Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choi!

First, thank you for your prayers on our paperwork issue.  It was taken care of and we are good to go.    All we need to send to the agency now are family pictures, my passport photo, photos of our home, and money.  Then, if all of that clears the hurdle we should be DTC (Dossier To China) in the next week or so!  This will be a major milestone but it still feels as though we are wading through quicksand.  Please pray that our dossier is sent sooner rather than later and that it would be logged into the system in China with speed.

Yesterday morning I received quite a surprise in my email- a picture of Yun!  There is a family adopting a little fellow from Yun's orphanage and they had the opportunity to meet Yun.  Here is what the sweet momma wrote to me:

"I saw your daughter yesterday at the orphanage!  She was in the music room when we arrived but I didn't know she was in there until later because hey were having a Chinese New Year party and there were lots of people.  When I have more time I will check and see if she is in any of the pictures I took in there.  I asked our guide about her and he asked Ms. Tang who brought her to see us so I was able to get a close up pic of just her (see attached).  I held her hand and told her how sweet and beautiful she was (in English so she had no idea what I was saying) and she smiled at me.  She seemed safe, well and happy enough given the circumstances.  The orphanage is very nice for an orphanages but seeing it first hand was still very sad.  I am so glad YunYun has a family coming for her soon and I pray your TA wait is super short! I will send more pics if I find any."

Our sweet YunYun celebrating Chinese New Year.

January 31st is Chinese New Year (officially) and we are going to celebrate in our own little way.  Next year it will have more meaning!  The following is a song that children sing for the New Year.  It is in English so you can know the words:


Yun's New Year is going to be big for her indeed.  Our family prays that in her heart she knows we think of her every day and that we are working as quickly as possible to get to her.  This morning in the Love Department all of our dear friends were asking about her and were telling Eric and I that they cannot wait until she is with them, too.  They desire to show her the love and acceptance that she rightly deserves and has been deprived of for eleven years.  It brought tears to my eyes that these folks continually see past their own needs and reach out to others and think of others.  But then again, I shouldn't really be surprised.  That is why they are called The Love Department.  

In the meantime our family will celebrate Chinese New Year in anticipation of "sweeping out the old year and bringing in the new".

Gung Hay Fat Choi!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back To Adoption High

Thank you for your prayers!  Everything is fixed and we are back on track to be DTC in a little over a week.  Woo hoo!

In the meantime I am playing "Nancy Nurse" to Elijah who is home sick from school today.  It is a swell day to just snuggle and spend time with my traveling buddy (he is traveling to China with me when it is time!) especially since it is really chilly today here in Florida.  He is enjoying Myth Busters and Man vs. Wild- his favorites!

Thank you all once again for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for Yun and our process.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

From Adoption High to Adoption Low

Just a quick entry to ask for prayer for our process.  We were just a mere two weeks from being DTC (dossier to China) when at 6:00 last evening we received an email from our agency.  There is something going on with an aspect of our adoption and we may have hit a hold up.  It is a little puzzling as our home study had already been approved by our agency AND USCIS.  I replied to their email but apparently they had left for the day which only made for a long night.  Hopefully in a few hours I will have a reply from the agency and we can resolve this issue quickly.  But in the meantime would you please pray?  Thanks!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

APPROVED!

So today I meandered out to the mailbox not at all expecting to see what I was about to see: an envelope from United States Immigration.  Suffice to say I quickly opened the envelope wanting to see what was inside.  Sure enough I saw that we had been approved!!  It was so quiet in the neighborhood but my shouts of, "WE GOT IT!!!!  OH MY GOODNESS WE GOT IT!!!!!" echoed off of all of the houses.  I think it is safe to say that our entire neighborhood knows that we "got it"!!  I had checked in with immigration about a week ago and we had not even been assigned an officer.  Well we must have been assigned an officer last Monday as we had been officially approved on Wednesday, January 15th!    WOW!  It has been quite an exciting weekend with our adoption.

Hold on sweet girl!!  We are coming as quickly as we can!!


