Monday, November 28, 2011

Sent the Girls Their First Package

Well, the gifts are packaged up.  I'm praying Bill made it to the post office in time to send it off today.  We've been putting this together for a couple of weeks now. I hope they will get it before Christmas.  I'm nervous & anxious.  Hopefully we'll be able to find out that they did get the package.  And hopefully they will be happy with the news that they are about to become sisters & have a new family.  Please pray for our girls hearts to be open to this. 

Here are a few pictures. 

Hope's Package
Maggie's Package (she also got a Minnie Mouse t-shirt)

Package is ready to send

Praying it makes it to their orphanage in 1 piece

One more thing to Check off our to do list!

So, USCIS told us to come next Monday for our fingerprint appointment.  Well several friends told us to go and walk in. So we took the chance.  And they were so nice!  The place was practically empty.  We were in and out of there in about 20 minutes.

I'm so happy and relieved.  This is the last thing that we needed to do in collecting stuff for our dossier.  Now we wait for the approval. Then get it certified and then everything authenticated and then it's off to China.  Please pray that this process will go quickly.  Friends have waited close to 90 days for this approval.  We hope it's not that long. 

Our Adoption Testimony

 The whole service at our church yesterday was on Adoption. Bill was asked to give our adoption testimony.  Here is what he wrote:

Good morning. For those of you who don't know me my name is Bill Byrne.  Last week Pastor David asked me if I would share my testimony about adoption of course  I said yes. Then I stopped and thought about talking in front of four hundred people and wondered if I could really do this. Forgive me in advance if I get a little emotional. I can guarantee it will probably happen.

So, adoption... believe it or not our family has a tiny bit of knowledge in this area.
God placed adoption in our lives probably starts about 17 to 18 years ago. Debbie and I were married back in August of '91 and I would say shortly there after we decided we wanted to have children. I should emphasize that we decided this. It was not something that we prayed about. It was just something that we wanted. Well apparently this was not Gods time for us. After a couple of years we gave up thinking about it and went out and bought a mustang and a swimming pool. Funny thing is, God has a sense of humor and one month later we found out Debbie was pregnant. Guess what doesn't fit in the backseat of a mustang but fits perfectly in a  mini-van, Yup, a car seat. So along came Tiffani. Life was good and we enjoyed watching her grow. Two years had past and we decided to try for another child but again this was not Gods timing. For 8 years we tried but it just wasn't happening. This was a very frustrating time in our lives. It just didn't make sense but God is good and His timing is perfect.

So, the next logical step was to talk about whether we were meant to have any more children or if adoption was something for us.  We discussed it and Debbie really felt led to adopt from China but I was totally against it. I thought there are way too many children in our own country to talk about adopting from somewhere else. We made the choice to look into domestic adoption but everywhere we turned the doors were closed. It was discouraging. We had all this love that we wanted to share but we couldn't get any help. So again, we decided to just forget about it. We prayed that if God wanted us to have more children it would happen and we would trust him. God is good and His timing is perfect.

What was funny to me next is where God will talk to you. We happened to be at Epcot of all places. We had decided to go into the China pavilion to watch their movie and when we left I looked over at Debbie and asked her "Do you know what I am thinking?" Of course she said she had no idea. I told her that we had a daughter waiting for us in China. I think she was just a little surprised by that. The greatest part of this story, aside from getting our beautiful daughter Abigail was the fact that we found out she was born that very week we had been at Epcot watching that movie.  A little over a year from that weekend we met Abby for the very first time. So Yes, God can even talk to you when you are at Disney. God is good and His timing is perfect.

During this time we were able to meet another family, the Clarks, that lived less than an hour away from us. They were on the same timeline that we were on. We were able to meet with them prior to going to China and when we had gotten our referral for Abigail they got their referral for Kya. The girls were from the same orphanage. To most people this would have been a strange coincidence but we knew otherwise. This connection that had been planned by God led us to the eventual adoption for Jadyn. See, shortly after being home with Abby and seeing how easy the process was I was ready to adopt again. So was Kya's mom, Dawn. Dawn had started looking through adoption lists and found Jadyn and forwarded a photo of her to Debbie. Debbie instantly started crying and said to me that she knows Dawn is looking at her file but she felt in her heart that this was our daughter. I did not have those same feelings at that point but for the next few nights I could not sleep and just felt sick. I was feeling that Debbie was right and this was our daughter but how could that be. Someone was already looking at her file. Why would God put this on our hearts. Well, the Clarks had prayed long and hard and were just not sure that God was leading them to Jadyn. The same week they were considered this I had a trip that I had to take to DC which is only 20 minutes from our adoption agency. By the time I had gotten to DC Dawn had told Debbie that she just didn't think God meant for Jadyn to be a part of their family and we could review the file. So I hopped in the rental car and drove over to the agency to review the file and within a few minutes I knew this was our daughter. I ask myself all the time what if God had not put this family in our lives would we have seen this file. Would we have found our daughter. Would Jadyn have ever been given a family. Well, One year later we were bringing Jadyn home. The funny part about all this again was that the Clark Family did find another child that was meant for their family and we were able to travel with them again to China to bring our girls home. Anyone who has gone through an international adoption knows that the chances of this happening once are crazy and twice is just amazing.  The girls are all good friends and they are all within four months of each other in age. God is good and His timing is perfect.

