Ours to Share!

Today was another red-letter day bringing another adoption acronym milestone: LOA! (For timeline trackers including myself in a few months when I can no longer remember: we only just received “soft” LOA on Thursday the 27th, meaning it was “in the system”, so we were surprised to receive LOA today, the 31st!)

Our Letter of Acceptance, indicating China’s approval of our dossier and our family for our boy, arrived with our agency today and will arrive in our hands tomorrow.  Each of these steps seems to usher in another flurry of activity on our end.  In this case, we need to sign and return the LOA to our agency and also quickly send off our I800 application, the final stage of the US immigration process.

My favorite FAVORITE part about this step in the process is that I am now able to publicly share pictures of our sweet boy!  I know many of you have already seen him, but I just love showing him off, so you’ll indulge me, I hope, if I go a little crazy here.

First of all, here is the picture that started it all.  The one that stopped Trevor in his tracks even though I had shown him pictures of dozens of other orphans before.  The one that whispered to both of our hearts, “Pick me! I’m your son!”  How could we say no?

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Here he is doing what I like to call “the China pose”.  I have it on good authority that this gesture means, “I’m awesome!” which he clearly is.

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And here is a sampling of some of my other favorites from his file:

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I mean!

I just can’t stop staring at his sweet face today and thanking God that this huge hurdle is now behind us.  In a sense, he is ours now, although he is still much too far away for that to feel like a reality.

Things could move very quickly from here to possible travel in November, and with that come some quick decisions to be made (who exactly *is* traveling?) and some quick money to be found (see this post about our Matching Grant from Lifesong, if you haven’t already!)  As always, I covet your prayers.

There is also the matter of the name, which has been chosen for some time now… but I think I will save that post for another time.  Maybe to celebrate the next milestone.  Remind me!

 

Provision

Over the course of our two-and-a-half adoption processes, we have seen God provide for our financial needs in some incredible and unexpected ways.  From generous donations from friends (and strangers!) to currency exchange rates working in our favor to perfectly timed overtime at Trevor’s work.  Each time, there comes a point at which we wonder where the money will come from for the next round of fees, and each time God provides.  This adoption has been no exception.

As we’ve been waiting on the edge of our seats for our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) of our dossier (which still hasn’t come, by the way), God has given us some good news of a different kind: We are being given a $4000 matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans!!!

While $4000 will be a huge help toward our adoption costs, there is the matter of the other $4000.  The money that will be matched.  The money that we need to ask people to give us.  People have already given so generously toward this adoption without our even asking, and that makes it so much harder to write this post.  But here we are.  Asking.

Our pastor joked (or not?) recently that one Sunday some time ago there was a sermon about giving, and that week was the worst week on record for the offering.  With that in mind, I want to tread very lightly here, and say this:

If you have been considering helping us financially in our adoption journey, this would be a really awesome time and way to do so, because your gift will be matched by Lifesong. Here’s how you can help:

1.  Pray with us.  This is an actual thing you can do to help, not just something I say to make people feel better who aren’t able to give.  You could pray that God will help us meet our matching grant, and then when He does, you get to be a part of that and be amazed by the fact that the God who made the universe hears us when we cry out to Him.  Pray for the financial side of things, but also pray that God would be preparing us for this new little person and getting his heart ready to join our family and protect him until he does.

2.  Make a donation.  If you do feel led to give, thank you so much!!!  Here’s how it works: Mail a check payable to “Lifesong for Orphans”. In the memo, note our family name and account number (Young #5462) to make sure it gets to our account. Send it to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to our adoption.

Or, to give online go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Family Account Number” and “Family Name” fields (5462 and Young). Note PayPal charges an administrative fee (2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

Here is a bit of fine print you need to know about Lifesong (all good things!):

Individual donations $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.

NOTE: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.

Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.  

Thank you for considering blessing our family, either by giving, by praying with us, or simply by following along in our journey and cheering us on.

Summer’s End Megan Weekend

Although we may yet squeeze in some more fun, there’s no denying the summer is winding down.  The window fan has been taking the place of the AC for the past week or so, our curriculum “box” is due to arrive tomorrow and I will have to force my kids not to start school right then and there, and I am beginning to lose sleep over the *three* science classes I’ve agreed to teach at the co-op we’ve joined for this coming semester.  Fall is definitely in the air.

But it’s still summer!  And a visit from Megan means…

Endless craftiness…

 

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Birthday catch-up…

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Traditional selfies…

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And a beautiful new family portrait!

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Thanks, Meg, for another super-fun weekend!

(I was also going to share about everyone’s new haircuts, but Pippa beat me to it on her own blog.  You can check it out here http://theyoungpages.com/pippas_blog/?p=121 !)

