Introducing….

We would like to introduce you to OUR DAUGHTER!! MeiLin is our sweet baby girl waiting for us in Shenzhen City, China. We received our official pre approval today and can now officially announce our paper pregnancy with her to the world!!

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A few facts: Our adorable princess is expected home this winter when we will travel across the world for 2 weeks to scoop her up and love her to pieces! She is 19 months old right now and from her videos she looks to be doing amazing. MeiLin is pronounced “May-Lynn” and was selected by ALL of us (can’t believe we all agreed on that) to preserve her culture but also give her a name that fits in with the rest of our little southern crew in sound.

Her first picture in the orphanage.

Her first picture in the orphanage.

Please lift her up in your prayers and pray for a QUICK process and to keep her safe and loved until we can get her. Pray also for her sweet family that had to make the difficult selfless decision to give her up so she could be loved by us.

We can’t believe she is ours!! Thank you to each of you who have been with us on this journey and have supported us in our paper chase to get her here!!

Blessings!!!

Adam and Heidi

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17

How do you know God is working?

As I sit to write this I am still shaking with disbelief about what has transpired. Then when I put it into context with all of the other amazing things that this adoption journey has included it simply blows my mind. We are LOI today folks! That is officially letter of intent requesting permission from CCCWA to adopt our sweet girl!

A week ago I prepared for a Stella & Dot trunk show that I was doing to help raise money for our dossier fees. I set up a Facebook group for the guests and shared a sweet adoption video I had seen on one of my sleepless nights. From there my S&D director shared the video with another Stella & Dot stylist who had also adopted two girls form China. Then that stylist messaged to say she actually knew the family in the video. We were connected on a private message with each other (all of us fabulous Stella & Dot stylists ;) ) and I learned she was actually an adoption advocate and had all sorts of helpful information! She added me to a group that shares waiting children’s information in hopes their family will see. I kid you not just moments after adding me to the group a little girl meeting all of our requests popped up. No way right? So I looked at her, tried not to get too excited, prayed about it, talked to Adam about her, and prayed some more. Part of me couldn’t believe that had just happened. It had to be too good to be true! PS She was ADORABLE!

Before I fell asleep I emailed my home study agency, my placement agency, and the agency that has the little one listed. I inquired about the status of my home study final document which still wasn’t here and asked about how to get more info from my placement agency. Then before shutting the computer down I decided to pull her up again and was able to access her medical information. I shared the file with Adam via email with the file named “dimples” because she has some cute ones! I prayed again. He messaged back go for her, whatever we need to do. I told him let’s sleep on it and in the morning I would check in. So I did. I called but learned the woman I emailed about her was out (explains why I didn’t hear anything before the call) but I spoke with another lovely woman who explained I would need to fill out a form to be in line and that this little girl had several other families already interested in her. Okay so I tried to really not get excited then because several other families… So I couldn’t work the fax machine and ended up taking a picture of my form with my moms iPad and emailing the picture to the lovely lady who accepted it so sweetly. I showed my dad the medical file, we chatted about her, got excited, tried hard not to get too hopeful, and prayed HARD! Longest pray in history may have went down in a form of intermittence. I prayed if she was ours that God would send her to us quickly but if not that we would find peace in knowing she was not ours. Oh that was hard because every part of me wanted to pray please God give her to us!!! I didn’t though. I prayed for His will because we have trusted him through everything and not once has He ever disappointed us. So there it was putting all my faith and trust in my Lord again and resting it in his arms. I left my moms, drove home, went to say hi to Adam who had been out all day with Tay at a golf tournament. I told him I checked on her but there were several other families in front of us and we probably didn’t stand a chance but let’s just leave it to God and we will know if we are meant to be her parents then we will be so no worries. At that moment my email dinged! It was the agency telling me she was ours if we chose so!!! They could put her on hold so we could get a medical review but the decision was ours if we wanted her. Are you KIDDING ME! Did that just happen?! I still can’t believe it. We immediately had a social worker advocate, our NP aunt, and our cardiologist uncle all combing her file! We had our cousin later review her Chinese file too in which we found some fabulous news including the beautiful meaning of her name! We are very blessed with these people in our lives!! :) All couldn’t believe how amazing she was!! We can’t either but we may already be partial ;)

So yes, that just happened. I don’t know all the details of the next steps but the agency will walk us through them. I am not afraid of a thing. God has had us every step. And we have such a big ole mustard seed ;)

That is how God works and how we know he is working. He does things so ridiculously inhuman and seemingly impossible that there is no way to deny his hand was in control. We just had to let him have that control and trust in his plan for us. By all means his plan is way stinkin’ better than mine which was waiting forever to be matched old school! I mean WOW he just gave us our daughter!!!

