Lydia’s Adoption Timeline

 

06/11/2015 Return Home!
06/08/2015 Consulate Appointment
06/01/2015 Gotcha Day
05/28/2015 Travel to China!
05/21/2015 Travel Approval!!!!
05/14/2015 Article 5 Pickup Orphanage Donation $5800
04/28/2015 Article 5 Drop
04/27/2015 PDF (Letter stating case sent to China)
04/25/2015 DS-260 Visa Application Completed
04/23/2015 GUZ Number Received
04/17/2015 I800 Approval
04/06/2015 Visa Applications $620
Wire $380
04/03/2015 Hard Copy LOA, I-800 Application $38
03/27/2015 LOA
02/06/2015 LID
01/30/2015 Officially DTC!
01/21/2015 Dossier sent! $2021, Agency fee $2800 paid by grant
01/20/15 I800a Approval Received (Approval Dated 01/09/15)
12/22/14 Immigrations Biometrics Done
12/15/14 Dossier (except I800a) sent for authentication at Dept of State and Chinese Embassy $526
12/12/14 Last of State level authentications done except immigrations approval.
12/9/14 Payment to Agency $2500
12/8/14 USCIS Receipt Date
12/5/14 I800A Submitted $975
12/3/14 Placing Agency Approved Home Study
11/25/14 PA (Pre-Approval)
Home Study went to placing Agency for Review
11/21/14 LOI Submitted (we said yes!)
$1000 Placement Fee Paid
11/19/14 Saw her video and requested her file
11/7/14 Final Homestudy Visit. Suppose to begin review process on Monday.
11/5/14 Pd $1400 Post Placement Fee
10/31/14 Last Document for Dossier signed and Notarized (Except for Homestudy and I797)
10/28/14 Documents sent to 3 states for authentication $79.50
10/21/14 Application with Placing Agency Submitted Pd $1000
10/16/14 Birth & Marriage Certs Ordered $162
10/14/14 Home Study Documents Submitted
10/14/14 Passports Applied For $378
10/11/14 Official Home Study Application Submitted Pd $2325

One Year Home

Love Makes a DifferenceOur hearts are so full as we consider that we have had this precious angel an entire year! She lights up our days in so many ways. Just look at how she has grown and how healthy she looks! And she is. Only God could do all this for us and for her!

A summary. . .In 2014, God began to heavily burden both of our hearts to return to China for another child. I cannot say that is was not with some trepidation that we looked through the list of possible special needs. And we knew we had to have at least a five year old since we were getting older. But to our surprise, God clearly showed us our daughter who was not even two and had a special need listed that was on our definite “no” list. But we both had no doubt she was our daughter so we moved forward. I can honestly say that we just went forward in faith and not knowing fully what to expect. We just knew that if God said she is our daughter then she is our daughter. Again, He provided every step of the way. We worked hard to raise extra money and completed every possible grant application. Each time, again, we had money just as we needed it. It was hardly ever extra or early but perfect! The entire adoption process took just nine months and in that time God provided an extra $30,000. But He also provided His amazing peace throughout the process, during our time in China, and once we return with our sweet daughter. She has been home just over a year. She has had two surgeries and numerous doctor visits and therapies.  But at this point, she is healthy! She is rapidly catching up developmentally and amazes us every single day! As we look at her with immeasurable love in our eyes, there is one thing that continually is shocking to think about. That is how different her life would have been without the medical care and therapies. Even how short her life may have been. She had a heart defect that would have radically changed her life had it not been repaired. Things that are considered relatively simple here are most often impossible in the life of an orphan. So what we see staring back at us is HOPE. Beautiful miraculous HOPE in lovely brown almond eyes.

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FROM BIG SISTER:

My little sister is swiftly approaching 3 years. She has grown, changed, and her personality has come out piece by piece as we discover something new about her and she explores her little world. We have found that she LOVES bubbles, coloring, playing outside, pretending, and reading. Recently she has discovered having ice in her water and even doing gymnastics! (Well, trying to.) She loves to play around and have a simply great time. She has learned to communicate quite well, although she has definitely hit the terrible twos/threes. Lydia is also a kind, loving, and trusting little sister. (Example: whenever we say we have a boo-boo, she wants to come and kiss it.)

