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Our Impossible Adoption Story

If you're looking for the unbelievable account of how "impossible" became "done" in 5 business days, start here.

Adoption Update: Travel Plans, Timelines, and Panic

6 August 2018

I owe you an update.

Everything We Were Waiting on is … Done

True to form, everything went super duper fast.

Last time I updated, we were waiting for our “Article 5” approval, which could have come any time from then (the 17th) to July 25. It came the next day, on July 18.

Then, we had to wait for Travel Approval, which could take, “up to three weeks.” Three weeks from the 18th would have been August 8. It came in three business days, on July 23.

Our agency was already putting together two travel groups for China when we got the call. We could leave August 15 or August 22. I wanted so badly to say the 15th, but I knew we would need that week – to prepare things at home, to hopefully get another grant in, to try one more fundraiser, to get my responsibilities at work handed off well, etc.

Travel Arrangements



Next we had to book airfare, which, of course, is more complicated than just booking airfare. I’ve purchased plane tickets before, but nothing is that easy.

We needed to arrange airfare, send the itinerary to the adoption agency so they could review and approve, and then book/confirm. Our coordinator recommended a couple travel agents that they frequently work with, and while I’m not generally one to use a third party for something I can do myself, I thought it was worth investigating.

I looked up both agencies and Adoption Airfare has a big “Get a Quote” button at the top of their homepage. (Excellent UI, guys.) I filled out the short form and in a few hours was talking to one of the most helpful, communicative individuals I’ve ever met in my life.

He found us an itinerary. I sent it to the agency. Our travel coordinator pointed out that we would be landing just before our first day of sightseeing. “You could go straight to your travel group, or you could miss your first day of sightseeing.” I didn’t want to do either of those things, so the travel agent moved some things around and we got all the thumbs ups.

We leave for China Tuesday, August 21 and we’ll be back Friday, September 7.  Read more…

Letters to My Sons, Part 1: The Gege

2 August 2018

My meatball. Man Cub. Baby Therst. Kid Therst. My “merciful gift from God.”

You are five-and-a-half years old and for the last (almost) year of your life we have been talking a lot about “brother.” One of my favorite parts of this whole crazy adventure has been watching you own China and then slowly fall in love with your “didi.”



Since we saw his face and read his file a few months ago, we’ve been talking about him even more. We’ve been telling people about him and getting excited about him and planning for him, and you have been right there with us.

But I know there’s something else happening in your heart too. Something you’re probably not fully aware of yet, although you will be in the coming months. I wish there was a way to prevent it, or even to establish a step-by-step plan for dealing with it, but I don’t think there is.

It started when we first got Jude’s file. I’ll never forget the moment. We sat around the table and I read the list of his developmental milestones off the computer. “Can recognize and count numbers. Can recognize basic shapes and colors. Can read some characters …”

We were excited—not because these were somehow outstanding achievements, but because they were normal. We hadn’t dared hope for “normal.”

But you made a calm, unaffected comment that shattered my heart:

“Huh. He’s better than me.

Daddy and I protested and explained and encouraged and hugged, although you didn’t seem too upset about it at the time.

Still, I saw it.

Several passing comments since then have reared their ugly faces, as though just to let me know they are still around.

And then the other night you laid in bed and asked me how I could still love you the same and also love Jude. Read more…

Adoption Update … ?

17 July 2018

“How’s everything going?”


adoption waiting


Our final paperwork is moving through offices in China. Still. We’re waiting for the Chinese government to approve our visit to come and pick up our son. They’ll send that approval to China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA, aka, “the Center”). That could happen any time up to the 25th.

Then, “up to three weeks” later (I’m not sure what the low end on that time estimate is.), we’ll get the official invitation from the CCCWA. Then we can book airfare and get visas.

So we’re waiting.


No one really likes waiting, right?


waiting period adoption


So I’m obsessively checking my email, hoping to see that notice that the paperwork has been sent to the CCCWA.

But even more, for now, I’m hoping to see a notice that a grant has been awarded. We’ve gotten several, “We regret to inform you …” emails and letters over the past couple weeks, but I have at least some hope for five applications that are still outstanding. They’re our last opportunities for substantial financial aid.

I hate the waiting. If I could board a plane tomorrow to go get him, I’d take out a new credit card or whatever just to make it happen.

But we need the time. For grant reviews and fundraising … and for a few things we need to put together at home … and for me to get work stuff transitioned to the noobs before I take leave.

But still.

The waiting.


