Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Last Day in the USA

I started family leave today in order to get those last minute things done before leaving.  It was a wise choice! The bags are packed except for things we will use in the morning.  When Dennis gets home we'll weigh the suitcases to make sure we did not exceed the limits.  It will be close.  When we fly from Beijing to Shanghai we may have to move some things around to make it under China's limits.  Our carry-on bags are not stuffed so we have room in them if we would need to move some things out of the bags.  

So after a long year of doing paperwork and waiting, we are finally ready to go.  I know for us this is the end of a long journey that we have eagerly anticipated but for Brooke, I can only imagine how difficult it must be.  She most likely has moved back to the orphanage at this point and is about to have everything familiar in her life change.  Please remember to pray for her as you pray for us in the weeks ahead.

Our next post will be from China.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Almost to China

This is it, the week we leave for China.  Amazing!  In the midst of the hectic work of international adoption, it seems like this day will never arrive.  Each step along the way is a mountain of paperwork, frustration, waiting and stress but finally we are almost on our way.  Unbelievable!  God is so good and has stretched us and grown us along the way.

I've had several people ask me if we are excited.  I'm never really sure how to answer that question. In some ways, it feels like we are planning for an awesome vacation. (I have always wanted to go to China.)  But then when I look at the big picture it can be overwhelming.  We will not come home the same family as we have been for the last eight years.  Life as we know it, will never be the same.  The thought of being parents to Brooke is exciting, overwhelming and downright horrifying at times.  What if we are awful at it?  What if she hates us?  All of you who are parents can understand those feeling
I am sure.  Overall, my answer to this question is I am calm. I have a deep peace that God is in this.

One of my favorite Bible verses is a filter I try to use to keep my thoughts and actions focused in the right directions.  It is Phil 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  So, as I think about all that is coming for us in the next weeks, months and years, I think about these things:

  • God has lead us down this journey to Brooke and made His plan for her to be part of our family very clear.
  • God has called His people to care for the orphans of the world.
  • God has always cared for us and Brooke and will continue to do so as we go through the adjustments of being a family.
  • We have been blessed with friends and family who have supported us and encouraged us along the way.
  • We have an incredible prayer team that is committed to praying for us as we make this journey and the adjustments to a new family.
So, we are using the weekend to wrap-up a few odds and ends and then we are on the way to China.  We plan to blog as many days as we can along the way.  Hope you will join us in prayer and in following along here as we see God's plan for our lives unwrap in the days ahead.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Grumble

This year our church has embraced a plan to study the whole Bible in a year.  We are being encouraged to “Eat this Book” and read through the Bible this year – BTW, there’s an App for that.  The messages each week focus on the chapters of the Bible that we read during the week.  Well, we are in Numbers.  I know what you are thinking, and frankly, so was I – What are we going to get out of Numbers?  I’ll be honest and say I felt the same way about Leviticus but that is another story.  The message last week was awesome!  It is amazing how much the Israelites grumbled and they had God speaking directly to Moses; miracles happening in front of their eyes and lest we forget, they also saw the earth open up and swallow up those that were causing problems,  and yet they grumbled, over and over again.  Ah, wait a minute; let’s not be so quick to cast judgment.  We have the Bible where God speaks to us, we see God work miracles in people’s lives and yes, sometimes we even see God lovingly discipline those who refuse to obey Him.  And what is our response – be honest here – WE GRUMBLE!  We were encouraged to be more aware of all the times we grumble and instead look for all the blessings and to name them out loud.  Yikes, when I am consciously thinking about this, I have to admit I grumble more than I thought.

So, as we are about to head off to a country that is totally outside of what is normal and natural for us, I am going to try to monitor my grumble meter.  I will survive and maybe even enjoy different foods that in some cases I have no clue what they are, crowds everywhere, waiting on people at appointments, traffic that makes most US cities at rush hour look uncongested, and even squatty potties (trust me, you don’t want to know).  Instead I am choosing to focus on the blessings.  Friends that are meeting us at the airport in Beijing, experiencing the rich history and culture of China and meeting our daughter and in so doing seeing the fulfillment of God’s leading in our lives.  I’ll try to share our blessings along the way as we continue this journey.  I’m sure I will find myself grumbling but hopefully, I will be conscious of that and  stop, step back and instead be grateful for all that God has so richly provided. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Details are Coming Together

Travel plans are underway.  We are only responsible for booking our flights to and from China.  All of the rest of the trip is handled through our agency.  We have our flights booked and are waiting for the details regarding our time in China.  We do know that we will fly out of our local airport and connect in Chicago with our flight to China.  Our first stop is Beijing where we will spend a few days with some friends, see a few sites in the area, and most importantly, recover some from jet lag.
From there we head to Shanghai where we will finally meet our daughter. Once we meet her, she will be with us for the rest of the trip.  Our time as a family of two is coming to an end very soon.  We will be in Shanghai for about a week.  While we are there we will complete the Chinese paperwork for the adoption and getting her passport.

