Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 100, I am sure your home is beautiful!

Day 100!!!!!

Can I just take a second and soak that in. Maybe even cry just a little. Don't judge! ;)

For 77 days, we chased papers and completed forms and background checks and fundraising and fingerprinting.

For 77 days we chased a baby that had no face. We did everything as quickly and as efficiently as we could, that way we could hurry and get our documents to China so that we could be matched quickly! When we started this process in February, we anticipated a wait of 15-18 months to bring our daughter home.

You see, there are 2 ways to go about this process. You can go the LID route, which means you do your home study and you send your documents to China and then are "logged in" aka LID. Then, China matches you based on your MCC (the form that you complete to state what medical conditions you are open to. Those who go LID plan to adopt a minor or correctable special need. I have mentioned this before but ALL children adopted from China have special needs. There is no longer a "healthy child" program. In fact, there are still people waiting from when there was...I saw a woman on one of our groups that has been waiting for 9 1/2 years for a "healthy baby." I can't even fathom what a "healthy baby" even means. Any child could be born healthy and something could happen. Parenthood is a crap shoot, folks!

Anyway, I think most people start out going or planning to go LID. In our heads, those minor and correctable needs are far less intimidating. These are things like missing or extra limbs or digits, heart conditions that are repairable, cleft lip and palate, and other like conditions. In our minds, this made the most sense for our family. We wanted minor or correctable. We also discussed that we did not want to take on neurological conditions because it is our hope that our daughter will be able to live independently.

The other option, is to adopt by way of the special focus program. These are children with moderate to severe needs, in which case you don't sign with an agency, you find your child first and then sign with the agency they are with. And while, special focus was not our plan and it wasn't something we were comfortable with, I was still added to an advocacy page for children under 2.

I watched those pages but had decided that it was unlikely that we would find our daughter there because their needs far exceeded what we were willing to manage. But, I couldn't look away. In fact, I had found a sweet baby that I loved (read Day 63: Heartbreak and Moving Forward) and after a doctor review, we had to release her file. After that heartbreak, I swore off the advocacy pages. I prayed and I asked God to just get me through the process in the way He saw fit.

Unfortunately (fortunately) I am friends with advocates and one of them on Facebook, and 72 days ago, while scrolling aimlessly, I saw a waiting child listing of the sweetest baby girl in China is a bow so big that Minnie Mouse would have been envious. This sweet baby wasn't with my agency and she had an endocrine disorder that if I am being honest (and I promised I would be) is terrifying on paper. But, I had to learn more. I saw this baby and my soul kind of went, "oh, sweet girl. There you are. I have been waiting for you." So, we requested her file and while a doctor reviewed it, I joined groups for moms considering her disorder. I learned everything I could.

I was scared, but Steve and I talked and knew that we could manage her need. Her need involves medication 3-4 times a day, and visits with a pediatric endocrinologist at Hopkins every 3-4 months, more in the beginning. Her genetic disorder involves severe adrenal insufficiency and an inability to keep her sodium balanced. The short of it is simple, she doesn't produce coritsol. Because of that, if she gets even a minor and normal childhood illness, she could go into adrenal crisis. Adrenal crisis can shut down many of her body systems and lead to death if not treated quickly and properly. Luckily, here in the states we have the medications she needs as well as an emergency injection on hand, which her orphanage does not keep on hand. To say, I live in a constant state of worry about her health would be a bit of an understatement.

All of that said, for 18 days, our daughter has had a face. The sweetest face in China, I mean, I may be biased but I don't think I am ;) So, now, we go harder and I push more than I have!

So, today, we had our final home study visit. We cleaned for DAYS to prepare and my social worker didn't go past the first floor area! She said, "well, I didn't leave myself any time to get a tour, but from here I can see your home is beautiful." How frustrating! BUT, it is DONE! Now, we wait for her to get the draft to our placing agency. She said it will be to them this weekend. Then they have to make edits so she can finalize it.

So, right now, I will complete the 16 page application for immigration (know as the i800a) and will wait for the final home study so that we can get that mailed in and begin that wait which is averaging about 45 days. Then 2 weeks beyond that to get our authentication and get it sent to China!

Current goal is to have the i800a mailed off by June 1!

