Monday, November 24, 2008

Pre-Approval (PA)

Email just in:

"Congratulations we received your Pre-Approval (PA) today! The PA is the CCAA's initial approval and agreement to complete the review of your dossier for "baby boy". The next step will be your Letter Seeking Confirmation or LSC. Currently we have seen this processed in 30-60 days." Let's pray for that to be on the speedy end because Chinese New Year is coming up quickly, in which the Chinese government closes down for that entire 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All of the Questions

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

It's also the month that we felt led to pursue a Special Needs (SN) adoption.

Since feeling called to pursue adoption almost 2 years ago, we have been asked many questions. Asked by well meaning family and friends. As I sit here and reflect on this journey that we have been on for the past 2 years, many of these questions come to mind. I've often been tempted to answer in hast and anger but with God's guidance, I've often been able to use these questions as an opportunity to educate others on God's call to care for the orphans of the world.

Here are the most common questions with my responses in parenthesis:

You already have 3 daughters, why would you want more? (Children are a blessing from the Lord!)

Are you doing this so you can have a boy? (Actually, no. I wanted another girl to begin with. Pete just wanted another child (and didn't want to go through another pregnancy with me : ) This was the child that God had planned for us - just as He had planned our 3 girls.

Will you homeschool him? (Why wouldn't I if that is what God continues to lead me to do.)

Can’t you have more of your own? (This child will be my own, just from a different womb.)

4 kids in NYC? Are you nuts? (Maybe. Maybe we won't move after-all. Maybe we'll move someone cheaper than Manhattan. I'm only worrying about today and not tomorrow)

There are so many babies in the US that need homes. Why are you adopting internationally? (This is God's show, not ours.)

I heard of a family whose adopted kid {had attachment issues, was mentally challenged, etc.}. (Biological kids also sometimes have attachment issues, are mentally challenged, etc. but we still love them anyways.)

Why are you adopting a special needs kid? There are plenty of healthy ones available. (Every child needs a family and we have the means to care for this child. Any one of our daughters could have been born with the same issue. I wouldn't have asked God to take them away from me because of that)

Aren’t you worried about a child of a different race "fitting in" with your family, church, community? (God has chosen this child for us; this country for us. I know He has the details worked out already. Besides, we live in a very diverse city already)

How much did he cost you? (God took care of the finances through grants, help from our church and family & promotions.)

It definitely would have been easier to not follow God's prompting. But then again, we'd have been in obvious disobedience, and that probably would not have been easier after all. There has a been a lot of paperwork and a lot of money spent to bring this child home to us but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Should We Care About Orphans?

Marriage Memo from my INBOX today:

By Dave Boehi

In an age of instant communication, of hyper entertainment, of information explosion and saturation … how many of us know that there are now more than 130 million children orphaned across the globe?

That every 14 seconds an AIDS death causes another child to become an orphan?

That more than 500,000 children are in the foster care system in America?

FamilyLife is joining forces again this year with Focus on the Family, Shaohannah’s Hope, and many other orphan ministries for the “Cry of the Orphan” campaign. This reflects a growing emphasis at FamilyLife in calling attention to the plight of orphans around the world and in challenging married couples to consider adopting children or getting involved in other ways to help.

Why should we care about orphans? Why should we get involved?

Because orphans matter to God.

If you spend much time studying God and His priorities and passions—what He likes and dislikes, what pleases Him and what angers Him—you will learn about God’s priorities. As C. Thomas Davis writes in his book, Fields of the Fatherless, "If you searched the Bible from front to back, you'd find many issues close to God's heart. But you'd also notice three groups of people coming up again and again. They appear so many times, in fact, you have to conclude that God mentions them purposely to make sure they are at the top of our priority list."

Who are these three groups of people? They are orphans, widows, and aliens (or strangers). They are the fatherless, the helpless.

God’s compassion for the helpless

Scores of passages throughout the Bible reveal that God has a special place in His heart for the helpless in our society. Here are just a few of these Scriptures:

"For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:17-18).

The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow … (Psalm 146:9).

"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan" (Exodus 22:21-22).

Why does God show such special concern for these groups of people? Think of what the orphan, the widow, and the alien have in common.

An alien or stranger is isolated from his friends and family in an unfamiliar town or country; he could easily be robbed, defrauded, or oppressed. (If you've ever traveled overseas in a country where you cannot speak the native language, you know what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land, and how grateful you feel when someone helps you.)

Likewise, a widow has lost the provision and protection of her husband. And an orphan (especially a young child) may be the most helpless of all. He has no father or mother to protect him.

