30 days

In the China adoption world, people spend a lot of time talking about all the different wait times.  Honestly, it is all very confusing to me, and I don’t really keep up with the numbers.  One thing I do know, though, is that we’re on day 30 of our “LOA wait.”  The average wait for LOA (Letter of Acceptance from China) seems to be around 60-70 days, so we’re about halfway there!  I’m trying not to have expectations, but also sort of thinking it would make a nice Christmas gift.

Speaking of Christmas, it is my favorite time of year!  I can’t wait to put the tree up.  We’re doing the Jesse Tree this year, and I’m really excited to get started on it.  My MOPS group did a swap to make the ornaments, and I think it’s really neat that I have handmade ornaments from my dearest friends who have walked beside me through this crazy season of my life.  What a special keepsake to have.  I will probably post about the Jesse Tree again, but if you’ve never heard of it, check out Pinterest and see some of the ornaments.  I haven’t been great about doing advent with the kids, but I’m hoping this year, we can all be deliberate about preparing our hearts for the Savior!

30 days from today will be December 21.  Stay tuned!

fearfully & wonderfully made

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We still can’t share details about our daughter’s special need, but I’ll tell you that it falls under the category of “limb differences.”  She will probably have a few surgeries after she’s home with us, but she will always have a visible disability.  The medical professionals we have spoken with assure us that she will be able to adapt and do anything that she wants to do in her life.  Honestly, we’re less worried about any possible physical limitations than we are about her attachment and emotional development.  Those will be the primary focus upon returning home, and will keep us all very busy for a while.

But, twice since receiving her referral, I have witnessed children saying hurtful things about other children with visible disabilities.  Both times, I wanted to cry – both for the child it happened to, and for my own sweet one in China.  I worry about adults asking inappropriate questions and making inappropriate statements, and I worry about children being mean.  Of course, we expect inquisitive comments, and we especially know that young children are curious and don’t intend to be hurtful – that is really not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about when they’re old enough to be deliberately mean.  I’m hoping we’ll still be at our sweet charter school that has such a family-feel, and where her older brothers and sister will be close by to defend her, if needed.  I’ve also heard from other families with kids with limb differences that the child’s circle of friends is usually fiercely protective, and that the child gets good at brushing it off.  We think she’s gorgeous and perfect the way that God made her, and pray that our families and close friends will feel that way, too.

I already feel the heavy burden of responsibility on my shoulders of teaching her and the bigger kids appropriate responses.  I will have a little bit of time to practice answering before she can understand me and process what I’m saying, but the three older kids will be carefully watching and listening from the very moment that she’s in the US.  I feel like I can’t mess it up even once.  I talked about it with a good friend, and expressed by concern that I’ll just fall apart early on if someone says something really hurtful.  She said, “Well, I sort of think that would be an appropriate response.  I guess maybe they’d learn to think before they speak the next time.”  That gave me a little freedom to let the expectation of perfection go a little bit, but it still weighs heavily.  I’m praying I’ll be able to educate with grace and love when needed, while setting a polite but firm boundary when that is what’s called for.

Anyone reading have experience with this?  Want to weigh in?

PS – The yellow onesie underneath the black one has her monogram!  I can’t wait to show it to you.  Both of them are beautiful, and were purchased for a very good price HERE.

we found her.

Months earlier than expected, in a completely unlikely way, we found our girl.  We can’t share any details about her yet, but we’re all madly in love with her, and can’t wait to see God move mountains to bring her home.

We accepted her referral and submitted our Letter of Intent last week.  The next steps are to wait for our Letter of Approval from China, make a very large payment, and then wade through tons of red tape to prepare to travel.  We don’t have an estimate for travel at this time.

The week that we got the referral to review and the next week while we were waiting for doctor phone calls, orphanage updates, and stressing about money and other details, our whole family was studying Exodus 2-4 at Bible Study Fellowship.  Pretty intense timing, right?  Just like He did with Moses, God patiently led us through the fear, hesitations, and excuses; and gently reminded us that He was with us and would not ask us to do something if He wasn’t going to help us do it.  (**Note: None of the fear, hesitations, or excuses were about this precious little girl, who we wanted to bring home the minute we saw her beautiful face.)

