Thursday, December 31, 2015

We made it!

Just a quick update:

After a very busy day of traveling, we made it to Beijing! Because of the weather in Chicago, our flight was delayed in Indy and Chicago. Our flight was long, but we made it safely last night. We met our guide at the airport and she and her driver took us to our hotel. We are ready to get a good nights rest!!! Tomorrow we will do some sightseeing around Beijing!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Here we go!!!!

This is it!!!! Tonight I checked off the last item on our "to do" list!!! Tomorrow morning we will get up early to make the drive down to Indy to which we catch a flight to Chicago and then fly from Chicago to Beijing!! Tonight we had or last dinner at the table as a family of 5!! Next time we eat a meal together it will be as a family of six and every seat at our table will be filled!!! That is so exciting and at the moment hard to wrap my head around! It's here!!!!

It's crazy to think that this is finally happening! Everything we have imagined is about to become a reality! Our emotions are all over the place! December 30th will not only celebrate our marriage, but now will hold a special place in our hearts as the day that we began this last leg of the journey to bring home our final piece to our family puzzle!!

We are so excited to get on a plane!!! I will try my best to send daily updates on here! So please check in if you would like to see all our adventures. You can also subscribe to our blog to receive updates by email:) I'm not sure if we will be able to get on Facebook but will link my blog if possible.

After we get Myla on Jan.4th she will be with us the rest of the trip. She will be legally adopted that day according to China. She will be legally adopted by the US and a US citizen on January 11th. And just as a note the time difference is 13 hours!! A rough outline of our travels is listed below! We love you and are so thankful for all of you!!! We couldn't not have done this without you!! We can't wait to introduce you to her when we get home!!

12/30 flights to China

12/31 arrive in Beijing

1/1 sight seeing day

1/2 sight seeing day

1/3 flight to guiyang province where Myla is

1/4 1:30p travel to civil affairs office to get Myla

1/5 return to civil affairs office to finish paperwork

1/6 possibly a visit to her orphanage

1/7 flight to Guangzhou for US consulate appointment

1/8 Myla's medical appointment and visa paperwork

1/9 rest day

1/10 sight seeing day

1/11 consulate appointment @8:30a

1/12 pick up Myla's visa

1/13 fly home from Hong Kong!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A special Christmas

I will keep this short and sweet!

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Anniversary!

Happy New Years! 

to us! We found out yesterday that we will be boarding a plane to China December 30th to bring home Myla!!!!!!!!

I love the holidays but am so anxious now to get them over with!!! We have A LOT to do now to prepare the last minute details before we leave! 

And it will be super special to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary on a plane! Next year is our 10 year so that will be hard to top after this trip!:)

Anyways! Wanted to let everyone know our wonderful Christmas news!!!! We will keep you updated with information as we get it! 

Thank you for your prayers and support!! Love you all!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quick update!

Things have been moving quickly once again these last few weeks! I guess when you are obedient to what God calls you to; he will make it all happen and fall into perfect place! We filled out Myla's visa paperwork last week and sent it in. Then we also had our paperwork sent to Guangzhou for our article 5 approval. For us,  this was the last set of paperwork that was to be filled out. This morning we found out that our article 5 has been sent on for approval and we are just awaiting our travel approval from China giving us permission to enter the country. Once we have our travel approval in the next (1-3 weeks) we will pick our US consulate appointment at the US embassy and get our flights arranged!!!! With the expedite letter that we have written that could help speeds up the travel approval. We could definitely be leaving the end of the month if all works out!!! The earliest they thought we could leave would be the 30th which would be super special! That is Our 9th wedding anniversary!!! So ready or not, we are getting on a plane SOON to bring Myla home!!! We are so excited, nervous, anxious, and so many more emotions! Can't wait to begin 2016 as a family of 6!!:)

Friday, November 27, 2015

a little hiccup

Hi friends!! Alot has been going on this last month! Yes it's been a little over a month already that we have been matched with Myla and we are just so anxious to get on a plane and bring her home! We love starring at her pictures and wondering how she is doing or what she has done that day.

We have been busy filling out all kinds of papers from I-800 immigration papers, to visa applications, article 5 papers and so on. (I'm sure none of you know what those are, but just thought I'd put them on here in case you were curious about adoption and for my records too;) We also consulted a few doctors/specialists about Myla's medical condition. (Not sure if you remember, but in China when adopting a child, it is MUCH faster to adopt a child with "special needs" than it is to adopt a "perfect child". And a special need could be something simple like needing glasses/asthma to the more severe special needs like heart defects/cerebral palsy/downs syndrome.) She has been diagnosed with mild a thalassemia which is a genetic blood disorder. It deals with iron levels, anemia, and low red blood cell counts. If severe, you would need routine blood transfusions medication, and more. In consulting a pediatric hematologist at Riley, after looking over her medical file, they believe that she doesn't "have" thalassemia but is a "carrier" for it. Since it is a genetic disorder, she has it in her DNA, but doesn't suffer from the symptoms.  Once we get her home we plan to have some more tests done to determine the degree of her condition, but we are happy to hear that she is a healthy and thriving little girl! Because of the condition we were able to get one of our doctors to write an expedite letter for Myla to try and speed up these last few steps so we can travel a little sooner. That way the doctors can do further testing here rather than in China.

A few weeks ago we overnighted a bunch of papers to the USCIS Immigration to get our approval. And we ran into a little hiccup. They say typical turnaround is about 3 weeks. We may have been counting the days but approaching our 3 week period, we received a letter from them that stated that one of the forms we filled out had expired (as in the document format) and that we needed to fill out a new one. They didn't tell us or our social worker that that change had taken effect. So we quickly filled that paper out with some help and overnighted it back to our officer. In the meantime, we filled out our personal visa applications and sent those to Chicago to the Chinese consulate to get those ready for our passports. Early this week we received our passports in the mail and then today we finally received our I-800 approval letter!! We weren't expecting to get the approval letter until next week. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO US! So that is  now checked off the list and we just have a few things left to do.