So officially we wait to get the official pre approval then we can share her sweet face but for now pray for her and for us! Pray for an easy paper process from here, a quick paper process because she needs to be home, and pray for her care while she waits for us. Pray for the sweet selfless family that gave her up so she could get the care she needs and pray for her to transition well to leaving everything she has ever known. I can tell you this much: she is beautiful, doing amazingly well, and a gift from God and already SO very LOVED!!!

(and she has dimples!! awwww!! )

Thank you all for your continued support, your kind words, your prayers, and your love.

Blessings,

Heidi

They’re Here!!

Wooohooo!!! Okay, so I know many of you well traveled souls already have glamorous passports stamped with amazing places however, ours are magical! They are going to take us across the world to get our next child!! Their arrival signifies there is an end to this journey and we are one step closer to meeting our little one. They are tangible tokens of our milestones. We don’t get sonogram pictures this time so these are our treasures.

This has been the most incredible learning experience for us overall as human beings in this world, as spouses, as Christians, and parents. Traveling will be a large aspect of that learning process. This trip across the world will be a huge milestone for us. Neither of us have ever been out of the country, we have never even been on a plane ya’ll!!! Our first flight will take us across this world to experience another culture, learn as much as can while there, and GET OUR CHILD!!! Oh. My. Gosh. Of course, this is SO my style. I ALWAYS set big giant seemingly impossible goals and dreams, feel very overwhelmed in the intermittence trying to forge forward by my own accord, and then have the most incredible things happen as God makes it all reality and overcomes the impossible. We are living life a little fearless you might say but really nothing is impossible with Christ. Not even two country high school sweethearts who had their first child as unwed seniors in high school flying across the world for the first time to get their fifth child. Adam has a terrible fear of flying to boot so this will really be a new experience, conquering fears, and persevering to get our child home where she belongs. 

Currently here is our status: Waiting. I know, so exciting :) Apparently that is what adoptive parents do a lot of. We are learning to be patient people in this process as well ;) Our home study work is done, we are simply waiting for it to go through all the edits and to have a final document to send to immigration. In the meantime we have had time to do some fundraising for our dossier fees through my Stella & Dot business. That has been an amazing blessing and we are so thankful each order and hostess who help us shorten our red string to China! 

Please continue to lift us up in prayers that nothing is wrong with any of our paperwork and that it is all processed quickly and efficiently. Pray for our little one wherever she is. That she is found quickly, being loved, & well nourished until we can get to her.

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My Cup Runneth Over

Wow! Tonight was a remarkable night I want to document for our little girl so she knows just how loved she was before she was even here. I could not imagine a more fabulous group of people to bring our daughter home to!

I have been working hard to earn the adoption fees for the last big legs of the process. Part of my efforts is working my Stella & Dot business hard to earn the money. Check out my online boutique here www.stelladot.com/heidihawkins I have been booking trunk shows to get started and the gratitude I have towards the ladies who have hosted is beyond words. I had one tonight, have one tomorrow, and two beautiful souls are gathering orders with a traveling tote show. Oh I want to earn these ladies so many free jewelry credits and then some to show my gratitude!

Tonight I had my first in home trunk show towards the adoption fundraising efforts. My hostess was gracious, generous, and so much more. The ladies in attendance were equally amazing, loving, supportive, ……. I genuinely cannot say enough. I am just home from the show and am still speechless about the experience. I love them. truly. I adore each and every one of those women who came to support us and who are ready to embrace us and our new little one. They made us feel cherished. They made us feel loved, supported, and blessed. They hugged my neck and they told me they can’t wait to meet her. I cannot believe the outpouring of love, support, and funds that were made for us from their generosity. Of course they all will have beautiful Stella & Dot pieces and there were some stellar deals in June (who doesn’t love Stella & Dot? ;) ) but these ladies took time out of their day and ordered their accessories from me, ordinary me, to help us support our baby. As I sit trying to wrap my mind around how I would ever repay them for what they showed me I am ever more certain there is no way to match the way they made me feel. My heart may really burst! I cannot wait to share her sweet face with you!! She is going to be surrounded by the most caring community of ladies EVER! 

Tonight could not have come at a better time either. Tomorrow is our final interviews and home walk through for the home study portion of the process. Those gals tonight sent me off feeling loved and confident, ready for tomorrow. After our session tomorrow I will go to another trunk show with another loving hostess with another crew of people ready to love on us. Our little girl is SO LOVED already!! Wherever she is, whoever our daughter is, she is ours and we pray that she is loved and cared for until we can get her here where I have no doubt she will be cherished by many! 

