Thursday, March 8, 2012

Paper Progess!

Well, we have an official "DTC" date (dossier-to-china") of Feb 7th, and an official "LID" (log-in date- when China officially recognizes when our paperwork arrived) of Feb 27th. Now, it should be "about 2 months" until we get approval, and then several other weeks of random paperwork. Making progress!
In other news, we are thrilled that our daughter "won the lottery" for one of our city's best charter schools. Now, all the siblings can also go there in the years to come. We're so relieved to have a schooling option and still stay in the city we love!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

1800a Approval!

Yeah! We got our 1800a approval last week- Jan 26. our fingerprint appt was supposed to be Jan 31, but we went early as a walk in and (prayer answered!) they took us. We submitted our application Dec 21st. So not too bad of a wait! Now we "hurry up and wait" to get our LID (log in date) by finally sending our finished Dossier to China! Nana was nice enough to spend monday running around getting the 800a approval notarized and state authenticated, then to send it off to DC to be State Dept and Embassy authenitcated- A mere 250$ for a piece of paper to receive lots of lovely golden paper seals.
Now, best projected time to go and bring Baby Sister back from China is August. Such a long, hard wait and a broken system- of which there is no easy way over, under around or through.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Bible's adoption directive

On this Martin Luther King Jr day, I like to reflect on the life of a true foot soldier for Christ. Dr King was not just a sit-on -the sidelines kind of Christian. He was a man of action, a man who embraced love as a foundation of Christ's teachings, and a man above all with a deep love for our Lord. His life ended tragically short, but the seeds of Love and tolerance he helped to plant brought real, lasting change to millions of people. I am sure without him, my family would not be the way it is today and our precious son would not be ours. I am very, very grateful God raised up Dr King to deliver His message to the world.

Today I made a frantic night time trip to Fedex to try and get 3 documents for our dossier authenticaed which "expire" on friday. (pass China's 6 month mark). I am praying it will still happen although it's going to be a close call. I'm still waiting for my birth certificate to come from it's state authentications department, and for out 1800a approval. In the meantime, we sent baby sister a recorded Christmas story (a bit late, but better late than never) and a panda toy and some treats for the nannies. We also send a care package for Chinese new year via Red Thread and Ann ,who is wonderful. We took the kids to see a show Shen Yun, an exposition of Chinese culture, music, and culture. At one point, my daughter said "this is soooo relaxing then drifted off to sleep". We are trying to do everything we can to expose them to chinese culture of thier sister and continuie to do so after she arrives home. We had dinner in Chinatown afterwards and explored the shops and back alley ways of this little jewel of Philadelphia. We even discovered a lost kitten living in a column of a Buddist temple, which sent us on a scavenger hunt to find cat food in china town. (we did find some, but my attempts to catch said kitten were met with hissing and spitting so we had to be content to leave food)
I would like to start an adoption/ foster care meet-up through our Church, so I am starting small by doing a series of articles for our church newsletter. here is the first one I've written - I hope you find it interesting!

I love being a mom. I never said my daughter went through the terrible twos, it was the "tremendous" twos. While other parents happily ship the kids off to Grandmas, it was a year before I let my baby spend even one night away from me. Months of blissful - but -ordinary mom-hood passed by, but I felt a critical component of my life was lacking. I had been looking for ways to get involved in my community and serve the Body of Christ. I wanted to not just sit on the sidelines for God, but serve actively. I want to help others in a Christ-directed manner and be a Godly example to my daughter. So, I prayed what my Grandpa John Jones, (who was a Church of God minister) used to say was the Most Dangerous Prayer. "Dear God, Use me to do Your Will". It's a simple enough prayer. It's dangerous, because when you pray this prayer, you may not get the answer you are expecting but you should be ready to listen! I was looking into soup kitchens, teaching English to immigrants, or working at a women's shelter. All wonderful ways to serve Christ, but nothing really gripped me. At the same time, I was feeling that our family was not yet complete. One day, while praying my Most Dangerous Prayer, about 100 scenes of my life flipped by like a vintage silent film, and I saw that so many seemingly meaningless moments in my life had actually laid a foundation, formed me, sent me, and landed me in the moment with what i felt next. I felt as though God was telling me "You will adopt a child. He will be a boy and his name will be Elijah." Just like that. Case closed. Not exactly a 1 hour- per -month commitment I had in mind, but I like to joke when God says jump, we should say "how high?" My next steps in this Journey involved sharing this with my husband, who was happily open to the idea from the beginning. Fast forward through almost a year of paperwork, doctor's appointments, notaries, stamps, social workers, fingerprints, more notaries, more fingerprints, and finally, at 2:11 am 11/11/2009, I opened an email from Rwanda and saw our baby's photo for the first time. I'm sure it goes without saying- he was a boy, and we named him Elijah. He's been an incredible blessing to our entire family since that moment.

