Thursday, July 31, 2014

The one where we explain DTC, LID, & speculate about the future (again)

When you're adopting--doesn't matter from where--every phone call from an unknown number, every email that comes in, every alert of a new message means it could be THE ONE. 


but....the reality is that most of the time they're not: they're simply telemarketers & junkmail

or they're the type of contact you really didn't want to get; like the one [or 2 or 3] in our case where something wasn't quite right with our paperwork & we needed to chase down someone, make a day trip to Raleigh (again), or call in a favor.

BUT sometimes....oh my....sometimes THEY ARE ACTUALLY THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR!

Friday, July 25th= Dossier to China

We are DTC!!!

In short, our Dossier is a compilation of 13 documents about Jonathan & I, who we are, what we do, our finances, our home study, etc--that have been legally approved by Cabarrus County, the North Carolina Secretary of State, the US Secretary of State, the office of US Immigration Services, & the US Chinese Consulate.  The completed & approved packet was reviewed for accuracy & translated into Chinese by our agency & mailed to China on July 25th, 2014---or our "DTC Day"!!

Next step, wait.

We were notified Monday, July 28th, 2014 that our dossier had made it across the world & had been delivered to the China Center for Children's Welfare & Adoption (CCCWA).  They are the people/organization that approves us to adopt our boys, so they are pretty important to us & we pray for them DAILY.  For real.

Then today, oh today's news came much quicker than we anticipated!

We are LID!!
This means today is our "log in date": the date that our dossier has been logged into China's system!  We're on their radar now folks!

So what now?

We wait.

But if you've been following our blog or know anything about international--or domestic for that matter--you probably already knew that :)

So sometimes the process moves REALLY fast, like this week, even when you least expect it.  Other times....oh the other times it moves so.very.slow.

Next step for us is to wait for our "letter of approval" [LOA].  This is the letter stating that the CCCWA has reviewed our packet & approved us to adopt the specific child(ren) we are currently matched to.  Rumor is an approx wait of 5-6 weeks for LOA from LID.  That puts us LOA around the week of September 11th. 

We are matched to our little "Teddy" (2.5 year old boy) & are still waiting to hear about the older kiddo we requested about originally.

We would LOVE for you to pray with us to move our paperwork through the system & get our boys home in time for Christmas!  What an amazing present that would be :-)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The one on his 5th Birthday

We're fresh off a weekend of celebrating our parent's 40th Wedding Anniversary in Atlanta & boy did we have a great time revisiting places, memories, & pictures that make a 40 year legacy of love & commitment! 

Turner Field

And then today: today marks our 7 year engagement anniversary.  7 Years ago my sweet, mischievous, sexy boyfriend asked me to be his wife in the most perfect way [for us].  Now here we are, in the midst of an incredible journey together

It was a great weekend but as I lay down tonight my heart is quite heavy. 

Somewhere, on the other side of the world, there is a little boy turning 5 today.  His day has already begun & so I wonder: has someone wished him a 'happy birthday'?  Is anyone going to celebrate his precious life today?  Will there be balloons, cake, & presents?  Will he feel special or celebrated?

On a day set designated for celebration I am left wondering if he knows: does he have any idea how much he is wanted?  How much he is loved?  Does he have any idea that he is loved by the Creator of the universe?  Does he know that he is fearfully and wonderfully made?  Does he know he has been created to leave a legacy in this world that is bigger than himself?  Does he know he is he is cherished & treasured by a family halfway around the world?  Does he know how deeply we long to hold him in our arms?  Oh Lord, does he know that he is loved? 

These are the musings of a waiting Mama....

And I wonder too, where was I on the day he was born?  What was I doing?  How was God working in my life to prepare me to be his Mama?  Where are his belly Mommy & Daddy now?  Are they thinking of him today & wondering how he is doing?  Are they celebrating today that they made the right choice in giving their son a different chance at life or are they grieving the unthinkable loss of not being about to care for him?

