Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This means Emily's visa is complete and has been sent to the adoption department in China. We now wait for TA (travel approval). The expected wait for TA is about 2 weeks but these have been coming in under a week lately. Once we receive TA, we schedule our consulate appointment and book our flights!
Best case scenario... We fly out on March 19th, "gotcha day" on March 24th, consulate appointment March 31st, fly home on April 1st.
Likely scenario... We fly out on March 26th, gotcha March 31st, consulate appointment April 7th, fly home April 8th.
Worst case scenario... Fly out April 2nd, gotcha April 7th, consulate appointment April 14th, fly home April 15th.
Hoping to announce soon that we have TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!!!
Monday, March 3, 2014
We see adorable pictures of Emily. We talk about her like she's always been a part of our family. But Emily's reality is very different from the way we sometimes view it. The truth is harsh and ugly. Emily has experienced more trauma in the 2 years she has been alive than most of us will experience in a lifetime. Emily was born premature, with a heart defect and cerebral palsy. She was abandoned days after her birth and was immediately institionalized. She spent 6 months in an institution where she likely had little attention. She was uprooted about 6 months later and entered the care of Harmony House, hundreds of miles away from her originating orphanage. We are grateful that she has been at Harmony House since this time but the reality remains. She is still an orphan and hasn't experienced the love of a mother and father.
The reality of all this trauma leads me to expect a broken reunion with her, and a broken homecoming. She can't appreciate that she's being adopted. She has no idea what her future holds. She doesn't have the perspective that we have. She is fragile and I expect her behavior to reflect that. She will once again be uprooted and thrown in to the arms of a mother she does not know. We look different, we smell different, we sound different. We will drag her all over China before we fly home, to yet another place she is not familiar with. So, when I ponder my expectations, they are certainly low. I expect she will reject me. I expect she will be angry and scream constantly. Or perhaps she will shut down and avoid any emotion at all.
The not knowing. Isn't that always where our anxiety stems from? My prayer today is that I will continue to rely on the God who is never surprised, the God whose expectations are always fulfilled, the God who loves me infinitely more than I can even imagine, and the God who offers us a hope that can trample the trauma of Emily's first 2 years of life.
We expect the trauma in her life to be lived out when we get her (and beyond). But there's a reality that trumps the trauma. It is the reason we gave Emily the middle name "Hope". We have a tangible hope. Emily has a tangible hope. A hope that says her future is bright. A hope that can only be found in Christ. We have the hope of knowing that we were adopted by God, through the price of His only son (Ephesians 1:5). This hope gives us everlasting joy, despite any circumstances we may be surrounded by. I expect our trip to China and our uniting with Emily to be chaotic at best. But I also expect that our God can and will transform this experience in to a life of joy for us and for Emily. God is good. This has been true throughout our journey and it will remain true when we bring our sweet Mei Mei home.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)
Thursday, February 13, 2014
We expect our Lifeline China team will be able to pick up our Article 5 letter (Emily's approved visa) around March 4th. Once our Article 5 letter is available, it will be couriered to the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption), where they will issue us Travel Approval (TA) about 2 weeks later. At that point, it's go time!
Considering where we are in the process and looking at the time frames, we are expecting to travel the last week of March. I can't believe I'm able to say that now!
(Disclaimer: If you are already thoroughly bored or confused by our process, do not read this paragraph.) We can not book our flights until we have a consulate appointment confirmed. This is the appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China to finalize the adoption. Our consulate appointment can not be made until we have TA (travel approval). "Gotcha day" is the day we pick up our sweet girl from her originating orphanage. Gotcha days are always on Monday and they are always scheduled the week before your consulate appointment. So, we will receive TA, then schedule our consulate appointment, then book flights. Based on current circumstances, here's my prediction. We will fly in to Beijing the week of March 24th to experience the culture and sight see for a couple days. We will then fly to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia (the capital of the province where she was abandoned) for our gotcha day, which would be March 31st. Then we fly to Guangzhou the following week to complete the adoption. Then it's back to the US of A for us! Again, this is only my prediction based on normal process times.
