Be Still My Heart...

You guys, our God is A-MAZ-ING. Seriously awe inspiring.

There was a bit of chatter of LOA's being issued today on some adoptive parent forums, soooooo...because my curious mind couldn't contain itself, I shot off another e-mail to our agency to check our dossier status.


{Side note: I'm sure that I'm in the norm of adoptive parents. I cannot be the only one who bugs them for this information. Thank you, Holt staff (that will most likely never read this), for putting up with our mothering-hormone-induced-obessiveness}

And be still my heart, there had been MORE progress!! Our dossier status is "seeking confirmation", which means that we should expect our LOA (letter of acceptance) in about a week!! ONE WEEK!!!! This is China's official approval for us to adopt Z. Seriously.

Let the paperwork begin! AGAIN! I'm SO ready for it!!!

p.s.- Remember my friend Gina? Her dossier shows the SAME progress!! We're sticking together like glue!!!


Look Out Now...

Look out now...we have some


When a dossier gets logged in China's system, it's supposed to be updated as it goes through each step of the process. With everything going as it should, the adoption agency can theoretically log into the Chinese system and see the progress of a dossier. We were warned when our papers were logged in that this system is sometimes used correctly, and sometimes forgotten about until the dossier has final approval.
Several people with similar timelines as ours had notifications that their dossiers were making progress through the system, and even though I'd been warned...a mama's heart needed to inquire!!!
I e-mailed our agency last night telling them I was aware of the lack of correct use of the system, but asking if they would pretty please check our file and see where it stood. Guess what?!? We're OOT!!!!!! That's out of translation, people!! That means that our huge stack of papers
have been in the hands of the Chinese government for the last 30 days being translated. These papers are now ready for the matching department to review our information, verifying that we qualify for adoption in China, and verifying that our match with Z fits what our social worker approved us to adopt. Once they see that all of our t's are crossed and i's dotted, they'll send us our LOA, letter of approval. That LOA is the beginning of the end!!! We'll be able to better guess our travel dates once this is issued, as well as start the snowball of final paperwork/visas/immigration approvals/private Facebook group to share tons of specifics!

This is it, folks! We're almost there!!!

I'm adding a new prayer request to the list today! I'm sending off {yet another} grant application tomorrow. I'll admit, it gets disheartening to send...send...send...with no results, but yet I continue to send! It looks like we'll be facing quite a deficit at the end of this, which is a situation we knew was a possibility. Quite frankly, I don't care if I'm in debt for the rest of my life at this point. Z is worth every penny. Every. single. one.

Until next time...COME ON, LOA!!!!!


And the waiting continues

Seeming as it's almost tomorrow, I'm going to officially say that we are on DAY 30 of our LOA wait! THIRTY!!! 3-0! Whew, it's been the longest, quickest 30 days of my life. Ha!
I feel like I've been doing pretty well with this last-unknown-duration wait. Plenty of things have been occupying our time, like getting a Kindergartener and a First grader ready for school (eek!!!), building a new princess bed for Oakley's new bedroom, and getting the room for the boys ready. None of that is completely finished, which means I should have plenty of 'stuff' to keep me busy for the next few weeks of wait.
There have been a few rough days, where it feels like there is this hole in my mama-heart just waiting for our little guy to fill. So many emotions...nerves, excitement, worry, love, fear, joy... kind of like the movie Inside Out, with ALL of the emotions going nuts at the drivers seat AT. THE. SAME. TIME.
With all of that being said, I am sincerely trying to live each day, experience each day the Lord has blessed me with, and enjoy every minute of this process. I know it's true that the next three months will go by in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, we'll be a united family of five.

Prayer Requests:
-As always, Z. His preparation, transition, and knowledge of his new family and new life
-Our LOA. This is the Letter of Acceptance from the Chinese government. We'd love to have this by mid-August, which would let us travel in November. After we get our LOA, we'll begin the private Facebook page where we'll be able to share much more information about Z.
-My friend, Gina. We'd love to travel together! As selfish as it is, I want our paperwork to stick together like glue so we can finish this great process together.
-Finances - the need hasn't changed, but the date has gotten closer. HE is always in control, and I'm still trusting that!

