Gotcha, Adoption Day, and Medical Exam

GOTCHA
Monday was our day to meet our daughter. You will often hear this referred to as “gotcha day.” We got up early still having trouble with our days and nights running together. We had breakfast in the hotel, face timed with family. We had to exchange our money before going on our own. Everyone was very helpful but we encountered a disgruntled customer while there which made the event eventful! We were so relieved to get the money exchanged and go back to the room. Then we had to wait only a few hours that felt like eternity until our van and guide picked us up. Finally the time came and we met two other families about to meet their children for the first time ever. Of all the many things I will take away from this experience is getting to share in this life changing process with others and hearing their stories and meeting their children. One child is 13, she would age out in two weeks becoming unadoptable due to the regulations here. Seeing her so beautiful, healthy, and smart it blows my mind and breaks my heart she waited for so long. I am so blessed to be able to witness her being adopted and getting a her family finally. I can’t bear to think of her aging out. It is such a precious thing to get to witness!

Once we arrived we were shuttled into an elevator with wooden floor and wooden walls that kinda peel back a bit. We came out at our room for adoption affairs. We were sat down on a bench in a room filled with other families all waiting to meet their children. One by one, the families were called up and the children were brought out of a room with nannies and other children to the center room where we all were. While sitting there we watched families experience that moment. What I learned is that it isn’t necessarily a beautiful thing but more heartbreaking. Adoption is beautiful but not easy. This day is glorious for us because we get our child but for them they are terrified, nervous, and have no idea sometimes what is happening to them. Finally we were called and all of a sudden our little girl was brought out to us. I can’t tell you what happened exactly in that moment. It was so rushed, so emotional, so intense I will have to watch the home video to see myself. I know I kneeled in front of her and someone said I could pick her up so I did. I headed away from the chaos as much as possible (not possible) and we gave her snacks and a toy to distract her from the fear I knew she was feeling. She was wearing a little read sweater with white stripes and blue sweater leggings with Rudolph on the bottom :) She sucked on a sucker we brought but you could tell she was just being brave. The snacks lasted a little while and she worked hard to hold it together for a bit. Then she saw the man who drove her there. She cried, then big crocodile tears, then screams and reaching for them. There was no consoling this grief. She just had to let it out. I am glad she did though. She feels, even though she tries very hard to have a brave face (What not even two year old tries to have a brave face?) she let it out. She grieved so much she finally fell asleep on Adam when I was doing paperwork. We were the last to leave the room as our guide had us finish up some paperwork to make the next day go smoother. Our sweet girl was temporarily ours for the next 24 hours. When back at the room she remained stoic. Strong but willing to let us feed her, give her drinks, and eventually a little sponge bath. We could see just how tiny she was and her little timid face showed signs of maybe letting us into her world. She fell asleep between us and slept the entire night. We woke up periodically and found her to sleep hard but occasionally whimpered with little sobs. Heartbreaking what she has had to endure. It’s why I twinge a little when people say she is lucky. Perhaps because she has a family now compared to others who may never have the love of a family, yes lucky, but considering all she has lost in her little lifetime and experienced, definitely would I never consider our baby girl lucky. I would call her resilient.

She discovered how to push the button to take a selfie on the van ride back on gotcha day

She discovered how to push the button to take a selfie on the van ride back on gotcha day

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Adoption Day: Forever Family Day
Tuesday was the day we had to return to the same place we met her and go through two interviews pledging to care for her forever and never hurt her. Our guide is wonderful and helps us prepare the paperwork we need for each of these sessions ahead of time. We got our baby girl up, ate breakfast, and came back to the room to wait. She ate and drank well for us. Occasionally, she would look a bit scared in her eyes and her little lip would quiver but she stayed strong. I have never met a two year old trying to bite back tears like she does. It is a testament to what a strong little girl we have. She is a warrior. We got the sense she was tolerating us but not 100% sure yet. She played some and we even saw a few smiles. Her grin is beautiful. We face timed again with family eager to show them our little one and check in on things at home. I was happy to hear things are going well back across the world. Our sweet four are waiting so patiently to meet their sister. When we came back to the room to finalize the adoption, MeiLin was immediately tense. We could feel it in her body and her little hands clung to my shirt as if begging to please don’t leave her as someone had the day before. It showed us that she understands the potential for abandonment and fears it happening at any turn. She is guarded to this. The room definitely triggered the day before’s emotions as she began to cry again. It was easier this time to find a quiet spot though to comfort her and hold her tight. I pray she felt in my arms that I would never relinquish her. This was a long process 4-5 hours I think. (I still have no firm concept of time and days) It so emotional too that time takes a backseat to watching for her emotional state and responding to it. Once back in the room we all napped and face timed a bit more. We discovered she communicates to us that she needs to go potty and does! Only at night it seems she uses her diaper. She chatted more and we believe she knows we cannot understand her language so she points and gestures mostly even though her communication is well developed in her native language. We have heard 3-4 words strung together! Each moment with her teaches us something about her. It is a mind-blowing process getting to know your daughter this way. We showed her photos of the kids and she saw Lilly’s and said “men-mei” (sister) AH! Such a precious moment! She will love her siblings!

