Thursday, December 27, 2012

In Their Own Words

With all the activities of the holidays, I have not had much time to devote to updating my blog.  While I work on our my next update, I thought I would share with you two videos that touched me deeply.  Both of these families have adopted daughters from China, and these videos tell their stories "in their own words".

 (If you are viewing this update in an email, you may not be able to view the videos. You may need to go to: and view in your browser)

Gracie is now home and thriving with her wonderful family and you can see them here at:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The post I did not want to write

On Tuesday afternoon  we received the long awaited call from our agency that they had a file of a little girl for us to review.  I can't go into much detail, but we had to turn down the referral. She just wasn't our girl.

I was heartbroken, guilt-stricken and disappointed.  But, I feel peace with our decision and know that is was the right decision for our family.

We know our girl is out there somewhere, and we will continue to wait for her.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Adoption seems to generate a lot of fear in people.  We fear what we don't understand.  I guess that is some of what I hope to accomplish with this blog:  helping people understand the choice to adopt, because the more we understand something, the less we will fear it.

Rob and I were afraid.  We started talking about adopting in May of 2011 and did not send our application in until April of 2012.  What did we do all that time?  I look back and realize we spent those months trapped by our fears.  I know in my head that time was necessary.  We HAD to be on the same page.  We needed time to gather information and make SURE we wanted to do this.  In my heart I'm mad we "wasted" that time letting our fears rule us.  And we had all kinds of fears:  

Fear of the financial burden of adopting; and then supporting four kids
Fear of the sacrifices we might have to make along the way
Fear of how it could affect our marriage
Fear of the impact on our kids
Fear of the unknown diagnoses this child could come home with
Fear of the emotional difficulties she could have

I think probably one of the biggest concerns we had was "disrupting" this:

Slowly, as we were able to push our fears away, we were able to think of all that we might miss if we let them take over.  Worried about disrupting our kids? Of course we were.  But honestly, we worried about that every time we had a child.  Each of my kids was a "disruption" to my life, and to each other's lives.  And what a beautiful disruption they were!!  You take a risk every time you have a child.  We can't imagine our lives without each of our children.  If we had let fear rule us, we might not have the 3 of them.  What if we would have missed out on them?  They have each changed us, and they have changed each other, for the better.  We wondered,  what if we say no? What might we be missing out on?  We don't really know what this is all going to look like now, 5 years from now, or 10 years from now.  But saying no just because we couldn't be certain how it would all play out felt, well, cowardly.

For us, the ability to move past our fears came down to this:  having faith and having hope.  Rob and I have a lot of faith.  We have faith in our kids and believe that they will be great big brothers/sister to their new sister.  We have faith in each other and in our marriage. I feel like with Rob, I can do just about anything.  And we share a belief that we are not in this alone, and that belief helped us to get to a place where we had the courage to do this:

Once we sent this in, it was like a weight was lifted.  We did it!  We made the decision.  And we were able to move from living by our fears, to living by our hopes.  The hope that we can change someone's life.  The hope that our lives will be changed.  The hope that our children will benefit from being a part of this.  The hope that it will all work out.  Let me tell you, this is SUCH a better way to live!!  We are finding so much more joy living by these hopes instead of stuck by our fears.

I can't say that I don't still have fears.  In the period of waiting we are in right now, sometimes the fears creep back in.  They are different fears, but they are still there.  That is just life.  There will always be something to be afraid of.  When I feel the fears, I draw on  my faith and my hope, and then my courage is back.  And it allows me to believe in something even better than what I already have.

"All our dreams can come true, if we just have the courage to pursue them"
-Walt Disney 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Half the Sky

Half the Sky is a wonderful organization working hard to change the lives of orphans in China.  This organization could use our help.  A few months ago, Half the Sky was featured on the "Today Show".  If you have some time, this video clip (under 5 minutes) is worth a watch.  Not only will it tell you more about HTS , but it will give you some insight into what is happening in orphanages in China, and what HTS is doing to try and help:

Half the Sky is trying to win up to one million dollars to continue their work on behalf of China's orphans.  They need votes.  I would love to help them get some.  If you are interested in helping, please click on the link below to vote for them by Tuesday, December 4th. From their website:

"Vote for Half the Sky between Tuesday Nov 27 and Tuesday Dec 4 to help us win up to $1 million at the Chase American Giving Awards.

