Friday, December 21, 2012

An Update

Last week we met with the International Adoption pediatrician who reviewed Olivia's file when we first received it.  The meeting we had was to discuss travel plans as well as how we would proceed with medical treatment when we arrive home.  Dr. Walker wrote us prescriptions for antibiotics to bring to China as well as suggested a few over the counter medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, Benedryl and Cortisone Cream.  She also suggested we take scabies and lice treatment.  We had already planned to do this because one of the realities of international adoption is that these kids are living in close quarters which can lead to bugs.  I am hoping that we will avoid these bugs at all costs and I already had one of Brooks's teachers tell me that she has been praying specifically for "no lice and no scabies" for Olivia. 
In addition to making a game plan for routine check ups upon return  to make sure there are no additional health concerns, we discussed treatment for her special need.  I wrote on this blog initially that we decided to go the Special Needs route for our adoption.  We have chosen at this point not to discuss her special need because honestly, that is not who our child is.  We never want her to be labeled by what makes her different.  To us she is our beautiful daughter, chosen for us by God however, she just so happens to have a smaller right ear and hearing loss in that ear.

Olivia has what is called auditory atresia and microtia of her right ear.  As Dr. Walker said, this is nothing that is of immediate concern.  She will be able to learn, talk and thrive just as any other child.  However, as she gets older there are treatment options that may allow her to hear and can cosmetically let her ear look more like her left one.  These are all options we will explore later but, our priority when we get her home will be to love her and help her to grow into her new family who has been waiting so anxiously for her.

Please never hesitate to as Brad and I questions about Olivia's microtia.  We are happy to answer any questions we have.  However, we do ask you to be sensitive about discussing it around our other children as well as Olivia.  As I said before, this is not what defines our daughter and we never want her to feel singled out or uncomfortable because of how she was created. 

So...onto the good part of this post.
Because we never had a good picture of Olivia's ear and we were mainly going of Chinese medical reports, Dr. Walker suggested we request some pictures of the ear.  On a Thursday afternoon we contacted our agency and requested the pictures.  The agency suggested we also write a list of questions for the nannies.  By Monday evening (mind you this is record speed. Thank you God) we received three photos and a beautiful description of our daughter.  According to her caregivers, Olivia is walking.  She can say "mama and papa".  This made us so happy thinking they are showing her the photos we sent and teaching her about her family.  She enjoys watching cartoons and is quick to giggle.  She plays with other children and calms down easily when upset by picking her up or handing her a toy.  We were also given height and weight measurements however, I am certain they were inaccurate because they claim she is 35 lbs which is more than Brooks weighs.  Overall, we couldn't be happier to hear how our little one is blossoming.

We can't wait to get you sweet girl.  Mama and Papa will be there soon! (Our Article 5 which is the last step is supposed to be picked up on 12/26.  Then begins the offical travel approval wait which is anywhere from 1-3 weeks)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It's been quiet on this blog for a reason.  I have written this post many times in my head but, each time I couldn't articulate it quite right.  I think I am finally at a place to get my thoughts and down really, I just want to look back on this journey and remember each step: both the good and the not so great.

I love the holidays.  Christmas has always been my all time favorite time of year.  But, this year it's been hard.  It is a strange feeling having your child half way around the world during a time where family means everything.  This year we had to talk about whether to hang 4 or 5 stockings.  If Santa would bring Olivia presents or if we would just go on as a family of 4 in anticipation that next year would be so sweet.  We had to choose not to send Christmas cards this year.  It didn't feel right sending a family picture when a member is missing.  These are all thoughts I never thought I would have until this process began.  I don't think anyone but, an adoptive parent could understand these feelings.  They are hard but, they are real and they are just part of the process.  I want to feel them because as I do, my love for Olivia grows that much stronger. 

To top off these emotions, we heard from one of our agency representatives in the early part of December that she does not expect us to travel until the end of February.  Chinese New Year is Feb 8th this year and no adoptions will take place for 2 weeks after the New Year.  We had our hearts set and our children prepared that we would travel in January.  I spent the following weekend an emotional mess and in a puddle of tears.  At the advice of another adoptive mommy friend I contacted our agency and stated that we would like to make it to China in January if at all possible.  I was then contacted by our usual representative who assured me that they would do anything to get us to our child as soon as possible.  She knows, and I know that China is in control of how fast our paper work moves.  But, untimately God is the navigator of this journey and here is where he stepped in.

Our pastor decided to spend the month of December preaching on the gifts of Christmas.  His first two sermons were about Hope and Peace.  The Hope sermon occured on the weekend I spoke of before where I hit my "adoption wall".  David preached that without Hope we have nothing.  We must trust God and have Hope that his plan for us is greater than any road we could pave.  We left that sermon and Brad asked me if I had thanked David for preaching to me that day?  Ha.
The next week, I was feeling better but, still not myself.  To top off the emotions regarding the holidays and the adoption, the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy had just taken place.  This week David preached on Peace.  Peace David instructed is the opposite of anxiety.  During worship I was able to cast all of my anxieties regarding travel dates and the who remaining portion of this adoption on HIM.  Why waste my time being anxious and worried when I know He is in control?  He is the same God who has orchestrated every step of this adoption process more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.  He is the same God who hand picked our beautiful children just for us. 