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Medical Exam Day & Applying for Passport
Wednesday we had to prepare to go to the medical exam and to the police station to apply for her passport. It was an afternoon appointment so we had the morning to just be together. Wow! What a difference a day makes! Our little girl is coming out of her shell! She LOVED FaceTime with her siblings. She grinned ear to ear at them and even giggled a bit at Lilly singing with a doll. I can’t wait to get her home to meet them. She ran around the room too, before she wouldn’t leave our arms and wouldn’t move too far on the sofa from us. I think she was feeling a little more safe and felt it okay to explore a bit. She played many things with us, taking turns, showing us stuff, telling us what to do with her little pointer finger, and making silly faces! At the exam clinic we discovered she will go to anyone though. This will require some intentional attachment work. Her little charming faces apparently have helped her survive her time in the orphanage by getting her attention and doting from anyone. We need to teach her that only mama and baba get hugs and love though not strangers. This will be a safety concern for us that we will need to pay close attention to. It’s why we mentioned the need to limit her needs being met to just us and not letting others hold her. She is still learning who her parents are. As far as she knows anyone giving her attention could be so we are setting those boundaries purposefully of her emotional development and well being. She is a charmer though! She gives high fives, blows kisses, shares with other children, and more! She is so amazing and special. Today she called me mama! She knows baba too! This tiny princess is a survivor! She has some boos boos that are hard to figure out. In this process you have no way of knowing where that bruise came from, or those bug bites, etc. You can just guess and try to take care of them. Her paperwork is a bit odd too because some things the file said she has, she doesn’t so we had to make sure it was all correct though so she could get her clearance to come back to the US with us. We also learned a bit about her medical care while she was here and that she just got out of the hospital the day we got her on Monday! What an awful day for her! Gosh our girl is brave! While she opened up a lot to us today we still see moments that remind us of her story. Out of nowhere she will grow quiet, lip quiver, or even cry a bit. She has been through a lot and this is her life story forever. It is never personal towards us and we know that. She will likely have moments that manifest her whole life in some way related to the grief she has experienced in her first two years of life. Understanding this and knowing how to raise her to process and heal through everything is at the forefront of our minds.

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Orphanage Visit & Finding Spot
Today, we will travel two hours to visit her orphanage and see where she was found. I am anticipating this process to be emotionally evoking for her and us. I am worried it will again set her backwards in her attachment to us as she is reminded of her home and caregivers that she has had for a year now. My heart will be in pieces for her but also for the other children who have not had their forever family come forward for them and still wait there. Seeing her finding spot will lead us to grieve with her biological family who had to make that decision on that day. I will likely not share many details of these events. They are hers to share when she is older and can make that decision herself. Honestly, I don’t think I could bring myself to write about them anyway. Please pray for these precious children that wait and if any of you who are reading this feel a twinge in your heart feel free to reach out to us. Do not let fear make your decisions, let God. He does amazing things and overcomes all obstacles!

Forever more
Having her with us has given us peace. We finally feel whole! For the past several months we literally felt broken, the stress unbelievable in our hearts. Finally we have our daughter. We thank God for carrying us through the process and to her. Without His direction our lives would be so boring ;) She is unbelievably amazing. Strong, beautiful, brave, brilliant, and OURS! Please continue to pray for her. This tiny girl has just had to endure so very much, more than any living being should ever have to. The fact that despite it all she is willing to play with us, trust us, and give us these glimpses of her true self are a testament to her strength and God’s grace. He loves her as He loves all his children and we know He has her in His care. Pray for our other children at home as well. We still have about 9 days before we will see them. They too have been so brave. Pray for our travel when it comes time. I am a bit nervous about getting through all the security processes with a toddler in tow at each stop.

Thank you all for supporting us, lifting us up, and joining us in this journey. Your messages have given us smiles and encouragement when we are tired and worried. Thank you.

God Bless,
Heidi

We made it!!

Adam prepping his nerves before the CLT to JFK flight

Adam prepping his nerves before the CLT to JFK flight

Getting off the plane in Guangzhou.

Getting off the plane in Guangzhou.

Turbulent tundra but soo pretty! We loved seeing so many amazing things!

Turbulent tundra but soo pretty! We loved seeing so many amazing things!

