Sunday, July 31, 2011

I800 Approval!!

We finally have it!  After much difficulty and major stress we finally got our I800 approval. We had to threaten to get our Senator involved to get things done.  I could go into all the details but suffice it to say we had the stereo typical government experience.  Funny thing, we did end up getting our senator's office involved. They have been fantastic! If all goes well we may have our Article 5 by the end of next week.

For those that don't know the process we have to submit for approval for the children to come to the US.  That is the I800 process.  Once that is issued the approval is sent to the National Visa Center or NVC.  They typically take a week or so to cable or email the consulate in China a letter that gives them the go ahead to process our case.  Our agency submits another form to the consulate with a copy of the same letter from the NVC. Exactly 2 weeks later the Article 5 is picked up from the consulate and mailed to the Chinese government for travel approval or TA.  TA's are taking anywhere from 2-6 weeks to get.  We then can book flights and leave for China no less than 2 weeks from receipt of our TA. 

Now, in getting our senator's office involved we may have sped this process up by quite a bit.  Our liaison at the senator's office is being so good and may help us to make up for a little time that has been lost over the last 10 months of struggle. This is all in hopes that we can travel in September.  If the TA doesn't come in time then we will have to go in October or November.  October is not an option because the Chinese government as well as the consulate are closed the first week of October then the last 3 weeks is the international trade show.  The trade show pushes all the travel prices up so the cost would be too much.  The biggest reason we can't go in October is for Olivia.  We will be eligible to have her adoption finalized mid October and I can not send a message to her that these children are more important than she is.  She deserves far better than that.  I want her to know that she is loved beyond anything she has ever experienced before and we will make whatever sacrafice is needed to show her that.  To put travel off until November would be a very BIG sacrifice.

I have a favor to ask everyone.  Please put us in your prayers.  We are expecting a miracle and need all the power we can get.  We feel that September is when we are to go to China.  But many things still need to happen and so many obstacles could be put in our way.  We are hopeful and exercising faith and works to get this done.  When this happens there will be no denying that the Lord is in charge and he is God.  What a testimony this will be to any who know international adoption, including someone at our agency that has not been real positive the last couple of days. Everyone will see that there is a greater force out there that goes beyond mortals.  I am excited to see this miracle come about and to be trusted with such a great testimony of the love of our Father in Heaven.

Gardening and Geysers

In the 25 years that we have been married (Wow, I feel pretty old right now) we have tried all but 2 or 3 years to grow a garden.  One of those years we did pretty well.  I give all the credit to the homeowners that had prepared the soil over the years and we just hung onto their coat tails.  Now the rest of our gardens have been pretty dismal.  This year we decided to really go for it.  We moved our garden plot and spent hours bringing in horse manure adding nitrogen and tilling it all in.  This was all during a very wet cold spring.  We got the whole family out and created furrows, planted and made an irrigation system.  All the while the whole world around us was out watching soccer games, playing, shopping and seemingly having fun.  We just kept telling ourselves that it would all be worth it.

We are now many more hours and a couple of months later.  I had lost all motivation and hope that we would get anything out of our garden.  I have been so discouraged.  We did have potatoes and sunflowers come up pretty well.  The rest of the garden however, is terrible.  I bought fertilizer two weeks ago and never put it on because I was feeling like "what's the use".  I sent all the kids out this morning and we weeded and buried the potatoes again.  In the weeds that seem to love this ground we found a few plants that are still holding on.  There isn't a lot of time left in the season to get much but I did gain a little hope today and plan to fertilize tomorrow.

I hope that the 60 Raspberry plants, 7 grape vines and 11 fruit trees that we planted this year all survive and grow.  Our soil really can't be called soil.  It is pure clay with no nutrients.  Somehow the early Pioneers were able to get this dessert to blossom like a rose but they somehow forgot my little section of that dessert.




We did have a a fun respite from planting at the time.  Doug had just hooked up the piping for the irrigation system and was testing it.  All looked good and he turned it off.  As soon as the nozzle closed the pressure in the system blew the main valve and water spewed in the air over 40 feet.  This is the second time that has happened so we just laughed, made a phone call to the city and had fun.  The kids started running through it and putting their heads in the geyser.  The greatest fun was pulling the weeds and throwing them in the water to watch them go up in the air, break apart and fall.  It was a very fun!











Thursday, July 21, 2011

I800 Still up in the Air

We still have not heard anything after the initial contact with our officer at USCIS.  She was going to call us as soon as our package was in her hand or we were to call her if our original package came back.  The copy package was delivered last Monday, 11 days ago and she still has not called.  Our check for the second child has been processed and we left a message for the officer yesterday morning, still nothing.  We have no idea if we will be OK or not.  I would really like to know something about now.