What does the Bible have to say about adoption? James 1:27 states "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I love this verse, and it has brought much comfort through the difficult times adoption inevitably brings. ( In fact, this verse was preached on the exact Sunday we were looking to God for guidance on whether or not to pursue adoption of a daughter from China, a story for another day) But the Bible does not just direct us, as the Body of Christ, to look after orphans. In fact, it says we ourselves are adopted by God . " For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 Hec predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— 6 To the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. (Ephesians 1:5-7) None of us are perfect children for God, but He loves us anyway. None of us are blameless like His Son Jesus, but He wants us anyway. He wants us enough to make us HIS children-- to adopt us through Jesus. In God's foundation plan for salvation, adoption plays a very central, critical role. Like an orphan without a father, we don't stand a chance without God. We have no opportunities to grow up loved, no one to encourage us, no one we belong to. It is a story with a tragic ending, just like it is for millions of orphaned children around the world. The power of God's love and adoption through Jesus changes all that for us. It gives us a future, a past, and a direction. It gives us family, both on Earth and in Heaven. I believe that before we talk about earthly adoption, we need to realize how Heavenly adoption has "rescued" us! At another time, I would like to share with you the state of the world's Orphan crisis, both here in the US and across the world. I hope you can see the powerful ways God is calling people all across His creation to literally look after the orphans and widows in distress. It is my hope that Christ's people will not just agree that James 1:27 would be a nice thing (for someone else) to do, but will pray, search, and question what this means to their life. We can look into ways ordinary people can answer this call, while very much realizing not everyone is able to provide direct care for an orphaned child via adoption. There are simple ways to be the hands and feet of Christ which everyone can do, regardless of their particular circumstances in life. I hope you will enjoy learning more about adoption, orphan care, and the critical role we play in fullfilling God's directive to "look after the orphans and widows in their distress".

January 16th, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

paperchasing to China...

So we are still plugging along in the paperchase now, which was difficult at Christmas knowing our daughter is not with us.
We mailed our delaware homestudy to be authenticated on tuesday, and also my CA birth certificate to be authenticated. We got our fingerprints -(This was prayers answered!) almost 3 weeks early by going as walk-ins on Dec 30th for i-800a approval. now we are waiting on approval of the 800a and we have to go get state dept and chinese embassy authentication for the rest of our dossier. The kids make cards and letters to baby sister, and we recoreded a read-aloud book in our voices of the Christmas story for her. we still have yet to decide on a name! maybe we will wait to see her. We are grateful God has decided to lead us down the adoption road again, and hope by march- june we will be growing our family with baby sister!

Monday, October 17, 2011


We had our homestudy tongiht. Kerry, from Madison adoption associates, was very nice and I think it went well. Kids were on good behavior and only 2-3 pets tried to crawl on her lap at any given time. WE also got our "pre approval" letter from China on Oct 16th, basically saying we are "pre approved" to proceed with adoption. Yeah! I also mailed off a care package to baby sister today. Any Ideas for names? We have an "e" theme going on in the family, but are open to anything as long as it doesn't end in "-dyn" or make the top 10 list of most common names. ( since I'm a "jen" most common name the year I was born, I don't want to do the same to my daughter!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

And baby makes 5!

Well friends, it's been awhile since I have updated my blog, partially because after all the "dust settles" on the excitement, stress, wonder, and glory of adoption, life pretty much becomes business as usual. I guess I have not really embraced blogging the "boring" events of daily living. But things are about to become really, really exciting around here again. Let me give a little background on the behind the scenes of the last 6 months or so.