Please help us continue our work to enhance the lives of orphaned children throughout China.
 You can vote here:, or here: 

"Some children know what it is like to be loved.  Vote for Half the Sky so more children will know what it is like to be loved".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful and Hopeful

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful and hopeful.

I am thankful for my sweet family.  Great kids; great husband.

This year we spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family.  I have 3 sisters and 1 brother.  My parents were here with us, and it is so fun when we are all together.  I am so thankful for my parents.  I am thankful they thought it would be fun to have 5 kids, because it IS so much fun, and I don't know what I would do without my siblings.

My sisters are all married with kids.  Between the four us of there are 11 grandkids.  Except for one of my sisters, we all live within a few miles of each other.  I am thankful for all these sweet and healthy nieces and nephews.  These kids love each other so much and have such a great time together.

I am thankful for a family that is as anxious as I am to add another child to this picture.

And I am hopeful.  Hopeful that there will not be too many more holidays we will go through without knowing who our daughter is. Hopeful that, at this time next year, there will be another child in this family.  
A girl can hope, right?

hope: / noun / 1. A desire of some good, accompanied with an expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
hopeful: /adjective/ Feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event. 

Friday, November 16, 2012


 Some other "frequently asked questions" we get about our adoption:

Why so many orphans in China?

Each year, tens of thousands of children are abandoned throughout China, the majority being girls.  There are many factors that contribute to the orphan crisis in China. It is really hard to answer this question in a sentence or two, as the situation is complex.  In the 1970s, China instituted the “One Child Policy”, limiting couples to only one child. When this policy collided with the cultural preference for boys, the result was the abandonment of many girls. Although it may be due to the long time cultural importance of having a son first, sometimes the reason is much more practical.  Much of China’s population live in China’s rural areas and rely on males to farm the land.  When they marry, boys stay with their parents and care for them in old age.  Girls, on the other hand, marry and leave their families and take on the responsibility of helping care for the husband’s parents. In some ways, boys are China's version of Social Security.

If a baby (male or female) is sick or has a defect at birth, they may be abandoned. Parents who will only have one child don't want to settle for a less than perfect one. The Chinese are not very accepting of people with physical disabilities. Often it is perceived that a family is cursed if their child has a visible abnormality.  They are not allowed to attend school and it can b
e difficult for them to find employment. 

Also, even if the child is very loved and wanted, they may be abandoned if they are sick and the family is unable to pay for the child's medical care. Medical care must be paid for upfront in China, and it is very difficult for many Chinese families to do this. Couples may abandon their child so that they can be taken to the orphanage and receive better medical care than the family can provide. 

What happens after you receive a referral?

When Rob and I get the call from our agency that there is a referral for us, we will be sent a file to review.  This file should include some basic medical information (i.e. age, weight), some developmental information, and a photo.  We will have anywhere from 48 hours to @1 week to review this file.  We then have the option to accept the referral, or to turn it down.  If we accept the referral, we will need to complete more paperwork before we can travel, and that can take anywhere from another 4-6 months.  When that is completed, we will make an approximate 2-week trip to China to meet our daughter and bring her home.  At this point, we do not plan on bringing our other kids with us. 

Why China?

Because that is where our daughter  is.  For me, it has always been China.  I know there are children everywhere, including here in the US, who need families, but we strongly believe our daughter/sister  is  in China right now.  We think about her every day.  We wonder how old she is, if she is receiving good care, and if she is happy.  We talk about where she will sit in our car, where her place at the dinner table will be, and where she will sleep.  We wonder how old she will be, and what she will look like.  I can't speak for Rob on this one, but I dream about her all the time.  I dream about meeting her, holding her, and loving  her.  We are all anxiously waiting for the day we find out who she is.

