Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wee One Wednesday: The Day I Saw Our Daughter's Face...and the Many Days that Followed.

On Thursday, April 13th, I found her.

It really is amazing that THAT day, that exact day, was the day I saw her. Because exactly one year ago to the day, on April 13th, 2016, our family took this photo: 

You see, in 2016, after months of conversation and prayer and consultation with dear, trusted friends, April 13th was the day that my hub said "Yes!" to officially beginning the adoption process. He was all in. And so was I.  

And now, exactly one year later, I found her. I saw her. And, with every momma instinct in me, I just knew. It was her. It was our girl.

This is not the way we thought things would go. We had been eagerly anticipating a call from our adoption agency for months (while knowing that many, many months of waiting for that call were likely ahead of us), a call that would mean they had found a potential match for us. But. That's not what happened. Ours was to be a different story. 

Throughout our adoption journey, I would sporadically check various adoption advocacy websites and Facebook pages, each of which list children who are available for adoption, children who were not necessarily assigned to our specific adoption agency. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I'll find her instead of our agency finding her for us. So. For months, I would check. Just in case...

And then, it happened. I checked one of the advocacy sites. And I saw her. A single picture. She was looking down, appeared distraught. There was very limited information. I knew her "file name," the fact that she was not yet 2, and her "special need." That was all I had to go on. But it was her. It had to be her. I just knew it was her.

I immediately contacted the adoption agency who had listed her on the advocacy website. This was NOT our agency - it was a different agency, one who had tentatively been assigned her file. I was told I would have to fill out an application to this agency in order to be given access to what limited information they had on her at this point. I did it immediately, and waited to hear back... (Meanwhile, my hub was on a boat in the middle of a lake with his dad and our oldest son. I was texting him furiously, sharing everything I knew. He trusted me. So we waited to hear back from the listing agency...)

On Friday, April 14th (Good Friday), we were given access to her informal file by the listing agency. This file had quite a bit more information about her: a little about her condition when she was found as well as a more recent update (from six months ago) of how she was doing now. Reading the informal file made it more clear: It was her. We had to do whatever we needed to to ensure she would be ours. We told the listing agency we wanted to move forward with pursuing her. By the end of the day, we were given the remainder of the application required to join this new agency as well as a fee schedule. We were asked to return these, as well as copies of a few other documents that we had already completed earlier in the process. Because we were out of town, I informed the agency I would be sending all documents first thing Monday morning.

On Monday, April 17th, I mailed in the required documents and the application fee to the listing agency, bringing us one step closer to calling her ours. We also saw our first video of this precious girl. Oh my heart. There she was. Playing with a block and then, looking up, staring directly into the camera, as if she was looking straight into my eyes. I was hooked.

On this day, we also asked our new agency to request updated pictures from the orphanage, since the only ones we had (including the video) were six months old (from October 2016).

On Wednesday, April 19th, our application and documents were received and reviewed by the new agency. On this day, my fear was crippling--that somehow, some way, we would not get to bring her home. I couldn't bring myself to watch her video nor look at her precious picture anymore. I was already smitten and needed to protect my heart, just in case... So, I avoided looking. But, what I did do, was pray and pray HARD.

On Thursday, April 20th, we received the official contract to sign on with our new agency. There would be signatures, payments and notaries needed, all of which we acquired immediately and mailed the following day. At this point, she was officially "on hold" for us. Now, we had to wait for the official referral file to come in from China. We were told to expect it within a week or two.

On Saturday, April 22nd, I told Clay that I felt like I did when I first found out I was pregnant. I remember, so vividly, seeing those two lines on the pregnancy test(s) and being absolutely overjoyed at being a momma. But then, having to wait those two to three excruciatingly slow weeks for the ultrasound appointment. Back then, I needed to have proof, to have visual confirmation, that everything was okay--that there was a heartbeat. That the child would be ours. I felt the same way on this day. I was so overjoyed at the thought of our girl but was so nervous and anxious about getting the official referral from China so that she could officially be ours. You see, nothing is definite during the adoption process. Things can go haywire at any moment. And all we could do was wait for the referral. At this point, I was so anxious I wouldn't even allow myself to start planning and thinking ahead. I just had to get through each minute of each day and remember to breathe and focus on the many blessings around me while waiting for the referral file.

