Red Book

In China, you are given a 24 hour harmonious period to spend with your child before you sign on the dotted line and take the oath. 
The questions were silly but they ceremony was short and to the point….. we promised under oath to not abuse or abandon her and to give her a good education. We agreed that we knew what her “condition” was and still wanted her (ummm…clearly they had never spent 24 hours with her because who wouldn’t “want” her?!).  Then they took a family picture,  gave us the red book (with the official paperwork in it) and off we went.

Grace Li Marie Bison is legally ours and we are thrilled!!!!  Next will be to get a visa for her to enter the USA where she will become a citizen once our plane lands on US soil (which will be in Newark, NJ!).

We Have Her!

March 16 will never be just another ordinary day in our lives. Just as the birth day of our older children,  the day we met our newest daughter was life changing.
Neither John nor I slept much the night before as we were much too excited.   We met our guide in the hotel lobby at 1030a to fill out all paperwork that would be necessary when we went to the civil affairs office.  He answered our questions about what to expect and that we would meet 3 long hours later. 
The afternoon was very long. Time literally stood still.  We packed her bag of goodies and our bag of necessities. We got the gifts ready for the policeman and government official.  We prayed. We sat around. We looked out the window. We prayed. We wondered what it would be like. We prayed. Finally,  when I couldn’t stand it anymore, we went downstairs early to wait.
The ride over was only 30 minutes thankfully. We got there before Grace arrived which was how we wanted it. Again, time literally did not move while we waited. Then…we heard the elevator open and a small voice. We knew it was her. Our kids were ready to take pictures and video.
She rounded the corner and this sense of overwhelming gratitude washed over me.  There she was! 
She came running to me with arms wide open, yelling Mama!  I got down on my knees to her level and she literally barreled into me, yelling “mama, mama”. 


If any adoptive mother dreams of what the first meeting will look like,  it would be like this.  It would be full of love and excitement. This doesn’t always happen.  As a matter of fact, it probably happens less than the opposite feelings of fear and anxiousness. 
How did we get so lucky?!
She then proceeded to hug every member of our family and call them by their Chinese name.  She knew us!  Her nanny had clearly showed her the pictures of us.  The orphanage director said that Grace would show our pictures to everyone she saw and proudly state we were her parents.  Amazing.


We asked a few questions. And she blew a few bubbles. Then we were off to our hotel!  Wow. Just like that. It took all of 30 minutes and this little girl was coming with us.


She did so willingly and continued to refer to us as her family.  The rest of the day was a blur. We ordered pizza and played and she enjoyed her first bath with her big brother and sister.  Bedtime came and she went to sleep with no trouble and slept through the night!  Sweet little girl she is.


Seems surreal to think all of our waiting is finally over!  So thankful for each and every person who prayed,  supported us financially and encouraged us throughout this long and difficult process.
Being obedient to what God calls you to do is not always easy and is often times frightening. That is true of this journey. But I can’t explain the blessings that have come from this experience! 
So long from China!

Beijing and beyond

Jet lag has been brutal and we have been busy so I have not had the energy to write even a quick update.
Beijing was a fabulous experience and one we will surely never forget. The history within that city is like nothing we have experienced. The Great Wall of China is magnificent and breathtaking, despite the smog surrounding it. 
Some funny happenings while in Beijing:
-both families, plus 2 random people got into an elevator to go to our rooms. The elevator stopped.  Air turned off. It got hot quickly (or maybe I was just freaking out).  The guy we didn’t know is originally from NY…and wouldn’t ya know…he is fluent in Mandarin so was able to talk to the dispatchers via the emergency intercom.  It was scary. But funny.
-John ate a grilled silkworm and both he and Ariauna ate a grilled scorpion from some street vendors.
-Pedestrians do NOT have any rights here. If you are walking across the street, you are fair game.  John learned the hard way and almost became a squished bug on the front of a bus.
-The locals are always cold and dressed in multiple layers. It was “nice” here (temps in the 40s and 50s) and our friend Brian wore shorts on the day we arrived. Our guide was SO concerned and almost a little upset (in a very concerned for our well-being kind of way) that he was wearing “short pants”; so we all wore pants the rest of the days as to not make her worry.
We were able to spend those days with our new friends and those new friends have become lifelong friends, no doubt. There is something special about sharing this journey with someone.  The way our friendship came to be is just so cool!