Adam ready for our flight from JFK to Beijing

Adam ready for our flight from JFK to Beijing

Our flight pattern from JFK to NY... Over the top

Our flight pattern from JFK to NY… Over the top

Our plane from JFK to Beijing

Our plane from JFK to Beijing

Yay for adventures! Our trip started early at 4am when the in laws called to tell us they were outside waiting to drive us to the airport 2.5 hours away. We were still asleep so we scramble

d and ran out the door to catch our flight. Getting through the first airport was pretty easy. Everyone was super helpful. I didn’t know you should not reach your hand inside the xray box and grab your stuff at security and then try to shove it back when I panicked and realized it was a no no haha! The flight from Charlotte to New

Going over Chesapeake Bay Area

Going over Chesapeake Bay Area

York was our first ever. It was a smaller plane but very nice. Jet Blue hooks you up with directv, snacks, etc. I’m pretty sure Adam had a brief heart attack on take off but once we were in the air he settled.

We arrived at JFK on time and found our way to the other side where our gate was. We got through the checking with our airline then security. This was way busier and crazier than Charlotte but still easy to navigate. The people were super helpful. I can’t tell you how many laughed though when we told them this was our first time and where our destination was. So apparently we are nuts but we knew that already. Adam and I are always walking on faith and rarely textbook folks :) Once we found our gate we could relax and wait for a bit. Adam grabbed some food and drinks so I could take my antibiotics for my sinus infection. Hello pressure on the landings! The nasal spray does help with that FYI. It turns out my motion sickness is also awesome on take off! I figured this out on the first flight so while waiting at JFK decided to take Dramamine. Well 45 minutes later my head is falling over and I can’t figure out why I was so exhausted then I remembered the mess…. They called our boarding and we were off on our 13.5 hour flight to Beijing!

This one surprised us since we headed over Canada, the arctic and that direction. The economy seats were super cramped but there were movies (I watched Maleficent, The Other Woman,and Blended), TV, games, and more. We had two meals.. A little different but good overall. Adam struggled to communicate drink choice but we ended up with Pepsi so all worked out. I had the window seat which was nice but got cold over the arctic. I also had Adams shoulder to sleep on and so did the little woman on his other side lol!!! She was a reporter who had been in the US for 11 days. We struggled a little with language but overall learned she has a little boy the same age as Lilly and mommies connect regardless of languages and cultures :) so at some point I was out cold from the Dramamine and awoke with an announcement to buckle up due to significant turbulence. Say what? We learned in less than a second turbulence over the tundra is no fun! After a few times though and some prayers we were settled. We were so happy to arrive in Bejing! We knew only one more flight to go!

Arrival at Bejing was crazy. We didn’t know where to go so thankfully a policeman helped us. He guided us to a sign that said foreigners. We went through that checkpoint then customs, then security…. Oh security… There are no photos of our time in Bejing. That is due to anxiety at the time and the numerous signs saying no photos. The beeper went off on me so I had to stand on a box while a very nice woman police officer patted me down. Adam got the same thing but by a nice man. Then his bag was flagged because of my wallet in it. We sent it back through and all was well. I can’t tell you enough though how kind and helpful so many people were! They were genuine and caring. I’m so thankful! We got to our gate just before they called for boarding.

Our next flight was to Guangzhou and our last one! We were so relieved once we landed! We were surprised though that we weren’t let out in a gate but outside. We just followed the crowd to a bus that took us to the airport entrance. There we got our checked bag and looked for our guide. She was no where. A very nice man in a suit said she was meeting us at the hotel…. Or at least that’s what we Thought he was saying. After a lot of confusion about “Apple hotel” or “at hotel” we realized as he tried to put us in a taxi that he was saying “airport hotel”! Then we were both saying no no no… After that we were all turned around in there and couldn’t figure out how to call our lead guide for our agency here. I must admit at this point I was stressing. Those guys in suits offered that “Apple hotel” so many times I finally just sat down in the middle of the airport and said I was trying to blend in until we figured it out. We got our guide on the phone and she said she didn’t know she was supposed to meet us and suggested taxi. One of the suit guys said it was an hour away and taxi was “380 China money”… Which we had none of yet! So I plopped in a chair and called our agencies in C guide. It was 2:30am. Pretty sure I woke him up. He was so apologetic though and said he would come get us. As I waited I propped my feet up on my roller suitcase near several other sleeping people in the airport. Then my bag fell over making a huge crash and startling all these people awake! So much for blending. Adam kept pacing like a caged tiger so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only anxious one we just handle stress differently. He wanted to go look for our guide, try a better place easier to be found, etc. I reminded the Boy Scout of his lesson to stay put and refused to move. It was about an hour later we called and he was there. That was a good thing because they turned off the lights where we were! The airport is huge though so Adam calls him and then tells me to go to the exit and he will be pulling up. We waited outside for a while… No guy. Finally Adam calls again and they talk about number 11. Adam sees numbers around the side of the building and thinks there is number 9 so surely 11 is nearby. He wants me to walk the sidewalk in the dark to get there…. Um no. We had a little disagreement and as my stubborn butt comes trekking back up the sidewalk we hear our guide calling our names from the place we had just left! There was numbers over the doorways and we had been standing at 10 with 11 right next to us! We were so happy to see him. Adam and I laughed ourselves silly for our stupidity but at the end boy scouts rock stay put!