On Monday, April 24th, I awoke with butterflies, ready to pay our (new) adoption agency more fees, while anticipating that our contract would arrive to the agency later this day. This could be our unofficial match day! And in a strange coincidence, the kids' favorite cartoon to watch in the morning had a new episode airing - it was about adopting a baby girl from China. :) 

On Tuesday, April 25th, we got word: we were unofficially matched with our girl by our new agency! BUT we still had to wait for the official referral file to arrive from China, specifically from the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), Luckily, we left for Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate Harrison's 3rd birthday, which was a super fun distraction. :)

On Friday, April 28th, we were still waiting for the official referral file to come in from the CCCWA. We also learned that the following Monday would be a Chinese holiday (Labour Day), which would mean our wait for the file would likely be longer. I prayed for peace and patience and God's timing...while trying to keep my ever-pounding heart, butterflies, and anxiety at bay! I wanted the file so badly because it would mean we were one day closer to breaking her out of institutionalized care and bringing her home. Each day that passes is a day we don't get to spend with her. So, I prayed that God would help to move things along smoothly and quickly...

On Sunday, April 30th, I was an anxious, ever-on-the-verge-of-tears wreck. I could not wait to get to church. To listen to worship music. To pray amongst friends. To hear the sermon. And the sermon was spot-on. Exactly what I needed to hear: Shalom. Peace.  I needed to put my faith and trust in God. Because by allowing the anxiety to overtake me as it had been, I was letting the enemy win. I felt this wave of calm and peace wash over me during the sermon. I vowed to whisper the word, "Shalom" any time I was feeling anxious while waiting. God's got this. I need only be still. (If I only had a penny for all the times I muttered "Shalom" over the next week...) :)

On Tuesday, May 2nd, we received the updated photos and videos we had requested weeks ago!!! Oh my word. There she was, smiling and playing and bobbing her little head to the music. We were also told to expect an update later in the afternoon on when to expect her file from the CCCWA. By the end of the day, we hadn't heard anything.

On Wednesday, May 3rd, I called the agency to ask for an update. I just couldn't wait anymore. I was told that the CCCWA had just informed them to expect the referral files the following Monday or Tuesday. This meant five or six more days of waiting. I was also told that her name did NOT appear on the healthy child list that was released, which meant she would not be eligible for domestic (Chinese) adoption and would be eligible for international (American) adoption. I was ALSO told that they could not guarantee that her file would be in the batch that was sent from the CCCWA - that the agency *thought* it would be but they could not guarantee it (they had no control over this. It all depended on which files the CCCWA ended up sending). I'm not going to lie. I was a nervous WRECK upon hearing this. I just wanted the file, wanted to see our girl, and wanted to submit our Letter of Intent (LOI) to adopt. Shalom. Shalom, shalom, shalom. The waiting had to continue...

Notably, at dinner that night, Raleigh shared the dream she had had the night before: It was that her new sister had arrived! She had flown on a plane to get to us and had long, dark hair. :) My hub just looked at me in amazement. This is the first dream she has had like this and none of our kids know anything about what was going on...

On Monday, May 8th, there file. I had had a feeling we wouldn't receive it this day, but it was still tough not to get it. There may have been tears. And a lot of prayer. And a lot of worship music. It was during the praying and worshiping that I asked for more signs from the Good Lord to reassure me. I had been asking for them all along the way of our adoption journey. And I had received MANY (more on that in another post)). But on this day, I heard Him tell me, "Have faith, Lindsay." He was right. I had to stop asking for signs, for reassurance. I had to have faith and belive in His plan and His timing. So, the waiting continued...

On Tuesday, May 9th, it was time to celebrate my hub's birthday. I was praying that he would receive the greatest gift on his birthday: the official file (i.e., referral) of our girl. And...we got it!!!!!!!! The file had arrived from CCCWA. I got word that morning from our (new) agency that it had arrived and that they would be sending it over later in the day. I checked my email over and over and over, and then finally, there it was. And our girl, oh our precious girl, she is just AMAZING. 

As of today, Wednesday, May 10th, we have submitted a letter of intent to adopt her. We also contacted our old agency to request an official letter to transfer our dossier to our new agency. Now, we will wait (again!) for these documents to be sent, translated, and processed in China. Now, we are praying with all our might that the CCCWA will accept our letter of intent to adopt her. Now, we cross all our fingers and toes that things go smoothly, that we are approved to adopt her,  and that she is able to join our family so, so soon. 

Yes, back on April 13th, 2017, I found her. 

Now, it's time to bring her home. <3

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