Adoption Timeline

Sunday, October 9, 2016

5 more days...

Dear friends and family,

We are beyond excited to be leaving to meet Morrissey THIS week!! I really cannot believe it is here.  For years we have dreamed of this...and now, we are only a few sleeps away, from holding her in our arms.

We wanted to write to let you know a little about what this transition period is going to look like for our family – and how you can help!

I know you have heard me talking about "cocooning" and the importance of this.  But I wanted to share a little more about it, and what it MAY look like over the next few months. Obviously, this could change, but this is the method we want to try to instill to help her bond quickly with our family.  
Ri does not know me as mommy, she does not see me as mommy, we have to show her this, and this could take time. So during this time, we will try our hardest to "cocoon" her.  We will be the primary ones to love her, to meet her needs, and we will try to limit new surroundings, as this can be very over-stimulating to a child who comes from an orphanage setting.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in the typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and father at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. For our daughter, she is about to experience the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of her birth country. When she comes home, she will be overwhelmed by this loss. Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about a new environment, but also about love and family. As I have mentioned, she has been in 3 different homes that we know of, had over 50 caretakers most likely, and on top of that, been fragile in health, and in and out of the hospital over her short 20 months of life.

The good news is that we can now, as her forever parents, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the only ones to hold, cuddle, instruct, soothe and feed her. As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that we are mommy and daddy.  We will meet her needs the best that we can. We will love her and NOT leave her.  We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once she begins to establish this important bond with us, and the bond with her siblings, then she will then be able to branch out to other healthy relationships.

Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on personal experience, research, and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from the early interruptions she had in attachment as effectively as possible.
  Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an incredible and vital role in helping our little girl to settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults who are around Morrissey limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with a young child. This will (for a while) include things like not holding or excessive hugging and kissing. 

Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. 

Another area (probably the biggest as we’ll be keeping her close to us for the first few months) is redirecting her desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet those needs. When Morrissey seeks food, sippy cup, hugs, etc...redirect her to us...re-inforcing, Mommy and Daddy can and will meet those needs.

Former orphans often have had so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have her hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food or comfort from anyone but us.

All that being said, we need you, we want you to come by, we want you to come meet our littlest light.  Though we will be meeting her primary needs, that does not mean that we do not need you. Please come visit, please come by...I cannot wait to show you all the beautiful creation God has made.  You are her village.  And in time, the visits will soon turn in to hugs and kisses from all her village too.  We just want to make sure that she knows who her mommy and daddy are first.  We want to make sure that she knows we will not leave her. And soon...she will learn...not just the beauty of family, but the beauty of her village.   

Finally, until we know the degree of her health, and can get her vaccinated, we will also be limiting her exposure to lots of new places.  Not only can all the new environments be overstimulating, but we have to watch out for her health.  She is a congenital heart disease baby that has no immunity due to passive or active measures.  Any immunity her birth mommy passed on is gone...and she has received no vaccines.  So, please be understanding to, if you are feeling ill or possibly sick, that you limit your exposure to Ri until we have her vaccinated and have a better idea of what her little body is going through.

October 27th...Morrissey, my mom and I, will step foot off the airplane.  If you are free, we would love to see you. Obviously, this will be Matt and the boys first time to meet Ri...so they get first dibs.  We want them to have their moment in time, their moment to soak in the reality of our beautiful new family.  But, we would love you there too.  (Though it will be late :)) We may be tired, things may not be pretty, but as I have said before, you are my village.  If you cannot come that night, we COMPLETELY understand. It will be quick, and this mommy will be ready to give hugs and get her babies home.  So, if I don't see you that night....come visit in the coming weeks.  Come see what God has done.  Just help us, to teach Ri, that we are Mommy and Daddy...she is no longer alone. Just as God never gives up on us, we will never give up on her. We will love her, we will protect her, and most importantly, we will show her, that even when we fail, there is a God who loves her even more.





Thank you for understanding, thank you for your love and support....5 more days...

Friday, September 30, 2016

To My Village

They say it takes a village....

I don't know where to begin to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported us in bringing our daughter home.  But, I will give it a shot...

Matt...Just 9 years ago, we sat at a table together, and I had just come home from Zambia. I was eager to share what all God taught me in Zambia, and one of those lessons was the awful truth of all the children without mommies and daddies. I was ready to move across the world and somehow that didn't scare you off. Quickly would I learn, that adoption was not ever something I would need to convince you of...you knew first hand the beauty of a family built through adoption.  So, we "planned" our lives...it may not have all happened exactly like we thought, but we always rested that God saw the bigger picture.  Now here we are...a dream that is about to come true.  Thank you for loving me through my crazy days. (I know there are many). Thank you for leading our family through this.  Wyatt, Xander and Morrissey are so lucky to have you as their daddy.  

To my boys...you are my joy. I am scared to leave you.  2 weeks is a long time.  But, as much as I want daddy to be with me in China getting your baby sister, you need him more.  Yall are going to have fun.  I will miss you dearly.  I can't think about it too much, or it overwhelms me.  But, daddy's got you.  And on October 27th...when our family of 5 is united for the 1st time...I think my heart might explode.  Get your tissues ready...