Pray. Current prayer requests include:

  • Jude — It’s becoming more and more real to me that we’re about to put this kid through probably the most traumatic experience of his young life (that he’ll remember – I’m sure he doesn’t remember being abandoned at one month old). Please pray that God would prepare his heart and give us favor in his eyes.
  • The foster family — They’re very excited and very appreciative … but they’ve also raised this boy for four years and they love him. Pray comfort and peace and joy over them.
  • The paperwork — We’ve been drowning it in prayer for 11 months and we’re not about to get lazy about it now.
  • The money — God has a plan.
  • My Man Cub — He is mostly so so excited to have a brother … but he has also started to have the occasional moment when he asks me how it’s possible for me to love him the same and love Jude, or he asks if Jude will be better than him. We knew the reality of all those first sibling things would hit eventually, so we continue to pray for his little heart too.



We’re also hoping to find friends who will sponsor some of the crazy travel expenses we’re facing next. Once we get travel approval from the CCCWA, our agency starts booking consulate appointments and doctor appointments (in China) and hotels, etc.

They finalize our travel package invoice and it needs to be paid within 24 hours in order to make sure all those appointments get scheduled. And the remaining balance on my credit card won’t cover this one.

So we’re looking for sponsors who can give $30 or more this month, and we’ll write your name on an old-fashioned suitcase sticker!



I’ve been assembling our packing list (and a few things I know we’ll need when we get home) into an Amazon list (so I can redeem credit card reward points for Amazon gift cards *taps temple*). But when I joked about retailers not offering a “toddler/adoption registry,” someone got excited, which led to me explaining I already kind of have a list, which led to requests for the list.

So if you’re the type that likes really practical, hands-on stuff … knock yourself out. 😉


That’s it. Nothing terribly exciting, just waiting for someone, somewhere, to officially approve my family so I can get frantic again.

Thanks for going on the ride with me!


Adoption Update: Mixed Emotions, Suitcase Stickers, and New Projects

9 July 2018

“You must be so excited!”

I am. So excited.

And nervous. And frantic. And … tired.

I feel like I never give an adequate reaction when someone tells or ask about how excited I am. I usually sigh heavily and say something like, “I aaam … ” in that way that almost cues the other person to say, “But … ?”

Although they never do. Because that would be weird for them.

And every time I put some poor person through that awkwardness I tell myself I’m not going to do that again. “Next time, just get bubbly and bounce a little bit and shout about how excited I am. Just do it.” And I mean to.

But honestly, I’m too tired to force it.



am so excited. I really, really am. When I think about meeting Jude and the beautiful people who have taken care of him, when I think about holding his hand or (and I remind myself this probably won’t happen right away) hugging him, my pulse picks up and six to 10 weeks seems so long.

But then I think about all the things that we need to do in those 6 to 10 weeks, and it seems so fast and my pulse picks up in a different way.

I know God’s going to provide and get us through it, and I know it’s going to be awesome.

But we also want to make sure we’re doing what is in our hand to do, so I’m watching the financial gap, and working extra hours, and praying over outstanding grant applications, and figuring out what worldly goods we can sell off, etc.

So if you’ve asked me how excited I am lately, and I haven’t responded the way you expected — sorry I made that awkward. 


Our travel paperwork is making the rounds in China.

I have the first of what I assume will be a few recommended packing lists. I have a packing list.

I was going through it over the weekend and thinking about some of the logistics in general, and I found myself thinking about those old luggage labels that used to get slapped on suitcases.



Why did we stop doing this? These things are awesome!

I got jealous … so I made some.  Read more…

Miracle #3: Our Chinese Family in Ohio

2 July 2018

There are times when I am beyond overwhelmed at the size of the world and the scope of its story.

And then there are times when I am reminded that this rock is a speck of dust in the palm of its loving Creator, and its whole history is a blip in his eternity. (A pivotal blip, sure, but a blip nonetheless.)


adoption blog sky

Photo cred: Jonatan Pie



A couple weeks ago, I got an email from our agency:


I wanted to reach out and see if you and Timothy would be open to being connected with a family who adopted a child from the same foster home as Yuan Bang? They would love to connect with you, if so!


Of course we said, Yes! About a week later I got this email:


Hi Alexis! We are Luci’s parents! We met your son, Luci’s foster brother, in China while we visited the foster center and noticed their beautiful connection. I’m so thankful we found you! We have so much to talk about… where do you all live? We are just north of […] on a small farm. Attached a picture of our family and Luci 🙂 here is my cell: […]


You guys.

My heart stopped and I had to gasp for air for a minute.

This wasn’t just someone with a loose connection because the same foster family in Guiyang took care of our kids — they met him. (And she later told me that she was so taken by his sweet spirit that she tried to adopt him too, on the spot.) Their daughter called my son, “gege” (big brother) for … I don’t know how long, but she did. (I have it on video.)


A couple hours later, my phone started dinging.  Read more…