Saturday, December 31, 2011

reflections

it will soon be a new year.

there is little surprise awaiting us for the year. or is there? we know we are soon making our biggest life change yet. what can top it?

wellllll, knowing me...snicker snicker...anything IS possible.

last year on december 31, i could have never imagined the miraculous journey our lives would take for 2011. we never really are ready for when God calls us to do His will. but i answered, my husband answered, our children answered, and most of our family answered, "YES! WE WILL LOVE YOUR CHILDREN, LORD!"

will He ask me to do more? will He challenge me more than i can handle? what will my answer be? it is scary to ask.

after much thought...i know i will do anything for HIM.

so i sit here quiet

new year's eve

weeping

i should be with my friends who are probably wondering where i am

but i can't bring myself to be with others as long as so many people in this world are hurting right at this moment

i pray for so many things in this new year

for those who refuse Him

for those who don't know Him, because those of us that do, won't answer the call to make disciples

for God's broken heart

for all the children that will go to sleep this year with little hope of ever having a family to love them

for those without food, shelter, heat

for those with no means for medical care

for those suffering the yoke of oppression and abuse

for us who should be making sure these atrocities are not a reality

for those of us who refuse to share our God given resources

i don't want to be a downer on a night of celebration, but i struggle with how oblivious most of us are to our abundance. we party while children die of starvation, are made orphans due to poverty, and countless others who go to sleep scared and alone. i am broken for the lesser of us. i am convicted of not doing more. i resolve to change my stubborn ways.

what can i do/will i do to make a difference this year?

what can you do/will you do to make a difference this year?

FORGIVE US LORD. PLEASE OPEN THE EYES OF ALL THE WORLDS' HEARTS. MAKE US HEAR YOUR CALL TO GIVE TO THOSE THAT HAVE LESS THAN OURSELVES. MAKE ELIMINATING  POVERTY, SLAVERY, GODLESSNESS, HOMELESSNESS, AND HOPELESSNESS OUR NUMBER TWO PRIORITY, LORD. OUR FIRST IS TO PRAISE, HONOR, AND GLORIFY YOUR HOLY NAME. BLESS US WITH YOUR GIFTS SO THAT WE MAY SHARE YOUR LOVE.  LET US DEVOTE OUR LIVES TO YOUR SERVICE AND EXALT YOUR GOODNESS. PLEASE BE WITH MY CHINESE CHILDREN AS THEY GO ABOUT THE NEW YEAR AWAITING UNION WITH THEIR FAMILY. AMEN.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

santa confessions

ok i confess. we invite santa into our home(yes, we are one of those families). it has always been a Christmas tradition. it would make me sad to see it go.

 we have lots of different traditions for Advent and Christmas. both secular and religious.

Christmas we Remember and Glorify Jesus. we are Loved and i am thankful.


also for me, santa is the spirit of selfless giving and comes at Christmastime. we all get to be someones santa. it feels good to love at Christmastime.



some of my friends are appalled that we still accept santa. but it is a wonderful phenomenon that happens here. we have unspoiled, happy children that believe anything is possible with God, so why not believe? does it take away from Jesus and God's Great Gift to humanity? i haven't found evidence that it does yet.


here's why...
E and A asked santa to feed the poor...
santa brought food for the food pantry. santa is charity and love.

Jesus is Charity and Love. different, but not in competition. nothing compares to God.


this is our other Christmas tradition...
Jesus's cake is always decorated by the kids. Jesus is the Light of our world.

both are cherished traditions.


so until someone can come up with a solid argument for the harm santa does in my house, he is welcome to visit. thank you spirit of santa for feeding the poor.

THANK YOU IMMANUEL FOR COMING TO REDEEM, LOVE, AND TEACH US TO BE YOUR DISCIPLES. WE THANK YOU FOR TEACHING US TO CARE FOR THOSE WITH LESS THAN OURSELVES, CARE FOR WIDOWS AND ORPHANS, AND TO MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS. WE ARE YOUR SUBJECTS AND SERVANTS AND WE REJOICE AND ARE GLAD IN IT. THANK YOU FATHER FOR YOUR GIFTS OF CHILDREN. THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT FOR MAKING CHRISTMAS KNOWN TO MY CHILDREN IN CHINA.

GOD BLESS US EVERYONE.






Saturday, December 24, 2011

christmas love

you know you are loved when a child 8,000 miles away sends Christmas wishes. trust. love. sweet melting heart.


we haven't gotten the paper work we expected to receive that pushes us on to our next milestone. it was due some ten days ago.


BUT


we did get this...




translation:


Dear Mommy and Daddy:
   I’m your daughter Shen Bao Qing. I was so excited when they told me I will be your daughter and have my own parents. I’m looking forward to seeing you and living with you. Though I have never seen you, I think you are very kind and caring parents. Could you send me some photos of my future family? I want to learn more about you. Christmas is coming and I hope you will have a happy holiday!
I hope you will always be happy, healthy and successful!

Merry Christmas!


Much love for you
Daughter: Shen Bao Qing

unspeakable Joy!