Our guide was so kind and apologetic for the mix up. We had a nice chat on our ride to the hotel. Once we got to the hotel we checked in and upgraded to executive. So happy we did. I’m still not used to everything in C money though so prices initially make my heart skip then I remember it’s not US dollars. Like when she said holding $10,000 I was like WHAT?! Then oh yeah… I can’t figure out if I’m just an idiot or so severely sleep deprived I’m just running on an empty tank. Once we were checked in we couldn’t read the signs to find the elevators the couldn’t work the elevator once we found them! Again helpful people everywhere! Once in our room it took the lights going out 10 times before we figured out that you have to leave the room key in the light switch to power them! We facetimed the kids before sleeping. Their sweet faces and us finally reaching our destination left us calm and ready for a nap. We started this journey at 4am on Friday and arrive at 3:30amSunday here. I’m going to take another nap… Tomorrow we will get our daughter! While you sleep Sunday night we will be awakening and going to meet her! We are praising God for safely delivering us here and ask for your continued prayers for her comfort during this emotional time and for our children at home. MeiLin is too young to realize what is about to happen to her and our babies at home are anxious to meet her. They are so brave to make it 2 weeks without us and we are so proud of their sacrifices so for their sister. I can’t wait to have everyone together! Thank you all!

blessings,

Heidi

(The pics are out of order because I’m blogging from my phone sorry)

At Last……

I am this close and it has been one of the more difficult weeks so far. I struggled to keep everyone updated with everything that was happening. It was happening so fast and I was working so hard to get everything fixed, taken care of, sent, notarized, paid for, consulted with, emailed back to, etc. etc. that I couldn’t find any solid time to talk to anyone about it all. There was also a part of me that was so stressed and worried that I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it to anyone. I just had to dig deep, focus on our girl, and take care of everything and everyone. I probably wouldn’t be writing now but I am so sick I can’t bring myself to lift my head off the couch so I thought it to be a good time to let you all in on the news. We had hoped to have left by now but as you can see we are still stateside. Many, many things went wrong and it has delayed our travel. It’s been a bit constant like that actually during this journey but man the blessing at the end of these trials is going to be AMAZING!! God is blessing us with a sweet baby girl for our family! I can’t wait to see what he has planned for her precious life! I know it is going to be incredible. We are so stinkin’ close to holding our baby girl FINALLY!! We also have 99% of the hurdles behind us! Right now we are focused on a few appointments and things this week to wrap it up. We have our final itinerary though so you can all follow along and pray for our travels! So we are choosing to focus on the future, forget the struggles, and be ready to experience a huge blessing.

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We have a few prayer requests while we are gone. Please pray for my family. My uncle passed away yesterday and was so dearly loved. His absence will be felt significantly by many. Please continue to pray for MeiLin. She is about to lose everything she knows. Imagine being kidnapped by people from a different country! She has already lost so much already and now is about to experience such loss again. Please also pray for her health as well. Pray for our crew here and all those supporting them. Our children have a lot going on while we are away. We have prepared them as much as possible and they will be staying at our home with family caring for them to keep their lives as consistent as possible during the stress of not having parents. Love on them a little extra for us would ya? Pray for safe travels and our health. This is our first time flying…ever so that should be an experience and I am not well now and am not trying to get quarantined with people thinking I have ebola!

There are also a few reminders for everyone. Please remember the trauma our child has endured and be considerate of our requests and decisions. We are being very purposeful in our decisions for our family when we return to help everyone with the adjustment and changes. We realize it is the holidays and with that comes a lot of chaos in schedules, family gatherings, different homes, people, etc. Read one book on adoption and you will know none of that is good for a child trying to adjust and heal. We promise to do the best we can for everyone but our children’s well being will be at the forefront of every decision we make. For MeiLin we need time together as a family so she can learn who her family is. Adam and I will be the ONLY people meeting her needs. We will hold her, feed her, bath her, dress her, comfort her, etc. She has had many caregivers and will need this consistency in order to understand and develop the absolutely necessary relationship with us as her parents. We also do not want to overwhelm her sensory system with too much variability in her environments.So we welcome your visits and calls but please do not ask to hold her. We promise you will get to one day just not yet :)

Having said all that. We are ready to be a family of 7!! Below is our schedule while in China!! Remember times are in China. We will try to update this blog while there so you can also see her sweet face in the perfect place finally…our arms!!!