Our next steps are to send our papers to China to the US embassy in Guangzhou and get our article 5 approval which takes about 2-3 weeks. Once we have that, we apply for Myla's visa and wait for travel approval which can take about 2-3 weeks. Once we have travel approval we will make our flight arrangements and BOARD A PLANE TO CHINA a few weeks later!!!!! We were hoping to travel sometime in late December. That is still a slight slight possibility, but it is looking more like January possibly February. (with Christmas and the Chinese New Year we may run into another little hiccup), but she will most likely be home before her 3rd birthday in March!!

Thank you so much for all of your sweet wishes and congratulations about our new daughter! We are so excited to get things moving again and bring our sweet girl home. I can't wait to introduce you all to her and for her to see how many people love and care for her! It's because of you that we are making it through these little hiccups! There have been so many of you who have been praying for us from the very beginning, have wrote us notes of encouragement, have helped us fundraise, and have just been there for us through those hard times. We are so GRATEFUL for you and couldn't have done this without you!

Please continue to pray for our adoption, that our paperwork would keep moving, and that things would fall into place in God's perfect timing. You could also pray for her safety and the big transitions ahead for all of us.

Hopefully the next update will be about our travel arrangements to China to pick up and bring home our little girl!!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

He is

Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains, go on and tell it to the masses, that HE IS GOD!!

That song has been in my head all week. He is God and he is such a good God!! It is with great JOY that we announce to you we have been matched!!!!! 

Meet Yun Xuan (we are naming her Myla Jayne and using part of her Chinese name as a second middle name) a beautiful two and a half year old little girl!! We are just over the moon excited and can't believe that this has happened:) We received notification this past week about her and we hardly looked over her file before we fell in love with her cute little cheeks and adorable little lips and really felt in our hearts that this was our little girl. And as a little added touch to how God works is that her birthday is March 26th which is the same day that our dossier was registered in China!!

Our emotions have been all over the place! We trusted, we were patient (with his help), and waited on God's timing and have we ever been blessed. When I told Leah after school, she screamed and was so excited! The boys were super excited to show off her picture to Leah and Aaron. They kept saying "Mom, she's so cute! She's so adorable!" And they are so right! She's adorable! She's perfect! And she's OURS!!!!!

We don't have a timeline yet of when we will travel to get her, but hopefully we will have that soon. We have received our letter of acceptance from China (LOA) basically stating that after looking at our paperwork, they approve us to be her parents!!!!!

We want to thank all of you who have been going through this with us each step of the way! You mean more to us than we could ever say. Thank you for your continued prayers. Please continue to pray for us. Pray that our next stages of paperwork go smoothly and quickly so that we can bring sweet Myla Jayne to her forever home!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An update for you...

Well, it's been a bit since our last update on the adoption so I thought I would fill you all in a little. Unfortunately not much has changed. We are still waiting to be matched with our sweet little girl. We have gone through a few more list releases, but there have been no matches. We did review another file from one of our partnerships through our adoption agency. After prayer and lots of research on her medical condition we decided to say no. So we are just waiting and praying that it will be very soon!!!

This waiting is really getting the best of me. I can't wait to finally know who she is and have a picture to her. I'm not very patient so this stage in the adoption has been super hard for me. I think I would be fine if I just knew a date. I can wait until that date. It's the complete unknown that drives me nuts. That's the control that I have to let go of and just go along for the ride. I know while I'm in it, it seems so long but looking back it will be short lived and well worth it. His plan is better than mine. So I just need to wait and be patient.

Since we have just been waiting, I decided it was time to get the girls room decorated. (I figured maybe if I get the room done, it will help get us matched:) " Room's done now she can come." HA! We will see. At least that's a couple things off my to do list and I had fun doing it. Here are a few pictures.

And yes, her name is a secret until we get a picture of her:) Her first name is decided, but the rest is a little up in the air. We are waiting to see her picture. She will also have 2 middle names which will use some part of her chinese name. So if you want to know what her name is, PRAY hard that we get matched soon!! ;)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What's happening!!

My how things have gotten busy! I was chatting with a friend today and was talking about what was happening right now with our adoption and she mentioned that she follows the blog and it had me thinking... I probably should update everyone a bit. It's been awhile:) So I apologize for not giving an update. Things have been super busy lately with organizing and having our garage sale.

What a huge successful garage sale we had over the last couple of weekends. We raised over $7,000 for our adoption!!! We were completely blown away by God's faithfulness. We had NO idea that we would make that much money in a garage sale. We did have ALOT of stuff but I just never thought that we would make that amount. So THANK YOU to those of you who came and shopped our garage sale and to those who donated items to our sale. We had 24 families donate items for us to sell along with our things. I also had a handful of help getting things organized and priced for the sale. Without everyone's help, we would not have been able to pull off the sale. I was a complete mess leading up to the sale because I was just so overwhelmed with peoples generosity and with all the items that were donated, that I had no idea where to begin! I am definitely glad that it is over but it was very well worth it.

In other news, this past Tuesday we underwent another round of the list release. Every three weeks or so China will release a list of possible children up for adoption. Our agency closely monitors that list and will give us a child's file if it matches our specifications. Unfortunately there wasn't a match this time around. This is the 3rd round that we have gone through since having our papers in China. We were disappointed that their wasn't a match, but we are hopeful and trust that the Lord has it in control and we will meet her when we he wants us to. It's hard to wait, but we have hope that he's taking good care of her and knows who she is. That moment when we meet her on paper for the first time will be so special and we can't wait for that!