THANK YOU DEAR CHRIST WHO HAS LED ME TO THIS LIFE.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

thank you dear friends

i was waiting to write special thank you notes to everyone who has supported us by sharing their wealth or experience along the way. i imagined it would be some frufru card with a picture of us all on Gotcha Day(if everyone is smiling and not screaming) and the children's signatures there too.

reality is, that i have been humbled and profoundly moved when people have shown their love to us with donations. i don't know what to say, so I'll just say thank you and give a hug. what could you do to let people know how much they are loved in return when there are so many to be counted?

i didn't want people to think their care has been taken lightly or forgotten. i will try to send out fancy cards later, but for now... 

i can start by just saying thank you once again. i am blessed beyond reasonabalality (so much so that i made up my own word).

thank you dear sisters J and D for setting up a chip-in on their blog pages.

thank you A family for your radical love.

thank you B for getting us running before our feet hit the ground for the paperchase.

thank you K for showering us with love.

thank you J and H for giving us a honeymoon.

thank you F and T for your help during the power outage.

thank you Stafford Public Library for giving us energy.

thank you coffee purchasers for getting buzzed so we can get loved. shameless plug... www.justlovecoffee.com/thehallorans

thank you K for baking up some support.

thank you for everything Mom and Dad.

thank you S for making our ride safer.

thank you L for your trust and writing letters on our behalf.

thank you OSL for growing a community where adoption is celebrated.

thank you L for your display of love on sale.

thank you D for giving up your morning coffee buzz.

thank you to each and everyone of of you who are the Body of Christ making bringing my precious girls home a possibility.

GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BAKED, SACRIFICED, SOLD THEIR BELONGINGS, BOUGHT OUR HOT SAUCE, FIXED OUR CARS AND HEATING AND WATER SYSTEMS FOR FREE, HELPED SPEED UP THE PROCESS, EDUCATED US, CHEERED FOR US, PRAYED FOR US, BELIEVED IN US, TRUSTED US, AND WALKED THIS WALK WITH US. GOD YOU ARE AMAZING IN YOUR GREAT LOVE.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent-urous!

Advent. my second favorite season of the year. time of preparation. time of celebration. welcoming in life.

Lent. my favorite season of the year. time of struggle. time of sorrow. new hope. new life.

i believed when i started my adoption journey 7 months ago, that we would be traveling to pick up our children during Lent. being the hardest yet most blessed time of the year for my family seemed appropriate.  i had no way of knowing that it was a possibility that we actually would travel in Lent. it is possible...even probable.

today we received our next step in the process. it is the I 800 Provisional Approval. near as i can tell, it means that our government is saying yes, these Chinese children may immigrate here as adopted children, thereby making them US citizens. there are more steps. i can't really figure them out. i ask my friends what to do, they tell me, it gets done correctly. honestly. i have done little of this on my own power. God has led me, provided resources and support, and the Body of Christ(God's people) has indeed risen up and donated most of the funds we need to complete a double adoption. thank you lovely people for being generous and part of our children's story. 

Bao
Xi

it is downright miraculous. i mean that literally. if you had asked me 8 months ago if we could start, complete, and pay for a foreign adoption...i would have said it was impossible.

THANK YOU GOD FOR REVEALING YOUR GREAT WORK TO US. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PERFECT PLANS. THANK YOU FOR SENDING YOUR FAITHFUL SERVANTS TO AID OUR CAUSE. THANK YOU FOR MAKING STRAIGHT OUR PATH. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMISE OF EVER PRESENT HELP. I KNOW I CAN DO NOTHING APART FROM YOU.  THANK YOU FOR MY FAMILY.

OK...so now it looks like we might be preparing to travel during Advent, traveling in mid/late january, and bringing the girls home for Lent. perfect. joy during the appropriate season and sorrow and new life during the harder season. so this month is truly shaping up to be Advent-urous.

just a side note, my friends M and R got their "PA" today too. my other friend is expected to get hers in the next few weeks. dare we hope to travel together for part of our trips? if not, that's OK, because it means not "one less"...it means "four less orphans"...perhaps our stories will inspire someone else to take up the cause of "one less" and so on...and so on...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

lost in translation

i bet over the next couple of years we will have many moments of "lost in translation"

my life in the past couple of years has shown me that our best intentions often are perceived differently when they reach others' worlds. i have been oblivious in a naive way most of my life...never intending harm.

again the lesson comes...

i heard over and over again how adoptive parents can send their child a package. stork goodies. boxes of home.

i imagined a scene where bao and xi are called into a room. nannies with disposable cameras get ready to catch the moment on film. the girls each are handed a box. they open them and see pictures. pictures of their forever families. entranced they pull out stickers, candy, clay creations from E, twirling paper animals from A, and assorted other goodies. they show each other their photos and...realize...they have the same pictures. could it be? sisters? both of us? they throw themselves at each other. twirling. laughing.

CUT. END SCENE.

many of my adoptive peers have posted pictures of their child opening their gifts from home. 

on my orphanage group i saw a photo album of the little one i had originally inquired about when we started this journey. she was smiling holding a pillow with a photo collage of her forever family. i melted. i am so thankful she is loved.

LORD, PLEASE WATCH OVER H'S FAMILY AS THEY TRAVEL IN CHINA THIS WEEK. PLEASE PREPARE THE CHILD FOR THESE CHOSEN PARENTS. BLESS THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE CARED FOR THIS LITTLE ONE UP UNTIL NOW AND THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN. THANK YOU FOR CONNECTING ME TO THIS FAMILY AND LETTING ME BE PART OF THEIR JOURNEY. KNIT TOGETHER THIS FAMILY THAT YOU HAVE MADE NEW. WE TRUST IN YOUR PLANS LOVING FATHER.  

my turn...i emailed my new adoption agent inquiring how i could send the children our boxes. she gave me several articles to read and instructions and tips.

i clicked on one and was floored. you can see it here...http://www.atwakids.org/care.html

i can't stand the image of any child feeling jealous over my gentle xi. bao seems like a goofball and might not care much. why would i be sending one? for me? so i could feel like i am loving them? is it loving? would they get treated poorly by their peers? would they even get it until their last day at the orphanage? how have my kids felt watching others get presents from an unseen family? did they think "will i ever get a family?" did they dare still hope for a family after living over a decade in the orphanage?

i bought so many goodies for them. imagining their delight over each item lovingly picked out by our girls. sigh.

my intention would be to make them happy. what if that article is actually what is? the world might not see it like that. what if it hurts my precious girls? haven't they been hurt enough?

so i will hang on to my gifts. maybe give them one each day of our trip. i will be there to see their smiles.

