Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We're leaving on a jet plane...

Guess what?!?! We are leaving our house in 6 1/2 hours! And  guess what else? I don't have anything in my suitcase yet.  That is SO normal for me. I think it will make it easier to sleep on the "overnight" flight to London.  "Overnight" because we land at 8:35am London time, but that's 2:35am Little Rock time, and lately that's been about the time I'm getting ready to go to bed.

We finally came up with a plan that we like for Hayden to be able to sleep in our room, close to us, without having to be right in our bed. We got a camping cot that is big enough to hold a twin size air mattress. I think she will actually like the air mattress because we've heard that beds in China are REALLY hard. We got comfy sheets and a nice quilt, so it will look like a regular bed, but will be light weight and easy to move around.

I hope to write the last part of The Journey on the trip to London and post that, plus any  pictures and stories we have accumulated at that point. I am SO excited to get to experience this whole adventure with my kids. We have already laughed so much this week, just getting ready.  I am praying that the five of us will show extend lots of grace and mercy to each other and go out of our way to do what we can to make life easier for the others. You know, in other words, treat others as we would like to be treated and put the needs of others above our own.  Feel free to pray that for us, and with us!

I am so appreciative of the many friends who called or stopped by this week to offer to help by running errands, bring dinner, or anything else we could think of.

OK, I just got "busted" for being on the computer instead of packing, so I'll end here until London! (Or maybe Dallas.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming for an important announcement."

I will finish the story of our journey, hopefully before we leave. I am really enjoying remembering and writing about it, but I AM ready to be writing in the present. So, for now, I want to answer the question I am hearing most...When do we leave and what does the trip look like.

But, before I can answer that question, I have a VERY important announcement to make:  OUR TRIP IS FULLY FUNDED, INCLUDING WHAT WE NEED FOR THE KIDS TO TRAVEL WITH US! And, can we just say:

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE THAT POSSIBLE!!!  I never doubted that God could do it if He wanted to; I just wasn't as convinced that He would want to as some other people were. I don't know if you've ever been totally overwhelmed by Him and His people or not, but I hope everyone gets to experience this realization of just how BIG God is and how GOOD His people are.

OK, back to the other question...

Let me start by saying that I feel totally comfortable sharing with the World Wide Web our travel plans because we have a great housesitter staying here while we are gone, not to mention two large dogs that would just as soon eat you as look at you if you are uninvited to their (our) home!

We leave our house Wednesday morning at 7 to drive to Dallas. And then, it looks like this:

June 30 Drive to Dallas at 7:00 am
             Depart Dallas at 5:35 pm
July  1   Arrive London at 8:35 am
             Depart London at 4:35 pm
July 2    Arrive Beijing at 9:35 am
July 4    Arrive Nanning and get our girl!!!
July 9    Arrive Guangzhou to finalize the adoption!
July 17  Take a train to Hong Kong
July 19  Leave Hong Kong at 11:15 pm
July 20  Arrive London at 4:55 am
             Depart London at 11:05 am
             Arrive DFW at 3:40 pm
             Driven to Little Rock
             Sleep another week

So, there you have it. That's the skeleton version of our trip. We hope to be updating the blog often with pictures and details.

PS - I have no idea why that column beside the dates is doing a little wave. I can't seem to make it straight. But, considering it's 3:30 in the morning, I've decided that we can all just wave back.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans" The Journey (Part 3)

And we waited...and waited...and waited. We were told, when we started the adoption process, that the wait time had reached 24 months--longer than it had ever been. Still, we expected to be home with our daughter by Thanksgiving of 2009. Each month we received an update from our agency on the progress made by the CCAA telling us how far we'd moved up in the line. By the end of 2009, they had matched children to families with LIDs (log-in dates) through the end of March 2006. (We're August 17, 2007) In 2009, they only finished 30 days.

In January of this year we received a call from Denise Schoborg, the China program director from Dillon. She told us that the wait time for a little girl, 42 months or younger, with only minor special needs (as our dossier requested) was about 8 to 15 years. Did you hear what I just said?!? EIGHT to FIFTEEN YEARS! Do you know how old we'll be in eight years?

