The journey continues…

The LOA is China’s letter of acceptance.  It is a very important approval which means that China has approved us to move forward with our adoption of Elijah.  When we were adopting both Peter and Nathan, this approval took about three months to come.  We had been matched really quickly, but then the LOA wait took forever.  It was such a hard time, knowing who our boys were, but waiting and waiting for the LOAs to come.  When they finally arrived, the excitement was over the top.  We were celebrating and flying high.

This time around, we waited close to a year to be matched.  And since the referral call just before Thanksgiving, life has been a whirlwind.  After submitting our letter of intent accepting Elijah’s referral, we got the call that our LOA had arrived just 9 days later.  We are so excited about our little Elijah, but the LOA arrived without so much ado.  Knowing that it was going to come quickly, we had spent the weekend working feverishly on the I800 application which could be sent as soon as the LOA came.  So the day it came, we signed it and double checked everything and sent the I800 on its way.  The I800 is our application to homeland security, requesting permission for Elijah to enter the USA.

elijah

Now we are waiting for that approval, which could take 2 weeks more.  After that, it’s on to the Article 5.  The Article 5 involves a two week wait exactly and has to do with Elijah’s visa, I think.  Last up, we wait for our TA (travel approval).  This approval comes from China and can take a few days or up to two weeks.  We are praying that God will bring us all these approvals and enable us to travel and get home before the start of the Chinese New Year in mid-February.

In the meantime, we are working on visas and looking into sending Elijah a care package.  We just can’t wait to meet our little guy!

 

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Obedience and We Got Matched!

About a month ago, we went to Apple Hill for the day.  We ate some apple donuts and then found a scenic spot by the pond where we could take some family pictures.  


As we snapped away, something caught our attention.  Across the pond, a stroller started rolling and fell in the water.  Relieved to see that the baby wasn’t in the stroller, we continued on with our day.  Nathan rode a pony 


and then we got in line for some face painting.  


As we stood in the line, Steve noticed that the owner of the runaway stroller was in the pond trying to find something.  Steve said he would want someone to help him if he was knee deep in a pond looking for something.  So he was going to help her.  He knew God had him wear shorts that day for this reason.  So off he went down the little hill to the pond and plunged in.

From where I stood in the face painting line, I could see a little crowd had gathered to see if they would find what they were searching for- the woman’s keys.  As I looked on, it occurred to me that God knew exactly where the keys were, and He wanted me to go down there and pray for them to find the keys.  And I knew that He wanted me to pray out loud, with the woman and Steve.  I resisted the idea for a bit, but then down I went, not feeling very excited about it at all.  I told Steve that we should pray.  He said he already had.  I figured if God wanted it to be out loud, Steve would have already done it.  So I went back up the hill, thinking I was off the hook.  But standing in the face painting line again, I knew God was continuing to tell me to pray and to do it out loud.  Although not audible, I could hear Him tell me that they would not find the keys until I prayed.  Out loud.  Almost never has God’s voice been so clear to me.  And I knew it was true- God would show them where the keys were after I prayed.  But yet, I really didn’t want to do it.  There were a bunch of people down there, and it was embarrassing.  But seeing as I didn’t want Steve to be down there all day, back down I went.  I went straight to the woman and asked her if I could pray with them to find the keys.  She had been down there for over an hour, and it wasn’t a really warm day.  She said I could do anything I wanted if it would help them find the keys.  So I prayed.  And then the woman put her hand in the water and pulled out the keys.

I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.  God could have done anything He wanted in that situation, but He chose to teach both Steve and me the joy that comes when we are obedient.

The week before Thanksgiving, we realized that God had allowed us that experience to prepare us for something much much more difficult.  That Tuesday morning, we finally got the call we had been waiting for all year.  The phone rang and Emmy checked to see who it was.  I figured it was nothing because she wasn’t screaming.  Then she calmly said, “It’s 703”. 703 is the area code for our adoption agency.  All of a sudden the excitement welled and we realized this was it.  The agency makes a point of not calling unless it’s a match.  I answered, and the girls all started screaming.  My mom braced the counter to keep from falling over with excitement.  It was so fun!  I asked if I could call Steve and have him come home so we could hear the news together.  So we hung up and called Steve, screaming all the while.  When he got home, we heard the news- it was a 14 month old boy.  We read his file and printed up his pictures and sent his information off to the various doctors who would review it.  It seemed pretty clear cut and we had no thought that maybe he wasn’t the one we had been waiting for.