To my parents and family...thank you for raising me, for teaching me to love. Thank you for teaching me about how much God loves me.  Thank you for believing in me. I know you are scared too. Mom...thank you for coming with me.  Dad...thank you for letting Mom come.  Terry and Charlie...thank you for helping watch the boys. Wow...in 14 days, we leave.  Mom...get ready...I am a fun travel buddy. :) Thank you all for your support too with all our crazy fundraising efforts.  Dad...that was the mother of all garage sales.  Only you could pull that off.  Go big or go home.  We went big.  Little did you know that on that garage sale weekend...Matt and I had just saw our first glimpse of Morrissey. She was no longer in our imagination...she was our baby, waiting for us to fight to bring her home. 

Mom...you get a first hand look into this beautiful journey. My mommy gets to watch me become a mommy again.  There's not much more I can say than that. This will be a trip we will never forget. Make sure you packed your tissues...

To my dear friends....some of you have heard me talk of adoption since college and some of you are just learning about this desire the Lord put on our heart.  Where do I begin?? You've seen my ups and downs.  You've bent over backwards to support us through prayer, fundraisers, showers, phone calls...you loved Ri before you knew her too.  You have given so generously that it has literally left me speechless at times.  I know I have been consumed by this lately, and haven't been able to show each of you the love and support back.  But know, we could not have done this without YOU. Each prayer, each phone call, each gift, every dollar, every tear you shed for us, each smile you beamed through the past 15 months...thank you. Actually...this goes way before 15 months. Regardless of time, God brought each of you into my life, at a different time, for a different reason. And I needed and still need each of you. I love you and thank you for loving me and my family.

To everyone who has given clothes, toys, meals, prayers, presents...to everyone who supported us financially...to everyone who donated to our garage sale...to everyone who bought necklaces and shirts. Thank you. I must say, I think my daughter is going to be pretty fashionable thanks to some AWESOME clothes!! :)

To the strangers who I have met that have shared THEIR story of adoption, thank you. To the strangers who have listened to me share OUR story, thank you. 

To all my new China Mom friends...thank you for keeping me sane, sharing your insight.  The adoption community is small, the China adoption community is smaller, and the China congenital heart disease community is even smaller.  I have learned so much from all of you. And I can't wait to see us all with our babies soon.

To Melinda...the mommy who took a leap of faith and reached out to me...you weren't just fighting for your daughter to meet her friend. You were fighting for my daughter.  You gave me the key to a HUGE missing piece of our daughter's life.  Before the night our path's crossed...I had 3 pictures and knew nothing but a name of where she was found, and where she was now.  Because of you, searching for Ri, searching for Ri's mommy, you gave me a chapter of her life...a chapter that I will now be able to share with her.  It really still is almost unreal to me that you found us.  BUT GOD.  The author of the unreal stories.  To him be the glory.  Thank you for listening to his voice. 

To my village...thank you. In 14 days I leave, and I still will need you. In 27 days I will step foot off the plane, with our daughter, and I will need you.  Our first few months home, as we are getting to know our daughter, learning about her and her health, adjusting to jet lag, twins and 3 kids...I will need you.  As my heart grows weary and I am tired...I will need you.  God gave us community for a reason, to not live life alone. He is my rock...but you are my village. 


 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another month closer...

I can't believe September is here.  This post might be all over the place, as my mind tends to be all over the place lately.  Here's what we have been up to...

The boys both started a new school in August.  Wyatt started Kindergarten at a local private school.  We plan for him to do Kindergarten twice, since he is a summer birthday.  So, after lots of research we found a great small Kindergarten program right down the street from us, at a local church.  He is in a class of 11, with his own little desk, and they still take naps!! Curriculum ends at 12:30, so you can either pick them up then, or they can stay until 3:30. If they stay after 12:30, the kids have lunch, take a nap, play and work on homework.  This works great for our family! On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, he stays until 3:30, because I am working. But on Monday and Friday, I get to pick him up at 12:30 and enjoy some extra TLC.  They also have a preschool program, so we moved Xander there as well.  It is much smaller. Xander is having a little harder time adjusting, but I think it is just his age. This will also be the program Morrissey will start in January.  I am hoping that having her and Xander in the same class (which only has 6 kids currently) will help her adjust.

Maternity/Paternity Leave - That's a whole other blog. But basically, we are going to try our hardest to cocoon her at home between me and Matt both taking time away from work.  We want to do this through the end of the year. Hopefully she will attach to us quickly and her immune system will be strong enough for a childcare setting.  If not, we will look into finding a nanny for her on the few days I work.

WE HAVE TA!!!!!!!!! What does that mean??? Basically, all approvals have happened. We got our GUZ#, then our NVC letter, then TA (Travel Approval) and then a confirmed CA (Consulate Appointment).  Travel approval is China saying yes for us to travel. The consulate appointment is our last appt in China. It is highly suggested that you wait to buy any plane tickets until you have these dates.  (Unless you plan on buying refundable flights or flights that you can change without a charge).  So, we got TA on September 6th and our CA was confirmed on the 7th.  Those 24 hours I worked with our travel agent to book our flights! If you are on Facebook, you can join the group by clicking here This is where I will be posting daily updates as we travel through China!

Booking flights is NOT easy. Of course you want, good seats, the fewest layovers, layovers that are long enough to change flights and go through customs, but not too long. You want a good price and with all this you are buying LAST MINUTE! But, I think we found the best option.  We will be flying Delta for majority of the trip. We have 2 layovers (2-3 hours each) and we got pretty good seats I think.  Whew...flights are booked! Hotel is booked!