What’s New?

1.  A toad named Bucket (not that new actually, but now that he’s survived 6 weeks and two camping trips in our care, I’m resigning myself to actually considering him a family pet now.)

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2. Two Vacation Bible Schools and a Cow Appreciation Day

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3.  A 9-year-old!  (That makes three of them!)

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Happy birthday, beautiful girl!

4. Another long weekend for Daddy, another camping trip with friends.  Seems to be the way of things this summer.  And that’s just fine with us!

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5. And finally… a Boys’ Room (as opposed to a boy’s room)!  A day or two of decluttering and a new set of bunk beds have gotten Niko’s room all ready for a little brother to move in!

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That’s about it!  No news on the adoption front, but that’s okay for now.  We would hope to hear something in a few more weeks.

We’ve submitted all of our paperwork to be officially homeschooling *five* kids this year, and before long we’ll be starting our school year.  We still have more fun to cram into our summer before it draws to a close though!

New Acronyms and More Summery Goodness

I think I’ll start with our most recent adoption excitement, and then back up from there.  In China adoption, everything is very systematic, and there seems to be an acronym for every step along the way.

On June 25th we were officially DTC!  (Dossier to country)  This was a milestone in our process that I was especially thankful to reach, since it seemed like we hit so many delays on the stateside end of things.  Hopefully China will be more efficient!

Then on July 7th, we celebrated our beautiful Bea’s 8th birthday (Happy birthday, sweet girl!), and found out the next day that that day had also been our LID (logged in date)!  Double reason to celebrate!  This basically means that our dossier landed in the right office, and they acknowledged receipt of it.  They will now begin translating it and hopefully approve it in a couple months.  So very thankful and excited for things to be moving forward!

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Now, as promised, backing up to share some earlier summer adventures that I neglected to blog about:

A glorious ten-day visit from Uncle Nathan.

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We had such a lovely time, and were so sad to send him back to Scotland.  We were very blessed to receive a surprise package in the mail from him a week or so after he left containing this CD of the book of Romans put to song.  It hasn’t left our van’s CD player since!

We also went on another short camping adventure in late June.

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And then celebrated our nation’s birthday with dear friends last week.

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It’s been a pretty great summer so far!

Happy, Busy Days

As you know if you’ve been reading for a while, an unnewsy blog does not usually mean an unnewsy life for us; often quite the contrary!  It seems the longer I put off posting to accommodate the busyness, the more things I have to blog about, and therefore the more I put it off.

We sent our dossier to our agency about three weeks ago, and then unofficially began summer with a three-day visit from dear friends.

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During that visit, a certain little lady found her feet and took her first few consecutive steps!

Since then she has blossomed into a full-time little walker complete with a handful of new words and tricks to go with her new mobility.

After our friends left, we promptly embarked on a lovely three-day camping trip with different friends.  We hiked seven miles of trails and saw 21 waterfalls.  The weather was perfect and the cooking was superb (and more importantly not mine!)

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Unfortunately, we came home to news that there was a problem with one of our dossier documents that would cost us another trip to Harrisburg.  Although the trip to Harrisburg was unfruitful, it seems like our agency have a work-around that should keep things moving.

Our dossier is currently in Washington DC for final authentication before it gets sent overseas.  Please pray with us that this (and the steps following this one) will happen quickly.

After our camping trip we had one final whirlwind week of school before Uncle Nathan arrived from Scotland for a ten-day visit, which we are just the sadder side of halfway through.  But I will leave the details of that for my next update or else this one shall never get finished.

Dossier is on its Way!

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Our final missing piece arrived yesterday, the I800a approval letter!  I had been pacing the floor like an expectant father waiting for the mail to arrive, praying hard and knowing that if it hadn’t come that day, we wouldn’t be able to submit our dossier for another week because of visitors and other plans.  Praise the Lord, it did arrive.  It’s remarkable how much easier it is to trust in God’s perfect timing when it lines up so nicely with my own.

We had a crazy adventure today, but the end result was getting our dossier to FedEx just in time to go on the last truck of the day.  It will arrive in our agency’s hands early Wednesday for final authentication and hopefully be on its way to LC’s country in a few weeks.

The kids were absolute rock stars for four plus hours in the van today, and we all celebrated with pizza and lemonade when we got home.

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Twenty-four documents have begun their journey to bring us home our little boy.  We pray they will do their work swiftly.  God speed, dossier!

Big Girl

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This girl of ours never ceases to surprise me.

