This has been an emotional week for me in terms of our adoption journey. I really thought that our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) wait would be the hardest for me – it’s so long, so undefined, and seems to have the most potential for uncertainty. However, I don’t think I was generally particularly emotional about it. I tracked statistics, and I knew when we could begin to hope for ours to arrive, and I was somewhat anxious as that time approached, and I spent a lot of time praying about it, but I was generally okay with waiting (though I’m sure that would have changed if it had taken too long beyond what I expected!). And of course I rejoiced when it arrived!
After we received our Letter of Acceptance, the next step was to wait for our I-800 approval from US immigration. It’s pretty straightforward and usually takes something like 2.5 – 3 weeks from the time it’s sent until it’s approved. There was a whole group of adopting parents who received their LOAs on the same day that we did and then sent in their I-800 forms on the same day we did, and several of them received their approvals on Tuesday. We, however, did not. I talked to our officer, and she hadn’t received our file from the lockbox yet, so there was nothing she could do to move us along. That was hard.
Add to that disappointment the fact that on that same day, a friend whose little girl is at the same orphanage as our little girl received an update on her daughter with some new photos, and her little girl looks like she’s grown up so much since their last pictures. I know intellectually that we are missing out on precious months of Madeleine Cai Qun’s life right now, but the reality of that struck me particularly as I was looking at those photos and realizing that our daughter has probably grown and changed just as much in the last few months, and we are missing it.
All told, Tuesday was an emotional day! It was the first time in this adoption journey that I’ve just sat down and cried about the frustrations of the process. But I am very practical, and after I had a bit of a cry, I knew I needed to pull myself together and make my casserole for our Missional Community Group meeting that night, so Miranda and I got started on cooking, and we moved on. There are so many steps in this process of adopting that I really cannot control at all, and waiting is hard, but at the same time, there are so many other things we have going on that I can do, so my goal is to pray about the things I can’t control and be faithful in the things that really are my responsibility.
One thing I’ve been working on lately is putting together a care package for our little Madeleine Cai Qun! Our agency technically allows families to send care packages at any point after they receive Pre-Approval (PA) to adopt their child from China, but we decided we wanted to wait until after we had received our LOA. We wanted to be sure that China would approve us to adopt her, and she is so young to understand any of what is going to happen that we weren’t sure how much of a blessing it would really be for her to see photos of us or have a small toy or blanket from us months and months before we would be able to travel.
Here is a photo of what we ultimately packed into a shoebox-sized box and sent to China this morning!
It includes a soft, fleecy blanket; a soft, fleecy outfit; a cute little toy; a comfort silkie lovey blanket just like the ones Miranda has slept with since she was a few months old and adores; a photo album with pictures of our family and house; a keepsake book that we hope some of the staff at her orphanage may fill out with some information about her time with them; and a disposable camera that we hope they’ll use to take some pictures of her during these next weeks until we can come and get her! We also included a bit of candy and lotion for the nannies who are taking care of her right now. We’re hoping and praying these items make it to her and that she enjoys them.
Honestly, it was a bit strange for me going to Target and looking for some small items to send to my little girl in China. I so want her to how much we love and care for her, how excited we are to come and adopt her, and this box (hopefully) gets to go to her, and I do not…so I found myself wondering what I could send that could communicate how I feel and realizing that there is really probably nothing for sale at Target that can even come close to communicating that message to a two-year-old. In some ways, it seems like such an insignificant guesture – sending a small box to my child, who may or may not receive its contents. And yet…I want her to know that we tried everything we could. I want to show her this picture years down the line and tell her about why I chose these items.
For me, putting together a care package was also odd in that, while small, this felt somewhat extravagant. I remember going shopping at Target for baby things for Miranda when I was pregnant exactly two times – once was with my mom (who bought all that we picked out) and once was with a gift card from a friend. Even now, 2.5 years into this motherhood journey, I’ve probably purchased new items of clothing for Miranda fewer than 10 times. We just don’t do it – we have been blessed with a great deal of hand-me-downs, most of which are in great shape, and Miranda gets a few new outfits every once in a while from her grandmothers and aunts, and that’s great. I want to be responsible in how I use our money, and particularly right now while we are saving for adoption expenses, that means that none of us get new clothes (or many other new items) unless really necessary. And here I was, standing in the aisles of Target, looking at outfits and blankets I could buy for Madeleine Cai Qun, just because I love her. It felt luxurious and extravagant. But she’s worth it 🙂 And it’s not like we’re doing this daily!
Another project I’ve been working on has been getting Miranda’s (and likely also Madeleine Cai Qun’s) new room ready. Up until a few weeks ago, I had a basically empty bedroom waiting to be prepared. We painted it when we moved in, so that was ready to go, but otherwise, it contained an air mattress, two small white shelves, and an ugly but solid dresser that my mom found for us for a good price on craigslist. I had no idea where to start with that set-up, but luckily, I have been blessed with an abundance of friends who excel in creating cute spaces on small budgets, and one of them agreed to help me figure out what to do with the girls’ room. She came over one night and helped me think through what needed to happen, so I’m slowly working my way through that list. I’ve been searching craigslist and looking online for good deals on furniture and other items we’ll need, and we’re making progress. So far we’ve procured another dresser, and I’ve ordered bedding, purchased some cheap frames that we’ll use for wall decorations, and narrowed down our options for buying a halfway decent bed without spending a ton of money. It’s progress 🙂 No photos of that yet, but hopefully I’ll have some soon!
And because a post this long would be sad without some more photos, I’ll leave you with some shots of Miranda playing outside. We’ve had a couple unseasonably warm days recently, and we’ve taken full advantage of them!
My girl is passionate about her slide.
And, I know it’s dark, but my photo-editor is at a midnight showing of the Hobbit, so you’ll just have to look closely to see how she’s explaining to me that the slide definitely needs to be raked!
Goodnight, my friends 🙂