We also were informed yesterday that another paper has to go with our LOA back to China and the agency does not have a signed copy for some reason.  We were just told about this last night and now have to sign one and send it to them.  But according to them we aren't to worry about overnighting it because our LOA won't go back to China for a week or so. . The last time they used the words "or so" it was 12 days later. They received our LOA's back on Saturday, what is going on? I just can't believe how all of our adoption stuff is going.  It has been one thing after another.  I just need to expect more delays where there should be none. The rest of this process should be fairly timely and smooth but I am not holding my breath.  I just might die.

It is not my imagination.  Our best laid plans are falling apart before our very eyes.  If it wasn't for the fact that I put all the official paperwork in Doug's name I would just go to China myself.  At least the kids would be taken care of at home and we would save a lot of money in travel. Doug could even work if I hadn't done this.  I suggested he go by himself and he said no way!  Now I have to rethink everything again.

A word of advice for anyone starting the adoption process, put all paperwork in the woman's name.  It is much safer that way.

I'm obviously not feeling very positive.  Sorry about that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Warnings!!

This is posted by Doug, Deanne's guest blogger who does not make nearly enough posts.....

The mortgage industry is riddled with compliance requirements since the financial mess started a few years ago.  This mindset is probably why I came up with the much needed compliance idea that follows.

Here's the background - yesterday we had some friends (who also had some adopted children) over to visit and while the children were all playing together, Deanne and Jen, the other mom, engaged in the same conversation all adoptive mom's around the world engage in when they are within the same zip code - adoption.  One thing lead to another and they ended up online looking at available, and very cute, Chinese children.  (See actual sample to the left of this post.)  I happened to walk by the computer at that moment and that's when my compliance idea struck.  Orphan websites need to have the following warning. " Warning - this website contains images that may cause financial hardship, emotional distress, and marital discord (if one spouse catches the adoption bug and the other one does not.)  This would protect the unsuspecting and innocent, tender hearted people who unwittingly (or at the hands of another perpetrator) are exposed to this overwhelming influence that can change their life forever. 

In all fairness, there should also be a warning to protect against the other effects of adoption websites.  "Warning - this website may cause your heart to melt, increase your capacities as a parent, and bring more love into your home than you thought possible."

Either way, if the government decides these warnings should added and you choose to ignore them and participate in the dangerous and addictive practice of viewing adoption websites anyway, you will have no one to blame (or thank) but yourself.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

LOA!!!

Woo Hoo!!!!  We finally got our Letter of Acceptance.  This is the official approval from the country offering us the opportunity to adopt our two precious children.  We now have a little better idea of when we will travel.  I already expected we would go in September or October so we still wait to find out.  If some miracles happen we could possibly go in September but it is more probable we go in October.  I am however, a big believer in the power of God.  I know he can do anything he wants so if he desires we go in September it could happen.  I just hope that for once in my life His will and timing match mine.  What would the chances be of that?

On Thursday night Ressa said that I need to stop sitting at the computer and get out and do something.  She offered to even take me shopping.  I felt pretty silly that I was so bound up by the desire to receive this approval that even my kids noticed.  Who am I trying to fool, anyone could have seen it.  Friday I tried not to look at the email.  I had to look a few times in the morning because I assumed the notice would come first thing since China is asleep when we are awake.  Nothing came so I laid off the computer and tried to keep myself busy.  I did things with the kids, weeded, made Marshall fold the clothes :), and made treats for the neighbors.  At almost 4:00pm I checked again and there it was!  I got so excited that I  called Doug and told him I was on my way to print it out and sign so I could send my I800 to the USCIS overnight that day.  I was so caught up that we signed the papers wrong and now I have to call the USCIS officer in the morning and ask her where to send another set of copies that were done right.  I really hope that in all my excitement I didn't completely mess things up.  We even stopped and said a prayer with all the children and Doug before I sealed the envelope asking to be inspired if we had done something wrong in the paperwork.  No stupor of thought or inspiration so we were good to go.  There must be a good reason for this to have happened.  I will choose to just trust in God.  This is all in His timing anyway, right?

I have had someone ask me to post our timeline on the blog. I love looking at others time lines because it gives me a better idea of what we are looking at in our experience.  I will look all our dates up and get them on the sidebar this week.  I should be able to get that done now that I am not sitting in front of the computer all day and night waiting for an email.

Update on Our Son

I just realized that I don't think we announced the names of our new children.  After much searching and fretting over it we chose to go with HYRUM and BRIA.  We chose Hyrum because of the legacy of Hyrum Smith.   Bria was chosen because it means "noble and exalted".  We felt that these children needed names that reflect who they are and what they can become.

