Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Moving Right Along

It's starting to hit us how soon we may be leaving.  Someone else in our group got travel approval after only 1 week instead of the 2&1/2 average.  We may just have a tad over a month before we leave (a little sooner possibly if we get travel approval much sooner than we think).  I'm getting a little nervous about coordinating all the details and packing for such a huge trip.  There's bound to be something we forget which may be a bigger deal when we're in China than some other places.  We're praying about details, details, details:

  •  that our luggage won't get lost
  •  that we can all stay relatively free of sickness (and that kids won't forget that they can't even brush their teeth with the tap water in China)
  •  for Tru to do well without us for so long
Most importantly, we're praying for Ellie Kay and her adjustment to us.  We pray she'll be able to sense our love for her (which has no language).  We're praying for her foster mother and for her heart and sadness she's bound to feel when she has to give EK up.  

Matt has jumped in on helping decorate Tru and Ellie Kay's room that they will be sharing.  I will try to post pictures when we're about done, but let me say that Matt is doing an awesome job and it's cute seeing him thinking girlie!  He's a FANTASTIC "boy Dad" and I know he's going to be just as good of a "girl Dad".  I can't wait to see him with her.    

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our adoption video

In case you missed it, when we were featured on Give1Save1, hear it is.  :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Next to last step complete!!!

We received notice today that our agency's staff has picked up our Article 5 from the Consulate in China and they will then deliver it to the CCCWA (the governmental division of China that regulates adoptions).  After that, we will probably receive travel approval around the second week of Sept I 'm thinking (permission to come get her).  Normally, families travel 10-21 days after travel approval, but apparently, we may not be able to travel sooner than Oct due to holidays.  We'll see once we get travel approval and our agency helps us work on details.  But for now, we're one step closer and there's only 1 more hoop to jump through.  After that, it's just buying plane tickets, booking hotels and hopping on a plane to China!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Q & A post

Since there are new folks visiting our blog this week from Give1Save1, we're doing a short and quick Q&A post.

How and when did Matt and Ashleigh meet? 
  •  We met when we were 15 years old while we were both campers at Horton Haven Christian Camp in Lewisburg, TN, which was about an hour away from where we were living at the time.  Little did we know we lived 10 minutes apart or so from each other.  Since we lived barely across the county line from each other we went to separate high schools.  

How long have you been married?
  • We have been married for 18 years.  We married very young and then we waited for Ashleigh to finish pharmacy school and residency before we started our family.  (For those doing the math, we were married when we were 12 ;).

Why are you adopting and how did you choose China?

What is a little known talent of Matt?

  • He can wiggle his ears!  Seriously!  

What do the boys think of their little sister coming?
  • I think the big boys were almost to the point they thought it would never happen.  Aidan (8) has heard his whole life about a baby sister in China.  Then, every time we thought we were next for a referral, it was delayed.  So, when it actually happened they were super pumped!  Now, they talk about her all the time - even little Tru!
Are you ready for your trip?
  • Not at all!  It will take us weeks to prepare and pack for the 4 of us to travel for over 2 weeks to China.   There are so many details and so much we need to take care of!  We need to really get moving on figuring out everything since we plan to travel in mid October.  We're in the research phase right now - figuring out things like what we need as far as supplies, phones, converters, access to internet so we can update family at home and check on little Tru since he'll be here with grandparents, etc, etc.   

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Give 1 Save 1

Well, the post featuring our family came up a little quicker than I thought (but it is Monday morning in China, right? ;).  We are the family for the week on!!  Again, we're very thankful for this opportunity.  The one correction to the blog post on the Give1Save1 post, is that we don't have a matching grant or anything, but we did choose to open an account through LifeSong so that people could get a tax deduction if they so choose.   

They also have our video up, which is a really quick version of our adoption story!!  We praise God for this little girl that he's brought into our lives.  We can say now that we are super thankful for this wait.  If we had the referral a couple of months earlier, we wouldn't have been referred Ellie Kay because she would have been too young.  God has had His hand on this little girl and her life from before conception knowing she had a family here in the US.  A few years into our wait, I really started questioning if we had been wrong and just had THOUGHT that God wanted us to adopt, so Matt and I really decided to just start praying about what direction to take.   Our big question was should we drop out of line or stay in the wait?  One morning after praying about this, I picked up my Bible and read "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west" (Isaiah 43:5).  I'm sure I'd read that verse before, but at that moment it was God speaking to me through his Word to stay the course.  We're so thankful we did!   Like everything else in our lives, He knows so much better than we do.  

