Thursday, July 28, 2011


JD and I have had lots 'n lots of conversations over the months about how very exciting it will be to meet James and hold him in our arms. But then our discussions quickly shift to how terribly traumatic that glorious event (for us) will be for him. The true fear he may experience by being, in his heart and mind, virtually kidnapped by two strange white people.

Well, look at these photos.

Y'all, this precious little girl's new adoptive parents have loved and adored her from afar for so many months. But to her, they're just strangers. As is obvious from the photos.

Some countries introduce adoptive parents to the adoptive child and then require the parents to visit the child at the orphanage for as much as six weeks of daily visits and multiple trips for the parents before the adoption is final. As much as that may be hard on the adoptive parents -- especially those who have children they've left at home -- it may be the easiest transition for the child.

China, on the other hand, introduces the child to the parent(s) and the child goes with the parent(s) that very day back to their hotel. Within just days, the adoption is final. The parent(s) and child are usually back in the States within two weeks. Again, nice and swift for the parents, but perhaps way too rapid for a child's little heart to adjust.

JD and I have heard the stories. But these photos bring it very close to home. In just a matter of months, we will be overjoyed while James will likely be terrified.

Of us.

James may very well refuse to eat. He may cry for hours and hours in grief. He may not be able to sleep. He may completely withdraw and stop doing all the things that he was doing -- including talking, smiling, playing, and laughing.

For months, I've been praying for God to prepare our hearts, but now that prayer seems more desperate. A month zips by so fast these days and to think we could be traveling in as little as four months (probably six, but you never know) means that time is of the essence. Our sweet James needs prayer. We need prayer.

Thank you for your support, love and prayers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teri Lynn

Y'all, there's a little girl, Teri Lynn, who desperately needs a family. Please pray that the right family will come along for her -- sooner rather than later. As you can see from the two photos below, Teri Lynn is not doing well. The first photo shows her at her 'baby house' before being transferred to a mental institution after she turned five (this is protocol for orphans with special needs). The second photo was taken just a few shorts weeks after being transferred. Clearly, she is not doing well.

Absolutely crushing.

Her adoption fund has been raised. The financial barrier has been removed for the family that claims her as their own. Over $22,000 was raised in just a few short days. Mind boggling.

Won't you please pray for this sweet, little girl? Pray that God will stir the hearts of the perfect family for her...that family that will race to rescue her from a living hell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

photos and I-800

This trip has been an adventure, for sure. I have loved so much about it, but it's odd to travel for this length of time without JD.

My mom said today that she asked Payton how she would grade this vacation and Payton gave it a B. My mom asked why a B and she said 'because my daddy's not here.' My sentiments exactly.

Here are some shots from our trip so far...

Lake Michigan

Pasties are a big hit in these parts. Everyone loves pasties. Pasties are like homemade Hot Pockets. I had to take this photo because we passed many restaurants that serve pasties, but this one is Gram's Pasties. And 'Gram' is what I've called my grandmother for years.

On our way through the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan), we came upon a chainsaw sculptor. Can you believe these pieces of art started out with a chainsaw and a tree!? Unbelievable.

My mom's cousins own this beautiful log home -- and don't live in it! They built it about ten years ago because they were in that line of work, but then couldn't bear to leave their life 'in town' and move out to 'the woods' (which is about 20 minutes outside of town). However, they occasionally rent it to folks and graciously let us stay in it. They were such dear hosts! Our kids ooh'd and ahh'd when we pulled up and didn't want to do anything but hang out at the house! If we went into town, the kids moaned about wanting to go back to the log house! Such a treat.

A few shots of the interior.

I don't know if you can tell but the staircase is made out of logs and the main central support log is shaped like a slingshot with a horizontal log through the center. Amazing attention to detail. A truly one-of-a-kind home.

This is a view from the family room into the kitchen. I can't tell you how much fun it was to stay in this home. And God knew exactly what I'd need to get through four days (without JD's reinforcements) in mosquito infested Minnesota where our kids couldn't play outside...a full basement with a ping pong table! Just like at home, I could send the kids to the basement to let off some steam when they were getting too rowdy! :)

I was born in Michigan. I spent much of my summers in Michigan. But I had no idea. I was a child the last time I traveled by road through northern Michigan and the UP. I have no recollection of the beauty -- or perhaps I simply just didn't notice it. Holy cow. It was gorgeous.
Lake Michigan just about 20 miles northeast of the Mackinac Bridge.

I'll post more photos from our time on Mackinac Island. It was unlike anywhere else I've been in the world. More on that later...

And onto the latest with James' adoption!...

While we were gone, our I-800 (immigration approval) came in! Yay! We now have approval from the US government to immigrate James! That feels very cool. It's nicely waiting at home for me to pounce on! Remember we're going to have to send it through all the channels that our dossier went through? Will probably take a couple of weeks.

But these were the perfect few weeks to have to 'wait' for that to come in. I wait really well when I'm roaming the Great Lakes region with my kiddos, mom and grandmother! What a rough, rough wait it's been. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Anyone ever been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? How 'bout Northern Wisconsin? Or Minnesota? We have been in all three places just today!

