Monday, October 13, 2014

5 Months

5 months.

As of yesterday (October 12) it's been 5 months since our dossier was logged into China's database.

5 months of virtual silence on the adoption front.

5 months of waiting. Hoping. Praying.

5 months of jumping up, sprinting across the room, house, where ever, every time my phone rang in the hopes that our case worker's name would be displayed on my caller ID. Ok, more like 3 1/2 months of that, and then a friend mentioned, perhaps I should assign our case worker a special ring tone, so that my kids wouldn't hear me sigh every time it wasn't her. :)

These past months, looking back, have gone by at warp speed. Our summer flew by with a flurry of fun, activities, trials, tears, not enough really warm days, relaxing, and through it all each day we woke up with new hope that today could be the day we were going to be matched.

As days, weeks, and months have now passed most days are good, fine, ok, as far as waiting goes, but there are days that are frustrating, hard, and disappointing. And the past 2 weeks have been hard as the realization of how long we've been waiting sets in. In the grand scheme of things, I know this time will seem like a drop in the bucket. However, right now it seems long. And when you're getting big packets of paperwork from your social worker because your home study expires in December so we need to be fingerprinted (for the 3rd time at the local level), fill out background checks, again, and get everyone scheduled for new physicals because we need new medical forms filled out...the wait seems long. So we start chipping away at our paperwork, try and get the required face-to-face meeting with our social worker scheduled; and get all the odds and ends she needs to see or verify in order to update our home study.

When we received the news back in May that we were all logged in, we were told that the estimated wait time to be matched with a special needs girl would be 0-9 months. Of course my brain went right into calculating where 9 months would put us (Feb. 2015). I shared my discouragement with my husband about the possibility of having to wait that long and he reassured me that the 0-9 months was just an estimate and that he was pretty sure we'd be matched within 3 months (my husband is the ultimate optimist). :) Obviously, the 3 month thing didn't happen. So we are more then half way into a possible 9 month wait to be matched. Now, I guess I could look at it as, we're over the waiting hump, we're more then half way in, but it hurts to think we've possibly got another 3 1/2 months to wait for a picture.


Despite these months of waiting, and all the craziness that's taken place over the past 5 months, the insanity that I feel like we're living in right now, despite it all, everyday, I wake up with a hope that, today could be the day.

My hope is in Jesus.

With Jesus there's always hope.

Throughout these months God has also been showing/teaching me the importance of thankfulness. Especially thankfulness in times and situations where there seems to be nothing to be grateful or thankful for. And some days it's really challenging, but I always have things to be thankful for, always! There are days I must choose to be thankful. But having a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, food to eat, clean water to drink...I have much to be thankful for!

In these days of waiting, through the hardness and frustration, not that I don't have meltdowns or have trouble seeing sometimes; I'm learning to be thankful not only through my trials, but for them. It's in those places I'm meeting Jesus in ways I've not known Him before, and that I truly am thankful for!!

"To be Grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness." -Brennan Manning

Monday, June 9, 2014

One Year

May 1, 2013.

That date marks the "official", from a paperwork standpoint, date of our adoption adventure. Our hearts began this adventure months earlier, but May 1 is when the paper pushing officially began. I wanted to write some type of post to mark the occasion, but I wasn't sure what it would look like until last week. I forced myself to sit down and reflect on everything we've done adoption related over the past year, and make a list of things I've learned.

I want to share some of those things. Maybe this will help someone? But I know I'll be thankful this time next year that I did this, since a lot of this may not be so fresh in my mind.

These are in no particular order...

1. Support and Excitement.
Being perfectly honest, when we decided for sure that we were going to adopt, I wasn't sure what the general reaction to our news would be. We have 5 kids already, and anyone who knows us, even a little, knows we're very busy. Adding another little person to our bunch, one we know will have one or more special needs, I didn't really know how people would react. So it took me a few months before I started sharing our adoption news freely. Overall, everyone we've told has been very supportive, and many are excited for us. I've had a couple people tell me we're crazy, but honestly, we wouldn't be doing this if we weren't a little crazy. :) The support we've received blesses my heart! If you're reading this, and you're one of those people, thank you!

2. Paperwork
Unless you've adopted before, you probably don't completely understand the amount of paperwork that is involved in an international adoption. We've just finished our dossier, and while I haven't seen it in person (our case worker has all the original documents + a few extras, like pictures) the copies we have could make a small book. Our home study alone looks like a small book. We've had a couple small forests worth of paper come through our home, that we've filled out, printed out, picked up from somewhere, mailed out, made copies of. It's amazing and exhausting. And just when you think you can't stand to fill out one more document, you get a break. And then as your break goes from days, to weeks, to months, you kind of wish you had some kind of paperwork to work on again, because it keeps you busy. And it's a physical reminder that things are moving forward.