To close, I wanted to attach this wonderful blog post:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What do the kids think?

I have been asked by so many people what our kids think about our adoption. From the beginning, they have been excited and enthusiastic about doing it. They have always wanted another sibling, and luckily, they have always been in agreement that this family needs another girl! Initially, we talked very vaguely to them about the idea. We would just say things like, "what would you think about another little sister?", or, "we are thinking about adopting". Over time, we talked more specifically about the little girls in China and what adoption is all about. We realized our kids only exposure to orphans has been in the form of the movie, "Annie", and we tried to help them understand what it really means to be an orphan. We tried to explain to them that there are truly millions of kids that have no home, and no family. We tried to explain to them that we think the right thing to do is to bring one of these kids into our home. We tried to keep it simple: there are lots of kids in this world who need love, and we feel like our family has a lot of love to give. Nothing more was needed. They were completely on board. Over the past few months, Rob and I have seen them really embrace our journey, and it is so awesome to watch their hearts open up to a little girl on the other side of the world who they haven't even met.  I want to share and document some of the things they have done and said over the last few months so that I won't forget, and so that their sister can one day see how excited they were about her.
 During our home study, our social worker visited our house to interview us as a family. She had a questionnaire for each child. The boys did their sheets on their own, and we helped Kate write hers. The only instructions were to answer with the first thing that came to your mind. Here is some of what they wrote (James on left, John on right):

and finally, Kate's

A few weeks later, we had our Open House at the boy's school. Some of the student's work was displayed, and this was up in John's classroom:

And just last week, this came home from James. In his class, the students were given the opportunity to submit a prayer  if there was something they wanted the class to pray for. One would be randomly selected. James' prayer was selected that day and here is part of what he wrote:

One night I noticed the kids huddled around the kitchen table.  When I went to see what they were doing, I found them voting on names for their sister:

There have been so many other cute stories. For instance, one day we were driving in the car, and the song, "A Thousand Years" was on. Kate and I have this conversation:
Kate: "Mommy, this song is just like me and my sister."
Me: "how so?"
Kate: "because I have been waiting for her"
Me: "when you get her, will you love her for 1,000 years?"
Kate: "No, I'll love her forever."

The kids have claimed a few other songs, "songs for our sister". Right now their 2 favorites are "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons, and "Home" by Phillip Phillips. The other day driving home from school they were all singing "Home" at the top of their lungs. Whenever it comes on they make me turn it up, and they will get all excited and say "our song about our sister!" Melts my heart to hear them singing the lyrics:

"the trouble it might drag you down,
if you get lost you can always be found,
just know you're not alone,
cause I'm gonna make this place your home"

A few months ago I saw this book and had to have it:

As we know, there are thousands of children growing up in China's state run welfare institutions without families to take care of them. In this book, which is a series of pictures of the girls in one such institution, the photographer, Richard Bowen (of Half the Sky), has captured a poignant glimpse of some of these girls.

I have found the kids on many occasions looking at this book on their own.

When I see my children looking at this book it makes me happy. It makes me happy because what I hope, and think, that my kids are seeing when they look at this book is this:  the girls in these pictures are kids ...  They are girls who deserve the same things our kids deserve:  to play, to laugh, to celebrate birthdays, to go to school, to have food to eat, to be held when they are sad, to be comforted when they are sick, and mostly, to be loved and cherished.  There is an introduction to this book written by Amy Tan, and I think she says what I am trying to say much better than me:

"I also wonder what the purpose of looking at such photographs is.  It seems at times too painful to look at these abandoned girls if we cannot directly take them into our arms and make their lives instantly better. Yet I think it is important to look.  For as long as we can look, we can imagine.  We can look and hope to  know more.  That is the start of compassion, I think."
Rob and I hope that our journey to our daughter is growing the sense of compassion in our children.  We hope it will help them to understand that  it is when you give that you truly receive.