MY HEAVENLY FATHER. THE WORLD HAS NOT TAKEN CARE WITH ALL YOUR CHILDREN. PLEASE HELP US ALL TO TENDERLY CARE FOR THEM. LET US BE CHARGED WITH RESPONSIBILITY TO DO MORE. AS YOU CARE FOR US AND PROVIDE FOR US, LET US CARE FOR THE ORPHANS. THANK YOU FOR CALLING MY FAMILY TO THE MISSION OF FAMILY FOR TWO. THANK YOU FOR PREPARING US AND I ASK THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT PREPARE BAO AND XI FOR YOU. IN JESUS NAME I PRAY. AMEN.


  





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

still here and blessed!!!

i'll keep this short. we had a doozy of a storm and were without power for eight days.

eleven days of no internet and phone.

murphy's law that we would get our LSC(Letter Seeking Confirmation) in the middle of it all.

it is official...

meet Xi

and meet Bao

we expect to go to China to get them in the next 9-14 weeks. woohoo.

PRAISE GOD! THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING OUR PRAYERS. WE ARE UNWORTHY, BUT THANKFUL YOU TRUST US WITH LOVING THESE TWO SPECIAL GIRLS. WE NOW URGENTLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL PROVIDE THE REMAINING FUNDS TO COMPLETE THIS PROCESS. WE CAN NOT DO ANYTHING APART FROM YOU. WE TRUST YOU AND LOVE YOU, LORD. WE ARE JOYOUS THAT YOU ALLOW US TO SERVE YOU. WE BOLDLY ASK ALL THINGS THROUGH YOUR SON'S PRECIOUS NAME. AMEN.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

resourcefulness

resourceful.


yup. i am that. its one more thing i can teach my children (i am taking stock of why i deserve to be a parent again...this waiting game is known to make your mind play tricks on itself).



miracles.


yup. i am a beneficiary of those. one more thing i can witness to my children.


CABBAGE PATCH DOLL UPDATE 


if you read the last blog post from me. i spoke of a favorite doll of my childhood. how prized and precious she was to me. a source of absolute love. ok, i am sure it wasn't reciprocated-she is a doll after all. but, she let me "love" her.


i was reminiscing with my mother after the last post. i accused her of always thinking the dolls were "homely" and thanking her for getting my pammy laurice. she told me a part of the story, i did not remember.

i have to go back and ask her who she battled for in a Bradlees Department store over, if it wasn't pammy's sister.

according to her, we were hunting for a doll for my sister as i already owned one(pammy laurice). the store we went to had a ticket system. this wasn't the first store we had gone to. she had heard there was a store in another city that just had a shipment come in. the line wrapped around the store like what you see at Christmas black friday sales. my mother didn't think we'd get a ticket at all, but sure enough we finally baby-stepped it into the store, to the customer service counter, and we were all led into a back room containing the dolls. as my sister searched for her perfect match, i perused the shelves and found one that looked just like my beloved pammy, only with braids instead of pig-tails.

i ran up to my mother with that look. she explained to me that each customer was only allowed one ticket good for one doll. it was my sister's turn to get a doll. BUT i NEEDED a sister for pammy!

my mom then made me a deal, she said if i could find someone to get a ticket for me, she would give me the money to go through the line by myself.

oh i can tell you that my ten year old mind was formulating a plan right away. i accept your challenge mother!

although i remember none of this, by her account, i walked up to a pregnant woman and proceeded to plead my case in my usual million words or less fashion yes i've been like this since childhood).

as she told me this, i thought, "what a brilliant kid i was!" i was proud of myself for thinking about who was the most likely person to help me accomplish this feat.

well, this victim pregnant woman took pity on one very dramatic, skinny, dark eyed, dorothy-hamill-bowl- haircut, pixie of a girl. i got my ticket, paid for my new friend for pammy, and was, as i imagine, very proud of myself.


hmmmm... i last likened my adoption experience, to adopting the dolls. i hadn't planned on getting pammy a friend. the opportunity came up. i felt love again and had to have more. i didn't know how i was going to make it happen, i just knew i was.

i am well aware that my Chinese born children are not dolls, but in a very real and grown up way, the story repeats itself. life imitated life.

i am adopting two children and i don't know how i am going to do it, but i am resourceful. apparently i have been for the last 28 years.


HERE'S WHERE I GET TO THE MIRACLES PART


last week, i had to complete a financial listing of all we had paid for and all the fees left to pay for the adoptions. i nearly fell out of my chair when i saw how much it was really going to cost. you see, i was stupid and really naive when i thought we could adopt two. i grossly misjudged the totals. gulp!

HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS, LORD? I BELIEVE YOU ASKED ME TO DO THIS, BUT HOW? WE HAVEN'T THE MONEY. PLEASE PROVIDE JEHOVAH JIREH. HELP ME TO BE WORTHY TO RAISE THESE GIRLS. HELP US TO BRING THEM HOME.

at church i explained my predicament to my friends. they have all adopted. they know the reality of it. one dear friend said that i wouldn't have said "yes" to God if i had known back in the beginning the costs(not just the monetary ones either i imagine). she was right, i might not have. i should have been too scared. good thing i was just dumb. because now my family is walking a Faith i never imagined existing.

a few nights ago i thought i would take some time to catch up on my blog reading. i click on the first one on the list(my friend B's blog list) that is the newest posts and go from there. what i read on my friend D's blog shook my world. http://bygracewearesix.blogspot.com/ she posted about my family. she technically plagiarized a post from our friend J's blog. http://morethanwecanimagine.blogspot.com/ anyway, both of them have an APB out for the rest of the funds we need. they posted what is called a "Chip In" feature on their sites. anyone can go to these blogs and donate money to bring X and B home from China. they said some really beautiful things about my family too. i started sobbing immediately and praising God for his provision. He has provided me with wonderful friends. He has provided them with the ability to fund raise for us. He has provided us all with a perfect example of the Body of Christ in action.

