Saturday, August 22, 2015

Climbing the Paperwork Mountain

So, a lot of friends and family who have seen our adoption announcement and our huge thank you have been asking where we are in the process. Well, here you go. Welcome to my desk. Anytime I'm not racing cars with Carter, playing dolls with Kate, or preparing for my new preschool class, you'll find me paperwork hell. ;)

I've been told this part of the process is a "weed-out" of sorts. Remember in college when you took those 101 courses in your major that were overwhelming and intended to scare away those who weren't 100% committed to the subject? Yes, well. That's where we are. I've heard many people get to this point in the adoption process and give up because it can be so overwhelming and time-consuming. And I totally get it.

A small sampling of what we have to gather...
-Certified birth certificates
-Certified marriage certificates
-Financial statements
-Four reference letters
-FBI Background clearances
-A hand-drawn floor plan (with dimensions) of our home (EEK)

The list includes about 25 documents similar to this...and that's just for the home study. The dossier is another 20-25 documents, some of which overlap, some of which don't. Fortunately, our agency offers an optional service for "first-timers" where they can do some of the work for you with regards to certifying and notarizing documents, and we firmly believe that's worth every penny. 

 I haven't felt this "adult" in a LONG time.

The other thing we are currently working on is our list of medical needs that we would consider. China has essentially shut down the healthy infant program (unless you want to wait 8+ years for a, no thanks), so they primarily only adopt out children with identified medical needs. Some are fixed in China before they come home, some are not. Some are very minor things, some are very serious. Some children are diagnosed properly in China, some are not. (Medical care in China is not exactly up to par with the US.) Part of the home study process includes researching and identifying which needs you'd consider for your family. 

Can I make a small confession here? This part of the process is absolutely TERRIFYING to me. I think it partly scares me because I already have two kids to care for and our agency has really encouraged us to know our limitations given this child is our third. It partly scares me because I worry the diagnosis could be wrong, but I think what hurts me most is that every time I don't check "yes" to a special need, I know in my heart that means I'm saying "no" to an orphaned child. And man, that stings. 

Friends, can I BEG AND PLEAD for you all to be praying for us as we examine this list? 

I know our God is bigger than any diagnosis, bigger than these financial mountains, bigger than this paperwork...but this part of the process is just riddled with fear. Normal, healthy fear for sure...but fear, none the less. There are so many unknowns, but we continue to move forward in faith that He already knows our story, and He'll carry it through to completion.

Thanks, friends for continuing to pray with us and share our journey.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Number 3's First Gift

I want to preface this post with a warning: Although I'm not technically pregnant, I am anticipating the arrival of another child, so I feel fully entitled to be hormonal and sappy and moody and just be feeling ALL THE FEELS. So, I am no longer going to be held responsible for the sappiness level on this page. Read on if you think you can take it...

Kiddo #3 got his or her first present today. 

My sweet mom met me and Kate for lunch today while our boys were golfing, and she gave me these precious little shirts she found for her new grandson or granddaughter to wear when we are in China. (And NO, we are not adopting two kids...she made sure to get both a pink or a blue since we are not selecting a gender. See my last post for more specifics...) 

When I got home and looked at these little shirts, it hit me that there is a baby on the other side of the world, probably lying completely alone in an orphanage crib, who has no idea that his or her family is already completely in love. These teeny little shirts will be the child's first possession. EVER. He or she will be given to us in China with merely the clothes on his back and anything we send over in a care package. Tonight, as that baby sleeps, there is not a single thing to call his. 

[Oh, hey ugly cry.]

But not anymore. Half a world away, his or her family is already loving and spoiling and praying for that little baby. I cannot wait to show you all that precious little face who I have no doubt will be ROCKIN' this Texas tee next year.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Yesterday, we shared the good news publicly that we have begun the adoption process. The outpouring of love, support, questions, and well wishes literally had me sobbing in the middle of Kohl's like an absolute crazy lady. Carter looked up at me getting teary in the toys section and said, "Mommy, did you get a sad message on your phone?" I told him that no, these were happy tears. He didn't quite grasp that, but he laughed at me and quickly moved on to begging for a Captain America Potato Head. :) Gotta love four year-olds!

A few common questions I wanted to answer that I've already gotten...

1) GENDER: Although China does allow you to select gender, we have chosen not to do so. Until we see that precious face, we won't know the gender of the child we are adopting. We chose to leave that detail up to the Big Guy. 

