Video of Ya Nan Singing-at 8:30 on video

Our Beautiful Ya Nan

Our Beautiful Ya Nan
From the moment I saw her, I knew she had my heart...

Our Timeline

8-21-12: Saw our Daughter's face for the first time
8-31-12: Decided she is indeed a Johnson
9-17-12: Home Study Visit
9-24-12: Home Study Visit
10-18-12: I800A received
11-5-12: Walk-in Fingerprints
11-28-12: I800A Approval
12-17-12: DTC
12-27-12: LOI
1-17-13: OOT
2-1-13: LOA (China approved 1-29)
2-4-13: I800 received at lockbox
2-15-13: I800 request for evidence
4-26-13: RFE sent
5-1-13: I800 Approved
5-6-13: GUZ #
5-7-13: Cabled
5-9-13: Article 5 Drop Off
6-11-13: Article 5 Approved
6-13-13: Article 5 Pick Up
6-21-13: TA
Leave for China!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Timelines and Paperwork

The past couple of weeks have been filled with Paperwork Frenzy!  For those new to the adoption process, here's what I've been up to:

In order to adopt from China, families must go through a series of steps.  Sometimes the steps are done in specific order and sometimes they are out of order based on when you receive your referral.  I am keeping a timeline log on the side of the blog for reference on how quickly, or not so quickly things progress.  Here's a list of the steps:

Application for China agency

Application for Home Study agency (if different)

LOI-Letter of Intent, a letter written by our family that expresses our desire to adopt and care for Yanan

Home Study-8 to 14 page document that outlines our family's history, health, finances, family
         interactions, adoption recommendations, and approval to adopt

I800A-Preapproval from the US government to bring an orphan into the US, includes getting
         fingerprinted for a federal background check

DTC-Dossier is sent to China, Dossier is a very important packet of documents that China translates  
         and uses to give us approval to adopt, these documents have to be certified, state sealed, and
         authenticated by the Chinese consulate

LID-Log in Date, the date China receives our dossier

LOA-Letter of Acceptance, letter stating that we have been approved by China to adopt a
         specific child (Yanan)

I800-Approval by the US government to petition a visa for a specific orphan (Yanan)

NVC Cable-National Visa Center will electronically send our approval of the visa petition to the China

NVC Letter-The official letter from the NVC that our petition has been forwarded to the Embassy

Article 5-Embassy verifies that all paperwork is in order to child visa to be issued

TA-Travel Approval, typically leave for China about a week or so later

CA-Consulate Appointment, Yanan's Adoption Day in China!

There are lots of steps and paperwork that goes along with each of the steps listed above.  Many China adoptions of our nature take a year or more.  Our agency is hoping for 9 months of less.  We know how big God is and we are praying that God will intercede and bring her home before her 13th birthday.  We've gotten off to a great start.  As of now, we have almost all of our dossier documents ready to go.  The packet will be mailed this week to our China agency for processing and authenticating.  We have completed our home study visits and the plan is to have a home study draft by the end of the week.  Our Letter of Intent was completed and sent last Friday!  We have our I800A application ready to send when our home study is complete.

If things continue as planned, we will leave for Disney this Saturday knowing our I800A and home study will be sent to USCIS while we are on vacation!  It's amazing to see how quickly God has allowed the paperwork and steps to progress.  Please join us in praying for those who review and approve our documents.  We know, as her parents, that no one else is as passionate about bringing her home as we are.  But our prayer is that others will process our paperwork quickly and with care.  It's difficult to see her face and not have the ability bring her home right away.  So I am working on the things I can control and trying to giving the rest to God.  So far, that has worked... But we are only 3 weeks in and her video is getting played several times a day by this momma!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hearing His Voice

Isn't it intriguing how God speaks to each of us differently?  And sometimes, it's what He doesn't say that is the most important.  As I mentioned in my first post, there were many God moments during the week of deciding whether we were meant to be Yanan's family.  My heart absolutely wanted to jump.  It's a heart that has a special place for the orphaned...  A heart that has felt the disappointment of not having a "real" mother and father.  A heart that has been filled with love a forever mother and father that didn't give birth to me.  A heart that was healed by the ultimate Father.

Yanan just so happens to be the same age I was when I gained an earthly mother and father that provided the love and support I had longed for as a younger child.

Of course I rationalized so many what if scenarios.  For example, what do I know about raising teenagers?  And then I realized that it's not what I know but that I be obedient.   "God does not call the equipped, He equips the called."  I pray that my daily interaction with 850 teenagers will somehow help me be the best mother I can be.  And maybe God will use my own life experiences to provide insight on the loss and hurt she has and will experience.  Most importantly, the absolute unconditional love that I have for her will hopefully radiate and bring glory to her heavenly Father.  Because this is the most important task as a parent.  

As I began to pray that week, I originally prayed that God would speak so loud that I couldn't ignore His words.  By midweek, I learned that what I really needed was to be quiet and listen because He was speaking all along.

Last night, as I was perusing in a store, I came across metal crown.  When I saw it, I thought to myself. Yanan is my daughter, but she is ultimately the daughter of the King.  So that crown came home with me and I hope to use it as a tool to explain to her how loved she is, not only my birth and adoptive family but also by her heavenly Father.  