We decided then to wait until after Parker's graduation, May 16th, to figure out what to do next. Our fingerprints with USCIS were about to expire again, and this time it would cost quite a lot of money to renew them. And, they would continue to expire every 15 months. (I'm not sure it's really our fingerprints that expire, but the clearance given by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. They require that new background checks and prints be done.) We decided we were okay with them expiring, not because we were backing out or giving up, but what's a couple of months in the grand scheme of the years we'd been waiting and had left to wait?

So, we officially put the whole thing on the back burner until late May. Then, Darrell would take a week off and we would fast and pray. In the mean time, we would study up on fasting and praying.

When Darrell called me on the morning of March 11th and told me that Kimberly (Dillon social worker/friend) had called to ask us to consider a 5 year old girl, we were pretty casual about it. Later, Kimberly called me and as we talked, it finally registered that this was a BIG DEAL! This was THE phone call we had been waiting for! I told her about our plan to wait and fast and pray. She laughed. I told her that I didn't know what she found funny. She said it's funny how we can have great plans, but God has another plan. I heard or read a quote recently that says if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. That's a good one! (Darrell just looked it up and it is attributed to Woody Allen.)

You might think that there would be no "considering" involved, but that's how the referral was presented to us. Kimberly told us to take a few days to look over the information we were given, talk to a pediatrician, pray, and then let her know what we were feeling. I don't know if I can fully describe what it feels like to be "considering" whether or not to accept another person as your child. It was very unsettling.

To be continued...

Stretch Marks - The Journey (Part 2)

So we felt led to move forward with adopting a little girl from China as the Lord provided. And, I hate to put this in writing, but honestly, I felt like I was probably "off the hook" as they say. I mean, international adoption is EXPENSIVE! And I was serious about this not affecting our grocery envelope. (Not a very nice thing for a momma to say, huh?)

Well, about a week later we got a note in the mail from a family we'd never met that included a check for $150! I remember, like it was yesterday, exactly where I was when I opened it and exactly what I thought and felt. My knees felt like noodles! It was from Christy's sister. (See The Journey...Part 1) The note said that they had never been led to adopt, but loved helping other families in the process. The check was for the required Pre-Adoption Workshop and the Initial Application fee. I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh no! This is not my money. I can't back out now!"

I need to make sure to explain that I never REALLY didn't want to adopt. I was just scared. My faith needed to be stretched. Sitting here nearly four years later, one week from leaving to meet my new daughter, I find that last sentence funny. To say my faith has been stretched doesn't even begin to describe it. And yet, I feel sure there is much more stretching to be done in the coming days, weeks, months and years. (Who says you don't get stretch marks when you adopt?!)

The workshop was led by Kimberly (our FABULOUS Dillon-Little Rock social worker and friend) and Christy, and it was wonderful. Other couples were there in various stages of beginning the adoption process. I cried, which is not surprising at all. That was the day I decided that I *wanted* to adopt a little girl from China and I wasn't just doing it for Darrell.

It was only a couple of weeks (maybe even the very next week) after receiving the check from Christy's sister that Darrell got an invitation to provide original music for a commercial with a pay of $800. That's not terribly unusual (though not all that common, either). What was surprising was the subject of the commercial. It was for the state of Colorado. They were doing an "adoption blitz" with the goal of emptying the foster care system. How's that for a gift tag?

Not long after that, a card was left in Darrell's mailbox at the office with $200 cash and a note that said, "For your China doll."

Are you seeing what I was seeing?

In December of that year we went to the bank to open a separate account for the adoption money. The young guy helping us noticed that Darrell works at Fellowship and told us that he attends Fellowship, so we struck up a conversation and told him what we were doing and how God had already begun to provide.

On January 8th of the next year (Darrell's birthday), we received an envelope that had only a deposit receipt showing that $1,000 had been deposited in the adoption account. It was kinda obvious who it was from, so we called to thank him. He told us that his wife is adopted and they are excited about what we are doing.