3. Time
Many days while paper pushing there didn't seem to be enough time in the day. Time was not on our side (or so it seemed to feel that way). For one reason or another a delay which caused us to lose a day, a week, sometimes a month was disheartening. There's a drive to move as quickly as possible to bring your child home, and delays, which eat up time are not always easy to deal with. There are very few precious things that happen quickly, at least that was our experience with the paper pushing.
Now, however, that our dossier is in China and logged in, it seems all we have is time. :)

4. Delays
Expect them. Many of them. At one point, I began wondering if something was wrong if there wasn't a delay on the horizon.
As frustrating, as devastating, and as maddening as the delays are or can be, I'm learning that they are building blocks for our adoption story. Meltdowns may and have happened because of delays, but God has used those delays to stretch me, to challenge me to trust Him deeper, and brought me to places of surrender, that had I not experienced those delays, I would never have known.
There's a quote I've stumbled across a couple times in the past year, and there were moments, I had to choose to believe it is true.
"You are not just waiting in vain, there is a purpose behind every delay." -Mandy Hale

5. Education
Educational courses. We did many. We passed them, thankfully! That was 85% of all reading I did last summer (pretty excited to be reading books of my own choosing this summer). They were time consuming, and sometimes boring, but very eye-opening. I am thankful we had to complete the courses we did. I took away a lot of valuable information (which I'm sure I'll be reviewing, once we're closer to traveling) but one of the big things I took away was how important it is for us to think and look at adoption from our daughter's perspective. We are so excited to meet her and hold her and love on her, but for her, things will not be happy, shiny, and bright. Grasping the importance of thinking from her perspective I know will help prepare us better for the day she is finally in our arms.

6. Waiting
Let's just get this out there. No matter how good or how good you think you are at waiting, when it comes to adoption, you're not. I've had people tell me I'm pretty patient. There are many things I've had to wait for in my life, but nothing compares to the waiting involved in adoption. Because it's not just one thing you're waiting for. Ultimately, your waiting for your child, but there are so many, so many other things and people and papers and approvals and the list goes on, that you're waiting on before you even know who your son or daughter is. Waiting can be and is exhausting.

7. Marathon
Adoption is not a sprint, it is a marathon...a long one. And at this point I'm only speaking of the paperwork process. I think once we get our referral, we'll begin another marathon. It takes endurance.
I remember one morning driving my kids to school, it was probably 6-7 months ago. We had just been hit with another delay and I remember as I was driving I just started crying out to the Lord, asking Him, "Why?" "Why another delay?" I remember so clearly His response, "I'm building endurance."
God uses every delay. We may never on this side of eternity know the reason for each one, but there is a reason.

8. Lonely
Adoption can be a very lonely thing.
During the paper pushing process, so much of your time is consumed by paperwork. But your mind is consumed too. Not that you can't concentrate on other things or people, you can, but you are parent to this child, who in our case is on the other side of the world, and as her mother how can I not be thinking of her often. It's isolating. You have friends who have not adopted and they try to understand and empathize, but unless you've walked this road there's a lot you really don't understand(I can say that because not so long ago, I was that friend). And with friends, who have adopted, more often then not, while they've walked this road, they're not on the particular road you're on, so it's lonely sometimes.

9. Adoptive Families
Having friends and acquaintances who've adopted has been a lifeline.
Hearing about their experiences. Listening to their advice is invaluable. While our stories may have similarities, but most certainly won't be the same, there is a kindredness. There's an opportunity for vulnerability because of the road they've walked. Because of where they've been they can offer encouragement unlike that of other friends. They can offer an understanding and empathy that is like a balm to a hurting, anxious heart. They.are.priceless.

10. Trust
I have learned more about trusting God in this past year then I ever have in my life. I've learned how trust is part of the bedrock of my Christian faith. Trust in adoption, in life, is essential. Trust is crucial.
I've seen how lacking I am. I've seen how I've thought I was trusting God fully, but was really only trusting Him in part. It's not been easy, but I see how God is testing and stretching my trust in Him, and as hard as it's been, as painful as it's been, and even when I've thought I couldn't do this anymore, there is a cry that's been birthed in my heart to only want to trust Him more. Trust, it's a small word, but it's a powerful one.