We can’t wait to introduce her to you.  She is truly fearfully and wonderfully made.  We know that you’ll love her, too.

garage sale – back into the fundraising swing of things

garagesalepizapoct2014

We took almost a year’s break from fundraising, and it was a needed break.  But, we are anticipating things to be moving very quickly soon, and we need to get back into the swing of things.  This weekend, we decided (sort of at the last minute) to have a garage sale.  It wasn’t a giant garage sale like last time, just a normal garage sale of mostly our own personal stuff.  We made just enough to cover one adoption expense that we just had, plus a little extra.  Every little bit counts!

what we’ve been up to, much needed family day edition

Our schedule has been crazy lately.  My husband has traveled a lot for work and funerals, and the few free weekends we’ve have been jam-packed.  Today, for the first time in two months, we had a free day with all of us home.  It was wonderful to just hang out at the house, get out on a couple of fun errands together, and play at one of our favorite parks.  We need to be deliberate about having days like this more often.

fun day pizap sept 2014

a non-update

Hello, everyone!  (Ha…I know there are only a few of you reading.  But thanks for checking on us!) I haven’t posted in a little while.  Sorry about that.  Things have been busy here – school/homework, church activities starting back up, visiting family, time with friends, etc.  I also started working part time (about 12 hours a week) to save up for our next adoption payment.  My job is really fun, but I miss my little ones a lot when I’m there. We did hear a mini-update from our agency that our wait may be a little shorter than previously anticipated.  We had originally been given a 12-18 month wait before referral.  (I cried to my steadfast husband that it felt just like Ethiopia, and he reminded me that 18 months and 5 years are really not that similar.)  Then we edited our special needs request a bit, and they said probably closer to the 12 months.  Just recently, our family coordinator said it’s probably looking like 6-12 months, and possibly even sooner!  I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic.  She also gave us some insight about which type of specific special need file she thinks we may receive.  I don’t want to give details about that yet, but it feels like a step forward and lets me focus some of my research and prep a little bit.

Since I don’t really have anything too exciting to post, I thought I’d share a few great blog posts I’ve read lately.  Check them out!

Hold On – from Mountains for Maggie & 4U Ruthie

Her First Day of Kindergarten – from My Overthinking

Fault Lines – at No Hands But Ours

smoke

This has been a year of hard reminders that our lives are as brief and uncertain as smoke.

“You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring–what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.”  James 4:14

None of the grief has been in our inner circle, but we’ve been on the fringes of so many deaths and devastating diagnoses this year.  This week, some extended family members of ours lost their 2-month-old unexpectedly.  The grief is so huge that it’s impossible to understand.  My husband attended the funeral and told me it was the most gut-wrenching, but also the most hopeful, experience of his life.  The young couple is heart-broken and devastated, of course, but also so filled with hope and so eager to present the gospel to the 200+ people who came to support them and celebrate their precious little one’s life. 

I often wonder how I will handle this type of grief when I experience it.  I have not yet lost a parent, spouse, child, or very close friend.  Obviously, though, it’s only a matter of time until I do.  I don’t know how strong I’ll be.  I don’t know if presenting the gospel will be the most important thing to me.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand at the front of a church and calmly talk about how God gave his only son for me, which puts my own loss into perspective.  I’m convicted by the thought that what I would want to do is sleep and cry in my bed for a month.  And convicted about my reactions to even minor crises that I face, when others I know are handling real crises with so much grace.

Hold the ones you love tightly, and don’t take your time with them for granted.  Why is it so easy to forget this?

Say a prayer for Jack & Anna and their families, please.

dossiertochinapizap

Dossier to China!

Our dossier is headed to China today!  It’s an exciting step.  The next milestone is our Log In Date, which is when China accepts our dossier and logs us into their official system.  Once we are logged in with China, we are able to look at a child’s file or receive a referral.  We do not anticipate receiving a referral soon, but it’s still an exciting step to be officially on the list!

For those of you unfamiliar with the process, here are the remaining steps, some insight into all of the crazy Chinese adoption acronyms, and a loosely estimated timeline:

-Log In Date (LID, about 1-2 weeks from now)

-Referral: which is when we are presented with the file of a child that our agency feels is a good match for us.  We take the referral to our pediatrician and an international adoption specialist MD to get their professional opinions about the child’s health and development.  (estimated 6-18 months from now)

-We accept our referral and send our Letter of Intent (LOI) and referral payment.  (For those that are curious, if we feel that a referral is not a good match for us, we are able to choose not to accept that referral, and that child’s file will go to another family.  That would be a heartbreaking decision to make, but there is comfort in knowing it’s an option and we would not be penalized.  The only reason we can foresee turning down a referral is if we decide, prayerfully and together with our social worker, that the child’s medical needs are more severe than we believe we are equipped to care for.)

-We wait for China to send our Letter of Approval (LOA, also called Referral Approval or RA), meaning they’ve approved us to adopt that child.  (This step is taking most families 2-3 months right now, but can be more than 100 days.)

-About 2 months after LOA/RA, we will receive a Travel Approval (TA), which means China has given us approval to come get her.  This is when our agency makes our appointment at the US embassy in Guangzhou and we start to book our travel, etc.  Families usually travel within a few weeks after getting their TA.

-We go to China!  We spend about a week in our daughter’s province: meeting her, getting her birth certificate and passport, etc.  Then we spend another week or so in Guangzhou, doing all kinds of paperwork, having her medical appointment, obtaining her visa to enter the US, etc.

-We come home!