Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So Close

As you can see from the column on the left, we have only one step left before we are heading to China.  Our information is at the US consulate in China and will be picked up on January, 11. From there it is sent to Beijing and we wait for the last step, Travel Approval.  There is a slim chance it could come before the Chinese New Year holiday, Jan. 23-28, but it is more likely to come after that.  We will leave for China within weeks of getting that approval.  It is really getting close. 
I’ve started to pack for the trip.  I’ve laid out the clothes we are taking for Brooklyn and will start to gather some of the items we will be taking as well.  Then, when the time comes, we can simply add our clothes and be ready to go.  This weekend we put locks on a couple of cabinets.  Since Brooke will not know English, it is easier just to lock up medications and chemicals until she is older and can understand the dangers involved with these items.  Dennis is working on some of the electronic details for being able to keep in contact with family and friends while we are in China.  I’m learning how to blog from email since our blog may not be accessible from China.  If you are reading this, I succeeded!
We are eagerly anticipating meeting Brooke in the near future.  Please continue to pray for:
-Finances for the trip and the in-country adoption fees.
-Our adjustments as a family.
-Brooke’s adjustments to a new language, culture and family.
-Speedy processing of paperwork.
-Reasonable flights which will be booked on fairly short notice.

Friday, December 23, 2011

One more step down!

We are one step closer to bringing Brooklyn home.  We just received word that our visa information for Brooke has been cabled to the consulate in Guangzhou, China.  Our agency will deliver some papers there next week and then in about 10 business days our Article 5 will be picked up, sent to Beijing and we will be waiting for our Travel Approval.  With the Chinese New Year in Janaury, we would expect a bit of delay on getting our Travel Approval, but it should still arrive in February.  Then we will receive our travel dates, book flights and head to China.  

Have a great Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Count Your Blessings – Name them One by One

The old hymn “Count Your Blessings” goes like this: 
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

I’ll admit that the last several days I have been discouraged.  Yes, the adoption process is moving along as expected but it does seem long sometimes.  The end is around the corner.  We will be in China soon. 
So, why do I need to count my blessings?  Just suffice it to say, I’ve been looking too much at the “have nots” rather than at the blessings God so richly provides. 
Counting my blessings today –
·         For God’s continued provision that exceeds my needs.
·         For the gift of a Savior.
·         For family and friends with whom to celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas.
·         For a daughter He formed in her mother’s womb long before we even thought about the possibility of having a family.
·         For my amazing husband and the wonderful leader he is.
·         For three crazy dogs that make my life richer just by being present.
·         For the many people, we have met in person and online, that have taken part in this journey to our daughter. 
What are your blessings this Christmas?  Leave a comment to share them with us.   
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

i800 Approved

Just a quick note today.  We just got the email from our immigration officer that our i800 was approved today.  Next step is for the paperwork to be entered in the Department of State system and it be cabled to the US consulate in China for Brooklyn's Visa to be processed.  We would expect that to happen in about ten days but with the holidays next weekend, it may take a few extra days. 

We are one step closer to bringing Brooklyn home!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So What is Going On?

At this point, we are waiting again.  We do know that our paperwork should be with our immigration officer this week for approval.  We hope to get the approval yet this week. In about 10 days after that the information will go to the US Consulate in China to process Brooklyn's Visa.

We did get some of our questions about Brooklyn answered and it was fun to get a glimpse into her life.  Her foster family has two children but they are both grown and no longer living at home.  Sounds to me like a family like us, older parents and she is an only child.  She likes cookies, cake, chocolate and fruit.  Sounds a lot like me.  She likes dolls and enjoys drawing. We also learned that she has outgrown her allergy to chicken.

So, what better is there to do while we are waiting than to keep preparing so I finished some of the decorations I was making for her room.  I painted the letters of her name and got them hung above her dresser.

