Sunday, May 26, 2013

Travel Approval!!

So we were down to two steps, travel approval from Chi*a and our official consulate appointment (needed to complete Emma's visa process).  Time for Travel Approval (TA) ranges from 8 days to close to 30 with around 2 weeks being the most common.  I began to get antsy on Monday the 20th.  TAs are delivered to the agencies and typically come in batches.  I was really stalking the Facebook groups to see if any TAs were coming through.  Our agency is in California, so I would hear about other TAs before there was any possibility of hearing about ours.  No TAs on Monday.  Tuesday is not a typical day that TAs come because of shipping schedules, so I was fairly relaxed and not AS obsessive on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, the TAs started coming through.  I might have been a tad obsessive about checking emails and Facebook, and it might have gotten worse as the day went on.  I was finishing up some work packets and had gotten in the car to have some documents notarized at the bank.  I checked my email while I was stopped at a light, and THERE IT WAS!!!  We had official TA after 14 days.  I immediately called Mark (Chase was with him).  I might have been updating them both throughout the day about the number of TAs that had come through :-)  No, I wasn't obsessing at all, why do you ask?  I cannot describe the feeling of having received TA.  I absolutely could not think straight.  My mind was racing a million miles an hour.  It was a giddy and miserable feeling all at the same time.  I emailed our agency with our top 5 choices for consulate appointment.  Actually, I emailed her 3 times because I was afraid my first email was not clear.  I clearly have issues.  We had our consulate appointment time later that night which means we now have our official travel dates.  We will be leaving on June 12th and will return late on the 28th!  We leave in 2 weeks, 2 days, 18 hours, and 7 minutes. But who's counting :-)  At this time, plane tickets are purchased and in-country travel is being finalized.  It should be finalized early next week.  Now, I need to wrap up work, try to get this house in order, and pack!  I cannot wait to meet my sweet Emma Grace.  Please pray for her heart as this transition will be very difficult for her.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Little Update and a Big THANK YOU

A little update on where we are in the adoption process. We are down to 2 steps. Our Article 5 was picked up on the 8th (this is the Visa process for Emma to enter into the US). We are now officially waiting for travel approval (TA) from the Chi*ese government. This normally takes 2-3 weeks (we are hoping for 2!). After that, we will get our Consulate Appointment (CA). This normally happens quickly. Currently, the US Embassy in Guangzhou is shut down because of a suspicious white powder. There are between 70-100 families in Chi*a right now who have been stuck there. You cannot leave until you have your appointment and get the appropriate paperwork the next day. I feel so bad for those families. Pray that the embassy opens back up and that these families can go home.

Now for the BIG thank you. I do not have the words to truly express my gratitude, but I will try. I did not want to have to fundraise for this adoption. I didn't want to bother or annoy people and really felt that God would provide. Then, my business had a dismal couple of months, and it became clear that we were going to have to ask for help. We have an orphanage donation along with government fees to pay, not to mention the travel expenses. I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. I am so glad that I did. I can never express what the tremendous outpouring of support means to us. You guys had me in tears so many times. I feel that everyone is already welcoming and embracing Emma Grace. Everyone of you who donated, helped with the garage sale, or prayed for us is helping to bring Emma home. We have the most amazing group of friends, church family, family, neighborhood, and community. The garage sale was huge and very successful. With the garage sale and iPad mini fundraiser, we were hoping to have enough to cover 1/4 of the orphanage donation, and that felt like a stretch. Instead, we made enough to cover 3/4 of the orphanage donation!!!!!! I am still so blown away by this. God did provide monetarily, and He also blessed my spirit. Seriously, thank you all so very much. You are all a part of Emma Grace's family. We love you guys.

This is our house the first day of the sale.

We overflowed into a neighbor's yard.

Nate manning the snack stand.

- Jenna

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Emma Grace

We were able to send a birthday cake to Emma Grace.  I didn't expect pictures, so it was a wonderful surprise to receive an email with a little update and with pictures from her birthday party.  Her last birthday without her family.

This is how birthday cakes look in Chi*a.

Do you see what I see?  A WHITE guy!  Maybe we won't scare her too badly by our whiteness :-)  We are pretty sure that the lady in the gray pants is Emma's foster grandmother.  Mark noticed that she is wearing the same pants as the caregiver was wearing in the video we received.  We are guessing that the woman lighting the cake is her foster mother.  Her 2 foster siblings are most likely present.  

I was sad but not surprised to see that they had cut her hair.  This is a very common practice and is actually done with good motives.  The belief is that it will lead to the hair growing back fuller and more beautiful.  I am still so sad about it:-(  I will be bringing plenty of bows with me to Ch*na!

You can't see Emma in this picture, but we think that the man cutting the cake is her foster dad.  Emma has clearly been loved and well taken care of by her foster family.  We do feel so very sad for them.  I can't imagine loving and caring for a child for 2+ years only to lose her and maybe never hear about her again.  We hope to be able to maintain contact but that is sometimes not allowed.  

My sweet baby girl.  I cannot wait to love on her and take care of her.  That time cannot come soon enough.

We sent 10 questions and received 5 answers.  We learned that she is afraid of the dark.  She has not been around animals, but she loves stuffed animals.  Her favorite foods are dumplings and meat soup.  It seems she can eat bowls and bowls of meat soup.  I will need to figure out what that is.  It appears that she might have had at least one surgery done by a doctor from Hong Kong.  Also, her foster siblings are around the same age as she is.

I think she is saying "Don't touch my cake."

Could she be any cuter?  Please hurry home.

Blogger won't let me rotate this picture.

I looked back to what I was doing around the time that she was born.  It was right after Easter that year which is appropriate since she was born in the year of the rabbit.  I was getting together with some wonderful college friends.  It was also a time that I was really struggling with not having a daughter.  I was strongly grieving during this time and even began to see a counselor that May to try and let go of the strong desire and the grief.  It was a very difficult time for me.  Unknown to me, my daughter was already born and was about to experience a tremendous loss of her own.  I do feel so much sadness for her loss and for her birthparents' loss.  I pledge to help her grieve her losses when the time is right.  I promise to always honor her birthparents and her birth culture.  Most of all, I will always love her and will be a safe place for her.  Please pray for her sweet heart as she is about to go through so many changes and experience so many losses.  Emma Grace, we already love you so very much.