But God Can

Wow.  After yesterday's post a sweet momma I know through Reece's Rainbow contacted me privately and offered to pay the remaining balance of the first round of fees to our agency.  The amount that I shared we needed yesterday has been covered.  At first I had to read the email over a few times because I didn't think I was reading it correctly.  But I called for Eric and he read it a few times over, too.  Yes.  This sweet woman was wanting to help out in a most extraordinary way.  We are so grateful and humbled...words will never be enough.  Thank you.  You know who you are.

Our family is not fully funded but this was a BIG hurdle.  Now once we receive our USCIS approval we can be DTC (Dossier To China) without delay.  This adoption has had enough delays and Yun has waited long enough.  Eleven years long.  We cannot wait to see this every day...
Her sweet, happy, beautiful, smiling face.  How can you not smile when you see this?
If it were not for the generosity of others two years ago we would not have this funny face in our lives each and every day...
Life with this boy is just non-stop excitement.  Never a dull moment.  Can you tell?
We are now going to focus on getting that dossier to China!!  Would you please pray that we receive our USCIS approval this coming week?  Once we have our approval it could take up to two additional weeks for our agency to finish up our dossier and have it sent.  In the coming weeks we will have more fundraisers (Sammy has a really swell one in the works!) and will continue to become fully funded.  Each day brings us one step closer to Yun.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

It is a very cold morning here in our little town in Florida.  It is a brisk 32 degrees which made getting out of a bed a little difficult for us this morning.  Our beds felt so warm and comfy, our flannel pajamas never felt better, and the quiet made our eyelids want to stay closed.  I remember many mornings like that when I was growing up in Pennsylvania.

What has been making these winter days seem long is the waiting.  Waiting to hear word from Yun's orphanage.  Waiting to hear wether or not we have USCIS approval, waiting for a miracle to raise the amount of money needed to send our dossier to China.  When we adopted Dima it was a fast, crazy, and emotional roller coaster.  Within seven months we were in Ukraine!  In this adoption we are now in the seventh month of the process and nowhere near traveling to China to bring our daughter-to-be home.  No.  We are still waiting on stateside approval.

While we are not legally Yun's family, she has made her way into our hearts a year ago when we were first introduced to her through Reece's Rainbow.  About a month ago I began to set the supper table for seven rather than six.  Not on purpose, mind you.  It just happened.  And when I realized what I had done tears just streamed down my face.  Another evening as we were getting ready to eat supper I had Elijah call everyone to the table.  Without thinking he called for Yun.  She has a room that is slowly transforming into her personal space.  There are dresses in her closet, a dollhouse waiting to be played with, and other items that sit idle in her dresser.  In our hearts and minds she belongs here.  Is it 100% certain at this exact moment that she will be ours?  No.  But we are continuing to walk this road of faith as a family knowing that we are doing the right thing.

It is our hope that we will have USCIS approval by the end of the month.  According to most families who are little farther along than us in the process the average wait has been about 52 days.  January 31st, Chinese New Year, will bring us to that point.  Once we have our approval our agency said that our dossier will be able to be sent off within two weeks of having our approval.  Then more waiting.  Yes, I know it is all in God's timing.  I know that waiting helps us build patience.  But I have concern for Yun and her current situation that I would rather not get into out in the open.  Please pray for safety, her health, and her spirit.  Most pictures that we have seen of her show that she has a brilliant smile that lights up her entire face and I pray that she continues to have a reason to smile.

In the meantime please consider making a purchase from my Etsy Shop.  100% of your purchase will go towards our adoption.  At this point we still need to earn/raise $3782 so we can send our dossier to China.  Any donations made to our FSP with Reece's Rainbow, while appreciated, will not be able to be applied to our upcoming fees so the best way to contribute is to make a purchase or contact me directly.  But it feels good to earn the money which is why I have an Etsy Shop.