We are inching closer and closer with each step accomplished and after tomorrow we close a big chunk :) This week we had our appointment with our physician as well to learn more about the various medical conditions. The appointment was very helpful and even though I thought I understood some things, I did not and he gave us so much hope and comfort going over many conditions I was more worried about. We also made our first purchase to prepare for her! Whenever I became pregnant we would always make a first purchase to make it tangible and to help with the wait between obgyn appointments. Since we do not know what size she will wear to buy her first outfit, our little one’s first purchase for preparation was safety locks for cabinets, doors, outlets, etc. Silly to some but to us it is a tangible thing in our home now that reminds us each time we have to push in the button in order to open the basement door that someday there will be a little one trying to pull that door open. Check out our selfie. We are obviously no pros at selfies but we did have to use the back camera of Adam’s phone since the front is cracked and we are not replacing (every penny saved counts right? ;)  ) so I don’t think it’s too bad. It was document though and we have our first purchase, our concrete reminder all the paperwork has a purpose. 

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I am going to bed tonight blessed beyond measure and amazed at the outpouring of love I got to experience tonight. I will never forget tonight and I will cherish this event to share with our little one. I should have taken a picture of that group! 

Hanging in there……

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We received this sweet card this past week and it was soooo perfect! We are hanging in there, marching onward through the steps, and moving forward. It was such a comfort to know someone else apparently knew exactly how this feels and that they were praying for us! It reminds us we are not alone. The process of adoption is a balance of perseverance, persistence, and perfection.

We are also in the midst of closing another school year which means closing my work cases for the year and ALL the end of the year events for the kids. Does anyone else feel like the last month of school is a marathon and if you survive you are due a medal? There are field trips and field days, end of the year testing, parties, and more. I must admit I did not blaze through this marathon without injury.  There was the morning I made breakfast for Isaiah’s entire class before they went into a major test only to arrive after they were already gone to test in the lab (That day I fell apart thinking I let down all those kiddos and totally found myself being picked up by two colleagues who came to my rescue at his school.) My next epic failure was dropping off son1 at baseball practice then going to drop off son2 at his practice and attempting to push him out onto a field while he protested saying it was not his team. As I demanded he get on the field pronto, HIS coach drove up and I realized HIS practice did not start for another 30 minutes. That realization sunk in about the time son2 was throwing his bat bag on the dusty field and yelling at me across the field and parking lot saying “THAT IS NOT MY TEAM!!!!!!” for the 30th time. Oops. When practice was over I went to pick up son1 since son2′s practice was running over. I was so pleased with myself to arrive 5 till 8:00 until I drove up and he was one of only two kids left at the whole rec park! As son1 plopped his things in the car he asked what took me so long because practice was over 30 minutes ago. Oops again. Then we wouldn’t dare want to find retribution on the last day of school so that morning was marked by the dog (aka gazelle)getting loose and making it a game of catch me if you can, me promising the kids I would take them to breakfast only to realize I left my purse at the house, forgetting I needed a fill in babysitter because the usual one was in another state and calling my Dad at the last minute to watch Lilly, and son1 calling me to say he forgot his yearbook on yearbook signing day. Yes that was the last day of school for my crew. Definitely not supermom.

So as I close out May I am hanging in there. :) School is over for the kids and nearly over for me (for now) so that will be a nice reprieve. I am however still in the middle of pouring our souls into finding our third daughter, planning my sister’s wedding, hosting her graduation party, organizing and hosting her bridal shower, studying for my boards, getting boys to and from baseball games and practices, hosting birthday parties for my sweets, and more. I am not half way through 2014 but it is shaping up to be a year to remember. It’s a lot BUT it is all AMAZING! How blessed I am to have this much to stress about, to have this much to celebrate, and to have this much to work so hard for! I am so grateful.

In the words of Maya Angelou  “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”

Our friends and families have just wrapped their prayers around us and offered help and support in so many ways I cannot begin to name them all. Each day it brings me to tears what people are doing for us. It happens when someone asks how the adoption is going, tells us they are praying for our family, offers to host Stella & Dot trunk shows to help us raise funds, sends us beautiful sentiments in cards, donating money to our adoption fees, filling out paperwork, notarizing papers, or writing letters, giving us a hug, or just listening to me gush on and on about a process that is probably foreign to them but they listen and share in my excitement. I just cannot wait to bring our daughter home to this community of loving people who love us and will love her.

So right now we are hanging in there but it is blissful to have something to hang on to. We are hanging onto faith, hope, and love that next year we will have even more celebrations.

Please continue to pray for us in this journey and always know how thankful we are to have you, whoever you may be reading this, along this journey to little miss with us.

