Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wrapping Up Time in Shanghai

Thank you for following our story and our time here. We have had a full few days. We have been able to see much of Shanghai. It's been good for us to see the city where Zoe is from. We are thankful to have been able to see many of the highlights of this large city.

Tuesday marked the day our adoption was considered "official." She is our orphan no more. We are grateful for the privilege to be her parents. We pray for many to answer the call to adopt and that the millions of orphans will one day have their forever families. Today we celebrate one less orphan and are grateful she is ours!

Yesterday was a tough day for us all but especially for me. We visited the orphanage and while it was so good to see where Zoe spent the first two and a half years of her life, it broke my heart at the same time. You see, in her room are 17 little sweeties still waiting for their families. We do know one of them has a family on the way and 12 of them are eligible for adoption with their paperwork ready, but no families. The other four...they are still waiting for paperwork to be eligible for adoption. We were told about Zoe's little friend...he is still waiting for a family to step forward. I pray this little boy will know his Mama and Daddy soon. He is precious beyond what my words can describe and seeing Zoe with him broke my heart.

She did well with the visit and seemed to enjoy seeing her friends and her nannies. It was clear though that she wanted to leave with us and for that we are grateful. She is a joy and a delight and we are learning more about her as we go through each day. She has a strong will and wants her way...what two year old doesn't? We are having to navigate through some small tantrums. She has had some long days and I can imagine her little body is so tired. I know mine is!

Today we did some touring and thankfully it stopped raining for the first time since we've arrived in Shanghai. We saw a famous garden, did a little shopping, saw the Bund (famous area in Shanghai with views of the city) and walked Nanjing Road (think Time's Square of Shanghai). It was a full day and we were all exhausted by the time we made it home. Zoe went right to sleep after her bath. We are thankful for that! Tomorrow we pack up, head to the Notary office and then are off to the airport. We will be in Guangzhou tomorrow night and in exactly one week will be on a plane back to the states!

We hope you enjoy some of our pictures from the past few days!
Our first picture together
Family Picture on Gotcha Day
Baby girl loves her blocks!
Bath Time
Sweet Dreams

It's official...she is our daughter!
This was the bed where she slept...thankful to be bringing her home to her new bed!
Some of her friends from her room
Her best still my heart. Pray this sweet boy will have a family soon!
Leaving the orphan no more!
The gate to the orphanage...Zoe's finding spot.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Days

Our first two days with our sweet Zoe have been amazing. She has done well and continues to surprise us with all that she knows and does. She has been smiling since we got her and only gets upset if you try to take her snack cup or favorite toy (stacking cups). She loves to talk and baby girl loves to eat. We have found her favorite food to be watermelon. She can put away some watermelon. She likes to tease us and share her snacks with us. We picked up some new shoes (the ones I brought are a little big) and she loves her shoes too. We sent a photo album with family pictures and she has done well naming the members of our family. She has an independent streak and wants to try things on her own. She likes to feed herself. We are enjoying every moment with her!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer break has officially started! The kids got out of school yesterday...yes, on June 25! We have already been to the pool to swim and to the beach. We are excited about the coming weeks and summer fun to be had! Here is a peak at our kiddos first and last days of school pictures!

First Day Smiles
 It's summer vacation!!!
Sweet Sibling Love

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Adoption Journey

This may be a long post, but please hang in there. If you are interested in details of our adoption journey, this post is for you. We are grateful for the overwhelming love, support and encouragement we have felt from everyone! 

I realize there are not many details on our blog about our adoption journey. I am going to attempt to go month by month and do a brief update for each month from the start of our process. We have learned and grown so much throughout the past 2 years. The Lord continues to remind me to TRUST Him and that there are many things that are out of my control. I pray you will be blessed reading our story!

May 2012: We decided we wanted to pursue adoption, but knew we would need to wait to officially apply. Jon would need to finish his dissertation and graduate before we could think about traveling for an international adoption. I began calling agencies and doing a lot of research into different country programs. We took the summer to pray and seek the Lord as to which agency to use and which country we would adopt from.

August 2012: After a couple of months of praying and seeking the Lord we decided that we would apply for a Chinese international adoption and use Lifeline Children's services. We shared the news with some close friends and our families. We knew based on the timeline Lifeline gives for Chinese adoptions to be complete, that we would need to wait until May of 2013 to officially begin our process.

November 2012: We shared our story and heart for adoption with our church during on Orphan Sunday in one of our morning services.

Winter 2012-2013: Waiting, waiting, and more waiting...ready to begin our process, but waiting for May!  We contacted friends who could help us in designing and printing a t-shirt, because we wanted to do a t-shirt fundraiser. Our friends David Bishop and Jon Kenney came through in a big way. Jon designed an amazing shirt and David worked with us to give us a great deal so we could make the most of our fundraiser. We were excited to get this going and to have a great shirt to help share our story and raise funds for our adoption. (Adoption is expensive, but possible. Please don't let this be the reason you wouldn't consider adopting. We didn't have the $35,000 needed for our adoption, but we have seen provision in a big way throughout this process!)