THANK YOU MOST MAGNIFICENT GOD. FOR YOUR LOVE, YOUR GOOD GIFTS, THE FRUITS OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU, AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE DISCIPLES.


i know not how everything will turn out. i don't know if He intends for my family to raise the entire amount still needed, but i do know that i feel SO LOVED. i will not worry or fret. i rest quietly in Him.

thank you to my dear friends who mean so much to me. thank you family for your support.

you are welcome to share this "Chip In" with your family, friends, church, email, facebook, etc. we won't be turning down any love! promise.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

happy thirteen sweetheart

i ache. i am missing a big milestone in my daughter's life. she is thirteen today(well, if you can believe the orphanage). she was found on october 6, 1998 with a note pinned to her chest outside an elevator in a Chinese hospital.

either she really was born on october 1 or she is a cabbage patch kid. remember on those ugly cute 80's doll's adoption certificates? how each one was born on the first of a month? who knew when i begged for one of those dolls...er...who am i fooling? it wasn't "one" of those dolls. it was a specific red haired pig-tailed girl named pammy laurice "born" on september 1 in a cabbage patch. i saw her in the store, fell in love, and hoped with every ounce of my being that my mother would cave and buy me the doll she referred to as homely.

i begged for that particular one. i picked her out. i coveted her. and i received her on my 10th birthday. oh what a joyous day.

i eventually went on to adopt another red headed pig-tail-braided doll. a child needs a sibling, right? i can't remember her name for the life of me. (sorry mom, i know you "battled" another woman in a bradlees department store toy aisle for said doll)

soon after, i grew up and traded my dolls for lip gloss and nail polish.

funny to think my life is repeating this scenario now. i have chosen two more children to adopt. i saw my ten year old's picture, fell in love, and have spent countless hours begging God to allow/trust me to be the one to love and raise her. (past posts will bring you up to speed on how our thirteen year old came into the picture)

it feels a bit like life imitating art. like a pinnochio story. BUT these girls aren't red headed-yarn haired-xavier roberts buttocks signed-bundles of joy. these girls weren't magically born and harvested from a vegetable patch. these girls aren't playthings. they aren't sitting on a shelf waiting to be a birthday gift.

these girls are real orphans. they have hard stories. they have hurts. they have been waiting. growing older each day. they need a family-FAST. they are real. forgotten. ignored. unloved by a cruel world who has turned their eyes from the unbelievable need and plight of the orphan. over 150 million children worldwide waiting for a home.

PLEASE GOD. FIND ALL THESE ORPHANS HOMES. LOVE. PARENTS. ALLOW ME TO BE BLESSED BY  A COUPLE(OR TWENTY) OF THESE CHILDREN.  IF IT IS YOUR WILL, FILL OUR HOME WITH CHILDREN, LOVE, LAUGHTER, AND HEALING ALL FOR YOUR GLORY.

i want them. i love them. i ache with missing my Chinese children, whom i've yet to meet. i am impatient wondering why it takes so long to bring them home. it is killing me to know i cannot hold my teenager and whisper into her hair how much i love her and am proud of my big girl.

what my cabbage patch kids taught me: 
i learned how to be a good mommy(albeit forgetful of names) by feeding them, dressing them, changing their diapers, putting them to bed, etc.
i learned that i wanted to have a family when i grew up.
i learned to have a momma bear mentality. (pammy was the first thing i asked for after a fire broke out in my bed in the middle of the night while i was sleeping in it.)
i learned what it is to love someone whom you've yet to be united with.
i learned about adoption.
i learned that we often get what we ask our parents for...including God the Father.

but these girls are real and i promise not to forget their names and tire of playing with them. EVER. i promise to not let another birthday go by without telling them how much i love and value them. i promise to cherish them and be thankful everyday of my life.

GOD THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE THESE GIRLS. PLEASE WATCH OVER  X ON HER BIRTHDAY. HOLY SPIRIT LET HER SENSE YOUR PRESENCE. LET HER KNOW YOU ARE AT WORK PREPARING A FOREVER FAMILY FOR HER. SPEED US ALONG THIS PROCESS. JESUS, EASE HER SUFFERING AND HEAL HER SOUL. I ASK THIS AND ALL THINGS THROUGH YOU.

so precious beautiful daughter of mine waiting so patiently in china. happy thirteenth birthday. i love you and i am proud of you. i am counting the minutes until i can hold you. love, your momma bear.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

good news

got our log in date...the one we needed by october 1. we made the deadline. wah hoo!


LID 8/30/2011


my friend M got hers and her document went to China just after ours. today i emailed my agency just to check and we had ours too. their communications were running a bit late due to the long holiday weekend and the massive wildfires raging in TX. please pray for the safety of the people of TX especially the wonderful women at GWCA.




PRAISE GOD FOR ANSWERING PRAYERS.






 hope to travel to China in the next 5-8 months.

Friday, August 26, 2011

China or Bust

our background check came in on saturday, so it was back to nyc again this week.

S left at 7 am monday for hartford to get the I797 certified and then onto new york to get it authenticated. he got home just before 8 pm with news that the consulate no longer authenticates for next day pick-up. he would have to wait to pick up that last document on wednesday.

