Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Alphabet Soup with a Large Side of Crazy

Over the next few months now, you’ll be seeing or hearing us talk about some adoption acronyms, so here is the skinny on the DTC, LID, LOA, TA…..LOL.  Oh, and there will be a quiz at the end! J

Yesterday we were DTC, or “dossier to China.” For those of you who aren't familiar with what a dossier is, it is basically our whole lives in paper form. Everything about us, from finances, to criminal history (or lack thereof!), to family of origin, to health status, birth certificates, etc., is summed up in this packet of paperwork. It includes our home study, physical exams, background checks, reference letters, employment letters, photos of us and our family, and many other things. Once you gather all of the documents required for the dossier, which in and of itself is a LOT of work, then all of it needs to be notarized, then certified by the Secretary of State presiding over the state where the notary lives, then authenticated at the Chinese Embassy that serves that particular state.  Anyway, after 6 months of working away on this paper snapshot of our lives, it is finally done, critically reviewed by our agency, and now on its way to China!! Whew!!

The next step is LID, or “log in date,” which is the date that our dossier is logged into the China system (CCCWA).  The next milestone after LID is one of the biggest of the biggies, the LOA, or “letter of acceptance (or approval).”  In all actuality, it is titled the "Letter Seeking Confirmation from Adopter," or LSC, but most people just call it LOA.  This document is bascially China officially asking you if you accept the child (or in our case, children) that you are matched with in the first place, but to adoptive families it is China saying, "Yes, they are officially yours!" We already have pre-approval for both of our children, which supposedly expedites our dossier review process to between 1-2 months, but we have known of several families with pre-approval that have waited 3-4 months or longer for their LOA to be issued, which often makes parents worry that somehow there is something wrong and they aren't going to be able to bring home the sweet child or children they've been waiting for.  That can make it extremely difficult to wait for your LOA!

Once you receive the long-awaited and prayed for LOA, then it's time to jump back on the immigration paperwork bandwagon.  For your dossier to be complete, you have to have generic immigration approval, but now is the time to get each child's specifics filed with USCIS so they can be brought into the US legally as our children and accepted as US citizens. By this time, you need to have your child's name all sorted out because there really isn't any changing after you file this round of paperwork (which is great except when you're having a hard time deciding on a middle name you really like for your daughter!!).  Once this part is done, then the wait begins for the next exciting acronym....

TA, or “travel approval,” is our invitation from China to come and pick up our children. Your travel timing depends on your appointment with the US Consulate there to finalize the adoption process. TA is one of the most exciting acronyms in the Chinese adoption lingo as it means your next step is actually being united with the kids you've been so eager to meet over these long, long months of waiting!!

So, what does all this mean as far as timeline goes?  Unless something goes very wrong and we have a really long LOA wait, or if something goes very right and we have a short LOA wait, we estimate traveling to get our kiddos in July.  So close, and yet so far... =)

We've had several people ask if there is anything they can do to help us in the process.  The biggest thing is pray!  You can read about some specific prayer requests in our last blog post here: http://loveamidstchaos.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-post-written-during-snowstorm.html

A second way to help is to participate in our Spring Fling 5K Run/Walk and 2K Fitness Fun Run coming up on April 18th at the Kankakee Valley Middle School.  You can participate either by running/walking, volunteering to help the day of the race, or by being a business sponsor and getting your business name put on our cool race shirts!  For more information or to register, here is the link:

The third way is actually the hardest for me personally.  I hate accepting help from others or asking anyone for anything.  Just ask our moms!  However, we have been accepted by a wonderful organization called Village to Village International to be one of their adoptive families.  This means that if anyone wants to help by giving a gift or donation towards adoption fees, they are able to do it through this organization and it is tax deductible.  When families receive donations through them, Village To Village then pays the adoption agency directly when fees come due.  We are very honored to be one of their families as Village to Village is such a great organization invested in global orphan care projects.  There is nothing better than to invest in the lives of these sweet children, and they are making a big difference all across the globe in that regard.  If you are interested in option #3, here is the link:

As always, thank you so much for following along with us and seeing all the amazing things that God is doing!  We are continuing to pray that He is glorified through our lives now and always! =)


Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Post Written During a Snowstorm

Well, January is over and we're now into February, not our most favorite month of the year.  It's one of those things where you're closer to spring, but yet spring still seems so very far away.  There's more daylight each day, the average temperature is increasing (usually), and the calendar days tick away, yet we're sitting here while there's a snowstorm outside and the nice, dry roads of yesterday are now snow covered and slick.  ACK!  It's a bit hard to imagine warm sunshine, spring birds singing, and flowers poking their heads up out of the ground, even though we know it will eventually get here.  Actually, it's a big like the adoption process.  You make progress here and there, but actually bringing your children home seems quite far away!

We've had some delays over the last several months (not from our end, that's for sure...nobody can ever say we haven't done due diligence to keep things running!). We're currently waiting for our preliminary immigration approval for the kids, called the I-800A. We ran into a hitch with that and USCIS requested more information from our home study agency, so we are currently waiting on the hard copy approval to arrive in the mail. Our officer called us to tell us that she had granted our approval, but our actual paper stating this hasn't arrived yet. This is the last piece of the dossier that we need. The deadline for our dossier to get to China is March 19, so IF we can get this piece of paper this week and get it sent to all of the places it needs to go to be authenticated and sealed, we may be able to make the deadline, though it's going to be down to the wire if we do. Our wonderful agency said they'll request an extension for us if we don't have things ready by the beginning of March, which is great, but to me it's just the principal of the thing. We have a deadline and I'm trying everything humanly possible to meet it! 