So now I rest in the beauty of the holidays and can honestly say that I am truly at Peace with God's plan whatever it may be.  I am thankful for those broken moments I had because they not only allowed my love for Oliva to grown, they allowed my trust in the Lord to grow as well.

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful"  Colossians 3:15

"Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you" Job 22:21

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Yesterday we celebrated our girl's first birthday.  We celebrated with happiness, not sadness knowing that although she is not yet in our arms, this is the last birthday she will be alone.  She will never again have a birthday without her family. 

To honor her day, we sent a package which contained a birthday cake, stuffed toy, photo album of our family and a disposable camera so hopefully we can have some party pictures.
Here at home, we wanted to celebrate our girl as well in a simple yet meaningful way.  We decided to do a balloon release with the kids.  They each drew a picture for her and we tied them to a balloon and let it go to China.  We plan to continue this each year on Olivia's birthday but, will send a balloon to her birth mother in China.

  After our balloon release, the kids celebrated with cupcakes in Olivia's honor.  Even cousin Lillie, Aunt Kat, Uncle Josh, Nana and Poppie were there since it was the day after Thanksgiving.

Earlier in the day, we received the sweetest gift from my dear friend Ashley.  She gathered letters, poems, children's artwork and bible verses composed by all of our dear friends who have endlessly been praying for Olivia.  She placed them all into a butterfly box knowing that butterflies are our prayer trigger for Olivia.  Ashley even made an ABC book with bible verses for each letter of the alphabet.  One of my favorite quotes from all the gifts we received was from our sweet friend Shannon who is a member of our old life group.  She said, "you now have over 21 brothers and sisters and 20 mothers and fathers who love you endlessly".
How could I be sad on a day like this?  In the words of Kyrie, "Mommy are you crying happy tears?".  To which I responded, "Yes, the happiest of tears."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Too much excitement for one night

We got word last week that our LOA was at the office to be issued.  Our agency was not being clear AT ALL about how fast it would take to actually be sent but, I was content knowing that at least it would be sooner than later.  After dinner last night, Brad took the kids up to bath while I cleaned up.  I decided to check my email quickly before heading upstairs to help with bath time.  There it was....the email we had waited for for 48 days!  Yes, I counted and yes, I read Psalms every most days.  We received LOA and boy was it a beautiful sight to see our names printed on an official Chinese document that also contained our daughter's name. 

Things couldn't have been much more exciting until I checked my mail during a movie that Brad and I were watching.  I had an email that said pictures from H.... SWI (not putting the name for obvious reasons).  I couldn't believe it.  It wasn't from the person who we ordered the care package from.  I opened the email and it was from another adoptive mom who found me on a forum.  She had pictures from her daughter's birthday party and thought Olivia might be in them.  We of course were beyond thrilled and asked for her to please send the pictures.  Sure enough, we recognized our sweet girl immediately.  It was so nice to see her looking healthy and most of all well cared for.  The nannies were smiling and looked so engaged with the children.  Of course the wooden/metal cribs break my heart.  We are beyond excited that the birthday girl is just a few months older than Olivia and hopefully they can remain in contact through childhood because in the pictures they appear to be buds.  As only God would orchestrate, Olivia is wearing a lamb shirt in her photos.  My mom's gift to all new babies in our family is a stuffed lamb.  Could it be any more appropriate?

Because we still can't post pictures of our beautiful little one, I will share a sweet picture of Brooks and Kyrie mailing our I800 form bright and early this morning.  This form claims Olivia as an immediate member of our family and is just one step closer to our TA which we hope is in January.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A package

Next week our newest little princess will turn 1. It will be a day of mixed emotions for our family. We will rejoice that it's her last birthday as an orphan but, be saddened that we can't spend her special day with her. In hopes of her feeling special on her big day, we sent a care package through a wonderful lady that spends her life connecting adoptive families with their new children. The package we chose contained a stuffed animal, a disposable camera which hopefully the nannies will fill with pictures of our baby, a soft photo album with 6 pictures of our family and a birthday cake. We don't expect that Olivia will get to eat any of the cake because as far as we know she just drinks formula and eats Congee (Chinese porridge). We hope that that older children in the orphange enjoy the special treat in Olivia's honor. In addition to the care package, we were allowed to write a letter to the nannies and ask a few questions about our little one. This was the hard part. To me it was very stressful coming up with the questions and making sure that we didn't leave any important ones out. We limited it to about 10 questions hoping we wouldn't overwhelm the nannies. In addition, we thanked them for caring for our girl, asking them to let her know how much she is loved and letting them know how much we desire to meet them in person when we travel to China. We are anxiously awaiting some feedback about our package and our letters. Some new pictures of our sweet girl letting us know that she is healthy and well would be music to my soul. This is the newest family photo we sent to Olivia. Brad and I plan to wear these shirts the day we meet her in hopes she recognizes us through the shirts.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Adoption through our Kids Eye's