OH GOD! YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU KNEW WHAT WOULD BE AND HAVE MADE IT SO THAT WE WOULD BE PROTECTED AND PROVIDED FOR. THANK YOU FOR YOUR WISDOM.

why would we be so excited by waiting another day? tuesday there was an earthquake that had the city evacuating buildings. it screwed up mass transit and commuting out of the city. if the consulate was still processing next day, S would have been involved in that mess. he was able to go back on wednesday and pick up the completed I797.

i worked into the wee hours of the morning compiling the documents, photocopies of passports, and family lifestyle photos. thursday morning i worked on them some more for a couple of  hours. we drove out to fedex on thursday afternoon and over nighted them to texas.

whew! out of our hands. they would arrive friday morning, get processed next wednesday and be sent to China on friday.

PRAISE GOD! YOU DID IT! YOU PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE WHO WERE WILLING TO BE AVAILABLE TO HELP US EXPEDITE THIS PROCESS, IN OUR LIVES. WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL.

imagine my surprise when the adoption agency called today to say that the dossier was accepted and that all we need is for our homestudy agency to fax a copy of their license to the adoption agency and it will be sent to China tonight! she said we win the speedy gonzales trophy for setting a new record for completing a dossier in less than three months. WHAT? it is leaving tonight? i thought it would be next week.

i cried....then laughed....then praised God. i feel so good that the dossier is safe and out of the way of  hurricane irene barreling towards us this weekend.

then a small voice whispered "your agent isn't at work today."

i thought "come again? what? she isn't there? no, everything is fine."

the thought niggled at me for several minutes. OK i will call and check. this is how the conversation went.

agency secretary: hello?

me: hello, is karen in the office?

agency secretary: no, she is gone for the day.

me: WHAT? how about her supervisor?

secretary: no, everyone is at a conference for the day and aren't expected back until monday.

me: (my response is shortened because i was begging and rambling) she has to come in, we NEED the license. this could screw everything up. we could miss our deadline. can you help me?

secretary: no, i can't help you. i don't know where the license is. you will have to wait.

me: (more lengthy begging and pleading....) can you call someone? someone HAS to know where it is.

secretary: well, i could try. give me your info and the fax number.

me:  please please please help us. God bless your weekend.

we hung up. i started praying.

really? a simple copy of an agency license could take us down? oooo, evil-you are a jerk! you have no business here. be gone. God will fix this.

ten minutes later i got a call back from the secretary.

secretary: i have the license. i am faxing it now.

me: really? you are amazing. thank you so much(gushing and complimenting-i'll spare you) God bless you.

about 30 minutes later the adoption agency emailed saying they received the fax and our dossier will be on a plane bound for China tonight.

YIPPEE!

the dossier will be in China by monday morning. 


sigh! peace and provision. nothing is sweeter. trust in the Lord. nothing is more important. knowing we're not alone. nothing is more comforting.

of course, i am still praying for another family that is in the same boat as us trying to beat the dreaded deadline and waiting on their I797. please help me lift them up in prayer.

GOD ALMIGHTY, YOU HAVE HEARD OUR PLEAS AND HELPED US EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. YOU HAVE MOVED OUR MOUNTAINS. WE THANK YOU, PRAISE YOU, AND GLORIFY YOU. PLEASE BRING THE PELLEY'S THEIR I797 AND HELP THEM GET THEIR DOSSIER TO CHINA BEFORE THE DEADLINE. THEIR LITTLE GUY IS WAITING ON YOUR PROVISION. GIVE THEM PEACE AND COMFORT KNOWING YOU HAVE THIS COVERED-YOU ARE AT WORK-MAKING ALL WELL. IN CHRIST'S HOLY NAME. AMEN.  




Saturday, August 20, 2011

whining and waiting

i have really been sweating it. we need one last document to complete this dossier stage of the adoption process. we were told that the timetable for receiving this document would be 45-60 days. after we hit 45 days on july 31, i was on mailbox watch. each day that went by and no I 797(fingerprint-background check-approval) left me sinking lower and lower into the what-ifs.

whatif it doesn't come in time  whatif we have to start over  whatif we get denied because our new homestudy will show we have hit some unexpected financial lows and shows that we don't have enough assets  whatif i didn't hear God tell me to do this and it was my will, not His? 

oh the noise of a nervous brain eating itself. not pretty.

just in case it was going to take more time, we decided to get all the other 12 documents certified and authenticated. 

monday, august 8 we went to hartford to the secretary of state's office to get the 12 documents certified. what that meant was that they staple a fancy paper with a shiny gold seal to each one stating that it is notarized by a legal notary and is a legal document. we were in and out in less than an hour. mission accomplished. that was easy. if it all could be!

but where is that I 797? by august 15 our 60 days had passed. now i am obsessed with the mailbox. is the person who is in charge on vacation? has it been lost? were we denied? why is it taking longer than the 60 days? are we going to miss that deadline? 

we waited thinking it will come. the adoption agency advised us to go to new york and get the 12 we had authenticated, sent to texas, and approved. they would wait for the last one to come before sending it to china. this is a gamble. 

thursday of this week, august 18, we decided to go to the chinese consulate and get their fancy seal put on all the paperwork. S and i got up at 3:45 am and drove an hour to new haven, got on a metro north train for a 100 minute ride, got to nyc by 8:15, took a bus to 12th ave and arrived at the consulate by 8:45. we were seen at the window at 9:25 only to be told they had stopped doing same day service as of august 1. WHAT? we have to come back tomorrow? oh no. back on the bus to grand central station, missed the 10:07 train by three minutes, took the 11:07 train to new haven, arrived at 1:30 and got home by 2:30 pm. 