During this whole process I was able to make a connection with Bring Me Hope. For those who do not know, Bring Me Hope is an organization that puts on summer camps for orphans in China. I had been working with them for a few years now but was never able to go to a camp because of the adoptions. I finally had a chance to go in 2008 and it literally changed my life. I came home from this camp with a strong desire to adopt an older girl but Debbie and the rest of the family were not on the same page. Debbie wanted a son. I know it sounds strange but I was scared of that. All I knew was girls and I'm not big on change. Could I bond with a Boy. More importantly do I have the energy for a Boy. Well I guess so because a year and a half later We had Ethan. There were a lot of awesome God things that happen through Ethan's adoption too, like meeting the Sublett family. This is a family that traveled with us for Ethan. We were actually supposed to travel a couple weeks earlier but God had a different plan. The Sublett's were bringing home an older girl. The cool thing about our connection with their family is that we were able to help them with a second adoption for another older girl. I can't get into all of the details because of time but I can just say that another child was able to be united with her forever family because Gods travel plans were different from our travel plans and we were able to meet this family. God is good and His timing is perfect.

So where has God brought us now. Well, 3 years after going to that camp and then going to another camp this last summer I still felt led by God to adopt an older girl and Debbie was finally warming up to the idea. See the funny thing here too is that we just moved into a new house about a year ago and decided when building it that we would add an extra bedroom, just in case. I guess this was almost like tempting God. We thought we had it all planned and would build one extra bedroom just in case we adopted again but what did God have in store for us. Well, Debbie and I we just sitting around talking a couple months ago and jokingly she asked how much harder would it be to adopt two? I thought she was crazy but at the same time I thought to myself how much harder could it be. We decided to get on the web and a that same time our Adoption Agency was posting files of two older girls. They are 11 and 12 years old and have grown up together. We said something to our girls to see how they would feel about something like this and we were blown away. All of the girls said yes and they would move rooms and even get bunk beds to make room for them. We still were not 100% positive. One of the girls has a cleft lip and palette and we were not sure that the palette had been repaired. Well about a month earlier I was having dinner with the Clark family and Dawn had made the comment that we would just know when we found our Hope. Would you believe it. This girls English name is Hope. We just knew at this point that we were supposed to trust God and just do it. See, we could have made so many excuses. We don't have the room. We don't have the money. We don't time. Our car is too small. They don't speak English. And the list goes on. These were all just excuses not to follow God's calling. If God did not want this for our family why would he have given us all these signs. We had to stop fighting it and just trust in Him. Hopefully by the end of this summer we will be bringing home Hope and Maggie, two Chinese girls that will soon be finding out that their lives will be changing forever all because of Gods vision revealed to a young man in Southern California that thought it would be neat to do summer camps for orphans China. God is good and His timing is perfect.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Look What Came in the Mail Yesterday!

YAHOO!  Finally, our fingerprint appointment with USCIS.  So excited. And it's only a week from now. 

One step closer to our girls! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you & your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

We are thankful for the beautiful kids we have and for the 2 more who are waiting for us in China.  Next year this time we'll have 6 kids in our home.  So exciting! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Certified Dossier & a Teaser

Last week, we sent our whole dossier (minus the 797C from Homeland Security) to Tallahassee to get certified.  All of the papers that were notarized in our dossier (paperwork to China) needs to be certified by the state.  So we chose to certify all of the papers now. We are missing 1 paper for our dossier, which is our fingerprint approval from Homeland Security. 

Well today we received all of the papers back from Tallahassee, CERTIFIED!  Woo Hoo!  I am so relieved.  Last time for Ethan's adoption, there was an issue with one of the notary's stamp so they could not certify the form.  Thankfully this time everything is good! 

Well, the day before we sent our papers to Tallahassee, we sent the I800a application to Homeland Security. They received it the next day (Nov 8).  This past Sunday we received an email & text saying they have received it and are processing it and we should be getting our fingerprint appointment in the mail within 10 days.

Well today, this little piece of paper came in the mail.  I was excited and ripped open the envelope.  Well, it's just a notice saying they have received our application and they are processing it and we will be getting our appointment letter soon.  UGH!  We already received this info on Sunday!  So now we still wait for our appointment letter.  Hopefully it will be soon.

