Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Our Current Adoption Timeline

Lots of friends have been asking us lately where we are in our adoption process, so I decided I would start a post on our timeline and update it as we meet various milestones. One was met tonight, so it seemed like a fitting time to start this...

February 2015 - Began praying about adoption
April 26, 2015 - Said YES to adoption as a couple
July 30, 2015 - Selected Agency and Country Program
August 10, 2015 - Agency Application
August 11, 2015 - Agency Approval
August 19, 2015 - Home Study Application
November 17, 2015 - HOME STUDY APPROVED!

That's right...major steps, friends! An approved home study begins a sort of domino effect for lots of other paperwork. It is kind of like the initial step needed for MANY, MANY more. With an approved home study, we can now file for immigration approval, apply for grants, and begin to get our dossier documents certified/authenticated. It is a BIG, BIG step, and we are absolutely thrilled to say it is DONE today! Praise be to God!
Thursday, October 22, 2015


"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY." Psalm 126:3

Last night, we sold our 150th shirt. 

You guys.

That's INSANE.

And so, so awesome. Not awesome like cool. Like I am IN AWE.

When I originally set that goal, I intentionally chose a completely unattainable goal. My thought process was that I should choose something unrealistic so that there would always be a "need" to sell more shirts. My "one last chance" post I had all planned for October 30th would say something like, "We are 50 shirts away from our goal...help us get closer!" Yes, well. That post ain't gonna happen because our amazing community crushed the 150 goal with 10 days left in the campaign!

If I haven't said it enough yet, please know how truly humbled Blake and I both are by all of this. When we submitted our adoption application, we had absolutely no idea just how supportive and encouraging our community would be. Truthfully, I was a little bit nervous to share we were adopting because I really didn't know how people would react. If I've learned anything at all in the last three months, it's the incredible humanity that still exists in a culture that rarely shows it. The range of people who have donated to our adoption is staggering. Everyone from childhood friends to former babysitters to co-workers who met me for the first time in August have loved on and supported us, and we are just continually amazed to see just how many people want there to be one less orphan in the world. We have received donations from our pastor, our bosses, and our children's teachers. It has just truly been the coolest thing.

Sweet baby #3, I cannot wait until you are old enough to understand just how many people loved you and prayed for you before they even knew your name. Wherever you are, please know that you are a beloved child of God, and we cannot wait to show you what family means. It doesn't mean blood or biology, precious one. It is much, much more. Family means love, support, and most importantly, family means forever.

Again, we cannot say it enough...thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up: Fallelujah Edition!

At long last, it's finally feels like FALL, y'all!

It's been a while since I did a weekend wrap-up, and although this weekend wasn't super special, I took lots of pictures, so I figured why not do one now?

Saturday morning, we bundled up in our hoodies because it was 60 GLORIOUS DEGREES outside and headed to Carter's soccer game. He scored a goal for the SECOND week in a row! He has been working hard practicing in the back yard, and it showed! Last week's goal was kind of a lucky shot, but this week was actual skill. (If it's possible for a preschooler to have soccer skill...) He got a break away with the ball, dribbled down slowly to the goal, lined it up, and BAM! It was so special to share in his success. He absolutely LIT UP and just beamed with pride. I was terrible and didn't get any good soccer pics, but his excitement was still there a few hours later...

Meanwhile, these two troublemakers ate too many snacks and cheered on their big brothers. ;)

Saturday evening, Blake and I had a much overdue date night. We fed and bathed the kids before we headed out, and this guy insisted on a "bubble head" with the shampoo...love him.

No pics at dinner because Blake still fights me on the selfies (give it up, man...), but I did have to document the dessert. Because LOOK.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for He created THAT. :)

Sunday morning, we headed off to church and then met my in-laws, brother-in-law and niece at their church's fall festival. The kids got face paint, ate burgers, made crafts, and just had a blast together. 

This girl wouldn't hold her face still, but she did get a rainbow painted on her arm. 

And the "scary" dragon...sigh. He tries so hard to be fierce.


These three kiddos just adore each other. :) 

When we got back to my in-laws' house, my niece disappeared upstairs to go "match Kate." Ten minutes later, she reappeared in a matching dress and purple leggings! Too cute! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful week! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five Friday Favorites

Alas, my favorite day of the week. FRIDAY! TGIF! 

(Sidenote: Why are the "short" weeks always really the longest?! This phenomenon still baffles me. Four days this week that felt like ten. Oy.)

There's been a lot going on around here lately, so I thought I'd take a quick second to share a few of my favorite things from the last week...

1) The Pumpkin Village at the Dallas Arboretum

We met a few of our play group friends at the pumpkin village on Monday, and aside from the ENTIRE CITY OF DALLAS joining us for this outing, we had a great time!

