Saturday, April 5, 2014

A win-win


As a stay at home, homeschooling mom my earning power is....um....well...nothing!

I got an email from my FAVORITE curriculum offering to PAY me to work their booth at a local homeschooling conference!

Can anyone say "money for our adoption?!"

So a few Saturdays ago I spent the day talking with other homeschooling families about math AND I added money to our "adopt Little Caboose" fund. 

A win-win!

Blessings, Sandy

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Updated t-shirt

I love my "mom 7" shirt that a friend made for me!

This winter I got some t-shirt making supplies. I just added the "+" to my shirt for Little Caboose!! Now I love my shirt even more!

Blessings, Sandy

Thursday, March 27, 2014

CrAzY MAKING!

This adoption process can make SANE people CrAzY!

It is truly CrAzY MAKING!!

Example A:

Our social worker was FINISHING up the requested changes to our homestudy (this means we were CLOSE people!!) and *almost* signing off......

AND then she emails that she doesn't have our DOG LICENSES!!

Yep - those CUTE dogs need to be LICENSED in order for us to ADOPT a CHILD from CHINA!!!


EXHIBIT A

EXHIBIT B


Soooo after I finished the kids math lessons I head over to the vet. to get the above dogs' shot records (which are up-to-date because we had to GET ALL THE SHOTS updated for the homestudy!.)  I then went to our township offices to GET the LICENSES!! (And thankfully the township worker was willing to email them to our social worker!) 

CONCLUSION: our homestudy was *almost* held up due to DOG LICENSES!!

Example B:

The above mentioned homestudy was signed by our social worker on Wednesday!
 (Did I mention that I *love* how fast SHE is?!)

It then took our agency until MONDAY to have them notarized!

TUESDAY they mail the notarized homestudies to our placing agency across the country......

FRIDAY not only are they NOT across the country BUT they are back at our homestudy agency (because apparently their envelope label is confusing...and this has happened before...that the post office machine reads it incorrectly AND sends it back to the sender!!!)

are YOU crazy yet?!?!

Sooooo......on SATURDAY it is back in the mail...and by some MIRACLE arrives at our placing agency by TUESDAY.

BUT - they are missing a DOCUMENT that was supposed to be sent - so the placing agency requests it from our homestudy agency - who scans over the document on WEDNESDAY....

LET'S TAKE A MOMENT TO REVIEW THAT THIS IS NOW TWO WEEKS AFTER OUR SOCIAL WORKER SIGNED OUR HOMESTUDY!!!!! ....but who is in a hurry anyway?!

AND THEN: Our oldest turns 18 in July. Since our adoption will not be finalized by that time he will need to be fingerprinted as an adult living in the household. Originally it was thought he would be fingerprinted with Erik and I, but since it is illegal to run background checks/clearances on minors in Michigan we will wait until after he turns 18. At that point we pay $150 for a homestudy addendum and submit a supplement 3 to the USCIS...and then have him fingerprinted. When we filled out our I800a paperwork we included our oldest so he could get fingerprinted and wrote our check to include the $85 for his printing. (This was before our homestudy agency told us he would have to wait so the incorrect I800a paperwork got sent to our placing agency.) While waiting for our homestudy to make it to our placing agency I wondered if I should write a new check that didn't include our oldest's fingerprinting....so I quick wrote a check and sent it across the country. I didn't realize that any of the paperwork needed to be updated and when I mentioned sending a new check our worker didn't know if a new check was necessary AND didn't mention the need for new I800a paperwork :( 

SOOOOO.....when our homestudy AND the needed extra document FINALLY all made it to our placing agency......THEN we were told we needed to re-sign the I800a AND it needed to be an ORIGINAL - NOT a scanned document!! 

TODAY we over-nighted the signed NEW I800a and we are told if it arrives on FRIDAY before 3pm then they will submit our I800a - WOO HOO!

I tell you if I wasn't crazy before I am feeling CrAzY now!!!

and then we will wait for our I800a approval (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) - which has been taking about 40 days....but could take up to 90 days.

Next Step: Getting all our documents - including the I800a approval certified by the State of Michigan

Next Step: Hiring a courier to take our documents to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago to be authenticated.

Next Step: DTC - Dossier to China - China needs to approve our family to adopt Little Caboose

Next Step: Receive LOA from China - Letter of Approval (it can take 60 to 120 days to receive this approval)

Next Step: Submit I800 to USCIS to adopt Little Caboose

Next Step: I800 provisional approval then sent to National Visa Center

Next Step: NVC cables PDF to American Consulate in China

Next Step: American Consulate issues Article 5 and sends it to Chinese Government

Next Step: Chinese Government issues Travel Approval

Next Step: Consulate Appt. scheduled in China

Next Step: TRAVEL!!!


A couple of pictures taken before the "photo ban" :)


 I think this goofy little guy will fit right in :)

Blessings, Sandy

Friday, March 21, 2014

No more pictures...


The orphanage has a new director. A few minutes after taking this picture of Little Caboose (in yellow) Tammy was told no more taking pictures :(

I *love* how HAPPY he looks in this picture. AND that although his legs are not fully functional he is attempting (and maybe climbing?) up the slide!

I hope that in time the director will allow Tammy to take pictures and videos again, but it still does my HEART so good to know that:

 Tammy is there at the orphanage SEEING our son and PRAYING over our son - WHAT A GIFT!!

Blessings, Sandy

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Meeting Little Caboose


This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago - when Little Caboose STILL had HAIR!


Little Caboose is on the left. His classmate who was adopted by the family (FROM OUR CHURCH!) last week is on the right!