We did have the opportunity to look through a child's file during the garage sale madness but through a lot of prayer and research, we just didn't feel like that was "the one" for our family. Every adoption agency has partnerships with orphanages in China. When they have these connections, they are able to get adoptive families for the children without having to go on the "list". So that is how we received her file. She was an adorable little girl and I just wanted to snatch her up based off of her picture. But we just didn't have a peace about it. We hope the absolute best for her and pray that the right family will come along for her. It was super hard to say no. It weighed heavy on our hearts and was a very tough decision. We didn't want to base it on how cute she was though. So here we are waiting. The waiting part is always hard. The unknown. The dreaming and thinking of when that day will come. So while we wait another 3 weeks, we will be caught up in the end of the year school activities and get decorating on a sweet little girls room.

My favorite song right now is I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe. It is so perfect for right now in the midst of this waiting period. That we will not fear and are not alone. That he will go before us. He will never leave us. He will fight for us. That he amazes us, is faithful, and calls us his own!

"I Am Not Alone"

When I walk through deep waters
I know that you will be with me
When i'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into you
Lord, you fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as your own

You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

Monday, April 13, 2015


Just wanted to put this out there! Please tell your friends:) We are having a HUGE garage sale on April 22nd (preview sale from 6-8pm with $2 cover charge to come shop early) 23,24,25 from 9-3p and April 30, May 1,2 from 8-3pm. All sales will go towards funding our adoption of a little gril from China. We have alot of everything!! (baby clothes and shoes, baby items, toys, big furniture items, crib, baby bedding, adult clothes, kitchen things, decorations, outside tools, ladder, treadmill, tv, tv stand.....) 13618 Veracruz Drive (these dates are the bridgewater and veracruz association sales)

Friday, April 3, 2015


Last week we found out that our papers were in China. Great! This week we found out that our papers are being looked at which gives us a LOG IN DATE. Apparently our papers were logged in on 3-26-15:) This date means that we are eligible to be on the list to be matched with our daughter! !! When we got this news on Monday we were kind of shocked and super excited because they said that would take about a month or so and we got our log in date in about a week!!! So major props to China for keeping things moving:) When we found out our log in date on Monday, we were also told that a list was being released Monday night of potential children up for adoption. So that was hard to think about and honestly the entire day had me on the edge of my seat because I was just so excited that we may be getting matched that night. I didn't want to get my hopes up though because I know sometimes it can take awhile to be matched. Well, our social worker informed us that the list was pretty short and that their wasn't a match. Bummer:(

She explained to us how this whole matching thing works and it's kind of a crazy black Friday ordeal. I guess, when China releases the list of children, it goes to EVERY agency in the country. Each social worker knows the family's criteria and will search the list to see if there is a match. IF they come across one, it's first come first serve. You have to snatch up that name and lock in in place before another agency does. Once the child is locked in, the family has 72 hours to look over the child's file to determine if that's the one they want or if they want to release it back to the list. If they choose to release it, the list goes live again and the social worker can see if there were any that match. So this time around we didn't get matched, but soon and very soon we will have a picture and information of our sweet girl. Will you please pray for us during this time! So many emotions and feelings are coming with this. Pray that we remain patient. We know the Lord already knows who she is and when we will find that out so we just need to trust in him and his timing.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to those who have donated items to our garage sale! You guys are seriously the best! I know we still have some things coming, but you get the idea when you see the pictures that we have ALOT of stuff!! (these pictures are a little outdated too we have NO room left in each of those rooms!) The garage sale is April 30, May 1, and May 2. So mark your calendars and spread the word! We will probably do a preview sale on the 29th in the evening. A friend suggested to charge a $2 entry fee for the preview sale:) So will probably do that. Plus come on, it's going all towards the adoption!

We also have an exciting rescue mission project that we are doing through an organization called both hands. We are still in the midst of organizing this big fundraiser and tying down details, but I will give you some information about it. We come up with a team of people (including ourselves) who will send out letters to friends and family asking them to sponsor them for a day. (like running a 5k for a cause. We provide the notes, envelopes, and postage.) You would just donate your time, names to send letters to, and muscles. We find a widow who is in need of small projects done around her house. Things like yard work, painting, cleaning, power washing... and we get all of the needed materials donated by local businesses. We lock down a date to work on her house and then we all go and knock out all of the projects in one day for her. Blessing her! This comes from the verse in James where we are called to care for the orphans and widows. (hence both hands: one to help the orphan and one to help the widow). The donations are mailed in to both hands or done online and are all tax deductible. The items donated by businesses are also tax deductible. So this is just a really neat fundraiser to help more than one person and raise a good amount money. This is not at all affiliated with our home church. It is completely separate and is with this great organization out of Tennessee. If we can pull this fundraiser off, we can really knock out the remaining amount that is left in the expenses and be able to bring our little girl home! Then we wouldn't need to take out a loan which we would really like to avoid. So if you would like more information about this, would like to be on our team, would like to donate items for her home, or would pray for this event, please let us know. We are having an informational meeting on April 9th @7p for our team. We will have some more information about the project and can answer any questions you have too.

Can't wait to show you all a picture of our sweet girl!! Hopefully the next update!!:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finally some news!!!

