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!

the light shines in the darkness – announcing our next big adventure

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

That verse has always been one of my favorites. I love the hope it proclaims, the certainty of the ongoing triumph of good in a world that seems full of evil and uncertainty. I trust in this hope and in the Person who provides it. And in the midst of this difficult time in our lives, we’ve seen God at work, shining many rays of hope through darkness.

While I sat in those hospital rooms, listening to the ventilator breathe for my husband, I wondered if he’d make it out of the hospital alive, and I wondered how many of our dreams might also be dying during those days – our dream of raising our kiddos together, sending them off to college, and seeing them grow into adults themselves; our dream of traveling the world together, returning to Italy and China, someday visiting more of Europe and Asia and exploring the southern hemisphere; our dream of continuing to study and learn together.

What I haven’t shared here yet is that there was one dream I was really pretty sure was dying. You see, Matt and I had been talking for quite a while about when the timing might be right to pursue our next adoption. We’d been setting aside money for over a year, and we were thinking we’d start the process at some point during 2016. Then on the evening of January 19, I showed Matt a blog post I’d read about a little girl who needed a family. This happens with relative frequency, but what doesn’t happen all that often is that he asks for more information, and that’s exactly what he did that night.

The agency working to place this little one sent us her file the next day, and we reviewed it closely and began researching and reaching out to others for counsel. We spoke with some close friends; we talked with the social worker with whom we’d worked for Madeleine CaiQun’s adoption, who knows us well; we had conversations with other parents whose children have the same special need as this little one; we sent her file to our pediatrician, to the local specialist he recommended, and to the national specialists recommended by other adoptive parents; and we were able to get some additional information about this little girl from another agency that has done some work with her orphanage. We prayed for God to bring a family for her and for wisdom for us to know whether that was us.

And ultimately we came to the conclusion that we believed we could be a good family for her, and we wanted to submit the necessary documents requesting that China approve us to pursue adopting her. On February 9 our agency submitted our Letter of Intent (LOI) to China, and on February 16, we received pre-approval (PA) from China to adopt this precious little girl!

But then, the next night, Matt had a heart attack. And so, as I sat there in those hospital rooms, I was fairly certain we would have to surrender our pre-approval and, instead of completing an adoption and becoming her family, we’d be advocating on her behalf and trying to find another family to adopt her.

As the days went on, though, and Matt’s cardiologists were saying that they expected him to have a full recovery, we asked them about adopting. They saw no reason why we shouldn’t continue. I talked with our agency, and they said we’d need a letter from a cardiologist saying they expected him to be healthy and they believed it would be alright for us to continue with the adoption, but assuming we could get that and our home study social worker was on board, they would see if we could continue. We talked with our home study social worker, and she agreed that if Matt’s cardiologist was willing to write a letter in support of our continuing the process, she believed we could still be good parents for this little one. Once we were home and set up with Matt’s new cardiologist, we discussed it with her, and she was very positive – she said Matt’s heart function looked great, and he needs to make lifestyle changes and take the medications they’ve prescribed for him, but she does not expect further issues for him, and she was very willing to write a letter in support of our continuing the adoption process. Our agency reviewed the cardiologist’s letter and said we should be able to proceed!

As full as these last weeks have been with trying new meals and going to cardio rehab, they’ve also been full of home study visits with our beloved social worker, collecting paperwork, and starting to pull together our dossier. As we’ve talked about how to re-structure our lives to be as heart healthy as possible, we’ve also dreamed about what life will look like with four children.

It might have been easier to back down, to walk away, to say that with Matt having had a heart attack, anything and everything could be too risky, too dangerous. But as we’ve wrestled with what we want our post-heart-attack lives to look like, we’ve concluded that we don’t want to live in fear. There’s a quote I’ve appreciated much over these past few weeks – “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” We’ve had to ask ourselves what we are built for – and we believe we are built for loving God and for loving those around us, for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with Him. We believe that we are called to step out of comfort and safety and to reach toward those around us. And there is a little girl right now in China who needs a family – we believe we can be a good family for her, and we’re going to do all that we can to get there and become her family.

And for us, this is one way in which we get to bear witness to the light shining through into the darkness. What we thought was a dying dream is still alive. It looks like we will be able to adopt again. In Psalm 68:6 it says that “God sets the lonely in families,” and we believe He is at work in making a way for our baby girl to come into our family.

Friends, we share this news with you with excitement and humility, and we ask that you consider whether you might be able to be a part of this journey with us. We ask that you consider praying with us and for us through this process. And we ask that you consider helping us to cover the costs of her adoption – we’ve been doing extra work and setting money aside for a while now, and we’ve been able to cover all of the costs that have come up thus far, but we know we’re not going to be able to pull together all of the remaining necessary funds ourselves. We’d be honored if you’d consider purchasing an artwork from Matt’s etsy shop or contributing financially to our adoption fund.

And we ask that you pray for our little girl. She is 2 years old and has deep, soulful eyes and a smile that could light up a room 🙂 The agency with which we’re working is very conservative and asks that we not share any photos publicly until she is actually our daughter, but if you ask us in person or via a private message, we’d love to share a picture and prove to you how adorable she truly is! She has osteogenesis imperfecta (sometimes referred to as brittle bone disease) and is very tiny and rather delayed in terms of her gross motor skills, but we look forward to seeing her develop as she gets the medical care that will help her reach her full potential.

We’re excited to be embarking upon this new adventure and hope you’ll be excited with us and perhaps even be a part of the journey with us. We’ll have many more updates, I’m sure, in the days to come!