God's concern for the orphan is reflected in our relationship with Him

Any follower of Christ should be able to identify with the orphan, though many have not realized this. We are naturally selfish, prideful, and sinful—estranged from God. We rebel against God, and choose to go our own way. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

In other words, we were separated from the love of God the Father just as an orphan is unable to enjoy the love of an earthly father. But God reached down and made it possible, through the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, for us to become His children. 1 John 3:1 tells us, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God …"

That's why the Scriptures on several occasions compare our salvation to the act of adoption. Ephesians 1:3-5 says:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

A special part of God’s plan includes caring for the orphan

Understanding how God has adopted us as His children helps us understand in a personal way why He is so concerned about the orphan … and why the Bible contains so many commands for us to be involved.

The Scriptures are clear that God gives the family of God the responsibility to care for the orphan's needs. Psalm 82:3-4, for example, says, "Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked."

The purpose of the Cry of the Orphan campaign is to help inform the Christian community with the news that God has a plan for orphans and educate them on ways to get involved. Both FamilyLife Today and Focus on the Family radio broadcasts are devoting this week (November 17-21) to the subject of adoption and orphans.

And if you are interested in learning more about how you can be involved, FamilyLife’s website offers a host of resources and testimonies about adoption and orphan care at our adoption page and also at the homepage for our orphans ministry, Hope for Orphans. You also could check out some of these highlights from the FamilyLife Today broadcast archive:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Letter of Intent Submitted

Two years ago, On November 14, 2006, I mailed our application to GWCA adoption. We thought then that in August of this year, 2008, we would travel to get our daughter. How ironic that just one year ago, we thought we were at least another 2 years ago. Honestly, as recently as last month, we still thought we were at least another 2 years away from getting our daughter. Now, we may be traveling within 5 months to get our SON.

Pete just emailed off our Letter of Intent (LOI) and Parent Information sheet. That needed to be submitted by 9 pm today. The LOI basically says that we wish to adopt this particular little boy whose file we've had for a whole 24 hours. Once that is accepted, then his file is 'locked' so no one else can attempt to adopt him while we are being reviewed by China. Our agency has every reason to believe that we will be approved to adopt him. We still have to snail mail the originals as well. We also had to submit the LOI agreement and updated photos by 9 pm tomorrow but we just took care of that today at the same time. But the wait continues.

After all of that, there are still more steps, but we just have to wait for those. More waiting. One would think that I'd be an expert at this waiting stuff by now. But I'm not. Once our agency submits Letter of Intent (which will hopefully be tomorrow - their China office has to translate it), we wait for what is called the Pre - Approval (PA). This should come within 2-3 weeks. This is a statement from the CCAA that they reviewed our LOI and accept it, and agree to move our dossier (which is currently in the Review Room waiting to be reviewed) to the Waiting Child track on behalf of him.

The Waiting Child department will then do a review of our dossier. Once they give the final ok, they issue the Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC). This is the “official” referral of him to us. That should come around February sometime. At this point is where it is set in stone that he is ours! It could take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to receive this document and then it is then another 4-8 weeks for travel (so, something to financially plan for!). If we need to slow the process at any point to get things in order, we do have the option to do so in some areas but that is currently NOT in our plan. We believe this is God's will for us and trust that he will get the remainder of the finances in order since this happened about 2 years sooner that we most recently thought it would be. It does give us a few months though to apply for a few grants. LOTS more prayers for that!

This all moved so quickly today thanks to my hubby. He really took the reins on this one and completed everything and emailed it over. I would have had to take the entire day off of school (as it was the girls only did about 2/3 of their work - the PLUS side to homeschooling : ) to get everything ready but he squeezed it in his work day somehow.

We do have pictures of him but we are not allowed to post them anywhere publicly until he is 'officially' ours. It is possible that someone else is doing the exact same thing as us right now for this darling little boy. We hope not but it is possible.

Oh - and a medical update! It appears that he only has Epi-retinal membrane (ERM)

Epi-retinal membrane (ERM) or macular pucker is a cellophane-like membrane that formsEpi-retinal membrane - macular pucker over the macula. It is typically a slow-progressing problem that affects the central vision by causing blur and distortion. As it progresses, the traction of the membrane on the macula may cause swelling.

This condition only has to be monitored until it becomes an issue. At which point, he will likely need surgery to correct his vision. Currently, he has blurry vision. This is only in his left eye. His right eye is normal. We found this out AFTER we had decided this morning that we were proceeding regardless of what this last update would state. God's always seems to know more than us : )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Could Be It

A boy - yes you read that correctly - a almost 13 month old boy. He has possible retinoblastoma in the left eye. That is cancer. With a 95% cure rate in the US. But it is not a confirmed diagnosis. It could be small tumor or it could not be. Otherwise, he is perfectly healthy and on target developmentally. We have his file. And 3 pictures too. Unfortunately I can not share them yet due to confidentiality issues until we have officially been approved by the CCAA for adoption. Right now we have his file and have to have it reviewed by a physician here to get as much information as we possibly can from his medical reports. Which do not contain much information anyway. So, we wait and pray, for God' perfect timing on this one. A boy. Yes what a surprise for us.