The honest answer to all of these questions is that I don't know & it is likely that I never will. There are so many more questions I will probably never have the answers to; & it is not for my own benefit alone that I wish we could know.  It breaks my heart to know he will have questions one day, so many questions, that we will never be able to answer this side of Heaven. 

So on this, the day of your birth, we will choose to celebrate what we do know: you are loved sweet child!  You are loved by this Mama & Daddy--& our wonderfully crazy family--& we cannot wait until we get to meet you, get to hold you, & get to celebrate you for the precious, valued life that you are!  More importantly, you are loved by the one & only Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe!  He knit you together in your belly Mommy's womb & He knows your inmost thoughts.  He has been with you every step of the way.  He has never left your side & He has incredible things in store for your life! 

The Voice (VOICE)
Psalm 139
For the worship leader. A song of David.
O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am;
You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.
    Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.
You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,
    and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know.
You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.
    It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.
You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,
    and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.
It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;
    the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?
    Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?
If I go up into heaven, You are there.
    If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there.
If I ride on the wings of morning,
    if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean,
10 Even then You will be there to guide me;
    Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there.
11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,
    the light around me will soon be turned to night,”
12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
    For You the night is just as bright as the day.
    Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.
13 For You shaped me, inside and out.
    You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
    You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
    Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
15     You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
    carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
16 You see all things;
    You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
    You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.
17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!
    How grand in scope! How many in number!
18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!
    Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

We celebrate you today, sweet one, & cannot wait to hold you in our arms!  Happy Birthday dear child~  Love, your Mama & Daddy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The one with the pity party

So just as an fyi, this post is not intended to be a self-induced pity venture on, it's ok!

Today we hit the one year mark.  One year since we said "Yes Lord" & launched this whole crazy adventure.  One year since we looked at our little one's face & knew God was calling us to step out of our comfort zone [domestic adoption] & let Him lead us to where our faith & our home know no boarders.  One year=365 days.  365 long days.  365 days where my heart & arms have ached to love & hold our little guy.  365 nights when our little one went to bed without goodnight kisses & 'nuggles from Daddy & Mama.  Countless booboos that we would have kissed, "firsts" we would have celebrated, & challenges we could have faced together as a family. 

One full year.  Ouch.

I thought he would be here by now.  My heart hurts that he is not. 

[Sidebar--we didn't learn about our "oops baby" until February, so we're at the 5 month mark on him]

My heart hurts that they are not here, snuggled into their beds in the room beside Jayson's.

Sometimes I think a year is a long time to wait & I want to feel sorry for myself, my family, & our waiting children. 

So I throw myself a pity party.  Like full-on "it's my party & I'll cry if I want to" pity-party.  For real.  You can ask JP.

But then there are weeks like this week....oh this week...

This week I have been reminded that this journey is full of pain for everyone involved.  Birthmoms, pain.  Orphaned children, pain. Waiting families, pain.  Families that are home, pain.  Children that are no longer orphans but are wrestling with healing, pain.  But those are topics for future posts...

This week I have been reminded that God's timing truly isn't our own & I am coming to greater understanding of the scriptures in Isaiah 55: 8-9 that read, "'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'"  

Umm...ok, I get it, but I really don't get it.  

This week I've had conversations with girlfriends who have struggled for years with infertility with no child at home to love.  I see posts of friends across the country who have watched their babes grow up for 3 years [or more] in pictures because that's what it takes to bring them out of their home country.  I received emails & FB messages from more than one friend who's tried domestic infant adoption only to be heartbroken time & time again [seriously, ALOT of times y'all].  I caught word that a friend's child has been taken to the hospital & they don't know why, how sick he is, or if he'll be able to come home when they travel IN 2 WEEKS.  Then there was the heart-wrenching story of our sister in Christ who gave their child back to the bio family that had previously said they could not care for him, after 3 years.  Y'all, this is some serious pain.