Yesterday we called our agency to see if they had received our paperwork from the Chinese Embassy. They said it would take about 3 weeks for the papers to be approved/stamped so we were thinking they would be done any day. The social worker that has been taking great care of us at LHAA went on maternity leave last week and so we now have to contact another person who is filling in for her. So when we called her to check on the papers, she informed us that they had received the papers last week from the Chinese Embassy and they had already sent our dossier to China. WHAT!!! Was not expecting to hear her say that! I was just hoping to hear that they had received the papers back and were getting them ready to go to China. That was super exciting to hear:) So now what happens is that we wait for our log in date. This is where China lets us know that they have received our papers and are going through them. We do not have to wait until the papers are approved to receive this log in date. So good news there! That will take about a month before we receive that. Once we have the log in date, we are able to be put on the list to be matched. The agency will receive a monthly list from China of children that are eligible for adoption. Our agency will look at that list and see if there is a child that matches our criteria. If they find a match, we will receive that child's information and can decide yes we want this child or we can decline and wait for a different child's file. This happens once to twice a month. Once they match us and we accept, we will have a picture and information about our little girl. So hopefully sometime in May/June we will be matched with our daughter and finally be able to put a face with her:)

I am so excited, nervous, anxious all in one trying to be patient! So to try to keep my excitement to a minimal, I'm trying to occupy my time with prepping for the garage sale, making/selling bows, and beginning to decorate the girls room:) I want to thank everyone who has already given us some things for the adoption garage sale. Our dining room is already overflowing with things! You guys are the best and we so thankful for every one of you!! If you would like to donate items to our garage sale we would so appreciate it. We would be happy to pick it up for you too. If you have any questions please feel free to get ahold of us. The sales are April 30, May 1 and May 2.

I think that's it for now:) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They definitely have an impact and are what's getting us through this adoption. Hopefully next time there will be a really exciting update next about receiving our log in date and maybe a picture!!!;)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What's going on

Here's what's going on right now. We are still waiting to hear back from the Chinese Embassy in NYC. We are hopeful that in the next week we will hear that they have authenticated our paperwork and it can be sent to China's government.

As far as ways that you can be involved if you feel called to help us bring our little girl home. There are a few options as of right now.

* There is a portrait party fundraiser that is happening next weekend. A friend and local photographer has put together this fundraiser for us. You get a really good deal on spring pictures of your children and support us all at the same time. Here is the link if you would like more information.

* At the beginning of May we are doing a garage sale. As you are spring cleaning and purging to make room in your house, we would love to take your junk or anything that you would be willing to donate to our garage sale. We would love to come pick it up from you too!! The more the merrier:)

* We have been approved for a special project called Both Hands. Things are still in the works but our site is open and you can make a tax deductible donation to our adoption. So if you feel called to give a monetary donation to bringing our daughter home, you can do so by mailing it in and shortly it will be available online as well. If you would like more information on this project you can visit their website. When we have all details we will let you know what's going on and what this great opportunity we have through this organization to raise funds for our adoption.

If you mail in your donation here is what you would need to do.
Mail checks payable to:
Both Hands
PO Box 2713
Brentwood, TN 37024

Attach a piece of paper indicating your giving preference is “Smits #160 adoption”

* I have a little side bow business. A few friends have asked for a few orders, so I thought while I'm in the process of filling their orders, I would see if anyone else needed any bows for their little girls. I can make any size and color. The big bows are $3.50 and smaller bows are $2.50. I do make infant bows too that are $1.00 a bow. This picture is the ribbon that I currently have. I can get any color if I don't have what you're looking for. I do need to get a light pink. If I need to ship it to you, we can figure that out:)

So if you have any questions please feel free to contact Aaron or I. Thank you so much to those who have already done so much for us. We are so grateful for you and can't thank you enough for making it possible to bring our little girl home!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The waiting game begins

Well, Friday was the big day. I was able to pick up our medical paper from the ENT and get everything sent in the mail to our agency. What a great feeling to put that in the mail and know that there is not a single thing left to send in or complete anymore. But now the fun part begins... waiting. Our agency will look over all of our paperwork and then will send it to China in the next days. Once it's in China, we have to wait for their approval and then once we get the approval we will be put on the list to be matched with her and will wait for that glorious special day that we will see her picture!!

It's a good thing we have some things to occupy this wait time. We have a garage sale to get ready for,  a pretty big fundraiser that we are needing to plan and organize, and decorating and repainting the girls room. I'm sure it will seem super slow at times, but I'm hoping it will go pretty quick. With school activities, two crazy boys, and life, we will have a lot to keep our minds on task.

I will write another post soon on the different fundraisers that we are going to do to help raise the remaining $22,000 that we need for the adoption, but we are pretty excited about them and are very thankful, honored, and humbled by your support and prayers that we've already received. We truly have the best friends, family, and support system to help us through this journey! We love you all!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

UPDATE on letter

I'm sure all of you are on the edge of your chairs wondering if our dr letter came in the mail yesterday.  So I wanted to update everyone.

It didn't come yesterday. The last few days our mail has been coming pretty late in the day (between 4:30-5:30) so we haven't been able to catch the dr office before it closes for the day. Luckily yesterday the mail came around 4:30 so I was able to immediately call the dr office and call Aaron to see if he could call them too. After calling several times and waiting on hold to talk to the phone nurse for 20 minutes I couldn't get through. It kept asking me to leave a message. Well, as frustrated as I was, I didn't want to leave a message, I wanted to talk to someone and ASAP! I couldn't wait on the phone any longer since I had to get dinner going, the kids were screaming at each other, and I needed to get Leah to ballet. So Aaron was going to try to get ahold of them before they closed. He couldn't get through either but did leave a message. (smart man) The nurse was kind enough to call him back later and she reassured him that they indeed did send the letter and wasn't sure why we haven't gotten it yet. They came to the conclusion that it was lost. So Aaron asked her to fax him a copy of the letter at work instead of putting it in the mail. Hooray! Thank you lady. Now we don't have to bug you anymore and we can get the paperwork sent in this afternoon.