I'll have more updates to come as it gets closer. Please pump up those prayers. This is a very exciting but anxious time for our family. There is an unbelievable amount of preparation that needs to happen before we travel. This preparation has already begun and will not be slowing down any. Please accept my apology now for my neglecting or ignoring you over the next several weeks. Wait, now that I think about it, I really won't come out of that funk until... hmmmmm.... way after our return. Oh goodness. Pour on the grace, please. We're gonna need it. ;-)
Saturday, February 8, 2014
|Big sister and "Nana"|
|My friend Carla made this amazing cake!|
|A bracelet with the names of my 5 special people. Love.|
|Some of my girls who came today|
|Anna Grace loves her Mei Mei already!|
|Love me some Tujagues!|
Thursday, February 6, 2014
I try to imagine the moment our airplane touches down on U.S. soil, after leaving China with our daughter. I'm thinking there will be plenty of tears and high fives. I've already purchased her a new red, white, and blue dress for that day... Oh what a joyous day that will be!
Now that we have I800 approval, our file has been sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire. In approximately one week, the NVC will create and cable a letter to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China (while they are doing this, we will be busy filling out more paperwork, DS260 form, which is necessary in the process of obtaining Emily's visa). Here, our Article 5 (Emily's approved visa to leave China) will be produced and sent to the CCCWA. Once they receive this, they will issue travel approval and we will then travel about 2 weeks after that. It's all a bit confusing but basically we are now going through a process to have Emily's visa issued. It takes several weeks and we are still expecting to travel in late March or early April.
Take away from today's news... Progress continues to be made! We are getting closer and closer to travel. This reality is hard for me to grasp. I get overwhelmed when I think about the past year, how this all began, the many steps we've taken along the way, and where we are today. Some days have been hard. Some have been wonderful. Every one of them have had God's hand at the center. We are privileged, beyond explanation, to have received this calling.
One more step up our mountain of Hope... the mountain that we eagerly looked up at in Birmingham almost one year ago. The mountain looked so very tall and overwhelming but we now have a beautiful view from the top and are almost all the way there... one step closer to bringing home our little US citizen! God is good.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
|She's looking at the photo album we sent her of our family!|
|Born to be a Tiger!!!|
|Her mama and dada sent her this warm jacket and lovie.|
Thursday, January 16, 2014
That's what I'm experiencing today. Satisfaction pumping through my veins. Satisfaction that only the love and faithfulness of Christ can accomplish.
66 days after our pre-approval... 66 long days of wondering, waiting, praying, agonizing... after receiving a red flag from the Chinese government and supplying more information to answer further questions... 66 days of relying on The Lord to get us here... our letter of approval (LOA) arrived via FedEx... TODAY.
From here, Seamus and I will sign this very important document and send it back to Lifeline tomorrow, who will turn around and overnight it to U.S. Immigration, along with an application (I800) requesting that Emily be approved for citizenship in the United States. We should receive that approval in about 2-3 weeks. Once Immigration grants approval, they send everything to the National Visa Center who turns around and cables the approval to the Visa Center in China. There are many small steps between now and travel. I'll keep you posted as we hit each milestone. It looks like we will be traveling in early April. Eeeeeek!
Holding this letter in my hands produces a flood of emotion that is almost impossible to explain. This piece of paper is proof that when we fight for the least of these, the ones who God treasures most, the impossible becomes possible. 2 worlds collide. 2 countries have approved us to be the parents of our daughter, Emily Hope Loman. She will soon be ours to hold and to raise, to love, and to promise that she will never, never, never be abandoned again. She will know the same love our children here know. She will never have to feel alone, ever again. She will finally know what it's like to have a mommy and daddy dry her tears and kiss her bo-bo's. This piece of paper brings us one huge step closer to being able to love her the way she deserves and to show her the love of Christ.
Aside from seeing Emily's face for the first time, this has been the best day of our adoption journey. This day outweighs all the hard days put together. This is the joy that God has promised for those who follow Him. Yes, being a follower requires sacrifice and hardship. But the pain that stems from a difficult road is incomparable to the joy that He continues to lavish on us through this process. (Romans 8:18) Had we not ever taken the leap of faith in adopting, there is an incredible amount of joy we'd have missed out on. And we don't even have her in our arms yet! Oh how my arms ache to hold her. Imagine THAT joy!
Our God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)
We are thanking Him today for His holy spirit that convicted us to pursue an orphan. We are thankful that this orphan is one step closer to losing that label forever! We are thanking Him for His provision and grace in protecting us through the difficult days. We are thanking Him for providing our LOA! And we are thanking Him for our loved ones as you have prayed for us and supported us mightily. Please continue to pray for our family and for our Mei Mei. We must continue to rely on the strength and daily grace of our Lord.
Monday, January 13, 2014
They have issued our LOA (letter of approval). The "what-ifs" have ended. The spaz out session has begun!