Thank you all for your continued support and love!

Heidi

Fly out of Charlotte at 10:50am on Nov 7

Nov.9: SUNDAY
Take flight CA1329 to Guangzhou at 12:20am Guide will take you to the China hotel.

Nov. 10: MONDAY
Change money .Receive child at civil affairs office __2:30___pm

Nov.11: TUESDAY
Adoption Registration and notary work at civil affairs office. Afterwards, grocery shopping.

Nov.12: WEDNESDAY
Medical exam.Apply for children’s passport.

Nov.13: THURSDAY
Visit Longang orphanage. If finding spot is far from orphanage, extra cost in cash may be requested by driver.

Nov. 14 : FRIDAY
Family to visit Safari park and circus. Guide will take care of paperwork.

Nov.15: SATURDAY
Prepare consulate paperwork. Pearl River cruise.

Nov. 16: SUNDAY
Pearl market, embroidery shop and Shamian Island for shopping.

Nov.17: MONDAY
Consulate appointment at 8:30am.

Nov. 18: TUESDAY
Pick up visa.

Nov.19: WEDNESDAY
Free on own.

Nov.20:THURSDAY
Free on own.

Nov.21:FRIDAY
Leave for Beijing by CA1329 at 8:25am. Guide will help you to check in at the airport.

Arrive back in Charlotte on Friday, November 21 at 7:00pm

Oh so close!

We are getting ever so close to travel! Today our article 5 was picked up. The significance you ask? Well once we had the full approval of the US immigration and had our I800 approved and NVC letter cabled over to the US Consulate in China we had to wait for our agency to drop off the article 5 (part of the Hague Treaty for adoptions) and then picked back up once ready. Typically this is a 2 week process. However, MeiLin is a medical expedite adoption so we prayed they would grant her a quick approval! I sent out the prayer request to our immediate family members who have been my intimate prayer warriors when I hit my knees and need help. That request went out yesterday afternoon and at 4:54 this morning I had an email that said it was approved and already picked up by our agency rep! I didn’t see the email though in my busy day until I got smacked in the face with a ladybug (literally) and knowing that was a symbol of good luck and closeness in our adoption I checked the email!

This season has been such a whirlwind of emotions for our family and honestly, very stressful, yet it has also been full of hope and faith. Adam’s grandfather passed away from his battle with cancer in the early hours of this past Saturday. Our hearts have been on the floor and bleeding and then God has given us rebirth and renewed hope for joy again in milestones to our daughter. The Friday prior to his passing we received our notification that the visa letter was cabled over from the US to the consulate there. Every time we are devastated HE picks us up. We have felt the relationships so interconnected. Our journey to her and feeling of God giving us permission to pursue our dream of another little one through adoption came the same night we traveled to visit Papa in the hospital at his first biopsy. It was that night we distinctly felt God with us in the car ride home and felt a joy and peace take over. We knew we had a daughter to pursue. Even though our race to her did not get her here in time to meet him in person we know he loved her and will always have a bond that supersedes our human touch. Our race to her is going to result in getting her home safe and in the best possible health we could ensure. This little tiny blessed orphan will no longer be identified as a “foundling”! She will forever more be a granddaughter of Papa and a precious child of ours.

Tonight we have held our flights tentative until the final travel approval comes and have booked our hotel stay. We know what our itinerary probably will look like but nothing is set in stone yet. It is really happening. I don’t know how though looking back on everything. It has been so very stressful, so busy, so complicated, so detailed, so heart wrenching, and SO WORTH IT!!! I sat in the floor tonight rolling her little outfits in air tight bags for easy packing in a carry on and jumping around to appointments. It becomes very real to look at her tiny pink onsie and know soon we will have her sweet little body filling it out.

I will tell you we are under a great deal of stress right now. We have never flown and I think we have both read everything flight related we can to try to understand what in the world we can and cannot do. Once we do finally get the travel approval we have a ton to do! We have to finish the house I have torn apart in my nesting storm. We still have to get a bunch of different medications to take with us. We have to actually pack OUR clothes and things. I have to type out daily schedules for 14 days for four beautiful babies I am leaving at home that each seem to have a ton of events during the expected time frame. I have to assign adults to be responsible for said children for all of those necessary events. I need to prepare meals for those same children to eat while I am gone since this may turn into serious birth control for my sister who is caring for them most of the time if I don’t try to do something to ease the complication. I still need to take the four kiddos here to get their flu shots because again- tragic if that happens while mommy is on the other side of the world! I need to contact all the teachers, coaches, my collaboration team members from work related events, family, and oh so many more to let them know of our absence and to warn them if my kiddos look a mess or are missing homework, late to practice, or missing lunch money to speak kindly, be patient, and pray for them because their parents are on the other side of the world and they are probably worried, apprehensive, and anxious for us to come home.

