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The Paperwork Marathon Just Became a Sprint

28 March 2018

For about four city blocks last Monday it really was a literal sprint.

Okay, well, across intersections it was … and some super intense (and possibly contagious) speed-walking in between.

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(Partial) Background

There is a deadline coming up. Another one. It’s vague, so I won’t bore you with the details. It will suffice to say that it’s a deadline that we didn’t even think applied to us a week ago, because our paperwork has not been logged in, in China.

Because we were anxiously waiting for our approval from Immigration. It was the last piece of paperwork. Then I would take it on the same round of government offices that I took everything else on a couple of weeks agoThen we can send it all to China.

That piece of paper, however, is allowed 90 days for processing. Which means it is due mid-May.

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Still, I offhandedly asked our Family Coordinator about this nebulous deadline, and our approximate position on the waiting list, and she recommended that I call the USCIS and ask for a status update.

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I can do that? They’re about to be really irritated that you told me I can do that.

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If they could give me a status update, our Coordinator could start to estimate some dates. This deadline would pass, but we’d have a better idea about which of the next deadlines we might be looking at.

That was Thursday. I said I would call Friday morning.

The Starting Gun

Friday morning I had an early meeting. Breakfast and coffee, meeting, and then I’ll call.

Mid-meeting the mail came. The box is on the house. You can hear the lid on the metal box squeak open and clang shut. Plus I have a five year old who thinks part of his duties involve heralding the arrival of the mail.

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MAIL’S HERE!

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I got up after my meeting to grab it and immediately caught the seal in the return corner of the bottom envelope.  Read more…

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We Might Be Closer Than We Thought

19 March 2018

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I got an email from our adoption agency last week and I swear my heart has been racing ever since. (Emphasis mine)

We are excited to announce that there is currently little to no wait time right now for LID families open to adopting a boy with commonly seen medical needs! … There is now little to no wait time for boys designated by China as “LID only” (minor medical needs). If your family is LID or getting ready to be and you are on the fence about adopting a boy, now is a great time to consider making changes to your waiting child application. It is also important to note that if you are building your dossier and are open to a boy, please work diligently to get your dossier completed and submitted ASAP!! We know that we still have more agency boy files coming, so there are more matching opportunities ahead for families in coming weeks!

I’m almost crying just re-reading it.

“LID” stands for “log-in date,” which essentially just means your dossier (the big, final stack of paperwork) has been officially received in China.

I responded with a few questions, one of which is where we are on the waiting list. It’s only been six months, so I assumed closer to the bottom of the list than the top (or the middle, best case, but I was almost afraid to hope for that). And I got this in reply:

As far as where you are on the waiting list, at this time we have very few families who have their dossiers logged-in and are open to adopting a boy, so once your family is logged-in, you will mostly likely have very few families waiting for a referral of a similar request ahead of you.

I have been hyperventilating ever since.

The next day we got this email (’cause we’re part of the China mailing list for our agency):

Good afternoon! We wanted to reach out again today to share about 4 more little boys who are in need of a forever family. … We understand that it is unusual to receive 2 referral announcements just hours apart, however, we do not want to delay sharing about these precious little ones in hopes that their files can be under review by families as soon as possible.

I scrolled through four pictures of three-year-old boys with, mostly, very minor medical needs/conditions.

I’ve been doing paperwork as fast as I can for six months, but all the while telling myself, “Early 2019 at best, woman. Don’t. Get. Excited.”

Buuut …  Read more…

Adoption and the Heart of the Father

12 March 2018

It astounds me how each new season of life reveals new facets and depths of God’s character and heart. It’s not always easy to put into words, but if you’ve experienced that beginning of a new chapter, you know what I mean.

New Seasons, New Revelations

You spend years in church and in worship and in the word, and you think you’re starting to understand … and then you get married. And you knew that Jesus is a bridegroom and the Church is his bride, but then you start living a reflection of one of those roles and lightbulbs start turning on.

