Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And the wait goes on, and on, and ...

Yes, we are still waiting, but we have learned some new information that we wanted to let everyone know about.  After hearing from the orphanage weeks ago, we asked Lifeline, our adoption agency, to see if there was a problem.  On Monday a week ago, Karla from our agency sent David a message asking us to call her.  We were more than a little apprehensive.  She did that when we were waiting for Hannah, and we were told our special seeds application had been rejected, but that we were welcome to use our non-special needs application to adopt her.  We used our second application and got to adopt Hannah anyway.  This time we weren't sure what to expect before we talked with her, but we did know there was not a second application available for us to use if they rejected us.  We praised the Lord when we learned that China had just lost one of our documents, the one that says Andrew has been approved to receive a visa to enter the USA.  Karla tried to send them a photocopy, but they require the real thing; therefore, US Citizenship and Immigration has issued a new document, and we are waiting for it to be certified and authenticated by the county and state governments and by the Chinese consulate in Houston.  Karla says this process will take two weeks, but that we should get our Letter of Acceptance soon after China receives the missing paper.  It has already  been a week; so, we hope it will come next week.

God is so good and prepared us ahead of time. The day before we learned all of this, Pastor Dennis preached on waiting during both the morning and evening services.  Sunday morning, Pastor Dennis said, "Waiting on God time is not wasted time." He went on to say that while we're waiting on God to finish what He's working on, we need to go on and do whatever He's called us to do. That reminded me of John Waller's song, "While I'm Waiting." It has encouraged me often during these years of waiting for Hannah and Andrew.  The lyrics say, "I will serve You while I'm waiting; I will worship will I'm waiting."  We are trying to carry on with life when it would be so easy to put everything on hold while we wait to travel.  Sunday night Pastor Dennis said that Isaiah 40:31 says that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, not those waiting on people, circumstances, or events. We know we are waiting on God, not the Chinese government.  It brought back a lot of memories of the things God taught us while waiting for Hannah.  Here are some other verse that means a lot to me:

Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.  (Isaiah 26:8)

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.  (Psalm 27:14)

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.  (Psalm 33:7)
Here are some praises and prayer requests:

  • Our application has not been rejected. 
  • We know why it has taken so long to get LOA and have some idea of when it will come.
  • Andrew knows we are coming and is waiting for us.
  • My friend LeighAnn got her travel approval and will travel soon!  (We were hoping to travel with them, but it won't be possible now.)
  • God is sovereign over everything and is always trustworthy.
Prayer Requests:
  • That nothing will hinder us from traveling when God wants us to travel. 
  • That God will continue to prepare all of us and Andrew for the changes that are coming.   
  • That if it is God's will, we will travel and return to the US in time for Hannah and I to be in a wedding on May 12.  (I know this may seem trivial, and Tammy would understand if we couldn't be here, but she has waited a long time for this, and we would like to be here to celebrate with her.)
  • That my (Lois') knee will be ready for travel.  (I had knee surgery at the end of January and began physical therapy last week.  I can get around very well and can even walk a mile with the child and the dog, but we do pray that my knee will be ready for the stresses of long plane rides, walks through airports, carrying children who weigh over 30 pounds, and the other stresses of travel within China.)
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!  We really appreciate you all!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Our Little School Girl

This picture was taken of Hannah on August 30, Hannah's first day of school.  She was so excited about going to school, but I think she was more excited about using her purple backpack.  She goes to school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Her teachers, Mrs. Ann and Mrs. Betty Ann, are awesome.  She adores them and has made good friends with her classmates.  She loves school!  And why wouldn't she?  She loves doing anything that involves paint, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, play dough, and especially scissors.  (She can spend hours cutting up paper into "coconut" or "snow.")  She also enjoys going out to the play ground and sliding down the slide.  Every week is something different and every week she has fun and learns all kinds of new and exciting things

This week has been an exceptionally great week.  When I picked her up from school on Tuesday, she was so excited that she was jumping up and down saying, "I have a sign!  I have a sign!" and she did have a sign.  What does it say?  It says that Hannah is the Star Student of her class this weeek.  What does that mean?  Well let me tell you how special it is.  First, we got to put the sign in our yard  so that everyone who might make it to our little cul-de-sac can see she is the star student.  There were a lot of smiles and giggles as she and Papa put out the sign.

Second, Hannah got to be line leader and do all kinds of other special things in class all week. Finally, and best of all, Hannah got to fill the Sound Can! Each week the star students takes home the Sound Can and fills it with things that begin with the letter of the week.  Well Hanna loves filling boxes, bags, cans and baskets with stuff even more than she loves cutting paper. As soon as we walked in the door Tuesday, she began to hunt for items beginning with the letter F to fill her can. Every time she put something in it, she would ask, "Is it full yet?"  She didn't want to stop until she finished filling it even to eat lunch or take a nap, and got mad at me for making her "take a pause" to do those things.

She was so happy with this activity, that before the day was over, she was asking me why she had to take the can back to Mrs. Ann.  Couldn't she just keep it? She finally reluctantly accepted that she was just borrowing it.  As you can see from the photo below, we found quite a few items starting with F.  Can you find these items in the picture?  :)  firetruck, football, flower, flowerpot, fish, fence, family (photo), friends (photo), frog (playing card), French fries, fan, the numbers four and five, the letter F, Florida (magnet), fork, flag, flip flop, and a "Franklin" book.  We included enough Swedish fish for all of the children to have a taste, and finished filling it up by squishing in a stuffed Chick-fil-a cow wearing a fireman's hat and coat.  Hannah was satisfied, and Mrs. Ann said she was very excited to share the things that she had gathered.