In the meantime, we are praying daily for Ellie Kay - for nutrition, love, attention, mental stimulation, and that God will keep her safe.  We would love for anyone who thinks of her to pray for her as well.  Thank you!!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Another good week waiting on Ellie Kay (or "Ellie Tay" as Tru says)

We have had a good week this week.  It has been week #2 of school and week # "I have lost count" on waiting for Ellie Kay.  :)  I was able to meet with a sweet lady here in Memphis this week who recently adopted from the same province (Jiangxi), and she leant all sorts of helpful advice (Thanks Katherine!).  We also received a little updated info from our agency and know that EK is sitting up by herself per reports which is hopefully correct information.  (Babies adopted from China are often very developmentally behind since they don't normally have any belly or floor time).   

We also received some great news that we will be a featured family starting this coming week on Basically it's a blog that features a different family each week and asks its followers to donate $1 to the featured families to save 1 orphaned child.  It's such a cool concept!   We're so thankful for this opportunity!  To be a featured family, they recommended to submit a video, which we will post this coming week.  I'm not a super "techy" person, so the video took me all day a couple of weeks ago to create in IMovie, and it isn't perfect, but tells our story pretty succinctly in a short amount of time.  

In the meantime, the big boys are busy with school and soccer.  This is a pic of them in long sleeved shirts/jeans preparing to do one of their favorite past times - exploring in the woods (since we have quite a bit of poison ivy and they're quite allergic).  

 Tru has been busy learning new words and phrases and being the most adorable 2 year old on the planet!  He cracks me up every day with his mannerisms and language that sounds like it should be coming from a big boy instead of a little one (the product of having much older brothers).  

 Will update with our video on Monday!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

NVC letter received today!

It's hard to believe, but we got the copy of our NVC letter today.  Things seem to be moving pretty fast!  Our agency said they their rep in Guangzhou, China, will turn in all of our documents into the consulate/US embassy.  Now we're just waiting again for the next step, but we have another one down.

In the meantime, here's some pictures of my cutie pies!  

This is what happens when Lego loving boys find a turtle:

And when the little guy finds a mushroom:

And when he's entertained by the best ventroliquist on Earth - my Aunt Dale.  I bet your Elmo doesn't talk by himself!  :)

Here's our oldest with his favorite chicken, Crooked Toe.  She's the one chicken he daily feeds by hand.

Our first day of school with our traditional chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More Steps Along the Way

We received our official I797 (I800 provisional approval letter) in the mail yesterday.

I never imagined years ago that I would so excited one day to get a letter in the mail from the US Dept of Homeland Security, but each step is so exciting, because each step is one step closer.  Now, our next step is to get a copy of our National Visa Center (NVC) letter for Ellie Kay.  Evidently this step can take weeks for them to mail it to you.  So to get around that, you have to continually bug them with calls and emails until they email you a pdf copy of the letter.  This takes week off of your wait, so we're going to be the squeaky wheel for a few days until we have it in possession.  

So, if you look at the chart below we have now the first 3 steps down and working on step 4.  Last night I worked on reviewing dates of families who have gone before us and started averaging wait times at each step, so we think the timeline should be something like this:

  • NVC letter arriving on average about 8 days after I800 approval - around August 9th ?
  • Article 5 issued takes about 3 weeks - around August 30th?
  • Travel Approval - 2&1/2 weeks - around September 18th?

Then once we get Travel Approval,  theoretically we will travel in 10-21 days from then.  So, it looks like probably early October that we'll be traveling (hopefully).  However, the first week of October is China's "National Day" - basically a lot like our Fourth of July.  China's legal holidays are Oct 1-3 but celebrated by the people Oct 1-7.  Evidently, plane tickets and hotels and such are fairly expensive for that week, so we may be going the second week of October.   This is all assuming there are no major paperwork issues, mistakes, or snafus between now and then.  But, this is our best guess so far realizing all steps are out of our control for the most part.  

Lastly, we also got our  China visas delivered today for Matt, Jacob, Aidan and me.  We've all had passports for a while, but I've never gotten a visa so that whole process was new for me, and I was happy to finally get that squared away with visas all attached in our passports and ready to go!!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I800 provisional approval received

Thanks to anyone who was praying for our I800 approval!!  We were provisionally approved today, so hopefully it will come in the mail over the next few days.  There was a slight snag with the official red seal on China's "Letter of Seeking Confirmation  from Adopter" not showing up on the copy they were given, but the immigration officer I communicated with was fortunately super helpful and accommodating allowing our agency to fax her a scan from the original and she provisionally approved it the same day.  We often hear complaints about government workers and rarely the positives, so here goes a shout out to a super helpful lady who took her job seriously and did it well!!  Now we wait for a document review and an official I800 to come in the mail.

Prayer requests:
  • For the official I800 to come in the mail quickly
  • The next step - NVC letter - to likewise go smoothly and quickly