Blessings,

Heidi

As I write I am full of so many emotions right now. This may be in part to my lack of sleep but mostly it is because big things are happening and about to happen in our family and change is coming. We have had so many questions from people and we love answering those. I will try to infuse this blog with resources for those who want to know more. We ourselves discover a new question every day in regards to this process. If we can help one person understand the importance of adoption and the love that is involved then we can happily answer. We don’t have all the answers though, nor does anyone really but we will surely try. Everyone is welcome to come learn along with us as we go :)

There have been some questions that seem to be injected with some disapproval or maybe just concern about our adoption. For example we can tell from some there is a fear of how this child will merge and impact our other children.Trust me, we have considered that as well and think of it often. It is a common fear we have had before. Doesn’t everyone when they add a second or third child to a family? You always worry how it will affect your other children. I did each time I birthed my last three. I worried so much how there would be enough love to go around. That is so funny now. I mean I could not ever imagine life without ALL my babies! What if I had let that fear keep me from having one of them? How horrible that would be to not have our life filled with little Baron or Lilly! This week we celebrated Isaiah’s 10th birthday! I stopped the adoption paperwork that day and just focused on him this week. I remember when I was pregnant with him I worried how Taylor was going to be affected, how I was going to love someone as much as I loved her, how I would share my time and love. I have learned so much since then. When I had that little guy my heart blew up! Taylor’s heart grew too! My fears were instantly gone. My heart just grows to some crazy exponential size each time I have found. At this point my heart is just about to burst. Often people see us out and say “You have your hands full huh?” I want to say if you think my hands are full you should really see my heart!

We know things will be different. We also know it will be a good different. We fully anticipate some adjustment time for this child and our other four. They are currently all THRILLED with the thought of getting a sister. They have begged for her for years! I know when she is here though there may be some of their own fears that crop up once reality is present. We are prepared to help them, to shower them in love, to answer their questions, and calm their worries. We have already begun to educate our children. We have told them about how attachment works, that we will need to cocoon ourselves for a while after she comes home, that she will be scared probably, that she may cry, and she may not want to play at first. We also told them not to give up. To keep hugging her, to keep trying, and one day when she is not scared anymore she will play and their sister will be their companion forever. I show videos to the kids about China, about adoption, about the orphans, and we talk about all these things. Our children are learning God’s word, living his work, watching unconditional love of another, and are growing to be compassionate, merciful, generous little children of God. We can not predict how the addition of a child to our family will look exactly once we emerge from our cocoon but we can guarantee there will be no less love and likely all of our hearts will grow and add another inside.

After a sleepless night, at five o’clock this morning I came across a couple videos I want share. They are such sweet examples of what adoption looks like for families. The first is about a couple who also felt called to adopt and explains overcoming obstacles along the way.

This one is a precious slide show of a family’s journey captured in pictures along the whole process. I should warn you to have the tissues ready. It is beautiful.

We are nearing the end of the home study process. Yesterday we had our first interview with our social worker. It went well. I had a list of things I needed to figure out and she answered all of our questions with what was obviously less stress than I had conjured up. She was wonderful really. Very reassuring, calm, and helpful. I am very thankful. We went over the paperwork we had sent thus far including letters from our veterinarian noting our animals are of no health risk to our children, criminal back ground checks, driving records, our autobiographies, employer letters, birth certificates, photos, our financial statements (which I totally messed up the math on!), the kids medical forms, and all of the signed documents for our state. What is left is our medical exams and the last educational course. Then we have another interview to discuss educational documentation components and lastly she will come to our home for a safety walk thru and interviews individually with all of us. Lilly does not have to be interviewed but Lilly has requested her own interview as well so we shall see :) Once we have our home study interviews, home walk thru completed our social worker will send us a draft, we will make change, they send it to our placement agency, they make changes, they send it to the home study agency, they make final edits, it is notarized, and then we get all the final copies to be sent to placing agency, immigration, the dossier, etc. Once this home study is complete we can send our I-800A form to immigration to get approval to be a family eligible to adopt. We can also apply for adoption grants which we are prayerful we will get to help with the expenses of the end of this process which is going to be another mountain to climb with that little mustard seed of ours. I am not worried though since this was our dream, our wish, but God’s direction we feel we can hurdle it.

Overall, our hearts are so vested in a child across the world. She is ours. We just have not met yet. This is hard for some to understand. I know and that is okay :) I didn’t expect to feel this strongly so soon either. I do though so forgive me if my answers, stories, or explanations about adoption are laced with passion. I am still learning how to answer “the adoption” questions. We even watched a course online about how to respond to some insensitive things. Here is a common one  “Why China?” about Us vs. Them. I could not answer it better if I tried so I will just encourage you to read this blog. She is so spot on.

http://www.lwbcommunity.org/us-versus-them

In the end we are all God’s children. We are all adopted. We all deserve love. Love crosses oceans and knows no boundaries.

Please keep lifting us up in prayer through these unknowns. We are so appreciative of the support we are getting!

Blessings,

Heidi

“And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.”