(A quick note about blog comments:  I have had several people contact me to say they would like to comment on our blog, but have had trouble trying to do that.  I think that if you are viewing this blog post in an email update, you can't comment.  You have to view the actual blog page at: If you go to the page, you should be able to comment at the end of each post.  And we welcome comments! I would love for our future daughter to see the wonderful community of people supporting her journey home.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our Story {Why Adopt?}

Our story starts in May of 2011. However, for me, the beginnings of this journey started many years ago. When I was in my twenties, a family friend of ours adopted a little girl from China. This was talked about often in my house, and always in a positive way.

A seed was planted in my heart.

Fast forward 20+ years, a marriage, and 3 kids later, and that seed was still there. In May of last year, my husband and I were away for a night and went out to dinner. We were having a wonderful dinner, talking about how happy we were and how lucky we are to be blessed with our 3 wonderful kids. Our waiter stopped by and offered to take our picture. I'm so glad he did.

I'm glad because at that moment I had no idea that a few minutes later I would say something to my husband that would change the course of our lives. A few minutes later, I totally surprised myself by asking him, "what would you think about adopting a little girl from China?" I surprised myself when I said it because it wasn't at all planned. Not once in our marriage had we EVER discussed adoption. We never struggled to have kids. We had decided 3 was a good number, and we thought we were done. While asking the question may have felt like a surprise, my husband's response was the REAL surprise. Without a breath, a pause or any hesitation, my sweet husband looked right at me and said, "yeah, we should consider it". So, when we returned from our trip, we spent the next year doing just that....considering it. In that year, we never once considered having a biological child, or going anywhere other than China. We researched Chinese adoption, Chinese orphanages, called multiple adoption agencies, talked to friends who have adopted, sought out families who have adopted from China, and consulted pediatricians and international adoption doctors. We spent months and months and many sleepless nights fretting over the risks, the financial burden, and all the unknowns that come along with international adoption.
We talked.

We talked more.

We talked for weeks and months. We talked more about this than we have any other decision we have made in our 10 years of marriage.

We prayed.

We would feel excited, and then we would feel scared.

We would feel certain, and then we would feel uncertain.

Ultimately, we decided that we want to do something really meaningful with our lives. We have been blessed with so much, and we want to give back. We want to live out our faith for our children and teach them the importance of the values that are so important to us: compassion, mercy, tolerance, faith, hope, and of course, LOVE. It is cheesy, I know, but we really feel like we are being called to do this. Our hearts have been completely broken for the estimated 147 million orphans in this world who have no one, and nothing, to call their own. Every child should have a mom and a dad. Every child should know the love of a family. NO CHILD SHOULD BE ALONE. And after months of looking at images like these, and hearing the stories of the thousands of abandoned girls in China, it was no longer 'why adopt'? It was 'why NOT'? After all, we would love another girl in this house!


So, after almost a year of consideration, in April of this year, we signed on the dotted line and felt a complete sense of peace that we are doing the right thing. We are full of hope, and we can't wait until the day that we see our daughter's face for the first time.

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend that we don't know what to do. God,who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls,knows that we know and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:11-12

Friday, October 12, 2012


We have our LID! Our dossier arrived in China on Monday, the 8th, and we were logged in on Wednesday, the 10th. I am in shock! We were told it would take up to 3 weeks to receive our LID, but we got it in 2 days. Not much moves quickly with international adoption, so we will take it. We are officially ready to receive a referral. Let the waiting begin!!!