In the adoption world, we call this "soft LOA". China will now print and mail our LOA hard copy to Lifeline. Once Lifeline receives it, they will overnight it to us. Upon receiving our hard copy LOA, our official LOA wait will be over!
I will repost as soon as we receive our hard copy. At that time, I'll also explain what happens next.
This is fantastic news for us and for Emily Hope! We're coming, Mei Mei... hold on a little bit longer!
Saturday, January 4, 2014
I have so many adoptive friends through Facebook who are praying for us and supporting us. It's bitter sweet because all of the friends who were in the same stage as us seem to now be passing us up. I wouldn't trade the connections and encouragement for anything in the world. They have truly become like sisters to me! But this week feels a tad bit lonely at times, even with everyone covering us with love. God doesn't let me get too down. As soon as I start feeling discouraged, He reminds me of all His goodness and faithfulness, His promises to provide and never leave my side. Those promises are forever firm, even in the midst of my sinful discouragement and doubt. God is good y'all and He will bring us to Emily at the perfect moment! That moment won't likely be in March, since last week's request for further information. Somehow, we're okay with that. It's hard but I'm so thankful for a God who constantly reminds me of His goodness. By the way, if you're ever wondering what the key to happiness is, that's it. Focus on who Christ is and all his goodness. That's it. I promise. Everything falls in to place when you focus on Him and not "me".
On a lighter note, we have had the privilege of receiving several recent pictures of Emily. A couple of them are extra special. We mailed a small package to her several weeks ago. We were thrilled to learn that the package arrived. Some of these pictures show Emily wearing a monogrammed dress we sent and her "Bringing Home Emily Hope" t-shirt! I've been trying to process this. An orphan living in China, who we have sought out since March... our daughter now... is wearing the t-shirt (halfway around the world) we had made to help bring her home and to show our love for her. And, the orphanage director cares enough to share this picture (and others) with us! Seamus and I have looked at this particular picture about a hundred times since we received it Thursday. Unreal.
I'm hoping to share an exciting update with you very soon (praying I can tell you something new next week). Stay tuned! For now, enjoy the pics!
Saturday, December 28, 2013
When we started this journey back in March, one of the obstacles in moving ahead was finances. We are, by no means, struggling to provide for our family but certainly didn't have an extra $32,000 laying around. That chunk of change seemed like good reason to keep pushing the idea of adopting out of my head. But God convicted us on a deeper level. Not only had he softened our hearts for his ministry of adoption but he vividly confirmed that he would provide in all things, even the finances needed to fund this adoption. We seriously had no idea how we were going to pay for it. My pride stood in the way of wanting to fundraise. The only other way was to deplete our savings and borrow the rest. Although debt is very unbiblical and not something we want to touch, I was able to rationalize the idea. The debt was for good reason, right? God forgives us if we're borrowing for a good cause! Um, not really. God spoke to us very clearly in March and helped us to understand that not only was going in to debt wrong but it was unnecessary. We knew, through prayer, that He was going to provide every dollar we needed. And he did! Of course he did.
Through generous donations, rainy day savings, Adoption Doughnut Day, t-shirt sales, Tales & Ales, Orphan Awareness event at Terra Bella, Saints tickets raffle, and lifestyle adjustments, we managed to raise $30,435! Because we received some unexpected Christmas gifts, we are able to apply the remaining $1,565 needed towards our adoption fund. To say we are overwhelmed would be the understatement of the year. All because of God's abundant grace, our adoption is fully funded at $32,000!
God also cleansed me of my pride in not wanting to accept help. God is a God who longs for us to depend on him. He created us to be in relationship, to be encouragers and providers to one another. We are his hands and feet on earth and by being prideful about accepting help, we would be denying our brothers and sisters in Christ (and God himself) the opportunity to be involved in this ministry! Your donations and all that you have shared with us come directly from the ultimate provider himself. He has worked through your hearts and hands to be a part of bringing Emily home. I praise Him for showing me truth in this, rather than allowing me to remain in my sinful pride. Who am I to decide how God should fund this adoption? Humility. It's a hard lesson to learn, yet a beautiful privilege to experience.
Thanks to so many of you who gladly donated and participated in our fundraisers. We hope the blessing is yours as you realize Christ used you for His glory! May I boldly ask for your continued prayers? We can't bring Mei Mei home without $32,000 but we certainly can't bring her home without your prayers either! Deep gratitude.
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)