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The Paperwork Sprint Just Became a Tightrope (What I Didn’t Tell You Last Week)

5 April 2018

So last week, I (literally) ran through downtown Chicago in order to get paperwork certified, copied, an authenticated … with 90 seconds to spare. It was very exciting.

And by “exciting,” I mean, “nerve-wracking and stressful.”

Update: This has since become the conclusion to a crazy, wild ride. God did the impossible in five business days and we will never forget it. The three parts of this story are here:

I told you there was a deadline coming up. And that was true.

I also told you it was vague, and implied that the details would bore you, which was … less true. It was vague in the sense that its ultimate outcome and the relevance of it were in question. But that’s a stretch. And you definitely would not have been bored by the details.



Because the details have a very sweet Chinese face and name (that I am not allowed to share yet).

The Truth About the Deadline

Last week, I gave some brief background about this deadline that sent me dashing through the city. What I didn’t tell you was that this “nebulous deadline” was actually one particular boy whose photo, in an email, stood out to us.

We didn’t think much of it, and wrote it off as, “Well he’s a cute kid,” because when we got that email there was zero possibility of us being matched with this kid. Our agency sends this kind of email every month, highlighting children that did not get matched to families that month, so people who have their paperwork logged in (not us) can ask to see their files and so the rest of us can pray for them.

Still, I asked what happens to him (and two other boys in the same email) if they don’t get matched (because I’m a glutton for punishment or something … I don’t really know why). That kicked off the conversation about calling Immigration the morning that Immigration was in our mailbox instead.

That conversation was, initially, about another boy from the same email. His file and current condition more closely matched our application, and our Coordinator told me that if we want to pursue that boy, she would see about this aggressive time frame. He matched our file, while the first one that I asked about—the one that initially caught our attention—has a minor condition that’s not listed in our file. That would take an extra step of paperwork to overcome, and we’re looking at a nearly impossible timeframe already.

That was Friday.

By the time I emailed her, she was gone for the weekend. I said I would work on the aggressive timeline over the weekend and Monday morning, and we would pray about the other boy, but … I still asked what it would take to see the first boy’s file. I knew we didn’t have time, and that it would be a miracle if we even got things processed in time for this other boy who already matches our file, but I dropped that first boy’s name in the email one more time. Just in case.

When she got back to me Monday, she included our social worker in the conversation, who asked some questions and gave her official blessing on us pursing that first boy just in time to change the name on our inquiry.

I told you that all of the rush last week was to get our paperwork turned in one day before this deadline, but I didn’t tell you that deadline was the day that the file for this one particular boy would be removed from our agency’s database (where only they can see and access it) into the shared system (where every adoption agency placing children from China can see it) — essentially, the day that we lose him.



Our deadline was Monday. Tuesday we would lose him. 

The Second Lap of the Paperwork Sprint

I dropped off paperwork at the Chinese Consulate on Monday, to be expedited so I could pick it up Wednesday. (Shout out to the amazing company/people I work for who are 100% behind us in this, and totally let me flex my hours around all this stuff.)

Wednesday morning, the Man Cub and I drove back to Erie Street, picked up our last two pieces of authenticated paperwork, and took them to the post office to overnight to our agency.



Thursday I got an email with a FedEx number. Our dossier was processed and on it’s way to China. It should get the Children’s Center in Beijing on Monday, where it would be logged in so our agency could lock this one particular boy’s file for us.

Friday our agency’s office was closed for the holiday. So for three days we applied for grants, and completed our Rehabilitation and Nurture Plan paperwork in faith and hope, and watched the red dot on the FedEx map move from Virgina

… to California

… to Alaska

… to somewhere in China that’s not Beijing.

Monday morning—D-day—it was in Beijing, but the red dot was still not a green checkmark.

T Minus Zero Seconds and Technical Difficulties

Late Monday morning the red dot was still hanging out in Beijing.



In the meantime, I tried emailing all of the paperwork to our agency and our Coordinator kept emailing me because she wasn’t getting it. I resent the email. I replied to the email thread. I broke it up into six smaller emails. I sent the emails to one person with no CCs.


I did some Googling and found their hosting provider and checked a few “is it down” websites. Their email servers were having issues. Nothing was getting through.

After lunch the red dot in Beijing was still a red dot and the emails were still not being received.

Mid-afternoon one of my meetings got cancelled and I had a 20 minute window, so I called. Email was just back up (our Coordinator’s inbox was now flooded with a dozen versions of the same information). She was working on paperwork.

