Thursday, October 31, 2013

Travel Approval!!!!!

Finally, after 20 days of waiting, we have our Travel Approval!!!  Twenty days doesn't sound that long, but when other families were getting theirs in a week or less and passing us by, it was excruciating!!!  For some reason we were in a group that was "stuck."  The past couple weeks went by very slowly!  So excited to finally have the magic 2 letters!!!

That came yesterday, Oct 30.  Our agency had to then sent a request to China for our Consulate appointment.  Our trip is planned around when that appointment.  We got word this morning that we got our first choice of consulate appointments, which will be Nov 20th.  That means we are able to leave NEXT WEEK for China!!!

We're now waiting to hear back from our travel agency on exact flight details, but here's the tentative plan:

Wed Nov 6th: leave for China (that only 6 days from now!!!)
Thurs Nov 7:  arrive in China (Maggie's 13 month birthday!)
Mon Nov 11:  Gotcha Day!! Maggie will be in our arms!  (also happens to be Veteran's Day)
Wed Nov 20:  Consulate Appt (Also happens to be my precious niece's birthday!)
Sat Nov 23:  Arrive Home!!!

We are beyond thrilled this has worked out this way.  All along we had hoped to leave the first week in November, so we could be home for Thanksgiving.  Despite the delay in TA, our agency is still pulling it off!!  Yippeee!!

And so begins our last minute preparations. Now that we have dates, we can finalize everything.  Lots to do but so happy I don't have to obsess over my email anymore!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

While We Wait

We're still waiting for the elusive Travel Approval.  We are packed and ready as soon as we get the approval and our agency makes the arrangements.  We've been so hopeful to leave the first week in November; our agency says that is still possible IF we get TA either Monday or Tuesday.  But it could very well be that we leave later in the month.  So nerve-wracking!  I won't admit how often I'm checking my email!

I know there's  reason why this step is taking longer than we had hoped; I don't fully understand that reason, but I'd like to think it's to remind me to slow down and enjoy these 3 at home a bit longer before it gets a little crazier.   Jeremy and I made time to take each kiddo out on his/her own "date" with us.  It made me realize how rare it is for one of them to be alone with both of us. It was SO special, quiet and really fulfilling.  I love our big, growing family, but it sure is nice to appreciate each of them individually too.

Some other cute recent pics.

Allie sleeping with her dolls all lined up.

Picture day for the littles!

Not too big to sleep in my arms yet.

Our own date!


Counting diapers for Maggie.

Helping me pack Maggie's clothes for the trip.

Surprise indoor picnic lunch with movie.

Just silly.

Little soccer powerhouses!

Best friends since before they could walk.

Best buds!

Allie doing her "homework".

A jumpstart on Halloween.

Daddy's bedtime entertainment.

This boy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Getting Closer!

We're in such an odd place in our lives right now.  I feel like someone has pushed pause, although I know we're making progress each day.  For the last few months we've pushed ourselves to get as ready for our trip as we could, not knowing exactly when we would leave.  As Queen of the To-Do Lists, I wanted to prepare as much as I could ahead of time.  So much to think about. We had to get ready for Maggie here, her bed, her clothes, etc.  We had a lot of prep to get things ready for the kids and grandparents while we're gone.  Thinking of all the minute details of life with 3 young kids and trying to plan that all out as much as I could for our moms was a major undertaking!  I also wanted to just take care of things that could be done ahead of time: Halloween costumes are set, Christmas shopping is done, family birthdays between now and the end of the year are taken care of.  We've all had flu shots, we're all up-to-date with our doctors, dentists, etc.  Not to mention preparing for Jeremy, Maggie and myself for the 2-3 weeks while we're in China.  Buying supplies, packing, preparing adoption paperwork, etc.  Whew!

Some other things we've prepared:  frozen meals for while we're gone and when we return, donations bought  for her orphanage we pray we get to visit, educating ourselves further on cleft palates and what's to come for her, figuring out her health insurance and how to make sure she's covered, researching the areas of China we'll be visiting, catching up on house projects, and preparing ourselves electronically (laptop, VPN, adapters, converters, etc) for our trip.  Just to mention a few things.  It was a lot and we had some late nights working on things, but I'm SO glad we pushed ourselves.  Because as I'd hoped, we got it done a little early and are now getting to enjoy a few days without the to-do list breathing down our necks.