So you would think I would be on Cloud 9 and gleaming with excitement, right?!? I am. But, it's also been a weird situation, where I am watching other families, getting TA's at the same time I am, leaving this week.  It's a long story, but in short, that wasn't really an option for us.  At least, it was never really presented as an option, and now, we are so close to the dates, that everything else at home that needed to have been organized (work, childcare, etc) would not be feasible for a one-week notice to travel.  And, our agency only travels once a month...so we wait. Again.

I just want her in my arms.  And if I can't have that, I want an update. Someone tell me that she is ok? Someone send me a picture and tell me she is eating ok and gained a little weight. Someone tell me she got the pictures I sent of us. Someone tell me she has seen a doctor recently. No updates. We are praying for an update this week. But, we have to prepare ourselves too, that updates are few and far between, and not always accurate.  Which leads me back to...I just want her in my arms.

God, I know she is yours.  You know where she is. You have her in YOUR arms. You know the number of hairs on her head.  You created every perfect cell in her body.  And the hard truth is, even when she is in my arms, I still must hold an open hand.  My arms will give her love. I will do everything in my power to get her the best medical care, to love her, to help her grow, to teach her about Your love. But, tomorrow is not promised to us...to any of us.  My grip on her, or any of my children, family, friends, has to be open.  May I serve you Lord each day you give me. And may I teach my children to do the same.  My heart aches for the days I lost with Morrissey.  But I thank you for letting me be her mommy now.  Your timing is perfect.  I may have lost 20 months with her, but I prayerful and thankful for many years ahead.

36 days until you are in my arms sweet girl. I know you may be scared when you see me. I know you may not trust me yet.  I know you may not see me as mommy.  But your mommy loves you and she is coming.



"Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:7



 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fears and Prayers...


So I have wrote a lot about the process we have been going through, the fundraising we are doing, the excitement that overflows when we think of sweet Ri.  But, I want to be completely honest in my fears, the hard side of adoption and things YOU can be praying for.

First, adoption is beautiful.  I would never argue different.  But, that beauty is from ashes. Behind each adoption is a story of loss.  In China, most children are not adopted as infants...they are older.  This makes the transition, and the trauma they have been through, not always easy as people tend to envision.  You are often loving a child who has had multiple caregivers, multiple homes and is scared.  So, I will jump right in to my first fear....Will she love me?

The truth is. I don't know. The truth is...it is going to take time for Matt and I to show Ri, that we are her parents. That we love her and we will not leave her, even when she may not love us.  That is unconditional love. That is the love that Christ gives.  I love her.  I love her and I want her to know that love.  But I know it will take time.  Ri has been in 3 different homes, in and out of the hospital and had countless caregivers.  At almost 2 years old, she is going to meet a complete stranger, and fly across the world into a completely new environment.  God, prepare all of our hearts for this transition.  God, I know that the day I meet her could be painful.  But let me see the beauty from ashes. God, calm Ri and her fears. Let her see safety in my eyes, let her learn to love me, let her let me love her.  Give me patience as I wait for her to see me as mommy.  Thank you for Ri. Thank you God for Ri's birth mommy, that she choose life for Ri. I do not know the circumstances around her abandonment, but I choose to believe that she loved Ri too.

I am scared for the details...the days, the flights, the hotel, what to pack, will I get sick, how much work to take off.  Pray for the details.  Pray I trust that even though I have no idea how this will all play out...God does. He knows. He knows every detail to this story. It is His story.

I am scared to have 3 kids. Sometimes I question if I am a good enough mom for 2...how am I going to parent 3?  How am I going to parent twins?  God give me the grace I need to forgive myself. May I not compare myself to anyone else, but follow your calling. You choose ME to be Wyatt, Xander and Morrissey's mommy. No one else. I am not perfect, but may I not focus on my imperfections, but instead focus on your love.

I am scared when I think about her health. God, I know you made her heart extra special. You knit together each cell to make it the beautiful beating heart that it is.  But God I pray her heart will continue to function well. I pray that her surgery was successful. I pray she goes many many years before having another surgery. I pray that she grows God...that she eats and grows big and strong.  God I pray for her doctors, that they will have wisdom when looking at her heart for the first time. I pray that I not live in fear but embrace that you are in control. So, no matter what the future brings, you are good, and nothing is a surprise to you.

I am scared to leave my boys and husband for two weeks.  Thank you God that my mommy will be there with me, witnessing and helping me as I become a mommy again.  But I pray for my boys and Matt at home. I pray they are not sad, or scared. I pray that technology will allow us to visit everyday. I pray for my heart as I will miss them.  I pray for safety for my mom and I.

And finally, sometimes I am just sad. I am sad that I missed 20 months of Ri's life. Why did it take so long?  One day without a mommy and daddy is too long. And now that I can see her face...I want to hold her today. Not tomorrow. Not October. I want her home. My heart misses her. My heart mourns the months we lost. That's the honest truth.

But God...thank you for your timing. Thank you for your plan. She is not just my daughter, she is Yours. She belongs to you. You gave her the breath of life. You sustained her in her sickest days. So, regardless of when she is in my arms, I pray I can remember YOU are the giver and taker of life.