Thank you for going down this road with our family!!


An amazing heartbreak

Folks, last night I witnessed an amazing, heart wrenching, tear-jerking, jealousy invoking experience.

You see, this adoption world that I find myself in is so much more than I thought it would be. There are several dozens of other mamas out there going through the same parts of the process that we are, and thanks to social media, we have a place to connect, share, cry, rejoice, and bond on such a special level. Don't get me wrong, I call my Mama with every piece of new news there is. She gets excited with me, frustrated along side me, and she might get just as emotional as I get at times, but there's nothing like going along side another person who's walking in the same pair of shoes you are...which leads me to last night.

A friend named Stephanie, who happens to work at the same hospital I do, has also been going through this adoption process. Through a mutual friend and social media, she's graciously become one of my greatest sounding boards, giving me direction, advice, and words of experience (since she's BTDT: been there, done that!). She, along with her husband and one of her daughters, set off to bring her son home about two weeks ago. What an amazing journey they've had! I consider myself blessed to have been able to witness it with the perspective of another mama with a longing heart.

I might add that before the airport last night, Stephanie and I had never actually met in person! We'd chatted so many times in messages, but with the hustle and bustle of the life, we hadn't found a time to meet up.

Seeing their family come into the baggage area was pretty surreal. The joy in their faces, in the faces of their friends and family...it was overwhelming. The moment that I saw their son, I completely lost it. It escalated from a few tears to ugly crying in about 3.2 seconds. I thought I'd prepared myself pretty well, but the water works is hereditary (thanks, Mom). It was such a mixture of emotions, and one that I wasn't expecting to pop in there was jealousy. Seeing their family, mixed with the longing for Z in my heart, I couldn't help but want to be in their places. I wanted it to be November (or December...whenever it will happen) already. I wanted to be coming off of that plane completing my family.

It's amazing the bond and longing you can have for a child that you've not even met. I am willing to *literally* cross oceans to get to Z. I don't care if I'm in debt for the next twenty years, every penny is worth it...because he is worth it. I'm not sure that anyone's ever told him that he is worth it

So for now, I wait. I look (and look, and look again) at the same pictures of him every day, wondering if he's ok. Wondering if he's warm, or scared, or lonely, or afraid... 
but my comfort is in knowing that my God, the one who made you and me, is here with us, as well as holding Z in the palm of His hand. He's protecting him, comforting him, and preparing him for his forever family. That is where I find my peace. 


Canvases for Z!

Are you loving this new look!? I kind of did it on accident last night, but the page was in great need of a makeover, anyhow. 

As you may know, getting crafty is one of my favorite outlets. Give me a canvas, some paints, paper and other whatnots, and I'm in relaxation heaven. It clears my head. I could seriously get lost for hours working away on a canvas.
Recently, I made these two canvases with no real purpose for them, except to get some of my crazy out.

First of all, I'm the biggest critique of my own work. I hate the thought of something I made being rejected!
Second, how in the world do people price their own work?! Never again. I swear not to. Period.
That being said, I'm giving these another go. For any donation amount, one of these little ladies could be yours! I'm also up for doing customized pieces, if you have a specific color theme or look you're wanting.

Comment on this post if you're interested, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!


The closest thing

A few months ago, a friend and talented photographer volunteered to do a family photo shoot for images needed for our dossier. Somehow, I managed to not do a post about them!! Consider this my 'paper pregnancy brain', forgive the delay, and take a gander at her talent :)

All 5 of us. This is the closest thing we can get to a family picture right now.
There's a peace knowing that the next time we have pictures taken, Z will be right in there with us - in person, not in a picture!

Can you see Oakley? She snuck a clover bud in the picture. Typical Sissy!!