11. Jesus
I don't know how people do this without Jesus.

12. Love
It is possible to love someone more then words could describe and miss them so much it hurts, when you've never met them or seen their face.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Update

Right now the wind is picking up, the sky is darker then normal for this time of day, it's just started raining, and there's thunder rumbling in the distance. I love summer storms! I know it's not officially summer yet, it's only June 1st and the kids still have a week of school left, but the weather has most definitely been summer's been wonderful! After the long, hard, bitterly cold winter we just went through, it truly has been a blessing to wake up these past 2 or so weeks to birds chirping, green, green grass, leaves and flowers on the trees... After the deadness of winter, we're once again seeing the new life of spring, and it's beautiful to behold!

May's update will be short and sweet, not a lot has happened, but 2 very big steps have taken place!

May 1st- Exactly 1 year after contracting with our agency we got an email letting us know that our dossier was on it's way to China!

May 12th-Woke up to an email from our case worker (she's 2 hrs. behind us, so it was still the 11th by her when she sent it). She had received word from the CCCWA that our dossier information had been logged in! Our official log-in date (LID) was May 12th, 2014!! Super exciting news!!

Where does that leave us now? Literally, all we're waiting for is a phone call from our case worker saying she's possibly found our daughter. However, the timeline for that is 0-9 months. We could get a call tomorrow, or we could be waiting until early 2015 for that phone call.

We are praying, obviously, that our wait time won't be 9 months, although, as hard as that would be we want to wait as long as the Lord chooses for us to wait. If you would, please pray with us, and please pray that we wait well.

Thinking about our travel time not being until next year is hard. We want to travel and bring our little girl home as soon as possible! But it's an area that I've had to surrender to the Lord. I still have days that I don't want to surrender to the idea of waiting until 2015 to hold my little girl, but I have to trust that if I do, there's a reason, a very good reason. I must surrender and trust. And at times it's been through tears. God is showing me areas that I've been clinging to my own timing and my own reasoning much too tightly, and that I need to surrender those areas to Him, and trust that not only does He know what's best, but He's far better equipped than I am to make these decisions. It's a refining process, this adoption journey...

"Wait (in faith) on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April's Update

For a minute I considered titling this update, "Cue The Crickets" because that pretty much sums up the month of April as far as adoption information goes.

April 3rd- We received and email from our case worker's assistant saying they had read over and approved everything for our dossier and that, that day (April 3rd) they were sending the final documents we needed authenticated to Washington D.C.
Also, in the email she mentioned that we had forgotten to include our Family Summary Sheet and could I fill it out and email it to our case worker right away.
I filled the sheet out that night and emailed it to our case worker.

April 4th- Heard from our case worker who said the Family Summary Sheet looked great!

Enter crickets...

April 16th- I emailed our case worker to see if there was any news about our documents returning from D.C.
There wasn't. I was told it typically takes several weeks (it had been about 2 weeks at that point).
As I'm typing this, it's been 4 weeks since our documents were sent to be authenticated and we have still not heard that they're back.

Crickets, still here...

So, we're still waiting, obviously. The waiting isn't getting easier, in fact I've gotten a bit anxious, since our dossier won't ship until our documents are authenticated, which means until then we're not much closer to finding out who our daughter is.
If you are praying for us, please pray for patience for us (me more specifically). And pray that we continue to trust God and His timing.

We'll stil be listening to the crickets throughout May, we're just hoping we'll be listening while our dossier is in China.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

January, February, and March 2014 Update

As I'm sitting here determined to get this update typed and posted, even though I should be doing my bible study homework, for some reason it's hard to believe it's April 1, already. It happens, to me anyway, every year. January rolls around and I brace myself, knowing the next 3 months at least are going to be cold, we may have a few days of warmer weather, but for the most part it's cold, cold, and a little more cold. This year however, has been bitter cold, and a lot of it. Our fall was cut short as the cold temperatures moved in sooner then "normal". And the cold temperatures have stayed, the kids had 3 (some school districts around here had 4) days off not because of snow, but because of how cold it was. This has been a long, long winter, and while we've had a couple of teaser days of warmer weather, it still goes back to being cold. And even though it's April, I've learned that the state we live in doesn't have a predictable "normal" when it comes to spring. Some years we have spring, like you normally would have spring, but most years we have, almost-spring, sort of spring, maybe spring, boom, summer's here (and summer sometimes doesn't arrive until the end of June). However, regardless of what our spring holds, we know there's hope that what is now brown and dead looking outside, will within the next month become green and alive again...that is one "normal" we can count on. :)