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This is what it means to love someone—not just to feel warm feelings, but really love/serve. This is what it means to be committed to someone even on the days he/she drives you crazy. This is a new level of dying to self.

And then some more time goes by and you think you’re starting to understand … and then you become a parent. And you knew that God is a father and that spiritual re-birth is difficult, but then you starting living a reflection of that reality and more lightbulbs start turning on.

This is what it means to love someone—not just to feel warm feelings and commit to someone, but to really know—without hesitation—that you would die for someone (and, at first, for someone you don’t even really know yet). This is why trust is important, and this is how justice and love really do coexist. This is what it feels like to love someone more than you ever thought possible and know you can only really hope and pray that he/she comes to love you back. This is a new level of dying to self.

It amazes me even more than those experiences are never identical, and yet each one is an accurate reflection of the heart of God. A husband’s experience of marriage is very different, in some ways, from his wife’s. A father’s experience of birth is very different from a mother’s, and each has a different experience as a parent.

Each one comes to understand nuances that he/she could probably never put into words.

And so many people have experiences that others never will: the death of a child, the premature death of a spouse, a remarriage, step-children or step-parents … but in all of it we can draw closer to our God who has voluntarily experienced all of these things for us.

God is an Adoptive Parent Too

So of course I knew that adoption would be another chapter that God would use to teach me new things about him. If you had asked me, six months ago, if I expected to learn something about the heart of God through this process I would have said that yes, of course I do.

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But—just like I thought I knew a thing or two about being the bride of Christ before I become a bride, or the love of a Father before I had a child—I had no idea what I was in for.

I found this quote several months ago and I saved the poorly designed jpg it was chained to, because we were early in the adoption process and I very casually thought something like, “Yes. That is true. And good.”

My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.” — Derex Loux

At first it was simply one more encouraging thought. “If God did this to adopt me, how much more can I fill out paperwork?” Now, when I come back to it, it is still very encouraging, but (at the risk of sounding blasphemous, because, of course, I know that nothing I do for my Chinese son could ever come close to measuring up to a fraction of what Christ did for me), it’s also starting to feel empathetic.

In the same way that a parent gets a small, exclusive glimpse into the heart of the Father, the adoption process is definitely opening a small, exclusive glimpse into the heart of the Redeemer.

And I’m not yet sure how to put it into words, so if you’re still reading this, I’m sorry if it ends on an anti-climatic note for now.

  • I can tell you that I find it more outrageous than ever that a God who exists outside of time would willingly constrain his heart to a life and a redemptive process that takes time.
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  • I can tell you that I sing along with lyrics like, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, Coming after me …” with a new sense of awe, and occasionally a bit of embarrassment that he would do anything like this for my pathetic heart.
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  • I can tell you that I am beginning to understand, maybe, what was so scandalous and weird about the idea of God grafting the Gentiles into his family.

But the rest of it still leaves me speechless. And I know we still have so, so far to go.

Status and Updates

The latest on the actual process:

  • Paperwork — Currently waiting on approval from Immigration Services. Probably a week or two. Then we take that paperwork for one more round of certification and authentication, and then everything goes to China.
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  • Grants — Lots of applications turned in and lots more to go. So far one decision was made, but not in our favor. The others are still in their review processes.
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  • Fundraisers — Our MudLOVE campaign (which has been AWESOME) wraps up this week! We met our campaign goal, but it would be cool if we hit 150% before it’s over! 50% of the money goes to our adoption (or 100% of donations through the campaign page), and it will all go straight to our agency to help pay for the next round of fees when we send paperwork to China in the next few weeks.
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    Our PayPal page is still open as well. 100% of donations there will help us pay off fees and costs that we’ve had to put on our credit card.
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  • Prayer requests — Favor with grant organizations and government offices, miraculous provision, peace and safety over our son, honesty and compassion in his caretakers, comfort and peace for his biological parents.

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Photo credits
Patrick Tomasso
Annelies Geneyn