Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cars, Trucks, and Buses - Oh, My!

We received our official Travel Packet today - not Travel Approval (TA), mind you. It contained all of the original photos of Jack, the original Chinese paperwork, including medical paperwork, additional paperwork for us to complete, and a copy of our dossier. Seeing the complete dossier was very gratifying, I must say. Here is the final product of all of our paper chasing!!!

We also discovered that Jack loves cars, trucks, and buses. When he would see them when he was a little younger, he would clap enthusiastically. I imagine that when I see him for the first time, I'll have a box of animal crackers in one hand and a toy car in the other - a sort of "Hey, I'm really a nice lady once you get to know me" kind of offering. :0) Oh, and his favorite color is blue - just like his dad!

Included in our paperwork were a couple of pictures we hadn't seen of a much younger Jack - approximately 2 years old. We had a fit when we saw them - they are so darned cute! They didn't scan well, but at least you can see him, in what looks like a fit of giggles. Oh, how we wish we could turn back the clock and have the chance to know him sooner. Sometimes it's difficult to understand why God would have this child grow and have time to bond with his caregivers in an orphanage, only to be taken away by these funny-looking strangers. But God's plan is perfect ... kind of like an exquisite Monet painting. Up close, all you can distinguish are blobs of various colors, with no real form. But when you step back and look at the entire picture, the Artist's individual strokes suddenly make sense and we see a complete picture that leaves us in awe.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


As of July 16, 2008 we are finally DTC, which is adoption speak for Dossier to China!!!! We celebrated with a Chinese dinner that evening. And in a call with the Waiting Child Coordinator from our adoption agency, she said, "We'll be sending your son's original paperwork to you." I giggled when I got off the phone. I had to explain to my eldest daughter why I was giggling and reassure her that I had not gone off the deep end. I just got such a charge out of what the Waiting Child Coordinator had said ... "your son's." Wow. This is getting very real now - one step closer to Jack.

When Jenna heard that the paperwork had been sent to China, she gasped and said, "Does that mean we can go and get Jack? He's been waiting for us to come get him for such a long time!" Jenna has been working hard, too, by bringing me "more papers to help you get Jack." :0) Whenever she would see me doing paperwork, here she would come with a stack of papers to contribute.

After I had called and e-mailed everyone, I sat there thinking, "Now what?" This really is the hardest part because there is nothing actively to do to try to make this go along any quicker. You just wait. We had been so fortunate to receive many pictures of Jack throughout this process, that this was going to seem like one mighty long dry spell.

Well, got a package today for Jenna from Mrs. Yang the orphanage director. She had sent it back with one of the families who just returned from China. We knew there were clothes in it, but Mrs. Yang packed a little surprise - 3 more pictures of Jack!! A note was included, as well. So, I rushed out to a nearby Chinese restaurant and asked them to translate for me. By the time we were done, the cook had come out from the back to look at the pictures and ask questions, too! The note said, "From your mother and aunties in China. We all miss you very much and hope you have the happiest of lives in America!" Jenna used to call Mrs. Yang, "Mamma," which for a time, she was the closest thing Jenna had to a mother. There are many older, special needs children in this orphanage, who may never be adopted. To them, she is truly ... Mother.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Paper Chase

May 15 - the day we go to get fingerprinted at Immigration (or USCIS). After having been delayed for over a month and a half with my "unreadable" fingerprints for our homestudy, we were set to get fingerprinted AGAIN (this time, though, for a different purpose). Immigration requires 2 sets of rejected prints before allowing you to give an affadavit. The process for checking the prints takes 4 weeks - so we were looking at a possible lengthy delay here as well. The interesting part is that the entity who checked my prints and deemed them unreadable, the FBI, was the same entity that processes the Immigration set of prints. We thought for sure that I would "fail" yet again. So, we contacted our U.S. Rep.'s office to lend a hand in expediting this process. To make a long story short ;0) our Rep.'s office found out for us that my prints were accepted 3 days after I was fingerprinted. Great news! All that was left was the wait for our Immigration approval form, which happened to be the very last piece of paperwork that we needed to supply before our dossier could be shipped to China.
Normally, receiving the approval form takes 4 weeks. Well, four weeks came and went. Not wanting to lose any more precious time, I tried, to no avail, to contact the Adoptions Unit to check on the status of our application. "All voice mails will be answered in 3 business days, but you will get a more prompt response to an e-mail enquiry," I was told. I left both. Nothing. I finally got a person on the phone - not the right department, mind you, but a live person none the less - who quickly told me that the (one and only) Adoptions Unit Immigration Officer retired and they were having trouble finding a replacement. Great. So, we called our U.S. Rep.'s office again, hoping that they could find out something for us. After 6 weeks, we received the form! Gosh, I bet you heard the screams of joy at your house, didn't you? You were just too polite to say anything about it.
Right now the last of the paperwork is being processed at a Consulate, and we have been told and are hoping that our dossier will go out on Jul 16. So, everyone then asks, "When do you think you'll be traveling?" Hmm. At this stage of the game, with the Olympics in Beijing and a week-long holiday the beginning of October, you're guess is as good as mine. Oh, yeah, remember that I told you that God has been faithful to uplift me during these trials of patience? Another family traveled to Lanzhou to get their little boy during the Immigration wait, and we were following them on their blog (something the kids and I like doing). One morning I log on to their site and am face to face with a nice big picture of Jack! The dad had made the trek to visit the orphanage and was kind enough to get that picture for us! Thank you, Andy and Trish! They also took a care package to Jack from us. I've learned that just as there is a bond between you and your adopted child - there is also a unique bond between adoptive families. We understand. We've been there and know what simple things, like a photo, actually mean to families huddled around their computer screen gazing at this person, who is still a stranger, yet a part of you ... a part of your family.

Monday, July 7, 2008

An Earthquake in China

As many of you know, China was hit with an earthquake on May 12. I remember getting up and checking the news on the internet that morning and reading of the quake. Upon seeing the news, I immediately checked maps, e-mailed other friends who are also adopting from China, and scanned an innumerable amount of news articles looking for any mention of Pingliang. The map gave me some comfort, but not much. Pingliang was not in the same province that was hit, but was above the epicenter by a few hundred miles. Considering that it was felt as far away as Beijing, I knew that Pingliang had felt something ... but what? I finally found a news article that stated about 20 people died and the area received some damage, but not nearly as much as the epicenter.

In the days that followed, those of us who belong to a Pingliang internet group shared any information that we could find - all wondering what was happening at the orphanage. Finally someone contacted a relief/charity organization with a donation. The person representing that organization personally made the trip to the orphanage to see how they were doing and what they needed ... and she came back with pictures!! Aah, our first chance to actually see that Jack was O.K. What a blessing!

The images that you see are post-earthquake and show that they are living in tents during the night, but are able of using their buildings during the day. Their building sustained some cracks and they were waiting the arrival of a government organization who is checking the damage and reporting it and probably determining if the structure is sound. We heard, also, that they were in need of blankets as it was cold at night and they had even endured hail in their tents. Seeing Jack's smiling face made all the difference!

We got these pictures the day of our Immigration fingerprint appointment. God knows me well and has seen to it that I get some kind of update or photo of Jack whenever we are going through some red tape experience! This confirmation has kept me going and has reminded me of God's plan for us.