Sunday, December 31, 2006

Maybe Wednesday...

A little birdie told us that we may see our referral on Wednesday! I would say its a 50/50 chance at this point.
We'll keep you posted, we are in major nesting mode around here!
Happy New Year!
Dena

Friday, December 29, 2006

Referral coming in 2007!

Surely I am safe in saying we will receive our referral in 2007! Seeing as we absolutely have to be next, and it has been 31 days since the last referrals came out, and the average time b/t referrals has been 30 days for the last year. We have heard that the matches have been made, but not sent yet. That means that somewhere between here and China there is a folder with our name on it, and attached to it, is a picture and information about our daughter! Somewhere in China she is probably getting ready to wake up. We pray today there is someone to hold her, feed her, smile at her, and look into her eyes.
We should get her information sometime next week or the week after that. We promise to share it as soon as we get it. We can't wait!
Dena

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas from the CCAA!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas, we sure are! Hunter is on a nature walk with Mama Linda, Scott and Roman are at Home Depot getting what they need for their projects (Big Hurray!), Ella is playing with her Christmas toys, could it get any better?
Still waiting to hear news from China. Everyone was watching a package that was arriving at the agencies today, turns out it was a Christmas card! There are so many comments I want to make, but don't b/c I live with this fear that the CCAA(China Center for Adoption) reads our website, and we'll be denied the chance to adopt based on some idiotic comment I make. So I smile and type nice, positive thoughts!
Will our referral arrive in 2006?
I'll keep everyone posted.
Thank you to everyone who is waiting with us, it makes it much more bearable and fun!
Dena

Friday, December 22, 2006

Waiting, not so patiently

Well, after a bunch of hubub about referrals possibly being on the way, today we found out that instead the agencies received the official new rules for those adopting from China. There have been a lot of news reports about it in the last few days. The new rules will disqualify quite a few people who want to adopt.
So, no referral before Christmas for us. The great news is that Scott's fingerprints cleared on Wednesday, which gets us one step closer to getting that form we need to be able to bring baby home. Praying she is warm, fed, and loved tonight...really "missing" her, if that is possible.

Maybe next week or the week after that we'll have some real news to share!

Merry Christmas!
Dena

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Have you seen this child?

Almost a year ago Scott and I had the privilege of hearing Tom Davis, author of Fields of the Fatherless speak. His book takes a biblical look at God's heart for the fatherless and for children. During his talk he told the story of a famous pastor friend of his, whose wife's heart had been awakened to the needs of orphans around the world. The pastor had been listening to her quote statistics about the 140 million orphans worldwide and bible verses that clearly show God's tender heart for orphans and His desire and command for His people to act on their behalf. While this pastor agreed in his head that the church should take a more active role, it did not reach his heart fully until one day when he was going through his mail at home. He was going through the junk mail over the trashcan when one of those white cards with a missing child's photo on it floated down and landed on the floor. As he reached down to pick it up so he could throw it away, he looked into the face of the child on the card, and for a moment, pictured his own child's face on that card under the words "Have you seen this child?". Immediately his heart began to race and he could feel the tears forming in his eyes. He thought about what lengths he would go to if one of his children went missing. He said that in that moment God spoke deeply to his heart and said, "each one of those orphans is a child of mine, I know them by name and not only do I recognize their faces, but I formed each one".
Psalm 68:5 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
Love this song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSV5xW-NLu8&eurl

No word on when we might see the face of our little one. I will let you know!
Dena

Friday, December 15, 2006

Temporary Insanity

I'm an idiot. We are in desperate need of the USCIS to process our paperwork quickly, heck we are in desperate need of them to allow Scott to get his fingerprints taken, and I have publicly offended them in a most despicable way. Our only hope is that the dear people at the USCIS have no access to a computer and have better things to do with their time than read adoption blogs. Enough said.
I plead temporary insanity caused by extreme conditions, which I will not go into here. (read the next post if you really have to know)
So, to the USCIS, please forgive me, accept my sincere apology, and while you're at it, accept my husband's fingerprints. Did I mention that he has already been fingerprinted this year in relation to security clearance for his job, and those fingerprints go to the FBI, just like these fingerprints go to the FBI. Apparently the FBI has not learned how to share.
Great, now I'm offending the FBI. I better stop now.

Are you ready for a rumor?
2 agencies are saying we may see referrals BEFORE Christmas! Here we go!!!