All of that money got us through the big application, which included ordering official legal documents (birth and wedding certificates) from several states, medical exams for everyone in the family, and background checks with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. We filed that application on March 13th and were told that it could take a month to get a response. We got word that it was approved in three weeks! That was great news, but the next step in the process is the home study and we didn't have enough money left in the account for that.

Darrell and I prayed out loud together that night (not uncommon, but not a daily occurrence) thanking God for moving forward and expressing that we completely trust His provision and timing. We knew that HE knew where the money would come from and when and we would just wait.

The NEXT DAY when I came home from CBS, Parker said a man named Andy had called from Life International (now Lifesong for Orphans). I called, but Andy was out. I asked the lady who answered who they are and what they do. She told me that they help people fund their adoptions through grants, loans, and fundraising kits. We assumed that Darrell had requested information, so she said she'd send me the application, but that I could take my time with it because they don't usually get involved until after the home study has been approved. That's too bad, I thought, because we can't move forward with the home study until we have the money. About 5 minutes later she called back and told me that I needed to complete the application as soon as possible and get it back to them because OUR ADOPTION HAD BEEN FULLY FUNDED BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR!!! I had to ask her to slow down and repeat what she said. Then I asked her to define "fully funded!" She clarified that it meant all expenses for the adoption would be paid for. Parker says the next thing I said was, "So I SHOULD be rolling around on the floor?!?" I don't know exactly what I meant by that, but I'm just sure it was the perfectly composed and dignified response she was expecting. NOT! I hope Darrell will write about how I told him because I have no idea. I don't remember the rest of that day at all.

If I ever doubted whether we were supposed to adopt a little girl from China, all of those doubts were out the window. If I ever doubted if God could afford (or would care enough) to pay for it...yep...out the window. If YOU ever want to know something FOR SURE, just ask God to prove it to you. His Word says He is up to the challenge.

So, we proceeded with the home study, and finally our dossier was "logged in" in China on August 17, 2007.

And the waiting began.

To be continued...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Hayden from Daddy

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Hayden from Mommy

(Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Downhill Run

The USCIS quickly resolved the error on our I171H and emailed the corrected one to Dillon and I already have the corrected hard copy in my hand. Our thanks to them for doing that so expediently!

This spring has felt very much to me like being on a roller coaster. And every step, up until now, has felt like each little cog in the uphill climb. Painfully slow. Anticipation building. Moments of looking around and seeing where we're going, wondering what in the world made us decide to get on this ride. Other times filled with excitement about what's to come.

Well, today we crested the hill. We can see the downhill slide! We are just about to fall off the top and head into the free-fall. I can already almost feel my stomach doing flip-flops!

I spent the day gathering information needed by travel agents and sending it out to several to hopefully get the best rate. Best is a relative term, by the way. In March when we received the updated financial planning guide for the trip, $1,800 was the top of the range for what to expect to pay to fly round trip to China. Today I am learning that we'll be doing good to get them for $2,400 IF we fly out of Dallas--5 hours away! The travel agents have said they have never seen the prices this high. Nice. But don't hear me whining or complaining. I'm not. I'm just surprised.

But our Father is not surprised and He is taking care of it. We continue to be blessed and our faith bolstered.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"We're halfway there... Oh Oh... Living On A Prayer..."

We are BLOWN AWAY at people's love for us in helping us
travel as a family to get our little girl.

Originally, my thoughts were about what an amazing experience it would be for the five of us. You know, Parker's "last summer" with us before he heads off to college and summer jobs, major family vacation, seeing the Great Wall. Oh, and... our two weeks with Hayden so she can begin to bond with our family (especially Parker).

But along the way, through the experience of others, my focus has shifted to what it means for Hayden. She will always know (through memories, photo albums, and video) that we entered her world: met her caregivers and friends, ate her food, shared her tears, made memories of fun adventures.

The parallels of our spiritual adoption is overwhelming. Emmanuel ~ God with us. Came to where we lived. Ate our food. Shared our tears. Adopted us into His family and gave us an elevated position equal to his own son. With full privileges and inheritance.

All of this quickly moves beyond my "Sunday School answer" understanding to become very real and tangible.