While we have these stressors, we are faithful and hopeful. We know somehow just like every other moment in the journey when it all seemed impossible, it will all be okay and in the end we will hold our little girl finally safe in our arms. God has us all so wrapped up in his arms and we have felt him, seen his work, and been given his blessings and signs so clearly in our adoption of MeiLin that we have zero doubt he will carry us through this last step to make her ours.

Finally, as I finished packing her bag, I placed a tiny little pink elephant that I bought her the week we submitted our letter of intent in early July. Adam and the kids made fun of me because they said it looked more like a pig than an elephant because it had a curly tail. As I placed it in the bag I noticed it still had the tags and as I went to pull them off I took the time to read them. The brand was called Bunnies by the Bay. Inside it said proud supporters of Half the Sky and committed to supporting the needs of orphans in China…. Thank you God. I love how you remind your poor weak daughter over and over of your love and presence.

Counting my blessings tonight and choosing faith,hope,and love.

Blessings,
Heidi

Coming Soon! The big LOA today!

Coming soon to our town is this little girl!

meilin alone at the toddler gate in orphanage

Her lonely little face will be lonely no more very soon. This picture along with several others was shared with us a couple weeks ago from another sweet momma who was my angel that day. I can’t help but look into those sweet little eyes and just feel her soul begging us to come hold her. We have another photo that we will not share for privacy but it broke our hearts. When we first got the photo we didn’t know it would have her in it. As soon as the image uploaded on my computer I saw one tiny little girl on the end of the row of children waiting lined up at the gate with only her arms stretched up as far as they could begging to be held. I couldn’t believe it, she was our little girl. She needs her mommy and daddy to get her fast. We want her to crave that love from someone but know if she doesn’t get it, eventually little ones give up and stop striving for it. We are ready to run to her and scoop up that little princess and hold her until she is 25!

It has been a very emotional and busy past few weeks in our family but today we were blessed with some amazing news. In the midst of illness,travel,big decisions, and heartbreak we received notice that we had our letter seeking confirmation or letter of approval as some call it (LSC or LOA) showing up in computer system! This was the last big wait for us and a big last hurdle. From here we still have lots of paperwork with various government agencies both here and there but the average from now to travel for most in our situation is just 4 weeks! We can barely believe it! I have been praying for another little girl waiting and her family that are facing a scary situation and became worried about MeiLin. I emailed our agency yesterday and there was no news. Today…. BLESSED! This came WAY before what is typical timelines. God answers prayers without a doubt and I have been on my knees many times in this process and not once has he left me to cry on my own.

Thank you God for the amazing way you comfort us and give us exactly what we need when we need it. My trust and faith in you is forever.

Little MeiLin we are coming soon for you! Everyone here cannot wait to love you for eternity!

To the rest of the world, get ready because I am going to look like a mess the next few weeks. We still have LOTS to do and prepare to make her transition home easy and our travel happen.

Keep us in your prayers and pray that our baby girl stays healthy and well while she waits for us.

Blessings!
Heidi

We got LID!!!!!!!!

Sweet MeiLin,
Baby girl we are trying so very hard to get to you fast. We pray for you day and night. We pray you are well taken care of, that God softens the hearts of those that come in contact with our paper work, and that he quickly brings you to us. We also have family and friends everywhere praying for you too! Today once again we found out how prayers work. God must have some really great plans for you sweet girl because today we got an email that read:

“……..Your prayers must be working. Your dossier is logged in and already in China! (we couldn’t believe it either!)…..”

For everyone reading this we were DTC Friday, getting a log in date (LID) is usually a minimum of a week and around two weeks most of the time. We just got it in a weekend!

There is still plenty of steps to happen yet but we celebrate milestones to our baby. This girl is no longer an orphan. She is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, and cousin, and more than anything this girl is loved! Soon, her world will change and she will feel every bit of this love for herself.

walking with tree in background

Three Little Letters for One Little Lady

Folks in the world of international adoption some of the most amazing uplifting days happen when your agency tells you that you have three letters. For us today was one of them. We are officially DTC!!!!!!!

