Friday, February 25, 2011

Thank You

We are currently trying to wrap up our Home Study. One of the last things we need is our child abuse clearances from South Carolina. We read (on a China adoption forum) about other families waiting 6 weeks or more to get the clearance form back from South Carolina. Waiting that long would hold up our Home Study for a month or more. Chris decided to call the office and see if he could find someone willing to track down our forms and process them. He found a wonderful lady that went very much out of her way to find our forms and process them. Chris sent her the following email and CCed me on it. I couldn't resist sharing it with you all. I think my husband is so great!

I just wanted to follow up with you and thank you for helping us on our journey to get our little girl. Your pleasant and helpful attitude is refreshing. Your willingness to take the time to help a family you have never met and likely won’t this side of heaven has been a blessing to my wife, Amy, and I. Thank you for your promptness. I know you had to track it down, when it sounds like you have plenty of piles of documents to work on. May God grant you joy, efficiency, and perseverance with your workload. Your part may not seem glamorous, but for every day you are able to shorten the process, our little girl will spend one less day of her life in an orphanage. Thank you again for taking time out of your day to help us. Thank you even more for speeding the journey of a special needs orphan waiting somewhere in China for a forever family.

With Respect and a great deal of thanks,
Chris & Amy

Isn't that so great! I hope his email blessed her! This was such a great reminder to me to be thankful for all of the people that play a part in this process, big or small.

So many people have and will help us along the way. I hope to be able to personally thank as many of them as possible. Some people will (and already have) helped us in BIG ways. We have the joy of thanking them - even when words seem inadequate for the gratitude we feel. Sadly, many people will help us that we will never be able to personally thank. Someone right now in China is my baby's primary care giver. We most likely will never meet her to look in her eyes and express our gratitude for the love and care she provided to our daughter when we couldn't. I can only pray that God will bless the many people that we will never be able to thank. Our family appreciates all of the help and work and generosity that has already been poured out on us in this journey. As always, we covet your prayers. We sincerely and humbly thank you for praying for us and for your intercessions on our behalf.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:6

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One Less

This is a great video about Matthew West's song One Less. This is Chase's favorite song and the song he sang to our Social Worker during our home visit last month. ENJOY!!!

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth Has Very Little To Do With a Mouse!

When I was in 6th grade my family took a trip to Disney World. I’ll never forget how wonderful it all was! I anticipated the trip for months! The rides, the characters and the magic of Disney made it a trip I’ll never forget. So, with 3 kids in our house, we were excited to start planning our family trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Shortly after Hailey was born we opened a bank account to start saving for the big trip. Even the boys got into the spirit and would contribute to the fund here and there. We were totally on track to go this coming summer. In fact, in January we set our dates and made all the final plans for our much anticipated trip.

We told the boys and, as you can imagine, they were very excited. We were going during Star Wars days, so Disney AND Star Wars – it was every little boys dream!! Then Travis asked, “Will we already have Mei Mei (Chinese for Little Sister) when we go to Disney World?” I explained to both boys that we wouldn’t. We were going to Disney World during the summer and we would be getting Mei Mei in December or January. This trip would just be the 5 of us. This news didn’t go over well AT ALL. Both boys said they didn’t want to go without their Mei Mei. What? Were they really telling me that they didn’t want to go until they had their new sister? Yes, they were and quite adamantly I might add. I explained that we would have to wait at least a year, possibly longer, to go if they wanted to wait and take their Mei Mei. It didn’t matter to them. Without wavering, they insisted that we postpone our trip. Chris and I were surprised. We know they are excited about this adoption, but it amazed us that they didn’t feel right about making this trip without their sister. A little girl half way around the world, who we have never laid eyes on, had already been woven into their hearts as a sister. Let me just say, only God can do that.

Then Travis said something that left us both speechless… He said, “We don’t want to go to Disney World without our Mei Mei and we want you to use our Disney fund to help pay for the adoption. I know we will get to go to Disney World someday, and it will be so much better if we all can go. Besides, I’d rather you use the Disney money to bring home Mei Mei. It’s so much more important. She’s an orphan. She doesn’t have a mom or a dad and she needs us. She needs us to come and get her as soon as we can.” I looked at Chris and we both had tears running down our checks. I couldn’t speak because of the lump in my throat.

My 7 year old son gets God’s heart for the abandoned more than most adults. I’m so thankful for that boy! With surety, he knows he has a sister that we need to bring home and he would sacrifice all he has to get her to our family. He has been to Guatemala twice, so he has seen what poverty looks like. He has played with kids in an orphanage so he knows what an orphan looks like. Is it easier for him to sacrifice because he has seen great need firsthand? Is it because he is young and less entangled by the unfilling trappings of our world? I don’t know why, but I know I can learn a lot from him. I confess, it is really hard for me to let go of the earthly things that so easily entangle me. It’s hard for me to let go of my “Disney World.” I pray that God will help me to be more like Travis. I want to be able to walk away from the thrills of this world without hesitation when God calls me to something more. I’m such a work in progress.

So, the Disney fund is now part of the adoption fund and the summer 2011 Disney trip is officially cancelled. Travis is right; we will eventually make the trip. Maybe it will be in the summer of 2012, but maybe much later. All I know is that one day we will be at the Magic Kingdom and the most magical thing of all will be how God loves me enough that he has adopted me into his heavenly Kingdom. The Happiest Place on Earth will have very little to do with a mouse and so much more to do with being with my wonderful husband and my FOUR beautiful children (wearing mouse ears).

