Christmas 2019

This year we traveled to Wisconsin for Christmas, and it was the first year in quite a few that my brothers and I and my parents were all in the same place for Christmas! It was so good to see everyone and have that time together <3

My three youngest kiddos helped my mom decorate her tree (she promised to leave off the ornaments so they could assist – and this way there was no pressure for me to get out a tree and decorate, which was great, because I did not want to do it).

The next day was our extended family Christmas party, which included, of course, a game. My family is practically incapable of missing any opportunity for a competitive game.

We went bowling again 🙂

There was early morning art-making…

…and all-day-long snuggling with this girl <3

We’ve also outgrown my mother’s house (by which I mean that me having 4 kids means that I have put us in a position of having outgrown my mother’s house), so Danny and Sharon stayed at a hotel nearby, which wasn’t always ideal (particularly when Danny came down with pneumonia later in the week and wanted nothing more than to sleep all day), but it did give us an opportunity to go swimming – and all of the kids thought that swimming with uncles who can turn into train engines or throw you high in the air was pretty awesome 🙂

One thing we’ve done a couple times now that I’ve loved is had a family book discussion. This year we read and discussed Casey Cep’s Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee. I always enjoy the opportunity to discuss books with other people, and our little family holiday book club has been a highlight for me.

I’ve always liked the idea of matching pajamas but hated the cost, but this year Miranda and I saw $5 matching fleece pants at Target, and that seemed like a good compromise. This was our Christmas morning photo (or 4 that Matt cropped together!).

We did our annual cookie decorating.

And of course there was a significant amount of game playing!

Everyone is really into Legos right now, and Atticus made several creations during our time in Wisconsin.

Miranda has been asking to get her ears pierced for a while now. Our stance on it has been that as long as you are old enough to care for your piercings appropriately, it is your body and your choice. However, as this is a “want” and not a “need,” it is something you either have to pay for yourself or request as a gift. Danny and Sharon said they would take Miranda to get her ears pierced for her Christmas present (and doing so in Wisconsin actually requires less documentation and is cheaper – yay!), so one afternoon, Sharon, Miranda, and I went and got her ears pierced. She looks so grown up <3

On our last day, Matt and I took advantage of the Discovery World membership we bought last year, when we realized that it was cheaper to buy an annual membership than to pay for one visit for our family of six! The kids were going a bit stir crazy, so it was nice to get out and give them a chance to run around (and, of course, to learn!).

It was so good to have this time with family and celebrate together, and I’m already looking forward to the next time we can see everyone again – as is Miranda, who has been writing letters to each of our family members, one by one, lobbying for future visits!

adoption progress

Friends, we are getting close to the end of our adoption process, and it has been such an amazing journey. It was just over 9 months ago that we first saw her sweet face. We received pre-approval to adopt her – and then spent about a month wondering if we’d be able to proceed with adopting her after Matt’s heart attack. Those days were so intense. Once we finally heard that everyone involved had signed off, and we could move forward, we celebrated, and then we walked through the home study, our initial immigration approval, and pulling together all of the documents necessary for our dossier.

DTC pic

We rejoiced when we got our official Letter of Acceptance from China, and it was so satisfying to check off the boxes for the few US immigration approvals that followed. We expect to have the last of those, our Article 5, on Monday, and then we’ll really just be waiting for our Travel Approval! We’re so close I can practically taste the amazing food!

chinese-food

And along the way, we’ve learned a book’s worth of information about osteogenesis imperfecta and how to care for this sweet girl, and we’ve gotten connected to an amazing community of parents caring for kids with OI, who, I know, will continue to help us as we seek the best medical care possible for her.

We’ve also paid a huge portion of the costs involved with our adoption. Our home study is paid in full. Our US immigration fees are paid in full. All of our document notarization, certification, and authentication fees are paid in full. Our fees to the China Center of Children’s Welfare and Adoptions (CCCWA) are paid in full. All fees due to our placing agency are paid in full. We’ve gotten our entry visas for our upcoming travel to China. And we have the funds to cover a lot of the remaining costs.

That is in large part due to many of you, our friends and family. We started this process with the expectation that we would be able to fund more of this adoption ourselves out of our savings – but then when we had to pay the medical bills from Matt’s heart attack, those savings were depleted significantly. We’ve still been able to put a lot of our own savings and earnings toward the costs of adopting our precious girl, but the fact that we weren’t able to pay as much as we’d thought from our savings has made us even more grateful for the contributions so many of you have made. If you haven’t received a personal thank you note yet, it will be to you soon. We truly appreciate the support that so many of you have given us. Our matching grant goal was met within a couple short weeks, and so many of you have contributed outside of that, as well. It is obviously a practical help, but it has also been tremendously encouraging to know that we have friends and family walking with us in a real way on this journey!

Because we have already received so much support from so many of you, I almost don’t want to put this out there. But we have been honest thus far, and we want to continue to be real with you. Our hope is also that God will continue to write this story – our story, our baby girl’s story, and ultimately His story – in such a way that His faithful provision will be apparent, and we want that to be evident to those of you following along through this blog. And so, we’re going to share this – we are still in need of funds in order to cover the remaining costs to complete our little girl’s adoption.

As I wrote above, we do have a significant amount of funds on hand to cover these remaining expenses. However, the expenses are large. The following remain to be paid:

  • our international flights
  • in-country hotel, travel, and food expenses
  • in-country guide fees
  • a mandatory donation to our daughter’s orphanage
  • official adoption finalization expenses

We are well over halfway there, but we still need to come up with the remaining funds to cover those expenses. We have 2 more grant applications out there, but we don’t anticipate those fully funding us. We’ve been looking into some loan possibilities, as well, and I’ve been working some extra hours. We are pursuing every pathway available to us to to secure all the funds necessary to complete our baby girl’s adoption. And as part of that, we come before you once again and humbly ask if you would consider making a contribution toward our adoption costs? We would be honored if you would join us on this journey in that way. You can contribute via Paypal, make a tax-deductible donation through our myStory page or by sending a check to Lifesong (full instructions to ensure it is credited to our account are contained in this blog post), or purchase an artwork from Matt’s etsy site, and those funds will go straight toward these remaining adoption expenses.

situation-and-circumstance-overcome

To those who have already contributed, again, we say thank you. You have been such a blessing, support, and encouragement to us. We are more humbled and honored by your participation with us on this journey than we could ever express. And if any of you readers have been considering contributing or are considering it now, please know we would so appreciate donations in any amount. We look forward to someday being able to tell our little girl about the many friends and family who came together to make it possible for us to bring her home and adopt her into our family, to be forever our precious daughter!