I meant to post updates each month, however, the past 3 months have been a lot more waiting then anything paperwork related. In January, we were in the middle of basketball season, we had a tournament the last weekend of January, out of town, and honestly, there was so little to post about, my extreme tiredness won out, and I chose sleep instead of updating. February we wrapped up basketball, but again, not much to post about, I don't really have a good excuse as to why I didn't type out an update, so we move on to March. And even though not a lot happened, a few big things happened, and we are officially finished with dossier paperwork! Our dossier has not shipped to China, yet, we're hoping, maybe that will happen before Easter, but it's so good to have what seemed like endless paperwork done...for now. :)

December 31st- Finally picked up my ear tube letter from my doctor's office. Taking the kids to see Frozen and the first theater we went to being sold out, ended up not being so bad after all. Went to a theater 5 minutes from my doctor's office, and we were early so I was able to pick up my letter before seeing Frozen. :)

January 13th- Receive letter from the Department of Homeland Security regarding our appointments that had been scheduled for us at our local Homeland Security office to give our biometrics (be fingerprinted again).

January 14th- Find out that my in-laws will no longer be back in town (they were out of the state visiting family) in time to make it to the appointment (yes, all 4 of us needed to be fingerprinted). My step-mom-in-law's brother passed away, and the funeral was the weekend of the 24th.

January 16th- I mail (you can't call and reschedule, I tried calling to reschedule) requests to have my in-laws fingerprinting appointments rescheduled.

January 23rd- My husband and I go in for our biometrics appointment. It was short and sweet. Not at all as spy-movie like as I thought it might be.

January 24th- Receive new appointment dates for my in-laws in the mail.

February 14th- My in-laws drive out bright and early to our local Department of Homeland Security building for their biometrics appointment.

February 22nd- Come home from a 2-night family get-away to a letter from the Department of Homeland Security. Our USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) agent sent us a letter stating that there was specific information missing from our home study and without that information our Immigration Approval request could not be processed or approved.
-I may have had a mini freak out. It's fuzzy at this point. I was very sleep deprived and it was over a month ago, but I'm pretty sure some kind of small-ish freak out happened, whether out loud or in my head, I don't exactly remember.-

February 23rd- Scan the letter from the Department of Homeland Security and email it to our social worker, since there was nothing we could do.

February 24th- Thankfully hear from our social worker that she got my email, had typed up a home study addendum, sent it to her supervisor for approval. Once approved she would mail us copies and also get copies to our agency.

March 5th- Receive home study addendum in the mail.

March 6th- Mail home study addendum to our Immigration Services Officer.

March 14th- Emailed our Immigration Services Officer to make sure she received our addendum.

March 15h- I got an email early (on a Saturday) that our immigration application had been approved, was mailed out (March 13th) and that we should be receiving it soon. That afternoon when we checked the mailbox, our Immigration Approval letter was there. We were so excited! We'd waited 2 1/2 months for that letter and it was finally here!

March 17th- After I drop the older kids off at school and stop at the UPS store for a pre-paid, self-addressed envelope, we meet with a friend who happens to be a notary to have our Immigration Approval letter notarized.
Then, I and my 2 little ones drive to the Secretary of Sate's office in the capitol to drop off the last few documents we needed state certified before we can send the last papers of our dossier to our case worker.
E and I both go to separate Walgreens to have passport pictures printed to include with our dossier papers.

March 19th- Receive our documents back from the Secretary of State. I make lots of copies. Also make sure our family pictures we need to include in our dossier are ready to go, along with copies of our passports.

March 20th- After double checking all of the papers I mail the last of what our case worker needs to complete our dossier! :)

March 22nd- My husband gets and email from our case worker (was sent to all of the families adopting from China, for some reason I didn't get it). It was a reminder email letting everyone know they had recently moved their office, and again just a reminder this is the new address...

In Anna from Frozen's voice, "Wait, what?"
-insert me having, not a panic attack, but, it wasn't pretty-

**Side note, I did get the original email with the mention of the address change. It came in a newsletter a few weeks earlier. I'm pretty sure I started reading the email while in the pick-up line at school, kids got in the truck, I put my phone down, never finished reading the newsletter, and the rest is history...

March 22-24- We are in contact with our case worker, letting her know I didn't get the reminder email, I sent everything (original documents, important, original documents) to the old address. She says not to worry that it'll be forwarded to the new address. Ok, crisis averted...for now...