While the first year home with Elijah had it's stresses and challenges, mostly related to bonding, changing family dynamics, and sibling rilvary (albeit mostly friendly) the second year truly has been going well. Kids are both potty trained, getting along well, and as parents our initial struggles with bonding have resulted in deep, true parental love for our son. Things were going great! Ordinary, routine, wonderfully well. And with that, a little thought started to creep into my heart. Quiet at first, and then a little louder week by week. First, I ignored it. Then, I started to venture online again (uh oh). "Your family is not complete. There is a daughter for you waiting." So I started to look at photolisting on, a photolisting focusing on children with special needs. What I quickly discovered is that "special needs" in America means a totally different thing in the realm of adoption. Images of severely disabled children with significant physical and mental handicaps is what I previously had imagined special needs to mean. What I quickly discovered is that something as simple as a cleft lip, long since repaired and healed, qualifies as child as special needs. An extra finger, a cardiac murmur, or lazy eye. Simply being a boy, or of toddler age. Otherwise healthy children, as a result of "special needs label" are being passed over for adoption because most people, including myself, were too afraid to consider them. Education is a wonderful thing. It opened my mind and heart to the possibility of a child with such a label. This is not to ignore the children who do have more significant handicaps or consider them any less in need of a loving, safe family to call their own. Thank God there are people who answer the call to care for these children, but there are many families who are not in a position to take on the huge responsiblity of a special needs children due to their current family situation. But those same families who might not be able to parent a child with more severe disabilites may find they are willing and able to consider a child with the special needs "label" if they learn what that label really means. (So if you've never considered special needs adoption, I urge you to educate yourself and reconsider!!)
After several months of looking at listings, requesting more info, and learning more about special needs adoption programs available, I felt like I had put a boat in on a lazy river, and the rapids were picking up. I sent off for another copy of my birth certificate "just in case". I ordered the background checks for my husband and me. Made medical appointments. Bought- gasp- a binder. Red one at that. (Lucky color in China) The current was getting swifter. Unfortunately, at this point, I was in to boat by myself. My husband was not convinced. I kept praying "God, if you want me to travel this road, you know I can't do it alone. Please change my husband's heart and make him happy about this idea!" The kids were certainly on board. They asked almost daily if we can get another baby brother or sister. (as well as a kitten, but that's another story) They offered to share toys, and t hey offered to share the bunk bed. Months went by. I showed him file after file of precious children needing a family. Each file came and went, being eventually adopted by other families (thank God for that!) File after file, I finally gave up for awhile on the whole idea. But the feeling I had a daughter waiting came back with a vengance. It nagged, it tugged, it preocupied me constantly. I tried again. I prayed again. Finally, I opened a file of a precious little girl with a wry smile. She was 17 months old, from Shanghai, China. She was beautiful beyond words, insanely cute, and by all accounts mentally "smart" and physically healthy, save the fact she is missing her left hand. I scanned her file, and drew a deep breath when I saw her birthday- the same as my mother, who passed when I was 16. I felt a familiar stab of confirmation when God is trying to tell me something. (Coincidently, my daughter was born 8 minutes before the anniversary of my mother's passing) I showed her to my husband, who agreed she was adorable, but stopped short of saying "yes" to proceed. I prayed. A lot. I prayed that if God wanted me to do this, why wouldnt give my husband a willing heart to do the same? I also prayed for confirmation this was HIS will, not the will of me simply wanting a large family. The next moring was Sunday. The new pastor, who is wonderful, started to preach on the first chapter of James. When he got to the 27th verse he read aloud "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. " A shockwave jolted me when he read that, and I tears welled in my eyes. I asked for confirmation this was the path we were supposed to take, and I got it. After service I casually asked BIll if he noticed what verse was read in Church that morning. Without hesititation, he answered he had. oOf all the ones in the Bible, one of the most prominent addressing orphan care was read aloud. That night we discussed the prospect of a daughter, but did not come to a conclusion. In the morning on the table was a note from my beloved, saying that we should proceed. Prayers answered!
I began to jump on the paper chase like a racehorse out of the starting gate. 2 weeks into the paperchase, we are where we were about 4 -5 months into our son's paperchase. Mostly done! Thank God for this, and for prayers to get 100% finisihed asap. This adoption is completely "backwards" from our Son's, since we have a child first, and need to do all the paperwork second. For our son, the last piece of infmation we got was his Photo, and that he was indeed a boy, and he would be Elijah just as I felt God was telling me. In some ways, it makes the paperchase much more personal, but also more difficult because it's not just an anonymous child whose photo I am waiting for, I know her name, who she is, and that the FASTER i finish paperwork the sooner we will get her home. We had started with an adoption agency for our homestudy that I just didn't feel good about from day 1. They were non-responsive, unconcerned about timelines, and to boot the owner had a new BMW suv parked outside. (just sayin') I called another family owner agency, and after a few moments, the social worker said- oh, you're adopting from China special needs program?" ME- yes Her- So am I! Me- REally, how old? Her- 17 months! Me- Us too! What is his special need? Her- He's --missing his left hand---. I couldnt believe it! turns out she also has 2 othre kids same age as mine, and she's only a few months ahead of us in the adoption process. Amazing. I called the other agency and told them to shred my application.
So things have been going great. Please keep us in your prayers for a smooth paperchase, safe travel, and that our precious daugher can heal from a life of institutionalization. Please pray for continued enthusiasm for her adoption with all family members, most of all, that the Glory for adoption always goes to God, who orchestrates it all.

Here's our current timelines
- Tues Sept 27. Baby's file appears in inbox. Start to seriously pray! Family discussions ensue
-Friday - we find out they would need to know by tuesday Oct 4th if we would lock the file or not.
-SUnday- James 1:27
-Monday - More family discussion
-Tuesday-OCT 4th FILE LOCKED JJ went to get fingerprints for Cogent Bill went next day
Thurs oct 6th- 1st visit to madison adoption asosciates to drop off application
Tues oct 11 - get passport photos Get JJ fingerprint results.
Thurs oct 13- second visit to MAA for NJ child abuse clearances. Mail clearances to NJ Get Billl's fingerprint results from state.
Monday Oct 17th Fist homestudy viist scheduled.
To bE cont!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adoption video- finally!

I loved watching adoption day videos when we were in the process of waiting for Elijah's referral, and vowed to make one (some day!) when we adopted our own precious child. So, I'm a little behind but here it is

I hope families who are waiting (and those already home) enjoy this "slice of life" for Elijah's adoption and first year home!

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