We are asked all the time what our kids think about bringing their new sister home. Up until yesterday, my answer was "Kyrie is over the moon excited but, I'm not sure Brooks really gets it".
 Well, then Brooks and I took the walk pictured above.  He was sick all week and we both needed to get out of the house.  I put him in the new Ergo baby carrier I scored for Olivia at a local consignment sale.  As I strapped him he, he said "Hey mama, this is my baby sister's carrier.  She doesn't have a mommy yet."  Our conversation continued: Me:"I know buddy but, who is Olivia's mommy going to be?"  B: "You"  Me: "And who will her brother and sister be?" B: "Me and Kyrie".  Me:  "Where is Olivia now?"  B:  "In China!"
I guess our boy knows more than we give him credit for.
Oh and then there is my sweet Kyrie.  We have been very open in discussing our adoption process with Kyrie since day 1.  She has asked a lot of questions but, mostly has been completely exciting in anticipating being a big sister again.  Last year, a mother from preschool told me that her daughter too asked if she could, "buy a sister from China".  I was a bit mortified that possibly Kyrie was misunderstanding this whole adoption thing.  Then I realized that initially a lot of our efforts were related to fundraising.  She was involved and helped with our yard sale, lemonade stand and even the Wild Olive tees.  We have always explained to her that the purpose of fundraising it to help us travel far to get Olivia home.  This year at school, her teachers tell me that when the students have individual time to pray out loud, Kyrie's prays always are for her sissy in China.  At home, Olivia has become part of our daily conversations, especially now that we have her picture and she is ours.  Each child has a framed photo of their sister next to their bed (thanks to Daddy who did this day 1 of receiving her file).  Often when I go in to kiss Kyrie before I go to bed I find her hugging Olivia's picture.  At night, when she says grace it often goes like this, "Dear Jesus, I pray for Olivia because she doesn't have her mommy right now.  I pray that she isn't scared and that she sleeps well tonight.  Please protect her and keep her healthy".  I am utterly amazed by this child!
During the day at home, Kyrie will look at the clock and tell me based on the schedule the orphanage gave us for Olivia what she is doing at the time.  For example, we are eating dinner at 6:00 and she says, "Hey mommy, it's 6:00, Olivia is waking up now.  It's morning in China".  Her teacher tells me that she does the same thing at school.  She even taught her teacher about 12 hr time difference in China. 
Two weeks ago, we had our community yard sale.  I took Kyrie shopping and gave her the only cash we had in the house: $10.  Guess what she bought?  Nothing for herself, but a push toy for her sister. 
I know this is a bit wordy but, I just have to document Kyrie's heart and how much a part of our lives our sweet Olivia is and we haven't even met her yet.  
I can not wait to see the love these sisters have.  I pray daily that Olivia's heart will immediately be accepting of Kyrie.  She wants so badly to have her sister here and I pray that their bond is instantaneous. 
These are some tidbits Kyrie and I have collected for Olivia.  An Asian baby doll and "God Found Us You"  (the adoption version of one of my favorite stories I read to the kids)  Will post more pictures of her room in another post.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

LifeSong- Orphan Sunday

On November 4th, as well as the surrounding Sundays, thousands of events will echo across America and around the globe, all sharing a single goal: that God's steadfast love for the orphan will also stir in our hearts.  From many sources, one voice.

Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to excite family, community, church and friends to God's call to care for the orphan.

As Orphan Sunday approaches, we pray you will dedicate time on one Sunday in honor of the fatherless.

Here are a few helpful and practical recourses for how to spend an Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans' Orphan website:

  • The Orphan's Table - Experiences impact us more deeply than words. On Orphan Sunday, share a meal eaten by orphans around the world.  Gather with family, small group or church for the meal, discussion and prayer.
  • More Resources - Check out for other church resources such as sermon starters, worship songs, bible studies, bulletin inserts, prayer guides, and much more!
We are hopeful you and your church family will honor orphans by participating in Orphan Sunday

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Will you join me?

So, I read on another adoptive mommy's blog that she decided to read through the book of Psalms as she waited for her LOA.  I love this idea.  Brad and I have committed to doing this in hopes that we dwell on His hope of better things to come.  This waiting and guessing of when we will get our LOA and ultimately when we will travel is hard.  I am asked multiple times a day when we will go to China.  I don't know and that is hard.  When you are a pregnant you have an idea of when the end will come and when you will finally get to hold your little one.  With adoption there is so much uncertainty.  The hardest one is not knowing even the month you will meet your child.  I know people ask with good intentions but, the questions are HARD.  Once we have our LOA we will have a much better idea of when we will travel.

So....let's start now.  Today is day 19 of our wait.  If you are joining along start on Psalm 19.  How cool will it be to tell Olivia how many people were reading God's word in her honor and praying for her daily?  If you feel let to follow along with us please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog.