At first I was jealous, but God taught me through Lydia true love, kindness, patience, and to be responsible.  I learned there is ALWAYS room for one more and even though Mom and Dad love Lydia too, it doesn’t make them love me any less; it doubles, triples, and quadruples their love for BOTH of us. Now they have a big sister that loves and cares for her sister and a little sister that loves and trusts her sister so much that she wants to do everything big sister does. Lydia has taught me, even though we weren’t born to the same family, we are sisters by heart ties.

“Not flesh of my flesh nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own.  Never forget, not a single  minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.”                          -Fleur Conkling Heyliger

Four Month Anniversary!

Yesterday marked four months since we first met Lydia in person and today marks four months since her adoption was finalized! In many ways, these months have flown by. Lydia is a delight and we have been greatly blessed with how easily she has adjusted. It is truly amazing! Emotionally she has done so well. She grieved hard while in China but soon after arriving home just fell right into place.

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Once we arrived home, all the medical appointments began. Her pediatric appointment was scheduled before traveling so we got in the next Monday. Unfortunately that morning she spiked a high temp and we learned she had horrible ear infections. That likely contributed to her extreme unhappiness on the flights home. It took two rounds of antibiotic, 3 pediatric visits, and 2 ENT visit to get infection and ear wax under control. We also learned during those ENT visits that her tonsils and adenoids will need to be removed (praying for a miracle). Meanwhile, we also made our way quickly to the Cardiologist and learned that her CHD was exactly as suspected and as her file reported. On August 28th, she had a heart cath during which they placed an Amplatzer Device to close the PDA. The procedure was successful as far as we know. We will go back for follow-up in November.  Her tonsils cannot be removed until at least six months post heart repair.

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Since her PDA repair, we have seen increased energy and she has become a normal 2 year old. She loves to answer “no” even if she really would like something. She will definitely cry or pitch a little fit. But overall, she really is a pretty easy child. She sleeps well, eats well, goes with the flow mostly, and keeps us laughing.  She has also gone from 18 month to size 3T.  We are blessed beyond imagination.

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Adjusting, doctors, emotions, and why adopt?

Since we have been home, we have learned that Lydia will need to go to the cath lab to get an Amplatzer for PDA.  We will have been home 3 weeks on Thursday. Already we have been twice to the pediatrician and spent half a day at the cardiologist getting test ran.  Along with trying to adjust, she has gone through so much already.

Some days I just feel really angry and sad all at the same time. Yesterday, Lydia was back at the doctor. This time for bloodwork and to begin immunizations. When her ears were check they were still infected with heavy buildup again. Another painful and upsetting cleaning on top of everything else. Makes me wonder how many times she has had untreated ear infections. Makes me wonder if anyone every held her when she was hurting, scared, or felt yucky. Makes me terrified for all the orphans that still remain with no one to hold them and make sure they get medical care or even enough healthy food to eat. We are so stinking blessed that we cannot see it most of the time. I so often worry over trivial things while there are children that are just trying to survive without the basics. I positively hate that when she is finally home that she has so much to go through. But no doubt the crazy amount of love we have for this little life will cause some real heart sifting as we walk with her (praise God if we can come out with just a couple more rough edges knocked off). I still have no idea how God could see fit to bless us so greatly with her. Every one of us (except Kenneth hasn’t met her yet) are head over heals in love. She brings such incredible joy into our home. Last night Jim and I were saying, what if we hadn’t been obedient and stepped forward? It is heart crushing to even think we could have missed doing life with this little peanut. Yet, it would have been so easy so many times to say it just doesn’t make sense or isn’t possible. It was not possible. . .except by God. We could have never completed this adoption and honestly selfishly would not have desired to. But it slays me to think that had I only considered my selfish desires I would have missed our precious Lydia Joy. What God has for us is always better than any dream we can dream!

This picture is a little fuzzy but it is my favorite of her so far. Love this sweet sweet little soul!

