Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yesterday Was Her Birthday

Lulu turned 5 yesterday!

I sent her a care package of a cake, pictures of our family, and a letter which will be sent next week. Prayerfully, I will receive photos from the orphanage of her party! I knew going into this that I would miss her birthday, Fu Chao's birthday (next month) and Christmas with them. Yes, it's hard, but I guess I look at things completely different than some people. Children from China don't understand birthdays or Christmas. I may be the only adoptive parent who feels this way: I do not want my children to come home and all of a sudden there are stacks of gifts and presents being given left and right. I want them to understand family first, understand WHY we celebrate the way we do, and then hopefully they can appreciate what they are receiving. I have already had issues with a certain little boy (ahem...Johnny) who thinks Mom and Dad work for Toys R Us! One day he looked at me and said, "Let's get rid of all these toys and go get a bunch of new ones." Really??? It's hard to believe that two years ago his only toy was a plastic pop bottle.

It would be different I suppose if I were in the middle of the journey, but I am so very close to the end. I am thoroughly enjoying life and the holidays right now with my children and it's nice knowing that I will be on a plane in about 6 -10 weeks!

For those of you adoptive parents who like stats, I just received my GUZ# and pdf last week and then filled out that blasted new Visa form for my kiddos. It was a breeze once someone gave me the help guide (which my agency did not have). 

And, of course, I've been in photography mode again! 

Here's a pic of Johnny, unedited. And yes, that's a Christmas tree behind him...I couldn't stand it anymore and had to put it up! I feel like Christmas goes by too fast so I'm going to rebel and start early from now on.

I have two more steps left until that plane ride...TWO!!! I just have to have my Article 5 drop off/pick up, which is a bunch of approvals being walked into a building in China, basically. And then I wait for Travel Approval!! That's it!! If I receive Article 5 in two weeks and then TA two weeks after that, I'll be headed to China in the beginning of Jan, but if either one of those takes three weeks, I'll probably go in Feb because I have 3 provinces to go to and everything is shut down for one week because of Chinese New Year.

All in God's timing!!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A God Story

Ok y'all, I have been sitting on a story here, waiting until the right time to tell it. I had to wait until I shared it with my church before I blogged about it. 

This is single-handed one of the coolest things I've seen God do in both my adoption journeys.

Here's the story:
I am about two months away from traveling to get Fu Chao and Lulu. I have a binder that I have used for both Johnny and Lily's adoptions from almost two years ago, and am now using for Fu Chao and Lulu's adoption as well. That binder has all my step-by-step instructions for my entire adoption process, so I refer to it all the time. 

In that same binder are pictures from when I had sent a cake to Lily and Johnny while they were still in their orphanages. The picture I have of Lily shows her receiving her cake on her birthday in China. She is seated with her foster mother, so that picture has always been precious to me. In the same binder are pictures of Johnny receiving his cake in his orphanage. He is seated with about 6-8 friends. I have asked Johnny many times over the past 1 1/2 years if he knew any of the children in this picture. He always says that he didn't and that the orphanage workers just gathered some of the kids up from the orphanage and brought them in for Johnny's party. 

I haven't really looked at these pictures for a while because I've been busy with our current adoptions. Recently though, I had to refer to this binder for something and one of Johnny's cake photos fell out. I was looking at all the children in the photo, hoping they had all been adopted. When I came upon one child seated next to Johnny, I did a double take, then a triple take, then just stared in shock...he looked just like Fu Chao, who we are adopting in two months. 

I kept thinking...NO WAY...that's not possible...I must be imagining this! I mean...they are seated right NEXT to each other! I showed it to my husband, and although it looked like Fu Chao, we just knew the statistical odds were: 


What are the odds that we would adopt from the same province again, from the same orphanage, from the same gender, age range, and that our future son would happen to be in the same room on that same day, seated right NEXT to my current adopted son (his future brother) and that we would have a photo of this moment????

I emailed my agency and they were skeptical as well, until I emailed the photos to them. Clearly in one of the pictures, the boy next to my son is missing a tooth, and in the referral pic I have of Fu Chao, he is also missing the same tooth. That picture by itself is what made me think that it was more than "kind of looking alike." My rep said the whole office was gathered around her computer and they thought it was worth checking on. She told me there were enough similarities that they would ask the orphanage. They emailed the picture to their in-China rep who then forwarded it to the orphanage staff. 