Over the next couple days, we got feedback from the doctors.  The need of the little guy was more involved than we realized at first.  We requested further pictures of him to get a better idea of the extent of his need.  We knew God would give us the information and wisdom we would need to make the right decision for him and for our family.  Hannah started searching online and found the top hospital in the world for this specific need.  So I called and asked if a doctor there could look at his file.  The nurse I talked with said she would see if a doctor could look at it, and she would email me with a response.   The next day, Steve and I prayed that God would let us talk with a doctor about all of this.  That morning the doctor himself (the top doctor in the world for this condition) emailed me.  He explained everything so clearly and said we could talk on the phone if that would be helpful.  I emailed him our number and within a few minutes, he called me.  He was clear and knowledgeable and set all our concerns to rest.  When I got off the phone 30 minutes later, we were so thankful that God had given us all the information we needed to know that this need would be just fine for us. Even if the extra pictures showed that it was the worst case scenario, it would be fine.  

We knew we should be thrilled, but for some reason, we weren’t.  Friday morning before Thanksgiving, Steve and I woke up early (we hadn’t been sleeping well that week), and we admitted to each other that we both felt miserable.  We didn’t  know why, but we had such a huge lack of peace.  But why???  We loved the little guy and we wanted him.  Oh, how we wanted him.  We felt fine about his need.  God had answered all our prayers for wisdom.  Yet, we felt so very yucky.  We got up and went for a run.  As we ran, we talked and talked and we realized something.  The only explanation for our lack of peace was God.  He was showing us that this little guy was not our son.  Throughout the months of waiting to be matched, I had often prayed that if our Elijah got matched with another family first that God would give that family wisdom and courage to return his file quickly so that we could be matched with him.  Now it occurred to me that maybe God was answering my prayer, but for another family.  We had someone else’s child, and we needed to give him back.  God’s hand was so heavy upon us as we ran.  We had to stop as we began to cry.  We didn’t think we could give him back.  It hurt so.  We loved him.  And it seemed so strange to make such a huge decision based on our feelings and no concrete reasons.  But God was so clearly telling us to give him back and to do it right then, and after that He would give us Elijah.  Steve reasoned that maybe it would be kind of like Abraham and Isaac, and we might somehow get him back after we gave him up.  We didn’t know, we didn’t understand.  But we knew God wanted us to obey.  It was just like the way He had spoken to us at Apple Hill the month before.  It was clear.  So we went into the house and called the kids together.  We prayed, and then we called and returned his file.  We were all so sad, but as we ate breakfast, we felt peaceful for the first time that week.

Three hours passed, and then the phone rang.  703.  There was another match for us.  When the agency receives files for children, they are always there first thing in the morning.  They get sent from China the night before, because that is China’s daytime.  When we had called to return the file, there were not any new files.  So we wondered how there could be a match now.  Our coordinator told us that she had already matched the little guy with a family, and another family had then called that morning to return a file.  This new little one was a boy who was 13 months.  We were emotionally drained and exhausted, but we knew God was working.  So we took the file and sent it off to the doctors for review.  We tried not to get attached, as we just didn’t think we could handle it.  On Saturday, we got some medical information about him.  His measurements were small and he was behind.  But a strong love for him was growing in our hearts.

On Sunday, we jumped in our huge van at 4:00am to head for Oregon for the week.  Everyone was excited for the trip, so we decided to go even in the midst of the craziness.  As we drove and had time to just pray and think, Steve and I were both thinking God had faithfully given us Elijah.  This little guy was our son.  We had obeyed and God had done just what He said He would do.  And we were peaceful.  Then another doctor called us back.  He has children adopted from China and has done medical work in China, so we were eager for his take on our little guy’s size and development.  We prayed that his words would confirm what we knew God was telling us.  God answered that prayer as well, just as we knew He would.  Little Elijah is small and he is behind most likely due to the fact that he lives in an orphanage in China.  Being a treasured part of a loving family will make all the difference.  And even if it doesn’t, he’s our boy, the one we’ve been waiting for.  After the phone call with the doctor, we prayed as a family as we drove, and we made the decision that this little guy was our Elijah.  And we are so excited!  