And these are just my "waiting Mama" friends.  This doesn't even touch on the families struggling through exhaustion, trying to connect with their adopted child, those figuring out medical complexities, or those in the trenches of the healing process with their little--or not-so-little--ones.

So knowing all this, what I really want to say is "I don't get it!  For the love! Come on God, fix this!

Because I know He can.  He promises us that He can (John 14:18), and I believe Him. 

Time & time again throughout scriptures we get to see the promises of God & how He answers them.  His promises are Truths we can all cling to, regardless of our circumstances:

He promises to never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

He promises to give us hope & a future (Jeremiah 29: 11-14). 

He promises that good will come of the troubles we face when we love Him (Romans 8:28-30).

He promises to do mighty things with only a small amount of faith (Matthew 17:20).

And I personally love how He promises to grant us peace & victory over the trials of this earth (John 16:33)! 

So it's going to be hard.  He doesn't promise ease & understanding (at least not that I have found!), and there will be crummy days we'd rather forget.  Maybe crummy weeks, or crummy seasons we wish we could change.  But He really is in all things, all we have to do is wait on Him.

I will choose, everyday, to wait on the Lord: trusting & believing He loves my babies more than I can fathom & that through this year-long wait, He has done something amazing in our kiddo that will ultimately show others the love of Christ.

So I will begin every day anew & I will choose wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).  And, I will also choose joy & gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)....instead of my pity-party ;-)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The one with all the Chosen Charlotte, EqualsZero--Team Patterson info

The best part of "the wait"--see previous post here--is that God is using this time to constantly humble us, encourage us, & challenge us!

We are humbled beyond words to have the loving support of our family, friends, & church community: individuals & couples have opened their homes & their hearts to love on us during this journey.  Families continue to earnestly pray for our little ones & our paperwork chase.  People who support us with their finances.  Those who offer us encouragement through prayer, kinds words, & extra tissues when the tears catch me off guard, in public. 

And we are reminded that our Heavenly Father loves us dearly & cares about every detail of this story.

Today our Pastor shared with our church family a little about our journey & the Chosen Charlotte Race that we will be participating in to raise money to help bring our little guys home. The Chosen Marathon is a race where all proceeds benefit adoptive families or adoption ministries.  Partnering with one of our favorite ministries, the Abba Fund, the race is expanding this year & Charlotte is one of the new locations.  Here in Charlotte, the Chosen family is partnering with Hendrick Motor Sports to commemorate the 10 lives lost in the tragic Hendrick Motor Sports plane crash in 2004, while honoring their enduring legacy through the gift of adoption. We are very excited to be building EqualsZero--Team Patterson with family & friends willing to run, walk, or volunteer to support the story God is writing in our lives.

So here are the nitty gritty details of the options you have to be a part of EqualsZero--Team Patterson:

*The 10 MILE race will be Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 8am.  Click here for more details & to register.

*To Run/walk the race with us: Click here & click the "Register Online" option.  Click the box beside "10 Miler" to register to run/walk the race.  After completing demographic info, select "EqualsZero--Team Patterson" under the "Team (optional)" drop down box.  You should see this option prior to paying the registration fee.  Registration is currently $55.

*To Volunteer & still be on our team: This is a 2-step process.  Step #1: click here & click the "Register Online" option.  Click the box labeled "sleepwalker" to register.  After completing demographic info, select "EqualsZero--Team Patterson" under the "Team (optional)" drop down box.  You should see this option prior to paying the registration fee.  Registration is $60.  Step #2: return here & click the "Volunteer" option.  This will direct you to a page where you can choose which area you would like to volunteer in.  Simply register for the area you feel led to serve.

*To Volunteer without paying a dime:  we live on a tight budget & understand that there may be a desire to serve, but no additional funds to register for a particular team; no worries!  Simply follow Step #2 above to register to volunteer without paying a dime. Your presence is welcome & you will still be very much appreciated!