We traveled to Chongqing today which is where Grace’s orphanage is.  The flight was uneventful and the service on that flight was top notch.  We get to fly with them again on Friday….

I am preparing to go to bed and attempt to get some rest. Tomorrow is the big day. Grace will be an orphan no more. As I lay my head on my pillow tonight,  I pray her little heart is somehow, even a tiny bit, prepared for what is about to take place. Adoption is hard….. especially for the orphan.

Goodnight from China!

Toilet or Headphones??

Two and a half hours of sleep the night before we left because the anticipation was just too much to bear.  Kids woke up with no trouble which was nice!
Our friends came to bring us to the airport which made for a fun morning!  We appreciated the sacrifice they made by being at our house at 545a!!!
First flight was bumpy and uneventful.   Then we had a 3 hour layover before our long flight. I was so looking forward to it because we could finally meet the family that God literally placed in our laps.  (Ya know….on the same flight,  in the same row, at the same hotel).  They are as delightful in person as behind the computer screen!  Just being able to give Amy a hug brought me such relief. Can’t really explain why….it just did.

We get on the plane and are in the back… and packed like sardines.  There are 3 rows of 3 seats. Unfortunately,  there is a gentleman sitting between the kids and us.  He is clearly Asian and speaks no english. Ariauna needs to go the bathroom so asks him and points to show what she means (points to the bathroom….haha).  He shakes his head, waves his arms, says no and hands her his headphones?!??!!  Her face was priceless. John and I are almost in tears because it is just the beginning of this amazing adventure. 

So what do we do?!  Our kid needs to use the bathroom and is stuck. John whips out his phone, pulls up the translation app and finds the word TOILET and shows it to the man. He smiles, nods again and gets up!  :-)  Yay for technology,  it saved the day!

The flight was long.  Way too long. And it felt like a sauna which made it miserable. But we survived!   :-)
Thats all for now…wordpress is acting up so will end now.

We Made It.

I have another post which I wrote while on the plane with the intention of posting it when we got here but for some reason I had to start a new one. I will keep trying though because it has a very funny story (that I have no desire to type again….only have my phone to use).
We got to our hotel and our sweet guide, Heidi, went and got us dinner. It was delicious!!!!!  Even the kiddos ate it all, which was nice considering the kids and I probably lost weight on thr plane because we didn’t eat anything for 14 hours. :-)


A nice warm shower and our hard as a rock beds were next on the agenda.  At the advice of other adoptive moms who have been-there-done-that, I brought a noise machine for bedtime and it definitely helps drown out any noises sp we can sleep.
The kids were knocked out immediately. We struggled to wake Jaeden up so we could make his bed (he is sleeping on the couch).  They will get about 12 hours of sleep before its time to wake up…so hopefully they sleep that long.  I’m wide awake at 2am unfortunately but I slept good from 8p-2a.  Our guide arrives at 9a to take us into Beijing for the day.
Will get lots of pictures to share later!

Prayer requests:
-good rest and healthy bodys
-that our hearts continue to prepare for Monday when we finally lay our eyes on Grace

49 hours

We are so close.  In 49 hours, we will be boarding our first flight to travel halfway around the world where we will finally lay our eyes on an absolutely beautiful and worthy child. Our excitement is beyond words!
I haven’t slept through the night in weeks.  Is it God’s way of preparing my body for not only the 12 hour time difference but also being the mother of a new child where we are bound to have a few sleepless nights?  I don’t know.  But I do know that I am one sleepy momma! 
Its awesome to look at the 10 day forecast for two of the cities we will be in while in China! The weather looks so promising for the day we will be at the Great Wall of China! The day we meet our daughter for the first time will be rainy but warm. It could be a complete downpour and I could care less!!! 