-John 11:52

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”

-Romans 8:14-16

Tough Questions and Where We Are Now

A Day In The Life

So our life as a soon to be family of seven from the outside may seem like any of the following depending on the day: organized, pulled together, stupid, crazy, fun, busy, joyous, blessed, stressed, and perhaps even insane. I am here to confirm all of the above. It varies hour to hour really. However, as with any family, life is never perfect and we are smart enough to accept the things we cannot change and embrace with full heart all we have been blessed with and choose this _____ (fill in the blank by the hour) life. It is ours and we would not change it for a minute.

I don’t know exactly why some people have a problem with large families or look at us like we have four eyeballs when we tell them we want another child. HELLO……. have you met my kids?? They are pretty awesome if I do say so myself. I can’t wait to add to that crew! It’s almost like telling me something must be wrong with us for wanting more or something is wrong with my children because how dare I have more of them. Our children bring us joy that is unimaginable! It is that simple! We want more joy, more love, more fun, more little giggles, more lifetime support network, more snuggles, more bedtime kisses,…. You get the picture. That is why we want another child. We are choosing to adopt because we chose not to have more biologically for a variety of reasons including health risks (my uterus threatens to kill me each time in various awful ways.) We also cannot wait to embrace a multiracial family, give a family to a child that does not have one when we so desperately want one, and biological or adopted really does not mean a hill of beans to us to quote my mother.

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Some think we are a bit crazy because we are busy. Well yes, that we are. This weekend alone looked like…take a deep breathe…. take 5 extra boys home with us on Friday after work for birthday sleepover, create games and activities, cook dinner for the crew, bake cupcakes and decorate (the oldest helped here), take photos and do the hosting gig into the night for the precious group, realize 10 kids is totally awesome and scare myself a little with that thought, wash all their clothes that got wet during a water gun fight, call all their mommas for good nights (hey I’m a mom I know what it’s like to miss your littles) encourage bedtime (routinely up until 3am), wake up early, start food, clean up a bit from the night before, dry their clothes I washed, get the boys up and get each one dressed in their ball uniforms, locate each child’s belongings and have them place in their chair at the table (organization is key), feed them, double check for belongings, send off the two oldest boys and the oldest girl and her teenage friend who also spent the night with Adam to the boys game photos and to drop off the extra friend, pack up the rest of the crew including a grouchy three year old, go drop off one boy, meet up with rest of my family at the ball park, watch the game (and little boys), pack up again, head to second child’s ball game 30 minutes away and pick up snacks to recharge the little ones who partied too hard, meet parents there to give back belongings and children, watch that game and take photos of cutie, send off husband and oldest daughter for their golf tournament, pack back up myself, take boys and Lilly home, cook dinner, clean house, work on adoption paperwork and start educational course work, bathe the kids, play with kids, get all to bed, celebrate when husband and daughter come home with a net win at the tournament, work more on the adoption, review my reports for work, then sleep by around 1am.  Get up Sunday for a quick jog with the dog but first throw in the uniforms for the boys so they would be clean before picture day at this game. Come back from jog to start breakfast, bake the brownies for the basketball banquet, figure out outfits for three kids, fuss at fourth for outfit choice, bathe Lilly, get all teeth brushed, hair done, shoes matched and find the missing ones, tell one child to change to appropriate socks, realize uniforms were never dried, panic, place them in dryer, get a shower and get myself ready, get bibles, baseball bags, picture envelope, and snacks in car, print the invocation prayer our oldest daughter will read at church for youth Sunday, get the uniforms out, get them all dressed and encourage to eat quickly. We then discuss schedule and plan of action (POA) for the day between Adam and myself. This POA thing is daily and NECESSARY! We make it to church on time (boom), listen to a wonderful sermon about loving others and what that really means. We run quickly to grab lunch in town to go, drop off Adam, Taylor, and Baron at the house so they can go to the basketball banquet followed by Baron’s ballgame where he will have pictures made. I take Isaiah and Lilly to another ball field 30 minutes in the other direction for his game, get him there on time (boom again), watch the game with a three year old which looks like run to a far away potty in the best part, try not to be knocked over the hill as she climbs on me, and enjoy every snuggle she is ready to give and there was lots. You see in those moments she is the only one with access to me and it gives her one on one time even if I am watching her brother in the field simultaneously. Field phone calls including one from the husband informing me I had the picture form he needed for the other son’s pictures…oops. Have a little moment of worry followed soon by my motto of not sweating the small stuff and moving on to solutions. I will bring it when I can and that is all that can be done. No worries. As soon as we win we pack up again and travel to the other field to watch Baron’s game. Have a blast watching that one and catch up on how the banquet went. Then we packed up, headed home, cooked dinner, prepped book bags by checking over work, signing forms and more forms, writing out checks for field trips, packing snacks, and checking the school calendars, we bathed them all, read some books, and called it a night…for them. I then worked more on adoption education courses, prepared for my case work on Monday, etc. etc. This was our weekend in a nutshell.