So we still wait.  And wait!  That is the name of the game right now.  We have hit the waiting stage.  Oh how fun!

We are in the process of putting care packages together for the girls.  We just need to work on their letters.  Hopefully we'll be able to get these out soon.  I'll post pictures when they are ready to go.

Until next time....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We can send a package!

Wow! I really was not expecting to hear the words "Yes, you are allowed to send the girls a package now".  Really?  This soon?  In the past, we have had to wait for China to give the final approval.  So far, we just have the pre-approval.  Which means that China says we can adopt the girls, as long as our paperwork is in order. They will give the final ok once they are able to review that (which will be sooner rather than later we hope).

So, we can send them gifts now.  What do you send an 11 & 12 year old girl who has no idea that they are about to be adopted, and that they are about to become sisters???

Of course there is the obvious: PHOTOS!  I already have 2 photo albums with pictures of our family. I want them to see who their family is and hopefully love us like we love them.

And then of course we'll send them a disposable camera.  I want them to take photos of their friends & their everyday life.  I want them to keep these photos for themselves.

And then I want to send them a Panda Bear.  I want them to snuggle with something.

What else should we pack?  Most likely candy.  :-)  And some toiletries (like toothbrush/toothpaste, hair brush & hair clips).

This will probably be their Christmas gift.  We don't want to send anything expensive that could get stolen or could cause issues in the orphanage.  But we also want this to be something special for them so they will be excited to open their package.

Hopefully we'll get out today or sometime this weekend to pick up some things.  I will take a picture of their goodies before we send it.

OH, and this is interesting.  It will probably be our package that lets them know that they have a family, and that they will be sisters.  We have no idea if or when the orphanage plans on telling the girls. So this makes me nervous.  How do we write the letter?  "Hello ChunWei, we are your family. And FuFang is your sister".   This is something we need to pray over because I want them to be excited when they read our letter, not be scared.

Things seem to be moving so much faster this time.  Our I800a application is at Immigration and we are waiting for our fingerprint appointment. And the rest of our dossier (paperwork) is in Tallahassee getting certified.  Bill is thinking we could travel in June.  That would be awesome. Then we would have the whole summer together as a family.  Please just continue to pray.  God's timing is perfect and we know that.

Thanks for everything!  And if you have any suggestions for their package please let me know.  :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Introducing Hope & Maggie

We would like for you to "meet" Hope Nicole FuFang & Maggie Faith ChunWei.

Hope Nicole FuFang is 12 years old. Her birthday is May 19, 1999.  She has been in the orphanage since she was 1 day old.  She had a cleft lip and cleft palate.  Her cleft lip was repaired when she was 5 years old. 

She obeys the rules in the school and gets on well with other children. She is fond of PE classes and painting classes. After back in school, she can finish the homework on time.

She is an outgoing girl who is active, restless and found of sing children’s songs, listening to music, watching TV, playing games. She is quick in reaction and energetic. Her favorite activities are singing and playing with other children. She is a talkative, lovely girl who has a ready smile.

She is 50 pounds and 46 inches tall.  She's small. Just for comparison, Jadyn is 49 inches tall and she's 7 years old.

Maggie Faith ChunWei is 11 years old.  Her birthday is June 1, 2000. She has been in the orphanage since she was 2 days old.  The SN (special need) she has  is torticoliar cleidomastoid.  This is a description I found online....
-A contracted state of the neck muscles that causes the neck to rotate and tilt sideways, forwards, or backwards. Also called wryneck.
-an abnormal position of the head, usually with the neck bent to one side, caused congenitally by contracture of muscles, muscular spasm, etc.
She had surgery in 2004 when she was 4 years old and from what we can tell by her reports, she is doing fine.  The surgery was a success.

She is obedient, and she is united to the classmates, can obey class discipline; she likes having the PE and art class. After school she can finish the homework in time, and teaches younger sisters and brothers to sing songs, recite ancient poems. She was taken by the bus with other children; they often go to school and return home with singing.

Extroverted, active, lovely, fond of playing games, listening to music, singing nursery songs, watching TV, and she is polite, clean, and her clothes are always very clean, which are put in the closet in order. Sometimes she has bad temper, likes crying, and she is a clever and smart little girl.

She is 55 pounds and 51 inches.  She is about the same size as Abby who is 8.

Both girls are in the same orphanage. They are in the Anhui Province.  We have never been to this part of China so we're excited to go there.

Thank you for your prayers, love & support. Please keep checking this blog for updates.  We are not sure when we'll get new photos.  Of course when we do, I will post them here.



Welcome to our new blog for Hope & Maggie. I plan on using this blog to journal the paperchase, waiting, and for travel.  It's a work in progress.  So keep checking back.  I will be "introducing" you to our newest daughters very soon. 

Thanks for following our journey.  We are excited and eager to meet the girls. 

Love, Debbie