Prayer requests:
-safe travels and rest on the way to China
-that God will prepare our daughter’s heart for her new family
-for our older children….that their hearts are prepared to experience some beautiful yet painful things the next few weeks and to realize how they have such an opportunity to show Jesus’ love on this trip
-John and I as we manage our emotions the next few days

Next update will be from China!

Every Tiny Detail…..

When we felt that we were being called to adoption, I will admit that we hesitated for a bit because we thought “how in the world will we ever afford this?”,  “are we really ready to add a third child??”,  “things are so predictable right now, do we really want to mess with that?”.

But we also wanted to be obedient and knew that our God would not leave us throughout the process.  And there are things that are simply too cool not to share.  So many things from the very beginning!

Most recently, we have made some seriously awesome connections!

As I type this, I am chatting with a new friend who lives in China!  We were connected through a friend I go to church with….and my new friend is FULL of information about the city that Grace lives in because she used to live there!  How cool is that?  Even cooler is the fact that we may get to meet her and her husband while halfway across the world!

Months and months ago, we were informed of an amazing donation to our adoption.  The donation was almost 1/3 of our total need!  I was able to get this donors contact information and email her….trying my hardest to express our gratitude.  This woman is an angel on earth.  She is an adoptive mom herself and fell in love with our daughter but was not in the position to adopt her at that time.  We committed to Grace and this sweet lady felt led to make a large donation for the little girl that she loves dearly.  I am excited to be able to share the updated pictures with the donor and hope to one day be able to arrange a meeting!  This woman put her own desires aside and blessed a family she does not know (US!!) simply because she loves a little orphan on the other side of the world (Grace!).  I have been left speechless by this since the day we found out.

Adoptive families have a great support among eachother via social media.  We can share our progress, and no matter how small it seems to the “outside world”, the adoption world celebrates!  We share our heartache of the waiting process.  We share tips and ask questions.  Its like nothing I have ever seen.  There is this family whom we connected with via Facebook after we saw that we were on a similar timeline.  It started out as simple chatting….and has transpired into so much more.

This family is from just outside of Charlotte, NC!  (3 hours from us!).  They are adopting their first child!  (Us too!). They have a 13 year old daughter who is going to China with them! (Us too!)  They are traveling to Beijing first! (Us too!)

But the Lord provided down to the SMALLEST detail.  We have different travel agents (but same adoption agency….which is how we connected).  The 14 hour flight from America to China will be a long one, for sure.  We will be bored, tired and anxious.  But we will NOT be experiencing it by ourselves because our new friends from Charlotte are on the SAME plane as us……..yes, same plane!  AND….to make it even more obvious (God knows I sometimes need things to be obvious for me to see it….) that we are supposed to be friends………  on a plane with 50 rows of seats….we are ON THE SAME ROW!!!!!!!  How in the world does that happen?!  Okay…so I KNOW how it happens but it is almost hard to believe!

So we will spend the first 5 days of our adoption trip with a family who we gets it.  I can.not.wait!

We leave in 2 weeks.  Our lives will forever be changed and I am so thankful that the Lord called our little family to this journey.  The blessings we have experienced are nothing short of amazing.

So close, yet so far…..

Well.  The dreaded update.  I have been delaying this as long as possible in hopes that it would all resolve quickly.  But we are finding out that it will not resolve quickly and we are at a standstill.  A devastating standstill.

Who am I kidding?  Every delay in the adoption process is devastating.  We have been so blessed that we have not experienced many bumps…just a few minor ones that were easily corrected.  But then there is this.

The step we are in currently is where we wait for what is called the Article 5.  It comes from the US Consulate that is in China…and they issue the Article 5 and then China will send our Travel Approval shortly after.  The Article 5 takes exactly 2 weeks to be done.  Ours was supposed to be done on January 27.  It is now February 3 and we still do not have it which means China can not invite us to travel.

I have spoken with the consulate in China and they need paperwork/documentation about Gracie’s abandonment.  I understand the WHY behind this (to be sure she was truly abandoned) but that does NOT help the hurt this causes.  I felt my heart being ripped out of my chest when I took that phone call last week.  I was assured it would be a quick fix…and “not to worry”.  ha!  Tell a Momma not to worry about her babes.  That just ain’t happenin!

