A Blessing of a Day

God has blessed us with faithful friends and family.  They freely gave their time and talents and resources to make our fundraiser on November 12 a beautiful day.  We had adorable ladybug cookies.  (The ladybug is a symbol of Chinese adoption.)And a sweet ladybug baby.A little guy who’s excited to be a big brother.

Another excited big brother

A very special delivery from Jane’s husband- hats knit by Jane.  I wrote about this wonderful friend a couple blog posts back.
We are thankful for a beautiful day with our friends and family.

Tomorrow’s Big Fundraiser

Tomorrow is the big day and we are just about ready.  We had lots of fun setting up all the crafts and such out at the winery today.  God has provided all that we need and more for this event through our friends and family.  They have spent many hours creating and baking amazing things for tomorrow.  We are so very thankful.  Please pray God blesses the efforts of those who have worked so hard to help us bring Little Eby home.  And come share the day with us!

The Last Couple Weeks

Right now we are waiting for our I-800A approval from Homeland Security.  During this 6-8 week wait, there are things that happen.  This breaks up the time, which is very helpful for me.  I tend to have a hard time waiting for these things.  The first thing that happens is a receipt notice in the mail.  Very exciting.  We got our notice on Oct. 23.  Next our fingerprint appointments arrived.  We got these on Oct. 29.  This was even more fabulous than the receipt.  They scheduled us for our live scans on Nov. 8.  With our other two adoptions, we received our approval about 2 weeks after our fingerprint appointments.  So if this timeframe is similar, we should be able to get our dossier to China before our medical forms expire- maybe with time to spare.  We are feeling very thankful and relieved.  

Before our dossier (paperwork) can be sent to China, each document has to be certified by the Secretary of State and then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate.  Usually we wait until we have all the documents complete (the last one being the I-800A), and then Steve makes a trip to Sacramento and San Francisco.  He gets everything certified at the Secretary of State first thing in the morning and then drops off the documents for authentication in San Francisco in the afternoon.  Three days later, he picks them all up in San Francisco and sends the dossier off to our agency in Virginia.  They check everything and send it to China.  After months of working on something that has to be done just so, it is a big relief to have it out of our hands.  

This time, we are doing things a bit differently.  Since we are in a time crunch, our family coordinator at our agency suggested that we get everything we have at this point certified and authenticated while we wait for the I-800A.  This means Steve will be making the Sacramento/San Francisco trip twice, since the I-800A has to be certified and authenticated as well.  But it was a really good call on our coordinator’s part.  She suggested this because if there is the tiniest thing wrong with any of the documents, the Secretarty of State and Chinese Consulate will not stamp the documents.  This is a very precise situation.  If they sent us away to fix something, we figured it would be best to do it while we were waiting anyway.  And they did send us away.  The home study was not notarized correctly, so the Secretary of State would not certify it.  Steve had to drive home from Sacramento, then go to the agency in Modesto to get it notarized again, and then drive back to Sacramento to get it certified.  Once he was done with all that, he had run out of time to go to San Francisco that day.  This was frustrating, but it would have been really upsetting if we were doing this after waiting 6-8 weeks for the I-800A.  As of today, our entire dossier (excluding the I-800A) has been certified and authenticated.  Once we get the I-800A approval, we will get it certified and authenticated as well, and then our dossier will be off to China!

While we wait, we are enjoying school at our new house.

My sister and I used to sit here when we were this age. 

Finally!

After weeks of being at a standstill with the adoption, things are finally moving along again. Our home study was notarized yesterday!  This is what we have been waiting for.  The I-800A is the next step and it usually takes around 6-8 weeks.  A notarized home study must accompany the I-800A application.  So when we heard the home study was ready, Steve hopped in the car, drove to Modesto, picked it up, and went straight to the Fed Ex store.  He mailed off our I-800A application, complete with the notarized home study, and it arrived safely at its destination in Texas at 10:30 this morning.  We are so relieved and thankful to be onto the next step.

Now the countdown begins.  We need this step to take less than 8 weeks in order for our dossier to make it to China before our medical forms expire. The timing is in God’s hands and we will trust Him.  But I’m sure a bit of stress will be involved as the weeks go on.  Right now we are breathing a sigh of relief that the countdown has at last started.  