DTC means our dossier (the paper version of every aspect of our entire life documenting each little moment in this process thus far and all the details of our family since the beginning of our time on Earth including medical exams, financial documents, letters, a home study including our life stories, photos of our family and our home, criminal clearances, immigration services approval, and sooo much more is ALL approved, done, and in the air to CHINA!!!!!!!

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

This photo was taken by Adam at a random post office he mailed it all from RIGHT after he picked it up from the China Embassy! This photo took him an enormous amount of work. You see, last week when we received our approval from US Homeland Security we thought we could be DTC really quick. Then we found out that using the system from our agency to complete all the state seals and Chinese authentications was actually going to take at least another month if we had them do it. There was a huge moment of disappointment, crushed hearts, and tears. THEN we went to action. We only get knocked down for a little while before we get up swinging and swinging we did. We called everyone, emailed everyone, and wrote everyone learning how to do it ourselves. We put a POA in place. Remember our POAs? Plan of Action. Hawkins family necessity. The plan was for Adam to run to Richmond (our state capitol), get yet another marriage certificate because the first was rejected, then run to the Secretary of State’s office and get the marriage certificate and approval from US Homeland Security sealed by the state. Following that he needed to drive straight to DC to the US State Department to get all the documents authenticated by the US then run over to the Chinese Embassy to get all the documents authenticated there. It all had to happen on this specific day because I was traveling out of town and he had to work. HOWEVER, in order to get the US State Department seals you have to get an appointment and they only give an appointment if you are traveling within 48 hours OR if it is a life or death situation. Here’s where things got real. You see, this is a life or death situation for our daughter. She must come home and we needed the appointment the next day.

Adam spoke with a not so nice person who would not give him an appointment. He told her it was life or death and she said she needed a letter from China saying so but agreed to let him email what we had (several letters from US physicians, specialists, and a national agency on her condition.) She finished with telling him the next available appointment was two weeks away. Again, tears, frustration, and get up swinging! I texted my prayer worriers and told them to get on their knees! Prayers work! We sent the letters via email and another containing our phone numbers because I left that part off. I then had to send another email with MY phone number because Adam was so tired I was afraid he would miss the call. Not seconds after I emailed my number, my cell rang. It was someone at the US State Department and she was LOVELY! She said she had received the medical documents and agreed to give us an appointment the next day!! Guess what her name was??….. Ms. Hawkins!!

Thank you GOD!

Game on again. I am telling you now this is a roller coaster of a lifetime. The next morning Adam left with his father driving him at 3:30am and me texting the prayer worriers again. He got the marriage certificate without delay then headed to the Secretary of State’s office. They nearly rejected one form but let the minor detail go and they all received their state seal!

Image 2

Off to Washington DC he went then! Prayer worriers were again updated and called to action. Through traffic and getting lost a bit, he made it to the correct office eventually for his appointment at the US State Department and all the documents received their authentications that they were all correct and signed by true officials in our country!

US State seal

Now his last stop was at the Chinese Embassy but it turns out the authentications really happen at a different office location for them. When he finally found it he only had 20 minutes before they closed. Again, all the prayer worriers were notified we need this big time! He walked in, took a number, and waited. Once he was called up the gentleman pointed out two problems. We were missing copies of the other seals (we already had copies of everything else for them along with the originals) and we had an outdated translation form. He handed him a new form and sent him off. Adam sent me a message to tell everyone to pray. So I did. He then ran to ask around for a copy location and was told by the security guard to go upstairs. There he found a worker who helped him copy everything while he completed the new form and put it all back together. He then ran back downstairs, went back in the line, got another number and waited. At that point it was 3 minutes to closing. They called him up at the last minute. They took his documents and gave him a return date. The next gentleman in line was turned away.

The next few days we prayed they would not reject anything. It had taken us months to get each of those documents completed we just couldn’t think of losing more time from our daughter. Then the day came to pick them up and learn of their fate. Prayer worriers once again were called to action and our God delivered!

Image 1

They were approved!!!! Every document received the Chinese Authentication!!

That was the last step in our dossier journey. Adam sent it overnight to our agency and they shipped it today off to China. Our dossier will be logged in (LID: log in date) translated (OOT: out of translation) and reviewed by the authorities that protect the little ones waiting for forever families making sure we are a suitable family after all for our little princess. Once the final review occurs we will receive a letter of approval (LOA) which will be followed shortly by travel approval. There are some steps in between we will need to do once we get LOA but no need to bother you with those right now. Let’s just celebrate and praise GOD we are DTC!!!

We also received an update today on our little pumpkin! We learned she drinks from a cup, likes to play with other children, is attached to the nannies in her area, and she falls asleep alone and “naturally.” We also gained some insight into her medical state, received measurements of her size, and perhaps most moving…we learned where she was found.