God I promise to love her and to teach her to know your love. May others see her LIGHT. Your light.

Please don't get me wrong. We are over the top excited.  But I wanted to be honest in my fears as well, so that others can see both sides.  So you too can pray for us. Adoption is beautiful. He makes all things beautiful.

"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their rightneousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory." Isaiah 61:3



Until we meet...goodnight princess.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Updates...

Well, we are moving along in the process and hurrying as fast as the U.S. and China will let us!  Here is a little of what we have been up to.  We sent our I800 off which basically is asking the U.S. approval of a specific child.  We got I800 approval on August 9th.  Then our approval is sent to the National Visa Center where it was assigned a GUZ#.  Now we are waiting for a letter called an RTF that is being sent to the US Embassy.  We also had our passports sent off for visa's.  We successfully received our passports back in our hands, with a 10 year Chinese Visa.  We also had a Power of Attorney, certified and authenticated. I will need this when I travel.  So...we are waiting for our RTF, then we will wait for Article 5 drop off and pick up, then wait for TA (Travel Approval), then wait for CA (Consulate Appointment)...then we book our flights.  But, right now, everything is looking like we will travel in October to get this sweet face...



We are wrapping up fundraising and have been blessed by a matching grant from Brittany's Hope.  Brittany's Hope is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to aiding abandoned children around the world.  Along with orphan care projects, including child sponsorship, medical intervention a crib program and nutrition program, Brittany's Hope also provides grants to families adopting children internationally with special needs.  They will match any donation dollar for dollar up to $1500 and contribute this towards our adoption expenses.  So, if we raise $1500, they will grant us $3000. We are beyond greatful and this was a huge blessing as we near the day we get to bring Morrissey home. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to help us reach this $1500 goal, you can use the link below.

www.brittanyshope.org/seedling/gonzalez

There is still so much more to Morrissey Ri and her story. Honestly, I am still blown away at some of the miracles that have happened recently. All I can say is God is good.  

Fears..Anxiety...that's a whole other blog.  Specific prayer requests...that's another blog too. As the day gets closer to holding our daughter I am overwhelmed with complete excitement, but I also have to keep my eyes on the author of this beautiful story. When my eyes stray, my flesh fails.  So, prayers that we will continue to keep our eyes on Him.  

Thank you God for beautiful Ri. Thank you for choosing us to be her mommy and daddy.  Please keep her safe, healthy, and growing strong. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Call...

June 24th 2016....

I was at work, when one of my co-workers says "Hey Ashley, you missed a call." I look at my missed calls and see a missed call from Eugene, Oregon. (I think my heart stopped)


For a split second, I thought, "Is this the call??" But then, I thought, there is no way. Our dossier head only been in China 11 weeks.  But then I checked my message and it was Beth, saying she wanted to talk to me about something. I step inside our conference room and call her back. Beth is the director of the China program at Holt.

"Ashley, I wanted to talk to you about a little girl....."

I think I heard bits and pieces of what she was saying...but definitely not all. I was slightly freaking out. (In a good way).  She was able to provide me with her age, basic health information and current living situation.  After spending the weekend talking with Matt, we decided that we definitely wanted to move forward and view her file.  At this point, we were given a pre-released file.  I was at home and Matt was at work...of course neither one of us could wait.  I immediately opened it, quickly scrolled through the Chinese characters that made no sense...and then I saw this...

The tears start flooding and I try to stay calm as I quickly open more documents that are in English. I read and re-read.  Ri was 5 weeks older than Xander and born with an extra special heart.  I tried to stay calm and use my brain to wrap my mind around the information I was reading...but my heart was already stolen. 

For those of you reading this that don't know a lot about me, I spent 7 years working in Pediatric Cardiology at Children's Medical Center Dallas as a pharmacist.  By NO means am I an expert, but for 7 years, this was my day, taking care of heart babies.  Little did I know...God had a little heart baby for our family. 

So, I was super lucky, and had the opportunity to make many friendships in this job and of course work with some of the best of the best in Cardiology.  So, thanks to a fellow co-worker and friend who specializes in Pediatric Cardiology, Ri's file was in a Cardiologist's hands within an hour. Between her and our cardiologist, we had valuable insight promptly. We also consulted our pediatrician, 2 international medicine physicians, and we had another Cardiologist that partners with our agency reviewing her file as well.  Now, as I have mentioned in previous posts...the medical information you are given is limited...it may not be accurate. We have to go in this knowing that. We were able to ask a few questions about Ri and get some updated photos and videos from our agency over the next week.  (By the way...at this point we have told NO family, and only one friend who happened to be at my house when I got the email referral). We wanted to get all the information we could and not have any bias. 

We spent every night talking more and more about Ri as we spoke with different physicians and got more and more information on her.  My heart was there.  And through much prayer and discussion, fears that we had subsided, peace began to cover us, and we knew THIS is our daughter.  God made HER for our family. 

Are we still scared?  Absolutely! The unknowns, the idea of twins (with Xander), the idea of traveling much quicker than planned, the burden of finances approaching sooner than planned. It's scary. But it was God's plan. And His plan is always best. Change is scary. Even when you are pregnant, you still have moments of fear right?  Moments where you think...God, can I do this?  But, that's when we try to redirect our thoughts. God..you are good. God, you will provide.  God, you are constant. 