 

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China – Week 1

While we were in China, I found it much easier to update Facebook than to blog here. I apologize for not updating here as well. But I do want to write a couple blog entries to catch up. This one we go through approximately the first week.

May 28th – We left our home about 4:30am to catch our flight.  The feeling was so surreal. So many details floating through our minds. It is almost like you just can’t let yourself think of the reality because there are too many what ifs.

May 29th – After a flight delay in Shanghai, we arrived at the airport in Guizhou province at 2:30am. Our guide picked us up at the airport but let us know that we would not see him again on Saturday or Sunday. This was a shock as we were certain we had paid for guide services for these days. We had not been able to sleep on our flights so we were so tired. We then slept for about three hours and were wide awake. Fatigue and culture shock were so strong. But it is incredible to look out our window and realize how much closer to Lydia we were. We had a sweet bed in our room ready for her. Despite all this, we were excited and ready to start the day.

Breakfast buffet looks very doable but more like lunch buffet. The menu remained pretty much the same for the entire stay at the Novotel. The hotel was lovely and our room was great. We had a corner room that gave us a big window area to look out upon the city.  The only thing that was really hard about the hotel was it was somewhat rare to find someone who could understand English. It was better during business hours but hard in the evenings or weekend. This made any room service needs or ordering food extremely difficult. Honestly, it was humbling. We take so much for granted in our ability to communicate through verbal and written communications.

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After breakfast, we took the crudely drawn map we had been given and found our way to Walmart. We were in search of clothing and shoes to donate to the orphanage.  I didn’t take pictures but Walmart in China only resembles Walmart here in logo and name. The smells alone are enough to put an American in shock.  But I can’t tell you how thankful we were for being able to shop there. We found the cutest leather shoes for about $10 a pair (nothing like you would find in Walmart here) and stocked up on them in various sizes. Then we added outfits in various sizes (they were mostly Carters but had the option to cut them for split pants which are common for potty training in China).  Found a few other supplies. We had our backpacks and sacks full and heavy so we took the trek back to the hotel.  The walk was probably about a mile and half (total guess). We got lots of strange looks. I did learn quickly that when someone was looking hard to say Ni hou. Almost every time they would return the Ni hou with a big smile.  The walking was a good opportunity to see the city and the people in their daily lives. Truly. . .God has given us such a deep love for the Chinese people. We greatly enjoyed the day.  The only thing we quickly realized was of concern was food. Chloe and Jim were really struggling so we headed to KFC which was connected to our hotel. BIG MISTAKE! It truly only made the situation worse. Rather than American food, it was more like bad Chinese food made to seem more American. The fries were the only thing that was edible.

May 30th – We took a taxi and went to meet a friend. She helps with some orphans and was in need of medicines. It was the most lovely visit. We were then dropped off at a mall area so we could shop for more clothing for the orphanage. There was a Pizza Hut there and we were assured it was good so we tried it. It was amazing! Much better than Pizza Hut here. A perfect crust that was tender crisp and loads of cheese. So onto a department store and Carrefour (a little like Walmart but cheaper quality). There were both a bust. So we began the walk back to the hotel. We didn’t like walking through this area as much and in fact had our only uncomfortable moment during this walk. A man was cornering Chloe and I saying something. I finally pointed to myself and said Mama. That seemed to stop the barrage of talking and cornering momentarily and we took off. Perhaps he only wanted to know why a Chinese little girl was with me but it was not a happy moment. All other times we always felt safe there.

Once back at the hotel, we were tired but knew that we had to finish shopping for the orphanage. So we made a plan to wait until morning and head back to Walmart. We were to leave to get Lydia at 2:30pm the next day so that would allow time.

June 1st – The day we had been waiting for so long!!! We were up and showered early. Had breakfast and headed to Walmart.  This time we bought as many clothing items as we could in all sizes. We again filled our backpacks and the bags we brought back (you buy your bags in China).  Loaded down we headed back to the hotel. We tried to stay busy organizing the room, the clothing and shoes for donation, paperwork, items to take for Lydia etc. But the day went so slowly. At 2pm we could wait no more and headed to the lobby to meet the guide. He was late!!!! Then traffic was horrible! We were late! When we arrived at the office, she was already there. We saw the back of her head and instantly knew it was her. We were so excited. . . she was not. The beautiful lady from the orphanage tried to gently guide her toward me and hand her over but the tears came hard. Finally, she just gave her to me. She sobbed until she fell asleep while we took care of some paperwork and ask some questions. We also had an opportunity to show pictures and videos from two families that had previously adopted from this same orphanage. They were so excited. They said they want to see more of these and want to stay in contact. It was such a sweet time. Their concern for the children was very evident.