Friday, October 5, 2012


We are DTC!!! I am so excited to be able to post that we are finally DTC! (Dossier to China). At 6:00 this evening I got the email I have been waiting so long to receive. Lucky for me, I happened to be with my best friend, who thought to take a picture of me when I received the news:

There is still a long road ahead for us, but we are SO happy to celebrate this milestone tonight. I was at a little "happy hour" with my sisters (well, one is my best friend, but she is pretty much a sister) when I got the news. I am so glad I was able to share that moment with them (minus Amy and Kim ... wish you could have been there!). These girls have been listening to me talk about this since early 2011, and I never could have made it this far without them. Thanks girls for all the love and support! Here we are celebrating the good news:

It was such a great feeling to come home and celebrate with my hubby. Now we wait for our dossier to be received in China, which usually takes 3-5 days. Then, sometime within 3 weeks of being received, our dossier will be "logged in". This Log-In-Date is called our "LID", and once we receive that, we are officially ready to receive a referral!! A referral could take anywhere from 1-12 months to receive. So, for now we are just happy to be ONE STEP CLOSER TO OUR GIRL!!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Good and Bad News

I have good and bad news. The good news is that our dossier has made it through the critical review at our agency and is currently in translation. The bad news is that, instead of being sent to China immediately after being translated, it will remain at our agency until at least October 7th. The reason is that next week is a public holiday in China and all government offices are shut down from October 1-7. It is frustrating to be at a stand still after months of racing around to gather all of our paperwork, but there is nothing we can do but wait and be glad our dossier made it through the review with no problems.

On Sunday, September 30th, the Chinese will celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. The day is also known as the Moon Festival, as at that time of the year the moon is at its roundest. The Chinese associate the full moon with family reunion, so it is a time for families to be together. It is similar to Thanksgiving here in America. On Sunday, while most of the country is enjoying family gatherings and reunions, we will be thinking of the hundreds of thousands of orphans there who do not know, and may never know, the love of a family.

Of course we will be especially hoping that one little girl will be able to celebrate next year home with her family.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making progress

I am happy to report that as of today all of our required documents have arrived safely at our adoption agency and our dossier is now complete! This is a big deal for us as we have been working on our dossier since April. Our dossier is a compilation of all adoption related documents required by the People's Republic of China.
To complete our dossier we first had to work through our local adoption agency to complete a home study. To do this we had to provide:
  • Criminal record checks for every state we have both lived in
  • medical history forms and physicals for Rob and I
  • Statement of good health provided by our pediatrician for kids
  • Child Abuse clearances for every state we have both lived in
  • we each wrote an autobiography
  • certified, original birth certificates and marriage certificates
  • account balances
  • statement of employment
  • health insurance coverage statement
  • pages 1 and 2 of our 1040 for last 2 years
  • participated in four interviews with our social worker (one individual interview for both Rob and I, one joint interview, one house visit and interview of kids)
  • 4 letters of recommendation

  • While we waited for our home study to be approved, we continued to gather our necessary dossier documents, which included:
  • adoption petition
  • birth and marriage certificates
  • employment and non-employment verification letters
  • Financial statement
  • Physical Exam reports
  • Police Clearance letters
  • I-797 (Approved I-800A From) by the USCIS
  • Home Study Report
  • 3 front-facing Passport Photos, 3 couple only photos, 8 different family life photos

  • Once our home study was approved, we were able to file our I-800A with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services:
    After being fingerprinted, our I-800A was approved and we were issued our I-797:
    Then each of the above documents had to go through the process of being notarized and certified by the state in which the document originated,
    certified by the US Department of State,
    and finally aunthenticated by the Chinese Embassy.
    Now that our agency has our completed dossier, they will put it through a "critical review", where it will be looked over 3 more times to make sure everything is correct. If everything looks good, it will be translated into Chinese and mailed via international express mail to China. When that happens, we will be "DTC"(Dossier to China). This is a HUGE milestone in the adoption process and one that I am anxiously anticipating. We have our fingers crossed that they will not find any mistakes on our paperwork, and hopefully I can report sometime in the next 2 weeks that we are finally "DTC", and one step closer to finding our girl.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012


    Welcome to our blog! We are setting this up in order to keep our family and friends updated on our adoption. We also want to provide a journal of memories for our daughter which document the steps of her adoption from the beginning to her arrival in our family. More to come soon!