Jackson and I went downtown yesterday to get all the documents certified. I parked at a meter after driving around the block several times to find the building. My mom agreed to wait in the car with the boys unless I called her and told her it was going to take a while and then we'd get out and stroll around. Our goal was to have them certified while we waited. A friend told me they did it in 15 minutes while she waited. That wasn't my luck. The woman acted like I was crazy when I implied such a possibility. She said I could come back at 2 o'clock to pick up the documents. It was 11 AM. Oh, and by the way, she said the Secretary can't certify documents from another state (our birth certificates and marriage license -- we're so green at this!...what do we know?) and one of notarizations is incomplete. For the love...

So, I succumb to the knowledge that this is definitely not going to be done in one day. Off we go on the rest of our errands...

Fortunately, the notary who notarized a bunch of our documents is one of JD's co-workers so I called him to say we need the notary block added. A couple hours later, I'm able to run that one document over to his work and we literally have the notary/co-worker sign the notary block as she's on the elliptical machine during her lunch break! I then head straight back downtown, do the same U-turn, park at the meters, walk a block or two in the squelching heat, go back through the medal detectors, have my purse and bursting-at-the-seams-adoption-binder scanned for contraband and I'm back in front of the same receptionist. She hands me all the certified documents. I hand her the formerly rejected one and she certifies it on the spot! A check is written for $80 and I'm outa there!

Woot! Woot!

But, what about these out of state documents? Upon further inspection, we realize both our birth certificates have certifications attached from their respective Secretary of State (ahhh...I knew there was a reason we requested that they be appostilled). However, our marriage license is literally the one we were handed when we got married. No certification. Yes, a wimpy seal thingy, but I can tell just by looking at it that this ain't gonna fly. We plan a call with our dossier specialist with WHFC. She says we should definitely get our marriage license certified by Tennessee's Secretary of State.

Funny she should mention that because I already ordered it in April and never got it. It just occurred to me a week or two ago that we never got it and I should call and get our money back! And since we've had a marriage license and it seems to have been working so far, it was not on my radar to follow-up on why we never got the one I ordered. Well, now it was.

I call VitalChek who I ordered our marriage license from (and our birth certificates from). Right as it's dialing, I remember that a woman from Vital Records in Tennessee had called me many weeks ago to confirm that we wanted the marriage license appostilled.

'Yes, we do. Thank you.'

Weeks and weeks, nothing.

My email confirmation from them was dated April 14th. And the $30 had been debited from our account a long time ago. But no marriage license.

The man says, "Oh, well the woman you spoke with never moved it out of the 'needs attention' status to the 'submit for processing' status."


Folks, I know the Holy Spirit dwells within me, but these are the moments that Fleshy Heather wants to rudely shove that gentle and loving Spirit aside and fuss at someone, 'Excuuuuse me!?'

He says, "Yes, your order's just been waiting for someone to process it. And it's a good thing it wasn't processed because she put in here that you didn't want it appostilled."

Okay, so there is a bit of blessing in here. JD and I are now abundantly clear about what documents need to look like and how official they need to be for a China dossier. So, I change my order to two copies ('cause you just never know), both appostilled, and ask if they can absorb the cost of overnighting them because, well, they screwed up and that's the last document we're waiting for. He says they will do that. Big sigh.

So our final document should be here by late next week. We've been in touch with the courier who will submit everything to the State Department and Chinese Embassy. Perhaps that can happen the week after next.

Oh, and you won't believe all that's involved in that. Good heavens. I'll fill you in later.

Again, thank you to each and every one of you that have contributed to the 'Bring Sweet Baby James Home' fund. You are truly walking alongside us! Thank you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

you won't believe this...

...the money just keeps coming in. More everyday. A check yesterday. A check today. An email offering to give and needing to know who to make the check out to. I mean, seriously.

AND, even crazier. Our contact with the Abba Fund (whom we applied for financial assistance from many months ago) sent us an email yesterday saying that there was going to be a meeting yesterday to review 'pending applications' and ours is one of them.


I didn't know ours was pending. How can it be pending when we were turned down?