Day 100!!!! So crazy that we went from 15-18 months to aiming to have her home by year end, which puts us around 10 months!!! WOW!!!

Keep praying <3

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 80: Fingerprinting and Fundraising

Day 80. How is it already day 80?!?!?!?

80 days since we turned in our application to our placement agency. 

It's funny but when I named this blog over 3 years ago, I named it Losing Amber because I was on a weight loss journey.

Heck, it was before I even conceived Everleigh. 

When I started this blog, I never would have imagined that we would be adopting from China. Never in my wildest dreams. 

And yet here I am, several years later adopting from China on a blog called Losing Amber and it oddly feels fitting. Through this journey, and these 80 days so far, while I have already gained so much, I can't help but feel like I have lost a little of myself along the way. So much has changed in such a short period of time. 

I read, I scour FB pages for adopting parents, I scour groups that discuss special needs for prospective parents adopting from China. I read blogs of adoptive parents, of adult adoptees. I scour advocacy pages of these orphans who may never get a family before they age out of China's System. I see these orphans carry diagnoses that are so heavy. It is so easy to lose a piece of yourself for these children and in this process. 

I am better for this journey, that is one thing I can be sure of after these 80 days.

So, on day 81, we complete the final piece of our home study that we need in order to get our home study social worker here to do her final interview and home inspection so that we can FINALLY get this home study finalized.

So, tomorrow, we get fingerprinted..AGAIN! Because the first time their system apparently crashed and they failed to tell us so we waited 48 days for results that would have never showed up. Thank goodness we called to see what the deal was! Then we went for another appointment to fix it, At this appointment, they were incredibly useless. Steve is generally a calm kind of person and it had gotten to the point where he had started to lose the ability to bite his tongue. 

We left with our money back and I managed not to lose my temper or hit anyone. Winning!

So, we have an appointment at a location that can actually do what we need done and they will have the results to our social worker in about 3 days. Once she has them, she can schedule our home visit and finalize.

Everyone always wants to know...HOW LONG? Well, that will all depend on if we find our daughter on an advocacy page or if we wait for our agency to match us. 

Either way, what happens after our home study is everything has to be state certified and then authenticated by the embassy. Once that is complete, we apply to USCIS which is who will approve us from the state side. The turn around is currently about 60 days for approval, but the adoption community as a whole is expecting that to pick up soon. But for now, I am anticipating 60 days.

Once approved by USCIS, we can send our dossier to China where we will be considered "logged in" and our dossier will be translated. If we already have a baby that we are matched with, then we will only be approximately 4-5 months from getting our daughter AFTER we are logged in. If we wait to be matched by our agency, then it will be 4-5 months on top of however long it takes us to get matched and such.

So, either way, we are at minimum another 7 months away. It is a long process.

Hopefully that helps clear things up with a timeline :) Now I would like to discuss fundraising!

When we started this process, Steve and I had decided we could fund our own adoption and I had many friends and family who told us they wanted to be a part of helping to bring her home. We worried that people would see our lifestyle and would have negative feelings towards the fact that we were raising funds.

Because we were fundraising, we made decisions to spend less money. Not change our lifestyles in a crazy way, but just be more mindful. We also began putting money aside. And yet, we all know there would still be that one person who basically told me that it annoyed them that I live "in luxury" and bug people for money.

Can I be frank?

Who am I kidding, this is MY blog.

Do I live in luxury? We don't go without if that is what you mean. We drive nice cars, we have a pool and we have an RV. BUT, these are things we had BEFORE we chose to adopt. These are payments we have already been making. We didn't decide to adopt and then go and buy new vehicles, a house or anything else. These are things we already own.

We have an adoption account where every dollar that we fundraise and even money of our own gets put in there to cover adoption costs. That is the ONLY thing that goes in and out of there.

That said, after comments of me "bugging people" for money, Steve and I talked. 