March 2013: We sent out support letters and promoted our t-shirt fundraiser.

May 1, 2013: We mailed our application to Lifeline Children's Services.

May 11, 2013: We had a Giant Yard Sale (thanks to SO MANY friends who helped pull this off!) and raised $2,000!

May 16, 2013: We received our acceptance letter from Lifeline.

June 2013: We had our first home study visit. We had to find a local agency to do our home study because our placement agency, Lifeline, is in Alabama and not licensed to do home studies in Massachusetts. 

July 2013: We had our second home study visit.

August 2013: We had our third and final home study visit and a home tour.

October 8, 2013: Our home study was finalized (picked up and in hand)!

October 2013: We filed our I800a. This is an application to determine our suitability to adopt a child.

October/November 2013: I filled out and mailed off four grant applications. There are many grants available for adoptive families and they can help tremendously in softening the financial burden of high adoption costs.

November 3, 2013: This was Orphan Sunday at our church and Jon preached.

November 7, 2013: We received word that one of the grants we applied for was giving us $3,000 toward our adoption!

December 2, 2013: We went into Boston for our fingerprint appointment.

January 2, 2014: We received an email from our agency saying they had received our immigration approval.

January 3, 2014: We arrived home from Christmas vacation and found a letter postmarked December 19, with immigration approval.

January 23, 2014: DTC!!! (Dossier to China) Our dossier was a collection of documents (marriage/birth certificates, background checks, medical clearances, home study and several more). This is required for all families adopting from China and must be submitted prior to "logging in" to the system in China. 

February 11, 2014: Log In Date (LID) This was a big day because we were now able to be matched with a little girl from the Shared List of children that is released each month.

February 25, 2014: We received the news that we were awarded a matching grant of $3,000 from Lifesong.

March 6, 2014: We receive a referral! We have the file reviewed by an international adoption specialist.

March 7, 2014: We submit our LOI, letter of intent, to pursue the adoption of our baby girl!

March 10, 2014: We got pre-approval to adopt our Zoe!

March 18, 2014: We received a call and the news that we received $5,000 from the last grant we were waiting to hear from.

March 2014: We were able to send Zoe a care package through a lady our agency recommends. We sent an album with our family's pictures and a soft blanket. What a special treat to be able to love our little girl from half-way across the world in this way. We also were able to order a thumb drive to send to the agency. We should get this back on Gotcha Day with pictures of Zoe from the orphanage.

April 21, 2014: Our Dossier was translated.

May 10, 2014: We were able to do a communication package and request new pictures and video of Zoe. We were also able to ask 10 questions. Jon and the kids gave me a card with Zoe's pictures and questions answered for Mother's Day. What a sweet gift it was!
We decided on a middle name. Our little girl is Zoe Beigh. Bei is her Chinese name. We decided to spell Bei, Beigh. Our other three kiddos have our names as middle names (Leigh, David (Jon's middle name) and Jon). We wanted Zoe to have a family name, but also love her Chinese name. So, we are keeping Bei but changing the spelling to reflect Leigh. We hope this brings her past, Chinese heritage and her FAMILY together in her name.

May 28, 2014: There was movement in our file...meaning they were beginning to process us to receive our official Letter of Acceptance (LOA).

May 30, 2014: We hosted our Adoption Dinner and Silent Auction. We raised around $2,000 toward our expenses through this event. It was a great evening!

June 6, 2014: We were officially Match Approved! Our LOA would be on the way!

June 12, 2014: LOA arrived, we signed it and sent it back off. 

We now wait for our I800 approval for Zoe, a cable letter, article 5 and travel approval. These next few weeks will be more waiting, but things will move quicker in this part of the process than others. We are praying things move quickly and that our sweet girl is home as soon as possible!

I am going to leave you with a few pictures. If you made it this far, these are some adorable pictures of our baby girl! I recently connected with a group on Facebook that is only for families with children from Zoe's orphanage. It's been a huge blessing to hear from Mommas of little girls who have been living with Zoe. I was scrolling through the feed on the group's page and came across a picture of Zoe. One of the moms who was there picking up her daughter had shared it. To say I was excited is an understatement! A few minutes later I saw another picture of Zoe with two friends posted by a different mom. I sent messages and these amazing ladies quickly responded and began sharing pictures with me. We have new pictures of Zoe, her friends, her nannies and the rooms that she lives in. This has been a blessing to my heart! Here are a few of the sweet pictures we received this week.

Look at her sweet smile! I can hardly stand it!
Walking through the bathroom
Snack time
I have fallen in love with this picture.
This if from my Mother's Day update. 
I'm so in love with our little girl and ready
for her to be home and in our arms!

Catching Up!