Many of you have asked if we have "enough". The adoption is fully-funded and complete. We are halfway there financially to take the kids with us. Some have asked if it's too late to help out. We've been encouraged to make the need known. We still need $7,500 to cover the 2-3 week trip for the kids. If you'd like to help, you may DONATE HERE or email us for a mailing address. We will most likely be purchasing our tickets within the next two weeks.

U[DATED AGAIN: 06/23/10 - We're down to the last $2,600.

UPDATE: 06/16/10 - We now need only $4,500. "Only" sounds ridiculous, unless you've experienced what we have in the last three days. No words adequately convey all we feel.

Our hearts feel such gratitude toward all who have given, asked, gotten excited, and anticipate our new family.
Darrell. Dad. Daddy. Bà.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Hayden from Parker

(click to enlarge)

WE GOT IT!!! But it is wrong...

We got the I171H in the mail today from Citizenship and Immigration Services. We've been waiting for 6 weeks. The first time it took only 3 days and the second time only 4 days. This time, the only time it really matters, it took 6 weeks and now it is wrong. It says we are approved for a child 0-22 months. We were approved before for a child 0-42 months and this time we asked for 0-72 months. I have no idea what this will mean. Can they just correct the typo? Or will we have to start the process all over again? Because it is Saturday, I can't call and ask until Monday morning. Torture! Torture, I tell you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Icing with a Cherry on Top--A HUGE Thank You

I have always envisioned our whole family in China when we meet our little girl. When we got news of Hayden, and that we'd be traveling this summer to get her, we immediately asked the adoption agency for information about the added expense for our other children to go with us. The answer was staggering. And we "knew" we could never make that happen. But, we also knew that if them going was something that God wanted, He could make it happen, so we just prayed.

Easter weekend Jay Martin, a friend from our first community group here at Fellowship, approached McKenna and told her that he and his wife, Terri, wanted to buy two of the plane tickets to China. That is HUGE! And, one of many times that words of thanks seem inadequate.

Well, once again, we have been blessed beyond anything I could've ever imagined. Many of you know exactly what I'm talking about because you are a part of it. I am referring to the secret emails that were circulated by a friend who strongly believes our kids are supposed to travel to China with us to meet Hayden.

Yesterday our dear friend, Clarissa, gave us an envelope containing $2,600 in cash and checks. She wishes badly that she could have remained anonymous (to us), but timing didn't allow that. For those who don't know about this, I'll fill in the details.

Clarissa told me that she and McKenna were talking a few weeks ago and Clarissa asked McKenna about the trip to China. McKenna told her that it was looking like they would not be able to go because the cost of the kids' travel is the same as Parker's first year of college (!) and we just knew there was no way to make it happen. Clarissa said that at that moment she felt strongly impressed that the kids were supposed to go with us. In fact, she said she's never felt more strongly about anything. So, she made a plan to have McKenna "hack" into my computer and Darrell's to get email addresses of our friends and family and sent a message asking people to consider giving $40. It was very important that we not know about it because she knew we would not feel comfortable with what she was doing.

Clarissa, and her husband Rodney, have a different perspective on money than most people I know, including me. But, I must say that after this experience, I may see things her way. She says that everything we have belongs to God, whether we have much or little. And that the very best thing we can do with it is use it for His purposes. I "know" all of that with head knowledge. It is much harder for me to live it. Here's the amazing thing. Clarissa and Rodney left this morning to take a team of teens to Uganda, Africa on a missions trip. Many of you will remember that Parker went with them on that trip last year. So, she has been raising support for their trip, along with all of the details that go into planning that kind of adventure. Oh, yeah, not to mention making arrangements for 9 of their 10 children who would not be going on this trip with them. I write this through tears of humility and gratefulness. How in the world--why in the world, would someone with that much on her own plate take the time and energy to do what she did for my family. And with the sweetest disposition. In fact, the only time she seemed rattled was when I questioned what she had done. She quickly chided me and encouraged me to have faith.

