The Match… And the Name

Thank you so much for all your kind words last week when I shared about matching with our new little one.  With each passing day it becomes more and more real to me that we have a son on the other side of the word!

Just a few minutes ago I went back and read the posts (part 1 &  2) I wrote sharing the details of the events leading up to our match with Esther three years ago.  It wasn’t hard to see God’s hand at work in the process and in my life as well. To this day when I look back at my spiritual journey during the week we had to wait on matching approval for her stands out as one of the major life events that God used to draw me closer to him.

I’m excited to see God at work in the matching of our son as well.  The waiting process was drastically different, I’m not sure if that’s due to the busyness I experience as a mom to two or because we had already traveled this road once, but it still makes for a great story.

The days before we had a son. 

Early June – After officially being in the China program for over a month Michael Luke and I decided to start seriously looking at the waiting children.  The children on the special focus list can be viewed at any time… even before beginning your homestudy.  Sometimes parents like to wait a while to seriously look at the list because once you match your child is just waiting on you to finish all the steps required before your travel.  So they are essentially getting older while waiting on you.  So while we could have waited until we got a few more to-dos knocked off our list we also didn’t want to find ourselves at the end waiting on a child to become available that fit our “child desired” list.

So we began reviewing the list of waiting children. Michael Luke being a little bit more organized than me (ok, a lot more organized) created a spreadsheet with all the children that fit the age range we were looking at.  From our shortened list we began to read each child’s profile and watch any videos that were made available.

Early on our little guy began to grab our hearts and attention. We kept coming back to his file and prayed that God would lead us to the child He had for us.

June 20 – The adoption timeline events and rules are different from country to country so Michael Luke and I were still unsure of how everything worked at this point.  What happened if we wanted to “officially” review a child’s file?  Did the child go on hold within our agency or with all agencies?  Did China require a waiting period of seven days like Hong Kong where other families could speak up and be considered for a child?  Our social worker, Sarah was more than happy to answer our questions for us and we began making plans for placing the little boy that was creeping his way into our hearts on hold.

Within a few minutes of letting Sarah know of our desires we received an e-mail with his information, pictures, and a video. Whereas Esther came with 100’s of papers with family history, medical history, and history of daily life the e-mail contained 27 pages about him… half of which where the English translation of the original Chinese language which I guess is Mandarin. So in a nutshell there isn’t much we know about him. We do know he is guesstimated to be 17 months old,  he weighs about 16 lbs, and is around 28 inches long.  Just like with Esther though much of his history I will keep private because that is his story to tell.

Shortly after receiving his file Sarah called us and talked with us for about an hour.  We went through the files together and then she prayed with us asking God to guide us in our decision about whether to adopt this little guy or not.

June 23 – I feel like the decision making process this go around was a lot harder than with Esther.  There are several factors that contributed to this.  First, with Esther we were approached and asked to consider a specific child.  In this case, we had access to lots of files and wanted desperately to know which way God was pointing us.

Because of that I find it no surprise that I am currently working through Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Bible study.  As a little side note it is absolutely amazing! I feel like I could learn from the study over and over again.  Through Experiencing God I have learned that I have to look for where God is at work and then make a decision to join him.  This was my prayer in choosing a child, “God which child do you have chosen for me?” It seems simple but this small but radical approach is what guided us in our decision and gave me complete confidence in our decisions.

Salt Lake City Bed

We were in Salt Lake City staying with some good friends of ours when we placed the file on hold and just as we walked into our hotel room in downtown Salt Lake city for the Young Living International Convention my phone rang. It was a call from the International Adoption Clinic in Birmingham. We had e-mailed the files to them to review and for help making the most out of what little information we had received.  It was a very informative phone call and we were amazed at what all they were able to glean from the 27 pages of information.

Still at this point I wasn’t quite sure if this guy was who God had planned for us.  Ok, maybe I was sure but I kept trying to question God.  But with each question He responded with an answer. His voice came through the Word, through prayer, and through circumstances that He had me encounter in Salt Lake City.  It was amazing and so much fun to find and hear God around me.

July 1 – I may have been a little slow but I finally realized that God was letting me know he was the one.  Michael Luke felt the same.

We were at peace. When you know you are following God’s leading all doubts and fears are gone because any other decision would have been wrong.

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July 5 – Around lunch time Michael Luke emailed Lifeline to let them know that we wanted to submit a letter of intent for this little guy. I was excited but knew that he still wasn’t ours. There was still the possibility that someone else could be submitting a letter of intent at the same time or that they would think we just weren’t a good match for him.  So we just had to wait… an estimated two weeks.