Sometimes God doesn't show us the entire picture of how He is working in our lives.  But I must say this week, He gave me a glimpse of how one little girl who needed a family made a huge impact.  An adoptive mom contacted me yesterday to say that her family had been praying about whether or not they were meant to be Yanan's family.  Her post is amazing in the way she explains how her voice was saying yes, but that God was speaking differently.  She ends her post with these words:

It wasn't the finances that stopped us for Candice (Yanan's agency given name) or the crazy looks or concerns that our family and friends would give us when we said we were adopting a 12 year old it was the fact that God has asked me quite clearly to be one of His sheep and to listen to His voice, not mine. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)

I am going to do my very best to advocate for her and see if she comes back to us or goes to the family that God intended to be hers. Here is her sweet and beautiful face and she is with Living Hope on their individual list. I do not want to ever see her on an aging out list. She has a year and a half before she ages out and Living Hope has promised a fast time frame to her even if you are starting from scratch on a dossier. Are you her forever family? Please strongly consider praying with your spouse about lovely Candice. 

You see this was posted on the same day that God confirmed with Ryan and I that we were meant to be Yanan's parents.  So it's not always what God says, but what He doesn't say.  But God knew we would need support and resources to help bring her home.  It just so happens that this sweet adoptive mom has a gift at fundraising and helps other families bring home their children.  Another God moment...

My prayer is that Yanan will look back at these moments when she arrives home and know that not only do we love her to China and back, but that God loves her more!

Click here to see a video of our precious girl singing about hope in difficult times and when we work hand and hand the problem will be solved...  She's at about 8:20 in the video with a yellow jacket and pink cheeks. :o)

Monday, September 17, 2012

If the Shoe Fits...

We have big news!  News that will create joy, happiness, excitement, and anxiety.  Our family is growing through adoption, again!  The Author of our lives has penned a story of love, selflessness, loss, mercy, obedience, second chances, and wild faith!  We are over the moon excited about what lies ahead for a our family and our new daughter!  Here's the story and God glory behind our decision:

On a typical Tuesday afternoon, I was reading through some adoption friend blogs and stumbled upon a fellow blogger's China advocacy page.  I regularly search and advocate for available Chinese children who are in search of a forever family.  I am particularly drawn to older children and children with special medical needs.  I guess you could say it's my heart for the orphan and trying to make a difference one child at a time.  As Helen Keller said, "I can't do everything, but I can do something."

This particular day I found myself on a F@cebook page I'd never visited before.  My Overthinking (I never do that, lol) is a page created by an adoptive mother who also shares a burden for orphans.  As I scrolled through her page, I saw this photo:

At that moment, my heart began to race and an amazing feeling that I have felt twice before consumed me.  So many emotions and thoughts were flooding my mind as I read her profile paragraph: "... is absolutely beautiful, and she needs a family."  Those words stung as a child should never be without a family.  The caption went on to say "She's a fun and lovely 12-year-old girl."  A 12 year old girl was not what I had in mind when I dreamed of adopting again.  But I'm sure a conversion was the last thing Saul dreamed of when he sat out for Damascus...  I immediately thought to myself, oh no, there is no way Ryan is going to agree to a.) adopt again and b.) adopt a teenage girl!  Turns out God knows my husband better than I do!  After praying together, seeking God's will, and listening for God's voice, He confirmed that she is indeed our daughter.

There are so many God moments that have occurred from the day I first saw her photo and the night we committed to be obedient to God's call for our family.  Here are a few:
-Even before I saw her face, God was preparing us:  our pastor focused specifically on orphans and the plight of children in a sermon just over a month ago.
-Our son, not knowing about a possible sister from China, came home excited to have been selected for Chinese club at school where he will learn about the Chinese culture and basic Chinese dialogue.
-There were numerous scripture references and stories from the Bible that connected back to our obedience, caring for the orphan, and living a life worthy of the call.
-While reading the Hole in the Gospel (a wonderful book), I stumbled upon a chapter that discussed our call and being willing to go and walk a Christ like life.  I remembered a pair of Sperry's that Chase had outgrown.  I had spent the day trying to give them away as little girls and boys wear them and I was looking for someone to get some use out of them.  I didn't have any luck that day and brought them back home.  It was as if God said to me as I read the chapter from the book, If the Shoe Fits...  I immediately gathered up the shoes and checked Yanan's file, only to find they fit Yanan exactly according to her chart.  Just under the size label, the words read: "Made in China."  God revealed our daughter was made in China but I would walk there to bring her home if I had to!

We know she's older and we will have less time with her than our other children.  We know that she has preconceived notions of life and family.  But as a blog friend so elegantly put it:

"Hard days will lie ahead...  Challenges to tackle, Walls to come down
But the Author of her life is the knower of all fear, the Healer of all wounds,
The Redeemer of all brokenness and the Giver of all hope."

And for that... We find peace, excitement, and joy!  

Who knew a pair of shoes would help confirm what God had been confirming for the past two weeks as Ryan and I prayed about our journey to our daughter.

Some will wonder why a 12 year old.  Our response is why not?
"The timing may be unexplainable to the world, but
He called this mother and father to a 12-year-old girl in China
and whispered His promises of hope and peace."

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,  "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Please pray for us as we work frantically to complete all the necessary paperwork to bring our daughter home.  We are so thankful for the love of family and friends to share in our journey to our daughter.

There's so much more to say and I plan to record it here so that one day in the near future Yanan will be able to see God's ability to create a family in which love is stronger than genetics.