travel to the consulate: 4 hours
consulate visit: 40 minutes
return travel: 5 hours

wait though...we bested our time on friday's return trip.

got up before 3:45 am(too tired to look at the clock to see when), on the road by 4:15 am, took the 5:40 am train to grand central station, took bus to consulate, sat in line by 7:49, entered consulate at 8:30, was seen at 9:12, got on return bus by 9:20, took 10:07 train to new haven, would have been home by 1 pm, but i wanted to eat out because i was too tired to think about cooking lunch after all that. we arrived home at 3:30.

total travel time in two days: just under 20 hours.

so i figure mothers put the guilt on biological kids saying things like, "i labored for 20 hours to bring you into this world!" do i get to say i labored over 4 months and traveled over 27,000 miles to bring you into my world?

but by friday afternoon i was still worried. do we have to do this another two times next week? will our fingerprints EVER come in? i have been praying non-stop for weeks.

GOD,  I KNOW YOU HEAR MY CONSTANT PLEAS, WHINING AND QUESTIONING. I KNOW YOU ANSWER ALL MY PRAYERS, BUT I'M SCARED. CAN YOU JUST HELP US GET OUR PAPERWORK?

my sense was that it is a control issue. He isn't going to come through until i let go. so friday night was...


GOD? I AM SURE YOU ARE BORED BY MY INCESSANT BEGGING. I WILL STOP. I SURRENDER ALL TO YOU. THIS IS NOT MY PLAN, BUT YOURS. TAKE MY LIFE. LET ME BE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR WORK. I WILL WAIT ON YOU. YOU HAVE YOUR WAYS AND THEY ARE PERFECT. I WILL STOP OBSESSING. IT IS WHAT IT IS.

this morning(saturday) we went to the dragon boat races and had a wonderful time. i tried my best not to think about the missing paperwork. i worked on total surrender. i had fun and was present to my children. i refuse to worry anymore.

bet you figured out what happened, right?

i got home and checked the mailbox....

IT CAME!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!!! IT IS HERE!!! WE MIGHT JUST BEAT THIS DEADLINE AFTER ALL!!!! WOOHOO GIRLS-MOMMY IS COMING FOR YOU!

my mother always said, "let go, let God." she is right again. why did i worry? it reminds me of the song All Is Well by robin mark that always makes me cry....
all is well with my soul
He is God in control
i know not all His plans
but i know i'm in His hands



now we get to go back to nyc two more times this coming week. then we have to compile everything, get it in the mail to the adoption agency in texas and pray some more that it gets to china to be translated and logged in by october 1.

so pray please that it happens. but, i will not worry. i will not be a pest. i will surrender all...for i know my God is a wise and powerful God. He can do ALL things.

hmm, maybe i'll shout to the mountains once again...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight

whenever i get overwhelmed, i go into hiding. i don't call people back, i don't make plans, i try to stay in my quiet corner of my mind where no one can get me. it is probably a function of not learning how to process stress as a child. most of my family and friends accept this quirk about me. some don't. last month a friend "broke up" with my family because it took eleven days for me to return a phone call. 

here's the thing...i have been so busy in the last month. what were we up to? here's a rundown:
we have participated in two week long VBS programs, spent an entire week shopping, crafting, and decorating for one of them, been on about a dozen playdates, gone to church, started an adoption bible study/support group, had our adoption fingerprints taken,  hosted/attended several fellowship gatherings, hung out at our local beach, went to the fourth of july fireworks, library's chinese dinner, a class reunion, and an unexpected camping trip. whew! so much for hiding out.

what was i hiding out from then? the adoption.

from may until early july it was all i did. paperchasing, phone calls, faxes, appointments, homestudy, and on and on.

i needed a break. sometimes i wish it would go away and i could go back to my quiet and safe life. then i think of my two precious little girls 12 thousand miles away in an orphanage and i can't hide anymore.

so i have laced up my big girl boots once again and am marching towards our goal of bringing my girls home. next up? waiting for the approval of our fingerprints. we were told the process was running 45-60 days. well, it has been over 45 days and is very close to 60. i am trying to squelch my fear of missing our october 1 deadline.

PLEASE HOLY SPIRIT, FLY OUR RESULTS OVER HERE FAST. MAKE THE POWERS THAT BE MOVE SWIFTLY. IT IS YOUR TIME AND WILL, GOD. I KNOW YOU HAVE IT UNDER YOUR CONTROL. I WILL WAIT ON YOU, LORD.

if we miss our deadline, we start over. it is not the thousands of extra dollars and having to paperchase all over again that bothers me. it is making my babies wait even longer for their forever family.

two nights ago i had an awful dream. there was a knock at the door and when i opened it, there was a chinese man and he handed over our girls. i was shocked. they brought them to us? we are done with the paperwork? what is going on? he left without giving any answers. the girls came in and amazingly spoke decent english. our ten year old was a complete cuddlebug, but our 12 year old was not so much. they played with a bunch of children in our backyard and i was so excited to have them here. to love them, hold them, make them part of our family. what was so awful about that?

wellll, next thing i knew, our adoption agent showed up and tried talking to me, but before she could answer my questions, the man showed back up with a whole group of orphans and took my kids back. the ten year old clung to me as i promised that i would do everything in my power to come and get her as soon as possible. nothing would make me take 15 minutes longer than necessary.

i woke up from the dream just sobbing. what a tease it was to have them and have to give them back. even if it was just temporary. i am so glad God didn't choose ethiopia for us as you have to go two times instead of just the one. how does anyone meet their child and leave them behind?

so, the anxiety of adoption is getting to me even if i am hiding out from it.