Now, let me just add that at this point in Esther’s adoption process I was a basket case. We had to wait 10 days to find out if we had been approved for her.  And during this time I had the hardest time waiting.  Waiting knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to make her mine. It was all in God’s hands.  It seamed as if my stomach were always tied in knots.  I would pray and give the situation to God and sometimes within minutes I would try and take it back in my hands.  True spiritual growth happened here and God taught me to rest in Him.

So this go around I really didn’t fret or worry about it.  Honestly, I didn’t think about it all that much. I knew He was in control and that there was NOTHING I could do.

July 8 (4:50) – So, we went on vacation to Biloxi  with my parents to a lumber convention. We had fun at the beach, swimming, and eating.  And then Friday afternoon when my phone rang I saw that it was a 205 area code number and felt like I should answer it.  It was Sarah and she wanted to know if I had a few minutes to talk and if Michael Luke was available too.  My heart almost sank because I feared she was calling to let us know that another family had been approved.  I mean, it had only been three days.

Thankfully, we were at the tradeshow at the Beau Rivage with my parents so I left the girls with my mom and ML and I went out in the corridor and found one of those old rooms (well it seems old now) with phone booths in a row.  It seamed like a fitting place to talk on a cell phone in private.

Sarah didn’t waste anytime but let us know immediately that we had matched with our little boy. We were so excited that there were tears streaming down our cheeks and a permanent smile on our faces.  It was more than hard to keep it a secret the rest of the weekend while we vacationed with my entire extended family.  We did though.

Now

Now we wait… and complete the remaining steps at their appointed times.  We are officially through with the homestudy update though and are finally moving on to our dossier and our I-800 (immigration) paperwork. Woohoo!

Hopefully sometime early next year I will be able to scoop Judah Stanley up into my arms and give him a big hug from his mommy.

Judah Reveal

Yep, we finally named him… but that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Judah has a beautiful middle name but it is his name given to him by the nannies at his orphanage so we can’t share it because it is considered identifying information about him.  Once he is ours and on U.S. soil I will be happy to share though.  

 

 

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Adoption Gender Reveal!

china adoption gender reveal coverI find it no surprise that God would make today the perfect day to share that we have officially matched with a little one from China.  Why is it perfect?  Because today is three years to the day that we announced that we had matched with Esther.

In the last update I shared that we were getting near the end of the homestudy update phase of our adoption journey.  Well, we are still very near the end of our homestudy update.  You honestly don’t know the joy I will feel when I don’t have to say that anymore.  Right now, we have done everything on our part needed to wrap up that process and are just waiting on Lifeline to finalize everything and then we can begin work on our Immigration 800-A approval.  So that leaves us still needing to complete:

  • Application
  • Homestudy update
  • Immigration 800 A
  • Dossier
  • Matching
  • Immigration 800
  • Article 5
  • Travel

So let’s talk about matching with a child.

Matching with a child…. What does that mean?

Matching or matched are terms used in adoptions which imply that an orphanage or government agency has granted a family approval to proceed forward to adopt a specific child.  In China a family can match at any point with a child on the “special focus” list, or they can match with a child from the broader “special needs” list once the dossier has been submitted.

We don’t have to worry about that anymore because Friday we received matching approval for a little one from the special focus list!  Yep, we officially have  another child waiting for us on the other side of the world, and this little mama is more than a little ready to hop on a plane and bring our newest one home!

I’ll share in another post all the details of our matching process, but today I’ll share what I’m sure you are most interested in… the gender.

When I was pregnant with Noah, the whole release a balloon, toss up confetti, and cut the cake thing to reveal the gender was still relatively new.  We simply called the grandparents-to-be and shared the news.  Mission accomplished.  When we adopted from Hong Kong, we were only approved for a girl because children of opposite sexes were not allowed to share a bedroom.  In this adoption however we were approved for either sex because we have three bedrooms.  So in some ways it has felt like a pregnancy because we truly didn’t know if we would match with a boy or a girl.  So, since it felt like a pregnancy, I thought it would be fun to do a small gender reveal.

I didn’t have time to plan a party because we found out Friday afternoon and shared the news last night, but we did have fun with it.  Michael Luke and I invited our parents out for dinner at Ciao Baby last night.  It’s the perfect meeting place for vegans, meatlovers, and children to dine together.