For convenience we will be using our smart phones as we read through Psalms.  Brad and I find the app "Holy Bible" to be the most user friendly.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Heart Is Happy

Sometimes it's just the little things.....
This one arrived in the mail yesterday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wild Olive Tees Last Chance

Our Wild Olive Tee fundraiser is opening up again for one more month just in time for us to start preparing for our travel expenses.  If you didn't get a chance to order your tee when we did the fundraiser earlier this is your chance.  Our family loves our tees.  The kids shirts are so soft and made out of a vintage type cotton. 

If you choose to order please be aware you must order from the Adoption Fundraiser portion of their site.  That is the only way we will receive credit for your order.  There was some confusion about this when we ran the fundraiser earlier.  Also, you must enter code SUND513 in the coupon code section and the comments section at the end of your order.

We truly appreciate your support in bringing our sweet Olivia home.  I can't wait to see her sporting her Wild Olive tees.   Check out our family story on the Wild Olive family Site. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Day We Saw our Daughter's Face

Tuesday September 25th, 2012 is a day we will never forget. We woke up in a haze. The previous Thursday our agency had told us a new shared list was coming out and that they would do their best to match us. I tried to be realistic and not get my hopes up. Brad on the other hand is an eternal optimist and was certain that we would meet our daughter on Tuesday. In the days leading up I was a ball of energy and after I asked him to build a fire pit (after cleaning out closets, hanging pictures on the walls, mopping floors, scrubbing toilets) he exclaimed, "You're nesting?" Nesting I was and it made the time pass more quickly.

Back to Tues morning....As I said, we woke up in a haze because my dear husband refresed my yahoo at least every hour througout the night. We knew the referral email could come in the middle of the night because our night is China's day. No email came and I was shocked at how depressed and non functional I felt. We planned to go birthday shopping for Brooks but, I couldn't find the energy to try to be happy. Instead I sat home until I had to work at 11:00. At 10:30 as I was about to leave the house I looked at my email one more time. All I saw on the subject line from our agency was: Hui Juan. I knew at that moment I was about to see our daughter. I screamed to Brad and knowing we needed to open the email together, burst into his office. We couldn't open her pictures fast enough and both fell in love with her cuteness immediately. We quickly ran through her medical file although I don't think we soaked any of it in because really we just wanted to look more at her beautiful face. We had 72 hours to make our decision or China would take her file back. As any mother would do I went into spastic mode and within 5 minutes lined up physician consultations to read her file. Once that was done, Brad and I hugged and cried and gushed about her beauty. Then I ran off to "work" although I know I was pretty much worthless and really have no memory of my therapy session. Brad and I had agreed we wouldn't tell the kids until we got the medical reports back. But, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the moment he saw her face that she is ours. So....he went into super daddy mode and had her photos printed and framed before getting the kids at school at 1:00. Right there at church where much of this story began, the kids saw their baby sister for the first time. Kyrie hasn't put the photo down since she saw it and quickly exclaimed "she is even cuter than I ever imagined".

Kyrie hugging the picture while watching TV



Three days have passed and we have received fantastic medical reports.  In fact the international adoption specialist asked if she could take her home.  We have submitted our LOI (letter of intent) and are awaiting PA (prior approval) when China will name her ours.
Sooooo....What is her name and what are the details???

We knew a few weeks ago that we would name her Olivia.  I was lying in bed one night struggling with the lull we were in with the adoption process.  Over the past week I had been praying to God for a name because nothing seemed right.  That night, the name Olivia popped into my head and I had to look it up immediately.  The theological meaning is rooted back to Olive Tree which means "one root with threaded branches"  We felt immediately that God gave her the most perfect adoption name. Her middle name is Tinsman after Brad's family who has helped us so much to bring Olivia home.  We want her to know how much she is loved by them. 
More information that we know is that Olivia is 10 months old and will turn 1 at the end of November.  She is meeting all of her developmental milestones.  She can crawl and stand with help.  She babbles and is right on track for weight and height.  We also have learned that she's an early riser like our other two kiddos.  Guess Brad and I will sleep when they go to college.
We aren't allowed to show her pictures just yet.  We are making sure to follow all of the rules so we don't jeopardize this process in any way.  We are happy to show her picture to close family and friends who contact us by email. 
Much love and happiness to all who have been praying for us on this journey.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lifesong-Blog advocate

Lifesong is an organization with a mission to adovate for orpans around the world.  They do so through their blog, missions as well as providing financial support to adoptive parents.  We found out about Lifesong because we applied for a grant from them.  (Still waiting to see if we will recieve one).  In our application we gave our blog information and they responded by asking if I would be a blogger advocate.  From day 1 it has been my prayer that our adoption would go farther and allow me to do good for orphans beyond our daughter.  So, you may notice from time to time that there is information on this blog unrelated to our adoption.  Will your heart be touched toward adoption

"I was looking for someone to understand me, to love sincerely...I received all this!"  
 -Natasha, 22

As you heard Natasha share in the video, the orphanage took care of her basic needs -- food, shelter, clothing.  