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably. -Walt Disney

Friday, February 11, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Progress Update - Paperwork

I haven’t disappeared; I’ve just been buried under piles of paperwork. A month ago today we filed our application with our placing agency. This past month has been filled with paperwork paperwork paperwork. We have 3 lists we are working off of. Documents that need to go to our placing agency in California, documents to our Home Study agency here in Texas and documents for our Social Worker so that she can prepare our Home Study.

After filing our initial application packet with our placing agency in California we needed to get started on finding a Social Worker here in Texas to do our Home Study. We found a wonderful lady, Jenna, in the Ft. Worth area. So, we needed to do the necessary paperwork for her agency. Her agency will serve as our Home Study agency and handle the work of writing our Home Study and conducting our initial background checks. So, for them we needed to complete a basic application and provide information so they can do background checks on Chris and I in all the places we have lived since we were 18 (16 different addressed for me and 17 for Chris). No, I’m not kidding. Amazingly, even with 4 years in the Army, we have spent most of our time in the great state of Texas, so that simplifies things some. We are sending off our clearance requests to South Carolina this week and luckily since Korea does not maintain a child abuse registry we are not required to send clearance requests to Korea. Can you even begin to imagine how long that might have taken? Thankfully my list for them is complete!!!

Then we have a list of 32 items we need to send to Jenna for our Home Study. These are items like copies of birth certificates, marriage certificate, 1040s, updated immunization record for our cat, medical physicals for each member of the household, reference letters from friends, certificates showing we have each completed our 10 hours of required adoption education, copies of our floor plan, pictures of our family and home, and autobiographies written by Chris and I. Jenna uses these documents and information she obtains from her home visit to write our Home Study. She came to San Antonio on Jan 29th and 30th to conduct our home visit. She was here for about 2 hours each day. She asked us a lot of questions about each other, our home life, our children, the desire to adopt and the way we intend to raise our adopted child. We also discussed the type of child that we are looking to be matched with and what ages, gender and special needs we are open to considering. She toured our home and made sure we had enough space for another child. She also interviewed Chris and I separately and interviewed the boys together. She was impressed that the boys seemed to have a good grasp of what was going on and both seemed very excited about adopting a new sister. Travis told her we listen to KLOVE (the local Christian radio station) and that is where we got the idea to adopt. That’s not quite right, but sweet. Then Chase told her, “When we get our Mei Mei (little sister in Chinese) from China there will be One Less, One Less, One Less, Broken Heart in the World Tonight.” He sang the words that I put in bold and italics. Those are words from Matthew West’s song about adoption called “One Less.” It is one of Chase’s favorite songs and it shows his sweet understanding of the orphan crisis and how our adoption relates to it. She thought it was very cute and we did too. It’s like we live in a musical around here, just breaking into song midsentence! Overall, the home visits went great. Now she is writing her report and we are getting the last of the documents we need to her. The completed Home Study will be one of the documents that will go to China and it is required to be sent to US Customs and Immigration to begin getting our FBI clearances and approval from the US government to adopt an orphan internationally. So, the Home Study is a big deal and it is nice to see the word “DONE!” next to most of the items on that list! Hopefully in about a month the completed Home study will be traveling to Missouri for our FBI clearances and US Immigration application (i800A) to be approved.

Finally we are working on the list of documents we will need to send to our placing agency for our Dossier (fancy word for the collection of documents that will eventually be sent to China). This list includes birth certificates, marriage certificate, employment verification letters, medical forms, police clearance forms, photos, our completed Home Study and our FBI clearance and US approval to adopt an orphan (i800A). All of these documents will need to notarized, then sent to Austin to be certified by the Secretary of State and then to Houston to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy. THEN, it will we be ready to go to China!

As you can see we are in deep in paperwork. We have made some great progress, but we still have a long way to go. I like what Dory sings in Finding Nemo… Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming… So we are still swimming!!! We are trying to take it one document at a time, one step at a time so we don’t get overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all.

Last week, on the way home from school, Travis was telling me about being nervous to recite something in front of his whole class. Then he said, “It’s kind of silly for me to be nervous about something. I have a verse for that… cast all your anxieties on Him.” Then he said, “I don’t remember where it is in the Bible, but I know it’s there.” I was quite impressed and glad to see that he is relying on the word of God in his daily life. I told him it was okay that he didn’t know where it was exactly, that the important thing is that he knows it’s God’s word and that he can trust that it is true. I explain that it is the very reason we memorize a verse each week so we can hide God’s word in our hearts to help ourselves and others when we need to. Then, out of the blue, Chase says “First Peter 5:7.” And just like that he provides the exact reference to the verse! I was shocked. Each week the boys have to memorize a verse for school. Travis has always been great at this, but Chase struggles with it some. So, I looked back through the calendar and this verse had been one of Travis’ verses four weeks ago (the very week we began this process). It is truly amazing that Chase would remember this! So, I felt like this was a special way for God to reveal a familiar verse to me in a memorable way. So, as we proceed through the lists of required paperwork and anticipate the steps ahead, I’m doing my best to cast my anxieties on the Lord and rest in Him. I’m thankful for his Word and the wonderful ways he chooses to reveal it to us. He is ever present in this process. Even in the mundane and tedious paperwork process, he is never far from us.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7