I don't ever want ANYONE to think that we were bugging them for anything. That is why we picked things that we thought people would love and that were meaningful. Capes because our kids LOVE them. A puzzle because we want our daughter to have a beautiful keepsake of all of the people who loved her before she was even home. And t-shirts because it is such an awesome way for people all over the country to show support for our sweet Maleigh <3 

Anyway, Steve and I talked and we have decided to fundraise for a few VERY specific fees that allow our friends to be able to play a part in the parts of this process that are DIRECTLY tied to bringing Maleigh home :) 

Those fees are the agency for our placing agency which is $8,000 and the orphanage donation which is $5500. All other fees including the home study ($5700) travel and in country fees (totaling about $15,000+) will be paid by us.

So, the agency fees are pretty straight forward. The fees that we pay to our agency for all of the big details of bringing her home. The orphanage donation is a donation made to the orphanage to help them to take care of the sweet babies that are still left in these places without families. It i sto help them to do the best that they can to take care of these children.

I don't know why it was on my heart to go into details about the fundraising but I felt like I needed to. I began to feel like every time I spent any money, I would be judged or scrutinized and that felt pretty terrible even though I knew we weren't doing anything wrong. I knew that we had yet to even touch the adoption fund. The 4500 we had already paid towards our adoption hadn't even come out of our adoption fund. It came out of our savings. 

So, yes we are fundraising. Because we want people to be a part of the most amazing adventure we have ever been on. We want to do this as a village of people who love Maleigh and want to get her home. But, at the end of the day, she is OUR daughter. And with or without fundraising, we will bring our daughter home. 

From the beginning of this adventure, we were honest. We have a daughter in China. We do not expect anything other than love and prayers from each and every one of you that love and support us.

Nothing more <3 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Day 63: Heartbreak and Moving Forward

Day 63...wow! 

Day 63! Our final packet for our home study has been submitted and now we wait for it to be written up and our home visit for the final approval so that we can apply to the federal government for approval to send our documents for translation and then to China.

This is a HUGE step forward in our process and it finally feels like progress :)

But, this process has not been without heartbreak.

2 weeks ago, I saw a picture of a sweet girl. I won't go into details. But I want to be honest and I want you to know and try to understand this.

I looked at this sweet girl and we weren't scared. Her diagnosis wasn't scary. Her delays weren't scary.

I looked at her pictures and her updates and I saw our daughter.

She was ours. 

I was preparing to switch agencies and lose money if necessary. She was my daughter. 

I placed her file on hold and I sent it to an international adoption specialist at a University Hospital. I waited for 4 long days. Over Easter, I was as present as I could be while I waited to hear back.

I trembled as I listened to the doctor and with every single word my heart was breaking. Again, I won't go into details but the file had a lot unknowns. And the unknowns pointed to a neurological issue. 

We took a few days and Steve and I talked. We talked even though we knew what we had to do. We talked in hopeful tones, but we knew we couldn't keep her. We had to take an honest look at what we want for our family. We had to take an honest look of what we wanted for our daughter. The unknowns were too much.

With a heavy heart and with fits of sobbing, I released her file so that her forever family could find her. I cried for days. I still cry for her. I cry for a baby who needs medical tests but she's an orphan and orphans don't rate high on a government's list of priorities. 

I cry because these aren't just files. These are babies. These are babies waiting on their families. Babies cast off and left to sit in an orphanage with very few people to fight for them.

I knew this journey wouldn't be easy. And I considered not blogging about this immense heartbreak but in the beginning, I committed to being upfront and honest with every step.

It's been just over a week since I returned her file. My heart still hurts, but I know her family is looking for her and someone will take those unknowns and they will bring her home because the unknowns won't matter to them. They'll have a picture of what their family will look like and they know she is the piece that fits the most.

Pray with me every day for her and for her forever family ♡

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 35: Paper Chase has Begun for Sweet Coralei

If you haven't heard, she has a name! No, we have not been matched, but we have given our girl a first name! Her middle name will be determined after we are matched as we plan to tie her Chinese name into her middle name.

We are so excited to bring Coralei home where she belongs :)

You hear paper pregnant and I don't think that fully prepares you for all of the paper. Let's see, so far we've completed a 60 question questionnaire each. We've completed forms for 5 state background checks for Steve and 2 for myself. We've been fingerprinted for MD background checks and child support clearances and we have each completed an autobiography. Mine was 11 pages and Steve's was 4 pages. We've completed physicals that were complete with blood work and urine tests.