on a positive note...yesterday we bought some bunkbeds for the girls. $100 for mattresses and everything. while S mowed the lawn, i emptied out HALF my closet so he could share it(not an easy task) and we moved the children's clothes into his closet in the playroom. their room doesn't have a closet so we had one of those temporary pvc pipe style wardrobes in the room. we had to move that out to make room for the new beds. S was shocked that i wanted to  put the beds up right away. what were we going to do? leave them in my living room until the girls come home?

so setting them up, making sacrifices, changing our bio-daughters' room drastically, made everything that much more real. one step closer to having our family united. instead of being stressful, it was fun. exciting. and as an added bonus-A slept on her own bed(she commandeered the new top bunk as E has the top on their existing beds). E was thrilled to be 11 and finally sleeping in a bed alone.

we knew this process would change us and force us to grow. we just didn't anticipate how it would look. i am joyful of all these blessings. if i knew then(before we made the decision to adopt) what i know now...would i do it again?

YES

THANK YOU FATHER FOR TEACHING US. FOR GENTLY SUPPORTING US AND MOLDING US TO BE THE DISCIPLES YOU WOULD HAVE US BE. YOUR MERCY AND PROVISION CONTINUES TO AMAZE ME. FORGIVE ME FOR MY FEAR AND ANXIETY AND HELP ME TO REMEMBER TO WARN THOSE MOUNTAINS OF YOUR AWESOME POWER. AMEN.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Signposts

how is it that everyone keeps saying that adoption is hard? if i can bumble my way through it and still keep a shred of sanity, anyone can do this.


i am forever "doing it wrong," a favorite line of mine from the movie Mr. Mom. almost everything i have done so far has been done either out of order or with blind naivete.


i am realizing God knew that if i understood how things really worked, i would have chickened out. so i go along my merry way having not a clue and i have accepted a second child.


this is how it happened...

adoption agent: hello?

me: hi D, i got my I-800 A mailed out, tell me more about a second child and what are the added expenses?

aa: i'll have S, the waiting child coordinator, talk to you about that, but good news, there is no added expense at this stage.  we aren't sure if you'll want to take on this child or if you think you will be able to handle it.

me: ok then, i will wait for S to contact me.

so my thoughts were two for the price of one. absolutely we are doing this.

we got an email from the waiting child agent, S. it stated that she was thrilled we were open to a second child because it is our little girl's best friend. she is a bit out of our desired age range, but we can say no if we want to. how could i say no to her best friend? how could i look her in the face everyday and know that i wouldn't take her friend too? what if she finds out we said no? will we have to meet her if/when we tour the orphanage? could i sleep at night wondering if she ever found her forever family or if she suffered the cruel fate that timed out children often meet?

so i told S, send us the file. i just so happened to get the file while two of my close friends were over for a play date. we all looked at her, oooing and ahhing, and i fell in love again. she is 12 going on 13, healthy, but a bit developmentally delayed.

what am i thinking? i can't take two. that really is crazy.

ooo...they also sent a video of our second child. when i opened it, there she was answering questions and writing chinese characters. then the camera zoomed in on a picture she was drawing.

GASP!!!


it is a flower. the same type maria chapman drew the day she died. (if you aren't familiar with her story-read Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman or get Steven Curtis Chapman's CD Beauty Will Rise).

the next picture was a house. i get it. my family will be six(six petaled flower) and she wants  needs a home.

OK GOD,  I SEE YOUR SIGNS. I UNDERSTAND THEY ARE YOUR SIGNPOSTS OF WHERE WE ARE GOING.


hubby and the kids are on board. my friends are excited. looks like the answer to adopting a second child is a unanimous(even if i am still apprehensive)YES!


i started filling out the referral paperwork to formally accept her, when I saw the contract. uh...not two for the price of one?! silly me! WHAT WAS I THINKING? in actuality it is an additional $8k. 

GOD, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT ME TO TAKE TWO?  WE HAVEN'T THE MONEY TO COMPLETE THE FIRST ADOPTION. I ALREADY FELL IN LOVE WITH HER. JEHOVAH JIREH, WE NEED YOU!


so i will walk in faith, cash in our meager 401k, cash in my life insurance, and pray that someone will loan us the money until next spring when our tax return comes in and we can pay them back. 

how hard it is to know God has a plan- that He knows the end of the story already, but still not be able to flip to the last page to see if it is a happy ending(yes, i am one of those people).


having faith and still to live without fear is hard. i want to trust Him because i know He has never let me down, but this is a big test of trust. i am scared to put us in deep and not be able to come out ok. 

i so need to meditate on Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

yes, i know there are tons of grants out there that we qualify for, a church scholarship, and a generous tax credit from the federal government, but i still have to shell out the money up front before it gets reimbursed. how do i shell out what i do not have? 


guess that is the beauty of miracles. they only happen when there is no other earthly way. so i will work on patience once again and wait for a miracle.

HEAVENLY FATHER THANK YOU FOR YOUR SIGNPOSTS AND ALLOWING ME TO SEE THEM. THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE THESE PRECIOUS CHILDREN A FOREVER FAMILY. I AM SORRY FOR MY WEAKNESS AND FEAR. PLEASE HELP ME TO BE STILL WHILE YOU WORK OUT THE LOGISTICS AND FINANCES. BE WITH MY SWEET GIRLS, LET THEM SENSE YOUR PRESENCE, PROTECT THEM UNTIL WE CAN BRING THEM HOME. PLEASE LORD, MOVE OUR MOUNTAINS...MAKE THEM TREMBLE AND FALL. YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS. IN JESUS'S NAME I PRAY. AMEN.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It is Official-I'm Crazy

sooooooo, many people have likened the adoption/fostering processes to being pregnant.

yup, some things have definitely made me nauseous, i have been having nightmares regularly when i normally don't dream(or at least remember my dreams), i have suffered from ambivalence-fluctuating from terror to peace and i want this-i don't want this, constantly figuring out logistics, obsessing about what my child will be like/become, imagining our new family in every activity we do....you name it.

it is everything like pregnancy, but this child is growing outside my body-oh and is also coming home as a ten year old.

today i had my virtual ultrasound. there's two in there!

what do i mean?

the adoption agent called to congratulate us on a successful approval of our home study. she also wants me to get the I-800 A sent overnight to the department of homeland security/uscis tomorrow. she also reminded me to change page 7 of it to accepting two children....

