Adoption Timeline

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We are literally ONE WEEK away from leaving for China!! This has been a huge week of blessings and craziness! Several people have asked how they can help this last week. We just found out that we were blessed and awarded a $4500 matching grant from Chosen & Dearly Loved Adoption Fund, administered by Lifesong for Orphans!! For every dollar that we raise, that will be MATCHED, doubling the amount we raise! Thank you all again for your PRAYERS and support!! 1 week to go....

Sunday, April 29, 2018

T-Shirts For Charli

We have been working hard the past 7 months to bring home our daughter from China. We hope that we will get all the necessary approvals over the next few months and plan on traveling this Fall to bring her home. It would mean so much if you shared in our joy by purchasing a shirt to help bring Charli home. Throughout this adoption, the Lord kept whispering, to take courage my heart. Sweet Charli, who's Chinese name means "Hero" has already been through one open heart surgery as a newborn. The courage she, and so many other children have, is indescribable. May she be our encouragement, to take courage. "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!" Psalm 31:24

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Use the link below for the next 3 weeks to order your t-shirt! They are available in adult and youth sizes!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Road Back to China...

Well, we have officially announced our second adoption and I have been meaning to write all the details of this beautiful story down before I forget them all.  This time our adoption journey looks much different...or at least how it came to be.  Forgive me in advance, as this is a very long story, but if I don't write it down, I will regret it. Also, I will preface this with a lot of the magnitude and miracles in this story may not make since unless you have been through an international adoption. But again, I have to write this down so I can always have somewhere to go and read the details of this miracle...God's miracle.

Rewind to 18 months ago...when we brought Morrissey home.  There was never a doubt in Matt or I's mind that we would adopt again.  We felt fairly certain that the Lord had plans for our family to grow again (one day) through another adoption, and most likely China.  I have said it before and I will say it again, you can't undo what your eyes see. As hard as this journey is at times, the beauty from ashes, makes it so worth it.

So we had our plan...we needed Xander and Morrissey to really be in Kinder before we had another child, because I wasnt quite sure I could have 3 under the age of five, or afford childcare for 3 under the age of 5. That would mean we would wait until they were close to the age of 4 and then start the homestudy process.  This is how we did it with Morrissey. We started our homestudy and submitted our dossier to China and waited for a "match". This is called the LID route. Of course, all the while, everyday I would look at waiting children and wonder if they were our son/daughter.  I even requested a few files the first year Morrissey was home, of waiting children and would pray/wonder...could they be? Everytime I would show Matt a picture he would smile, but gently say, not yet.

But I kept seeing faces and thinking quite possibly doing a dossier re-use HAD to be God's plan for us. For those not in the adoption community, that would mean we would use the same agency and submit a LOI (letter of intent) for a waiting child by our one year adoption anniversary of Morrissey.  There were many benefits to this, and gosh there were so many children that needed families now. So, I contacted our agency we used for Morrissey and just let them know I was interested in this, and to let me know if they had any children who they come across with congenital heart disease that needed a family. I filled out the preliminary application and continued to pray.

Shortly after this, China changed their rules and two of them affected our family and would prevent us from adopting from China at that time. First, they no longer allowed a dossier re-use, you had to wait a year in between adoptions. The second rule was that the youngest child in the home had to be three. Xander would not be three until February 26th 2018.

Holt contacted me and said they would be closing my application at this time but once the children were a little older to reapply.  As crushed as I was, I knew God had a plan and I was just thankful that we still could eventually adopt...but we just had to wait.

So I started planning big family trips for the five of us and had prepared myself that we would wait another year...I was ok with this. Matt's dad was very ill, and we knew our time with him was limited, Morrissey was still significantly struggling with sleep, we had just moved houses, and had several other big changes.  I was ok with waiting.

September 11th 2017:  I was doing my usual scrolling through pictures of waiting children and this evening the Little Flowers Facebook page.  Remember, Little Flowers was Morrissey's second home in China.  This is where she lived for about 9 months and because of them was able to have her open heart surgery in China.

Suddenly, I saw this face...and those eyes...and something in me just stopped.  I didnt know anything about her, but it was as if she was looking back at me. I kept staring at the picture and then I showed it to Matt. "Matt...look at her...maybe she is our daughter?" He smiled...but this time he didnt say "not yet."  He said "she's beautiful." Then I started laughing and told him, well, she is super young, she wont have a file ready yet. So, there is no way...but she is beautiful!

A few days passed...and a second picture popped up of her.  She had been evaluated in Beijing and was in need of immediate open heart surgery. Something in me, just kept I needed to ask about her. Maybe I just needed to ask about her so I could pray more fervently, or maybe there was another reason.