Our little girl is growing up into such a big girl!  We love her so much and can't imagine life without her any more.  It is such a joy watching her grow in "wisdom and stature."  Every day we thank God for her and for letting us be the ones who get to help her grow up to be the person He created her to be.

Way to go Hannah! 
We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Since making the last post, I've been thinking and pondering and I'm going to try to put my thoughts into words.  Though the wait has been long, it has been so worth it to get that message saying that Andrew is ready.  Would he have been ready in October (when we originally hoped to travel until we found out we had to re-do our home study) or in December (when we thought we would travel after we had to re-do our home study) or even last month?  God knew how long it would take to prepare Andrew and to prepare us.  Many times in the past few months we have felt like we were losing precious time with our son even as we said, "Not our will, but Yours be done Father."  It has not always been easy to trust, but right now, I (Lois) can say with confidence, that when we finally do meet our son, the timing will be perfect.  For those of you who are waiting on God, please trust that He is not idle; He is working out the details, making everything just right.  You don't know how He is working in your heart and the hearts of others to accomplish His best.  Please put your trust in Him and wait for Him to finish what He's doing.  In the mean time, He will give you a testimony that will bring Him glory and benefit others going through something similar.  (Thanks Pastor Dennis, for preaching that so often!)

Of course, there are other spiritual applications here.  As I wrote in the last post, Jesus is waiting for His Travel Approval to come and get us, but He's not concerned about the wait.  He knows that there are some who are not ready to travel yet.  If there is anyone reading this blog who is not ready, would you consider giving your heart to Him today?  He is ready for you to become a part of His family.  No matter how long it takes, we can be certain that He is coming because He said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18).

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Overdue Update on Andrew!

You are probably wondering the same thing that everyone else is wondering.  The number one question we are asked is,“When do you travel?” Even Andrew’s orphanage sent David a message earlier this week asking us when we were coming to get him. Well the answer to that question is...we still don’t know.  So what has been happening during the past five months?  (Has it really been that long?) 
Here's what has been going on and where we are now.

• Our home study was finished in early Sept. and sent to USCIS (Homeland Security). It took us longer to finish the home study than we hoped as we updated all of our financial, medical and family information, read a 1000 pages of books, and completed ten hours of on-line training, but it was good to be reminded of the needs and adjustments that Andrew might have as we bring him home.
• In October we updated our fingerprints and on October 20, USCIS updated our approval to bring a child into the USA. We shaved a couple of weeks off of our wait by "walking-in" to the FingerPrint location 2 weeks early, trusting that God would go before us and give us favor; he did :-)
• Once we had those approvals, we sent all of the paperwork to Lifeline Children’s Services, our agency in Alabama, who made sure we had all of the correct approvals, stamps and seals from various governmental departments. They sent it to the Chinese consulate in Houston who gave it their stamp of approval. Then, the whole dossier was sent to China just before Thanksgiving.
• We were LID on December 1. That just means our dossier was logged into the system at the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).
• Now we are waiting on our official Letter of Acceptance (LOA) to come from China. We have been waiting 64 days, and know that it could come any time. Most families are waiting between sixty and ninety days, though some people have gotten theirs in 40 days and some have had to ait 140 days. If there is a rhyme and reason, no one seems to know what it is. We have heard that families reusing paperwork from a previous adoption are taking a little longer, and we are reusing Hannah’s paperwork.

Once we get our LOA, we will sign it and send it back to China.  Then we'll have to wait for Travel Approval and an appointment date to get Andrew's visa at the American Consulate before we can buy our plane tickets. So when will we travel?  February?  Probably not.  March?  April?  We don't really know, but we do know the One who knows and we know the time is closer than it was :-). We had hoped to travel by now, but God has other plans. We know that we are waiting on HIM and NOT on the Chinese government. Just as with the wait for Hannah, we take heart from Isaiah 40:31. We are putting our hope in the LORD and allowing Him to give us strength.

One thing we have wondered over and over during all these months was what Andrew has been thinking about all of this.  Last August we sent him a package with gifts and picture album of our family; so, we assumed he knew about us, but we wondered, "Is he excited or dreading it?"  When we got the email from the orphanage through Angela at Ladybugs N Love, the group that sent the birthday cake for Andrew, David wrote back to tell them we will be there as soon as we can and to ask why they are asking and if Andrew is okay.  Angela responded with this, "“I talked with the orphanage today and forwarded your message. They said nothing wrong with your son. They were asking this only because he asks the staff when his family is coming for him whenever he sees the staff. They just wanted to have something to tell him. He is ready. I asked the orphanage to tell him that his dad and mom misses him very much and will come as soon as they can."  What a precious gift God has given us to let us know that Andrew is ready and waiting for us to come and get him!  (Hold on Andrew; we would be there tomorrow if we could.  We'll be there as soon as we can.)

It seems like we have been waiting a long time, but we know the wait will not be forever. God put things into perspective for me one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. During the welcome, I was telling some friends that we were on day 46 of our wait when I heard someone say, “She’s counting the days.” As I went back to my seat thinking, “Yes, we are counting the days and really looking forward with excitement to bringing Andrew home," I wondered, "Is Jesus counting the days until He gets to come get us?  He already has LOA (Letter of Acceptance) and is waiting for His TA (Travel Approval).  What a gotcha day that will be when we all get to go to our new home that He is preparing for us.