Finally, here is a video of her from July 11, 2013.  Yun is being asked if she wants to be adopted.  She answers, "Yes".  She knows...she knows that there is a family out there who cares and loves her.  This beautiful 11-year-old girl deserves to know the love of a family...


Monday, January 13, 2014

Living With Cerebral Palsy

Over the past two years I have shared quite a bit about Down Syndrome and how that affects people's lives.  I have shared the ups and downs on what it is like to have a child with Down Syndrome and how individuals with Down Syndrome can lead a very productive life.  Very soon, however, our family is going to learn what life is like with Cerebral Palsy.

From what we know about Yun, her CP (Cerebral Palsy) is not as severe as some.  It has affected predominantly her right side though she is able to walk, run, feed herself, and meet her everyday needs.  We will of course know much more once she is home and has been seen by a neurologist.  But what exactly is CP, you ask?  Here is a definition from the Mayo Clinic's website:

"Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by an insult to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth.

Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with exaggerated reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteadiness of walking, or some combination of these.

People with cerebral palsy may have difficulty with swallowing and commonly have eye muscle imbalance. People with cerebral palsy may have reduced range of motion at various joints of their bodies due to muscle stiffness.

The effect of cerebral palsy on functional abilities varies greatly. Some people are able to walk while others aren't able to walk. Some people show normal to near normal intellectual function, but others may have intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness or deafness also may be present.

People with cerebral palsy often have underlying developmental brain abnormalities."

I have a friend, Shelly, who has severe CP and is essentially confined to a wheelchair.  She can walk with a walker and scoot about on the floor but it is not easy and very taxing on her body.  It is difficult to understand what she says when she talks, but it is worth the patience to listen.  Her CP has not affected her intelligence and she has shared with me it is as though she is trapped inside of a broken body; she hates her CP.  Shelly's faith is unshaken, however, and she has a very close relationship with the Lord.  She knows that someday when her life here on earth has ended she will be free of her CP and she will be able to run, dance, walk, and be made new.  Sometimes she teases me that when we will be in heaven together someday she will beat me at a marathon (I know she is absolutely correct on that)!  What makes me sad, however, is that Shelly has shared how people are afraid of her because of her CP.  So often she will want to talk with someone but because she is difficult to understand her folks do not want to take the time to talk with her.  Or some folks are just flat out afraid of her.  It hurts Shelly so deeply as she just wants to be friends with everyone she meets.  Those that do not take the time to listen or get to know her are the ones who are truly missing out on someone special!

Last week one of my friends shared the following video.  It is about a man named Roger who like Shelly, has CP.  Roger shares what his life is like and how he has to overcome the daily challenges of living with CP.  But what he truly wants to share is how he has overcome the loneliness.  Roger also has an amazing faith and he worships the Lord without shame.  In fact, he says that if he doesn't worship the Lord it is as though he is unappreciative of Jesus dying on the cross for his sins.  I challenge you to take a moment to view the following video and contemplate what life is like for Roger, Shelly, Yun, and the many others who have CP.  The difference among Roger, Shelly, and Yun, however, is that Yun is not receiving ongoing medical care for her CP nor does she have a relationship with Jesus.  So how does Yun cope during her dark moments?  Her moments of loneliness, living with CP.


Living With Cerebral Palsy from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Well folks we are getting down to the wire on raising the fees necessary for being DTC (Dossier To China).  In order for our dossier to be sent off we will have to pay our agency $4631.  Of that we have $1029 which is a decent start.  To those of you who so graciously donated to our FSP over Christmas, THANK YOU!  Unfortunately we cannot touch those funds until we have LOA (Letter of Approval) from China.  Which means our Dossier has to be in China in order for us to receive LOA.  Eric is getting as much overtime as he has been able and I have spent a better part of yesterday and today working on new items for my Etsy store.  There are some very unique items that have been added and one of which is even semi-precious!  Please stop by my shop and see if there is anything that would strike your fancy.

