Sunday, June 29, 2014

straight ahead: sleepless nights

Do you know how hard it is to sleep at night knowing your child is half a world away?  Parenthood is filled with hard situations and circumstances on a daily basis.  Pregnancy is something I have yet to experience personally, but from what I have heard from those who have experienced it, pregnancy has good moments along with challenges at times.

The same goes with adoption only on a different scale.

Before we received PA (pre-approval) for Paisley, I imagined how hard its would be for me to leave her at daycare, go to big school, or even spend the night at family's houses.  To leave my little girl somewhere for any length of time without me was heart-breaking.  I never want her to be away from my side once we travel to get her.  However, I didn't fully think through was how hard it was going to be to now wait months before we will receive our travel assignment in order to go get her.  We are looking at 9-12 months before we will be able to see that sweet face in person.  I am already starting to experience restless nights sleeping, because our daughter is living on the other side of the world.  Let me put this in perspective:  she is currently 13 hours ahead of us.  When we are asleep, she is awake.  When we are awake, she is asleep.  And I have to go several months like this?  Knowing that our little girl is not with us?

I like to think she is safe in her orphanage being taken care of by nannies who love her as their own, but frankly that is naive of me to think that.  Daniel and I may never know what abuse (prayfully, none at all) she has/will experience during her time living in an orphanage.  We can't assume that she has lived a life of ease filled with days of arts-n-crafts, games, learning the alphabet, singing songs, being loved on.  Orphans are the lowest priority.  It is sad, but it's the truth.  Sure, these children are feed, put to bed, and clothed (for the most part), but they don't experience a childhood like you and I did.  For this very reason, my heart aches for Paisley to be here with us.  To be with her mom and dad who want her, to care for her, to love her, to provide for her, to spoil her, and to make sure she is never alone again.

Orphans live a rough life so why would we think they have it made?  They didn't chose this life, but someone else did for them.  They want to be loved and cared for.  They want to grow up and better the world by doing something meaningful.  Kids have dreams.  Big dreams.  Honestly, I am grateful more than anything to be given the opportunity to make a difference in one child's life.  And the sleepless nights will be more than I would like for them to be until we can bring her home.  However, each sleepless night will be completely worth it in the end.  So bring on the added wrinkles and dark, baggy eyes.  They are for our daughter.

So will you join us?  Please join us in praying for a few things.

1. Paisley.  Please pray for her, her health, her mental state, and getting prepared for a new life.
2. Daniel and me.  Please pray for rest, health, focus, motivation to do while we wait, and to share our story.
3. Paisley's nannies.  Please pray for the women (and men) who will care for her.  Pray for gentle words, touch, and care as they look after our daughter.
4. Funds.  It's sad that money is such a huge part of adoption, but it is.  And what's even more sad is knowing just how many families would love to adopt but can't due to the lack of funds.  Thankfully, God has provided for our adoption so far.  We have faith He will continue.  Please pray for us to think of new fundraisers to start, for people to participate in those fundraisers, and for others to spread the word about the fundraisers.  Without money, we aren't able to bring Paisley home.
5. The rest of our adoption process (mostly the paperwork/approval stage).  Please pray for ease in getting the rest of our documents completed and approval by both the US and Chinese governments.  Pray there will be no hold-ups and our documents will be approved with ease.

Like we always say, thank YOU for the continued prayers and support.  You are changing lives.  May God bless each of you for what you are helping to accomplish.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Let me introduce you to our daughter, Paisley

Tuesday, May 6 blog post is one that I wrote not only as a prayer, but a cry to God asking that He give us a glimpse of the face who we will have the honor to be her parents. It's silly to think that of all the things that I was concerned about that knowing our little girl's face was so high on the list. I almost felt ashamed to ask for prayers to deal with not knowing since pregnant mothers can't see pictures of their children until they are born unless you count those 4D pics, which kind of scare me to a certain extent. Five months of wondering who she will be was literally making me restless that I would wake in the middle of the night and pray and dream about her sweet little face.

His command is simple: ask and ye shall receive. That's exactly what He has done. He has heard YOUR prayers for Daniel and I to see the face of our daughter within a week's time of May 6. On Monday, May 12th, He brought the sweetest little girl's picture to my computer screen. After discussing this little girl with Daniel that evening, I emailed Karisa, our social worker, to see her file. Karisa emailed us back on Tuesday to say she was not currently on hold with another family if we wanted more time to study her file. Since Daniel and I wanted to make sure we prevented placing kids' files on hold every other day, we felt like placing this little girl's file "on hold" was the step in the right direction.

(Background: You see, back in January (actually during the snow/ice storm), we placed our first child's file on hold. We spent 4 days praying, researching, and dreaming over this little girl's file. We were heartbroken when we discovered she wasn't the child for us. In fact, we were so consumed with this little girl that we asked to have her file placed on hold a few months later, but found out she was on hold with another family. Needless to say, we take an "on hold" file very seriously.)

Thus began our one week of placing this little girl's file "on hold". And what happened during that week was truly God. A peace about her and her medical circumstances came over both of us. We know there will be difficult days with any child we adopt, but there was something about this little girl that all we wanted to do was protect her, care for her, love her, make her ours. The thought of losing this little girl made both of us ill.