Now for the fun news.  We have had a couple of families visit Hyrum's orphanage in the last month and have gotten pictures.  The update today was very good.

He is healthy looking and relatively quiet.  he was walking around with his red truck when we saw him.  The staff were very excited to let us take pictures of him but reluctant to let us take pictures  of the other children (but we did anyway!)  he obviously got your care pictures and they said he loves the toys.  He was picking up the shoes off the floor when the other children were napping a gentley putting their shoes inside the crib between the wooden slats on the rails  (so cute).  He was eating the crackers that we purchased in the chinese grocery and was enjoying them.  The only time he fussed was when my husband tried to pick him up but he was interactive with the staff and responded to their questions when they asked him to repeat some phrases.  I think you found yourselves a cutey and he appears very healthy.

Here is another excerpt from a different family from a week and a half ago.

  He was carrying around the little truck you sent and the nannies brought out the album and showed it to him pointing out you and your husband and saying "mama" and "baba."  I heard him repeat "mama."  I didn't hear him say much more but that was pretty sweet!  Also, there's a blind toddler in a crib near the door and he had a little toy.  He dropped it out of the crib and Hyrum picked it up and handed it back to him, twice!  Heart wrenching, really.  


These updates are a two edged sword.  In one respect the are comforting and help tied us over for a little while but on the other hand it just brings tears to know that our son and daughter are in a orphanage without us to love and hold.




 The most recent family has a daughter from the same orphanage.  The family went back to visit  and brought blankets the daughter made for the children.  The green blanket is from her.


 This picture was taken a week or so ago.  The book that Hyrum is looking at is a picture album that we put together that was sent in a care package for him.  The orphanage director was showing him Mine and Doug's picture. This is when he said "mama".




 This is the little truck that I put in the package.  Both families that have been to the orphanage since the package got there talked about him carrying it around with him.  It was really hard knowing what to send the children.



This is a good picture of where the children spend their days and nights.

We don't have any connections to Bria's orphanage so there are no updates.  We just pray and have faith that the angels are watching over her.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adoption Update

No, there is nothing to tell!!!  I just had to say it.  We are now 3 weeks later than expected to get our Letter of Acceptance to adopt our children.  It has been all consuming and yesterday I had to just resign myself to the probability of traveling in October or November.  That will be a whole year from when we started.  Those who have been in the adoption cycle will understand.  I just can't believe how I have let this take over my thoughts and emotions.  The day before yesterday all I could do is wander the house.  I am getting almost nothing done.  I think I will be more productive when I have two new toddlers to care for than I am right now with my youngest being 5.  I really have to snap out of this.

A Little Time Is All I Need

I had someone ask me the other day if I was doing better with all the changes.  I just need to let everyone know that yes I am!

I had so many things come at me at once that I felt like I was drowning.  Outside of starting a new therapy for three children, getting a new older child, doing an adoption, making a big change in Doug's employment, having a child graduating from high school, the end of the school year with all the programs and field trips parents have to be at, getting some immunizations before going to China, and dental and doctor visits before our insurance ran out, there were other things that would have put me in a tail spin no matter how smooth life was running.  I have been through enough to know that all things do pass.  Even though I would tell myself that I still couldn't  grasp it emotionally.  The good news is, I have adjusted to the new normal.:)  All is well and under control.  We still have a lot of changes that are being made in the family that will make things better. But I am looking forward to most of them.  I have felt strongly that the Lord is guiding us and won't let us fail as long as we are trying.  He is in control and most of the time I'm OK with that.  I do have some things I would like to speed up His process, like an adoption! 

It's amazing how the Lord gives us strength enough to bear our burdens and over time make them light.  Our burdens have not changed but our ability to carry them has increased. I am constantly getting the question "how do you do it?"  Most don't want an answer or they want to hear what the magic trick is.  There is no magic. It all comes line upon line, precept upon precept.  We are given as much as we can handle in challenge and knowledge.  When that is processed we then receive more. I love getting that question though.  It is always keeping me aware of the blessings of the Lord.  I could not or would I take on all of this without His help.  I myself am a weak sinful person.  I have had to rely on God to accomplish all that he has asked of me and am being reminded daily how much more I need to learn.  (Kids are good at that).  I owe all I am and have, including my husband and family, to my Heavenly Father.  I just hope to live up to all that He would ask of me.

 Funny, I'm even at the point that I can say "OK, Lord if you have more children that need us I'm here."  Like I said A little time is all I need.  ;)