So here we are….a week past the pick up date.  A week longer that Gracie sits in the orphanage without a family to care for her.  A week that Gracie’s siblings have to wait to teach her everything they know.  And a week that Gracie’s parents pray for her safety and well-being until we can get there.

We do not know when this delay will be over.  It could be tomorrow or 3 weeks from now.  We have no idea and no control.  But what we can do is pray.

Please.  Pray continuously.  This needs to be fixed.  STAT!  :-(

Love and Loss

With travel to China being counted in weeks and not months {how did that happen so quickly??!}, my mind is racing a million miles a minute.  How much more money do we need?  What clothes are we packing?  What meds do I need to get?  What is our itinerary?  What size is Grace going to wear for clothes?  They say she is potty trained, should I bring diapers just incase?

Our packing list is started.  Our suitcases are out and ready for stuff to be thrown into them.  We are constantly talking about travel.  This is exciting.  Like super duper exciting.  I compare it to my last trimester of pregnancy when I so desperately wanted to meet my children but had little control over when it would happen.  It’s brutal, folks.  Brutal.

As excited as we are, I am also reminded of how tragic adoption is.  We are seeing the exciting part.  We are the lucky ones who get to call this little girl our daughter.  But there is also a lot of loss involved.  This little girl was abandoned at 3 weeks of age.  To be abandoned, she had to be born.  To a mother who was no doubt as excited as I was to give birth to my children.  She had sleepless nights, purchasing clothes and picking out names.  This girl was born and was blessed with the extra chromosome that we call Down syndrome.  Whether we, as Americans, can understand the culture or not is irrelevant.  This child was given up because she was disabled.  Not because she wasn’t loved.  The decision of the parents to give their little girl up had to be devastating and traumatic.  They clearly loved her because they left her in a public place so she would be found.  If you did not love your child, you wouldn’t care if anyone found her.  Our daughter was loved by her mother.

Resources in China are not as readily available for a child with a disability.  The culture sees disabilities as somewhat of a curse.  This child of ours was loved.

As we prepare to bring Grace to join our family, I can not stop thinking about her parents.  Wishing they could somehow know how loved she will be.  That she will have all the support she needs to get to her full potential.  That she will be cared for.  That she is loved by another Mommy.  Someday, Gracie may ask about her story.  And I can’t wait to tell her that her China Mommy loved her enough to give her a good life.  It may have taken 8 years for her family to find her…but we have found her and are so excited!

Please.  As we get closer to travel (5-6 weeks!!!!), pray for our little girl and that her heart be open to her new family.  Pray for our family as we finish last minute preparations and travel halfway around the world.  Pray for her biological parents, whom experienced a devastation like no other 8 years ago….that they will somehow have a sense of peace.

We are over the moon.

I am going to be a mom of THREE children in a few weeks.  God is so faithful.

Long time….short update.

Sorry I have been a little MIA for a while.  We have had a very busy few months!

We were lucky enough to host an orphan from Latvia for four weeks over the Christmas holiday.  It was better than I could have ever imagined.  She was a complete joy to have around and we love her to pieces.  It was hard to see her go but we are so thankful for being able to stay in contact with her!

We got our LOA back in December which allowed us to move forward with the last steps of the process.  This included more Homeland Security stuff and our Visas.  Thankfully there was a recent change to the Chinese Visa system and our Visas are good for 10 years!  I say thankfully because it cost us $700 to get Visas! So at least we know that if we travel back to China within 10 years, we will not have to pay that fee!

Right now we are waiting for our Article 5 to be picked up which will be on Monday!  After that comes travel approval from China which is usually about 2 weeks ((from Monday)) but the last few weeks, other families have gotten it in as little as 3 days!  Once we have that, we can plan our trip!  Chinese New Year is towards the end of February so we will not travel until after that which will put us in the beginning of March.  It is so close, yet so far!

Back in March, when we started this process, I thought it was hard.  I couldn’t imagine having to wait so long….and now it is here!  Seems impossible.  We are starting our packing lists and got our suitcases.  Her room is ready.  WE are ready!

Please continue to pray for us and for her.