We've already had more forms than I can count notarized. Oh and let's not forget that we have had and passed a State Fire Marshal inspection. And all of this was just to prepare us for our first interview with our home study social worker where she can give us the official home study packet. Should be interesting because I already carry this binder with me everywhere because it holds the documents we complete and need for our dossier.
Even better is China requires NEWLY (within 6 months) issued birth certificates and marriage license, so we are ordering those this week then they have to be authenticated by the state department. Just an extra step along the way. 

As we move forward, we are told there has been a temporary slow down of files from China at the moment. The Chinese New Year backs things up this time of year, so while we wait for a minor needs girl, the originally quoted 12-15 months to have her here in our arms could be closer to 18 months. It might only be an extra 3 months but in my heart that sounds like an eternity. That said, our agency told us that files pick up in the spring, so we are doing everything in our power to get our home study completed as fast as possible so that we can start our 1800A and FBI fingerprinting and clearances and get our dossier to China to become LID by summer so we can possibly be matched sooner and maybe stay closer to the 15 month window. 

We are also revisiting our MCC (medical condition form that states what types of medical conditions we are willing to accept) and are adding a few things, possibly PKU, and we are adding thalessemia. Thalessemia is a blood disorder where the body doesn't produce red blood cells. In its mild form, thalessemia is treated with a daily pill. In its severe form, it would require that she takes a daily pill and every 4 weeks or so, she would require a blood transfusion. While it sounds incredibly scary, she would have no physical restrictions and would lead a regular life with no diminished life expectancy. 

This process is long and emotionally taxing. It is not always going to be roses and exciting. Undoubtedly, there will be times where it is hard and where we ask if adoption is right for us. We will wonder if it will be worth the pain and tears. And, expect that this blog won't always be roses. I'm real, I'm raw, and sometimes I will come here bleeding and broken. Please, love me through the hard and the ugly. I will need that more over the next few years than ever before.

I try to remember to stay faithful and trust God. Yesterday, in Ft Worth we were walking the stockyards discussing Coralei. Talking about the scary medical forms. The hard and ugly stuff and this family walks past us. A dad, 2 biological teenagers and the sweetest Asian toddler. I couldn't help but stare. Steve and I then talked lovingly of Coralei. With less fear and more love. It was our reminder that we are doing this for love. Even when it is hard, we will be reminded of why we were called to adopt.

That said, I know not everyone understands our journey and I did want to touch base on 2 things briefly:)

I had someone apologize to me the other day that she wouldn't be "healthy" and I want you to know that we don't want any apologies or sympathy. When we chose China, we chose special needs. Children coming from China, even if minor, have a special need. We are prepared for certain special needs. That was our choice. Because this is not about us. This is about her. Our sweet Coralei. It's about giving her a family who will love and care for her. It's always always about her and it's never about us. Please never apologize for our daughter. We won't apologize for her, and she won't apologize for who she is either. She is fearfully and wonderfully made and she will always know that.

I also, have had someone express their lack of support for international adoption. I didn't realize that there would be people who didn't support giving a child a loving family. I was blindsided. I will say this...maybe international adoption isn't on your heart. That's ok. It's not for everyone. But, please don't school me on America's foster care and the need for adoptive and foster parents here in the states if you yourself aren't adopting, fostering or doing ANYTHING to do your part here in the states or anywhere to give a child a home that wouldn't otherwise have one. You, my friend have not earned that right. And just like you have no control over my uterus, you have no control over how WE decide to complete OUR family. Please remember that above all, kindess and respect matters and you should do better to mind your manners and be respectful of other people's feelings. 

Anyway, I will be announcing our next fundraiser soon on FB, then I will blog about it as well. It's super special. And as we move forward, we will be using our adoption hashtag


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 9: Where is the love?

It is kinda crazy, you know? To love a child that doesn't exist to you yet.

I mean, when I found out I was pregnant with with my children, both times the love was instant. I found out super early with both of my pregnancies. I fell head over heels in love with a tiny cluster of cells. Like all consuming love. I would think and dream about what they would look like, who they would be.

