Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We're Having a Party!

So, I wasn't sure how to handle Meili Joy's birthday, and today it hit me. We'll have an online fundraising party for her. And I think we'll go ahead and have some pink cupcakes that day, too. 

And, you are invited! You are invited to make one more donation, and we are seriously just asking for $10. Yep, that's it! And then, maybe you could share this with 10 other people if you'd like to. Because that would be even more fun.

And then we're going to take a set of wooden building blocks and custom paint them and creatively write on the side of the blocks, the names of everyone who gives to this birthday celebration. I was looking for a way to preserve the names and faces of so many people who have loved this little girl and helped us bring her home, and I believe this will be it. 

I'm even thinking we might have a creative painting party for the blocks, too since I have so many crafty friends.

Please remember, we are so thankful for each one of you and your part in our story to Meili Joy, and so excited for so many of you to be a part of her life here in Charleston.  

Ah, yes! We are in the home stretch. I keep seeing paperwork coming in at lightning speed in my facebook groups with other adopting families. And I just know we are really close to LOA. I'm excited. I'm a bit nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. And I'm very eager to be done fundraising (for us, at least ) and just settle into adjustment phase, new family of 5, let reality sink in that I'll be a Mom-of-two 2 year olds by next spring. 

In the mean time, we have a fun event for JTM, then a birthday for Meili Joy, then a fun birthday for my big boy (how did he get to be so big!?), and then Christmas and New Year's! 

And besides y'all, it's advent! Come, Jesus, into all of it! Into all this craziness and all this joy and all this nervousness and all the weariness. O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Monday, November 19, 2012

{Out of Translation} One Step Closer!

We are OOT! Meaning our fancy dossier paperwork is out of translation and ready to find our other paperwork, PA, and take us to our next step of LOA (Letter of Approval that takes about 4-6 weeks), and then we have a few more steps of paperwork to wait for that will take us about 2.5 to 3 months.

So, with shortest time from for LOA and other steps, we could be going to China Feb 19th, um, okay, that's my bday, let's just say that would be an amazing birthday present! Longest estimate would be around March 30th.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Our Joy {Meili Joy Carpenter}

On October 30th, Travis and I met our daughter, Meili Joy, on paper. 

We were very surprised to receive her referral. The night before I had spoken to our case worker with our agency, and I did not at all anticipate a referral. 

I had been told over and over that we'd "just know" when we saw our daughter's face. And between the hand full of files we'd reviewed, I honestly started to question if that was going to happen. I knew we weren't picking our daughter based on a cute face; but over and over I had other adoptive moms tell me that we would just know. 

I was clutching my big old Anthropolgie porcelein "J" mug from Abby, sipping my brew and soaking in Jesus through my Bible on my iphone. Trav was wrapped in a dark gray robe, holding his Bible on his phone, too. I realized that I had missed an email from the night before, and ended up on the phone at 6:45 am with someone from the agency.

 So, quickly we were on the phone discussing her special need and the fact that there were some things about her file that were outside of our original "child desired" form. And it mattered; but it didn't.

We both just nodded, and mouthed "This is it! This is her file!".

I think that early morning moment will forever be frozen in my mind.

A few hours later, as her pictures scrolled onto my computer screen, we laughed and were grateful for the hours and days we had spent looking at photos of children online from Asia. She was, of course, dressed in masculine clothes, and we weren't surprised. But, as the picture loaded, Justus knew, too. He rushed to the computer, turned his head to the side in a shy smile. "Baby!" He kept smiling and pointing "Sister!", he said. 

He wasn't phased by the long scar on her little bare chest marking her as a survivor of open heart surgery. 

The morning turned to a flurry of phone calls and rushing her file to via email proper doctors to review. And, by God's amazing grace, we had three cardiologists review her file within hours. Three doctors that I had never spoken to before that day. In fact, one called me from Charlotte after I was given a referral to his office from an online facebook group that new he had a heart for children from Ch**a with this specific heart condition. He was very gracious and kind and eager to help us in any way.

All agreed that her file looked promising. There are always unknowns. Always. Especially in international adoption. 

And we know, there might be more surgery. 

There might be some scary days for her; 

but she is our daughter. 

And, now, it's time to bring her home. 

We are so grateful for every step of this journey. We are constantly humbled and amazed by the work he is doing in Charleston and with Journey Together, and are excited for the next steps. 

Please pray for us as we wait for the last round of paperwork, we are hoping to bring her home early next year, possibly between February - April.We are waiting for LOA, Letter of Approval, and then there a bunch more "A" steps that will get us closer and closer to our approval to travel. We'll keep everyone posted! Please also pray for those taking care of her. Pray even now that God will work to heal her heart in more ways than one.

Fundraising Update:
As for fundraising, we believe we may need about $5,000 more to cover the final costs of our travel, guides, fees, etc. At this time, we have been given a wonderful blessing of having our international flight covered, so we are only looking at our flight from Beijing to Guangzhou, where she is and where we will visit the consulate. We will have several other final agency fees, immigration fees, travel fees, hotel, final document fees, and other miscellaneous fees involving paperwork, Jess' visa will have to be expedited, etc. 

At this time, we are still selling Uganda beads and I am trying to figure out if I can carve out any time for bird's nest necklaces; but I'm honestly not sure I can. I think we'll need to get creative after Christmas and do some type of fun event, etc.

We will also be a featured family at the Journey Together Hope Fund Gala, A Night to Give 1 Hope. This event is raising funds for the Hope Fund that will allow local families to apply for adoption grants. But, people will also be able to donate directly to us through JTM's non-profit status then, too. I hope some of you will be able to attend. 

We do have limited tickets to this amazing event, and you can get them through our eventbrite link: www.journeytogethercharleston.eventbrite.com

 We are also a Hope Family with Journey Together, and that means that we can receive donations through JTM's non-profit status for our adoption. They will write checks directly to our agency, etc. You can see our Hope Family page here!

Thank you for walking this journey with us. For loving our family and our daughter.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday 2012

This week, I saw my daughter's face for the first time.

This week, I walked to the back of the auditorium to light a candle to pray for our daughter, knowing exactly what she looks like.

This week, I saw my daughter on a vimeo video. She was wearing pink sandles, an orange sweatshirt and yellow pants.

This week, I saw the scar on my daughter's chest where doctor's performed a potentially life saving surgery last March.

This week, Travis and I have a daughter.

This week, my boys have a sister. 

This week, my heart is forever tied to a family in Asia, her birth family.

This weekend at Seacoast Church, Rob Braniff, one of our new pastors, opened our services introducing his family and his three adopted children. This week, Josh Walters, shared our communities story of how God's heart for loving others can change a community. This week, Chris Russo, shared a spoken word to the song God of the City, and I raised my fist in the air and nearly jumped out of my skin.
My child doesn't know it yet; but she is not an orphan anymore. She is still in a foster care/orphanage situation half way around the world. But, she has a Mom and Dad who are ready to bring her home. And she has a Mom and Dad who probably made the decision to give her up in order to save her life due to difficult circumstances they can not take care of her.

Today is Orphan Sunday 2012 and such a huge day for our journey into adoption. Yes, it is all about one child. Yes, it is a journey of each family. But, it is always a bigger story. So many of us do not know we have a Father. We live without hope. And my hearts prayer today as I pray for 147 million without families around the world, is that the rest of the billions that do not know their Abba Father will also find their way home today!

Soli deo Gloria! 

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you."