Friday, October 28, 2016

Two Weeks...

Two weeks from today, Blake and I will be checking into DFW airport, about to board a 13-hour flight to Beijing.

What in the ACTUAL world, you guys?

Things have gotten REAL CRAZY, REAL FAST. 

We are swimming in itineraries, packing lists, and travel documents, and I don't even know what's day it is sometimes anymore. 

My last day of work is next week.

We have a crib, a rocking chair, and about 700 size 3/4 diapers in Brooks's room upstairs thanks to our incredible friends and family who have poured out blessing after blessing on us the past month.

 I pulled out the old Pack & Play to set up in our bedroom and am currently washing size 12 month baby boy clothes.

I just bought two pairs of footie pajamas. I haven't bought footie pajamas in two years.

We have a corner in our pantry that's full of Gerber baby food, puffs, yogurt drops, rice cereal, and teething crackers.

Our International Adoption Clinic just submitted our prescriptions for antibiotics and Scabies cream (just in case...) for us to take to China.

We are talking with our cell phone carrier about a temporary international plan.

I am beginning to set aside "China clothes" in my closet that I'll need to pack.

This is really going to happen, y'all.

Two years after God broke our heart for children without families and began to reveal to us that we had a missing piece to our family, this is really going to happen.

How blessed we are! 
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Answered Prayer! (Kind of...)

So, here's a little update for you guys...
Yesterday morning, I was at work and my phone started buzzing in my pocket. I never, EVER get calls during work hours because most people know I am not allowed to answer, so I casually looked down at my phone and saw "Holt International" on my caller ID. I knew what it was in an instant, so I told my director who was calling, and she excitedly yelled, "Oh yes! Go answer it!" (Side note: Supportive bosses are basically the best thing ever.)

Our agency's travel coordinator let me know that we got our preliminary travel approval, and that he would be moving forward with getting us China-bound by November 4th! Eeek! The next step was to email us the official itinerary by week's end so we could purchase our flights. The rest of the day was spent in a total haze, and we just couldn't believe our incredible good fortune and how perfectly all of this was going to time out. My mom and mother-in-law exchanged a few text messages and had childcare all figured out by the afternoon, and we prayed it would be smooth sailing from there. We would have our son in our arms in just 20 days!

So, fast forward to today, and you can imagine my disappointment and confusion when I felt another buzzing in my pocket this morning with a caller ID that read "Holt International." I felt very different emotions answering that call because they had encountered a little hiccup in planning our travel. The visa appointment had been made, but for whatever reason, Brooks's province would not agree to a November 7th Gotcha Day. Apparently their government representatives would not be available that day for some reason, so they are currently trying to work us into the following week. (Gotcha Days have to be on Mondays...don't ask me why...) This is not an "official" travel week which means some added expense and a return on Thanksgiving Day or the day after...again, not ideal...but we are continuing to trust that God's hand is at work here and all of this is happening for a reason.

So...yay for TA! But boo to unknown travel know I'll keep you posted. 

And just as an was Picture Day at school for my bigs..I mean, how adorable is this patriotic little duo?!! 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

...and if not, HE IS STILL GOOD.

So, it's Sunday night again. I may have mentioned this here before, but Sundays took on a whole new meaning to me during this adoption process. All of the emails, all of the phone calls (good and bad), and all of the news in an adoption process happen between Monday and Friday (it's a business after all...), so the weekdays are the ones met with the most anticipation, the most anxiety, and the most expectation. 

This week and this Sunday night is no different.

This Sunday night is big because at the conclusion of this week, we should know, with at least SOME certainty, our official travel dates.

 We received our Article 5 pick-up notification early Thursday morning from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, so the only approval that's left in our 15-month adoption process is the travel approval (TA). Our agency says that those have typically been coming within about a week of Article 5, and if that's truly the case and TA comes this week, our agency will be able to send us to China in early November. If it doesn't happen, we will most likely be pushed to early December. 

If I'm being brutally honest, I will be pretty dang crushed if our TA doesn't come and we have to wait an additional month to get Brooks home. But my hope and prayer is that EITHER WAY, I can trust His hand in it all and know that His plans are far better than mine. 

If you've been following our adoption story here, I would COVET your prayers for peace and wisdom this week as our travel plans become more concrete. Either way, we trust Him and we trust that He wrote this story in a certain way in a certain time that will all make perfect sense one day...even if we can't see it now. 

We would also covet your prayers that Brooks's heart is being prepared for us. We received our first video of him this week, and it was VERY obvious that he was well-loved (A HUGE ANSWERED PRAYER!) and very attached to his "mama." At one point in the video, she tried to put him down in his crib to show us how he could stand and walk with support (ALSO HUGE!), but he cried and reached for her because he wanted her to hold him instead of perform. His whole world is about to be turned upside-down, and he doesn't have a CLUE it's coming. His heart will be broken for a while, and that's going to be hard for all of us. That's the part of adoption no one really wants to hear, but it's the truth. Adoption is born out of brokenness, so to deny it's tragedy would be unfair. We pray that his caregivers are showing him our photo book every now and then and preparing him for mama and baba...but even more than that, we pray that God's hand will be all over this transition and that he'll learn we are safe quickly.   

Thanks for following our journey...and you'd better believe that I'll be back with bells on when we have travel news to share! 
Monday, October 3, 2016

The Million-Dollar Question and a Prayer Request

Everywhere I go lately, I seem to get the million-dollar question, "So, where's Brooks? When are you traveling? I thought you all would be in China by now."

So, I thought I'd take a minute and address that.

Here's the short answer: we're in our last and final period of waiting.

Womp. Womp. Yep, I know. Me, too.

And the kicker? The China government offices are completely closed ALL THIS WEEK due to National Day which means exactly ZERO progress can happen before next week. 


So, here's the longer answer: After we got our LOA at the end of August, we applied for Brooks's immigration approval. About three weeks later, we got it and went on to complete a form for the Department of Homeland Security called the DS-260. This form and the accompanying letter issued by immigration is then sent over to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, that basically says we have completed all the necessary paperwork and forms to immigrate Brooks legally into the country upon his arrival to the U.S. Once the Consulate has reviewed his information, they will issue us an Article 5 which tells China to grant us Travel Approval (TA). This Article 5 typically takes about two weeks, but as I referenced above, there is a holiday happening in China right now (of course there is) that is causing our Article 5 to take an extra week and delaying our TA. (That's what we're waiting on now.) 

Are your eyes glazed over yet? Adoption is so glamorous, y'all. 

So, here's my prayer request: We need China to get their booty in gear and move this along, so we can get to our baby boy in November! If we can't get our TA by about the 20th (roughly) of this month, we will have to wait until early December to go get Brooks. I know this doesn't seem that terrible considering we've been waiting for him for nearly two years, BUT WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, y'all, and this mama is DONE with the waiting.

God sets the lonely in families, and I know He planned the timing of ALL OF THIS many, many years ago, but I'm just ready to hold my baby, and I'm not ashamed to say that out loud. I've missed more than a year of this life already, and I don't want to miss any more. If we have to wait until December, so be it, but I'm not ready to give up hope that we will have him in our arms next month.

Thanks, y'all. We are SO CLOSE to getting this baby HOME where he belongs.  
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