She definitely went above and beyond!! The photos worked perfectly in our book. Be sure to head over to her Facebook page and leave her some love!!


When Updates...well, aren't.

This adopting thing is hard. Rewarding? Yes. Worth it? YES. There are a few lights that sustain you along the waiting journey, and child updates are one of those lights along the path. A new picture of your child, updated measurements, and some questions answered.
The papers at the top are our dossier that was sent to China.
The colored pictures, stuffed animal, photo book and coloring book are Z's transition items that he should be getting any day!

4 weeks ago, we submitted a short list of questions to Z's orphanage through our adoption agency. Updates usually take 2-4 weeks to come back, and yesterday, we received the answers we'd been waiting for.

Well, kind of.

Two of the questions we asked had something lost in translation on one end or the other, and the 'answers' made little sense. Our agency is getting clarification on those.

The updated measurements / weight did little good, seeming as multiple measurements were the same numbers we were given six months ago.

Onto some helpful news, we did find out that he is currently attending Kindergarten!! This is great news, because we're hoping he'll have a more natural transition to American schools if he's been exposed to that type of environment before. I'm not quite sure what's typically expected of Kindergarteners in the Chinese school systems, but the person writing this update seemed quite impressed that he could not only write his name (in Chinese characters), but he could also write 0-50, several simple characters, and was also able to write other school children's names, too.
He also chooses his own clothing and dresses himself, and can also make his bed (better than my kiddos here do!). He helps younger children around the orphanage in eating, dressing, and washing their faces.
We keep seeing how the Lord has hand picked our family for him, because his favorite animals are said to be chickens and ducks (check, and check!). They also mentioned pigs, but I think having two out of three favorites here at the house will suffice!

In Z's original file, the photos included were priceless. He was smiling, happy, and playing; he seemed really comfortable with the people around him. To be candid, I struggled a little bit yesterday looking at his updated photos. We were provided with three new photos that appear to have been taken this past Monday, and he looked so incredibly sad. In one picture, it even looks like he had just stopped (or was just about to start) crying...which made me cry.
I find it simply amazing how God has weaved him  into our hearts so early in this process to the point that we would do anything to get to him just to love him!!

With all of that being said, here is a new list of prayer requests:
  1. Prayers for Z.     In my heart I realize how hard this whole thing will be for him, and Dan and I, two strangers, are going to be the only ones there to comfort him. Pray for his courage, an open mind and a heart that's ready for a family.
  2. Prayers for paperwork: Our papers are in translation in China. After translation, they'll go to the match review process. These two steps can take 8-10 weeks. We're being bold in our faith and praying for 6-7 weeks. This would potentially put us traveling in November.
  3. Prayers for families: You guys, there are so many people going through this process right along side us right now. Thanks to Facebook groups, we've connected, bonded, and are truly in this together. I can already tell that some of these people will be friends for life. Specifically, a friend named Gina is on an identical timeline as us. Prayers not only for their little guy and his transition, but that our paperwork would stick together like glue through this process, so we could end up traveling together and finish this process we've started -- together!!
  4. Prayers for finances: Thanks to your help, we continue to make progress along the financial lines, but we still have a HUGE mountain ahead of us. Even if you're not able to physically or financially assist right now, please be sure to 'like' and 'share' our Facebook posts for fundraisers. The more people who 'like' and 'share' our posts, the more other people can see the events, too!
    We're planning on launching a T-shirt fundraiser very soon. These will be able to be shipped directly to you, so you can contribute no matter where you are! Keep an eye on BringingHomeZ for the latest on that.
The time will be coming very soon when we'll be making a private Facebook group for our travel. This is where I'll *finally* feel comfortable to share his real name, his pictures, and specific information about our travel plans. That group will be formed once we get our LOA (Letter of Approval) in 8-10 (or 6-7!) weeks.

Friends, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We've really seen what an amazing support group we have in this life by your prayers, your actions, and your presence. Thank you for being the Lord's hands and feet for us!!