Again, she was young. There was no way she had a file prepared...and therefore was not "adoptable".  That doesnt mean that she wouldnt eventually be, but you have NO idea when a file will be prepared for any specific child or if it even will.  And...even if she ever did have a file ready, having your agency find that file, is like finding a needle in a haystack. It doesn't happen.  There are just too many variables. And I knew that...but still something wouldn't stop stirring in my heart..

Oh...remember how I said this situation, doesnt happen. Well it does sometimes, just very very rarely.  But, the funny thing is, I do happen to have one dear friend who this did happen to. Remember Morrissey's best friend from Little Flower...Ying?  Her mommy found her the same way. She saw a picture, of a little girl whose file wasnt ready, and she took a huge leap of faith, picking an agency and by the miracles of God...that agency was able to get Ying's file.  So, it happened to Morrissey's best friend..Ying. And did I tell you what this sweet little girl's name was that I had been staring at for 5 days was....Ying.

So, on September 16th I emailed about 10 different agencies, including our first agency asking about what their waiting families looked like, explained the scenario, asked about fees etc.  I made it very clear, that regardless what happened with Ying, that Matt and I wanted to adopt again.  In particular, we wanted to adopt a child with CHD again.  Every agency told me the same thing, which I expected, the chances of getting Ying's file was slim to none.  But I was able to at least get an idea of which agencies had a long list of families waiting and which ones did not have a lot of families waiting.  In this process of emailing, I was able to find out that Ying was with a partnership orphanage.  What does that mean...that means that the orphanage that she was at, would have all their children's files go to one specific US agency.  So, this changed things...I knew where her file would go. BUT...China also changed another rule in 2017. Partnerships were ending on December 31st 2017.  Files would no longer go to specific agencies, but instead all be released to a shared list.  I found out which agency Ying's file would go to...and contacted them.  Much to my surprise they had ZERO families open to congenital heart disease.  But, we were 10 weeks away from December 31st.  This agency told me the likely hood of her file being prepared by the end of the year, was again, slim to none.  So, if her file was ready before Dec 31st it would go to them, if not, it would go to the shared list. The agency could still try for it, but it is so so so hard to find a file on the shared list.

Matt and I talked about it for several more weeks and ultimately just kept feeling this crazy push to move forward. It seemed impossible, it seemed comical to think this could even happen. But, our thought process was...if they cannot find Yings file...then we hope and pray she is with her forever family that God had picked for her. And if her forever family was not us, well then we would still be all set and ready to go with this agency who had no families open to CHD.  So, as soon as Xander was 3, they could look on the shared list for a child who had CHD.  Remember...there are thousands of children on the waiting list.  Thousands.  So...crazy at it impossible as it sounded...we just kept taking one step after the other.  And all along we said, whatever happens is meant to be. And IF by some miracle our agency ended up with Yings file, then there is no doubt...that God choose her for our family.  It was a miracle and a situation that could only be orchastrated by God.  So we step after the other...prepping our homestudy and trusting that God knew more than we did. It was not our job to know the details of how this would work was simply our job to be obedient.

The weeks passed and before we knew it, it was December. Up until this point, we haven't told anyone about this crazy string of events except for a few close adoption friends. We were trying to keep our hearts guarded knowing the chance of HER being our daughter was very unlikely.  As we got closer and closer to Christmas, our agency still did not have her file and Matt's dad was getting sicker and sicker by the day.  Because partnerships were ending as of the 31st of December, her file had to be signed and to the CCCWA by the last business day for the year, December 29th.

On December 23rd, we celebrated our last Christmas with Matt's dad, Charlie.  We held his hand and opened presents and cherished the hours we had together.  The kids knew PaPa was sick so they made him special presents and we each took our time opening each present.  As I mentioned, before this day, we had not told very many people. But knowing our days were limited with Charlie, Matt and I decided that we really wanted to share this news with him. We wanted him to know, that whether it was her, or another boy/girl, Charlie would have another grandchild.  So, as the evening came to an end and we were circled around Charlie...we had him open one last card. In the card, Matt wrote sweet words and included several pictures of the little girl we had been praying about.  He wept as we shared the details of her story. Matt and Charlie pulled out a map and looked up her birth city and we all talked about going back to China and the miracles that needed to happen in order for HER to be our daughter.  Finally, we shared with him...her name. Charli Ying Gonzalez. This was my last conversation with Matt's dad.

The next week (the week of Christmas) was one of the hardest weeks my heart has been through.  Matt spent most of the week and nights with his immediate family and by his dad's side.  I stayed home and watched the kids and tried to help prepare Wyatt's heart for what was about to happen. 

