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, June 30, 2013

Letter to Maeli

Baba, Mama, and Didi are in the hotel room, preparing to meet our guide who will take us to the Civil Affairs office to meet you for the first time. My heart rejoices that we are only minutes from meeting you and becoming a forever family of 5. My heart aches knowing that you will be leaving everything familiar to start a new life in a new country. I am amazed at your strength, courage, and resiliency in allowing us to be your family. There are so many things I want you to know about the past ten months when we first saw your beautiful and captivating face. I want you to know you were chosen, not because you needed to be rescued but because you are worthy and deserve to grow in a loving family.

You are loved. By us, but most importantly by God. Your extended family and church family have loved and prayed for you too. Even though we experience trials and difficult circumstances in our lives, we can always rely on God to love us. Sometimes we don't always know why negative things happen to us, but we know that no matter what life brings, God is always by our side. Our faith is strengthened when we are rely on His grace and mercies. My prayer is that you will grow to love Him in your own time and understanding.

I want you to know that it's okay to feel sad and anxious about what is to come. We will work hard to earn your love and trust. We want you to love your China family and your American family. We want you to always remember your roots and your heritage. Those are important parts of your life story. I want you to know you have our unwavering love and support now and always.

Maeli, we are so proud of you! Your talents and perseverance are examples of how God has blessed you. We want you to grow into a young woman who uses those talents and abilities to bring glory to God. We promise to help you grow and provide the love and care you need to grow into the person God has created you to be. Love makes a family grow. And love brought us to you!

- Jessica

Saturday, June 29, 2013

China Bound

At the airport! Delta waived all baggage fees so the money for shipping orphanage donations can go directly to the children at the orphanage. Praise God for His blessings! We have a short layover in Atlanta and the on to Seoul with our final stop in Zhengzhou, China. 147 Minus 1 in progress

- Jessica

Friday, June 28, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Bags are packed, the to-do list is done, and this family is ready to GO!

~Don't worry, a couple of these are donations and gifts ;)

This time tomorrow we should be boarding the plane that will take us to China! Here's our itinerary:

Saturday 6-30: Flight to China (Korean Air leaves Atlanta at 12:30am)
Monday 7-1: Arrive in Zhengzhou at 9:25am
2:30pm - Meet our daughter at the Civil Affairs Office
Tuesday 7-2: Complete adoption paperwork, visit orphanage
Wednesday 7-3: Local tour of Zhengzhou
Thursday 7-4: Travel to Chongqing to meet friends from China
Friday 7-5: Fly to Guangzhou
Saturday 7-6: Maeli's medical exam, visa photo, and visa paperwork
Sunday 7-7: City tour, go to church on the Island
Monday 7-8: TB test results
Tuesday 7-9: Consulate Appointment at 10am (Maeli is officially ours!)
Wednesday 7-10: Visa pick-up
Thursday 7-11: Take the train to Hong Kong
Friday 7-12: Disneyland Hong Kong
Saturday 7-13: Fly home from Hong Kong (12:45am)
Arrive in Atlanta at 11:30, Flight to Nashville at 3:05pm
Arrive in Nashville at 3:18pm
Homecoming at the airport

As you can see our schedule is quite busy! The first week is dedicated to finalizing Maeli's adoption for China. The second week is when the US recognizes her adoption during the consulate appointment. We will take an oath at the Consulate in GZ. Maeli will become a US citizen when she lands on US soil in Atlanta!

We invite anyone who would like to celebrate her homecoming with us to join us at the baggage claim area at the Nashville airport Saturday, July 13th at 3:00.

We are blessed to be leaving tomorrow to bring our daughter home. Please pray for safe travels and for Maeli's heart as she adjusts to her new family. Although she seems excited and ready, we also understand that she is leaving everything familiar and all she's known to come to a new and unfamiliar place. Leaving her country and her roots has to be difficult. We also ask for prayers for Emma, who will be well cared for by family but still away from us for two weeks while we travel. We appreciate the love and support. There are no words to describe how thankful we are for the endless love and prayer. Love truly does make a family grow! Maeli Claire is loved, chosen, and spoken for not only by her forever mom and dad but by the Heavenly Father!

- Jessica

We are Going to China!

Our prayers have been answered! We received our consulate appointment for July 9th! This was our first choice as it allows us to get Maeli home before the consulate closes in July and it gives us almost a month at home before school starts! That means we will meet our daughter next week! God has shown His power in a mighty way! Praise be to God.

My intentions for blogging earlier in the week were interrupted by the need to make travel plans including airline tickets that seem to increase by the minute! Again, God blessed us with friends who donated miles to help us bring our daughter home.  All arrangments are set and we are ready to go to China!!!  From flights, to hotels, to packing, to orphanage donations, God has worked it ALL out!  The to-do list(s) have been long, but with the help of friends and family:  It's complete!

