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a bridge of trust

Y’all in 14 days I am gonna be holding this sweet boy. He will be mine forever. Until now it has just been a blind faith. Trusting God with this deep love of a child that was not my own yet a knowledge that God would call him mine. Hosting to adopt has been one of the most beautiful blessings and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The past 10 months I have felt my heart has been in two places. Truly my heart has been sitting in an orphanage in China, waiting and wondering if this child was going to ever come home.

The struggle between my heart trusting God and my mind giving in to doubt was often and real. I doubted how God could provide the $35,000+ in less than a year. I doubted that China would grant us THREE exemptions because we did not meet their adopting requirements. I doubted whether God could truly move the mountains and part the seas that separated us. But God. My heart knew that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and will provide for the calling He set forth. My heart knew that God could sway the hearts of man to grant favor upon our adoption. My heart knew that God has moved mountains with a mustard seed sized faith and He has opened the sea to pass through before. The struggle is big. But God is even bigger.

Our airplane tickets are in hand, suitcases stuffed to the brim, and a lot of tissues tucked in my purse (I am gonna cry tons of happy tears). God has been faithful. He has done what He said He would. 14 more days and this boy will be mine. Forever. Not because of anything I’ve done. I never set out to adopt a child that was older than our oldest child. In fact, when we started praying through adoption five years ago we were sure that we would adopt in perfect birth order with a sweet little girl in pigtails, younger than our youngest. I did not want to take a chance on throwing off our family order or routines. But God. He knew that we needed Duo and Duo needed us. Through orphan hosting God broke down my fears of older child adoption- not because adopting an older child wouldn’t be hard or scary or amazing or easy or anything else I thought it might be. He broke down my fears because I knew that God was enough. He called us to it and would carry us through it. It may be hard. It may be easy. I may question what in the world was I thinking. I may think it was easier than parenting my bio kids. No one knows what our journey will look like post-adoption. But I don’t fear it. I know that God is preparing us and that He is enough to see us through what ever our journey holds. He has been faithful thus far and will continue.

Tonight was our third video chatting session with our son. And it will be our last because the next time we see him will be the day we are adopting him! The first time we chatted with him he was very shy and timid. The second time he began to open up more, singing the ABC’s and giving a few smiles. This time he was laughing and smiling, said “I love you” and “I miss you,” and sang some songs in mandarin with us. Within just three video chats we have seen a dramatic change in our son. He is beginning to trust us and have hope that he will have a family. Nine and a half years in an institution have stripped him from trust and hope. It is beautiful to see the glimmer returning to his eyes.

14 more days.

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leaving on a jet plane… soon!!!

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Here we are… step 17.

Happiest day of this adoption process. All the paperwork, all the waiting. It’s done.
The American Consulate issued our Consulate Appointment (CA), step 16, this morning. This last piece of the puzzle was all we needed to start planning our trip to China. Now we have exact travel dates and know that on June 8th Duo will become a Raney kid. 42 weeks after we first received the pre-approval from China (cccwa) he will be our son. All five of my babies were 1-2 weeks overdue so I think Duo fits right in with my pregnancy waits.

The next 14 days will be spent intentionally with our children as we want to have some special alone time with each of them. We also have planned a fun family outing as we want them to know that they are cherished. They love Duo deeply but I know that over the past year that has been devoted to paperwork and getting him home it can feel like it’s all about him. We are surprising the kids each day we are gone with a present (something fun for the whole family to do) and a Skype video chat. They have also requested to bring home stuffed panda bears from china… like we don’t have enough already!

Our school room has turned in to packing central. Basically suitcases open and everything thrown in or around them. The next two weeks will be spent figuring out how to get everything INSIDE the suitcases while staying under the 44lb weight limit. I think all adoptive families should win a gold medal for that!

Our flights have been booked – Adoption Airfare is AMAZING – and now we are working on all finalizing our in-country travel plans. Our adoption agency sets up everything – from Beijing tours, guides, hotels, transportation, orphanage tour, ect.

Step 17. Next step is boarding the plane and then holding my boy in my arms.

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graceful unknowns

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So, a sweet friend recently asked “how can we support you in this journey and are there things we should/shouldn’t say or do that would be helpful to you?”

