China said yes!

This morning I sat down and started to write, sharing my heart and my disappointment that we had not yet received our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC)/Letter of Acceptance (LOA). A number of families – many of whom had submitted their dossiers after ours – received theirs on Wednesday, and to say that I was disappointed when ours was not issued at the same time was an understatement. I had been so sure it would come. Our case worker assured me that this often happens, and there’s really no discernible rhyme or reason for it. She believed that if the CCCWA had any questions about us or our dossier, they would already have asked them during the dossier review phase, and our agency had never had the CCCWA deny an LSC/LOA to a family, so she really thought it was coming and would be here soon. The wait and the not knowing were still hard, though, and I felt very discouraged this week. I tried to trust that God would lead us where we should be when we should be there, and focus on the things I actually could and should be doing – preparing freezer meals, doing school with the girls, etc.

And then today the call came – the CCCWA computer system showed this morning that our LSC/LOA has been issued!

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This is China’s official approval of us as adoptive parents of our precious baby #4, Fang Fang, as her foster home calls her. We couldn’t be happier! As I spoke with our case worker on the phone, I had to go hide in the play room, as the girls were running around screaming in their excitement, “We got our Letter of Acceptance! We got our Letter of Acceptance!”

Travel before Christmas is still by no means guaranteed, but it just got a whole lot more likely!

This news was particularly wonderful to receive today, as it follows a rather difficult week for us. First was our disappointment that we didn’t receive our Letter of Acceptance on Wednesday with so many other families. Then later that night, after the kids were in bed, Matt ran over to the art department to get some files he needed for a talk he’d be doing Thursday morning. He was gone for half an hour, then an hour, and then I texted him to make sure he was okay. No response. I knew he had his phone with him, because he’d come back inside specifically to get it before leaving. I waited 20 minutes and texted again. No response. I called and got his voicemail. I figured that the most likely scenario was that his phone had died, but I was still getting concerned. We were approaching midnight, and he was almost certainly alone in the building, so if anything was wrong, there probably wasn’t anyone there to help him. Finally I messaged one of our friends, a colleague of Matt’s, and asked if he’d mind going to check on him. He did, and actually right as he pulled up in the parking lot next to our van, Matt texted me that his phone hadn’t been working and needed to update its operating system, and he had just then gotten my messages. Phew!

So Matt came back home, but it was less than 14 hours later that he sent me a text message, “I am at hospital,” and we had the following exchange:

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That’s a picture every wife wants to get from her husband! A friend graciously came over to hang out with our kids, and I drove to the ER to be with Matt (whose colleague had, thankfully, talked him out of driving himself there). They ran a number of tests (bloodwork, head CT, x-rays, an EKG), and everything came back normal, so essentially they think he was tired (it hasn’t been a great week for sleep here at our house) and potentially dehydrated and probably fainted for a moment. They told us what symptoms to watch for but discharged him and said they expect him to be fine. He’s pretty banged up and sore today but generally feels alright.

And now, we are heading into a weekend that we hope will be filled with catch-up sleep, catch-up work, and some time for Matt to rest and heal, but also some celebration that we are officially approved to become parents of our FOURTH child! This is a great feeling, my friends 🙂

A Summer of Rest

This summer of 2016 has been such a blessing for us. We started out with the express goal of using these few summer months to recover, to rest, and to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. While we wish we could have a few additional months of life at this pace, I think this time has been a success.

Last winter and spring were filled with some of the most intense months of our married lives, as we contemplated and then committed to pursuing another adoption, as we faced the completely unexpected death of Matt’s sister, as Matt suffered a heart attack while we were in New York for her funeral (parts one, two, three, four, and aftermath), and then as we began to work out what all of that meant for our lives. We needed some time to recover and rest.

This is the first summer in years in which Matt has not had any undergraduate teaching responsibilities. It’s also one of the only summers in years in which we have not traveled to New York to visit our extended family there. We’ve said yes to some requests and invitations, but we’ve said no to many other opportunities – many of them good ones – and making all of those decisions has been hard.

However, the things to which we’ve been able to say “yes” instead have made it all worth it. I’ve had multiple one-on-one outings with each of my girls.

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It’s so fun to see their different personalities come out in their own ways when I get to spend time with them individually!

Matt has also been able to spend a couple days a week focusing on time with the kids, which has been a blessing for them and for him. They do school together, take trips to the library, make art, and have all sorts of other fun experiences.

That has given me large blocks of time to do adoption paperwork, put in some extra work hours, and work on some household cleaning and re-organization. It’s been such a blessing to feel like there’s real space for those things to happen, instead of trying to work them into my schedule in bits and pieces while the kids are playing happily for 5 minutes at a time or after they go to bed.

I’ve also been able to take more time to read, one of my greatest pleasures! I’m currently making my way through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, and Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life. On top of that, I’ve been working out 2-3 times per week. I’ve been researching and learning about osteogenesis imperfecta and how we can be the best parents possible for our next little one. And Matt and I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series together and greatly enjoying that.

Matt has also been able to use the summer well. He has finished up cardiac rehab and transitioned to regular workouts at a local gym. He’s been able to write and to paint. He’s enjoying lunch dates with friends. And he’s generally appreciating having more space and time to think.

And in my regular days with our kids, it feels like we have a good rhythm that has allowed us to continue doing schoolwork but also have a lot of fun. We do park dates and pool time.

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We celebrate adoption milestones.

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Overall, it has been so good to re-evaluate our priorities and really focus on what is most important. I’m a child of God, a wife, and a mom, and everything else comes after those roles. There will be other years for travel, other times for saying yes to great opportunities for serving and for living. But for this summer, time for rest was exactly what we needed, and I have every confidence that these times are going to set us up well for the year to come!