But she longed for more. 

Belonging. Commitment. Love from a family. Hope for a future.

Because we believe kids like Natasha need much more than their 'basic needs', the staff of Lifesong Ukraine are building relationships inside the orphanage walls to create what we call Constant Christian Presence (CCP). 

The CCP provides mentorship and discipleship, improved living conditions, one-on-one counseling, group Bible study, job skills training, music lessons, and computer skills training.

Instead of the common trend of orphans creating orphans, Natasha, because of her support through CCP, now desires to help other children who are in orphanages to give them the support she received. Orphans mentoring orphans...a cycle worth striving for!

Child Sponsorship
We are excited to announce that Lifesong Ukraine has recently launched a new child sponsorship program. If you are interested in helping build Constant Christian Presence by sponsoring a child like Natasha, please contact us.

"...He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sweet Surprise

I woke up this morning to the sweetest surprise on Facebook.  My dear friend Marybeth remembered a conversation we had months ago at our church Women's Retreat.  We had just started the adoption process and I told her that I wanted to bring something to China for the babies left behind.  I have since become busy and overwhelmed with the paperwork, fundraising and emotions that come with adoption.  Sadly, the lovie idea left my thoughts.  But, God didn't forget this conversation because Marybeth said he, "whispered in her ear yesterday".  She had to act on it and went right to work making a gorgeous scrapbook flyer to advertise "Sending Lovies to China"
Let's make this so big we have to bring a whole suitcase filled with lovies for the sweet babes left behind.  Make one, buy one, either way be sure to pray over it and have your children pray over it.  Then send them to Marybeth at the address above.

Today, I am so thankful for girlfriends with big hearts.  Marybeth, you have touched me more than you will ever know.

Oh yeah and I am thankful that we are LID (locked in date) today.  Praying for a quick match now!

Friday, September 14, 2012


On Sept. 13th we recieved the much anticipated email that we are DTC or in non-adoption lingo Dossier to China.  According to our agency, in 1-2 weeks we will be LID (Log in Date).  At that point we will be eligible to be matched with a non-special focus child.  We will be celebrating this weekend for sure.

Can't believe that next time this year we will have 3 Gator babies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Waiting is Hard

Waiting is hard to matter what.  I have know for a long time that waiting and patience are my weakness.  When we struggled with not getting pregnant right away with Kyrie I became frusterated quickly.  Thoughts of pregnancy and "what if's" consumed my mind.  When we waited for our house to be built and I wasn't sure if our rental contract would end, I obsessed over the "what if's".  I waited to make our TK/K decision for Kyrie and again the "what if's" filled my mind.

I have waited nearly 20 years to begin this adoption process and here I find myself in a constant pattern of waiting.  We waited to move to SC so we could begin our homestudy.  We waited 2 months for our social worker to finally write up the home study so we could move forward with paper work.  We have waited for birth certificates to arrive, authentications, and deadlines. 

And now.....Now, I find myself in the hardest waiting place I have ever been.  We are done with our paperwork, we have filled out all of the grant forms, we have ended our t-shirt fundraiser, our yardsale is complete.  But, we have nothing to show for the blood, sweat and tears.  I have prayed  daily to God for 4 months to show me my daughter's face and NOTHING.  We are patiently waiting for a referral.  I am trusing God that through this I will FINALLY learn that when he makes us wait it is because he plan is greater than ours. 

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3-4

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our life, His story

We have been blessed beyond words, words that are too deep to put into a simple blog post.  God created a story that only he could come up with because we could never have imagined it ourselves.  We were gifted a monetary donation by Brad's sister and brother-in-law so large that they said "we don't want you to worry, we just want you to bring her home".  This gift far exceeds anything we could have ever dreamed of.  I watched my husband humbly fall to the floor in tears saying that, "he no longer has to fear that our daughter will be left waiting while scramble to collect funds".  We are humbled and amazed at their generosity and God's provision through the use of his people. 

I must say that as a mother, the monetary gift means so much but, it is the acceptance of our child that means more than anything.  I love that without ever seeing her face we have family making sacrifices so we can bring home a new member of our family. 

There is a fabulous story behind our gift, one that I would love to share personally with those we know however, we would like to keep the details private to this blog in honor of our daughter who will one day feel incredibly loved by the generosity of her Aunt and Uncle.

"For him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever.  Amen" Romans 11:36

To Him be the glory as we sit in utter amazement of how we have been blessed along these 4 months of our adoption journey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good News/Bad News

Yesterday was a rough one with our littles at home. I think they are ready for school and the lack of structure and routine of summer is wearing on everyone. They are fighting a lot, running through the house and constantly wrestling. This is making for one worn out and tired mama. In fact we have this verse on our kitchen chalkboard right now and both kids have memorized it over the past two weeks. "Those who love God also love their brother (and sister)" 1 John 4:21. By the time dinner rolled around this mama was done and I needed a walk with my sweet fur baby who doesn't talk back. For some reason on the walk I looked down at my email on my phone. I got the blessing I so needed that day. It was an email from our agency saying our Dossier is complete and ready to go to China. I was in shock. They have taken over all of our authentications and therefore I really had no idea how far along we were. What is even more perfect timing is that today was our fingerprinting appointment which was the only thing the agency was waiting on. I walked home with new energy and couldn't wait to tell Brad.
                                                             Finger printing form
When I walked in the door he was upstairs putting the kids to bed so I opened the attachment of the email. I was shocked to find that we owe $4,150 do send our dossier to China. Deep breath. Sigh. God has taken care of us this far and he will as we move on.