So… you know just a little busy and to some that may be crazy but to us it is awesome! We get to do all this, experience all this, and enjoy in sharing these moments with our kids. Bringing them joy gives us joy. We love our busy sometimes crazy life! I am not superwoman as some have told me but I will take that compliment. I have moments of self doubt, many times we are late everywhere, full on freak out moments happen due to the amount of stuff going on and the need to accomplish so much. However, it is always outweighed by the benefits of parenting our crew. We rely on POAs, organization systems, schedules that are synced via electronic devices, amazing friends and family to help carpool, supervise, etc. and alarms that go off for everything. We also are aware when it gets to be too much and schedule date nights, no activity evenings, and always prayer. We also schedule regular one on one time with each of the kids and strive to spend quality time with them daily. 

That is how we succeed in a typical day in the life. We have struggles and triumphs but doesn’t everyone? We know it is too much for some to understand and this life is not for everyone. We are not asking you to live our lives. We are however asking everyone to reserve judgement about our choice to bring another child into our family and recognize what blessings these children are. Be happy for us. Celebrate with us. Leave the worries to us because we got this. You can borrow our mustard seed though ;)ImageImage 

 

Blessings,

Heidi

The Importance of Details!

Hello there yet another Monday! We have now had our first giant pack of home study paperwork for over a week and just when I think it is ready to be mailed, something else dawns on us. I was perhaps a little overzealous in thinking I could have all that finished in a weekend. ;) After all this involved me running to the DMV, the 1 hour photo shop, and digging through our files to find such things as the address of the first place we ever lived together! At least half of it had to be notarized too. I have never been so anxious about getting paperwork right. I keep looking it over and over making sure everything is filled out just right. We were warned to not leave off a single letter on a name or it all could be rejected and we could lose months of time to get our child. There are also all these timeline issues. There is a sense of urgency on this paperwork since if it goes out of date before it gets to whichever agency/country/something it all has to be redone! I also have read that everything has to match which left us panicking that the employment verification letter and our financial statement form are not going to match our taxes! After multiple emails that I look crazy through, I finally got that one clarified. As it turns out your base salary and your taxes rarely match and that is okay I am told. Shew! The employment letter and finance part must match though. The lovely woman at our home study agency told me not to over think it. She knows me well for someone who has never met me! So tonight Adam is finishing his autobiography and this pack should be ready to mail TOMORROW! She was also right about that. I asked her on the phone before we received our first pack what we could be doing in the meanwhile to get a jump on things. She said to get started on the autobiographies because sometimes men have a hard time writing about themselves. Adam confirms this so his is the last piece for this packet. 

In the meanwhile we also received our pack of paperwork from our placing agency including steps to the Dossier prep, the I-800A instructions (aka immigration), the educational courses we must complete, and oh so much more. I was so excited though with that familiar “Bring it On!” that overtakes me. Sometimes I have decided my drive and workaholic habits pays off. I am just terrified of making a mistake!!! That part of my personality is not conducive to this process. I am super excited about the resources they sent us though! Tons of great articles, books, and web links. I can not wait to dive into the educational courses. They look soooo good and cover topics I had not necessarily thought of in too much depth.

You know when you are pregnant for the first time and get so excited to read every little thing you can get your hands on about pregnancy and parenting. You watch those baby stories on tv, talk to every mom you meet, and pray like CRAZY! You worry about taking care of everything just right for you future child. Yup, exactly the same! For example, we watch The Little Couple religiously and Lilly asks to rewatch the episodes we have recorded because she loves it so much.

I am not sure what the “next” step is at this point because so much of this is overlapping but onward we go! Yes, that is me with no clue what exactly is in the future and feeling A-okay with that! Faith of a mustard seed… He’s got this. I am feeling very thankful for all of the support and help from our friends and family in this process as well. It is incredibly comforting. So many are helping us in every way imaginable! Notaries (aka lovely women I work with), my prayer warriors, my listening ears, those who have done this before and give solid advice, and those that just get excited with me every time my grin pops through my cheeks! It is so wonderful to be able to reach out to others and feel okay leaning on them for guidance. That is not typically part of my personality, nor is sharing much of my personal thoughts and feelings but this process has me learning a lot about myself and others. Feeling very blessed! As always keep praying for us in our Journey to Seven! We celebrated Baron J’s 7th birthday on Sunday and are in awe thinking next year we will have 7 of us all together celebrating it! We can’t wait to share her future sweet face with you all too!!! 

Love and Blessings,

Heidi

 

Feeling Paper Pregnant

Okay, well pregnancy was never a pretty look on me but I cherished those moments anyway. That little life growing, the progression in size meant my little one was growing healthy and would soon be in my arms. So while it wasn’t a good look for me it was a blessing of discomfort. It would lead to our baby, a child we could love and adore. All worth it. I kept thinking adoption was going to be less demanding since it wasn’t physically taxing however, this is another form of pregnancy…paper pregnancy. You still suffer some, work your tail off, and yet somehow enjoy it, savor it, and rejoice in what is soon to be!