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Back at the hotel, we changed Lydia as she was soaked. Our guide came back to take care of some things and we begged him to help us order some dinner. After trying a couple restaurants that were either no longer there or way too busy (read hot, tired, emotionally drained, carrying a shutdown toddler around in a very big circle containing lots of stairs and distance) we ended up order at one right behind our hotel. We took it back to the room to eat since we were spent. It was AMAZING local food.

Lydia went to bed easily. I think it was an escape from the strange people and environment.

June 2nd – Again, up early. Showered, dressed and breakfast. The off to finalize the adoption. Lydia is much better today. She is talking but we unfortunately don’t understand what she is saying. She is enjoying a few of the toys.

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June 3rd – Although the adoption is final, we need all the documents and her passport before moving on to Guangzhou. So we spent Wednesday and Thursday sightseeing a bit. We loved Guiyang. Truly our only issue was being able to order food.

 

So amazed at all God has done!

flower 2Yesterday I was reflecting on all that God has done to make it so we could leave in only two more sleeps to get our Lydia Joy. It rocks me to the core. It would be a really long post to tell it all but it is mind boggling. And all that is just within the last week. That doesn’t even mention the crazy money facts. Adoptions are incredibly expensive and you simply do not want to add summer or holiday travel to that. Well, by one week we are in summer rates. But God provided what we needed! Never let money stand in your way for adoption. You no doubt will be stretched to spend more of your own money, to sell things you would like to keep, and to work really hard. But God honors your effects and He is for adoption. Two times now we have had enough when we started out not having a clue how it would happen. We have watched as the last few weeks T-shirt sells were up dramatically and a last grant came in. Times like this are when you know beyond a shadow you are in God’s will. We have felt His presence and seen His hand (Chloe says it is His foot because He left a footprint) over and over again! We are amazed and excited. The journey ahead will be hard but at least we know that our great big God is on the case! Please understand that we struggled many times during the process. But without the struggles, we would not be looking back at foot prints. I hope I can apply these lessons to many more area of my life. God is always faithful and prayers matter in huge life changing ways. Now that the serious is done. . Get ready for screams!!! TWO MORE SLEEPS!

 

Update & Article 5 Pickup

We are moving right along. Saturday (the day before Mother’s Day), we received some updated information and seven new pictures! These pictures mostly had others in them too so I cannot post those here.  We had requested pictures with her friends and favorite caregiver. We saw smiles for the first time. She has grown and changed so much! This beautiful smile is cropped from one of the pictures.

Luo Ying Sha update 22mths

During the night last night, all of the Article 5 documents were picked up approved! These documents were forwarded to let them know it is time to prepare our Travel Approval. We are hopeful and prayerful that TA will be issued quickly. Airfare rates are a nightmare so we need God’s intervention there. But He owns all the cattle and can control rates as well. So we are praying for His intervention. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. It means so much!

The process of gathering and packing has begun! We have the prescription meds we need but a long list of other meds, toddler items, etc to collect and pack. We are being blessed with a shower to celebrate our girl on Friday. I hope to post some pictures from that. Then we will have one last garage sale on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kenneth is briefly home and preparing to go to camp to work for the summer.  The next weeks are going to be super busy!

Luo Ying Sha 22mths

The Difference of 10 Years. . .

When we adopted Chloe, most people adopted non special needs (NSN). That program is pretty much non existent now. It started to slow right after we brought Chloe home and it was not too much longer until there were rumors it would be no more. I think the few families left in that program have waited 7 plus years. The process was so much easier then. You didn’t really look at files other than the one you were referred. Yes, I have pictures of the UPS man as he brought the prized package to the door. The first time we would see our daughter and her details were delivered by UPS! We booked the international flight within a few days and about 1 month later we were on the plane!!!  You could concentrate on preparations and packing.

