Monday, December 31, 2012

Referral Day 1

How the referral process works.  Each month Ch*na releases a new list of orphaned children for adoption agency case workers to review and attempt to match these children to waiting families.  In order to be matched with a child from this list you need to have what is referred to as a "Log In Date" (LID).  This date is issued by Ch*na after they receive your dossier.  We received our LID notice on Friday, November 23, but the actual LID was issued on November 21st.  There was a delay in getting the information because of the holiday.  So that Friday became the day we knew we could be matched with a child at any time.  Our caseworker shared with us that of the current list of about 2,000 children there was not a child that matched our parameters.  There was to be a new list released on Monday and she would review it to see if any of the newly released children were a match for us.  She warned us to guard our hearts because she didn't know how many children would be on the list and that a match can take 1-3 months, that just because a new list was coming out didn't mean we would get a call that we were matched.

Scott and I spent much of the weekend praying.  We had no idea what to expect for Monday and we didn't want to get our hopes up only to be disappointed.  We assumed the likelihood of us being matched was very small because we were only just logged in a few days before.  We prayed that if the child the Lord has chosen for us was on the list though, that our caseworkers eyes would be drawn to their picture and she would know that was the child for the Millers.  We also prayed that we would ONLY receive our child's file.  We did not want to be put into a position to turn a child away.  I know many families who have had to walk through that and it is extremely hard for them.  I just knew in my heart I could not handle that and hoped and prayed the Lord would not ask us to walk through that process.

So Monday came.  It was a fairly typical day.  Michaela returned to school after being off the week before for Thanksgiving.  The boys were still home that Monday for their last day of Thanksgiving break.  We went to the Movie Tavern with a friend to see Rise of the Guardians.  We kept busy, although my mind would wonder to the possibilities of a match that evening.  Monday night came, the boys were tucked into bed and Scott, Michaela and I sat down to watch a special episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  The family being highlighted that evening was a family who adopted a little boy from Ethiopia through our adoption agency, All God's Children International.  So we were excited to see something on television that was going to put a positive spotlight on adoption.

We popped popcorn, got drinks, nestled under blankets and turned the TV on.  About 20 minutes into the show the phone rang and the caller ID said "All God's Children."  I totally freaked knowing there would be only one reason to get a call late that night.  I answered it and it was our case worker, Tiffany.  She said she had a file of a 20 month old little girl and her special need was Albinism.  She said when she opened the list and saw her she immediately thought "the Millers."  She was emailing us her file and our 72 hour process would begin.  We quickly ran to the computer and opened up her email.  Michaela was with us and when we opened up her picture Michaela "awwed" over it.  Scott looked at me and said "well she could certainly be the one."  I tended to be more in a state of shock that this was really happening.  We printed out her information, read over it and didn't see anything that would make us want to say no.  So we took the next step in the process, which was to send her file to the CHOP International Adoption department to have a pediatrician review her records.  We then sent a text message out to a few people who we had lined up to pray for us if and when a referral came through. 

And that was pretty much how the night ended.  We put Michaela to bed.  We read over the file a few more times, studied it trying to learn everything we could about her.  We starred at and studied her picture wondering if we were getting a glimpse of her personality through them, taken in by her beautiful face and glowing white hair.  That's right, our little Asian princess cracked the mold for dark hair and dark eyes.  Albinism is a condition where you don't produce pigment, and no pigment means no color.  So this sweet little beauty has gorgeous snow white hair, pale white skin and little squinty blue eyes.  We then spent a long time praying for direction and wisdom and help and around 2am knew we needed to get some sleep to face what day two would hold.  I wasn't sure I would sleep that night, but I did.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One month of waiting.

Today marks one month since we saw our daughters face for the first time.  We have been told by many that this part of the wait is the hardest part.  During week one and two it really didn't seem so bad.  We found joy in sharing our match with everyone, we found joy in showing off her picture and we were busy pushing some more paperwork.  Week three came and there were less people to tell, most had seen her picture and that longing to hold her was kicking in pretty strong.  This past week, week four, it got hard.  A picture just isn't cutting it anymore.  We're ready to hold her, ready to smother her cheeks with kisses, ready to lavish this abundance of love that we all hold in our heart for her.  We requested new pictures three weeks ago, and everyday hope and pray something will show up in our inbox.  I obsessively check email hoping this will be the time, only to find more junk mail

We can't believe it's been a month.  One month down, four or more to go.  The month went by quickly, so we try to find encouragement in that.  Not that we want to rush life by, but we are ready for this little one to come home.  We are ready for this new season of change that we have been anticipating about, daydreaming about for so long now.