Dena

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"The Secret of Our Success" from the USCIS handbook

So, last week was spent gathering our paperwork, AGAIN, so we would appear to be the perfectly perfect, organized, caring adults that are just perfect to adopt a baby for our social worker, who spent Saturday afternoon at our house updating our homestudy. All went well I suppose as we were deemed "acceptable" (teachers, don't read too much into that, in social worker terms that translates to Exemplary!).
We had to do all of this as a part of what our government is requiring us to do all over AGAIN, which is pay them a bunch of money to get a form called the I171-H, which is our ticket to bring our baby home. Our first perfectly good I171-H will expire in February before our adoption will most likely take place. So as a part of getting this form, we had to go to the armpit of Dallas to get REfingerprinted, because as I'm sure everyone knows, fingerprints expire. If only I would have had my camera. I wish each of you could get a true sense of this 50' x 14' holding cell our government affectionately refers to as the USCIS - US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Believe me when I say they take the services part of that very lightly.

Picture row after row of brown faces packed in like sardines, and then there was us. I think I blended in beautifully, while Scott stuck out like a Baptist grandma at a Def Leppard concert.
By the third hour of watching all of the 'hustle and bustle' - not - we were getting loopy. I had the ultimate inappropriate laughing episode as I sat cramed between all of these eerily quiet strangers. Yes, tears streaming down my face, mascara down to my chin, couldn't speak, mouth foaming, laughing episode. The last time I recall this happening was during a staff meeting at Big Springs. I'm sure it has some psychological origin that I don't want to know about, but there it was. It all began as Scott and I imagined what must be the USCIS handbook for employees. Based on what we witnessed, here it is:


Secrets of Success at the USCIS
1. Minimum requirement for employment - must have worked at the Hobby Lobby return desk for at least 10 years with no less than a 99.5% dissatisfaction rate among customers.
2. The "security guard" at the front door must NOT, under any circumstances reveal their gender. This will give the patrons something they have to try and figure out on their own, and should occupy them for a good 3 out of the 4 hours they will sit in "the chairs", aka Holding Tank #1.
3. Holding Tank #1 must remain at 59.5 degrees F. at all times. Comfortable patrons make for demanding patrons.
4. Absolutely NO Cell phones allowed on the premises. USCIS will employ a full time employee whose sole purpose is to confiscate all cell phones whether on or off. Cell phones are a symbol of modern convenience and may remind the patron that it is not 1905. The patron may demand a higher quality of service which cannot be tolerated.
5. When choosing a paint color for your USCIS building, make sure it coordinates well with bullet holes, urine splatter, and the contents of the patron's noses.
6. Upon entering the USCIS building, each patron will receive a square of toilet paper in case of an emergency. An emergency is defined as having to use the only 'bathroom'. The word 'bathroom' should be translated very loosely. Patrons with a poor attitude should receive the squares which are slightly moistened, or gently used.
7. Absolutely no fraternizing with the patrons as they are moved from Holding Tank #1 to Holding Tank #2. The patrons may burst into a spontaneous smile as you call #402, for example, as they may have been waiting for hours to hear their number. Any sign that you are a human, and are the least bit happy for them will result in an immediate suspension of the employee's right to watch Judge Judy as they 'work'.
8. As patrons scoot from chair to chair in Holding Tanks #2, #3, and #4, make every effort as not to appear to be rushing them through. Patrons like to think you are t a k i n g y o u r o w n
s w e e t t i m e.
9. Incontinent patrons are to be treated with kindness and respect. It may embarrass them if you remove the upholstered chair they were sitting in when their episode occured.


So there it is. If any of you run your own business or are in management positions, feel free to use any of the above to improve your company's bottom line and reputation for customer service.
And here's the kicker, Scott sliced his thumb print with a knife doing Christmas lights (shocking, I know) and they would not even allow him to have his fingerprints taken. He has to go back next Wednesday!
Oh the joy!
Dena

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baby, its ccccold outside!

What a day! Both kids were home early by 12:45 today because of the weather. By then I'd had time to let the news of the morning sink in. Thank you so much to everyone who let us know you were thinking of us, it really makes a difference.
Have you ever tried to work out while you are crying? It's not easy. I am determined to use this month to get in better shape and stock up on my sleep, if that's possible. So after I got home from taking Ella to school this morning I got on the stairmaster and all of the emotion of the last few weeks just came pouring out. I was due for a thawing out, so that didn't surprise me. What surprised me was the feelings that caused the tears to fall. It wasn't that we'd missed the cut-off by 1 day, or all of the trials and tribulations of this process. It was a feeling of sheer gratitude. Through all of this process, even though it is very difficult at times, I am just so grateful that we get to be a part of it. I don't believe I could ever explain it if I tried, but it has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. My heart is full.
And we are next! Hang on, sweet girl...
Dena

ONE. DAY. PEOPLE.