Haven't heard back from her, but will. And, honestly, if we didn't, it's okay. I see God moving so beautifully and gracefully through this situation that I know every dime will be there when we need it. I know, know, know that James is going to be tucked sweetly into bed under this roof. I know he'll breathe the same air that his brothers breathe as they all slumber away in their room. Precious. I cannot wait.

And I have more news, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'm tired. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

feelin' the love!

Tears have flowed this morning as we've learned of friends giving to help bring James home. The response is overwhelming. Humbling. Even heart-breaking.

Sometimes friends are like family. When you feel as loved as we've felt throughout this process you're just convicted that friends are sometimes as dear as flesh and blood. The encouragement we've received, the prayers that have been lifted on our behalf, the prior donations given before there even was a fundraiser, it all causes us to feel tremendously loved.

My question becomes: what do we do with this feeling of indebtedness? How do we come to peace with it?

Perhaps the answer is to love James with all our hearts just like we do Payton, Avery, Jackson and Brooks. Perhaps it's to give thanks everyday for this family God's handcrafting. Perhaps it's to give back. Perhaps it's to pay it forward. Perhaps it's to be willing to 'go' no matter what going looks like. Perhaps it's all of these things. But what I do know, is thank you just doesn't feel like enough. But thank you dear, sweet friends.

From JD and I both, thank you.

By the way, I did have a friend say (the second friend actually to say this) that the whole Paypal thing is kind of a pain and they're not terribly comfortable giving that way (through the Chip In). This is kind of awkward and I say this with complete humility, but if you would prefer to give by writing a check, that is fine too. Just email me at

Feelin' the love over here in Richmond!

Friday, June 3, 2011

i refuse

I heard this song for the first time a couple of months ago. I just love it. It's one of those songs. You know...the kind that you turn up so loud that the volume drowns out your own voice! That's the best. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Moving right along in more ways than one.

I know the Chip-In says there have been no contributors to this point, but that isn't true! A check was waiting in our mailbox today from a dear friend for $500. Yes, you read that right. There are two zeros after that five. Humbled and grateful don't seem sufficient. God is moving in this. I just feel it. He moves His people to respond to the needs of the fatherless. How else in the world would their needs be met? They do not have a family. We are their only hope. We, God's people, are James' only hope.

If you want an incredible example of God's people responding in a mighty way to the plight of fatherless orphans, read this. Brace yourself, though. The photos are hard to look at.

Stories like this are why I even felt like it could be remotely possible to raise $10,000. $10,000. That's a lot of money. Well not for an army. We've seen it over and over again. And, folks, it's humbling. In fact, it puts me in my place sometimes. Those defeated moments when I wonder in my smallest of places, 'God, can you really do this?' Oh my. Can He ever.

Update: we sent off the copies of our dossier documents to Wide Horizons for the China dossier specialist to review. She'll confirm that everything looks right, they're all signed, notarized, stamped, etc. Once she gives us the all-clear, which could be as early as Monday, then we head to the Secretary of State to have the documents certified. The SOS basically just certifies that all the notarizations are legal and legit. Probably checking to be sure the notary's commission isn't expired, etc. That supposedly only takes a trip downtown and it's done in a matter of minutes. Once the documents are certified, they will be hand-delivered by courier to the Chinese Consulate in DC. That will just take a couple of days to perform. The Chinese Consulate will then send the completed dossier to Wide Horizons and they will send it off to China. This is what we need prayer about: China requests that dossiers are only sent in batches once every six weeks. They want agencies to compile a batch of dossiers and send them all off to China together versus sending them individually as they come in. Our prayer request is that our dossier will arrive on week 5, day 4. We want our dossier to sit for only a matter of days before being sent to China. If you're a praying person, will you pray that the timing of all this will fall just perfectly, so our dossier can get to China as soon as possible? Once the dossier gets to China, it could be months before we hear anything. Ahhh.

And the final thing to note is that JD and I got our fingerprinting appointment with USCIS (in Norfolk). They schedule you a time and date and you better be there even if the creek rises! Our biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment is on Tuesday, June 22nd. JD has a one-day business trip to New York the day before, so pray that he'll return without issue on the 21st so we can head to Norfolk on the 22nd. Our appointment's at 10 AM.

Thank you so very much for your prayers! They're priceless.


Design By Sour Apple Studio | All Rights Reserved