Monthly Archives: June 2015

Preparing for a match

With our dossier being so close to finished up and heading to China in the imminent future, our brains have begun to travel to what is next:

Being matched with our Elliott.

To say that we are excited about knowing who our Elliott is, seeing her precious face, being able to prepare our home and lives more specifically for her, and moving towards the finish line is definitely an understatement.  But I would be lying if I said this step didn’t come with fear.

Through the course of the past few weeks, Russ and I have had several conversations about how I am struggling with my fears.  The themes?  Will I love Ellie as much even though she doesn’t come from me? Not just sweet, positive-feelings love, but the kind of desperate love that makes me work hard at being a good mother for my kids.  The kind of love that drives me to pray, keeps me up at night, and makes me search the house in a panic to find a beloved stuffed animal because I don’t want my baby to hurt?

The truth is, I am scared.  Scared I won’t feel the same.  Scared I won’t attach.  Scared it will be harder than I can handle.  Scared I will feel resentment if it’s difficult.  Scared, scared, scared.

Last Sunday during worship, my worship leader husband said something along the lines of “We often spend so much time focused on how we think our lives should go, the plans we have for ourselves.  Yet there is One who has a greater story for us.  I challenge you today to lay your own ideas about your life aside and rest in the story being written for you & the arms of the One writing it.”

To be transparent, my first thought was “this doesn’t apply to me.  I am following God.  I’m being obedient.  I mean, I’m doing this scary thing!”. But as I sat quietly with the Lord for a moment, I realized that I am very much not trusting God as I wrestle through all of this looming in front of me.  That even though in the big picture I can believe that His plans for me ultimately are good, I am staying in this place of fear in the present – not sure if I believe that He is in what is coming for me in the immediate future.

It occurred to me that as I prepare myself for this next step, I am putting a lot of faith in both Elliott and myself.  Will she be right for us?  Will she fit with our family dynamics?  Will her health needs be manageable for us?  Can I do this?  Can I love her enough?

And all of those may be legitimate questions, but the point that God hammered home to me as my church family sang around me on Sunday was that my faith does not rest in “the perfect” Elliott being matched with us or even in us having our stuff together enough to do this well. My faith rests in the One who started this story.  The One who has been writing my story all along.

So much of the unknowns in our life we stumble into without preparation.  And there is much wisdom in that. I could not have chosen to fight for my marriage as a young twenty-something.  But God has been making beauty out of that mess we made for eleven years now.  Five and a half years ago, I could not have knowingly walked into a desperate health situation with our only child, but God has always been in that.  And almost two years ago, I was not prepared to begin to lose my dad. I would never have chosen that.  But I have seen God to be faithful in the every day, in the pain, in grief so great it takes my breath away sometimes.

And in all of that I see His hand of preparation.  Giving us this foundation in marriage, the knowledge that we will fight through anything to keep standing next to each other.  Teaching us how to love and nurture a child that has trauma and fear from a place we can’t fully understand.  And giving me this understanding and reverence for grief that I never had before.  I hope I am better able to love and empathize with our daughter, who in her brief life has lost more than either Russ or I in the entirety of our lives.

Elliott will be right for us because when God created me, when he created Russ, He had her in mind.  He knew we would get to parent this very special little girl.  He knew that.  And as we have walked through life and circumstances, He has prepared us for her.  I don’t have to fear that anything that is coming is a surprise to Him.  He is writing this story.

As you think of us, we would love prayers as we approach this exciting point.  We believe God brought us into this process knowing which little girl He would make a King.  We are asking that He give wisdom to our agency as they seek out a referral for us, give wisdom to us as we wade through emotions and medical jargon and fears, and that we would hear from Him and know and have peace – this is our daughter.

SO close!

The adoption process sort of mimics the act of climbing a mountain.  The upward climb is the home study, completing of dossier documents, notarizing, certifying, and authenticating dossier documents, getting passports, making copies, making more and more copies, and spending lots of time at your local postal center overnighting things various places (I love our postal center guy.  He’s so patient with my neurotic address checking and he always gives Bennett a quarter out of his cash register for the gumball machine).

The climax of the climb would be when the dossier has been sent off to China and you are eligible to be matched with your child.  The moment when we first see her face.  The one that all this work has been for.

And then begins the downhill ascent.  Visas, citizenship approval, recognition from China that we are officially matched, and finally – approval to travel.

We are officially one piece of paper away from having a completed dossier.  WE ARE ALMOST AT THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN PEOPLE!

Let’s recap.

On May 15th, our I-800a was received at the lockbox (US Citizenship and Immigration).  This is a big deal because they are processed in order of receipt date.  Let the somewhat anxious and repetitive counting of days begin.

On May 22nd (our 11th anniversary!), Russ and I drove our 12 completed and notarized documents to Austin to the Secretary of State.  Our 13th document (Russell’s birth certificate) had already been mailed off to the Mississippi Secretary of State and returned with the certification.

It took us about 20 minutes for the lady to certify all the documents.  She said our documents were “beautiful” and called me “very organized”.  This is clearly the favor of God.  I am not organized.

This was a VERY big deal, because once the Secretary of State says your documents are good, they are good.

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On Thursday, May 28th, Bennett and I drove to the Chinese Consulate near downtown Houston.  I was crazy nervous.  This was the final step with these documents, which we had been collecting and working on since February!  It was a pretty interesting experience.  She took my papers and handed me a slip, which told me to come back on Tuesday to pick them up.

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This Tuesday Bennett, my mom, and I headed back there to pick our documents back up.  I think I had held my breath over the past couple days, praying that there would be no issues with any of them.

I handed the lady my slip and credit card.  She rang me up and handed me back 13 authenticated documents.

Beautifully, complete documents.  Notarized, certified by the Secretary of State, and authenticated by the Chinese consulate. Evidence of how when God calls us, He gives us the ability to do things we don’t think we can do.

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This morning I went back to my trusty postal center and overnighted these to my caseworker, Amanda.  Included with them was all the other things that make up our dossier that she doesn’t already have (photo pages of our family, passport copies, passport pictures).

Amanda will work on getting our dossier put together while we wait for our I-800a to be approved. That I-800a is the final piece of paper in the dossier.  We have a fingerprint appointment for that next Wednesday and then we are thinking possibly a week after that we may have our approval.

In my mind the whole time, I have aimed for July 15th to have our dossier complete and on the way to China.  Amanda told me this week that not only will we blow that date out of the water, we can expect to have our dossier complete in June.  She also said that we should prepare ourselves for the possibility of traveling in 2015, even as early as November.

Wow.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.” Psalm 37:23

I shouldn’t be surprised.  God has shown himself to be extremely powerful here.  Surrounding us with incredibly supportive community, providing funding at a lightning speed, and giving us the ability to walk this out in ways that our beyond our abilities.  And yet He has to remind me over and over again – where much of this feels fearful to me, for Him there is power and love.

Jesus, continue to make our path straight.  Lead us to our girl quickly.