ML’s mom kept the girls yesterday, so we could plan our reveal and think about names.  I wanted the girls to be able to take part in the reveal, so we got a little creative and thought out of the box.  Well in the box actually.  Michael Luke and I went and bought some little onesies yesterday in the right color that would let the girls know whether they were getting a brother or sister.

We wrapped the clothes in the right gender-colored tissue paper and then wrapped that in brown craft paper.  Next, we wrapped it in layers of green, pink, yellow, and blue tissue paper, so that as each layer was unwrapped the girls (and grandparents) would be left guessing what the gender was.  Finally, we placed the gift in a bed of white tissue paper inside a box and  wrapped the box in green paper.

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Noah and Esther were beyond excited at the restaurant and could hardly wait for us to place our orders and sit down so the REAL fun could begin.

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We decided to let them unwrap the box while we waited on the pizza.  They were thrilled at what they found inside.

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IT’S A BOY!

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Yep, we are thrilled to announce that we hope to bring home our son this winter.  Noah and Esther have barely been able to stop thinking of ways they are going to help their new brother out when he comes home.  Me, I have fallen head over heals in love with him already and can’t wait to hold him in my arms so he can feel the love of a mama.

Even though we have matched with our little one, we haven’t adopted him yet, so a lot of his information is still considered private… including pictures of him.  So while I would love to show you how cute he is and let you see his big grin, I can’t until he is officially ours.  In the meantime I can tell you that he is around seventeen months old.  That puts Noah roughly three years older than him.  Because he has been in an institution almost his entire life he’s a little small for his age, but we fully expect him to grow by leaps and bounds once he’s part of our forever family.  In the meantime we are going to enjoy having one on the rather small side since we have already missed out on all those months of cuddling him.  Bring on the bonding!

Because this whole matching thing happened so quickly and because we couldn’t wait any longer to spill the beans about our son, we don’t have a name picked out yet.  Right now, we have it narrowed down to three names.  And the only hint we are giving away is that it is Biblical… like Noah, Esther, Michael Luke, and mine (if you count the crystal sea).  He’ll have a name soon enough though. china adoption gender reveal 02

For the full journey of our adoptions,  visit the China Adoption or Hong Kong Adoption tab at the top of the page.

 

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Making Progress

Often times the adoption process can seem like it takes forever and with two girls already it can put thoughts of the next little one joining the fam on the back burner.

Our excitement has been growing these past couple of weeks though because we are finally nearing the end of our adoption homestudy update.  During his off weeks we’ve been rushing around town getting our fingerprints done, backgrounds rechecked, and having our medical exam records updated.  I can confidently assure you that I do not have tuberculosis or any criminal history. Lol!

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To most people it may seem as if we have made very little progress because for almost two years now we have been saying, “we are in the home study phase of the adoption.”  There was a brief time earlier this year when we had submitted our Dossier to the Dominican Republic… and then pulled it but for the most part we have been stuck in this first phase of adoption FOR A LONG TIME.

For anyone considering adoption please know this is not typical at all. We have a bad habit of complicating things that extend the process like moving, changing jobs, relocating to a different state, and switching countries which at the moment is resulting in our second home study update.

Thankfully, once we get past this out adoption should move fairly quickly.  The most exciting part is that with an adoption from China you can match at an point in the process!

So what do we have left and when do we do hope to travel?

  • application
  • home study (and updates)
  • immigration 800A
  • Dossier
  • Matching
  • Immigration I-800
  • Article 5
  • Travel

If everything happens smoothly and we match at some point within the process we hope to travel sometime early 2017.  I’m really starting to get excited because in reality that is not that far off.

I don’t know about you but I was even looking forward to fall yesterday when I was reading Embers of Love, my latest summer reading indulge.  The final part of the book took place in October and mentioned the cool nights and I couldn’t help but think about how good those nights will feel in contrast to the muggy warm nights we are having right now.  I sure am loving spending time at the pool though.

 

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Every season has it’s pros and cons and intend to make the most of the pros while I can during each season.

One of the perks right now is enjoying my last few months as a family of four.  Having two girls so close in age is so much fun. Sometimes I forget that the next one will be at a good deal younger.  Noah and Esther have such a special bond and I love getting to spend all my days with them.  So while we wait on our next one I’m going to cherish my sweet time with them and prepare them for their upcoming roles as big sisters.

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For more on our adoption journey(s) click here.

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