Isn't that crazy?!

My mom, grandmother, kids and I are roadtrippin' to Minnesota (after picking up my grandmother in Michigan). Sadly, JD's at home conserving his vacation time for a possible international jaunt (a-hem...for a certain little boy). As if I need to say it...we're missing him something awful.

We're off to visit my grandmother's family in Minnesota. I've been to my grandmother's hometown when I was a child and then again as a newlywed. I haven't driven this beautiful route since I was kid and, frankly, I could've cared less about the beauty of the surroundings. But oh. my. goodness. I'm appreciating it this time. Talk about gorgeous.

We went over the Mackinac Bridge this morning. Stunning.

I'll post photos as soon as I learn how to upload them off my phone.

Still waiting for our immigration approval, but our dossier should be in China, so I'm a happy girl. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

dossier update...

We had a conference call with our newest social worker last week (there have been several changing of the guards during this sojourn of ours). Maternity leave, life, etc. No worries. We understand.

Let's cut to the chase: she said our dossier will be submitted to China and we'll get our pre-approval (PA) in three to four months after that. Our travel approval (TA) will come about two months after that. We'll travel a month or so after we get our travel approval.

3 (or 4) + 2 + 1 = 6 (or 7)

It's lookin' like at least six months, y'all, before we'll travel to get James. Have I mentioned that I'm not a patient person by nature? Okay, just checking. Have I mentioned that this process has been oh-so-very good for me? He is definitely cultivating patience in me.

I was a little bummed, but that quickly passed when our conversation somehow turned to our immigration approval (remember that USCIS, I-800, thingy?). Yeh, well. We haven't gotten our approval yet. No need to fret -- it takes 60 to 90 days. (We filed ours on May 12th). But I started to fret when our social worker sounded perplexed and said we can't submit our dossier until that comes in.

Deafening silence.

"I thought we were mailing our dossier to you tomorrow morning and were told it would go out with the batch next week?"

Did you catch that? Yes, all those times I asked you guys to pray that our dossier would arrive to our agency on week 5, day 2...well, that's right now!

She says that approval is supposed to be part of our dossier. We then explain to her that the I-797 (Notice of Action) is part of our dossier and we were told to have that notarized, certified and authenticated. She says she doesn't believe we're talking about the same thing and asks if I can scan it and email it to her (sure thing, no problem). I then explain to her that before we had a single document certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia and before any of our dossier was sent off to the courier in DC, we were asked to send copies of all the documents to the 'dossier specialist' with our agency so she could review them all and make sure everything was accurate because she didn't want us to unnecessarily certify or authenticate anything and we certainly didn't want to miss something. She gave us the go ahead, so we proceeded to put all the documents through all the required channels.

We wrap up our call. I email her the document.

JD comes in the room and we start talking about this whole situation. I tell him how frustrated I'll be if we're missing a vital part of our dossier and it now can't be submitted -- missing the batch that goes out next week!

The situation would be this:

Wait another couple of weeks to get our immigration approval (dossier sits while we wait). Receive approval document in the mail. Get it notarized. Take it downtown to be certified by Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Send it to our courier in DC. They take it to the State Department for certification and then on to the Chinese Embassy for authentication. All this could take many, many weeks total. Going through all these channels again for one document.

At this point, JD's placating me by telling me we need to prepare ourselves that our dossier is not complete without this document and will not be sent to China next week.

If you've been following along through this process you know that I struuuuggle with this kind of stuff!

And my husband who can be oh-so-sweet (who turns on the calm when I'm on the verge of losing mine) almost makes it worse. So you know what he says?

"Honey, do you want to pray about it?"

Ya know what I said?

"No, I don't."

Okay, so I had a smurk on my face. But, y'all, you know how it is when your spirit is literally battling it out with your flesh! I did not feel like doing the right thing. I did not feel led. I did not feel drawn to humbling myself before the Lord. I felt like screaming at someone. I wanted to hold someone accountable for not paying attention! For misleading us! For causing us to think we'd jumped through all the hoops and we made it!

So JD comes over and sits in front of me and says he's going to pray that somehow we can submit our dossier. I asked him if he would please just pray for me to be forgiving, patient and full of peace around this situation. He grinned and says coyly, "I was going to pray for that too."


So, we pray.

I kid you not...

My email dings the minute we finish.

There's a reply from our social worker. She says she talked to the program director and the bad news is that the document we have from USCIS (the I-797) is not the official approval (yet) and we have to wait for that. But the good news is that she was told that they can go ahead and submit our dossier to China and it can be in line to be reviewed while we wait for our immigration approval! Woot! Woot!

I was reading the email out loud choking back tears! (This process is making me into such a cry-baby!). JD and I just threw our heads back and laughed! I mean, seriously.

So, our dossier should be on it's way to China by the end of this week! Like any day. I can hardly believe it.

We will get a log-in date (LID) and be working towards our pre-approval! And, yes, we will have to take that one document and send it through all the painstaking channels our other documents went through, but that's fine at this point. We just want our dossier to get in line so we can get to James.

Thank you, Lord, for how you answer prayers and hear every one!


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