 It was next to impossible to get the kids to even look at me at the same time...sigh...but we got a few decent pics and had a great morning! If you are local and get a chance to go, it's great!

 Oh, and TEACHERS...show your ID and you get in free! (My favorite price!)

This little stud muffin wanted a pumpkin to take home, so we brought him home one and he painted "himself" on it. :) Have I mentioned how much I love age four?! It is seriously the sweetest...

2) We are HALFWAY through our t-shirt Booster sales period...

and we have sold nearly 120 shirts, and raised over $2,100! Good.ness. Gracious. Not only did God show up...He's showing off! We feel so blessed to have so many cheerleaders in this process. To those who have bought shirts, shared our link, and donated, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. If you would like to purchase one, there is still time! Click HERE to purchase! 

3) THIS.

I always knew Glennon Melton (Momastery) understood me, but now I'm convinced that she is my soul mate. This poem is everything.

4) Our Social Worker

So, I'm fairly convinced we have the best social worker in the world. She was SO sweet, so down to earth, has adopted grandchildren of her own, and just made our first home study visit quick and painless. I'll admit, I was petrified of this first visit, and I learned very quickly there was absolutely NOTHING about which to be worried. She not only put my mind at ease, but it was very clear that she had LOTS of international adoption experience, and I have no doubt she will be a huge cheerleader for us and a valued resource in the adjustment period once we are home from China. We have another visit next week...and then hopefully, we'll have that step completed and be one step closer to our son or daughter!  

5) These Two...

Okay, okay, sappy moment. Just put on your big girl panties and roll with it for a minute...

These two lately have absolutely stolen my heart. A few months ago, they really started playing TOGETHER...not just side by side, not just in the same room, but truly TOGETHER. They'll play hide and seek, they'll play store, they'll play mommy and baby (stroller pic), and they are actually having FUN together. 

Do they fight and annoy the poop out of each other, too? Of course they do; they're siblings! But they have just truly become friends the last few months, and it has absolutely taken my breath away. Love them SO.

Have a wonderful weekend! XO!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Praises

1) On Saturday afternoon, our sales number on our t-shirt Booster went from 99 to 105. Triple digits, baby! We are THRILLED and humbled. Approaching $1800 raised and counting...and still 20 days to go before it closes!

2) Our amazing pastor, whose sermon on Nehemiah last winter was a major catalyst for us in this whole journey, bought a shirt for himself and his wife. I mean...hey, tears and full-circle moment. You know you've found a solid church home when your pastor supports your adoption fundraiser, am I right?! 

3) We have received several direct donations from our Paypal link (underneath my bio on the right side bar); one of those donations was so generous that it will cover almost all of our immigration costs. You just can't make this stuff up, y'all.

4) All of our dossier paperwork has been shipped to our agency for them to begin notarizing, certifying, and authenticating. Halle-freakin-lujah! I now have TWO POUNDS of documents OFF MY DESK. Talk about a weight lifted! Literally! ;)

And just because it was a serious proud mama moment...

5) This cutie scored his FIRST GOAL in his soccer game yesterday! I was so proud of him! We always make a point to stress that having fun (okay, and not falling down) is the most important thing because, hello, he's FOUR, but it was SO COOL that he scored! Blake may or may not have scared a few people in the crowd with the volume of his cheering. I can neither confirm nor deny it.

And I'm ending today with a prayer request...

We have our first social worker meeting on Wednesday afternoon. I have talked with enough people to know that it's not something to be super nervous about - no white glove dust test or anything - but  I am still nervous about getting the house picked up, clean, and looking at least semi-organized this week while being followed around constantly by my tiny tornadoes sidekicks. Prayers appreciated that she likes the "lived-in" look for families! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

No Place Like Home Fundraiser: One Week Update

I don't even really know where to start with this post. Three months into the biggest leap of faith my husband and I have ever taken, here is where we are...

Our t-shirt fundraiser has been live for one week. 

We have sold 87 shirts.

We have raised nearly $1500.


Our fundraiser doesn't even close for another 3 weeks, and we have already surpassed ALL my expectations for what this little t-shirt could do.

To say I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of support and love we've received from friends, family members, and even total strangers doesn't even scratch the surface of the feelings I have while writing those numbers down.

Some better words that come to mind are shock. Maybe awe. Maybe dumbfounded.