I am not a good blogger. I get busy and do not update and share things here as often as I would like. However, after reading through another adoptive Mommy's blog this morning, I was inspired. She has shared so much of their story and journey on her blog, and I want to do the same. There is much to write about our adoption journey, and I will save that for my next post. For now, I want to share pictures of our FOUR beautiful children. 
We are beyond blessed and are eager to bring Zoe home. The picture of Zoe is from a family who adopted their daughter from the same orphanage and room...crazy how we've made this connection with them (more on that in the next post). Ava's picture is from her dance recital, and I must say, she is a beautiful dancer and I loved watching her learn to love dance this year. The boys' pictures are from baseball...Owen wishes he was really playing and Emet has loved being on the Red Wings this season!
We are thankful for our friends and family and appreciate everyone's love and support of our family. More to come soon! 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Big Adoption News!!!

I realize that I have not been updating our blog as we’ve been making our way through our adoption journey.  I’ve been trying to send our newsletter regularly and keep our Facebook page updated.  However, I want to catch up a little…okay, a lot!
A quick look at our last few months…
*Finalized Home Study
*Applied for grants
*Sent off I800a (immigration paperwork)
*Gathered documents for our Dossier (our big packet of paperwork to be sent to China)
*Second T-Shirt Fundraiser
 *Received one grantp
*Got notice for our finger print appointment
* Orphan Sunday at our church
*Finger print appointment in Boston
*Immigration approval was mailed
*Received a call from our social worker saying our agency received our immigration approval!!! 
(We didn’t get it in the mail first because we were traveling.)
*DTC…our dossier went to China on January 23!  Huge day!!!
*LID…We got our log in date, February 11.
We are officially logged in and can be matched with a child from the shared list!

And here we are in March…just 10 days in and we have already been through so much.  On Thursday, March 6, I received a call from our social worker at Lifeline.  She called while I was working out, and I happened to glance down and see her number on my phone.  I jumped off the machine and ran off to answer the call.  When I answered, she told me a file had been locked for our family.  This meant, we could see her file, we could read her story, see her pictures and pray about this little girl being in our family.  I told our social worker to send us the file.  I called Jon as soon as I hung up the phone and told him we had a file to see.
When I got home, Jon and I sat together and read through the file of this sweet girl.  We saw her beautiful pictures, watched the most precious video and prayed for God to give us wisdom.  We felt drawn to this little girl from the moment we laid eyes on her.  We were hopeful at the thought of her becoming our daughter.  After reading over her file, we decided right away to send her file to the International Adoption Clinic in Boston.  Our agency recommends an International Clinic taking a look at the files to help give families perspective on what needs will need to be met when she comes home.
I waited all day to hear back with an email or a call from the doctor.  At 8:22, I was out with my friend Mary, and got an email asking how late was too late to call.  I knew I had to stop on my way home, so I immediately responded and asked if 10 (or 9:30) would work.  She quickly emailed back and said she would call at 10 unless she fell asleep, then it would be after 1 on Friday before she could call.  I raced home and was ready for her call at 10.  When it was 10:30 and she hadn’t called, I knew I would have to wait.  LONGEST NIGHT EVER…I could hardly sleep.  I was up until after midnight and woke up at 4:30 a.m. and could not go back to sleep.  Friday morning was a blur…I was just ready for 1 and ready to talk to the doctor.  1 o’clock comes and goes…and at 2:10 my phone rang (I had to leave by 2:25 to pick up kids at school).  I was thankful to hear what she had to say…this referral looks positive!  She went into details about the sweet little girl and shared things with me that would help her as she comes home. I had to leave and go get kids, but when I got home from pick up Jon and I were able to talk about what the doctor had shared with me.  It was a matter of minutes before we knew…we knew…THIS IS OUR DAUGHTER!!!  Praise the Lord!  God has, in His perfect time and plan, led us to our little girl.  We are blessed to be welcoming this sweet, precious, little girl into our family!
The past few days have been a whirlwind.  After we made the decision to move forward, I called our social worker to let her know the news.  I wrote our LOI (letter of intent) to send to China, so we could be approved to adopt her.  I sent our LOI to our agency on Friday afternoon around 4:30.  We celebrated as a family with Chinese take-out for dinner and by giving our kids pictures of their baby sister! (I ordered prints and picked them up when I went out to get our dinner). This morning I heard from our social worker and we have been pre-approved!  Our little girl will be coming home sometime this summer.  We are humbled and blessed to be able to be her parents.  We can’t wait to have her home and in our arms!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fabulous First Days!!!

Warning...Picture Overload!!!
Just wanted to catch up on what has been way too long...these are pictures from our first days of school, ballet and Emet's preview day.  The kids are loving Kindergarten and Second grade. Emet really enjoys big surprise there!  Ava's favorite part of second grade is writing.  I'm so thankful my kiddos are loving school and so thankful for a great school community! Their teachers are fabulous...we couldn't be happier! Owen even had his first day of pre-school...which is his time with Jen (So thankful for Jennifer Smith and her willingness to take care of my baby!) and Kesed.  He thinks it is pre-school and wants to have his backpack and lunchbox just like his big brother and sister!