Thursday, October 30, 2014

the struggle is real, but the payoff is unimaginable

Over the past year, I am thankful to say that I have started to find my purpose. If you had told me this time last year that I would be well into the process of adopting a little girl from China, I would have laughed and said you were crazy. It is a tall order to be someone's parent who you did not birth and to raise, care for, nurture, love, discipline, laugh/cry with, and spend thousands of dollars like he/she was your very own. Ha! That is quite hilarious just thinking about it now.

"What's that, God? You want me to do what?! How?! With what money?! I don't have the mental or emotional strength to do that. You have lost your mind, God. But I want a child who is my own flesh and blood. I want... I want... I want..."

After my doubtful rant to God spilling everything to Him about how I could not do X, Y, Z because of A, B, C reasons, He reminded me that I was right. I could NEVER do this on my own. In fact, Daniel and I together could NEVER adopt with just the two of us. It is through Him that we find our strength and motivation to begin the adventure of our lifetime...

Over the course of the last 11 months, Daniel and I have been paid remarkable compliments commending our selfless act of adopting. "You will be great parents." "Paisley is one blessed little girl to have parents like you." "She will bring so much joy to yours lives." "What a wonderful thing you are doing."

As completely flattering as those compliments are for both Daniel and me to hear (by the way, thank you for each and every one of those), honestly not one of them phase us. We appreciate them; don't get me wrong, but we aren't focused on how we can change the world. We can't take credit for this adoption, because honestly it wasn't our first choice. In fact, we fought for it to not happen at all. And I am ashamed to say that, because look at what we would be missing if we stood our ground and said "no" to God. This may come off sounding arrogant, but please hear my heart. Nothing about this adoption is about us and the type of people we are. We simply told God "yes" and "we obey" and now He is moving mountains. We give Him the glory through the good times, bad times, easy times, and hard times.

And the hard times are coming even though Daniel and I have been thoroughly trained about adopted children by reading books, watching videos, and going through countless slideshows. Separately, we have completed roughly 20+ hours of training during our home study process. We still have one more conference to attend before we travel so we'll be well over the 20+ hour mark before too long. For me the most surprising thing to learn about adoption is that coming home with a new family member will be more difficult than we can imagine and to expect for things to not be sunshine and rainbows right away. You're probably thinking "Oh, c'mon, Leslie. I think you are over exaggerating. All kids are the same and deal with similar kid-like issues. You will have to discipline with a firm hand, and everything will be fine." To that I say, "Will it though? Have you sat down with adoptive families and listened to their struggles with their new family member? Have you seen the hurt and love in the parents' eyes as they pour out their heart about not feeling like a good enough parent to their child?" You see, I have.

Most adoptive parents don't vocalize their struggles to the non-adoptive parent world, because adoptive issues are on a different (not higher, but just different) playing field than biological children issues. It's hard for someone who has never parented an adopted/foster child to realize that the misbehavior from the child is connected to their time in an orphanage/being abandoned. Furthermore, it is even harder to know exactly how to treat these behaviors since most adoptive parents grew up within their biological families and can't relate to how the adopted child is feeling. Honestly, it terrifies the stew out of me to not know exactly what my child will need from me and how I will be able to fix it. And all of these "things" that I mention aren't referring to the basic needs, but I am talking about the emotional and mental damage that has been done due to the fact that she was without a family during the most important developmental years of her life. It absolutely breaks my heart.

Why am I saying all of this? Why now? Why so doom and gloom? Why so negative? Because it is the reality that we may face. I am a fool to think everything will be "fine" and she will come to America, and it will be like she has always been our child. Do we pray every single day for the hard times to be minor and for Paisley to be "well" emotionally, mentally, and physically? You better believe it!  I have never prayed so hard and long for something in my life. And if I could ask a selfish favor of you, I would ask that you would pray for the same please. Pray for Paisley's emotional state, her mental development, and her physical health and well-being. Even though we were given a little information about her medical special needs, we won't fully know her physical needs until she is in America to be checked out. There is a huge possibility that she will face bigger issues than the ones we have read about from her medical file. We trust that her medical needs remain small and correctable once we bring her home, but I am scared beyond my control.

One more favor please. Could you pray for Daniel and me? It's been a long road, and we are closing in on our travel dates. The struggle to remain focused on the task at hand is a daily challenge. I am so thankful that God has revealed our daughter to us so soon, because we would just now be in the matching part of the process if we had taken the conventional way.

As always, thank you; thank you; thank you for being so supportive and full of encouragement! Your words and prayers are what keeps our spirits up and affirms that we are doing God's purpose. Just know every sweet compliment you pay to us, we send straight to Him. Our adoption isn't about us. It is about Him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Emerald Grande Resort 2-night stay drawing (updated)

This fundraiser has ENDED.