Brad came downstairs and I asked if he wanted the good news or bad news first. He wanted the bad news so I gave him the bill. He was shocked as well but, just as happy as I was to hear about our dossier being complete.

I haven't shared a lot of the financial information on the blog because so much is personal. However, we will give God the glory and say that so far through personal donations, bonuses from Brad's work (never has happened before this adoption), the yard sale, and me picking up PRN jobs we have not yet gone into savings.
We don't know where the next $4,150 will come from but, we have placed our worries in God's hands and we will dwell on the "Good News"

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." Matthew 6:34

If you feel led to support our adoption and our dossier going to China remember that we have a paypal account linked on the left of our page.  Donations are tax deductible.  With love and thanks!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


The paperwork binder is growing by the day. Only those who have been down this crazy adoption road can imagine all of the paperwork. Here is a snap shot of the binder. I don't think the photo does it justice.

The contents are:
File of I800 A form and all supporting documents

Homestudy agency application and parent education coursework

Homestudy and supporting documents

S.C. Law Enforcement criminal records check

Adoption agency application (and lots of payment receipts)

Dossier Documents (birth certificates, marriage certificate, letters from employers, family financial profile, physical exams of all family members, passports, family photos and home photos and a letter to China asking their permission to adopt one of their orphans)

Applications and letters asking for loans/grants

We are actually coming to a close on all of the paperwork except for the financial parts. Somehow the inactivity is making the wait harder. I have never been a good waiter and I know God is teaching me something through this quiet period.
He does give small glimmers of hope just to keeps us going. Yesterday we received our fingerprinting appointment which was much sooner than we expected.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quick Update

We have had a lot of thoughtful questions about how we are moving along with the process so I thought I would give a quick update.

Our homestudy is FINALLY completed.  We had a few issues with our social worker completing the write up of the homestudy by the end date we agreed upon.  This added some stress since I left at the end of June to take the kids to FL for all of July. We knew that we had to meet in Greenville to sign the homestudy before leaving for Fl and unfortunately the homestudy was not completed.  Thankfully, our social worker agreed to allow Brad to meet alone with her and I was able to sign the homestudy through fax.  This delay added a bit of stress but, in the end all worked out just fine. 
The best part of having the homestudy completed is we can now begin applying for grants and loans.  This is key because bills are adding up fast!

Once the homestudy was completed we were able to mail our I-800A form.  This is the form which determines our eligibility to adopt a child from a Hague country.  When that form is approved we will be fingerprinted to check our criminal history.  This is our last step before our dossier is sent to the US consulate and finally the moment we have been waiting CHINA!  At this point our paper work is finally done and we are at the mercy of government officials and our adoption agency to push the papers through as fast as possible.

After almost 4 months of paperwork we are truly antsy to see our daughter's face.  The end is in sight but, our referral day can't come soon enough. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yardsale re-cap

Boy did God show off at our yard sale.  We were blessed beyond belief leading up to the sale.  First, our dear friends the Swistaks offered to host the sale because we knew their neighborhood and street would get more traffic than ours.  However, after seeing how large the sale got, I NEVER would have asked them to host.  They took on so much; deliveries, gathering tables, helping to advertise, setting up before 6am, selling their butts off while helping to wrangle our wild 2 yr old boys and so much more.  Thank you Thank you Swistak family!
We knew the week leading up to the sale that we had about 5 families that would be donating and we thought that was more than enough.  But, as I sit down to write thank you notes I realize that we had close to 20 families that donated their time and their "stuff".  It truly was humbling watching friends and even strangers come together for our cause.
One of the sweetest stories was a little girl who heard our story and decided she wanted to help.  Not only did she donate some of her old clothes, toys and room decor but she set up a beautiful lemonade stand and bake sale.  She was even sweet enough to let the little kids help out.

So if this isn't evidence enough that God was part of the is where we were blown away.  We needed $1250 to pay the adoption agency the week after the sale.  The total raised at the sale alone was $1254.  As one of my friends put was the money for the agency plus a Happy Meal for the kids! 

Here are some of my favorite moments of the day. Thanks Jill for thinking to help take pictures. I never want to forget this day. And, truly thank you to all who made this sale possible.

Just an idea of how much "stuff" was donated

Emi was cracking us up.  She brought binoculars to look for customers.

My sweet and talented friend Jill made these capes to sell.  Alekzander and Brooks made great marketing tools.