So what did we do next? We emailed Karisa to see what needed to be done about submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) for this little girl. Since we are currently in the home study phase still, there were things that needed to be done in order for this to happen. We spent the next week getting our physicals along with the results, completing the necessary paperwork and letters, and stressing about turning everything into China on time.  We weren't promised a lot of time with her file due to certain circumstances so we were racing against an imaginary clock.

On Friday, May 30th we sent our LOI to China for this little girl.  Let me just say that we spent nearly 3 weeks waiting for the phone call that would change our life forever.

At 10AM on Thursday, June 19, I received the call from Karisa telling us we received Pre-Approval (PA) for our daughter.  What a sense of relief it was to hear those words!  She is ours.  We already love her so much!  We are beyond thrilled to go get her.

Thank you so much for the continued prayers!  Your prayers are changing lives especially for a little girl who now has a mommy and a daddy who love her very much, something she has never known until today and she will never experience not having a mommy and a daddy ever again.  We look forward to sharing more about her with you!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Sing Off Challenge

It's time for the Summer Sing Off Challenge, where two $100 Visa gift cards are up for grabs!*  See below for the official rules. Happy singing!

1.  You nominate any person or group of people (family, friends, co-workers, enemies, etc) to karaoke or lip sync a song of your choosing on video to be posted on The Todds Adopt Facebook page for a $30 donation (by check, paypal, or Anchored in Faith website).

2.  In order to nominate someone to make a music video, message The Todds Adopt (or email Daniel with the person's contact information along with the song you want them to sing. Then we will contact the nominated person about how to submit the video singing/lip syncing your song of choice. If the person agrees and the video is posted to The Todds Adopt Facebook page, then your donation of $30 is then due.  However, if the person does not agree to submit a video, your donation is null.

Contest Winners: Each video is assigned a number (1 through 35) once posted. Once we receive the 35th video, then the public voting begins for the two $100 Visa gift cards (voting is based on the number of likes). The first round of voting narrows the videos down to the top 3, which will be a week of voting. Once the top 3 videos are decided, then the final round of voting begins, but time is limited to 72 hours. At this time, the winners of the Visa gift cards will be given to the video with the most likes: one gift cart to the donator/nominator and one gift card to the singer.

*Note:  The contest will not take place until 35 videos are posted to The Todds Adopt Facebook page.

 As you can see, strategy is key in who you nominate and what song they will sing.

Confused about how this contest works?  Here is an example:
Jackson nominates Tyson to sing Baha Men "Who Let the Dogs Out?".  Tyson agrees and makes a video using his smart phone singing the song.  He might even throw in a couple of dances moves for votes.  Once posted to The Todds Adopt Facebook page, Jackson sends his donation of $30.

Now get to nominating and making some entertaining music videos!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Todd - Party of 3: an update about our adoption journey

As you may or may not have seen this past week, we are well on our way to completing the home study portion of our adoption journey. We have one conference call interview left to discuss the workbook we each completed after watching 4-5 hours of online videos. If you are keeping up at home with the hours of education we have consumed, you're looking at 20+ hours. This includes reading the book, The Connected Child, completing a 10-hour online Hague Adoption course, watching 4-5 online videos of an expert panel of Lifeline employees, and completing a workbook of what we learned during the education portion. I'm not going to lie and say that it was a piece of cake, or that I even enjoyed it most days. I mean, who enjoys reading about the background of kids who have started their lives in a tramatic experience? I questioned my abilities to parent a child, much less raising an adopted, special needs child through our education training. And not knowing exactly who our daughter is and what her needs might be didn't help comfort me at all. I felt defeated before we were given the chance to bring her home.

Even though the education portion of the adoption process was not always my favorite "pick-me-up" portion of my day, it has been extremely helpful in knowing and preparing us for what may come our way. In some ways, it helped soften my heart and develop my love for these precious orphans that much more. We may not parent Paisley the "traditional way" as we will our biological children, which might not be right 100% of the time in the eyes of some, but we do promise to raise her in a safe, loving, caring, nurturing home where she will never feel alone again. Even though she was birthed by another, she will always be our daughter. I am a firm believer that this journey Daniel and I are on now to find her is just the very tip of what is to come for our growing family. We aren't just changing her life; she is changing ours.

Once the home study interviews are complete, Lifeline begins to compile our draft for our dossier (which is the official packet of our lives) to send to China. This process will take about a month of compiling and revising before Daniel and I will authorize its completion and accuracy. Meanwhile, we will submit our 800A paperwork (asking for permission to adopt outside of the US) to the US government, which is needed for the dossier. This takes about 2-3 months to approve and our final piece of our dossier will be ready to go! Once sent to China, it will take about 3 months for the dossier to be approved, which means we will be officially Logged In (LID, meaning logged into the China adoption system). Essentially, this is when the matching process begins. If you are keeping up at home, this puts our timeline around the end of the year (maybe sooner) before we can move onto the next steps.

Next steps? Yes, there are more steps after our dossier is accepted, and honestly, I can't remember exactly what comes after that. If you look at the projected timeline in the Lifeline manuel, it is extremely overwhelming to see all of the different kinds of documents that have to be approved and how long it takes to approve each kind. Just know that once we are dossier approved, travel will happen about 5-6 months later, even though we are only given approximately 2 weeks' notice for our official travel date. Will I be even more of a nervous wreck when the end of the year comes around not knowing EXACTLY when we are set to jet halfway around the world? Yes. However, I keep reminding myself that is very small compared to the big change about to take place in this little girl's life and our lives. Soon we'll be hearing "Todd - party of 3".