It was hard to celebrate a big holiday without her.  We tried to tell ourselves to enjoy it for what it was, our last Christmas as a family of five.  But the reality is we already see ourselves as a family of six.  As a matter of fact, a few times now I have subconsciously pulled six plates out to set the table for dinner.  We did everything we could to "include" Mercy in our Christmas this year, even without her physical presence with us.

She was in our Christmas card.

We have an ornament on the tree with her picture.

We hung a new stocking with her name embroidered on it.

We bought her a few Christmas gifts for after she comes home. (notice lots of sunglasses)

  Each of our kids received a gift from her under the tree. 

We pray for her often, even the kids melt our hearts with the prayers they pour out for their little sister.  We sent her a Christmas Care Package complete with a stuffed animal, clothing, candy and a photo album with pictures of us and words like daddy, mommy, sister and brother in Chinese.

Yesterday Mason said "Mommy, I can't wait until 2013."  I asked "Why is that?"  He replied, "Because that is when Mercy comes home."  Even our 7 year old is waiting in anticipation and ready for his sister to be here.  Everyone was right, this is when the wait gets hard.

God is faithful, especially in the wait.  I receive a random email here and there and the topic usually has to do with waiting on the Lord, surely not a coincidence.  I stumble on a verse that encourages me in the wait.  I hear a song that makes me think of Mercy because many songs include her name.  Friends send me songs that make them think of her.  When they share them with me, I find that very encouraging.  And a friend sent me this quote, it's one I had to print out to remind myself everyday.  It's that perfect reminder because she's worth the wait.

"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." - Charles Stanley

Inspired by Isaiah 64:4 "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

Our prayer requests are that we receive updated pictures, that we receive our Letter of Acceptance from China quickly, and for her continued health and protection while we are 11,000+ miles apart.  If you think of it pray for us during this season of wait.  It was one kind of struggle when we were waiting on paperwork, but it's a whole new kind of struggle this waiting for our child, the face we can see everyday but not touch. It's hard.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Orphange Address Mystery Solved

We have had a few hiccups in trying to locate an address and contact information for our daughter's orphanage.  It turns out she is located in an institute that seldom puts their orphans up for international adoption.  She is also living in a province that does very few adoptions.  So it is a pure mircale that she made it to the shared list. 

Our agency has been using every connection they have to try and get contact information for us.  I was getting pretty discouraged this morning as I received an email from our caseworker stating that there was little information because no one does adoptions from this orphange, city, or province.  She assured us we should not be alarmed that it is probably in a rural/remote area of Ch*na and could just be a small orphanage.  After reading her email I felt lead to ask for prayer.  It seemed like such a silly thing to ask people to pray that we would get the address to her orphanage, surely there are greater "needs" that people could be saying prayers for.  But we really did need this information for two reasons, one to complete our immigration approval and two so we could send her a care package.

I went ahead and sent an email to our care group, pastors and a few close friends.  About one hour later I received an email from our caseworker who said "Wow, that was fast."  Here she had received an email from a government official in Ch*na, who just hours before told her he could not help her.  In the email was the address, phone number and even a link to the orphanage's website.  Believe it or not they have a website!  You can't find them anywhere online if you google them, but they have a website.  The website actually has a few pictures posted so we got to see images of where she is living and a few faces of other children, and possibly some caretakers who reside there. 

I know without a doubt the Lord moved on this man's heart to dig further.  I know the prayers of our friends were helping us fight a battle that we couldn't face alone.  It's not that the Lord "needed" people to pray, He has always known exactly where our daughter is.  I think it's more like I "needed" to ask for prayer, one to remember the Lord is leading this journey, and two to remember we are not in this alone.  We have a great community of friends and a church family that will lift us up every single time we need it, even with small things like this, all we have to do is ask.

 Now we have what we need and can't wait to send our little girlie a Christmas package and continue on with paperwork to get us closer to bringing her home.