This was also our last week, the last chance we had to see if Ying's file would be ready and prepared by the last business day of the 2017 year.  It had to be signed at the province level by Friday December 29th.  On Thursday, I called our agency and they said it still had not been signed.  I was sad, but I understood..I knew all along this was a slim to none chance. Plus, with the grieving in my heart over Matt's dad, it was all too much to process.  I just remember rocking with Wyatt and trying to soak in the little moments of joy that week...knowing there was nothing I could do about Matt's dad or Ying...except pray. 

Friday Morning December 29th:  Matt had stayed the night at his parents and I was home with the kids.  Matt called me around 11am and told me his daddy had passed.  Our hearts were broken. I wasn't going to tell Wyatt yet, but he saw me and he knew.  We sat together, cried together and  I explained as best as I could that his PaPa was no longer in pain. There is so much unknown, so much I couldnt explain to him. But I did tell him that even though we dont know all the answers, God does.  God can see a much bigger picture than our feeble eyes ever will be able to see.  That is faith.  Faith in something bigger, someone bigger, who loves us.  And one day when we are standing face to face in front of the King, all this suffering will be gone...and our eyes will be opened to HIS story. 

"You give and take away. Blessed be Your name." Job 1:21

Back to that morning.  After getting the kids settled and my cousin coming over to watch them, I got in the car and started driving to Matt's parents house.  On this drive, just a few hours after Matt's dad had phone rings. It is my agency.  "Her file was signed! We have her file!" The last day it could have been signed in order for it to be released to my agency. It was signed and they emailed us her file. 

So in the same day as we looked through funeral home arrangement papers and planned for celebrating Charlie's life here on earth...we also for the first time, were able to see Ying's file....the only bits and pieces we had of her short life so far. 

Over the next month or so, we still kept everything very discreet.  I think we were in shock over what God had done and still processing so much from not only Matt's dad's death, but also the details of Ying's story.

So here we are, racing to finish paperwork and bring our daughter home. We are overjoyed and honored that God chose us to be Charli's parents.  Of course we still have many fears, just like last time.  But we are trusting that just as God so perfectly ordained the beginning of this story...He will also be faithful to every detail in the remainder of the story.  

So here's to another chapter of unknowns...and to bringing home Charli...our next littlest light. 

 "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait on the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Friday, April 6, 2018

Walk this way...

Have you ever just had a strange tug inside to walk a certain way...move a certain direction...take a certain path?  In particular, have you had this stirring inside you...and maybe it made NO sense to the outside world? In fact, it didn't even make sense to you. Your wordly mind could not wrap your mind around why you would move a certain direction or take a certain step, yet you felt an unsettling stirring inside, that if you didn't move, you knew you would NOT be walking in obedience.

That is exactly where we have found ourselves the past year.

First...a call or a nudge to walk towards something that seemed scary and quite honestly impossible.  I look back and still remember how many times I laughed thinking this made no sense, and maybe I was crazy, but I couldn't deny we were to keep taking steps. Baby steps.  One step, led to another, which led to another.  There was no clear vision of what the end result would be, or if we would have our hearts broken in the process.  So we just kept moving.  Following that still quiet voice...all the while, laughing...thinking "this seems crazy and impossible."  I still don't know exactly how this story is going to continue...or what the next chapter will be.  But I can with certainty look back over the past 8 months, and with shock, amazement and if I am being honest fear, I can see that this crazy obedience was nothing short of a miracle in the making. God's plan.  A story only God could orchestrate.  I wish, that, in and of itself would relieve any fears or anxieties I may have. But, I guess I am still working on that.  So, right now, I try to rest in joy and peace knowing that as crazy as it all may is good..and it is perfect, because it was not my plan, but His.  If it were my plan..well then I would have a whole lot less to sing be confident about.

Then, also over the past year, we have felt a call, or a nudge, to walk away. To walk away for something that to everyone else, would seem normal, acceptable, joyous and good. Something to ME that seemed normal, acceptable, joyous and good. This one was not as easy...and to be honest, I still am sad and mad to lay aside this encumbrance. Because I too, like the world, do not see it as a weight for me. I wanted to avoid the nudging I was feeling...the voice that was saying...walk away. Lay it down.  I still can't wrap my mind around this either. Just like God called us to walk towards one thing and it made no sense...He can also call you to walk away from something. And it may or may not make sense. It may in fact, seem to go against everything you have known and seem completely crazy.  But...He did not promise us that this road we would walk would be easy, in fact, if anything, we are told, the road is narrow. 