You might remember this family offered to bring a gift to Little Caboose, but because of the MEAN older kids in his sleeping room we asked them to pray over him instead?


Yesterday they MET and PRAYED OVER our boy!!!

And shared with us:
"*A nurse brought him over from another building
*he said ni hao to me
*very happy boy, little dimples ....he smiles a lot
*soft spoken but he was talking
*he was very clear speaking too  (A HUGE answer to prayer - and they didn't even know it!!!)
*honestly I saw him for maybe 5 minutes, he was very happy and and sweet. He looked good but shy
*he smiled the entire time I saw him
*giggled and bam dimples"

OH MY HEART!     

I can't wait until we can meet the Little Caboose ourselves!!!

Blessings, Sandy 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our silly boy!


When Tammy told our "little caboose" that she wanted to take a picture of him....he crawled under a table!

He is DEFINITELY a silly boy!



It looks like a friend joined him :)


Our little caboose has been MOVED from his AWFUL sleeping room!

That is the GOOD NEWS!

....but Tammy has been unable to find out where he is sleeping now :(

PRAYING that is is a BETTER room for our boy!

The above picture is of Little Caboose leaving his "school room" and riding back to his "sleeping room" with his room-mates. (They look nice - right?!)

Blessings, Sandy

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our God Story!

After visiting Darren's orphanage in November 2012 I was changed. I couldn't just go on with life and forget ALL those faces. 

After hearing Darren tell me time and time and time AGAIN
"mama - I missed you in China"
"mama - I didn't have a mama in China"
I just COULDN'T turn my back and not give another little one a mama, a baba, and a family

We had fallen in LOVE with Darren after seeing him on Sonia's blog. I wondered if we would know RIGHT AWAY when we saw our new little one's face.

Over the last year I have looked at hundreds of little faces on the computer screen. I have requested quite a few files. 

A few times I have wondered "Is he the one?" or "Is she the one?" 
I just knew that once Erik saw his child he would know....and at that point all the files I showed to Erik didn't seem to be "the one".

In November 2013 I looked at the file of a little boy. I noticed that he was from the same orphanage as Darren. I then asked our American volunteer friend Tammy to see if she could find this "Tommy" and tell me her thoughts.

She couldn't find Tommy. Then she messaged that there was a new little boy that had been moved into the room where she volunteers. When she asked the kids in the room they said his name and it sounded like Tommy's name. He had leg issues like Tommy and he was about the right age.


She sent me this picture and asked if I thought this might be Tommy?
(Isn't that a sad little face!)

She said the room wasn't a good fit for him AT ALL. The kids in the room are much older than he is and not very nice to him :(

I only had baby pictures of Tommy...and thought the picture she sent did favor him. 

A few days later she messaged that the above little boy wasn't Tommy, but she had found Tommy.
 We gathered about a dozen questions for her to ask the nannies about Tommy and waited. When she got back to us the answers were not what we hoped. He was doing a lot worse than the file described and we learned that his needs require constant care beyond what our family is capable of providing at this time.  Sadly, he wasn't our son.

I couldn't get the little sad faced boy (who wasn't Tommy) out of my mind so I asked Tammy "Is that little guy paper ready? Does he have a family?"

She said "I hoped you would ask...I even took a few pictures for you last week"


Tammy asked the orphanage and discovered that he was paper ready, but did not have an adoptive family.


We gathered questions for Tammy to ask the nannies and then set to finding his file.

THANKFULLY he was on the shared list!
(A list of about 2000 kids that are currently not assigned to a specific adoption agency)

TWO agencies had once had his file, but neither could find a family for this little guy!

Our agency requested his file....we had FOUR doctors review his file....Tammy got back to us with LOTS of answers, more pictures, and MANY videos. 

We PRAYED and PRAYED and PRAYED!!

One day while praying "God please lead us, please show us what to do...should we adopt this little guy?" I turned on the radio to hear the song "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets and felt God directly speaking to ME!

We decided to take that LEAP OF FAITH and say yes to "our caboose".

Our little guy was a misfit for that orphanage room - but we believe that God placed him there so Tammy would find him. So she would get him confused with Tommy. So we would become his FOREVER FAMILY!

As Tammy says "Two confused women...and one little boy finds a family!"

I have been asked "How did you find this little boy" and I have to answer "God led us to him!"

Since saying "yes" we have had another ONLY GOD story. 

Tammy takes pictures and videos for multiple families adopting from the orphanage where she volunteers. She usually "tags" the family so they can see the video. I have noticed the names...Tiffany, Joanne etc., but I haven't really paid much attention. A couple of weeks ago a friend at church sent an email to a few families, including ours, to introduce us as we were all adopting from China. A few days later as I was looking back through my email I noticed one of the names was TIFFANY! I quickly looked at Tammy's videos and then back at this name...they were THE SAME! 

Tiffany and her family attend THE SAME church as our family! we have pictures and video of our kids TOGETHER!! How is that even POSSIBLE?! And we attend a mega-church. The chances that we connected are slim at best.

Tiffany and her family are traveling this week to China to meet their daughter. When they visit the orphanage they offered to bring a gift to our "little caboose"! Tammy said the big kids in his sleeping room will just take the toy/item away from him, so we have decided not to send anything at this point.

If Tiffany and her family have a chance to see our little guy they are going to PRAY over him for us!! What a GIFT to him AND to us!!

Just like Darren has an orphanage buddy to visit now our "little caboose" will also have a orphanage buddy!! How AMAZING and COOL is that?! ONLY GOD!!

Blessings, Sandy