*The Sleepwalker option is also available for out of town family & friends & those who cannot make it to the race in person!

This is a family event & we would like to encourage families, friends, & friends like families to team up to run, walk, or serve together! 

And please, do not feel obligated to financially or physically participate in any of this!  What we desire most is for you to gain knowledge about what God is doing in our world & in our community to bring His healing & restoration to orphaned children & their families.  This is just one of the ways He is showing our world how much He cares for us.  Ignorance & apathy are two of Satan's best tools in our comfortable American society; we invite you to join the fight & journey with us!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The one with the spring & summer of bittersweet celebrations...

In exactly 6 weeks--May 10th to June 27th--all 3 of us graduated: me from my graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Jayson from Kindergarten, 

& last but not least, Jonathan from his residency program at Cabarrus Family Medicine.

It's been a busy couple of months as we have celebrated with family, friends, & friends-like-family & these celebrations mark the end of a long journey for Jonathan & I.  You see, through the duration of our relationship--which is approaching the 10 year mark OH MY STARS--either Jonathan or I, or both of us, have been in school.  We began our courtship as I was beginning my undergraduate nursing program & he was applying to medical schools.  Fast forward almost 10 years & we now have lots of ancillary initials behind our names, delineating what the world says we can do as professionals.  And we are so very, very grateful for these journeys as they have challenged us as individuals & a couple.  We have learned how to love & support each other as we have pursued each of our God-given professional roles.  We have learned how to put the other's needs above our own.  We have learned the sacrifices it takes to accomplish dreams.  We have learned to lean fully on God, trusting Him to place us where He wants us. 

And now the lessons will continue, though they will look different for our entire family.  I started my graduate studies the month Jayson moved home with us--in hindsight, this was probably not the most brilliant idea, but God opened the door & provided the support we needed to make it work.  So now we get to learn how to relate to each other without the pressures of school or residency.  Yay!  It's like we're getting a fresh lease on life & we are very thankful to be in this season of Sabbath. 

So this should be the best summer of our lives right?  We have so many wonderful things going on in our lives & please hear me, we are so.very.grateful. for each & every one of these blessings!!

The bittersweet part for us is that we're stuck in "the wait." 

It's not exactly original, but "the wait," for those of you who have not experienced it's heartbreak & joy, is probably our least favorite part of the adoption process.  The last time we were here we waited a full calendar year for DSS to finally grant us permission for Jayson to move home with us--but that's a whole other post!  This time, the details of the wait are different but the challenges & emotions are much the same.  We requested the file of our soon-to-be 5 year old son a year ago.  And we have waited.  Waited to hear something, anything, stating they have documented his story & are ready to release it to us so we can formally tell the government that we want to adopt him.  During the wait, God surprised us with our 2 year old son.  We had already started our paperwork chase for our 5 year old, which now puts us closer to bringing our 2 year old home.  So during the wait, adoptive families chase paperwork: all sorts of paperwork.  Birth certificates, background checks, financial records, employment confirmations, passports, & medical labwork & examinations.  We've chased a lot of papers from here to Raleigh, Washington, & Atlanta.  The UPS guys know us by name :)

Our paperwork is completely out of our hands now, so our hands are 'empty' while we wait. 

Here in lies the most difficult part for this Mama.

Having been here before, we have somewhat of an idea of what lies ahead of us.  Challenges of the transition, sleepless nights, scared little boy(s) who do not understand what we're saying to them or that we love them.  But we will take them & embrace them, because they will be here.  And so, the many celebrations have been wonderful to keep us busy & help keep our minds off the things we cannot change: we have waited a year & our boys are still not with us.  There are millions of children, just like ours waiting for someone to love them.  The money it will take to bring them home.  The Super Typhoon that is headed their way as I type.  So many things that are out of our control.

And there is a lesson here for this Mama. 

 So I will cling to my mustard seed & trust Him.  And I am grateful that you are journeying with us.