With every passing week, I would fall more in love with them. I had never met them. I had never seen them, but I knew I would love them. They were mine. They were ours. I would lay in bed in the morning, just to have a few minutes of solitude to feel them kick and roll around. My pregnancies were not easy, but I cherished those quiet moments. The moments when I wouldn't have to share them. They were just mine. I grew them for almost 40 weeks. They survived off of me. How could you not fall in love with the tiny little human that you are growing?

Now, I am not pregnant in the conventional sense, but we are embarking on a journey to bring our daughter home from China.

How can you love someone that you don't know? Someone you have never seen? Someone you can't feel but know they exist?

I don't know how. I just know that you can.

I am in love with a little girl that I don't even know. I haven't seen her face, we haven't even been matched yet.

And yet at night, I pray for her like I do my 2 children here. I send her love because I know she is waiting for me. I dream about what she will look like, who she will be.

But, there is so much tragedy in this journey. For 40 weeks, another woman loved her. Dreamed of what she would look like. Maybe she laid in bed feeling her soft kicks and rolls. She looked into her eyes and decided that she couldn't keep her. That someone else would be her mommy.

Can you feel the weight of that? I can. I feel that weight on my chest in many moments.

I may not know our little girl yet, but I know she is a fighter. I know that the love I feel for her is the same I felt from the minute we found out we were pregnant. I knew in the moment that we decided to move forward that I would love her and not even know who she is yet.  I lay in bed and think about this journey and I think about the fact that our daughter has probably already been born and she is waiting on us to bring her to where she belongs. With each passing week, I love her more.

This paper pregnancy will far exceed 40 weeks, but it's ok. She may not be growing in my belly but she is growing in our hearts <3

And, so you may hear me speak of her, like I know who she is. You may think that's weird. But I do know who she is. And I know she is waiting for us. For that reason, we will continue to do whatever we need to do to get the paperwork done, the fund raised and get a move on our journey to bring her home <3

Friday, February 12, 2016

Paper Pregnant!!!

I think it hit me this week just how long of a process this is going to be. Every morning, Jayce wakes up and asks me if we are getting the baby today And this morning, he told me that we need to get her soon because children shouldn't have to live without a mommy and a daddy. :(

He is only 5, and he just doesn't understand. And his heart is so big that he just wants her here with us.  But, he also doesn't understand what having her here with us could mean. It could mean surgeries, a hurting baby sister, it could mean her requiring more attention, or even a sister that is scared of him. Or even scared of us.

The weight of that responsibility is not taken lightly by Steve and I. We talk about it daily. Some days it is easy talks. Talks of her name, her nursery, even our fundraising.

Other times, it is in fear of traveling to China and bringing home a sweet little girl who thinks of us as strangers. 20 hours on a flight with a potentially terrified little girl. The trauma of this process for our daughter is not lost on us. We understand the magnitude of what this will do to a little girl who is brought home into a country where nothing is familiar and people who want to love and hug her but to her they are strangers. They are the people who took her from the only home that she has ever known.

Each passing day, this begins to feel more real and we are so excited to get beyond this home study so the true wait of being matched with our girl  can begin! <3

So, this week, on Monday we sent off our applications.

Picking an adoption agency and home study agency was not something that we took lightly. I poured hours upon hours on websites, on Facebook groups, in personal messages with other adoptive moms with their opinions and experiences. I was up late researching.

We were all set to pick a big agency, but after lots of research and talking, we picked a small agency. A small agency with 13 partnership orphanages. Picking a smaller agency with many partnerships is great because they have less parents in LID status. AKA parents waiting to be matched. Because of that, their waiting times tend to be shorter once you are LID. Madison Adoption Associates literally has never seen a bad review. So, we are very excited to work with them. They told us that from start to finish it should be only about 15 months before our little girl is in our arms.

Then comes the home study agency. This was trickier. The home study is the first SUPER important step and having an efficient agency is important. It involves SO MUCH paperwork and so many official documents, fingerprinting, more notarizing than I could be prepared for. Once our paperwork is done, it is important that our home study agency is efficient because literally NOTHING can move forward until our home study is complete. So, we considered several options but some nickle and dime you until your fees become outrageous and others could take months after we do our part. After pouring into more groups and getting more reviews, we settled on DATZ Foundation.

I sent in all of our applications that included a $500 application fee for MAA and $1900 contract fee for our home study to DATZ. I was so excited and sure we were finally getting everything rolling.