My only opposition was this: God, and the Church, have already given SO much to my family for this adoption. I don't feel like we deserve any more. There are so many other needs--other families adopting who need help with funding, even. Clarissa was not slow to remind me that this is not about me. It is about God. Always about Him. And, about allowing the Church the blessing of giving gifts for His purposes. She said it has been a huge blessing to her to hear and read how excited people are to have the opportunity to do this for us. I can't even see the screen right now for the tears.

So, to all of you who have contributed, a HUGE thank you. That seems so inadequate. I don't know how to say thank you for this. Knowing that Parker, McKenna and Logan will get to experience Hayden's home country with her is priceless. Everyone we know who has taken their older children on the trip to receive their child has said so. In fact, every one of them told us that they would do whatever it took to make it happen. We just didn't have the resources to do it on our own. This is a gift without end. It will not end when we return home. Hayden will treasure forever that we came to her world. She will remember that her siblings got to meet her foster family, eat her food, smell her smells and see her land, forever. The pictures we'll have of our family together in China will be a testimony of God's faithfulness--not just to us, but to the Martins and Clarissa and all those who felt impressed that the kids should go with us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To Hayden from McKenna

(Click letter to enlarge)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To Hayden from Logan

(click to make larger)

Good News...Bad News

Good News - USCIS office has everything needed to process our I600a
Bad News - Person who gives the final approval is out on leave

Good News - More time to get our "things to do before we travel" list done
Bad News - Meeting Hayden is delayed

Good News - Plane tickets will be less expensive in July
Bad News - School starts August 2nd, too soon

Good News - God is in control and had this timing planned from the beginning
Bad News - I sometimes have trouble giving up my picture of "perfect timing"


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Icing on the Cake

See that new "Our Adoption Timeline" over in the sidebar? And the new "Time in China" clock? I just have to tell you that I copied those ideas from my friend Julie's blog. She said I could.

Brandon and Julie Barnard have been friends of ours since they moved to Little Rock in the fall of 2007 to join the staff at Fellowship. We quickly learned that they, too, were waiting for a daughter from China. How fun! Even MORE fun is that their LID (Log-in Date: the day China registers a dossier and marks your "place in line," so to speak) is 08/17/07--EXACTLY the same date as ours! So, for a couple of years now when we see each other we compare notes, express sadness and frustration over the long wait, and try to say something encouraging. We had often dreamed of how exciting it would be to travel at the same time and fly back into Little Rock together with our new little ones.

When we received our wonderful unexpected referral phone call we wanted to share our news with everyone, but knew that it would be bittersweet for Brandon and Julie. I called Julie and she expressed such great excitement for us in her beautiful gracious way. But she was also honest. It IS hard to wait for something that God has placed such a desire in your heart for. It was good for us both to acknowledge all of that.

About 6 weeks later the kids and I were sitting at the kitchen table doing school in the middle of the afternoon, and we heard a knock on the door. It was Julie. She stopped by to tell us in person that they had received a phone call that day with the referral for their little girl!!! We stood on the front porch and hugged and cried and jumped up and down. The phrase that kept running through my head was, "my joy is made more complete."

A dear friend told me this week that God LOVES to put the icing on the cake. Perhaps that is why Paul describes Him as the One Who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine in Ephesians 3:20. Getting to continue this journey with the Barnards is icing on the cake! We don't know yet if we'll actually travel at the same time, but we check in with each other nearly every day to get an update. I'm so thankful for a Father that loves to give good gifts to His children!

Another little bit of "icing" came as we were preparing a care package to send to Hayden. We made pictures of our family and then each one of us holding her picture. When I put them in the little photo album there were too many empty pages at the end of the book so Darrell suggested that each of us write a little note to Hayden to include next to our picture. Reading the notes written to her by our children was such a gift to us! They have given us permission to share them with you. We'll post them one at a time over the next few days.

I'm also working on the next "chapter" of our story.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Introducing Hayden Joy Jingshu Adcock

Hayden Adcock Graphic
Originally uploaded by D1musicjr
The Adcock Family is proud to introduce our soon-to-be family member Hayden Joy Jingshu Adcock!