There is so much more to this story....some I will share publically, and some, you will just need to make a dinner date with me to hear about. 

But, for now, we are in full throttle mode to get Morrissey Ri home as soon as possible. Thank you God for choosing US to be her parents.

We are coming baby girl...


"May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:13

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fundraising and Fun!

We knew going into international adoption, that the cost was significant.  That being said, we knew that if the Lord calls you to something, He will provide.  Since we knew we had wanted to adopt, we had been saving our money to be able to put towards the cost once it started.  But, I really wanted to do a couple of fundraisers as well.  Not only would it help financially, but it would help with adoption awareness, and allow family and friends to help support and be a part of this journey.  

So...we decided on a few fundraisers.  The first one was a jewelry sale that I blogged about here . This was a fun, local, fundraiser that also helped a fellow church member.  We got to design different pieces of jewelry and now I have tons of friends that can wear these pieces and share with others when they get compliments!
The next fundraiser was a big one!  This one took the work of tons of family, tons of friends, tons of strangers!!  It was the ultimate backyard sale!  Luckily, I had a friend, (who is also adopting) who was an EXPERT at this process! So, I took any advice she had...and borrowed her tables, clothes racks, storage bins and cash box..and we got to work!!  Let me just say, that Matt and I didn't even have time to get to all the items we could have sold...because the donations were incredible!!! We had friends showing up with pick-up trucks full of AWESOME things. We had church members (who we had never met in our life) bring boxes and boxes of items.  We had big items, small items, and everything in between! So for about a month...we gathered donations.  Slowly our house, and my mom and dad's house began to be bursting at the seems.  We had everything priced and organized into categories around my parents house.  Then...we advertised.  Signs online, signs around the neighborhood, announcements through church...etc.  

Thursday night, my AMAZING parents and a couple of their friends, literally stayed up until 2am setting up everything in their backyard. My dad built amazing rods/hangers all around the backyard to hang certain items...it was incredible.  I had a multitude of friends that came by for hours to help us keep things organized, help us sell, watch our kids and just stop by to support.  

Then, my precious niece, who has the worlds coolest Lemonade stand...brought over her lemonade stand and sold lemonade and cookies with Wyatt.  Cookies, brownies, cupcakes all made by my grandmother and cousin.  

Are yall keeping track with how many people were involved in this?????  IT TOOK A VILLAGE.  But, it was worth every minute of it. The love our family and friends showed us that weekend we will never forget.  We could not have even begun to do that on our own.  So many people, gathering together, not just to raise money, but more importantly to share with others about adoption! 

We had several families that we met that weekend who had adopted themselves...their stories were all so unique and perfect. We had random strangers truly inquisitive over what adoption looked like for us.  That was worth every bit of work and sweat...just to talk to people about what God is doing. 

The garage sale ended with a bang....a massive storm blew through right after we shut down. And once again, my parents to the rescue. Gathering items as quickly as they could to try to save them.  

Here's a few pics from that weekend...



Cutest Helpers Ever

The Aftermath of the Storm


In addition to the actual yard sale...I spent a couple of weekends selling items online and to local consignment shops.

Finally, our latest fundraiser is a T-Shirt sale.  I am most excited about this one...because 1) I live in t-shirts 2) We got to help design the shirt.

This whole process, God kept just laying on my heart to BE A LIGHT.  It seems like everyday there is something bad, something dark, on the news.  I want to be a light...I want my family to be a light.  And I want others to know that the light that shines from us, is from something within, something bigger than us.  My flesh has failed...but my heart belongs to a greater God...He is the light.  There is a song that I love..an oldie but goodie...that I play for the boys a lot.  Here are some of the lyrics. 

"We are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let's raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world"

And so our t-shirt was created....

 


“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Finally, we have been blessed to receive a matching grant.  I will blog more about this soon, but basically we are responsible for raising a certain number of funds, and this organization, Brittany's Hope will match dollar for dollar up to a certain amount.  Yay!! Thank you Lord!!

If you are reading this and thinking there is no way you could afford an adoption, domestic or international, please don't let that stop you, if that is where God is leading you. 

Did you know that the U.S. gives a tax credit to adopting families (not sure if it is both international and domestic) up to 13,000??  Did you know that many employers give adoption benefits and financial gifts to help support adopting families? Did you know that the number of grants out there is endless??  Did you know that with a little work, your friends and family and even strangers will support you and help you fund raise?  Local businesses, bake sales, online auctions, shoe drives, ....the list goes on.  Oh...AND, 1/3 of the cost of international adoption is travel.  So, you can look into finding a good credit card with rewards and start earning those points to pay for your flight and hotel! AND...you never know, you may have a friend or family who has extra points they can gift you! And this is just ideas for international adoptions...there are also many other support options for domestic adoptions and foster families.

So...in conclusion...I can't thank my family and friends enough for ALL their support.  Once again, IT TAKES A VILLAGE.
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

June 2016

June was quite an eventful month for us.  First up, my sweet baby boy turned FIVE!!!! How can it possibly be??  We had so much fun celebrating his birthday at the Sci-Tech Discovery Center. The theme was a Dinosaur Dig...and Wyatt was in heaven.  Wyatt is quite the little scientist and builder, so this place was perfect. All the kiddos got to explore the science museum, eat some donuts, make volcano's explode, and go on a dinosaur dig. 