Unfortunately, on Thursday I check out a local area adoption group and someone made a post regarding DATZ. After sending her a message, I was shocked at what I had learned.

Before I jump in, I want to explain that China is a part of the Hague Convention. That means that there are certain guidelines that countries in the Hague Convention have to follow to streamline their adoptions. This streamlining allows our girl to be a US citizen the minutes the airplane wheels touch US soil. Therefore, your home study agency has to be Hague accredited. So, when looking for a home study agency, it is important that you tell them that you are adopting in China.

I did just that. I emailed the head of the foundation and asked specifically if they were able to do home studies for a China adoption and was assured they could be and that I just needed to send in the contract and the full payment of $1900.

Which I did.

Here is where the unfortunate part comes in. DATZ Foundation's Hague accreditation expired in December 2015. EXPIRED!!!!!! Why wouldn't they have told me that?!?!?!?!

I called my adoption agency in a panic. Then, I called DATZ seeing as how they had already cashed my $1900 check. The guy who answers the phone says "we have been working on it for 3 months now. We have a hearing on February 18 and hope to have our accreditation back then."

Uh. What? That is NOT good enough. He told me he understands my concerns and they will be refunding my money on Monday.

So, we went back to the drawing board and picked a new home study agency. Catholic Charities in Baltimore. Looks like we are FINALLY ready to get this home study moving along!

Here is our first stack of papers!

We are in fact PAPER PREGNANT!!!

And do you know what?!?! It is just as exciting, scary and as uncertain as that moment when you pee on a stick and see that second line, that plus sign or just the word "pregnant."

Holy crap, folks! We are expecting a baby in the next 15-18 months!!!!!


Keep those prayers coming! <3

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why? Why Adopt? Why China?

You are probably reading this because you saw on Facebook that Steve and I have decided to use adoption as the route to complete our family. 

You may have questions.

You might wonder, why not have another child the good old fashioned way?

What do Jayce and Everleigh think?

You might wonder, why not save a child in the United States?

You may wonder, why China?

I know that this decision isn't one that everyone will understand. It is not one that everyone would make. But, I also know that this decision was not one that was taken lightly. It was talked about A LOT, it was prayed on CONSTANTLY and it never left our hearts. 

I am excited to blog about our journey. It will be therapeutic when things are hard  and when the days are long.

So, let's jump into the why's, shall we?

Why not have another child the old fashioned way?  It was something we talked about. My pregnancies were not fun, my deliveries were terrifying. Steve spends 9 months terrified each and every day. While each pregnancy and delivery were 1000000% worth it, we just couldn't agree that it was what we wanted this time around. And, let's be honest, newborns terrify my husband :P

What do the kids think? Well, luckily we have been doing a lot of giving back lately and educating Jayce about all of the children that go without. So, we explained that some children do not have a mommy and daddy, and how did he feel if we brought home a little sister that doesn't have a family and that will look different than him. To which he replied,

"Another sister? I do not know how I feel about that."

And we asked him if he wanted to switch bedrooms and let the girls have the rooms that are connected with a bathroom. He told us he would love to let his sisters have his room and he will take Everleigh's room. But, ONLY if he keeps his big new bed haha!!! That kid has priorities :)

As for Everleigh, she doesn't understand. She said she wants a baby but when I ask if she wants a little sister, she tells me that Jayce can have one. 

Why not save a child in the US? THIS is going to be the biggest issue we will face with people questioning our decision. I want to clear it up, it is NOT that we don't want to save an American child. But to adopt a toddler in the US, it is done by way of the foster care system. We considered fostering with the hopes of adoption but decided that as a family with 2 young children, we were just not up for how it could effect our family as children came in and out of their lives. 

We considered the option of adopting a newborn domestically. That said, my heart said no. There are SO many parents who are waiting to be chosen by a family in the US. Many of the people waiting to adopt here cannot have a baby. I just couldn't deal with the idea that we could get picked before someone that cannot have a baby. That doesn't feel right in my heart, because we CAN have babies. 

Why China? Man, that is trickier to explain. We looked into a lot of countries and honestly, several require more than one trip to the country you are adopting from and that is not an option in our books. And, China allows your to specify more as far as conditions and gender are concerned.