As of yesterday, Friday, we had not yet been assigned an immigration officer but it was reiterated that the average time to receive I800a approval for a Hague Country has been anywhere from 59-65 days.  That would mean we could possibly have our USCIS approval on January 31st- Chinese New Year!!!  So PLEASE consider making a purchase from my shop.  Share my shop with your friends.  100% of your purchases goes towards our adoption.  I pay out of pocket for the materials to make my jewelry and trust me- it adds up, especially the stones!

You can see a preview of my Etsy Store, Chicken Momma's Change to the right of this entry.  Click on it and it will take you directly to my online store (or any of the highlighted text)!!

In the meantime please pray for our adoption.  It has been dragging out now for over seven months.  This is not necessarily abnormal, but with Dima's adoption we were in country by now.  It is safe to say that we are all just itching to have Channah (Yun) HOME!

**UPDATE**
If you make a purchase between now and February 14th, you will receive a coupon for 10% off your next purchase!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Oh Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

Yesterday afternoon Eric was listening to Moody Radio's Chris Fabry Live program.  During the first hour Mr. Fabry was talking with Emily Colson, a Christian author and the mother of an autistic son.  She was discussing her experience with her son in a movie theater at Christmas which you can read about in her own words HERE.  To sum up her experience her son, Max, did not handle the volume level of the movie and he yelled out a few times.  Some fellow movie goers were not very understanding and there was a thunderous applause when she and her son voluntarily exited the theater.  Grown adults were acting like schoolyard bullies; in a movie theater in front of their children.  If you do not read the entire article you must at least read, in her words, how these "adults" behaved:

"I threw my hand up toward them in a stop motion. It works for policemen. And I desperately, achingly, wanted it to stop. “Ok. Ok,” I said. “Just give us a minute.” It takes both great finesse and a forklift for Max to leave quickly. My heart leapt into my throat as if it were trying to make an escape before the rest of us. At another time I might have defended our right to be there, but I could hear a strange rumbling of underground thunder. After a minute of dust-flinging commotion, Max stood up beside me, with Patty soon to follow.

And the thunder grew louder.

It was applause for our exit. It was the sound of an angry mob chasing us away with their jeers and taunts.

“And don’t come back,” I heard as we slowly made our way down the stairs in the dark.
I tried to block Max from the view of the crowd, my every step labored, detached, brittle. I wanted to throw my arms around Max to remind him, and everyone else, of just how deeply he is loved. But I couldn’t make my arms work. As we neared the exit, passing center stage, I heard a voice from the back of the theater. It was a man shouting over the thunder of the crowd like a crack of lightening.
“He’s retarded.”

I lost all bearings. I even lost track of watching Max. I stopped and turned toward the sea of faces lit up by the screen behind me. They were colorless, floating, with their little fish eyes watching our every move. The movie must have been showing on top of my silhouette. I don’t know if they could see my hand clutching my heart, my chest heaving for a breath. I tried to squeak something out, but a Boa constrictor had wrapped itself around my throat. I had to find some kind of answer to such cruelty, some memorable response to wash this away.

“There is a lesson here,” I began as I forced my tiny voice forward fearing the movie sound track would suddenly drown me out. “A lesson that is so much more important than anything you will learn from this movie.”

I turned back toward the exit, my arms and legs stiff like metal rods. But just as we were about to walk out, the voice from the back of the room struck again.
“Merry Christmas!” he called to us sarcastically. It was a kick in the back on our way out the door, a final deathblow meant for purely perverse entertainment."

I personally had to read this section more than once to get my mind around how Ms. Colson and her son were treated by grown adults and in front of their children, no less!  In an age where schools have hard core anti-bullying policies in place we have parents/guardians who behave like bullies in a movie theater over a young man with autism.  UNREAL.  School administrators: Are you aware that the bullies within the walls of your schools are bullies most likely because the adults in their lives are actual bullies?  To the "adults" who were in the theater and felt that it was your right to belittle an individual with autism so publicly:  Do you feel better about yourselves?  Would you want your children or grandchildren to behave as you did (maybe you do given your behavior)?  Did you hear yourselves speak?  I am almost embarrassed for those of you who behaved so poorly.