Well this morning Aaron called and said that the faxed copy was received but the agency can't use it because it's not the original copy:( So we have to deal with the ENT again to get an original copy. Why they can't use a fax copy, I'll never understand!! So Friday morning I am going to the ENT to pick up TWO original copies of the letter. The doctor is out of the office today and will be in Ohio tomorrow so they are having him sign them and someone is driving them from Ohio to his office for us to get on Friday. You now know what I will be doing on Friday!! I'm tempted to sleep in the parking lot Thursday night to make sure I'm first in the door ;)

I've just been thinking "just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" All things work together for good. We will get the letter, our paperwork will get mailed out, and we will get the Chinese approval in due time. Breathe and just keep going.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


So I know that this adoption isn't going to be flawless. There will be things that will happen that won't go the way I have them planned in my mind. And that's because God's in control not me. Up until this last week, I was perfectly fine with how everything was going and how quick everything was being processed.

Last Monday we received our letter of approval from the USCIS. Hooray! Such awesome news. That means we are all set to send our dossier to China to get approval. Well when we called LHAA to let them know we got the letter and to just see if there was anything else that we needed to send in, we found out that we need an additional medical paper filled out by our doctor. China is super strict about your medical papers. If you had surgery in the last 10 years, they have to have a typed documentation from the doctor who performed the surgery. It has to include what it was, why it happened, and if the person is medically able to adopt. Well a few years ago, Aaron had sinus surgery to repair a deviated septum in his nose and his tonsils taken out. So we needed to get ahold of his ENT to have him type this up.

I have to say when I heard about this, I was a little ticked. LHAA has had our papers for a few months and they had already looked over our paperwork once and said they had everything. It would have been nice if they had told us a bit earlier so we don't have to wait around for this now when we were waiting for a month for the USCIS approval. We could have already gotten the medical documentation while we were waiting, have it and now be able to send all the documents to the agency to send to China.

So we contacted the ENT and they have supposedly had the letter typed and put in the mail to us, but we haven't gotten it yet. Here's where my frustration has kicked into full gear. We've called a few times to check in and I've even threatened to go to the office which is 10 minutes away and pick up the letter myself that way we don't have to wait on the mailman. In my mind, it shouldn't take a week to get to our doorstep if they are 10 minutes away. The letter was a short 5 minute assignment that the doctor could do quick for us. We told them our situation but I guess there's not much you can do when it's out of your hands.

I guess it frustrates me because we have these deadlines and date sensitive deadlines that we are dealing with in our paperwork. For example: when you submit your dossier to China all of the papers have to be within a 6 month window. If they are older than 6 months, you have to re submit them. Our papers will be 6 months old in March. We also are getting very close to the Chinese New Year which is on the 19th of February. This is a major holiday in China where everything shuts down to celebrate. I'm not sure how long the celebration lasts, but the government will be out as well.

I just have to keep reassuring myself, this is happening for a reason. I don't know why it's happening right now, but in the end, I will know. This is to teach me patience. It is to teach me that I have no control and I need to let God have control.

I know it's a little silly, but will you pray with me that our letter from the ENT comes in the mail today.  If it comes today, then I can get everything in the mail to LHAA. Pray for my patience in the situation.  Pray that I can go with the flow and let God have control.  Pray that I will not let the frustration get in the way.

If you see me stalking our mailman/mailbox you know why:)

Monday, January 26, 2015

The dreaded hiccup with an adoption

Adoption is such a great thing for any family to do! To bring a child into your family to give a better life, love like your own, raise up and equip them for the world. What a great feeling to know that you can help someone/s out. Isn't that what we are called to do? I'm sure more people would be willing to do it if it weren't so crazy expensive! For a China adoption right now you are looking at about $35,000. That just includes all the paperwork, fees, payments to the country, visas, travelling, and social worker appointments. That doesn't cover additional costs if your child has a medical need that will require attention when you return home.

That giant number really intimidates Aaron and I alot! Yes we have a way bigger house than we really need, we have way more stuff than we really need, we don't have any debt besides our house, we have a steady income, we have two working cars, and we have savings accounts started for the kids for college. And for all of this we are sooo very grateful. We try to live inside our means and be frugal with our money. BUT we don't have $35,000 dollars just waiting to be dropped on this adoption. We both know that God has called our family to go through this adoption. We know that he has this in our family story. So we know that he will help us and will provide for us this money. It's just super hard to see past that. Especially when life happens and things come up.  

One goal that we have set for ourselves is that we don't want to have to go into debt and take out a loan for the adoption. We just feel for us that God doesn't want us to go into debt and have that on our backs for the next few years to deal with. We want to be good stewards of our money and use it wisely. So if we don't do a loan, there are grants. Well we have filled out some for those but we don't qualify for many because of xyz silly reasons.  So another option is fund raising. I go back and forth so much with fundraising. I don't want to ask people for money. I feel guilty asking for peoples money. I don't want people to feel forced to make a donation for us. I feel like we need to earn your donation. I feel like since it was our decision to adopt and we knew how much it was going to cost, it should be on our shoulders to figure out how to get the money. But then I know there are so many people out there that love our story and want to help out in any way that they can. I know that God has probably put it on peoples heart to help families who are adopting. Maybe they don't feel called to adopt themselves, but they want to help other families. So I go back and forth. 