In an effort to start that conversation with all of you, I decided to compile a list of things that are helpful/not helpful to bring up as we forge this new territory. We are new at this too, so hopefully with grace, we will all learn how to be the best supporters of Duo that we can.

Consider asking us these kinds of questions….What have been your favorite times with Duo so far? What have you learned about his personality? What have you noticed about how Noah, Jude, Evy, Piper and Clementine are responding to a new brother in the family? What is it like having SIX kids!? What has the been the hardest part so far? What has been the best part so far? and even….Can I pick up a couple kids for a playdate and bring them back in a few hours!?

Email to let us know what you are doing/up to in your life so we can stay connected even without getting together for a while.

Let us know when we come to mind and when/what you’ve prayed for us.

Bring us a meal! For those who know me well, they know cooking isn’t my favorite thing to do. I’m sure I’ll much rather be playing with Duo and the kids:)

From the very beginning we felt God asking us to be very open and vulnerable during this adoption process. We hope that we can share the truth/beauty/hardships behind adoption so that God will receive all the glory for what He has/will do. Part of being open about our journey means we welcome questions. However, some questions can be hurtful and harmful. A few questions to avoid:

“How much did he cost?”
This question goes in the non-helpful category. Duo is a person and people cannot be bought. Though this is obvious, sometimes this slip of the tongue happens. The adoption process is expensive because of many reasons. Most reasons are put in place with the intention to protect children. Some are just extra red tape to satisfy who knows who and there are surely inefficiencies. This often means adoptive parents go through the ringer, using a lot of government time and multiple social workers, all of whom need to be paid for their services. Many people take years to save for these costs. Some fundraise. All in all, he is worth whatever other sacrifices we need to make.

“How did you get a boy from China? I thought they threw away their girls, not boys.”
First off, I have heard this many times. The country itself has been a very complicated history and the international adoption scene has been changing. Statistics show that an equal amount of boys and girls are abandoned in China, however, girls are adopted three times as quickly as boys are. Thus, the orphanages and child waiting lists are full of BOYS. Amazing boys. Boys that are not thrown away but are in need of someone to choose them. And abandonment happens for many reasons. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ issue. Many children are placed in orphanages because their parents cannot afford the medical care these children so desperately need. Let us have compassion for the complexity of the country and birth families. And yes, I am a lucky momma to a boy from China!!

“Do you know anything about his ‘real’ parents?”
Two things here. First thing: Kyle and I, along with all adoptive parents are real. Second of all, it is a very natural inquiry. I have often wondered about the connection between children and their birth families as well. However, just because I wonder about it, doesn’t mean I need to ask it. Think of similarly to asking someone “Why do I never see your dad around? I heard he left your family?” It’s a pretty personal question that requires a special time and place to talk through. It also should not be asked in front of the kids. So, if that special time arises with you and our family, we can potentially share more about Chinese social dynamics.

“He seems so attached already.”
Attachment is a journey. It’s not a black and white ‘he wasn’t attached, now he is.” Children take baby steps towards attachment and we hope to see those baby steps start soon after he joins our family. I saw a comment on someone else’s Facebook picture of the day they met their son. The child was smiling. The comment said “Look at how happy he is to be with you. It’s obvious he trusts you so much already!” While that sounds great – there is really no way he can trust these strange people he just met. And while there is a chance the smile may be honest happiness, it is more likely’putting on the charm’, because that is what has always gotten him what he wanted in the orphanage. If Duo clings to us, it does not necessarily mean he’s securely attached. He could be afraid and nervous and we are the only thing familiar in this crazy land called Oregon. And just because he holds my hand or gives us a hug (which I sure hope he does), does not mean he is securely attached. It all means he’s learning. Baby steps. We’ll get there and will be intentional about forging attachment with him for many years.

“Is it different than having your own kids?”
This one will be hard for me. Probably ‘own kids’ and ‘real parents’ are the phrases that cut the deepest. It shows a misunderstanding of the permanency and covenant of adoption. It undermines the authenticity of the relationship that ALL parents have with their children and assumes there is something ‘less’ about being an adoptive family than a birth family. For those of us who believe in Jesus’ message of including the Gentiles in his promises, and not just the blood line of the Jews….we should know on a very deep level that both Jews and Gentiles who trust Him are fully Christ’s ‘own’.