A few months ago, she gave us the invaluable gift of deciding to go #2 on the potty.  Once she had made up her mind, apart from a few little relapses, she never looked back.  This development, of course, provided a huge improvement in our quality of life and hers, but at the time she showed absolutely no signs of wanting to take the plunge and ditch the diapers altogether.

I had long been procrastinating forcing the issue by saying we’d begin potty-training in earnest when the weather warmed up, but even when that happened, life still seemed too busy.  End of school year stuff, adoption stuff, mommy-just-doesn’t-like-cleaning-up-potty-accidents stuff… it all kept getting in the way.

Until one day about 2 or 3 weeks ago, Delia asked me to put a pair of panties on her.  At first I merely obliged her by putting it on over her diaper so she could be like the big girls, but after a few days of her repeated insistence on wearing them, I began to wonder if she was trying to tell me something more.

So, once Daddy’s work break rolled around, we decided to give it a try.  Panties.  No more diapers at home.  Cold turkey.  Just like we’ve done with all our other little potty-trainers.  I began laying the groundwork immediately for an escape route.  “We’ll give it a week,” I told Trevor.  “If she’s not showing any interest in going on the potty by then, I can’t keep cleaning up accidents forever.”

“We can’t send her mixed signals,” he told me.  “We need to just stick with it.”

But we needn’t have had our little preemptive parenting debate.

Day 1 she went through four changes of clothes, but there were successes, too.  Day 2, about half the number of accidents, with a fair bit of prompting and reminding.  By the end of a week, she was consistently telling us (using the sign for “potty” and her word for it, “pah-pah”) when she needed to go and staying dry at home.

On Friday of last week, kind of by accident, we took our show on the road.  She stayed dry through a trip to the library and a doctor’s appointment, successfully using the potty at both places!

We have put a diaper on a her a few times since then for places where there was no quickly accessible bathroom or situations like Sunday school when there wasn’t really someone who could take her there, but I am feeling tantalizingly close to calling our girl potty-trained.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that she would do it so easily, and so determinedly.  This girl of ours has real spirit!

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I am hopeful that my next post will be about the submission of our dossier.  The documents have been rolling in, and we are only waiting for three more, two of which are almost definitely going to be in our hands by Wednesday.  The I800A clearance is always the wild card, but we are expecting it any day, too.  Stay tuned!

Full Speed Ahead

While our home study was leaving us feeling like we were wading through molasses a few weeks ago, we began praying and asking for prayers that our dossier process would be swift and help us make up for lost time.  Do you know things are happening so quickly now that I can hardly catch my breath?  Thank you so much for praying.  It’s working!

(Random photos from our Awana Grand Prix and other recent adventures to follow:)

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We picked up our home study from our agency and submitted our first stage immigration application by FedEx the same day on April 2nd.  This past Monday, the 20th, we received our appointment letter to go have our fingerprints taken!  This morning we walked in and were able to get our fingerprints done, so we can expect our I800a immigration clearance (the Golden Ticket, as it is called!) to arrive in about 2 weeks if all goes well.

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That piece of the dossier puzzle may not end up being the one we’re waiting on in the end.  We also need a copy of Trevor’s UK birth certificate, which his mother in England has graciously agreed to send off for us for authentication.  That may still take a couple weeks to arrive as well.

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One thing we will *not* be waiting on that we thought we might be is Trevor’s new passport.  We noticed during our home study that his passport was expiring in April, so he sent off just a couple weeks ago for a new one.  Let me tell you, Her Majesty’s Passport Office was speedy!  It arrived this week as well.

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We have appointments on May 8th to get our medical clearance letters from our doctor.  We applied for our police clearance letters today, which should take about a week, and we still have a scavenger hunt of other bits and pieces to track down when Trevor is off next week, but things are happening!

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Once our dossier is submitted (that’s DTC in adoption speak), we can expect about a six month wait to travel.  But when we travel, it is for keeps!  Unlike Niko’s and Delia’s adoption, we don’t have to say “hello and goodbye” this time.  “Hello” will be the first day of “Forever”.

He Is Risen Indeed!

Happy Resurrection Sunday from our family to yours!

Here’s a glimpse of our Easter festivities over the past week or so.

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Painting eggs? No. Grand Prix cars for our upcoming Awana race. Traditions schmaditions :)

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Big and Little Junies

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The pictures make it look a little heavy on the egg-hunting and light on the cross.  Perhaps it was this year, but we were very blessed both by our church service this morning and a combined Good Friday service of hymns and Scripture reading.  In the midst of busy-ness with the adoption last week and my mom and sister moving house all this week, a few of our usual traditions slipped through the cracks, but I’m thankful that the kids still seemed to remember what we were really celebrating today.

Christ IS risen.  The tomb was empty.  Death was overcome. Hallelujah!