March 27- Email our case worker to see if she's gotten our documents yet, you know since I mailed them a week ago, and I know the need to be forwarded and all that, but it's been a week, and I just really want to make sure they're not lost.
Nope, has not received them. Oh really? But do I have a tracking number I could check? Sure. (Just keep breathing)

Plug the tracking number in on the Post Office's website. Find out our envelope has bounced from the state I mailed it to, to the state it needs to be in, back to the state I originally mailed it to...deep breaths.

Email our case worker with the latest I've found out. She asks if I can call and see if I can get it sent to the right address...
Let me just say, I absolutely love our case worker! When she asked if I could call around, my first thought was, "this is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack." Call who? The post office(s) I'm calling are across the country. I'm pretty sure this is not going to work.
I start googling, get the phone number for one post office in the city our documents, according to the tracking information, are in. After going through the pre-recorded menu, and making selections that were dead ends, I talked to a live person, who told me they couldn't help me (my heart sank) but, here's the number for Consumer Affairs.
Asked a couple people to pray for me, as I was praying before making my next call.
Called Consumer Affairs, the man who answered the phone was wonderful, he went out of his way to check on things, and was able to tell me that if our envelope of documents was not delivered that day, they would be the next day. Also, if for some reason our envelope wasn't delivered he gave me another number to call or said to just call him back. Made. my. day.

March 28th- Got an email from our case worker. She received everything, and would be sending documents out that day to Washington DC that needed to be authenticated.

Once she gets those documents back, she can mail everything to China!

We are getting so much closer. We've still got a 2-3 month window before we'll know who our little girl is, but we are getting closer.

If you have been praying for us, thank you, so much!! We cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate your prayers! Please keep praying!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mind and Heart

There's a small bit of clarity, understanding, sense made of what I've been feeling for the last almost month and a half.

One of the biggest fears/concerns I had about adoption (there are still others) that was silenced has now become this place of pain, aching, confusion, depression almost...


Love for a little girl with almond eyes who lives on the other side of the globe.

I love her deeply. I ache for her. It physically hurts sometimes to not be able to hold her, kiss her, snuggle her, right here, right now.

My mind is confused. It doesn't quite know what to do with this love.

When I gave birth to my kids, there was, for me, an instant bond, on my end. I had loved them for the months they lived and grew inside of me. And when I held them, each of them, for the first time, that love, however possible, became stronger. My eyes beheld them in their pink, squishy, newborn beauty. My heart burst with love for them. I would protect them at all costs. That fierce, gentle, all-consuming, mother's love. My other children have been with me since day 1. For 9 months I held them and protected them under my heart. When they were born, I held them in my arms. I've never had to love them from afar.

This little girl who's face we don't know. I love. I love her so much it hurts.

I can't see her. I don't know her.

I can't dry her tears. I don't know if she's afraid.

I can't hug and kiss her. I don't know if anyone does.

I sometimes see her when I dream...but she's elusive, I never quite see her face.

My mind is looking for her face. This love that's pent-up inside, waiting to be given to her. It's looking for her.

I see faces of beautiful almond eyed children online. My heart sometimes whispers, "could it be you?". My mind tries to remember the face I've seen in my dreams. Nothing. We still have months to wait.

There are many days it's easier to be indifferent, to try and not think about her. But my heart never allows that thinking for long, she is, after all my daughter, I can't deny her.

I just wish I had a picture.

So on the days that my mind is spinning, wondering what in the world to do with the love for this little girl who's not physically here. I can look at that picture and calm myself down.

Perhaps, that's not how it works? I've heard and read of many adoptive parents who say it's even harder to wait once you have the picture.

I just have days, many recently, that I wonder what to do with the emotions that come along with not having a picture. This is all new territory for me. And recently it's been so much harder then I care to admit.

I wish I could say I had a great way to wrap up this post (which I'm not sure made any sense) and put a pretty bow on it, but honestly I've got nothing.

The truth is I've had a lot more days of knowing what to say and what the right answers are, but even knowing the answers on many days has not made things any easier.

Trusting God the way we've had to over these past months has been one of the hardest things I've ever done, and the scary thing is we've probably only barely scratched the surface of where God is leading us to trust Him.

God has brought us to a place where all we can do is trust. There is absolutely nothing we can do in our power right now to speed anything along. I know it's a good place. To be completely reliant on Him. But it's not easy...not easy at all.