Some things that Aaron and I have talked about were things that we could make to sell to raise funds. We are both pretty crafty people and so we thought we could use that talent to help bring in some extra money to put towards the adoption. Aaron has always been really good with his hands. He loves to make things out of wood and does a pretty good job if I can say so myself;) He is currently working on a brand name for his business and plans to open a little shop and website where you can order things that he has already made, or you can place a custom order. I thought it might be fun to make some bracelets, tag fleece blankets, and bows that I could sell. I am already babysitting and selling Jamberry so I don't have a ton of extra time, but I have been pinteresting some cute ideas. Another idea we had was a garage sale. We have a ton of baby stuff that we need to get rid of and other odds and ends taking up space. We thought if anyone wanted to donate items to our garage sale that would be a way to make some extra money. And we have thought of a bake sale or even a charity work day event. 

After I started this blog, a friend of mine contacted me about wanting to help us fund our adoption. She is a local photographer and was wanting to use her talents to help us as much as she could. (She took our family pictures and the adoption announcement picture) So we have been brainstorming back and forth and we came up with a fun little event. On March 21st, we are doing a spring portrait party. It is a 15 minute photo session for your children and you will receive her services, CD of prints, and setting fee for $140. She is donating half of that to our adoption fund!!! And if you don't meet the requirements for the party, you can schedule your own session and part of that will go towards our adoption.  If you would want more information, you can contact me or you can go here.

So that's where we are now. If you have any ideas or you've been through an adoption, I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, how you raised the funds, how you dealt with the guilt of asking for help, and so on.  And of course your prayers!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Checking things off the list

I am a very organized planning type of person. If I have a lot of things to get done, I make a list. I LOVE lists. I feel so accomplished and proud of myself when I can cross something off. (I often times will forget to put something on the list, so I will add it just so I can cross it off:)

With the adoption process it's super smart to make lists. There is so much paperwork involved that something could easily be forgotten and then could delay things. From pictures of you and your family, medical examinations, marriage licenses, birth certificates, financial reports, essays, background checks, pet vaccination records, and so much more.

Up to this point we have pretty much crossed everything off of our list that we can. We have all papers filled out and submitted to our agency. We have pictures printed, we have had our medical examinations, we got all of the official paperwork ready to go. As soon as we get our approval letter from the USCIS we can give the go ahead to our agency to send our paperwork to China along with our payment for the dossier.

Yesterday we knocked out another requirement for the USCIS and are one step closer to getting our approval letter from them. We had our fingerprinting appointment in Indy. This appointment is assigned for you by the USCIS and make it pretty difficult to reschedule. And if you don't show up, you are out of luck. So our appointment was for the 22nd at 8am. Lucky us. We had a few things already on the calendar for yesterday so we had to move everything around so that we could make this appointment, wake up early, and drive down. All in all, it was a pretty fast appointment once you made it through security of the government building. We waited for a few minutes, had our fingerprints taken digitally, and then were free to go. A total of 30 minutes to drive down and then turn around and come back.

One thing that I will never understand is our governments ways of doing things in an adoption:) For our home study we had to go downtown in Fort Wayne to get fingerprinted for our background check. That appointment was the exact same thing that we just did yesterday. They were even scanned too.  So why can't they send a quick email with our scans to the USCIS? Apparently they don't communicate well and do not like like to share information. So we are in the system now for the county and state. So WATCH OUT:)

I wish we could have just made a fun day of it in Indy, but we had things back home that we needed to do so we couldn't stay. We did make it a point to stop at Trader Joe's to grab some things to make the drive worth our time. And the drive gave Aaron and I plenty of time to chat about fundraiser ideas, names, and just what's coming up in these next months with our family.

So hip hip hooray we get to check another things off our list!!!

We are hopefully almost ready to send our papers to China!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bumps in the Road

Adopting a child from a different country is a super complex process filled with lots of paperwork, long periods of waiting, and money. One good piece of news for us is that from what our social worker has told us is that China is moving pretty quick with adoptions and that hopefully our adoption would take around 12-17 months.

In this process we have come through some small bumps along the way. To be raw and open with you I am going to share them and how God has helped us through them and how to pray for us while we are in them!

This is probably 1/8 of the paperwork! This was taken when we received our approval to begin the adoption from our agency:)

When preparing all of our paperwork for our dossier, everyone in the house had to have a physical evaluation and medical forms filled out. With our kids that was super easy to do, since they have check ups every year. Our pediatrician was very nice to just take the paperwork and fill in the information without having to schedule another appointment for each of them. The hiccup came when Aaron and I tried to schedule an appointment with our family doctor. Since we had not seen him in over 3 years, we were considered new patients and had to schedule a new patient appointment. When I called in early October, the earliest they could get us in was the end of November!! With needing our paperwork turned in, that wasn't an option. So I just decided to call around and basically didn't care who the doctor was or how well known they were, as long as they could see us soon they won the prize! So I happened to find one that our insurance would accept and could see us a week later! When we showed up to the appointment, I found out that our new doctor was Chinese. I became super excited because how awesome is that! She could help us with our new daughter once we arrive home and help get her acclimated to the scary world of doctors offices. I also was a little nervous because I didn't know how she would react when we told her we were adopting someone from her country. Would she be grateful to us? Would she be opposed to us adopting from her country? So just some scenarios ran through my mind before she came in the room. There was also a lot of paperwork for her to fill out for us so I was hoping she didn't mind taking the time to fill those out for us. Well the Lord definitely had control of things. When she came in, she was super sweet, so willing to fill out the paperwork for us, AND was soo excited for us and thankful to us for adopting a little girl from her country. She kept saying how she wanted to help out as much as she could. She speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and was willing to help talk to her. So it was such a relief to have her on board and just to be a reference to turn to if we need it once she is in the states with us.  It was such an answer to prayer after the stress of finding a new doctor and within the window we needed to get seen and then God's extra gift of her being chinese and speaking fluently and wanting to be by our side as we bring her home and transition.