"Let us lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

John Piper said.."Don't just ask, is it a sin? Ask...does it help me to RUN? Does it get in my way when I am trying to become...

More patient
More kind
More gentle
More loving
More holy
More pure
More self-controlled

Does it get in my way, or does it help me to RUN?"

So how is your run? Where is God calling you?  I pray if you are reading this, you know He is calling you to RUN.  And my friends, even if it feels like you are crawling, and not running (which I will admit is where I am at many days lately)...He is right there with you.  Running beside you.  Waiting for you. Maybe even carrying you.

What do you need to say YES to? What do you need to say NO to?  Are you waiting for the "perfect" time?  If may be waiting a while.  Scary things, big things, may never feel like the timing is perfect.  But if that still soft voice is calling...then regardless of what our feeble eyes can see, the timing is now.  Tomorrow is not promised to us.

As for these two scenarios in our life...we will continue to try to walk in obedience...and though it may seem like we are in the middle of the ocean and we cannot see the shore, I have no doubt that each chapter He writes will beautiful in the end. 

To be continued...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A painful change...

It's no surprise to the adoption community, that changes happen. Rules change, policies change, programs open and close.  Some of these rules and changes happen to better protect the children, while others happen and seem to have no reason or purpose.

This week, in China, new rules for prospective adoptive parents were implemented immediately.  There were several changes, but I will highlight the major ones.

  • Adoptive families can have no more than 5 children in the home
  • Adoptive families can have no children less then 3 years of age in the home
  • Adoptive families can no longer adopt 2 children at once
  • Adoptive families have to wait 1 year in between adoptions

To an outsider reading this, you may not think these new rules sound harsh. In fact, you may be even thinking they are beneficial or positive.  But, let me tell you, this week, I mourned over these changes.  Like, I shed tears. I cried for the families that are no longer able to adopt a child they saw as their son or daughter. I cried for our family, as the reality of Ri being our daughter would not exist had these rules been in effect 1 year ago.  And mostly, I cried for all the children that wait.   

It may not seem that there are many families that will be disqualified from these new rules, but oh friends, that is just not true. I cannot even begin to count the number of families who plan to return to China who have 5 or more children, who have a child less than 3, who planned on adopting more than one child, or have only been home less than a year. 

Every family that is now denied = one more child that waits. There are families that were ready to say "Yes".... who now are being told "No". 

I am haunted by the images of children who were ready to be placed, had families ready to move and fight for them, who now are back...waiting. 

And let me be very clear and open on my opinion on a few things.  Do not tell me, that one particular child will "find another family".  Do not tell me "there is another family out there for them."  The facts are very very clear. There are more children WAITING then there are families. Period.  So, eliminating a large pool of families mathematically leads to only one result...more waiting children.

And friends...these are NOT just faces. These are lives. These are lives, that if not brought home, will either sit in an orphanage until they "age out" at 14. Or they will die. There is no sugar coating it. All of these children, regardless of the health condition, deserve a chance at life, they deserve a family.  They did not choose their circumstances.  But we, can ACT. We can speak and act on behalf of those who cannot. 

Let me also be very clear an another misconception.  You cannot sit here and tell me, that a large family or a family with a child less then 3, is automatically not capable or qualified to raise another child.  Do not tell me that it would be better for them to an orphanage with 800 other children, when they could be in a FOREVER home with a large family or a family with a younger child.  I know it may look crazy to some. I know you may think it would be crazy to come home from China and turn around and run back.  But you know what if it is crazy? What if that craziness led to one more child getting a chance at life? Or let's flip it around...the other scary horrific side.  What if our lack of "craziness" led to a loss of a chance at life? What if our fear kept us from doing one of the most beautiful things God had planned for us?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline" 2 Timothy 1:7

So, tonight, I truly plead with you.  Will you consider where you and your family fit into this?  Does your family still qualify?  Could you, possibly be a forever family to a child who is waiting? Do you have room at your table? Do you have room in your hearts to say Yes?  Maybe it's not China...that's totally OK!! The need friends....spans the east to the west, in all countries including our own.  But please, would you pray? Would you consider where you can help? Would you take that first step?

As long as there are children waiting, our hearts should be burdened.  May we not let new rules stop us from being their voice. May they not stop us from fighting...because these children deserve our fight.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A special kind of friendship....

We all have those friends, the ones who deeply understand things that other people just don't.  I have been blessed beyond measure by so many friends in my life. Friends from my childhood, friends from work, friends from church, neighbors...and now...another community of adoptive momma friends.  Each friendship is so special and unique and God knew I needed each of these friendships for different reasons. 