It is beyond sickening that we live in an age where "free speech" has been taken to such extremes.  What happened to treating fellow humans, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender with respect?  Goodness, with special needs such as autism on the rise how can people be so ignorant?  Do we live in an Eastern European country where individual with special needs should be shut away never to be seen?  I have seen first hand some similar behavior towards my son with Down Syndrome- in Ukraine.  They spit upon him, pushed him while we were merely walking down the street, and refused him the right to use a bathroom.  He was sent out to a dirty ally with chickens to go number two.  "He is a filthy animal!" I was told by a Ukrainian man.

Thankfully my family lives in a community where individuals with special needs are embraced, accepted, and supported.  It is not uncommon to walk into Wal-Mart and see several individuals with Down Syndrome or a bus load of students from our county's special needs school learning how to shop with a list.  My favorite bagger at Publix is my friend, Jon, who has Down Syndrome.  He lives in his own apartment, on his own, but has a life coach who checks in on him.  Jon's co-workers love him as do the customers.  We have three huge thrift stores affiliated with the Key Training Center and most people who shop there support the Key and the clients that the Key serves each and every day.  I have only run into poor attitudes towards Dima a few times here in our small town mostly from older folks who are from a different era when people like Dima were indeed "put away".

Further, I have three sons who will tell you that their favorite brother is Dima and that he has Down Syndrome.  I have three sons who voluntarily give up their personal time to volunteer in our church's special needs ministry.  They can walk up to any adult or child with any special need and treat them with the love, respect, and dignity that all humans deserve.  My husband's best friend is a Key client and some of my very dearest of friends are also Key clients.  They are invited into our home for meals, we hang out with them for fun, and our boys consider these friends part of our family.  My boys behave in such a manner because Eric and I modeled that for them.  It now comes very naturally to them and their affections for their friends with special needs are sincere.

How are you teaching your children to treat others?  Because little ears hear everything you say and they are learning by watching your every move.  We who call ourselves Christians also need to model such behavior for society at large.  I challenge you, fellow Christians, to make a concerted effort to treat others who are different from you with love and respect- publicly.  Go out of your way to smile or say, "Hello" to someone in a wheelchair.  If you see a child having a major tantrum in the middle of a store don't be so quick to judge.  The child may be totally overwhelmed by the noise, the number of people in his/her sight, or the child may truly not be able to help it.  People with special needs are not meant to be hidden away.  They are not to be forced to live in isolation.  We who call ourselves "normal" have so much to learn from those who society deems "abnormal".  It is just a matter of swallowing our pride and allowing ourselves to be taught.

Finally, to those of us who call ourselves Christians we must not forget the greatest commandment set before us by our Lord and Savior:

“Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?”


Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”
Matthew 23:36-40







Monday, January 6, 2014

Quick Update

Good morning!  I hope that your family had a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Our family had a WONDERFUL Christmas and are now excited to be in the year that Yun will hopefully become part of our family.

In my previous entry I had shared that we had appointments to have our biometrics done.  On January 2nd Eric and I drove down to Tampa and had our fingerprints done and accepted!  We are now waiting on approval from USCIS.  This morning I spoke with someone from immigration and learned that we do not yet have an officer assigned to our family and that the average wait time is 65 days.  Immigration cannot take longer than 90 days to make a decision so that puts us at about the halfway point of our wait.  Our application was received on November 27 so I am counting from there.  That would put us having approval by the end of this month or the beginning of next.

In the meantime I am going to be hitting the fundraising hard.  As of right now I only have my Etsy Shop up and running.  100% of the profit goes directly towards our adoption!  The boys are still on Christmas break but when they head back to school I will have more time to devote to fundraising and my shop.

Until then, would you please pray for Yun?  The weather has been very cold in her neck of the woods and I pray that she is healthy and warm.  Please also pray that we would be assigned an immigration officer soon and receive approval by the end of the month.  Thank you!