She’s also been watching the red dot. She talked to their courier, who confirmed the paperwork was delivered to the Children’s Center. It’s there, but it has not been processed.

It was already Tuesday in Beijing. 3:30 am, to be exact. I checked.



This one particular file was still in our agency’s database, however, which meant it hadn’t been released to the shared system yet. When does that happen? We don’t really know. Could be a manual process when their staff comes in, in the morning. Could be an automatic process at a set time, but we don’t know what time that might be – just that it’s not midnight, evidently.

But there’s nothing we can do now anyway. The agency office on the east coast was about to close for the day and it’s the middle of the night in Beijing. All we can do is wait, and Tuesday morning we will find out what happened in China while we were sleeping.

All evening I bounce back and forth between the embodiment of faith and peace, and the personification of anxiety. I am confident and resting in God’s perfect plan for an hour or so, and then I am despondent. And then I am calm and full of faith. And then I am fidgety and tense. We get to bed. We pray. I land on trust and peace, and sleep.

Tuesday Morning (is Tuesday Afternoon in Beijing)

Tuesday morning I am hovering over my email.



There was one unopened email from Monday titled, “LOI Documentation.” I know it is all the instructions and samples for completing our Letter of Intent, and—although the LOI is due Wednesday—I have to wait. I don’t know if I can stand to write China a letter of intent regarding our desire to adopt this one particular boy … only to find out that it will never be sent because our dossier didn’t get logged in on time.

At 9:51 am — 10:51 pm in Beijing — my inbox chimes.


I am ecstatic to share with you that our liaison was able to communicate with the CCCWA throughout the night, locate your dossier, get it logged in, and get your family’s locked with [name]!! You and Timothy will have until tomorrow at 2pm EST to complete the rest of your LOI documents in order for us to submit it within our 72 hour window. Once your LOI has been officially submitted, your family’s dossier will begin being reviewed for your Letter of Acceptance to be issued!


I cry a little every time I read that. I don’t know how it happened—I don’t know how his file wasn’t released into the shared system during China’s Tuesday business hours, or where the dossier was when they found it, or how they found it—except that with God all things are possible.



What’s Next?

Our Letter Of Intent was submitted on time, and we expect a Letter Of Acceptance from China in 1.5 to 3 months. Then we apply to the U.S. Immigration office again for final approval to travel.

In the meantime, we have some more training and next-step paperwork to complete.

And fundraising and grant applications, because while we’re very excited that everything is moving so much faster than we anticipated … we’re also making payments a lot closer together than we anticipated. We know, though, that if God’s behind this (and if we ever wondered before, we don’t anymore), he will make a way in every way.

How Can I Help?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: We could never do this without our awesome community.

  • Pray — At our next event, or after we get our LOA and I’m allowed to talk about him online, I’ll tell you about all the amazing ways that God has answered our prayers for our son. If you’re praying for us, please pray favor on some of these grant applications and fundraising efforts. Please also continue to pray for our boy; we’re especially praying these days that God would begin to prepare his heart for the biggest, hardest transition of his life.
  • Give/buy — Our page is always open. We’re using PayPal instead of a crowdfunding page because there are no fees to send money to family and friends. Our t-shirts are available for 17 more days!
  • Share — If the t-shirt isn’t your thing, could you “heart/love” the posts on Facebook (hearts get more algorithm attention than Likes) and/or share it with your people?
  • Come over — I’m trying to pack in a few extra hours at work every day. If you’re local, and you want to hang out with Kid Therst for a couple hours before 5:00, after school or something, let me know. Just having someone to play Legos and get water or walk to the park if it’s nice out, so I can be 100% focused for a couple solid hours, would be super helpful.

Thanks, fam!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Annemarie permalink
    6 April 2018 8:15 AM

    I cried as I read this. Clearly this little guy who captured your attention and then your heart is meant to be in your family. So awesome that God moved in so many ways to confirm that and to make it possible. I love this so much and I’m so excited for your family.

    • Lex permalink*
      7 April 2018 1:32 PM

      I cried while I typed it! 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Gloria permalink
    6 April 2018 9:37 PM


  3. Jennifer permalink
    7 April 2018 8:37 AM

    I can’t even wrap my head around all of those deadlines and documents. You are astounding in your tenacious effort. With God all things are possible ❤

  4. Bianca permalink
    12 June 2018 7:52 PM

    Wish I could help more! So very excited and proud to support your family’s efforts to bring your son home! ❤️

    • Lex permalink*
      13 June 2018 10:06 PM

      Thank you so much for all your love and support! ❤

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