Not sure if we should laugh or cry, but after 6 months of paperchasing and almost 15 months of just waiting, we have officially missed this month's cut-off by ONE DAY. The CCAA website was updated sometime during the night saying they have completed referrals through September 8, 2005. I was a lot sadder than I expected when I first read this, but now have moved on to being glad that we know we will be next. Scott at first couldn't believe we'd missed it by one day, but then we realized that this just fits with our entire journey thus far. He said that we can go through this next month, knowing she is alive, probably b/t 6-12 months old, and we can just pray even more for her each day, knowing we are next. The next batch of referrals should arrive the last week in December or the first week in January.

Unfortunately, this means we will for sure have to renew a big portion of paperwork for our government because it will expire on 2-5-07 and we definitely won't be in China by then. This will cost us a little over $1,000 more and some time to get everything redone and to have the social worker come AGAIN to our house to see we haven't killed anyone or broken the law since our last visit. So while everyone else is praying for snow to fall from our skies this morning, we're praying for dollar bills! Another big bummer $ wise is that because our adoption will not be complete in 2006, we will not be eligible for the $10,000 adoption tax credit on our income taxes until 2008. We were really counting on this money to offset some of the costs and never dreamed we wouldn't complete the adoption in 2006. The good part about the wait is that both Scott and I have really grown in our walk with the Lord and truly know in our heart of hearts that He really will make a way.

The other day we were reading Exodus 33:11-19 where Moses is asking God for details concerning how this plan of Moses leading the people is going to work. Moses says, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." v. 15 How many times we have prayed that prayer concerning our adoption, and every time, in some way, God speaks to our hearts and reassures us just like he did for Moses. God does not answer Moses' request for specifics, but answers in v.14 "The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."" I love how Moses responds in verse 18 "Now, show me your glory!" To me, it's like him saying, "okay, if you're with me, let's do this thing - SHOW ME YOUR GLORY!".

In anticipation,
Dena

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And it's come down to this...

Nothing for sure yet, but from all we know at this point it appears we will miss the cut-off by 1 day this time. We'll probably know for sure tonight or tomorrow. We'll post when we know.
Thanks for riding this ride with us.
Dena

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Could our baby be flying over the Atlantic???

Word is that referrals were sent Tuesday China time which would've been while we were sleeping last night. Is ours on that plane? Someone sedate me until we know!
Dena

Adoption: Not for the Faint of Heart

Today is crazy. I am feeling crazy. We are pretty sure people logged-in through 9-7-05 will get a referral. Beyond that, know one knows. We are 9-9-05. Will we see her face this week or have to wait till January? Only the CCAA and the Lord seem to know. Every month I feel bad for the people who are on the "cusp", left wondering if they will be included. And the people who miss the cut-off by one or two days. Well here we are.
Maybe we're in for a big surprise!
We'll keep you posted.
Dena

Monday, November 27, 2006

Big News At Our House!

Not the big news I was hoping for, but its got Scott glued to the computer...Bama fired their coach. I was feeling sorry for the coach until I found out that he's getting paid 4 million to not coach the team. Now that's the kind of firing I could handle.
On the adoption front, the early rumors of all of September getting a referral seem to be disappearing as people with a Sept. 12th log-in date are being told they will not get one this time. We are Sept. 9th, so there is still a chance for us, but we are not holding our breath! We'll post as soon as we know something.
Dena

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fasten Your Seatbelts!

Every month we go through the same cycle. Towards the end of the month we start hearing rumors about who will be included in this month's referrals. The rumors come from different agencies who have connections with the CCAA(China Center for Adoption Affairs). Our agency stays mute up until the day they make the calls that your referral has arrived. The referral includes pictures of the baby you've been matched with and all of their medical information and history. When you receive a referral is based on when your paperwork was logged in at the CCAA. We were logged in on 9-9-05. There have been absolutely no rumors until this morning. Now 3 agencies are saying that most or all of September will be matched this time, at the end of November or beginning of December.
That would include us! This would be a major speed up compared to what they have been doing the past year, so it's kind of hard to believe at this point. Click here to see the Rumor Queen site where the information comes from. It feels funny to have been waiting so long and now feel like it has snuck up on us! Remember, this is a roller coaster and there will probably be many twists and turns before the end of the month. We can't help ourselves, we are excited!
I've had many people ask me how to leave a comment. You just click on the "comments" word at the bottom of the post and then write your comment and click "anonymous" if you don't have a blogger account. I think that will allow you to comment without logging in to blogger.
Dena

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving ya'll!