Also in June, the Gonzalez family was plagued with sickness!!  Here's a little recap...

June 8th: I first notice swelling in Xander's cheek, and he was screaming/crying when he woke up. I thought it was a bug bite. So, gave him some Benadryl and Motrin and it seemed to help for the day.  The next day it happened again....and the next day.  So, finally after 3 mornings of this, I took him in.  They tested him for strep and mumps, though he had been vaccinated, so we thought that was rare.  The strep test came back positive pretty quickly and he was strep positive. Started Amoxil.  Within 24 to 48 hours he seemed MUCH better.  A few more days go by of health in our family, and then I get a call from his pediatrician that he actually tested positive for mumps....excuse me?!?!  How is that possible in a child who is vaccinated? (This is a hypothetical question and not meant to start any debate over vaccinating your children...please refrain from any comments on vaccination).  So, apparently mumps is rarely seen anymore because of the vaccine, and this was one of the first cases they had seen in a while. So, after contacting everyone he had been in contact with and the CDC...we thought we were over sickness. 

After that, Xander also had an ear infection, followed by another virus and a stomach bug.  And in the mean time, Wyatt got Strep too, but his took quite a while to get over requiring us to change antibiotics after 5 days of fever. 

Then I eventually got Strep and a stomach bug too...sigh.

They are going to run some tests on Xander eventually to check his immunity, because he has been the catcher of all bugs...including 8 ear infections (and he has tubes).  Plus the whole mumps thing is still a little odd.

Either way, both kids have been fever free for a good 10 days I think??  Something like that...who's counting. 

Other June events...getting ready for our ultimate garage sale.  Lots of sorting, pricing, organizing, selling thing online...all trying to help raise funds to bring Baby Girl HOME!!

And of course, if you read my previous post, we had an emotional goodbye with some dear friends of ours.

I think that somes of June....maybe.  ;)


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adoption Timeline

So...what have we been up to the last 12 months. Well, you can check our adoption timeline on the blog if you like. But, I will try to summarize what we have done so far...and what happens next.

We knew adoption was going to happen and were excited to start the process soon after Xander was born.  Like I mentioned in previous blogs, some countries can take years before you can bring your child home, others are more quick. But, either way, we officially started the process in July 2015. 

We had decided on the country, and went with an agency that a few local friends had used, and had a good reputation. There are TONS of agencies out there, but we felt more comfortable going with a larger agency, and one who we knew had been in China for quite sometime. 

So, in July 2015...we applied.  We were quickly accepted by Holt, our agency, and began preparing for our homestudy.  Basically, over the course of the next few months, we were on what they call a "paper chase".  Birth certificates, marriage license, certificate of employment, medical exams, medical letters, letters of reference, tax documents, personal questionaries', fingerprints, background checks in every state you have ever lived in, photos, continuing education hours, multiple interviews with our social worker, a home evaluation (by the way..make sure you have a fire extinguisher and all drawers locked that could have something hazardous in it, like a candle). :)

The list goes on...we spent about 6 months getting all this done before our social worker completed our homestudy and it was sent to Holt for approval. 

Our homestudy, along with many many more documents and photos, are all gathered, certified by the state, authenticated by the US Embassy, and then finally gathered together to make your "Dossier."

Our Dossier was officially sent to China on April 8th, 2016!! We officially receive the title "DTC"...Dossier to China.  Once in China, the next step is for your dossier to officially be logged in to China's system.  You are then "LID." This took about 6 days...

Then over the next 4-6 weeks, your dossier is translated, reviewed...and then you begin your "wait."

So...here we are...waiting! :)

Let me tell you, the process of getting to waiting is exhausting, and at times very frustrating. There can be no typos, no discrepancies, no wording that doesn't suite China's preference, lots and lots of questioning during your homestudy, lots of phone calls, lots of overnighting of documents and waiting in line for fingerprints.  It is definitely a process. Don't get me wrong, I know it will be worth it...but wow, what a process.

Now what??  So, we wait for Holt to call us with a potential match.  We join in on monthly phone calls to hear the latest matching trends, we communicate with the matching team, our medical needs that we are comfortable with (see previous blog) and we wait. 

Right now...with Holt, the average wait for a boy is around 3 months to match. The average time to match a girl is 3-9 months.  Once you accept a match...lots and lots of more paper work.  Then, you expect to travel within 4-8 months of your match.

During this time, we are obviously also fundraising, preparing our family and home for another child, praying, praying and more praying. 

It's overwhelming at times, but so exciting too. 

We were DTC in April, so we should match between now and December.  Hopefully travel between December this year and summer of next year.  Of course, this could all change!! But, that is the current trends.

So, prayer for the matching process. Prayer for peace and clarity as we review potential files. Prayers for our physicians here, that they will be able to help guide us with the limited info they will be presented. Prayers for funds...adoption is not cheap.  Prayers for our little girl, wherever she may be. Prayers for Matt and I to grow stronger in this process, to see the Lord's heart more and more during this, to seek Him as we make difficult decisions.  Prayers for our boys, that the Lord prepares their little hearts for their new sister. Please pray with us.  This is our journey...and like they say, it takes a village. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Hard Goodbye

This week was by far, one of the most difficult one's Matt and I have been through.  I debated if I should even blog on this, because I didn't feel like I could even put into words the love that we had to say goodbye to. To an outsider, this scenario may seem silly to be sad about.  But this is just one of those situations where unless you are in our shoes, you have to trust and believe us when we say, we are heartbroken.