If Duo hears these phrases as he grows it gives subtle suggestions that he is not ‘one of us’. It implies that he doesn’t really quite belong. That Noah, Jude, Evy, Piper and Clementine are our ‘own’, but for some reason he isn’t. My heart would break if he ever started to believe this. Duo is being given to our family as a gift, just like Noah, Jude, Evy, Piper and Clementine were given to us. They are all our own. We will have six children soon. Not five and one adopted. We will have six children and they are all our own children. I realize, I’m repeating myself. It’s just a really important point. Most people do not intend to insult with this comment, I realize. It’s just a big one and the more people that can be mindful of the painfulness of this terminology, the better.

“He’s more special, you chose him!”
While the intentions behind this thought are to be positive and affirming, it again, sets Duo apart. And what does that make our first five kids? Not as special? They were pretty much chosen too….by God! And Duo was chosen by God as well. He’s not more or less special because he is adopted. It’s just his story. All our stories are valid, unique and important. I’ve also heard calling adopted children ‘chosen’, puts an unnecessary burden on them to live up to the ‘extra special’ category they’ve been assigned. It’s probably best we put ALL of us in the ‘extra special’ category, because that is how Jesus sees us.

“He is so lucky to have you. You are so awesome to do this.”
Something we are very mindful of and want to communicate always is…we are not Duo’s savior. There is only one person who can fill that role. There are millions of orphans and to hear the stats on how only a fraction of those children are even available for adoption is staggering. That means, even when children are not adopted….God has promised to meet them. Thankfully, God is bringing Duo into our family and he will be an orphan no longer. However, we are going to be just as blessed to have him in our family. It will be a mutual blessing. It would be affirming to our family if you would help create a culture of this perspective in Duo’s world. So, he never gets the impression he would have been abandoned by God if he hadn’t been brought into our family. This happens to be the way God is providing for Duo and we are SO glad to be a part of it.

“Does he have any special needs?”
So, this just boils down to being a very personal question. Some special needs are easily visible and some are not. Either way, a child should have the authority to share details about their life when they are ready. In general, it is their story to share. Just think of how awkward it would be for someone to walk up to your family and say “So, does anyone in your family have bladder control issues?” (just a random ‘special need’ chosen for the sake of this example). You might be taken aback, and rightly so. As with any child, there are a spectrum of needs. In general, you can also assume all adopted children will all have some sensitive needs because of the number of losses they have experienced at such a young age.

“Can I hold him?”
This is one of the most natural things to ask when you meet a friend who just had a baby. While I don’t anticipate many people asking us this as Duo is 9 1/2, I thought I’d just take this opportunity to share how it’s different with children coming into families via adoption. As most understand, all adopted children come from a place of loss. An infant born to his/her mother has been with her 24/7 since conception. A brief moment of separation from her for someone to hold and coddle will do no harm whatsoever. And it’s fun! The infant will then return to mom and recognize that she is home. That is a good cycle. With an adopted child, they do not truly know on a visceral level who mom and dad are yet. In a sense, those first months with them/us need to simulate a pregnancy where we are together ALL the time. So, Duo will know our scents, our motions, our voices, our tendencies, our everything. Allowing others to care for him too soon puts him in a position of having to question “Is this person going to take me away now too?” For this reason, it is widely accepted in the adoption world that new families go through a time of ‘cacooning’ together. This is limiting exposure to new people, new toys, new foods, etc. until the child seems to be settling in. The hard part of this is that we WANT to share Duo with our friends and family. And we DON’T want to isolate ourselves and have all of you feel afraid to reach out us. This will be a delicate dance as we all seek to do what is best for Duo and his attachment.

The last thing we want to do is scare off friends and family who want to invest in Duo and our life. Don’t be afraid to interact with us and be interested in this piece of our life. Just know we are going to be learning as we go – as far as knowing what is good to share and what is good to keep private for Duo’s sake as he grows.