About a week had passed and I was busy in Tennessee at a Pastor's conference with my hubby. I was sitting in our hotel having breakfast with my husband and some friends when my cell phone rang. It was my adoption agency calling. The minute I saw it was them, I knew. 

I answered the phone and Candy said, "Lisa, we just got confirmation from the's him."

Thank God for a Christian agency because immediately we all saw God's hand in this!!!!

My agency said they had never heard of this. 

I am amazed that God did this...not His goodness...not for me...but for Fu Chao and Johnny. He did this for them. To prove Himself to them, that He is faithful, that He cares for them, He's looking out for them...and that He was putting them together even back then. 

Look at these pictures! If you don't believe in God after seeing this, then there's something something seriously wrong with you!! God's not in the business of coincidence...only providence.

Here is the first picture I ever saw of Fu Chao...see, he is missing that top tooth?

These are Johnny's orphanage pictures from 
Luoyang taken in Jan 2012. Johnny is obviously the one with the birthday hat on, Fu Chao is the one in the orange shirt with yellow striped arms (clown outfit, ha ha)...notice the missing tooth?

Isn't this precious? Fu Chao has his arm around Johnny, so happy for him on his celebration day, not even knowing this was his future little brother and that they would be reunited two years later!! (Btw, that boy in the red, talk about adorable)!!!

How amazing that Fu Chao was seated right by Johnny!! Coincidence? I think not...that's God!!!

I am anxious to see if Fu Chao remembers Johnny at all, or has any stories to share of his time at the orphanage that might include both of them together. But for now, this moment is enough for me!!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

I800 Approval On The Way

I have been out of state all week at a minister's conference with my hubby in Tennessee, so that is my excuse for not posting. I have about a thousand pictures of the Smokey Mountains to post but that will have to come later. 

I LOOOOOVE the southern hospitality that you get in Tennessee. We weren't five minutes off the plane and we heard, "Y'all have a blessed time." And, "God bless you." You just don't hear this in Iowa from mere strangers. I wish all of America had Christianity and manners...and Golden Corral. ;)

I'm so thankful that while I was gone, Josiah was navigating my emails back home. My I800 was supposed to be approved one week ago, but I have a slow officer and one that...well...let's just say doesn't have a good reputation for being all. He takes forever with approvals and I'm starting to wonder if it's on purpose. Josiah kept checking everyday to see if my officer was responding to my emails or phone calls...nothing. So I finally called on Wednesday and told the lady who answered the phone to NOT patch me through to my officer because I keep getting his voicemail and he's not responding. She told me that they don't like the I800s sitting around, they want them approved and out the door. She said if I didn't hear from him by the next day that I would be assigned a new officer.

Guess what? He didn't call, I was assigned a new officer, and she approved my that day!! Thank you, Jesus!!

So my I800s are on the way! Do I get to go to China yet? Nope! I have to wait for a special # assigned to my case so I can get paperwork rolling with my new children's names, then I wait for Article 5 drop off, which is done in China. Then I wait for Travel Approval! These next few steps fly quickly though...just a few weeks in between each step. If things proceed quickly, I will travel beginning of Jan, but if there's a hint of hitting Chinese New Year, I'll get bumped into the first week of Feb. No worries...all in God's timing!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Be Still My Heart

This little man is adorable even when he's not flashing that million dollar smile!

I guess a million dollar smirk will do. :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anyone In The Mood For Halloween Again?

If Halloween looked like this...

I'd be up for it every day of the year.

I decided next year I'm taking all my littles out for individual photo shoots of them in their costumes...because I gotta admit...this is one cute picture if I do say so myself!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Long Time No Post

I finally had a chance to edit some of my pictures that I've taken. Of course it's of Lily and for once she was serious.

Serious about pulling weeds that is.

Next on my editing to-do list is pictures of Halloween...yeah, I'm that behind. I've been quite busy with more adoption stuff. I thought I'd have a break after I sent out my I800 paperwork, but now I'm emailing, calling, whatever I have to do wondering where that approval is of my I800. Some people receive them after two weeks...I guess I'm not one of them! 

That's okay...I'm going to edit more pictures of Lily. Some of them are really cute...some of them...well...

You get the idea!