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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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas, LOI, and PA

It's been a wonderful few weeks. The hustle and bustle of Christmas missed us this year! We are blessed to have family close and have been able to relax and enjoy the Christmas season. Being home and spending time together has been special. I've savored the last couple of weeks as I know that things will be busy and hectic after the new year. Waiting on LOA hasn't been on my mind every second. I have listened to Third Day's Merry Christmas song and thought about how special it will be to have Maeli here with us next Christmas. I wondered if they even acknowledged Christmas at the orphanage... I received a wonderful Christmas present on December 26th from an American couple volunteering at the orphanage. They said that the children celebrated Christmas with a special program in which Maeli danced and participated in a magic show. The children received treat bags, warm shoes, and a blanket for Christmas. They ate chicken, french fries, and cake. What a blessing to know she celebrated her first Christmas. I am thankful to the volunteers and those who are loving her while we work to bring her home. Hopefully there will be some photos from the program that I can get soon. Over Christmas break, we told Emma about her new big sister. She is SO excited and talks about Maeli often. We felt that we better fill her in since she was beginning to think Maeli's room was her new room! Emma says that she can't wait for her sister to come. Bless her heart, it's going to be a long several months!

On December 27th, our agency emailed to let us know they have submitted our Letter of Intent (LOI) for Maeli. This is a letter from us requesting that we be allowed to adopt Maeli. Typically pre-approval comes within a week from the Chinese government. We were excited to get pre-approval the following day! :)

Now we wait as the Chinese government processes our file and ultimately grants our letter of acceptance (LOA). This could take several weeks or a few months. We are certainly praying that we are granted LOA quickly! Please pray for a quick LOA wait! In the meantime, we are going to enjoy these last few moments as a family of four and also look forward to becoming a family of five!

Here's a sneak peek of her room. Still a work in progress but hopefully finishing it soon!

- Jessica

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Praying by Name and DTC

We are DTC! I am so ecstatic to be one step closer!

It's been a great week! We are officially DTC (Dossier To China). That means our home study, paperwork, and LOI are on its way to China. It will arrive Thursday in Beijing and be delivered in person by our agency rep on Friday. We should get confirmation in 2-3 weeks that we have been logged into the system. There are a few minor steps in between but after that we wait for China to send us official approval to bring our sweet girl home! Travel will come approximately 8 weeks after approval (LOA). There is much to be done as we wait for our LOA. I need to finish her room, prepare our home and family for helping her to be able to communicate and understand her surroundings when she comes home, find an English/Chinese Bible, read as much information as possible about adoption and enjoy the two blessings that are here. Oh, and get up to speed on travel tips for China... I think the list goes on and on!

We have also decided on a name for our sweet girl! Her birth name is important to us. We have thought and prayed hard about what her name will be. We want to honor her birth family, heritage, and preference. Recently we were able to ask through American volunteers at the orphanage about her wishes for an American name. We were willing to keep her full Chinese name if she chose. She responded with a no preference for keeping all or part of her name. Since her birth father has been a significant part of her life, we wanted to honor his family name by keeping it as part of her American name. Her Chinese "last" name is Li. After considering many combinations of incorporating Li we have decided to name her Maeli Claire. Our sweet girl will have an American name with a Chinese meaning. The pronunciation of Maeli sounds like the word beautiful in Chinese and we happen to think she quite a beauty!

- Jessica

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Truthlets: Bringing Ya Nan Home

What's better than a cute bracelet? A bracelet with a bit of truth written on it! These unique and stylish bracelets are perfect for accenting an outfit. Truthlets are fabric cuff bracelets with an elastic and button closure that includes a scripture verse.

Stephanie, the creator, loves adoption and offers them as a fundraising option for adoptive families. I ordered 25 in various fabrics and verses to help bring our sweet girl home. I was so excited when they arrived in the mail today!