From Shanghai we head to Guangzhou.  This is where the US consulate is located.  All adoptive families from the US must go through Guangzhou.  During our week there Brooke will have a physical and TB screening, we will process the US paperwork so that when she arrives in Chicago she becomes a US citizen, participate in an interview at the consulate and receive her VISA.  After this is done we will head to Hong Kong.

We have decided to spend an extra day in Hong Kong before flying home.  We will spend that day at Disney.  It is a small Disney park but will give us the chance to relax, have some fun with Brooke and get tired out before the long flight home.  

At each city we will have days that are filled with official adoption proceedings and other days when we are waiting for something to get done.  On those days we will get to see China and explore the area.  I’m sure we will have a lot of stories to tell when we get home.

Please pray for:
  • Brooke as she goes through so many changes in her life over the next month.
  • Safety as we travel.
  • All the details of the trip to be done easily.
  • Dennis and Ellen as we get ready to travel and as we help Brooke through her transition into our family.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Almost to China

We received our consulate appointment date today and will be overlapping in Guangzhou with our friends the Parsons. What an added blessing to share this last step of the adoption journey with our friends.  When we first started feeling God's tugging on our heart about adoption, the Parsons' were one of the families we sought advice from. They have three girls from China and will be adding a son on this trip.  They have been supporters for us along the way.

We also will get to see several of our Chinese friends.  Over the last several years, God has blessed our lives with getting to know some students at the University of Wisconsin who are here studying.  We know for sure we will get to see two of these students and maybe a few more along the way.  We can hardly wait.  In fact, they are going to be our guides and show us around Beijing for a couple of days.
In addition, we will be meeting up with some of the friends we have made online while in the process of adoption.  It will be fun to meet in person with people we only know through cyber-space.

We are looking at various flight options and should get those settled in the next few days.  Our agency does all of the in China arrangements so we don't have to worry about them.

Please continue to pray for Brooke as she goes through so many changes in the next weeks and months.  I can't even begin to imagine what this must be like for her.

Also pray for our travel arrangements to go smoothly and for us to have a safe trip.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We're Going to China

Two letters that mean the end of our adoption journey is finally in site.  We received the call this morning that our Travel Approval arrived at our agency!  We are overjoyed.  We have requested a consulate appointment in March and should hear in the next few days if we get the date we requested.  If we do, we will get to share this experience with our friends Beth and John who also will be in China to adopt their son.  We would overlap the last few days of the trip when we are at the consulate.  Please pray that we get the dates we requested.

As soon as we have a confirmed consulate appointment we can book our flights for China.  It is hard to believe that we will soon end this journey and be with our daughter.

Please pray for:
1. Brooke as she goes through a lot of changes in the next several months.
2. Us as we prepare for the trip.
3. Safety as we travel.
4. Adjustments for all of us as we become a family.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Above Average

We’re above average!  Usually that is a good thing but not this time.  We are over the average waiting time for Travel Approval (TA).  Of course, this is largely due to Chinese New Year last week which closed down the office that issues TA but that only helps my head process this wait.  My heart still knows we have waited longer than normal.  We both want to hear that our TA is done and we can begin making travel plans.  But, we also trust that God’s perfect timing will be just right.

With that said, I am on pins and needles waiting for the phone to ring.  Every time it does I grab it, hoping the number on the caller ID is our adoption agency.  

In the adoption community, there are several online forums for people to gather and share information.  It has been so quiet this week as so many are in the same situation we are.  We are all hoping and praying that our TAs get processed this week, sent out and arrive in the US early next week. 

Once the TA arrives, our agency will make an appointment at the US consulate in China for us and then book all of our in China travel details.  This includes hotels, flights between cities, guides and government appointments.  We are responsible for booking our flights to and from China.

Please pray for:
  • The arrival of our Travel Approval.
  • The details of our travel arrangements to come together quickly and easily once the TA arrives.
  • Low cost flights to and from China.
  • Brooke, as she goes through the many transitions in the weeks ahead.
  • All of us as we adapt to one another and bond together as a family.