I can't tell you how much we appreciate our prayer warriors out there. I know a few of you pray for us regularly, and it may just only be you few, but oh, what a difference your prayers have made! It is an amazing thing to partner with somebody in prayer about a situation and see what great things God has planned, even if the situation doesn't turn out exactly the way you'd hoped or prayed.  Here are some of the things we'd love for people to partner with us in prayer about:

*As you are probably aware, both of our new children have some physical challenges.  It's hard to know how much detail to go into as far as our kids' diagnoses, so I'll try to keep things a bit broad, but I think it is important for others to know what challenges they face so they can pray for them. Our little Kai was born with a GI condition that became life-threatning by 2 months of age and had surgery for that.  Thankfully, he has recovered wonderfully and that diagnosis is now quiescent.  However, he has a really ill-defined muscular issue that has left him delayed in his motor functions and we have no idea what is going on there.  To our knowledge, there hasn't been any testing to figure out what the problem is, though he is receiving therapy at this point.  He will be 2 at the beginning of March, isn't yet walking, and he can only stand if he is holding onto something or if someone props him up against a wall.  It will be interesting to see what progress he makes in his motor development before we get him this summer and what all of the testing and workup reveals once he is home.  Our sweet Skye has a bit of a complex medical picture.  She was born with a form of spina bifida called myelomeningocele, plus bilateral club feet and some other orthopedic problems.  She has had some surgery to date and is also in rehab, but we know she's going to need more surgeries once home, along with lots more therapy.  She isn't able to walk on her own yet, either.  There is definitely going to be a mad whirlwind of medical appointments and testing once we bring them home!

*Paperwork!  We always need prayer for our paperwork to get to where it needs to go!  As I mentioned above, we're waiting on our USCIS approval paper to come so we can complete our dossier.  Once our dossier actually gets to China, then we wait for our Letter of Acceptance, or LOA.  LOA wait times vary from as little as a few weeks to several months, so there is really no way of knowing how long a family will be waiting.  We'll see.  We have to actually get the dossier there first!  After LOA, families usually travel within 2 months. 

*Funding.  Adoption is extremely expensive and most every adoptive family we know does not actually have the money to complete their adoption, which is why there are these great things called grants!  We have been applying for grants ever since our home study was completed in late December.  What's crazy is we have a lot of adoption world friends who are at pretty much the same place in their process as we are, and I'm sure we're all applying for the same grants!  We already know we've been turned down for 2 of the grants we've applied for and are waiting to hear on some others, but are praying that we will at least get something out of "spreading our nets" as I like to call it.  You won't get anything if you never throw your net out, figuratively speaking!  We are also planning a 5K run/walk, plus 2K fitness fun walk for April Saturday 18th at the Kankakee Valley Middle School to help raise some funding.  I look at it as running or walking for these precious kids who can't (yet!).  We have never been real great at successful fundraising, so we will see how this goes.  The race itself is expensive to run, we're talking over $2800 expensive, and we've already paid for some of that out of pocket, but are praying that we can find some business sponsors to help cover some of those costs so the race actually brings in some funding for our adoption fees and we don't just break even!  Again, we will see.  If nothing else, maybe people can see God's love through the event and have fun on a nice spring day.  At any rate, we are needing to come up with a very large amount of funding in the next 6 months, like an amount that makes me want to throw up if I think about it too long.  We know that God will make sure we have what we need and when we need it....He has NEVER, EVER let us down before, so we know He's got this.  However, that doesn't mean it still doesn't make us a bit nervous and sickish-feeling not knowing exactly how all this is going to be paid!

*Finally, we are praying that people will see God through this whole process and that He is glorified through it all.  He is the reason we would even dare do something this crazy and big.  Seriously, He loves us so much that He sacrificed everything to adopt us into his family.  Earthly adoption is a picture of that, albeit an imperfect one.  We are just so thankful to be at this place that He's led us to and are looking forward to seeing how He provides and guides, not only with adopting these precious kiddos, but in every aspect of our lives. 

I do want to give a much-deserved shout out to some people who have been so kind to us so far:  Our wonderful references and Pastor Tim, who have been hounded by grant agencies on our behalf lately; our fantastic agency, CCAI, who also has been hounded by grant agencies for us, but also working with us through the delays and trying to help us meet our deadline, besides all of the rest of the awesomeness they provide along the way; again, our great prayer warriors standing with us; the United States Postal Service, specifically the Wheatfield and DeMotte branch employees, for being so nice dealing with a half-crazed mamma trying to make sure things get somewhere incredibly far away as fast as possible; you, our blog reader, for actually reading this and sharing a bit of our journey; and lastly our family members for unflinchingly putting up with listening to our saga day in and day out!  What wonderful people we are blessed to have in our life!!

I mentioned above that we have applied for grants.  One agency requires a video from the family with the application, so we left our comfort zone and got in front of the camera a bit.  A huge thank you to David for putting it all together and for our oldest son, Alex, for being our cameraman.  For your viewing pleasure, here is the video we submitted :

Again, thank you for following along with us!