When Blake and I said yes to adoption earlier this year, the control freak in me wanted to have every penny of the process saved before we submitted an application. I was definitely of the belief that if you couldn't afford the process, you shouldn't be adopting. But God continued to stir in both of us over and over that we needed to trust in His provision and move more quickly, before we truly felt "ready" both emotionally and financially. (Sidebar: I don't think anyone ever feels truly "ready" to be a parent, though, am I right? Remember that moment of terror leaving the hospital with your firstborn? Remember the shock that set in when you realized that you were now solely responsible for keeping that eight-pound bundle alive? REMEMBER WHEN THEY SAID THE NURSE HAD TO STAY AT THE HOSPITAL?!!! I don't care how long you've planned for it; there's no such thing as ready when it comes to parenthood.) 

I cannot wait to be a year down the road from now so I can more fully understand why we felt such an urgency to move forward when we did. We know and trust that the details of all this were sorted out long ago, and we just continue to be amazed at the story that is unfolding before us.

To those who have supported us already, thank you. It means the world.

If you would like to purchase a shirt, please visit: www.booster.com/ezelladoption

Friday, October 2, 2015

Answering the Hard Question: "Why Go All the Way to China When So Many American Kids Need Loving Homes?"

So, I've written quite a few posts now about our adoption and how the process is going, and I am thrilled to see so much interest from friends in hearing about how we got to this point. I've had questions about what the process looks like, the financial obligation, the children's care prior to adoption, and many more, and it absolutely thrills me to share what I know so far because it means people are curious. And that makes me SO happy.

I had a friend of mine from high school suggest that I talk about why we ultimately chose to adopt internationally rather than domestically, and how we chose China as our country program. I've gotten this question a few times, and I haven't directly addressed it here on the blog up until this point because it is a deeply personal decision that every family has to make for themselves if they choose this path. But in the interest of transparency, I am cautiously going to share with you all a few things that weighed heavily on us as we considered our options.

Before I talk about our actual research, please hear my heart. Adoption is not for everyone, and what is right for us, may not be right for the next adoptive family. I am simply sharing my experience and how our family came to this decision. I am not a social worker, I do not work for an adoption agency, and I am certainly no "adoption expert." I'm figuring this whole thing out as I go!

Choosing adoption of any kind is a very big, very emotional, very personal decision for a couple to make. There are LOTS of unknowns in adoption in all forms, and so the mere fact that we chose this difficult path at all was a hard decision. We went into our research with a very open mind. We felt strongly that at the end of the day, a sweet baby with no parents was getting a forever family, and it truly didn't matter to us whether or not that child was born halfway down the block or halfway around the world. We believe every adoptive family has a different path, just as every member of the body of Christ has a different spiritual gift, and we just needed to figure out ours.

When we first began thinking of adoption, we knew pretty quickly we did not want to pursue a newborn. I'll give it to you straight - we are not baby people. I basically spent the first year of each of my bio kid's lives thinking, "Get bigger! Get older! This part stinks!" With that said, we LOVE toddlers and feel very drawn to that age, so we knew we'd want to bring home a child around 1 or 2. We prayed about domestic newborn adoption for a brief period, but both Blake and I knew pretty quickly that our missing piece was not there. We both envisioned our "plus one" as a toddler, so at that point we began researching foster care...

We looked into the foster-to-adopt program, but ultimately, the uncertainty of that foster placement's future was what broke my heart and made me walk away from this path. When you receive the placement of a foster child, there is no guarantee that the child will stay with your family. Reunification with the biological parents (or their extended family) is typically the goal in fostering, and, frankly, we didn't want to be a temporary placement. We didn't feel like that was in the best interest of Carter and Kate. We wanted to give a FOREVER family to the child we brought home.

So, that led us internationally. We conferred with many families who adopted from a variety of countries, several of which we were told had very corrupt systems and to avoid, and both Blake and I felt very drawn to Asia. We knew of several families who had adopted from South Korea, so we initially looked into that program, but as we learned about the changes in that country's timeline and cost, we moved our focus to China. 

And as they say, the rest is history. We are adopting through the "Waiting Child" program, which means our child will have at least some minor medical needs such as a cleft lip (repaired or unrepaired), minor heart defect, minor finger/toe deformity, birthmark, orthopedic needs, etc. The adoption program from China is very stable and has a very streamlined, predictable process. The timeline for most families is 1-2 years from application to travel (which is very quick in the international adoption world), and the travel requirement is only two weeks in-country which seemed manageable to us. (Some programs we looked at required parents to stay for several months or required multiple trips. That wouldn't work for us.)

More than anything, we ultimately chose to adopt from China because God led us there. 
We prayed HARD through this research period, and we both felt an absolute peace about the China program. We feel 100% confident that our missing piece is currently living in China, and we pray every day that he is being cared for and loved well in our absence. We cannot wait to meet our baby, but more than that, we cannot wait to walk off that airplane and say to Carter and Kate, "This is your little brother. He is ours. He is going to be with us forever, and we are going to love him like crazy." 

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