We're still waiting for TA (Travel Approval).  The wait time is normally 2-4 weeks, and we're on day 10 of the wait.  Once we received TA, things get wild and crazy.  At that time we'll be able to make our consulate appointment in China for her and build our trip around that date.  We'll be able to book our flights, and start the final countdown!  There's so much we can't do until we get TA, and once we get it we'll spring into action to complete the last minute preparations.  We'll do our final packing, talk to their teachers, bus drivers, make Maggie's first pediatrician, Adoption Clinic and specialists appointments for when we get home, figure out the final schedule of which grandma is going to be here which day, prepay bills, etc.

But we're in limbo right now.  The list is as caught up as it can be until TA, so we're enjoying a few days of quiet, much-needed family time.  The boys' soccer season just ended as well, so we really feel free!!  It feels great.  We're making sure to spend our time with the kids, playing games and hanging out together, keeping things low-keyG.  I know it will be short-lived, but it sure is nice right now.

At the same time, I'm so ready for that TA call!!  We were blessed with some new pictures of Maggie last week.  While I'm so thankful for them, her appearance concerns me.  While she looks healthy, I think she looks so sad and lonely, and she's still stuck in that crib with none of the loveys, toys and pictures we've sent her.  Her head is partially shaved and she just looks desolate.  Ugh.  So while I'm enjoying these few lazy days, I'm SO ready to get out of here ASAP and get our girl!!  Until then, I know that she is in God's hands and he is preparing her for us.

In other news, we had another great blessing for our family.  We needed to buy another van in order to have 2 vehicles that all 4 kids could fit into.  But we knew we couldn't really afford to pay anything, so we thought we were stuck.  Until Jeremy came across a very old, but very reliable van that was sold to us at such a great deal we couldn't say no.  Within a couple weeks we were able to sell his Camry for nearly the same amount we paid for the van, so we made just about an even trade for a car that is newer than his last, less miles and fits our whole family!  We're ecstatic to have one more detail taken care of for our growing family.

Saying goodbye to that Camry is bittersweet, though.  His Camry was originally my car.  We brought Ben home from the hospital in that car and Jeremy has driven it ever since we bought our first van in 2007.  We owned it for at least 13 years and it was so reliable.  So it was bittersweet to see it go today, but we know we're ready for this new phase of our lives, which involves being the proud owners of 2 nearly identical, old, high-mileage but good-enough-for-us mini-vans!  Doesn't hurt to be married to a Toyota mechanic who maintains and keeps our cars running forever.  :)

We've come so far financially with funding this adoption.  So far we've spent about $20, 240 to date.
In the next couple weeks we'll need to spend another $9000-$10000 in travel expenses and in-country fees to complete her adoption.

Remaining Costs:
Round Trip Flights $2600-$4000
In-China Travel and Accommodations $3300-4400
In-China Fees $3200

We've been blessed by so many wonderful friends and family who have supported us financially through this journey. We've decided not to do any more official fundraisers, but will continue to have our Paypal link on our blog for anyone who feels called to help.  As I've said before, we truly believe we're meant to be on this journey to bring Maggie home to us, despite not having the financial means readily available.  We're fully trusting that God has the financial matters in His hands so that we can have her in ours very soon!

Keep your eyes open for our next news, which will hopefully be announcing our Travel Approval!!!  We're still hoping to travel in November.

Here's her latest pics, taken by another adoptive mom last week when she was there getting her child.  Please pray that the next pictures of her are with our camera and in our arms!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

News! Double the Big News!!

It's so funny/ironic that in our adoption experience, there are long stretches of wait and no news, and then we tend to get 2-3 big pieces of news all at one time.  Like when we got our LOA (Letter of Approval) and qualified for a matching grant on the same day.

It's happened again!  Two more exciting things have happened in the last 2 days.

Our Article 5 paperwork was picked up yesterday!!!  That means that that part of the process is complete and we are OFFICIALLY WAITING FOR TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!!

This is a HUGE DEAL.  Travel approval is pretty much the last big step before we can go get our girl.  China needs to grant us permission to go get her.  This can take 2-4 weeks from where we are, although it seems like it usually comes in about 2 weeks.  Once we have Travel Approval, we can then make her Consulate appointment in China and book our flights!!!  We are really close.