How amazing to pick the first truthlet out of the pile and realize the scripture is the same verse that I picked to use in Ya Nan's room! Psalm 45:11 "The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor Him for He is your Lord.". I didn't know which verses would be in the lot but it's neat to know how God works and confirms in our lives! Needless to say that truthlet will be the one I wear until our girl comes home and I give it to her!

Here's a sampling of the what Truthlets look like. They are $15 each (local) or $17 shipped. With several fabrics and verses to choose from, send me an email or message if you'd like help picking out a certain color combo or verse. These would make wonderful stocking stuffers or Christmas gifts for tweens, teens, and adults.

- Jessica

Thursday, December 6, 2012


The wait is HARD. At times it can seem unbearable. To have a child born in your heart and be miles apart is difficult. I worry if she's hungry, happy, if she feels hope, has someone to give her hugs, knows that we are coming, is safe... To be powerless is difficult-unable to comfort, console, encourage, and love on her. So to keep my sanity, I try to find Joy in the two blessings I have here although I still find myself planning around 3. Guess it goes back to the born in my heart feeling. I've also helped get my mind off of the wait, I started about ten new projects! This can be overwhelming because my OCD wants to do them all and check them off the list, ha! So here's a few things I've been up to:
I found this wonderful booth at the Nashville Christmas village this year. You can find her awesome work here.
I loved the fabric lights and decided to make a string for Ya Nan's room.

So I gathered a 1/2 yard of 10 different fabrics and some white Christmas lights.

I cut the fabric into 1.5" by 10" strips. Well let's says that's a lot of strips! So this project is still in progress! Stay tuned for the finished product. :)

Since we don't know when LOA will come and I will be obsessed with travel details at that point, I started working on Ya Nan's bedroom a few weeks ago. Our house has 4 bedrooms so our office that once was in the spare bedroom had to be moved and painted... So we went from a taupe office to a pretty blue green room!

The painting project is finished and furniture has been placed in the room. I debated on whether or not to "decorate" her room or allow her to choose and pick things out. We decided to paint (since blue is her favorite color) and do some decorating as not to overwhelm her with choices when we first get home. I didn't want her room to be completely empty compared to the other kiddos who have rooms that are decorated and full. If she doesn't like the room, we will redecorate after she is settled! More photos to come when that project is finished!

I decided to use restyled vintage furniture for her room. The drawers needed to be lined so I purchased some pretty scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby and some Modge Podge.

I used the paper as lining and created a protective coat and sealer with the Modge Podge. Here's the finished project:

I wanted to use a variety of frames in her room to display photos and prints. I've found some great frames at consignment stores and it's amazing what a can of spray paint can do!
Some of the frames I used to create a magnetic board and dry erase board.

And some of the frames will hold important messages I want Ya Nan to keep in her heart. Like this print from Prints Charming:

Our prayer is that she knows just how much we love her forever and always!
More to come. Off to try to complete work on a project!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I800A Approval

We have approval from US Immigration to bring an orphan into the US! It's been a crazy couple of weeks with a computer error at the processing center and a delay with Veteran's day and Thanksgiving. However, we are approved and that's wonderful news!

Our I800A application was approved on November 28th. The approval letter arrived in the mail Friday. Within an hour it was overnighted to our agency so they can seal and authenticate it. Once that is finished, our dossier (home study, I800A, and other documents) will be sent to China for approval. The governing body over Chinese adoptions (CCCWA), can take anywhere from several weeks to 4 months to give approval. This will be the hardest part of the wait because of the lack of information and predictability of this step. So in the next couple of weeks we should be DTC (dossier to China). Please pray that state seals and authentication are processed quickly. I am praying for DTC by December 15th. Our ultimate goal is to travel to China before her 13th birthday in April. It will still take approximately 8 weeks after receiving approval from the CCCWA before we can leave for China. We know all things are possible! We serve a God who works in amazing ways. We are praying for Him to move in a mighty way!
I've tried to stay busy during the I800A wait in order to keep from calling USCIS everyday. We've been focusing on getting her room decorated and ready. Pictures to come! :)
- Jessica