We've been blessed to know some very generous people who have helped us raise money to bring Paisley home.  Some of these people are family and friends, but there have been others who are friends of family and friends.  Then there are those who are complete strangers who have given from the pure goodness of their hearts.  You talk about a humbling experience.  All gifts still humble us to our core.  Thank you.

When we were approached by my mom to give away a 2-night package in a 2-bedroom condo** at the beautiful Emerald Grande (EG) in Destin, FL, Daniel and I were speechless.  Frankly, we are quite envious of this giveaway since we have never stayed there ourselves, but we have toured and visited the EG often since my mom works there.  The units are beautiful and overlook the Destin Harbor.  There are a number of restaurants and shops located in the HarborWalk Village, which next to the EG, and driving isn't necessary. 

Also included in this giveaway package is a 6-hour deep-sea fishing trip for 2 aboard the Swoop, $40 EG gift card (to use at the Grande Vista Restaurant, gift shop, or at the EG bar) and a goody bag of gifts from the spa.  The total package retails $1,350! 

Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village in Destin, FL

So how much? 
Tickets for this extravagant package are just $20.  Yes, $20 a ticket.  You can email, text, or fb message us with your ticket order.  We will then send you a picture of your ticket(s).

The giveaway will run until Friday, December 5th, and the winner will be drawn on Saturday, December 6th. 

Emerald Grande 2-night stay in a 2-bedroom condo

6-Hour Deep-Sea Fishing for 2 aboard the Swoop

EG Spa Gifts

Retail Value of the Emerald Grande Stay Package
2-night stay in a 2-bedroom condo:           $1,100
Gift Card:                                                  $40
Swoop Deep-Sea Fishing for 2:                    $150
Spa Retail Gifts:                                        $60
Total:                                                      $1,350

**Terms and Conditions:  Reservations must be made within 2 weeks of use.  Seasonal restrictions apply.  Reservations based on space and availability and are not valid over holidays, holiday weekends, or peak season.  Valid until May 31, 2015.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

now the waiting part begins

It's official!  If you haven't heard, we are officially DTC as of 9/30! 

DTC?  Dossier to China

Dossier?  Our dossier is a collection of 13 documents, which includes our home study report, medical results, background checks, pictures of our family and house, extremely detailed financial information, various letters we have written, and other Daniel and Leslie Todd personal information.  We, essentially, have been working on gathering for our dossier since the very beginning of our adoption journey.  It's weird to think that the bulk of frantically gathering of documents is over.  As big of a step as DTC is, we are still roughly 4-6 months out from travel.

Now to the waiting part.  So what does this mean now that we are DTC?  Where do we go from here?

The next step we are waiting for is LID (logged in date, approved on 10/15), which takes roughly 3-4 weeks from DTC.  This means that the CCCWA (China's Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption) has reviewed our dossier and entered in our information into their adoption system.  Once the LID is received, this is essentially when the matching process begins. 

However, since we are already matched, then we will immediately go into waiting for our LOA (letter of acceptance) for Paisley.  The LOA is different from the LOI (letter of intent) that we mailed off in May.  The LOI states that we are intending on adopting Paisley, but nothing is officially official as of yet.  We received PA (pre-approval) from China on 6/19 stating that Paisley is "on hold" for us to adopt.  Once we received PA, the CCCWA gave us a 6-month deadline to send our dossier to them, which we did.  YAY! are you keeping up?  It's a lot to follow and process.  We know.  Our entire lives revolve around these terms and acronyms.

Now back to the LOA.  Once we are LID, then begins our LOA wait, which takes anywhere from 60-90 days.  (Honestly, the LOA can last longer than 90 days.  There are families as you are reading this that have been waiting on LOA for longer than 90 days.  Please pray for these families as this step in the waiting process is long and extremely painful.)  The LOA states that we accept to adopt Paisley as our child.  Once we receive LOA, then we are roughly 8 weeks (or longer) from travel.

whew.  That is a lot.  Frankly, that isn't even close to the end of the process once we receive LOA.  As you can see by our official Lifeline timeline, we are not really close to being halfway even though we are starting to pick up some steam.  It is a lot of hurry up and wait.

We still covet your prayers for the process, waiting part, and financial obligations.  We've applied for a few grants so far and we continue to apply for grants.  We hope to hear something soon about those.  Thank you so much for your prayers over the past 11 months.  There have been hard days, easy days, sad days, happy days.  Adoption is a roller coaster of emotions and a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions.  Even though it is the hardest thing we've done with our lives thus far, we are honored and blessed we were chosen to raise this beautiful little girl.  We fall more in love with her every day.  Thank you for letting us share our journey to bring Paisley home with you!