A Legacy

For the past few years our family has been so blessed by our friend named Jane.  She was a big fan of our boys.  Each time she saw them, her face lit up.  Before we went to China to get Nathan, she gave us a stack of handmade bibs.  Peter and Nathan loved to pick out which bib they would wear for which meal.  Their heads were kept warm by hats knit with love by Jane.   And last winter they were thrilled to receive pajama pants sewed by their special friend.  

Adoption is both wonderful and very hard all at the same time.  This was something Jane knew well.  She was adopted too, and so she understood.  When we told her that we were adopting another little one, she was so excited.  She got right to work sewing bibs for us to sell for our upcoming craft boutique fundraiser.  She encouraged us in the adoption process in a way that only she could.

A couple of weeks ago, Jane went to Heaven to be with Jesus.  We are so sad to be without her here.  But we continue to be blessed by her.  

The road to our new little Eby has been a tough one with lots of bumps in the road.  A few weeks back we were feeling really discouraged.  I prayed and asked God to encourage us in some way.  We needed it.  That afternoon I got a text from Jane’s daughter.  She and her dad had been talking about Jane’s heart for our little guys.  Jane wanted to see us bring another little one into our family.  So they decided to ask people to give towards our adoption in lieu of flowers.  

I cried, realizing that our friend Jane was continuing to cheer us on, and just when we needed it most.  Jane’s friends and family have given generously to help us bring our little one home.  Her heart for adoption is continuing on through those who loved her.  We thank Jesus for our friend Jane.

It’s the Little Things

Dear Jesus,  

Please, please make it rain soonly. I know You can do it.  You can do EVERYTHING.

When Peter saw the clouds in the sky this morning, he started to think about rain and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  He was so excited that rain was a possibility.  He prayed about it at breakfast and put on his raincoat.

When he spotted the first drops, he was ecstatic.  He ran outside and yelled, “Jesus answered my prayer!”

Discouraged

Steve and I are planners.  We like lists and schedules.  If there is a job that needs doing, we like to do it in a timely fashion and check it off the list.  So when we began this adoption, we made a list for each of us.  Steve was in charge of scheduling appointments: police department, doctor, traveling notaries, bank, live scans, and so on.  I am the paperwork person.  For each of the boys’ adoptions we have two five inch binders full of paperwork.  Our entire life is basically transferred onto paper.  With our jobs divvied up and lists in hand, we set to work.  We cruised through the mountain of tasks, spent our evenings watching mandatory adoption training videos, and within a month we were done.  Check.  Check.  Check.  And we were feeling pretty good about our efforts.  This was the third time around and we knew what we were doing.  We were quick and efficient and had everything pretty well mapped out.  

Next up was the homestudy, which would be no problem at all.  Our social worker had visited our home many times before.  Peter’s and Nathan’s homestudies and post adoption visits were all done by him.   We would enjoy seeing him and he would get the job done in no time.  And even if it wasn’t super quick, that was alright because everything else was done.   However, we ended up with a new social worker (who is fabulous) and the process took six weeks.  It was longer and different than we had expected, but we were okay with that.  We figured God was working in the timing of the whole thing.  There wasn’t really any hurry anyway.  Our paperwork just needed to make it to China by January 6.  There were three steps more to go, and still plenty of time.    

Then things started to get crazy.  Our adoption agency is based in Virginia and they also had an office in California.  Everything for the adoption is done through the Virginia office, except the homestudy.  The homestudy is conducted here and must be notarized with the credentials of the California branch.  Once our three visits with the new social worker were complete, she wrote the homestudy and it was soon to be notarized and sent to us.  This meant we were just about ready for the I-800A.  This is when we send a packet of paperwork, including the notarized homestudy, to the Department of Homeland Security.  This step usually takes 6-8 weeks, sometimes less, sometimes more.  It was at this point that our agency’s office in California closed with no warning. 

This meant that our homestudy would not be able to be notarized.  We were at a standstill.  Our agency in Virginia worked quickly to find a solution.  They found an agency here in California that was willing to hire our social worker so that we could still use her report.  In order to use the new agency our family had to start the process all over again by applying to the agency, getting new live scans, filling out new forms, doing 7 1/2 hours more training, and having another social worker visit.  