So we will continue to wait, continue to pray, continue to trust...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Update of 2013

My original intent was to write my final update of the year on New Year's Eve. However, tomorrow is going to be a busy day and I'm pretty sure if I wait, it would be New Year's Day or later before I get this up. So 1 hr. before New Year's Eve will have to do. :)

December 5th- Get a call from my Dr. office saying my re-done ear tube letter will be complete and notarized by December 12.

December 11th- Emailed our social worker to see if there's been any progress on our home study, just curious if she has any news.

December 12th- Hear back from our social worker saying she's received our home study, but cannot mail it out until Monday. I was a little confused because I wasn't sure if she had just gotten it from her supervisor and still needed to send it to the state for approval.
Also, completely forgot about my ear tube letter, and as I'm writing this, I still haven't picked it's been that kind of month. Plus, our Dr. office is really not on the way to anything, so it'll be a special trip.

December 13th- I emailed our social worker for clarification, but she's not in the office on Friday's so I know I won't hear anything until the following week.

December 16th- We emailed a scanned copy of our I-800 form to our case worker so she can double check it for us (we want to get it right the first time). She emails back and says everything looks good.

December 17th- We get the email we've been waiting for...oh, for months! Our social worker emailed to let us know original, notarized copies of our home study were in the mail on their way to us (Hooray!)! Also found out that she was sending a copy to the state to have it certified for our agency, that saves us one trip to the capitol, her having it certified for us. :)

December 19th- After being gone all day I come home to a note from our mail carrier telling me there's a certified envelope waiting for me at the post office...Gah!

December 20th- Run to the post office to pick up the certified envelope with our home study in it on my way to school to help with our oldest's Christmas party.

December 21st- E runs out to get 2 cashier's checks. One to cover the processing fee for our I-800 form and another to cover the cost of us all being fingerprinted, yet again, at a later date. This next time it'll be for the FBI.

December 22nd- Put the finishing touches on our I-800 form, basically we all sign where we need to sign (E, myself, and my in-laws). I make sure we have the correct number of copies of the other documents we need to mail with our I-800 form.

December 23rd- First day of Christmas vacation for the kids. I and 4 of the kids trek over to the post office. Of course it being only days before Christmas there's a few people there, and my kids, upon entering the building, suddenly can't keep their hands off of each other or select post office merchandise. Even though they got strict instructions before entering the post office that they were supposed to stand right by me, and touch NOTHING! So, what could've been a 3 minute deal turned into a bit longer. Thankfully I double checked all the documents that needed to accompany our home study and I-800 form to USCIS to apply for immigration approval for our daughter. Somehow everything made it into an envelope, I addressed it, paid, and we made it out the door in one piece, and my children didn't bump into any of the elderly people at the post office. Yeah... I've been praying that God gets all those documents and cashier's checks into the right hands, because, well, I was a little distracted.
All that aside, we were so happy to get everything off for immigration approval before Christmas!

Now we wait, some more. Immigration Approval can take 2-3 months to get, and that's the final document we need to complete our dossier. So we're praying if it's God's will it won't take the full 90 days, but we'll get approval sooner.

December 28th- Email family pictures to our case worker for approval before I print them out. These pictures will be included in our dossier. She said they were great! :)

December 2013 was insane, really. There's no other way to describe it. The weird thing is, almost none of the insanity was adoption related. December is busy, no matter what's going on, there's just extra stuff. Programs and parties, cookie exchanges, shopping, decorating, attempting to get Christmas cards out (we succeeded this year!), and that's just Christmas related. Nevermind just the day to day craziness. And our oldest son is on the school basketball team, so now we are trying to find a new normal that includes basketball games twice-ish a week. We didn't do so good this month, we're adjusting, and, well, there were a few other things going on. Hopefully, January's new basketball normal will be a little more, um, normal. :)

Looking back, and still having vivid memories of this month, I know God carried me through most of it. This month was exhausting, and I had a few days where honestly, I was relying on the Lord moment by moment just to make it through the day. I'm so thankful for how He met me. Things didn't magically get better, but He gave me the strength to keep going.

As 2013 is coming to a close, I'm very thankful! Thankful for where God has brought us, what He's done in us, what He's done for us. I'm thankful that through the trials and storms of this past year He has been a refuge. He's not ever left us. He has been and still is faithful.

If you think of us, please pray for us. Please pray for our daughter. Please pray that if it's God's will our immigration approval will happen sooner then later and that all the details will be taken care of. Please pray that we continue to trust God's timing.

Happy New Year!