Back when Liam was a baby we had some rough times. Long story short, we ended up doing some testing to find out that he has a dairy and gluten intolerance and once we figured that out, he's been great ever since. Because of those issues, he ended up being behind a little bit in reaching his milestones of rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking. When he was 18 months old, he was evaluated because he was not walking great. He could walk small distances but could not stand up in the middle of a room on his own. He couldn't squat without falling over, and just was having a little trouble getting around. When they evaulated him, it was determined that he had low muscle tone. It wasn't severe but it was something that he needed some physical therapy and speech therapy to catch back up to where he needed to be. We originally had him evaluated at an outpatient therapy but we would of had to pay a lot out of pocket because of our insurance. (We have a crazy high individual/family deductible and until that's met, we pay all out of pocket costs.) So we ended up doing the first steps program which was drastically less expensive and they came to our house. He was also referred to an orthotics company for "boots" to wear at all times to help support his ankles and help him walk better. He will need two pairs of these a year as his feet will grow and he will need them until he is at least 5 and then will be re-evaulated. So, we were fitted for those and given the bill and once again were faced with a giant bill that our insurance wouldn't cover. And buying these twice a year for the next few years is going to be a good chunk of change. It was kind of a big downer for me because here we are, we know that we are being called to adopt and we are trying to save every penny here and there to pay for it and now this comes up that we really need to do. After talking with them about our insurance situation and that we are adopting, the company has been so gracious to us and has given us a significant discount for each pair that he will need.  He is doing so well with everything! We immediately saw such improvement once he had his boots and his speech really picked up quick. (once he didn't have to focus on the walking and could work on the talking) He is really excelling and hopefully won't have to have the therapy part much longer.

Back in April 2014, Aaron found out that the company he works for (Biomet) was being bought by another orthopedic company in Warsaw. With this buyout there are going to be so many changes for the better and could be for the bad. As of now, no one knows really what will happen. Will you lose your job, will you keep it? The deal is supposed to be finalized sometime this first half of the year, but still no one knows much. Aaron thinks that his job is pretty secured but it's not definite and he could lose his job. We are just waiting, praying, and trusting in God's plan and know that he has it all under control and if Aaron were to lose his job, there would be good things to come of it.

Last week on the morning of our 8th wedding anniversary, we discovered that our heat had gone out. We were pretty puzzled because our house is only 5 years old and should last as long as the energizer bunny! When they came out to fix it, there were several things wrong with it. The motor, the tank, unbalanced.... blah! It ended up being a nice chunk to repair and fix. Though now I'm so grateful it happened last week when it was in the 50's as opposed to this week where it's -25 outside. Another expense that we will have to cover is Aaron's car needs new tires. It's been something that we are budgeting for, but with all of these unexpected things coming up, it's hard to write that check, but it's something that he needs for his safety!

I know that God will make a way and will provide the funding for these bumps, for Aaron's job, and for this entire adoption, but when you are in it, it's so hard to see that. Especially when it comes to me:) I'm such a worry wart and have a hard time giving it up and trusting and getting it out of my hands, my control, and just giving it to the Lord to work out. So here's to living one day at a time and daily just giving it to God to deal with and work out and to be thankful for heat, a car to drive, a job, and a healthy family :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

A long post to catch everyone up to where we are at now

This will be long, but will give you our story of how we came to adoption and where we are at right now.

Our Story:

Back in the days before kids, Aaron and I had discussed adoption in depth. His younger sister is adopted domestically and his family had done foster care while he was growing up so it was something that he was always open to. I on the other hand was a big not at all interested in adoption. I was mainly concerned with all of the unknowns of adoption (issues, not liking us, wanting to go back to their real mom....) and I just didn't want to bring that into my family. I knew we wanted 3 kids and I was perfectly fine with that. From then on, he didn't force the discussions of adoption and basically just left it at that.

So now fast forward 7 years to April 2013. We attend The Chapel and they are very involved with missions. The Chapel is partners with Living Hope International out of PA and they have an adoption agency that works in China. The Chapel has done several short term missions trips with them twice a year. The Chapel was talking about the next upcoming trip where they were going to do some construction work at one of the orphanage buildings and that really interested Aaron. He loves to work with his hands and build things so he thought this would be a great opportunity for him to serve. So he asked if he could go and I immediately said absolutely! So he signed up to go and that was that. I didn't think once about how China has a huge issue with children needing adopted and how their living conditions are just unbelievable.

In May of 2013 Aaron left to go on the trip with a handful of others from church. At the last minute Aaron's part of the trip (to do construction work) got cancelled so he and his small group were going to join the rest of the team doing orphan care. He was bummed at first, but knew God was in control and was up for whatever.

While he was gone, I would pray for his team and it would always get put on my heart about adoption. I began to think about it all the time and kind of argue and debate in my mind about adoption and all the fears that I had with it. God just kept putting it on my heart and basically came to the conclusion that I needed to trust him and know that all those fears will be taken care of and that I didn't need to worry about them. And me being the planner I am, I began to get really excited! I started to think of names, how to plan her and Leah's room, what we would need to do to get ready for her to come. When Liam was born, I was super excited to have him in the family and for Owen to have a brother, but to be honest I was a little bummed because I wanted Leah to have a sister. And if someone asked if we were done having babies, I would tell people that if I could get pregnant once more and that it would be a girl, I would do it. BUT that's not how things go:) Every pregnancy got worse for me that with Liam it was almost miserable and I said I was done. So with the thought of adoption, all I could think was "well then Leah could have a sister! China has an abundance of girls that need adopted. We could do this." So while he was gone, I just kept thinking and praying about the whole thing.