WHAT? TWO? SERIOUSLY?

how could this happen you ask?

well, it went like this.

the home study social worker asked during our interview if we would be willing to take two children if offered to us. we said an emphatic "YES!" so, she wrote the home study to reflect the option of two children. i thought that when we got to china, the officials might just say, "here take this one too."

we marveled at the idea of being blessed with two. we warned the children we might come home with two. we didn't actually think it would happen.

the adoption agent went on to explain that until she had read the home study, she didn't know we had wanted two.

weeeellllllll, we didn't want two, we were open to the idea of two. i said "yes, we did say we would be open to a second."

she then said, "oh good! i have the perfect child picked out for you. send in the I-800 A and then we'll talk."

again, the nausea.

LORD, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? DO YOU MEAN TO MAKE US A FAMILY OF SIX?

my mind went to all those ugly little thoughts. excuses of why we couldn't take two.

we're not ready  we don't even have the first one yet  how can we afford this  what about fitting everyone in the car  how will i homeschool four children-two of them don't even speak english  how will our families feel  i like my easy life-it will be way harder  where will everyone sleep  what will it do to our marriage  how can i give enough attention to our daughters when i am trying to help two new children adjust....on and on and on went my mind.

help! MOM!

what my wise mother said(paraphrased), "you have walked this entire journey through faith, why stop now?"

she's right. she always is.

ok, our buick seats six, God will provide-He always has, we have a bedroom we don't currently use, we already knew we would adopt #4 someday-now we save a bunch of money and only have to adjust to a changing family dynamic once, our new daughter will have a chinese sibling to learn english with, the more the merrier, if one was a blessing-two is double the blessing.

even if we don't actually adopt two, we are open to life and God's will in our lives.

my friend asked how my husband felt about two coming home, i told her i don't know- he is still at work. she laughed at me. good thing S is easy going and adventurous.

so i guess i still haven't learned to be careful about what i ask God for. i often lamented over not having a large family. God can fix that! (super hero music plays)watch!

FATHER IN HEAVEN, YOU KNOW WHAT MY FAMILY WILL LOOK LIKE. YOU KNOW YOUR WILL FOR MY LIFE. PLEASE HELP ME TO BE AVAILABLE TO BE YOUR HEART, HANDS, AND MOUTH. I AM SORRY FOR MY FEAR. I TRUST IN YOUR PROVISION.

I LOVE YOU JEHOVAH JIREH



ps...please buy coffee, heeheehee. we will be needing a bit more fundage  www.justlovecoffee.com/thehallorans


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Our Way

thursday we sent our Letter of Intent to China. we were told it would take two to four weeks to get translated, reviewed, and accepted or denied. this is the document requesting the little girl we were preliminarily matched with last month. it has to say her stats, why we want to adopt a Chinese child, our family's support network/structure, our care plan for dealing with her transition to an american family and difficulties she may have due to her Cerebral Palsy. basically we had to plead our case as to why we would be the perfect match for this child.

then we had to write it all again for our referral letter, but that HAD to state we will not abuse her or abandon her. really? abandon her? after all that we are doing to bring her into our family. i thought that was a given. who would do that a second time to an already abandoned child? i had to add that promise in after the agency sent it back requiring us to do so. i complied because i had to, but know i really was opposed to writing it at all. writing it seems like an admission that it is a possibility, but i still promise not to do it. no one is taking my child away from me once she is officially ours. no one will ever hurt this child while i'm alive. that is more of a threat than a promise. watch out mama bear is here. 

ok enough soap box oration

now for the good news.......

our pre approval came back on tuesday. just five days after we sent it in. china said yes, they will read our dossier to adopt this particular child. WOOHOO. those prayers for speed are working. we may be able to beat that october 1 deadline after all. keep up those prayers for speed.

THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT FOR FLYING OUR LOI THROUGH SO QUICKLY

the other amazing thing is that we got our official match on our daughter's 10th birthday. happy birthday big girl. next year we'll be together to celebrate.

so, because she couldn't be here to do it with us, we celebrated both E's 11th birthday, which was monday, and "jiara's" 10th birthday. here's a photo from a party a family member threw on tuesday. notice "jiara's" picture on the table between E and A.


here is a photo from the family party her father and i threw for E on sunday. E made her cake


our now 11 year old E is so sweet. after tuesday's surprise party, on the drive home, she said she felt a bit bad, because it wasn't her birthday anymore, it was her sister's. guess she is completely on board with adopting a sister. i found it hard to drive through my tears. tears of gratitude, tears of joy, tears of missing our daughter who is 8,000 miles away, tears of hope, tears born of a multitude of blessings.

GOD, THANK YOU FOR MY AMAZING CHILDREN AND THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING US TO HONOR YOU THROUGH THIS NEW JOURNEY. PLEASE WATCH OVER OUR CHINESE DAUGHTER WHILE SHE WAITS FOR US-LET HER KNOW OF YOUR LOVE AND PROVISION