You read about adoption involving “a mountain of paperwork” but when it comes rolling in to YOUR mail box it becomes a real Mt. Everest! There are simultaneous feelings of being overwhelmed, being thrilled to be moving forward, and then feeling like a little squirrel gathering every possible little nut from the ground in order to pull it all together and survive. You better not forget one tiny broken nut shell either or you won’t get your child! Big stakes here people…BIG! One form even says there can be no strike throughs, no white out, etc. etc….. That was the most nervous I have ever felt when writing my own name! Guess what though? This is the home study process and we are THRILLED to be in it and doing WORK to bring home our child. At this point we have had our applications accepted at both our placement agency and home study agency, we have submitted the contract and initial fees to our placing agency, and we have received our Mt. Everest packet from our home study agency.

Thankfully we received the pack just before Easter break which gave us time to work on it this weekend. While we were very busy over our little break, we mostly rejoiced in our Savior’s gift to us and the sacrifice that was made for our short comings. We feel blessed to even have this opportunity to have another little one and we do not dare complain. Therefore we are filling out this paperwork with pleasure! One component of the paperwork was to write an autobiography which I had completed before the pack even arrived (have you heard we are pretty excited-haha!) I am also proud to say Adam and I plowed through 90% of that pack and are only missing some fingerprints, some notarized signatures, and getting cashiers checks for some more fees to various agencies. yay!!! Please say a prayer we did not leave anything out of these forms though because it would be brutal to start over. IF it all looks good then we will be assigned our social worker who will begin to set up the interview portion. We are also waiting on our “workbook” as they call it from our placing agency which includes more….. paperwork. At this point, I am thinking Bring It! We are ready to do whatever we need to do to bring our child home to our family, friends, and community. This week we will celebrate Baron’s 7th birthday and next year we can’t wait for the whole family to be around him to sing Happy Birthday.

Speaking of the people we love…. this journey has us relying on many. We have found comfort in knowing so many are rallying around us and wanted to take this opportunity to give you all a shout out! You guys are filling out references, praying for us, helping us raise funds, offering us words of encouragement, and sharing in our joy. You can not imagine how much it means to us! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can’t wait to share our little one with you….hopefully sooner than later ;)

For now I’m climbing Mt. Everest like a beast!

Heidi

My Mustard Seed

My mom gave me a tiny little mustard seed one day when I was little and taught me Matthew 17:20 “..Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” I learned that God’s word is filled with instructions for having faith, loving generously, and obeying him.

So here’s the deal, we have always wanted a large family filled with support for each other, fun adventures, and unconditional love. We also always wanted to have four children but knew we also wanted to adopt at some point in our lives. We have continuously made comments throughout our marriage about how wonderful.. and some day… and wouldn’t it be amazing to…. but those thoughts were quickly followed with how would we…. how would they…. when could we…. what would we need….You get the picture. All the worries. Those always caused us to push pause on adoption thoughts. I mean we are already a big ole crazy family known for a thousand events going on at once, having spontaneous road trips, and keeping it real. We already are not perfect, we run late, we forget things, and sometimes …oh my…we don’t have healthy home cooked meals AND our house is messy. You see our priorities are more in line with love God, love each other, have fun, savor the little moments, stress less, prioritize, and forgive. Despite that, this world tells me often how far from perfect we are and it left us feeling like we weren’t qualified to adopt in some way.

Fast forward to now (aka some day), when coincidence becomes God’s directions and worries become my mustard seed opportunity. A few weeks ago we were rolling through a hospital parking lot to visit our dear grandparent who was just diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. His diagnosis came in the midst of several other traumatic events in our lives and we were feeling very shaken. On the way to the hospital we had been chatting about our family, our oldest daughter talking about hypothetically if we adopted …some day. Then we saw a couple with a little girl in a stroller go by our car, her little almond eyes and black hair so sweet. We both sighed with a joint oh some day longing. Then we both said isn’t that funny we were just talking about adoption and laughed a little. Suddenly my phone dinged with a Facebook alert. It was my aunt who had tagged me in a video of a little orphan. She simply wrote maybe this is your China baby. You see my aunt has adopted twice from the China adoption program, once with the special needs waiting list. Her first adoption was 9 years ago and the other a year after. She has always known we wanted to adopt at some point but has never in nearly a decade of experience sent me a child’s picture or video. So hmmm this is wild right? Well we walk into the hospital with all of us a little stunned at the coincidental events that just happened. Adam, Taylor, and I are all trying to get my phone to load the video as we take the elevator up with no luck. We resigned to check it out later, we were still very concerned about our grandfather. On our way home that night we talked about how odd that those things just happened and maybe we should perhaps check into the process or start learning a little more. We both lit up at the thought of even considering. Excitement filled our car on that ride home. It’s funny, it’s the same excitement that fills you when you decide to start “trying” in biological baby world. I recognize that now in hindsight, it was exactly the same. It was a very bright light in a dark week for us.