We also visited a day care for a summer program for Brooklyn.  We were very impressed with day care and have already submitted our application for the summer.  The same day we visited a Christian school we are considering for fall.  This year when she comes home we will home school until the end of the school year since I am on leave and it will give us a chance to focus on language skills.

We are expecting to be in China in late February or early March.  We won't know the exact dates of our travel until a few weeks before we leave.  The last part of the adoption process is needed before we can get travel dates.

Please continue to pray for:

  1. Brooklyn as she is preparing for all the changes that will be coming in her life.  Also pray that she will understand the Gospel as we start telling her about Jesus.
  2. Our continued financial needs for the rest of the adoption.
  3. Smooth processing of the remaining steps of the adoption.
  4. For us as we prepare to be parents.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

God Is Faithful

Last night Dennis and I put together a Christmas care package for Brooklyn.  There are several services that will assist you with this and we used Lady Bugs and Love for this package.   We chose a toy, stuffed animal and a new outfit.   We had an email back almost immediately asking us some specifics about what we would like them to purchase for her.  We also wrote her a letter that will be translated and sent along with the package.  How we wish she would be spending Christmas with us this year but obviously that was not in God’s plan for uniting our family.  We hope that we will get some pictures back after she gets her package as well as a note from her.  While you are in the process of adopting, any small glimpse of your child’s life is precious.

Currently we are waiting to hear from US immigration regarding Brooklyn’s paperwork.  Maybe by the end of next week we will hear that her paperwork has cleared immigration.  I thought once we were past the final approval (LOA) stage that I would be more relaxed with the other steps.  Well, that lasted for about a week.  Now I am using all the restraint that I have in me not to email US immigration to check on the status of her paperwork.  I might email tomorrow or Monday.
I’ve been reminded on a number of occasions lately of how important it is to remember God’s provision and guidance in the past.  It certainly helps increase my faith as I see how God has provided in the past to trust Him for the future.  In the Old Testament, the children of Israel often put down physical markers to remind them of what God did at a specific place.  My markers have been this blog and a journal I have been keeping.  Here are some of those markers:
  1. God moved us to a new church, established us there and placed us in ministry to international students from China.  This ministry helped us to fall in love with people of China.  Little did we know then that God would lead us to our daughter waiting in China for her family. 
  2. A note from our friend Nancy who early on in the process of adopting encouraged us as we stepped out in obedience in the direction God was leading us. 
  3.  God leading us to Gladney Center for Adoption through a picture in a newsletter.  God certainly knew our needs for an agency that would walk along with us through this process and be very open and communicate with us well. 
  4.  For our trip to New York for adoption training, God provided very cheap flights and a church, Hudsonview Baptist Church,  that opened their doors and let us stay there while we were in New York. 
  5.  A monetary gift that we were not expecting.  I’d been praying that God would confirm the steps we were taking with a monetary gift but He provided beyond what my meager prayers were asking.  
  6. Paperwork processing that has gone consistently faster than is normal.  Our first immigration paperwork went through processing at the one time this year when approval times were under 50 days.  Our LOA came in 34 days which is faster than this processing takes in most cases. 
  7. Staff from Gladney going to China who took a package to Brooklyn for us which included pictures so she could get to know her family.

As I look back on all of this, I cannot help but say – God is faithful.  And this is the short list.  I feel like the writer of Hebrews when he says at the ends the list of people who lived by faith by saying, “And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about…”  There are so many other blessings along the way that I just don’t have time to write about now. 
Looking forward, I know God will continue to provide more than we can even think to ask about.  Here are a few things we do know about and are asking God for:
  1. Brooklyn’s anticipation of and adjustment to a new life and family. 
  2. The financial provision to complete travel and China adoption fees. 
  3. Smooth approvals of paperwork.  We still are hoping to travel before the end of March.
  4. Forever families for the 147 million orphans who go to bed each night without a family to tuck them in and love them.

Please pray with us and for us as God brings us into your thoughts.