Tonight, I'd like to tell you a little about one of Morrissey's best friends from her 1st year of life, the friendship that I was blessed with because of this, and the amazing work of our God, that brought our paths together. 

Shortly after being matched with Ri, I posted a question on a Facebook Group for adoptive families from China.  Let me just say, that this is a very large group. There are probably hundreds of posts a day.  And unless you are friends with someone in the group, you definitely have to be scrolling through the feed to see all the questions that post.  So I posted about Ri's name.  I asked about the possible meaning of her name and received multiple responses. In addition to the responses, I received a message from another adoptive mom named Melinda.  She had seen my post and noticed that my daughter's name was Ri.  She asked was there anyway that Ri was at Little Flowers in Beijing.  She proceeded to say that her daughter had been in that home her first year of life, and she had a friend name Ri. I quickly answered the question, that No, Ri was in  Quanyuan Children's Home and she was only 18 months.  Something in Melinda (Holy Spirit!!) pushed her to ask a few more questions.  I started contemplating the possibility, that not all records are accurate or complete in China...actually, records are rarely really, I had no idea what her past entailed. I had 3 pictures of her. And I did have a report of her current living situation and a few hospital reports. Not knowing anything about Little Flower (LF)....I asked Melinda, did she by chance see a scar down her chest? She said yes! Then she sent me a picture of her daughter with "Ri".

Was that her????? Remember...I only had 3 pictures of her, and they were all 12-18 month pics.  Babies change a lot over 18 months! I then sent a picture back to you think this is her??

Melinda was confident! I was speechless. I sat there as my eyes filled with tears and my heart started racing.  I kept flipping back and forth between the pictures.  How could this be? They told me she was at Quanyuan??

Then Melinda sent me the 1st picture Little Flower had of "Ri". This was a link to their Facebook page. I was able to suddenly search "Ri" in this group....and there she was. The date that they posted saying Ri arrived, matched my paperwork of when she got to Beijing from her providence orphanage. The picture of her coming home from the hospital 6 weeks later, matched my paperwork on one of her hospital discharges. It was her.  There was my a baby. My baby. I literally was shaking as this became a reality that I was staring at my daughter...only 3 months old.  Pieces of her story slowly came together over the following weeks. I was still in a little denial, so I emailed my agency and asked if they knew of this home. They said they would look into it, but I never heard anything. So, I reached out to Little Flower directly. I provided them with private information that only I would know and they would know. They quickly emailed me was her. And better yet, they sent me over 900 photos over Ri's 1st year of life.  WHAT?!?!?  I just went from 3 pictures, to over 900!!!  This huge chunk of her past...was suddenly visible in pictures.

And sure I scrolled through the pictures, one after another, after another, of Ri and Ying (Morrissey and Jaelyn).  Best buddies. They arrived around the same time in Beijing, both had CHD requiring immediate surgery, they were in the same hospital, at the same time, operated on by the same surgeon and both returned to care at Little Flowers for their care. 

Jaelyn (Ying) was brought home to her forever family when the girls turned one.  At that time, we think Ri was medically stable enough, to be transferred out of this home, into another home..the home she lived at until October 2016, when I brought her home.

Do you see God in this??? I mean, the chances that Melinda would see my post. The tug in her heart to just ask (by the way...she was currently staying out of state, with her family, days away from Jaelyns open heart surgery!), the tug to keep pursuing the possibility even when it seemed unlikely. 2 little girls, with an undeniable similar background, and an unknown bond that will be interwoven in their hearts and stories. 

This...this story...gave these 2 beautiful girls a chance to connect. They get a chance to talk one day with someone who can truly "get it". They walked in the same shoes. They shared the same room, the same nanny, the same surgeon, they were essentially sisters. They may not remember each other now, but one day...they will have each other. And I have no doubt, that this was God's plan. For these girls to have each other.

This story...gave me a HUGE piece of Morrissey's background. Without Melinda reaching out, I would still, to this day, know nothing about her prior to 1 year old. I have pictures now that I can one day show Ri. These pictures even provided huge insight to her medical background. (Pictures of her on oxygen, feeding tubes etc).

This story...gave me Melinda. I wish I could say she lived right down the street from me, but she lives WAY north!! But, even so, thanks to technology, we have been able to communicate and support each other in so many ways. 

So I will once again give all glory to God for this. Thank you God for working in the details, for giving Morrissey and Jaelyn each other. Thank you for being their Father, for being our Father. Thank you for the gift of miracles, and thank you for the gift of peace and hope even when our days are dark and miracles don't seem possible.

Morrissey and Jaelyn....I think it's about time we get you reunited. But I will save that for another night...

Until then...sweet dreams our little heart warriors.