Now a days. . . well let’s just say the process is much more complicated. We were pre-approved for Lydia in November and have taken many steps since. It is stressful through much of the process and downright agonizing at times. That is even knowing full well that God is in control and He is sovereign.  Just mention to a China mom one of the acronyms following I800 and watch the sweat break out across her brow. This chart shows the process.China ChartWe are currently on step 13 which is very very close to the end time wise. 🙂

But I really want to talk about is a difference that I have noticed between then and now. Then there were few special needs adoptions and the stories were heartbreaking of those left in orphanages but it wasn’t changing the facts.  Now there are many more domestic adoptions within China and a large amount of special needs adoptions internationally. I was just thinking how that is just like God. In order to get people to do what needs to be done, He changes the situation. We often see these changes as trials and disappointments from such a personal view that sometimes we never see a bigger picture. Sometimes it takes time to see the bigger picture. Like this situation. But now children are being adopted into loving families that likely would have never if the NSN program was still the same as then.  I am constantly blown away by really brave families who are willing to give up nearly all the conveniences to take care of special needs that they certainly did not have to take on. Many of these families adopt multiple child. I think that is partly because once you see both the need and the blessing, you cannot turn away. But it is also likely because there are still so many who need homes. If you have even slightly thought of adopting one day in the distant future, I would love to talk to you. Any adoptive mom or dad would. The passion grows in our hearts to share. Often it is fear of the unknown that holds us back, so talking is good!

 

So close and yet so far. . .

That is how it feels right now.  Last Friday after a small setback the day before, our I800 application was approved!!! We had previously been approved as a family but this part of the approval specifically approves Lydia to come here as our child! The calendar is still not ours to plan but we are closer by far.  We are currently waiting to hear that our file has been transferred to the Consulate in China. That could be any day and prayerfully will be very very soon. Then we will complete Lydia’s Visa application (this will be the last of a long list of documents that we need to complete before travel) and receive a document via email.  Once that is done, everything can be dropped off in China showing that all is in order. This is called the article 5 and takes exactly 10 business days if there are no problems or questions. Once that is done, we will get travel approval!!!!

This part of the process is incredibly exciting but also difficult. The not knowing exactly when you can travel is hard. The not being able to book airfare and yet seeing the tickets go crazy is hard! Prayerfully airfare tickets will miraculously drop in price before we book. Regardless. . .God is in control. We know He has our best interest as well as Lydia’s best interest at heart. Prayerfully we can finish the journey well and in a way that glorifies Him.

Crazy Christians

Vent warning. There is friend I know that God has done a crazy amount of amazing things in her life and yet she is so stressed.  Over and over again she has seen God work in miraculous ways and yet she doubts and is stressed so often. Sometimes the stress even threatens to take over her days.  How can you one minute see God do miraculous things and the next minute be overwhelmed by stress? I just don’t get it.  Is He God or what? Is He omniscient? Is He omnipotent? Is He Holy? Is He loving? or Not?

That friend. . .well, it is me. And some days I am not so much a friend to myself.

One of the challenges of being a Christian in the throws of an adoption process is that you want people to see all that God is doing.  And it is blow you away HUGE stuff. But adoption also comes with lots of human emotions, doubts, fears, loss of control, etc.  So God does lots of chiseling off of rough edges. I have so many rough edges that I guess we should have adopted lots more children over the years (secretly that is my biggest regret.. . .we could have done more). Maybe if we had my edges would be smoother.

I have heard all along that the closer you get the harder the wait gets. AHHH YESSSS! At this point the timeline is easier to see but at the same time there are an untold number of things that can wrong to delay that fairly set schedule. Add to that, Jim needing to tell work when he will be gone for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

But today, I will be focusing on verses that remind me that God is in control. I will be praying for His presence and peace. Today I will be remembering that He is God and I am well just me and that the very best thing I have to offer to faithfulness to the who created everything.

““Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Luke 12:32-34 ESV