Families usually leave for China within 1-3 weeks from TA (travel approval).  Which has us likely leaving for China the first or second week in November.  Which is not far from now.  At. All.  

We'd love for it to happen sooner rather than later so we can be home for Thanksgiving, but it's all out of our hands.  We'll be gone 2-3 weeks, but we won't have exact dates until we have TA and can start booking things.

Our other big news:  We got our final numbers on our matching grant.  Not only did we meet our goal, we exceeded it!!!!  That means total through the donations and the matching funds, we raised $6660.  WOW!!!  That paid for our entire orphanage fee ($5748) and part of our travel fees.  We can't thank all of you enough who contributed and became a part of Maggie's story!!  We are so, so very grateful.

That leaves us with our international flights, in-country travel costs (flights, hotels, tours, etc) and travel money (food, paperwork, adoption fees, etc) to pay for still.  We have come a LONG WAY and are down to our last $8000 to $10000 to pay.  

Please note that any money mailed into the grant organization now will benefit other adopting families.  If you'd like to contribute toward our remaining costs, you can use our PayPal link here on our blog.

We have such amazing network of friends and family supporting us.  We couldn't do it without all of you!!  We are quickly working to prepare things and pack so we're as ready as we can be.  We appreciate your continued prayers and support!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Maggie's Birthday

Today is Maggie's Birthday!!!  She is one year old.  Such a mixture of emotions. I'm so excited it's her special day, but so sad she's celebrating it without her family.  But we couldn't let the day pass without celebrating our girl.  We had family over yesterday for a party, Chinese food (yum!!), and a few presents.  We're so thankful for our family's support in helping us get the things we need for her like a carseat and diapers!  (By the way, am I really doing the diaper thing AGAIN!?!?)  We're also gearing up for the big trip, getting the schedule worked out for grandparents, aunts and uncles to be here w/our kiddos while we're gone.  We truly couldn't do it without them!

This could potentially be a big week for us.  Please pray our Article 5 is ready for pickup this week!!!  That's a big step and could come this week or next.   We're so hopeful; we're getting so close!  Packing and preparations are in full swing!  We would appreciate your prayers for the process to continue to move quickly and smoothly for us.  Please also keep all the orphan kiddos in your prayers, many of them celebrate many birthdays without a family.

All our kids have a first year/first birthday video.  Maggie is no exception! Here's the beginning of our journey to her:

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Today is the last day for our matching grant.  We're not sure if we've met our $3000 goal, but we know we are close!  We're so thankful for all the friends and family who donated.  We are so blessed by your generosity.  We even had our boys' friends clean out their piggy banks to donate.  Amazing.  You all have become a part of Maggie's story!  Once we get the final numbers, we'll update our funding info on the blog.

We're still in waiting mode, but down to the last couple baby steps:

Article 5 Dropoff-Sept 20th
Article 5 Pickup-sometime between Oct 10-15 (normally is quicker, but Chinese offices are closed this week due to holiday)
Travel Approval-2 to 4 weeks after Art 5 Pickup
Book our flights as soon as we have Travel Approval and a consulate appointment!!

We're getting closer!  Still looking like November travel is very likely.  We'll take whatever we can get, but of course the sooner the better, and we'd really love to be home by Thanksgiving.

It's all getting very real.  It's crazy to be able to say we're likely traveling NEXT MONTH!  Ahhh!!!!! We are busily getting ready.  It's a major task to prep to leave the country for 2-3 weeks, and leave our kiddos at home w/grandparents.  So. much. to. do.   We're getting it done slowly but surely.  I get butterflies just thinking about actually getting on that plane!  

Here's a few pics of what we've been up to:

We volunteered with our families at Hands Against Hunger packing meals.  30,000 kids die a DAY from hunger.  This is a great organization and way to help.  I really recommend everyone give this a try!

Lots of soccer.  

Allie is doing AWESOME at school, which we're so thankful for.  But evenings are rough after going without a nap.  To say there's a lot of crying, fits and tantrums is putting it lightly.  Bedtime is very early for her these days!  Each week seems to be better than the last, though, so hopefully she'll continue to improve.

Getting ready for bed is no fun.

First experience making egg-free donuts.  Easy and really yummy!!

Sam's first bite EVER of a donut.  He loved it!  We'll be making these more often.

"I love bugs and salamanders" -Sam

Pumpkin Farm

Put the finishing touches on the girls' room!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!