Here he is… Elijah John Eby!!!


 

Finding Purpose in the Wait

Another day has come to a close without getting the call.  At times I wonder, “What was the purpose of another day of waiting?”  “Why would God want an orphan to spend one more day alone?”  Each day while we wait, I think of the orphans.  I wake up praying for them, and I go to bed praying for them.  It’s not that I don’t once we are matched, but then the stillness is gone.  We are bustling around and thinking of the new baby.  I remember forgetting about the other orphans for a while once we got matched with Peter and Nathan.  I am convinced that God hears our prayers for a referral.  But He knows that the other orphans need our prayers too.

Each time I see another picture of an orphan on the America World blog, my heart breaks.  God has given me a love for each one I see, and He knows that I will pray.  I have gone to bed at night crying for a little girl who is waiting for a family while she so bravely deals with her medical needs.  Through all that she has been through, she wears a big smile.  And I cry for the boy who has hand deformities.  He waits so eagerly to be called someone’s one.  His hands stand in the way.  I can’t help crying as I think of all the kids my age who will never get a family.  For so many of them, the chance has passed and now they are stuck.

God knows that my heart is broken about this.  So many people don’t know about all these kids who need families.  But since I do, God is giving me the chance to pray for them by name.  Each day of this wait, I pray.  And I will trust that God knows the plan.  What a great opportunity to get to pray for all of these children who He loves.

So when I see another picture and feel like closing my heart to my emotions, I will open it.  When I feel like shoving down the tears, I will let them fall.  Because these orphans are real.  These pictures are of real children who get up each morning and wait for a family.  I pray that they will keep hoping and not give up as they wait for a family.

Though this wait is hard, God is showing me that He has a purpose for each day of it.  There is a purpose in this wait- great purpose.  God wants me to pray.  I will pray for each orphan that I learn about.  I will choose to believe and trust that He has a plan for their lives.  He has invited me to be a part of their lives through prayer, and I am saying yes.

The prayer of a righteous person has a great power as it is working.  James 5:16b

by Emily Eby

10 Months

Elijah John Day- 10 months

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”   Isaiah 64:4

God is working in Little Eby’s life right now and He is working in us, and we can’t wait to see what He has in store.  It is good- of that we are sure!

The Moon Festival

Last week we knew there would be no phone call.  It was the week of the Chinese Moon Festival.  This is the second biggest holiday in China. It is also called the Mid-Autumn Festival and is a time of thanksgiving and family unity and mooncakes.  Offices close for the week, so there were no new files being released.  So with our anticipation at a standstill for the week, we enjoyed a peaceful Moon Festival dinner prepared by Hannah.  We look forward to celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival next year with our sweet little one.  And now this week, the wait commences!  

Poem for Little One

Another day gone by and with it all hopes of getting the call.
We have been waiting for so long, and now it is almost Fall.
Halfway across the world, you sleep in an orphanage for the night.
We cannot wait to come and see you. Oh, what a sight!
All eight of us together at last.
No need to think back on the past.
For it isn’t the same without you here.
We need you here to bring us some cheer.
A family of seven is much too small.
We need your picture to hang in our hall.
Each day as I pray for you,
I wonder if you dream of us too.
A sight to see, we sure are.
We stand out from a far.
Pulling up in our big white bus,
We try not to make a fuss.
We got it so that you would fit,
For you will need a place to sit.
You are about to join our crazy fam.
Happy to be in it, I sure am.
For here you will always have a friend,
And this will never end.

Wo ai ni!