Three and a half years ago, Matt and I decided to start working with the Chin Refugee Ministry of Lewisville.  At that time, Wyatt was 18 months old, and we knew that going on international missions was not going to be on our radar for quite sometime.  So, instead, we sought out international missions in our own backyard.  Click here to read more about this amazing ministry and the Chin people. 

The Chin, are a people group from Myanmar (Burma) who have fled the country because of religious and ethnic persecution. Many families flee to neighboring countries, before coming to the US as an official refugee. The goal of this ministry is simply to love and equip the Chin people.  Many Chin have taken residence in Lewisville, and so the need of support grew, leading to the Chin Community Ministry.

There are various ways to support this ministry, but we chose to mentor a family.  What does this look like? The ministry paired us up with a family who had recently moved here and we were their "buddies."  We were their "family."  After an initial introduction with a translator, we used calendars, pictures, limited English and lots of signs to communicate with our family and begin building this relationship. 

We would use a calendar to show them when we would come back and tried to meet weekly for the first year or so.  After that, we spaced it out to every other week visits. 

Those first few months were challenging.  It was hard to communicate and the trust had not yet been built.  We wanted to help, but we didn't know where to begin.  But our children...their 3 boys, and our one boy, had an immediate bond. Language, color, race, environment did not stop them from immediately playing together and laughing.  Our love for the same God was the foundation, and then our sweet children grew our relationship. 

Week after week, we kept coming back. We would sit on the living room floor and start with pictures.  They would show us pictures of their country and we would show them pictures of ours.  We used a picture dictionary to help teach words and communicate.  We prayed together, in English and in Haka Chin.  We would bring them special American treats like donuts and cake to celebrate birthdays. We took them on first outings to places like the library, the park, the aquarium, and sno-cones.  We helped them understand their bills. We met for parent teacher conferences at the boys schools to see how they were doing. We did homework each weekend and read books.  We loved them.  They loved us.  Overtime, their family became our family.  We were one.  Isn't that how it should be? Brothers and sisters in Christ. One body.

Now I'm not going to say this has been an easy 3 and a half years. There were many Saturday mornings that I would have rather stayed in my PJ's. There were times we would be very nervous at the environment and some of the crime that took place around the apartment.  There were many times I would freak out about germs and to be honest didn't have the loving heart I should, but God's love would wash over. This was His love anyways. We love because He loved.

Then our family grew more with the addition of Xander. They loved Xander. The baby with the "Golden" hair, they would call him.  Over three years, their English grew, they grew, and our love grew.  Matt and I would talk about how one day we would see Biak walk across the stage at High School graduation.  We had dreams for their family just like our own. 

Without going into detail, our dreams were shattered this past Monday. Matt went over with the boys on a Monday that he was off work, and I was working. Within days, their situation had completely changed. Sweet mommy was gone and daddy was moving to New York with the boys.  Matt spent time with the translator trying to understand what was happening.  This couldn't be true.  They can't be leaving.  Over the course of the next 3-4 days we learned that not only were the boys and dad moving, they were moving soon.  We found out 3 days later, they were leaving Saturday.  We had less than 24 hours to get ourselves together to say goodbye. 

How do you say goodbye to this?  God, we thought we heard you? Isn't this where we were supposed to be?  And what about mommy, I don't get to say goodbye to her?  How do I hug these boys neck, knowing that I will most likely never see them again?  How do I communicate how much I love them? How do I communicate that God loves them more that I ever could?  How do I communicate that they have blessed me and my family in a way no one else has?  Please God, this can't be how this story ends. 

Heartbroken. Empty. Shock.  Devastated. Broken. Disbelief.

Those words don't even touch on the feelings that we felt this week, that we felt Friday morning hugging their necks. They don't begin to describe the emotions we feel right now. 

So we sifted through files and tried to find as many pictures as we could and printed them to give them.  I wrote notes in English expressing our love...expressing God's love.  I read the notes to daddy and the boys.  I could see in their eyes and tears, that they could see our heart. They loved us too. They were family.  They ARE family.

So this chapter in our life ends.  This was not the ending I wanted. This was not the ending we had dreamed.  But, I have to trust, that though it may seem like this chapter is over, maybe it isn't.  Maybe, there is something bigger, and I just won't see it.  Maybe I have to let go of my grip, and trust that God sees a much bigger picture.

I am not their Savior.  I love them, but there is a love much bigger than mine. So, maybe this chapter isn't over.  We just may not see how it ends until the Lord reveals it in full when we meet Him face to face. 

Until then, a piece of our hearts is empty tonight. 















Saturday, June 4, 2016

Two Documentaries Worth Renting


There are two documentaries that Matt and I have watched this past year or two that really spoke on adoption.  I would highly recommend renting the full version if you can on Netflix or Amazon.  Please know this is NOT what all adoptions or orphanages look like. But it is thought provoking none the less. 