This brings us to today.  We have been working with this new agency for three weeks now and we still do not know when we will have a notarized homestudy in our hands.  Now we really are in a hurry.  The next step, the I-800A, can take up to 8 weeks.  Then we need about 1 week to get all the documents certified and authenticated.  After that, all the paperwork can be sent to China.  With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year in the mix, we are down to the wire.  Taking into account that the I-800A could take the full 8 weeks, we need to have the finished homestudy in our hands at the beginning of next week.  If our documents do not get to China by January 6, we will most likely have to redo our medical forms.  This will mean new blood panels and check-ups for Steve and me, costing almost $3,000 and making the $3,000 we have already paid a waste.  This makes us feel stressed!  


And very discouraged.  

However, we have learned something.  We were feeling pretty confident in our own efforts.  Too confident.  God always wants us to realize that we are not in control.  He is.  Through these circumstances He has humbled us.  We needed it.  We need to be in a place of dependence on Him.  And He has brought us to this place.  The situation is completely out of our hands.  I want so badly to control it.  But I can’t.  We can only remember that God is trustworthy and faithful and do our best to trust Him, to leave it in His hands.  But it is hard.      
   

    
      

A New Eby and a New House

Back in January, I had my tonsils removed.  After back to back episodes of strep throat, it seemed like the thing to do.  Person after person told me how horrible it would be- two weeks of torture recovering.  Who knew it was so different for adults than for kids?  Peter had his tonsils taken out last summer and he was good to go the next day.   All this talk of pain scared me, but I figured two weeks of agony would be better than continuing on with seemingly endless cases of strep throat.  So I went for it.  Not much more needs to be said, but all the stories were true.  It was ridiculously painful and it took forever to recover.  Needless to say, I had many sleepless nights.  And during those long nights, I got to praying.  The middle of the night is a fabulous time to pray when you have a large family.  It is quiet and still and perfect for talking and listening to God.  Now at that point in time we didn’t have any plans to adopt again.  We weren’t closed to the idea, but we were feeling settled and content with life as it was.  But somewhere in the middle of those long quiet moments with God in the night, He began to put another little one in my heart.  I began to pray for this little one, all the while feeling a bit crazy and wondering if I was just sleep deprived.  I told no one.  They would think I was crazy!  But God was stirring my heart.

A number of months later, in May, I mentioned the idea to Steve.  He wasn’t particularly feeling it, but he was happy to pray about it.  Then God began to work.  Gently and quietly He readied each of our hearts to follow Him into the unknown once again.  However, in June, when our whole family was on board and ready to take action, I began to worry.  This would really push us over the top.  We would need a bigger vehicle.  The minivan would no longer suffice.  Steve would want a passenger van and how embarrassing is that?!  But more than this, I was wondering how I would handle being a bit more smooshed in our house.  I felt selfish even thinking such a thing.  So very many people live in much smaller spaces than us, and God had given us a beautiful home.  But I felt crowded.  We loved our house and never planned on moving.  I had always wanted a house just like the one we had.  But adding another person made me wonder how my sanity would hold up.  I told God that I would love to be able to add as many children to our family as He wanted and not feel limited by the size of our house.  I was feeling a just a tad nervous, but even so, we were ready to follow Him wherever He would lead.

A couple days later I told my mom that we were thinking of adopting again.  She lit up and said that in the days just before, she had been thinking that we should swap houses.  She wasn’t going to tell anyone because she thought it was kind of crazy.  She and my dad had never planned on moving either.   But their house was perfect for us and ours was perfect for them.  So we spent the summer packing and moving both houses and beginning the journey to our new little one.

God has blessed us more than we could ever ask or imagine, and we are humbled.  We have been given a new little Eby to love (even though we don’t know who it is just yet) and on top of that, a new house to spread out in.  We are thankful and super excited too!

Celebrating Nathan’s Gotcha Day in our new house.  Can’t wait to have another Gotcha Day to celebrate!

Bonding with Nathan

Nathan is the cutest little fellow. He really misses his foster grandma and is clinging to Steve. He is slowly letting us get a closer to him. We love our travel group. It seems each family is experiencing some degree of what we are seeing with Nathan. Adopting children who have been in foster care here is fabulous but really rough. I am so thankful Nathan finds comfort with Steve.
Peter has been the biggest trooper ever. He hugs everyone and makes everyone smile. Hannah is keeping us organized and Mary has been busy taking pictures. She thinks she might want to be a photographer when she grows up. Poor Emily has been sick so please pray for her.

Brotherly Love

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Sight seeing at the Monkey Park

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