So when he returned from China, I randomly one night brought it up. I simply said, "What would you think of adopting a little girl from China?" Aaron about lost his jaw! He pretty much was like "What did you do with my wife? Did you just say that?" He was pretty shocked! So we began to talk about it and discuss adoption and how that would work. We basically came to an agreement that we are very grateful for all that God has given us. Aaron has a great job, I am blessed to stay at home with the kids,  we have a nice home, and we have great friends and family to support us. We agreed that this was something we really wanted to think and pray on together to make sure this is where God was leading us. Aaron also mentioned that I go to China that October with the next missions trip to just see and get a glimpse of China for myself, see the country, the children and just take in the culture. So I signed up to go in October. At first I was a little nervous because Liam would be just 1 and then Owen was 3 and Leah was 5. Would things be ok at home while I'm across the world for 10 days? He was very encouraging and said things would be ok and that he would have help and that I should go. So I said ok and began to prepare for that.

In October, I went to China. It was such an incredible experience! The culture over there is just so amazing, different, and interesting. The children of course grabbed my heart, and it completely confirmed what we had been praying about and I knew that this was something that we needed to do. So when I got home from China we started looking into the requirements for adopting from China. OH MY WORD! They are such a strict country and they have some crazy restrictions. (you must be between 30-45, you must have a certain BMI, you must have so many assets, if you have children, they must be 1 years old) So at the time, our biggest road block was my age. Aaron was already 30 but I was going to be 30 in June 2014. So we just took the time in between really praying and making sure that this was what God had for us. We mentioned it to our small group and just asked them for prayer and then we told a select few close friends as well to pray. It also gave us the time to really look into our finances and figure out how to pay for it. (can we save for it, do we get a loan, do we fundraise... $35,000 is A LOT of money and we don't just have that to drop instantly to pay for everything) We also began looking at the different agencies. There are SO many to pick from so it was hard to narrow it down to just one. We ended up choosing Living Hope Adoption Agency in PA since we had worked with them on our missions trip in China, some friends of ours adopted two girls from China and used them, and since it's a smaller organization, it's a little more personal than just a job for them.

I decided to start selling Jamberry to help bring in some extra money that we could put towards the adoption. We are also going to do a garage sale this spring to get rid of some things we no longer need. Aaron has talked about making some bottle openers and other things to sell. We are applying for some grants and are on a strict budget to bring her home. We know that a loan is an option, but we really feel that to be our last option.

Fast forward to June: I turned 30!! We decided to finally fill our families in on what has been going on in our hearts and minds for the last several months. We asked them to begin to pray for us as well.

In August we began the paperwork:) We also decided it was time to tell all our friends and family! it was so nice to get it out in the open and not have to hide or keep it in anymore! We wanted people to be excited for us, to pray for us, and to be with us along this ride so to keep it inside was not an option anymore!  We received our approval and then scheduled our home study. A social worker has to come in and ask you all sorts of questions about you, your spouse, your kids, your families, your marriage, how you parent, see your house.... We had that done in the beginning of November and received our typed paperwork from him in December. We then had to send that to our agency for approval and in mid December we got that approved. And so the next step is to fill out an I-800 application to send to the USCIS (US consulate) and get their approval basically saying that we are allowed to bring a child from another country into our home. We sent in those papers on Christmas Eve and hope to hear back from that sometime the end of January. Our next step then is to send ALL of our paperwork (called a dossier) to China and their government has to look over everything to approve us for adoption. These papers are all kinds of things, marriage license, birth certificates, medical examinations, home study, reference letters, pictures of us, our children, and house, pet vaccination records, fingerprints, background checks... Once that gets approved, we will be placed on the waiting list to be matched with her.

In China, you can pick your child off of a waiting list or you can be matched with one. If you wanted to pick your child, you would probably have to take a child with a bigger medical conditon/disability. You would read their story and see their picture and that's how you could connect with one and decide which one you want. We have decided to be matched. We have said that we want a girl between the ages of 1 years old to 5 and 11 months old with very minor special needs. In China is you want a "perfect" child you will wait several years. If you are willing to take on a child with special needs the process isn't as long. In China, they have the severe medical conditions/disabilities, but they also classify things like asthma, premature birth, one eye slightly lower than the other eye, hemangioma, umbilical hernia... as a special needs child. We have said that we will take a child with something like that. We would love to take on something bigger, but we just don't have the finances to take in a child that may need several surgeries or medical attention.

This is just my guess, but I am hoping that we will be matched with her this spring and see her picture and then travel over to China to get her sometime this fall/christmas time. It could take longer, it could be shorter, it's totally out of our hands. We know that God has her already picked out for our family and is watching over her and beginning to prepare her for us. We know he has all the details worked out and all we need to do is trust and wait.

This whole process is teaching us so much! We are big planners and like to be in charge and on top of things. Well an adoption is something that is completely out of our hands! We can do our best to keep things moving, but there are many times where it's out of our hands and we just have to wait and trust. Another thing is that it's brought me out of my comfort zone. I would have never said I would sell something. I am just not a salesperson. I don't like to talk in big groups and I don't want to force someone to buy something. So we are learning so much about ourselves during this process that will make us better in the long run.

We are so excited for this journey and can't wait to finally see a picture of our new little girl. We would so appreciate your prayers during this time and I will keep this updated with any news, pictures, information that we get.  Thank you so much for your friendship, encouragement, and all that you do for us. We are truly grateful to have such wonderful friends and family to help us through this journey. We definitely can't do it alone.

 If you have further questions, please ask. I'm sure I left something out:)