Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Letting Them Soar

Can I be totally honest about something? 

I have a hard time letting go. 

This translates in a number of ways: things that people have said to me in the past still haunt (and hurt) me. Things that people have done to hurt those I love still upset me, no matter how far removed the situation(s). Etc. 

I try hard to move on and move past and forgive, forgive, forgive, as Jesus commands. But. Easier said than done. I am working on it, every day. But it's tough! I am a sensitive lil' bird and when my feelings are hurt, and my heart is hurt, ugh. I struggle. 

I realize this is now extending to my children. Let me explain. 

I am a very hands-on kind of momma. I find great joy in actually playing with my kiddos. For example, on any given evening, should you walk by my home, you would see (1) me throwing cartwheels and back walkovers and handstands and front handsprings with Raleigh; (2) me playing two-hand touch football with Banks; (3) me playing tennis with all three littles in our driveway; (4) me helping Raleigh and Harrison hunt for snails under our rocks; (5) me having foot races with Banks. Etc. I cherish it and relish in it. I take advantage of these fun-filled (albeit challenging and exhausting) years.

You see, I readily recognize that it won't always be so cool to play with good ol' momma bird. 

And now, it seems that day may come sooner than later. And I am having a hard time letting go of what I want and accepting what they want.

My kiddos are social little creatures and have an awesome network of friends in the neighborhood. And I love that! I love that they have so many sweet friends, who they are growing up alongside, especially when their mommas are my sweet friends, who I get to grow up alongside. 

My little baby birds. They want to spread their wings:

These days, they ask for playdates all the time, pretty much daily. And I am having a hard time letting go and sending them on their way. Because I want to be with them. I want to keep them safe and sound in my own little nest. I want to hold tight to these younger years, where I can hold them close under their momma's wing. I, I, I. 

I see the problem here.

Holding on tightly isn't about them. It's about me, me, me. It's about my fears and my struggles with not letting go.

I haven't taught them to fly only to keep them in my nest, under my wing. 

Sometimes I've got to let go and watch them soar.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cheers to the Weekend, Crazy Town Edition

Wheeeeeeeeeeew. I am glad to see the weekend. Although it's going to be a super busy one, at least it will be on my terms. ;) Things have been crazy 'round these parts, what with adoption stuff and baking and football and gymnastics and Fall activities and Clemson and, well, life. I'm sure everyone out there as their own crazy busy stuff keeping them rockin' and rollin' this time of year, amIright? Wheeeeeeeeeeew.

So, the blog posts are lagging. But I grab this little space whenever I can...such as right now! And so, a recap from what we've been up to the last couple weeks: Some things we are saying CHEERS to:

Adoption. Thank you so very much to all those who have been following along on our adoption journey. On Wednesday, I gave a very exciting update about where we are in the process--and how we got there much sooner than I ever dreamed! Unfortunately, that afternoon, I learned that the timeline we were anticipating as far as finding our daughter via a referral from our agency is much longer than I have been anticipating. In fact, I am now just hoping and praying that we are able to be matched by the end of NEXT year. I'm not going to lie: I was devastated when I was informed. But, thanks to support from family and friends, as well as from our adoption agency, and, most importantly, my incredible husband, I have much more peace about it now. My timeline isn't His timeline. As a wise friend told me yesterday, "God already knows your daughter. He has her in His hands." So, we wait and pray, wait and pray. And do our best to serve others as best we can in the meantime. Regardless, your prayers and love are much appreciated as we wait to find our girl...

Fall Frolic. Last weekend, we visited our town's Fall Frolic for the fifth year in a row: horseback riding, corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin patches, farm animals--you know, all the Fall must haves. ;) 

Girls Night Out. There is an AWESOME new business located nearby called Anders Ruff Workshop, where all different kinds of workshops to make really cool DIY, home decor items are offered (Anders Ruff is the same company for which my Raleigh was featured in this month's Better Homes and Gardens Halloween catalogue). Anywho, earlier this week, four of the six of my LifeGroup ladies went to an evening workshop and we each created our own custom plank sign, from scratch. It was SO fun!!! I highly recommend attending any of their awesome workshops if you live here (or come visit me! I can't wait to go back!).

Field trips. Both Raleigh and Harrison have had field trips during the last two weeks, each to different pumpkin patches. Harrison and I accompanied Raleigh on hers, while my hub took Harrison alone on his. Both were a blast!

Oven repair. Eeeek!!!! Our indefinitely discontinued oven part miraculously showed up in the mail and we had our oven repaired the next day. Y' works!!!!! So my kitchen has been, and will continue to be, buzzing with all kinds of cookie orders, all as part of our adoption fundraising. Yahoo!!! Here is one of the projects from this week: 

Clemson Homecoming. Last weekend, all five of us Lus headed to Clemson for homecoming. We spent the night with some of our best friends (thank you, Frye fam!) on Friday and went to see the homecoming floats that evening. It was awesome! The next day, we went to the nail-biter of a game and were SO excited that Clemson somehow pulled out a W at the last second. Whew!


Getting Boo'd. Man, Fall sure does bring a lot of fun, and our neighborhood always does it up big for the holidays. Earlier this week, we were "Boo'd" and had to "Boo back" two neighbors. My kids always look forward to this each year, and this one was no exception!

Day dates. My hub and I got to sneak away for a day date recently and hit up Cinnebarre (you know, theaters where you can order food and drinks while watching a movie). We saw "The Girl on the Train." Although I enjoyed the book, I was skeptical of the movie based on the reviews, but we both actually enjoyed it! And it was the perfect, rainy day for a movie date. :) 

And that's that!