Having kids makes every holiday exciting. Hunter and Ella have been playing "The first Thanksgiving" for the last few days. They both made pilgrim and Indian costumes at school, so they dress up and act out their version of what happened "a long, long time ago - like 50 years ago" according to Ella. They seem to be a little confused on some of the details, but get the main ideas. Overheard at our house this morning:
H (the pilgrim): "Hello Dancing Paintbrush" (Ella's Indian name)
E (the Indian, aka Dancing Paintbrush"): Hello pilgrim.
H: "Well, we've been on the Mayflower for a very long time and need something to eat."
E: "OK, let's go kill a buffalo."
H: "OK, I'll help you carry it."
E: "Mmmm, this buffalo is good, it tastes like turkey."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Details

If you are reading this post, I will assume you already know our family and know that we are in the process of adopting a baby from China. Just to get everyone up to speed as to where we are in the process, I thought I'd give you a rundown of where we've been and what we expect in the next few months.

Two and a half years ago, we began seriously discussing the possibility of adopting. After much research, prayer, and talking to others who had adopted, we said "yes" to this incredible calling and in Nov. of 2004, sent in our application to adopt from China. At the time we thought we could be home with our baby by Christmas of 2005 - Ha! Well, it took us until August 26, 2005 to get all of our paperwork completed, signed, notarized, notarized again, approved by our government, and in the hands of the CCAA (the China Center for Adoption . At that time the wait to receive a referral was 6 months from the time you were logged in. We were logged in on September 9, 2005. (LID 9/9/05)

So we expected a referral, which includes pictures and medical information on the baby you have been carefully matched with, in March of 2006. That would have us traveling to China in May of 2006. Well, we have now been "logged in" exactly 14 months.

If you've just now started following our journey, count yourself blessed! You are getting in on the good part. The ups and downs, twists and turns have been trying at times, but I can honestly look at it all now and say I think the timing will turn out to be a blessing for our family. This extra time has given H & E extra time to grow and mature. They are so excited about having a little sister! E has nicknamed her "Snowflake" for some reason.

God has used this time to prepare us for what is ahead, and it has been a precious time in our lives. I know that God knows her name and where she is at this very moment, and we will hold her at just the right time. We have requested a girl, as young as possible (could mean b/t 6-12 months old or older). People with LID's through 8/25/05 have been given referrals, so there is a chance we could receive ours next time, or in January. Referrals come out roughly once a month and are expected at the end of November or beginning of December. However, if we've learned anything from this process, it's to expect the unexpected. Stay tuned!

The heart of the matter

Welcome to our family's journey! It is difficult to put into words what this adoption experience has been like for us. Our hearts have been forever changed. God has used this tiny being who we don't even know yet as a means of His grace to us, deepening our faith and strengthening our connection with each other.

It is not as though this adoption journey can be put on a shelf as one part of our lives. God has used it to open our eyes and hearts to Him in a way that I really could not have ever imagined. It has changed the way we pray, the way we see others, the way we spend our money, what we value, the way we see ourselves. For those familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, this has been our Narnia. The Lord has chosen to use this experience to awaken our hearts to His tender heart for orphans and to the reality of His kingdom.

Just like Narnia, it was there all along, but not until we walked through that door did we begin to see more deeply the wonder and beauty of our God, who calls Himself "a father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5-6), a defender of the fatherless (Psalm 10:18), helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14).

As we began to uncover all the the Lord has to say about caring for the fatherless, I just couldn't believe what I was reading. I had never heard a sermon preached about it, or maybe I just skipped that day, I don't know, but we were blown away with seeing over and over and over again, God aligning Himself with the fatherless and calling His people to defend, care for, and protect them. I started writing down every reference I could find concerning God's heart for the fatherless and His commandments concerning them, and I now have 3 pages of references.

All that to say, though the road has been bumpy at times, we cannot wait to hold our sweet baby, and give her a family who wants her and loves her. We are in awe that God has not given up on us, and we will not give up on her.

Thank you to all of our friends and family who have prayed with us and for us during this time, and continue to encourage us on this faith journey. As disappointing as it has been to see the wait climb just as we entered the process, the blessings in our wait continue to amaze us. We ask, most of all, for your continued prayers for our baby's safety, health and care. We pray that her caregivers have the resources and time to hold her and love her until we can.

We look forward to introducing you to our new family member sometime between December and February. In the meantime, we invite you to join us here for all of the latest details.