An emotionally full day for us around here but getting closer to our baby girl gives up so much hope and excitement to see what God has planned for her. We cannot wait to bring her home where she is going to be so loved by so many of you. It moves our hearts to have you with us on this journey of finding our daughter and getting her home. We could not have done without many of you. Saying thank you is not nearly adequate to express our gratitude.

Please continue to life her up in your prayers and pray her home fast :) While you’re on that calls with God, we ask that you also praise Him! He has blown us AWAY with his work through every single step and moment. He has rescued us so many times and without a doubt moved mountains to get her here. It is crazy to step back on it all and realize she was ours all along and he knew that she was there waiting for us and now is clearing paths for us to get her. Thank you my Lord for all your blessings!

He did it again!

Oh my goodness folks, God is moving mountains! We have been waiting for our officer at the USCIS to get out application so she could process it and send us our biometrics appointment. Well our officer went out of town and another has been filling in. She has been fabulous!! What a blessing this woman has been! She emailed us this morning to tell us she received our application and was working it. We replied and asked her to send us our fingerprint appointment by email if she could so we didn’t have to wait on it to be mailed and we would try to walk in earlier to get the approval processed quicker for our daughter. We told everyone we know to pray for her to say yes and send us the appointment! You see our daughter desperately needs us and we are committed to working very hard and doing whatever it takes to get her here asap! Would you believe we received another email this afternoon with the fingerprint appointment tickets!! I did a quick search to see if the office we were assigned to accepted walk ins and read that they did for some and for other parents they were turned away to wait for their official appointment often weeks away. Well we pulled out that mustard seed moment again and finished work, printed those bad boys, picked up the crew, and drove 3 hours to TRY to walk in for our biometric fingerprinting. I thought it closed at one time and we arrived an hour and a half before closing. HOWEVER, as I walked to the door the hours were actually different and we had pulled up just 30 minutes before they closed!! They were mopping the floors and no one was in there but us and the employees. They were so kind and helpful and took us right in (except the intimidating guard but she was lovely in her own right I suppose. She did let us in after all!! ) Anyway, we were in and out in 10 minutes and back home another 3 hours later. On the ride home we told everyone who had prayed to then send up praises to Him because he just did it again!! Time and time again when we put our faith in Him and just go with it He has pulled through the most amazing ways! I simply love watching His incredible work and find so much comfort in Him. Sitting here blown away….yet again.

PS Ya’ll send up some praises and tack on a little prayer that we get approved tomorrow so we can get our stuff out and officially be Dossier to China (DTC)!!!!!

Blessings,
Heidi

Ladybug Love!

The past couple weeks have been busy! Lots of news. We picked up our home studies in Greensboro, NC. All six of us road tripped down and walked in for that 30 second exchange proudly. When we got out of the car Lilly asked us sweetly “Are we in China Mommy?! Do we get her today?!”…oh poor baby girl, no I had to tell her we were not in China and she was not coming home today but we were getting some papers to hurry it up.

We shipped off the home study to our agency to go with the rest of our dossier docs and shipped another copy off to USCIS to get our I-800A (our permission to adopt internationally form immigration services.) We emailed first before sending it and sent over extra documents for expedition application. We tracked the package as it arrived the next day and called but they said it went to lock box first in Texas before being sent to their office in Missouri. So we emailed the lockbox with our expedition info as well. This was Friday and then Monday we received our receipt that it was received and our SIM number and called and emailed the center again applying for the expedite. Tuesday we received notice it was approved for expedite!! YAY!! They said as soon as they received the package from lockbox center(who said they sent it to them Monday in response to our email) they would send us our fingerprint appointment. Once we get that we can truck it up to Charleston and get that done and once completed I think we will be approved pending any RFEs. PLEASE pray there are no RFE (requests for evidence.) Once we have the I-800A it will go with our dossier as the last piece to be shipped off to China! Our agency is expediting the China side of things so we are hopeful we can get out little home soon!

I am seriously struggling with the wait. I had no clue how hard this would be. I knew it would be “hard” but had not idea it would DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAR type HARD! One day I was all stressing because I had not heard back from USCIS and went for a run after work with a lovely coworker. As I was puffing around the track a bug smacked me right in the face and stuck! I went to swipe it off and it flew to my shoulder. My friend said HEY IT’S A LADYBUG THEY’RE GOOD LUCK! Oh my gosh… they are more than good luck!! In the adoption world they are VERY good little symbols of luck and time drawing close to seeing our little baby!! EEK! So thanks little lady bug I needed to be smacked in the face :) I am working on patience but feel pretty confident I will never be any good at it. When it gets the best of me perhaps I just need a good smack in the face…with a ladybug.

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!!

walking pink coat pic

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