Thanks, mostly, for reading this and being willing to take a step in understanding some of the unique dynamics of adoptive families.

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Adoption Raffle – polaroid camera!!!

We leave in 4 days and have decided last minute to do one more raffle!
This time for an awesome Fujifilm POLAROID INSTAX MINI8 camera (10 strips of film included)!!!
This would be a fun father’s day gift or a present for yourself!

Doing this one a bit different. There is no set price per ticket.
1 donation (any amount) = 1 ticket
Give as you feel led – $.01 or $1 or $10 or $100 or anything you’d like!!!





Raffle will stay open until Wednesday, June 3rd at 5pm PST!!!! Winner announced that evening!!
Only 3 days to get your ticket!!!

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———-2nd raffle———-

Thank you to all who participated in the Kate Spade purse raffle! A total of 54 tickets were sold for an amazing $504 towards Duo’s adoption! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!! The girls randomly chose the winner… CONGRATULATIONS HOLLY MARSHALL!!! I hope you LOVE it!

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———-1st raffle———-

Thank you to all who participated in the Kate Spade purse raffle! A total of 88 tickets were sold for an amazing $691 towards Duo’s adoption! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!! The birthday girl randomly chose the winner… CONGRATULATIONS TAYLOR SMITH!!! I hope you LOVE it!

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LOA!

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LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE!!! 8 months in to this adoption process and it is official… China gave their full approval that our family is Duo’s forever family! We have waited a long 44 days for our dossier to be translated, reviewed, and our family to be matched with his file. This whole process has been a leap of faith like no other. From initially being told that we wouldn’t be able to adopt from China because we didn’t meet their requirements, to needing every penny of the adoption expenses to be saved and raised, and half our hearts being in China once he returned to his orphanage after spending an incredible 33 days with our family last summer. God has truly moved mountains and given manna from Heaven every day of this process. We have reached $30,600 in saving, fundraising, and grants!!! Praise to God alone! We have about $5000 left to go and I have no doubt God is going to provide abundantly. We will be traveling in about 10 weeks… early June! Thank you to all who have walked this journey beside us. My heart is bursting with joy and thanksgiving!!!!

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coastal adventures

We snuck away for a quick family vacation to Beverly Beach (here is our last vacation to the same spot) and it was so wonderful! The first day was warm and and beach perfect. The kids ran into the ocean, fully clothed, as soon as we set up our camping spot. The next day we spent the day riding bikes, playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, exploring through the driftwood, and playing at the campground’s playground. The rain came after our hot dogs and s’mores that evening and so we enjoyed indoor games of UNO and Go Fish. We are spoiled rotten living here in Oregon. An hour from the most incredible coastal adventures. Until next time!

 

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DTC {dossier to China}

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We are closing in on the six month mark of starting the adoption process and this week brings a HUGE milestone… DTC! All of the paperwork we have been working on for the last six months is complete and is on it’s way to China!!!

I have sent our entire dossier to our adoption agency for review to make sure we have everything and did it properly, then they will submit it to China (DTC = Dossier to China). Since we are adopting a child on the waiting child list, our dossier will be put on the expedited fast track. When China receives our dossier we get a log in date that our dossier was received (LID). China will then review our dossier and once approved, we get an LSC (letter seeking confirmation) which is the official referral and approval to adopt Duo.

When we get our LSC , we are able to take that document and Petition the USCIS with an I800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) to bring our son back to the USA. We also file for our Duo’s US Visa. The I800 has to go to the USCIS, then to the National Benefits Center, then to the National Visa Center, then to China. Then China issues us an appointment with the Consulate there. All of these things have to be done because China is a Hague Convention Country and you must get permission to issue your child’s visa and bring him back to the US before you travel. So, once they issue our consulate appointments, China will invite us to travel (TA) and we will go and pick up our Duo!!! We are expecting a July/early August travel timeframe (we unfortunately will be traveling at the most expensive time of the year and are looking at about $7000 just in airfare).

For now we are continuing fundraising and grant applications! God has been so incredibly faithful in financial provision and we trust Him to continue. We have seen such miracles through this process. So grateful to have made it to this incredible milestone. All glory to God!!

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