Purchased 9 years ago with no clue how it would impact us today. God's plans are so awesome huh?

Purchased 9 years ago with no clue how it would impact us today. God’s plans are so awesome huh?

Nothing was definite though but we knew that was odd to have those little things happen all together and we should investigate the adoption process. We arrived home, settled everyone in and laid in the bed together. I pulled up that video my aunt had sent and this time it loaded fully. After I watched it I looked under the video and Adam and I both couldn’t believe it. It said contact me! Okay,  not really me but it had my first AND last name in the contact info! Hmmm well that was a little crazy. So we went to our next move..follow that organization my aunt does on Facebook, lets see what it’s all about. The moment I followed it, a post popped up with a picture of a little girl and her nanny. The post said look at little HEIDI…! Um, okay this was really blowing my mind a little. That’s when things got serious. Adam and I both smiled ear to ear, we couldn’t believe it and as we prayed about it, talked about, we felt God with us. I can not explain that feeling but man you KNOW it when it happens! We were being given clear directions. It was magical. So here we were in the midst of fear, anxieties, a broken state with all that had been going on and God was telling us you know that little dream in the back of your minds and hearts, it’s time. We started to educate ourselves more, learning as much as we could. We told our children and they surprised us with their excitement! After all, we are already in some people’s eyes a big crazy family so we worried a little about their reaction. Our oldest daughter’s eyes lit up, our youngest daughter told us to get 2, and our sons both shared how they could help. Our youngest son came to us and said he was worried about us adopting. We hesitantly asked him why and his reply melted our hearts, “I’m worried we won’t get her.” Yup, heart is now mush. So there was this blissful week, then our fears cropped up again and one day were particularly distinct. How on earth were we going to afford this! My aunt had sent a quick note to check into an organization that does grants but I had not investigated it yet. That night I pulled a couple books from the shelf to read for bedtime. My tiniest curled up in my lap, my sons cuddled next to me, and my oldest daughter across the room I began to read. It was a children’s adoption book I had purchased when my aunt adopted the first time around 9 years ago. I had not read it since that time and decided to pull it out since we were about to pursue this journey. When I finished and the kids fell asleep I read the insert in the front that told the true story including a website at the bottom named after the child in the book. When I googled the organization I learned the name had changed because it had grown so much over the years and it was now the SAME organization my aunt sent me info on! So how is it a book I had bought 9 years ago was becoming so relevant now and contained the information my heart had been worried about? I will tell you. God knows HIS plans for us. He also knows when we need encouragement. It was clear we would not be able to “…on earth be able to afford this.” but with heavenly blessings and guidance He would show us the way. So there it was our charge for Faith. Stepping out regardless of all the worries that spun in our minds and following the path in our hearts led by Faith. I am a super planner, driven, take charge kinda gal. That night I put my hands up, relinquished my fears, and followed my heart and God’s will. Adam and I both decided we are keeping it simple. We will follow our Lord’s desires for us because when he is with us in this journey what could ever be against us? There was relief. Strangely giving up control and turning it over to our Lord was so comforting. We knew we had the ultimate supporter. Then we got REALLY excited! Our little dream we had suppressed for so long was getting God’s permission to pursue! Game on!

So with the Faith of a mustard seed  here we are. We have dove in head first. It’s exhilarating, humbling, and so beautifully emotional. We started researching, filling out paperwork, seeking documents, and starting fund raising. Presently, we have been accepted by our agency (woohoo!!) and have begun the initial steps to the home study. Reflecting with each other, Adam and I are both surprised, but probably shouldn’t be, just how similar our emotions are in this journey to the pregnancy and births of our first four. We realized those fears we had about adoption were the same before we conceived each of our other children (like how to afford children, how the other children will respond, etc.) and now the patience we need while we wait are the same feelings of anticipation, the need to prepare, and the desire to wrap our arms around our child as soon as possible! I have found even more admiration for my husband; in his big heart and watching his desire for another child. His excitement makes my heart smile. He told me today to stop watching pictures and videos of babies in programs there because it just made the wait harder for him since he wanted her pronto. It is with faith, love, and hope we embark as a family on this journey to Seven. Writing this knowing our child may already be in this world waiting on us makes our pursuit feel urgent and magical all at the same time. We ask for your prayers for us and if you have words of encouragement, don’t keep those to yourself! If you are a naysayer, well, you CAN keep that to yourself ;) This family is flying on the wings of Faith.

Love and Blessings,

Heidi