We stand in awe at the wonderful way God uses His people to bless His people. We could never monetarily repay all those who have helped financially, with their talents, giving of their resources, or the power of their prayer during this journey. Please know how thankful we are by all the kindness and generosity you've shown! I'll post our itinerary tonight!

Much Love,
- Jessica

Monday, June 24, 2013

Travel Approval!

It's amazing how the adoption process can go weeks without any change and then within a matter of days, the process is moving quickly!  Our agency requested an expedited travel approval for Maeli when it was dropped off Friday, June 14th.  We received word Wednesday, June 19th, that Maeli's travel approval had been processed!  So essentially we had a 3 day travel approval wait!  Recently the system for processing travel approvals has been updated and wasn't printing for almost 3 weeks!  There are still many glitches and families waiting, so please keep them in your prayers!  We all want our children home as soon as possible and there seems to be no logical processing.  Then there's the consulate closure to move offices that will take place from July 12-23 in which no visas will be issued.  Any families that receive travel approval in the coming weeks will have to wait until the consulate starts processing visas again on July 24th.  Visa appointments are limited, so that could mean that families have wait another week for a slot.  Ultimately, the closure could create a three to four week delay if an appointment isn't available.  I'm amazed at how God shows His power and grace in a BIG way after months of disappointment and waiting.  I've begged God to bring Maeli home before school starts back.  I'd love to have several weeks at home with her before she begins school and a new routine.

Our official travel approval arrived Friday morning, so we have requested a Consulate Appointment (CA) for July 9, 10, 11, 24, or 25.  We are fervently praying for a July 9-11 date.  That means we would be leaving this week to go get our girl since finalization in province occurs a week before your consulate appointment.  It's amazing to think this time next week we may be flying to China to meet our daughter!!!  The to-do list is a mile long and we are certainly ready to travel if we can.  If we receive a July 24 or 25 date, we will leave on July 13.  We will know in the morning if one of our first three appointments are honored.  I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight.  I've been pretty emotional the past couple of days thinking about our journey to her.  I'm putting my hope in God that He has this.  He's had her in His hands from the beginning and I am at peace knowing that He will be holding her until I can get there.  Praying BIG and waiting for Him show His glory in her story!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Father's Day Dad!

A certain precious girl half-way across the world managed to send Father's Day love to her Dad! Praying she can experience just how wonderful her Daddy is soon!

- Jessica

Thursday, June 6, 2013

unSTUCK in Immigration... Again

It's been 5 very long weeks since my last post. Mostly, because we've been STUCK, again, in immigration. Maeli's visa application was sent to the US Embassy in China on May 9th and was scheduled to be processed and picked up May 23rd. Given the long delays with immigration previously and the fact that Maeli is considered an older child, our agency requested an expedited Article 5 (visa application) processing. However, we were never contacted prior to the two weeks that it was ready for pickup. In fact, when our agency representative went to pick up the approval letter on May 23rd, she was told Maeli's visa was not ready.
After many phone calls, emails, and congressional inquiries, we were told that given the unique nature of Maeli's case, they didn't need additional information but were asking for input from "experts" to make sure she met immigrant status. If there is one thing I've learned through this process, it's that things can change quickly. When I actually called the Embassy and talked to our officer, he was very nice and indicated that her case would be processed as soon as possible. Three weeks went by after our first phone call and I began to allow my thoughts to take me places that faith would not have allowed me to go. What if they deny her visa? What if they ask for additional information and it delays the process for several more months? What if? What if? And then I was reminded of the scripture I've prayed over and recited many times the past several months: Isaiah 41:10 "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." God is fighting. Maeli is His daughter. He has captured my tears and He has this. I can't understand His ways. It's easy to ask why... But it's about Faith and Hope. Faith that He's in control. And Hope in His promises that gives peace through this journey to our daughter.

Those who know me best, know that this journey has been HARD. It's been devastating to think about our daughter being so far away without us. And it's been exhausting trying to control things that are completely out of my control. I've failed being Faithful many days to His promise of Hope and finding Joy. Trust me, many times. But through this journey, my personal relationship with God has been strengthened and relationships with friends and family have been strengthened. But most of all, God's glory has been shown because this adoption is truly a miracle and only He can get credit for making this journey possible.
Speaking of hope, just when I had given up hope to receive news for the week, God blessed us....Again! We received an email on that Maeli's visa is approved and ready for pick-up!!!!

The timing was perfect. With the consulate moving in July, there will be a two week delay in appointments. This is where we go in order to finalize Maeli's adoption before coming back to the states. In order to schedule her consulate appointment, we need travel approval from China. Recent system changes have created a backlog and delay in travel approvals. Typically, travel approvals are issued within 7-21 days. So, we wait again for God to come through and provide a way for her to come home in time to adjust before school starts in August.