No, let's talk about the process, costs and what it will look like when we come home.

The process is LONG. We have already started by applying to our adoption agency, Madison Adoption Associates. And we have applied for our home study agency, DATZ Foundation. The home study is the first step. It involves a TON of paperwork, background checks, financial statements, interviews, safety inspections, etc. The home study process can take up to 4 months.

Then, we complete our dossier. Which is complete with our home study and medical form that specifies what special needs we are willing to accept and that we are specifically requesting a girl. That all goes to China with literally enough documents to fill a 1 inch binder. Then we wait for China to approve our dossier and log us so that we are officially waiting to be matched.

Once we are in LID (log in date) status, we wait. We wait for China and our agency to match us with a young (age 0-2) minor needs girl. We are then given a file and pictures of a child that meets our requirements and we are given the chance to send the file to a doctor to confirm any health issues and we can accept or deny the file. If we accept, then we wait for travel approval which means 6-8 weeks following the acceptance, we will travel to China. That is where Steve and I will spend 2 weeks. We will pick up our girl on day 2 and we will complete paperwork and such over the next 12 days. Then we bring her home, fully adopted and a US citizen :)  If we choose to deny the file, then we go back to waiting. She will likely be between 15 and 24 months when we bring her home.

Now, let's talk special needs. If we want to wait on a completely healthy girl, the wait is over 3 years. We are not looking for a perfectly healthy girl. We had to pour over an incredibly scary medical form to decide what we can handle as parents and as a family. With each box we knew we were leaving another child as an orphan. We talked for days. I was physically ill thinking of marking the boxes and many times, Steve would shut down and not want to discuss it. I truly didn't think one form would be so hard.

We decided on mild conditions such as albinism, minor heart conditions, developmental delays, prematurity, and failure to thrive. I discussed this with our agency. She told me that cleft lip and cleft palate (CLCP) are considered minor. And thanks to a shift in China, they are keeping as many girls in China as possible and that if we truly want a girl that there is pretty much a guarantee that she will have CLCP. We thought on it for days and our hearts say that we have a daughter in China.

What does that mean for us? For her? For our family?

China considers it minor but it is nothing of the sort. It will require special bottles. It will likely require several surgeries in her first year here. It will require surgery and orthodontics as she grows. It will require potentially YEARS of speech therapy. Her first year will be full of pain, surgery and recovery. Even if it is fixed in China, it will require corrective surgeries here. 

Her first months, if not fixed in China will mean stares from strangers who don't understand her journey. It will mean fear of us as her parents every time we take her into public, worrying that someone will see our sweet girl as anything other than perfect and as a fighter. Heck, it could mean my husband or one of my sisters ends up in jail for punching an inconsiderate stranger ;) It will mean commitment to helping her heal. Fear every time she is under, and tears shed every time she hurts and doesn't understand why she has to have another surgery.

That is NOT minor. It will be long, involved and exhausting and it will be EXPENSIVE.

More expensive than the adoption.

Now, I want to take a second and talk about the costs associated with adoption and what that means to us.

The cost of adoption ranges from $30,000-$35,000. There are many grants available, but we do not qualify for them. We make good money. For that reason, as we started, we considered not fundraising. 

And then I realized that it was crazy to not fundraise. When we bring our sweet girl home, it will be costly to take care of her and deal with surgeries. So, we are fundraising to help alleviate the cost of the adoption so that we can afford to manage her medical needs when she is stateside. 

We do not plan to go crazy fundraising. At this point, I have 3 fundraisers in the works (the first will begin this week) and that is it. I never want my friends to feel as though we are constantly asking for anything. I have picked fun and meaningful ones. I have set up a You Charity account, BUT we will never post that link to ask for donations. That is not my style. It is only set up in order to collect for the fundraisers planned. 

I also hope that if you are reading this that you understand my heart. That we never expect anything from anyone except for prayers, love and support. If you choose to participate in our fundraisers, we appreciate you. If you choose to share our fundraisers, we appreciate you. And if you only choose to pray for us and love us, we appreciate you.

If you have any questions, I am an open book and will answer it :) I hope you continue to follow along with us as we proceed!