Stuck - Stuck is an award-winning documentary film, produced by Both Ends Burning that uncovers the personal, real-life stories of children and parents navigating a rollercoaster of bureaucracy on their journeys through the international adoption system, each filled with hope, elation -- and sometimes heartbreak.

Drop Box -
The Drop Box is a documentary about the work of Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect his community’s most vulnerable children. By installing a drop box outside his home, Pastor Lee provides a safe haven to babies who would otherwise be abandoned on the streets to die. It’s a heart-wrenching exploration of the physical and emotional toll associated with providing refuge to save those deemed unwanted by society.  But it’s also a story of hope. And a celebration of the reality that every human life is sacred, has a purpose and is worthy of love.

Here are the trailer's....




Friday, May 27, 2016

Special Needs Adoption

" I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14

I went back and forth on whether I would write about this or not. But, maybe there is someone out there, considering adoption from China, and this post will help ease their fears and encourage them to step out in faith and consider a special needs adoption.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, China is no longer a country where orphanages are full of healthy girls.  In fact, the wait time for a healthy child in China is currently 5-7 years.  Most agencies don't even offer a healthy child program.  China is considered a special needs adoption country and the medical history and birth history of the children are not known. 

But, their definition of "special needs" is very broad, and not at all what I had thought.  This could mean anything from a birth mark to a child with more major needs that would require multiple surgeries, life-long medical care and even a shortened life expectancy.

Here is a graph that summarizes the special needs that one particular agency had seen when matching children. 
As you can see the list is quite extensive.  So, what exactly does this look like for an adopting family?  Each agency will have a Medical Needs List that you go through with your spouse, social worker and agency.  On this list are about 50 different special needs...again, anything from a birthmark to a terminal diagnosis.  This list is by no means an absolute, but it helps guide your agency in what is best for your family, what you are comfortable with and ultimately help them find the right family for EVERY child. To some families, the idea of having a child that would require surgery is very scary, to another it may not be.  That does not make one family better than another...it's just a way to again find the best home for each unique child God created. 

We not only have met with a social worker to discuss various special needs, but we also met with Children's International Medical Adoption Team to go over the list and get a better idea of what our lives could look like in each scenario.  Another factor that families need to consider, is what their current family dynamics are, how much time do you have to take care of a possible physical need. For example, will you be working, will you need to stay home? What does your insurance cover?  I never even thought about insurance, but have ran across several families who ended up not accepting a referral because of limited health benefits.

Now...here is the next leap of faith.  Medical history of each child is...well, lacking. So, you may read a medical review on a child and bring them home to find out there is a lot more medical needs than you knew.  But you may also bring that child home and find out that their health is much better that you originally thought. 

We will get a picture, sometimes videos, and limited medical information.  And then...I imagine, we will PRAY.

God, is this our daughter? Can we provide the best home for her?  God, is this your will?  I imagine these are some of the prayers that will flood as we review a potential match. 

So, I ask for YOUR prayers, as we wait.  That is were we are.  We are waiting for our agency, who knows our family, who knows are heart, to show us a referral.  Are there waiting children now...YES! Am I looking at pictures online and wondering...yes. It's hard...it's heart breaking honestly.  But, my heart and eyes are open.  God show us your will...we are waiting.

Finally, I just want to say, that it makes me sad that these precious children are considered "special needs."  I mean, in reality,  we all have something about us that makes us different.  I have a beautiful port wine birthmark that covers my lower left leg.  But, I can guarantee you, that no one else that God has created has that exact mark.  No one else, has my exact medical background.  Oh, but God created us....each one unique and PERFECT in his eyes. 

So let's not say anyone has a special need...let's say that God has created each of us uniquely and perfectly. We are all special. We are all LOVED. 



Monday, May 23, 2016

Be Near Oh God



One of the things that speaks to my heart the most is music.  No matter what my mood is, I can usually find the perfect song fitting for that day.  So, I want to start sharing different songs that have spoken to me. Maybe someone will run across one of these songs and be encouraged.

There are some songs that just stick with me...songs that the minute you begin to hear the intro, your mind and heart are drawn back to a particular place and time. 

I heard this song on the radio this week and immediately felt a flood of emotions that I had felt in May 3rd, 2014. 

Shane and Shane "Be Near Oh God"

That weekend was our annual "Friendcation."  Several of my bestest friends from highschool and our families pack up the car and head out to celebrate a long weekend full of fun and craziness! It was of course, an amazing trip because, well it just always is amazing when I'm with these girls.  But that Saturday morning, a little bit of darkness was cast on our trip. 

Without going into details, my heart was broken. 

Now, there is a CD that Wyatt listens to every naptime and at bedtime...a lullaby CD. Well, I remembered the CD player, but left his CD at home for the trip.  So, I pulled out an old Shane and Shane CD and put that in to play while he slept.  I have no doubt, that God planned for that CD to be with me that day.  As I sat laying on the bottom bunk bed, I was at a loss for words.  But no words were necessary...because in the background, Wyatt's music from his naptime quietly played...

For dark is light to You
Depths are height to You
Far is near
But Lord, I need to hear from You

Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good



"But as for me, it is good to be near God.    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds."Psalm 73:28

"If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me    and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. " Psalm 139:11-12


So, if you are feeling a little distance from the Lord, know that He is NEAR.  Even when you cannot feel Him...He is near....in the darkness and in the Light.