Marybeth had fun trying on all of the clothes! I think she might have bought as much as she donated ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012


We have been abundantly blessed by donations for our upcoming fundraising yard sale.  Please join us on Saturday for a fun morning of shopping as we work to move one step closer to bringing our baby home.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Lately we have been getting a lot of questions about the adoption.  Here are some FAQ's and the best answers I can give.

1.  Where are you in the process?
We have completed our home study visits (4) and the paperwork involved in that (obtaining originals of birth certificates, marriage certificate, all family had medical exams and blood work, pet vet records, letters of reference, employment verification, criminal background checks, child abuse clearances for all states lived in).  I am sure I am missing some of the paper work stuff.  There is A LOT!  The home study involved interviews with us about our marriage, parenting styles as well as separate interviews that looked at our past.  Kyrie also had a simple interview of her own.  The social worker also took notes as she walked around our home.  Once the home study is written up (hopefully very soon) we will drive to our agency in Greenville SC to review it and it will be sent to our adoption agency in Portland, OR.

We are currently working on our Dossier.  This is what we send to China that is basically our family profile.  It includes all of the home study paperwork plus some more including family photos and home photos and passport info.  Once the Dossier is sent to China we can become LID which means Locked in Dossier.  At that point a larger number of children are available for us to be matched with.  Because Brooks is so young we have decided to go this route rather than be matched with an older waiting child.  We want to maintain birth order.

2.  Are you sure you are adopting a girl?
Yes, although I do not have a strong preference either way, Brad and Kyrie do.  Now that we have planned and imagined having another girl, I couldn't picture it any other way.

3.  Will you have to travel?
Yes, we will travel to China for about 2 weeks.  The kids will be cared for at home by their grandparents.  The two weeks are spent seeing sights and learning about the culture as well as having medical exams, completing paperwork and maintaining a visa for our new daughter.

4.  When do you think you will have her?
There is no exact science to figuring it out but, we are assuming next spring.  We will know more once we are matched with a baby and our dossier is in China.

5.  Why are you adopting?
My first blog entry explains this very well.  It's truly a calling from God.  We chose China for a number of reasons. First and foremost, after prayer it felt like the right decision.  In addition is a rather short process, there is a huge need and China is one of the only countries where 1 travel is required.

6.  Besides the normal delays of being in an orphanage will there be anything else medically wrong?
We are adopting through the waiting child program.  All of these children have some type of special need.  We have met with our social worker and adoption agency to discuss what type of need we feel we can handle as a family. 

Okay, those are most of the FAQ's we get.  I will add to them as we get them.  Don't be afraid to ask.  We love questions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bring on the Dossier

I have struggled with whether or not to post about this because it's quite personal but, I do want to be real during the whole process.  I don't want to just post our struggles but our triumphs as well.  We will count today a blessing and a true gift.  Brad received a bonus from work that is almost exactly the amount we needed to move onto the dossier portion of our adoption.  We gave payment today so let's bring on the Dossier! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Check out our story

Wild Olive Tees has featured us on their blog.  Check it out here.

Don't forget that if you want to order a tee to support us you must use Code: SUND513.  Thanks!!!

Here is Ashley with her "Transform your Mind" shirt

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wild Olive Tees

We applied to be a part of a wonderful fundraiser called Wild Olive tees.  This company was started by three adoptive moms who wanted to help offset the cost of adoption for other families.  They produce beautiful inspirational t-shirts for women and children.  Tees must be purchased through the Adoption Fundraiser portion of the website and you must use our family code of SUND513 for us to receive credit. To view the numerous styles offered on the Wild Olive website and order a shirt click the Wild Olive button to the left of our blog.  We hope you love the t-shirts as much as we do.  Nothing will make us happier than seeing our loved ones around town wearing their shirts in honor of our child.  If you do end up buying a shirt please send us a picture of you wearing it so we can post it on the blog. 
Happy shopping!

**side note: we have asked the team at wild olive if a few of the styles could be considered unisex if ordered in the non-fitted style.  We will update when we get an answer.

This shirt is no longer available as an adoption fundraising shirt :(
There are many other beautiful styles available on the website that you can choose from.  We will update the blog with more pictures when our shirts arrive.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homestudy: a step forward and a moment to pause

Our social worker, who I loved thank goodness, came to our home yesterday for our homestudy.  It went really well and was much less stressful than I anticipated.  (On a quick side note: I do believe in spiritual warfare and I do believe that the stomach virus and bout of vomiting I had the night before was from the devil himself.  He was not allowed to sabotage the homestudy and it went on).  The social worker looked around our home, wrote notes about where the baby will sleep, made sure we had fire extinguishers and spent about two hours interviewing us.  When she walked in the house the kids greeted her with smiles.  When she asked their names Brooks slyly said "my name B-ster Boo".  To which I quickly looked at Brad and said, "We really need to teach him his real name."  The social worker interviewed Kyrie separately to ask her age appropriate questions about our home life.  We were in the other room the whole time but did hear Kyrie tell the social worker that she really wants a baby sister but Brooks doesn't because he's "a boy".  I actually think that part is true.  Brooks might have a really hard time with this.  He loves being the baby of the family. 