2) TIMELINE: Our agency has advised us that the process will take a minimum of 12 months, but not likely more than 18, from application to travel. We hope to be traveling next fall or winter to bring our little one home.

3) AGE: We are definitely staying in birth order, so our new addition will be at least a year younger than Kate. We are most likely going to be looking at children in the 6-18 month range. 

4) HOW CAN YOU AFFORD IT?!! Ah, yes. This one makes me laugh the uncomfortable laugh...the short answer? We can't. China adoptions range from $30-35,000 generally speaking, and I'll be frank, we don't just have that sitting around looking for a new home. ;) But, we have been living very frugally for the last few months, I've gotten a part-time job, and we are trusting that God is going to help us move these mountains. We are planning a t-shirt fundraiser that we hope to launch in September or October, and, for now, we have added a Paypal link that you can find under my bio if you feel inclined to donate directly.

Truth? This part of the process is the most icky to me. I absolutely despise talking about just makes me SO uncomfortable. I'm also not one who gives over control easily (UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY), and I'm being forced to let go and trust God here. He brought us to this point now for a reason, and I'm trusting Him to provide. THERE I SAID IT.
And in the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.  

Again, from the bottom of our hearts, we cannot thank you all enough for supporting us and joining us for this journey. It's going to be quite a ride, I'm sure... 
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

We are GROWING through ADOPTION!


Six years ago, Blake and I sat in a premarital counseling session discussing our "Plan B." As in, if we discover we are unable to conceive our own children, what will we do? Without a moment's hesitation, we both agreed we would adopt. Adoption was our unanimous "Plan B."

Yes, well. Less than three months into our marriage, we received the surprise of our lives and learned we wouldn't need a "Plan B." On our first anniversary, our sweet Carter was six weeks old, and we were very quickly blessed again two years later with our beautiful baby girl, Kate. After Kate's birth, we truly felt like we were done. Complete. But, God had other plans for us.

About a year ago, I sat looking at pictures of our little family of four, and I began to realize we had a missing piece. We were not yet complete. Blake began to feel it, too, so we began to talk about how we would grow our family. A third biological child didn't feel right to either of us, so we began to pray about shifting our "Plan B" to "Plan A."

And, in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, did we both hear a very clear, very loud, very definitive YES.

We've spent the last six months pouring over the details - domestic or international, boy or girl, finances, etc - and we are THRILLED (and slightly terrified) to share that we have been approved by our agency's China program and are officially beginning this journey.

We would covet your prayers and look forward to sharing more!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Kate's "Ninnie Nouse" Birthday Party

 Tonight we celebrated our littlest turning TWO! I can't believe it!
Since she doesn't have true "friends" yet, we just had our family over for a backyard swimming party, and my sweet friend, Brandi, passed on to us her daughter's Minnie Mouse 2nd birthday party decorations which were perfect. Kate has been talking about her "Ninnie Nouse" birthday party for WEEKS! :)
 Pre-party photo op. Pardon the little lady's scowl...she was not so pleased to be woken up from her nap early. ;)
I love to decorate the mantle with my kids' baby pictures on their birthdays. It's our own little walk down memory lane.

Another birthday tradition we have around here is the annual chalkboard. I like to write up the child's stats, milestones, favorites, and I always ask the child what he or she wants to be as a grown-up. All I could get out of  Kate was that she'd be a mommy when she was a grown-up. :) Sounds about right!

 We set up the slide to go into the kiddie pool out back. So easy, and the kids were thrilled. :)
 Love these two girls.
 She's not enjoying herself at all.
 Carter, Kensi, and Grant
 Dinner time!
 It's my party, and I'll drink juice with no pants if I want to.
 Sweet brothers.

 Cupcake time!
 Not bad for Duncan Hines. ;)
 The best we could get of all 5 cousins.
We love this girl!
More pool fun after the cake!
We unleashed the beast for the last hour. Poor girl wanted in on the fun!
And she FINALLY showed interest in the ears when the party was over. OF. COURSE. (Insert frustrated emoji.) 

We had so much fun with our super simple party. It was zero stress, super inexpensive, 0% Pinterest, and the kids had an absolute blast. It was exactly what we needed, and such a good reminder that kids don't always need us to make things "magical" and over the top for them. The magic is in being a CHILD, and tonight was such a good reminder for me of that. 

Happy happy birthday (tomorrow) to our big girl! We love you, Kate!

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