The busy-ness continues this weekend! Banks and Raleigh are going camping at the Greenway with their Daddy and some friends tonight, while Harrison and I will hang back at the house (no complaints here!). Tomorrow morning I'll be assisting my favorite photog with a photo session before we hit the courts. Courts? Yes, courts. Tennis courts. Because on Monday morning, we have our first doubles match!! So, we'll be practicing by getting our butts whooped by two of our other girlfriends on Saturday. :) I'll then head home so Clay can get out the door and to a fun neighborhood cornhole tourney. Meanwhile, I'll take my little trio to our neighborhood Fall festival. Sunday will consist of church, more photo session assisting, and then a SUPER FUN event with girlfriends Sunday night.

Good gracious. I'm tired just reading all of that! :) Thank y'all again for your prayers for our family. Have a lovely Fall weekend! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wee One Wednesday: Our Adoption Timeline

Everyone's adoption timeline is different. Here is ours, to date, as a means of documenting how far we've come, what we've accomplished, and how much closer we are to finding our daughter:

12/17/15: During a dinner date to celebrate my 35th birthday, my hub and I began discussing whether or not we were going to finally pursue adoption. It is something we had been considering for over a decade. We needed to finally determine whether this was the right path for our family. We decide to take some time to pray, consult with close family and friends, and come back together in a few months to decide. 

***Meanwhile, I begin researching various adoption and home study agencies, looking at the adoption requirements of different countries, considering various medical conditions and special needs for which we would feel comfortable being able to adequately seek treatment, etc.***

3/8/16: We decided on the agency we wanted to use should we end up deciding to adopt (Chinese Children Adoption International [CCAI]). We submitted a Medical Conditions Checklist (MCC) to CCAI while continuing in our decision-making process. We also decided on the home study agency we would like to use should we, in fact, decide to proceed with adoption.

***We continued to pray, journal, talk, consult as we waited to hear from God that he wanted us to adopt...***

4/29/16: Decision made. We had no doubt. Now was the time. Our adoption journey officially began. Applications were accepted by our chosen adoption agency (CCAI) and homestudy agency (Nightlight Christian Adoptions) on this day.

***The great paperwork chase begins and continues for the next five months. For our adoption agency, this included obtaining/creating/having notarized the following:

(1) an adoption petition
(2) birth certificates for my hub and me
(3) marriage certificate
(4) employment verifications for my hub and me, signed by employers
(5) financial statement listing ALL assets, liabilities, incomes, insurances, net worth, etc.
(6) comprehensive physical exams for my hub and me
(7) signed doctor's letter
(8) police clearance reports
(9) approved I800A (federal form also requiring fingerprinting appointments for my hub and me with Homeland Security)
(10^) Home study report
(11) 3 photos of my hub and I together
(12) 8 family life photos
(13) 3 passport photos each
(14) copies of our passports
(15) copy of our dossier

^The home study itself required it's own set of documents that were needed before the extremely thorough report could be written. This included:

(1) home study agreement
(2) fee agreement
(3) background information form
(4) consents to criminal background check
(5) child abuse registry form for every state each of us lived in since age 18
(6) financial information form
(7) three reference letters
(8) physician statement
(9) current physicals for all children living in the home
(10) current vaccination record for any animals living in the home
(11) guardianship information
(12) book reviews of five adoption-centered books
(13) website reviews of four adoption-centered websites
(14) copies of driver's licenses
(15) copies of car insurance cards
(16) birth certificates for all people living in the home
(17) report cards for every child in the home who is in kindergarten or above 
(18) 12 hours of specific, online training and education

5/9/16: Home study visit #1 (a joint interview with our social worker and my hub/me) as well as our home inspection

5/18/16: Home study visit #2 and #3 (individual interviews with my hub and me)

5/19/16: All 12 hours of our required education and training completed

6/14/16: Home study visit #4 (interviews with my hub/me and the kids)

7/19/16: Home study report finalized and sent to South Carolina's Department of Social Services (DSS) for approval

7/22/16: I800A form submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

8/23/16: Home study report finally approved by DSS and arrived to USCIS

9/3/16: I800A approved

9/7/16: All required documents sent to S.C. Secretary of State for certification

9/9/16: Certification approved and received back that morning. Documents mailed to courier service in D.C. that afternoon for authentication to begin

9/14/16: Documents couriered to U.S. Department of State

9/20/16: Documents authenticated by U.S. Department of State and immediately couriered to Chinese Embassy for final step of authentication

9/28/16: Documents authenticated by Chinese Embassy and mailed back to us.

9/30/16: Authenticated documents arrive back to us. ALL paperwork, photos, reports, etc. (our ENTIRE dossier) complete and sent to CCAI that afternoon for critical review.

10/10/16: Critical review and approval of dossier by CCAI.

10/12/16: Dossier arrived to CCAI headquarters in Colorado for Chinese translation and binding.

10/14/16: Dossier to China (DTC)!!! Our dossier was sent to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) in China.

10/18/16: Dossier delivered to CCCWA, with anticipation of a Log-In Date (LID) within the next two weeks!!!!

10/18/16: Evening update: Two weeks 'til LID? -- NOPE!!! We got word last night that we are LID!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This means, it could be any day that we receive a referral of a child's file to review!!! 

After many months of lots hard work, we have faith that we will find our daughter, all in God's timing. The waiting continues... <3