 

by Emily

Nine Months

Dear Little One,

It’s almost eight o’clock tomorrow morning for you, and I’m thinking about you.  What are you going to do today?  I wonder if you will learn to do something new.  Did you sleep well last night?  Each day you fill my thoughts.  For nine months now I have been waiting to see your sweet face.  Every day when I wake up I wonder if today will be the day.  Could it possibly be?  At first the waiting was okay.  I didn’t think it would be too long.  Then time wore on.  Day after day passed.  And it was hard.  I really struggled with it for a while.  After hearing that it could be six to nine months before we got the call, I gave the wait to God and made my peace with it.  His timing is always perfect, Little One.  I know this.  But all of a sudden my heart is hurting again.  We are finally near the front of the line to be matched, and I am struggling.  It can’t happen soon enough.  I miss you all the time.  I long to know you.  Once you are finally home, it will seem like you’ve been with us forever.  All the waiting will be behind us and we will know that God planned it perfectly all along.  I already know this.  But my heart hurts nonetheless.  We went to ice cream this afternoon to mark nine months of waiting to see who you are.  I can’t wait to give you your first taste of ice cream.  I know you’ll love it, because you’re an Eby through and through.  I love you more than you can ever know.  Until we meet, I hold you in my heart, Little One.  And I know that our Heavenly Father is loving you and holding today, as He always will.

Love,  Mommy

 

 

 

Ladybugs

There’s a tradition in the China adoption community that if you see a ladybug, your referral will come soon.  Well, we’ve gotten a little ladybug crazy around here.  We seem to see them everywhere.

In our box of grapes from Costco.
Spotting ladybugs doesn’t really mean a thing, but it livens up our long days of waiting.

The Way God Works

Last summer when we decided to add another to our family, we realized that we would have to get a new vehicle.  Our minivan fits seven and we were going to become a family of eight.  This meant we would have to get either a suburban or a big van.  The suburban was more appealing to me at first, as it was the most “normal” option.  I was not wanting to be the driver of a big van.  How embarrassing that would be.  The girls were not too keen on the idea either.  But a suburban will fit nine at the most, and this is actually not enough.  We want to be able to have my parents ride with us, and that will take us up to ten.  Big vans pretty much have no cargo space.  So when going on a trip, the back seat will have to come out to create room for luggage and such.  The back seat typically holds four people.  So if we were to get a 12 passenger van (which seemed crazy big), there would only be room for eight people on a trip and we need to be able to take ten.  This meant we would have to be on the lookout for a 15 passenger van.  RIDICULOUS.  

Regardless of what kind of large vehicle we would get, we knew it would be expensive.  So we decided to start praying.  Each day at breakfast, we prayed as a family for God to provide us with the perfect van.  Peter got especially into praying for the van and felt perturbed when other people (who didn’t even know about it) didn’t pray for it too.  We have been praying like this for over a year, asking God to do something that only He can do, to show us His hand in the process, and to just put it in our laps when it was the right one.  

During the year, Steve kept his eye out.  He researched vans and we went to look at some.  Who knows why, but these vans seem to be pretty popular.  There aren’t tons of them sitting around, and whenever they popped up, they went fast.  Mostly they were out of the area and often they were sold before we could even get a look.  So it seemed we were going to have to pay more than we were hoping, unless God did a miracle.  And on top of that, it was going to be hard to even get to one before it sold.  

So the past year has been one of waiting.  We are, of course, waiting to see our little one’s face, but we have also been waiting for God to bring us a van.



Last Saturday marked eight months of waiting for a referral.  It is discouraging to just wait and wait.   It feels like it will never happen.  But we went out for root beer floats to celebrate Elijah John Day.  This ice cream tradition is a good way to remind us that we are going to see our little one’s face in God’s perfect timing.  And of course it is always a good thing to go out for ice cream.

As we drove home, thinking about making pizza for dinner, we caught a glimpse of a sign on a big van parked in front of a church.  We turned around and went back to take a look.  Sure enough, it was a 15 passenger van for sale- the Emanuel Lutheran Church van.  The asking price was around half of what we were expecting to pay, and it was fairly old but had amazingly low mileage.  It looked to be in near perfect condition.  We called the number on the sign.  The pastor answered and said he could meet us there in about five minutes.  We took the van for a ride and prayed as a family while we drove, asking God if this was the answer we had been waiting for and knowing all the while that it was.  The pastor dropped the price even more, prayed with us, and we left feeling amazed and thankful for the miracle God did for us.  


By the way, over the coarse of the year, God did some changing of hearts.  As we prayed and time passed, the girls and I came to realize what a blessing a big van would be.  So rather than feeling embarrassed, every last one of us was ridiculously excited about the massive 15 passenger van God dropped in our laps.  Now the challenge is just learning how to back up in it.