After the social worker left we started talking about all of the paper work we still have to fill out for the homestudy (medical exams for all, pet vaccine records which means actually taking the cats to the vet, and letters of recommendation).  In addition to that we have to pay our remaining homestudy fees.  We also just sent 50 more pages of forms to the adoption agency and owe them another large amount of money.  As we were talking we decided finishing the homestudy is our priority.  That has to be finished for us to apply for grants or low interest loans.  So at this point we are going to push pause on the agency moving our paperwork forward to the dossier process.  We will finish our homestudy and apply for financial help then move forward.  I think that since we haven't yet been matched or seen our child's face it makes this decision easier.  It should only set us back 3-4 weeks but, in the adoption world 3-4 weeks seems like a long time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fundraising Yard Sale

The thought of beginning this adoption is so exciting to us however, the fear of finances is truly testing our faith.  After we had Kyrie we decided that we would go down to one income with a little help from part time work from me.  This has resulted in tremendous cut backs and financial sacrifices for our family.  We live on a strict budget and don't allow ourselves many "extras".  We know we have been called to this adoption but, we aren't quite sure how financially we will make it happen. 
God is proving that he is bigger than our doubts.  Since we sent in over $6,000 in initial costs for our homestudy and adoption agency fees I have received 2 different phone calls from past employers asking me to cover long-term leaves this summer.  Thankfully, we have a wonderful sitter who is willing to step in and help with the kids so I can make some extra adoption money.
In addition, we plan to set up some fundraisers throughout our journey.

Our first fundraiser will be a yard sale on Saturday June 16th from 7:30-12:00.   Our dear friends the Swistaks have offered their yard to host the sale.  Currently, we are looking for donation items to sell and anyone who is willing or able to help with setting up the morning of the sale.  Please pass this along to any friends.  We are able to pick up items before the sale if needed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So...why a blog?

The thought of a blog is honestly very daunting.  One of my least favorite tasks is uploading photos.  However, this blog will be instrumental in keeping our friends and family up to date with this whole process.  We will post information as we move through our homestudy, paper work, various approvals as well as when we are in China.  While we are waiting to bring our daughter home we will use the blog to update prayer requests as well as fundraising opportunities)  Adoption is expensive, emotionally taxing and overwhelming.  We are like most others, we hate asking for money or any type of assistance for that matter.  However, we truly feel like this is a call from God and he will provide in larger ways than we could ever imagine. is our first official blog picture.  Kyrie was so excited to mail our homestudy applications and fees yesterday.  She knows she is going to have a little sister from China and can't wait.  In addition to having our homestudy underway we also have chosen an adoption agency.  At this point that agency is reviewing our profile and searching for the daughter that will best fit our family.  The day after the agency received our information we read their newest blog entry.  It said, "Our China Director is currently visiting Changsha #1 Social Welfare Institute, where we are starting our newest partnership program with the orphanage. She has been sending us the cutest pictures of the children there! Those of you who have just applied or are applying are in for a treat once we get those files! Time to get those dossiers done to be eligible for these cuties."  We can't wait to see our cutie's face!!!  I felt like that blog entry was speaking right to our family.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We are adopting!

     It's hard to know where to begin writing this blog or even this post for that matter.  Our journey to adoption began many years ago.  As a child I (Caitlin) would beg my parents to bring home an orphan or to be foster parents.  I believe God planted this seed in my heart long ago as he knew I would need time to nurture it until he was ready to begin this journey in my life.  With the constant thoughts of orphans running through my head I chose to write my Master's thesis on the deprivation that occurs in childrens' sensory systems when they are confined to an orphanage during critical years of development.  Fast forward 10 years from the time the seed was first planted to where Brad and I find ourselves having difficulty conceiving a child.  We choose to attend a local adoption fair and begin researching our options.  We were both fully open to what God may have in his plan for us beginning a family.  Just a month later we conceive our precious daughter Kyrie.  Two years later Brooks enters the world and we feel overwhelmed with parenthood.  I grieved the loss of my desire to adopt.  I remember confessing this to friends at our church life group but, feeling that maybe God was just giving me a time of rest.  Sure enough just before Brooks turned two my heart for adoption came back stronger than ever.  Brad and I talked over the next few months and began planning and praying about how to make this happen.   
     I will never take for granted that I have a supportive and Godly husband who fully supports this journey.  He truly believes that although God first planted this seed of desire in my heart, however God has done amazing things in Brad's heart as well.  When I find myself in a place of doubt, frustration or simply feeling overwhelmed Brad is the first to reassure me that God has already hand picked our daughter who is waiting on the other side of the world.  He is going into this journey with such a sense of peace and trust that I find myself in awe. 
    To those that are reading this we thank you in advance for your prayers, love and support.  Although we have not yet seen her face, we know there is a beautiful gift waiting for us.