Friday, December 9, 2011


We got our I-800 this week. We think we are about nine weeks from travel!! It's going to be time to go before we know it. My lists of things to buy/get/do before we go are growing rapidly. Can't wait to get these two home!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beds and Coats

I often hear women say that their second and subsequent pregnancies go so much faster than their first. They are busy with their other children and don't have as much time to think about the new one who is on the way. In some ways this adoption wait has been the same way. We are busy living our rich and full life. The weeks seem to roll by quickly. But especially as the holiday season has begun, we are struggling to keep focused on the present. It is hard to fully enter the joy of each moment when we constantly feel like two important members of our family are missing. They are so present in our thoughts and hearts. They cannot possibly know how much we long for them to be home. Many days one of us says, "just think, next year, we can do this with Joshua and Isaac."

The closer we get to travel, the more our thoughts are consumed with them. How will they come to us? Together or at different times during the day? Will there be tears, or just big-eyed terror? Will we be able to make them smile? We have heard so many crazy things that kids think and are told in this process of adoption. One child was afraid of her parents and siblings at first because she thought they would peck her with their big noses! Another child later shared that the orphanage workers had told him he'd better be good or his new parents would beat him and send him back to China in shame! We just want them to know that we will love them forever. That they will always be ours. That they belong. They have no idea how they have been covered in prayer by many people. They do not know that their Heavenly Father has had his hand on them every moment of their lives.

We now have two set of bunk beds in the boy's room. I can't wait until I can peek in their and see them all full!  Their little stack of clothes is beginning to grow. We got them each a warm, red coat. We have luggage. Each day brings us one day closer! We think we will travel about mid-February. Meanwhile, the challenge will be the focus on the present and rejoice in the many good things the Lord has given us. All the while trusting that his loving hand is caring for our boys while they wait.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Day!

Wednesday, November 9th began like any other Wednesday. As I was leaving Moriah's physical therapy appointment, Kimberly called from home. "We got it!" She said. The long awaited e-mail from CCAI saying that we had LOA! We were expecting to wait a few more weeks, so it was such a pleasant surprise.
This is significant because it is China saying that they have seen all of our paperwork and they are giving official permission for us to adopt these two precious boys. We hurried up to Denver on Thursday with all of our immigration paperwork in hand to sign the document to indicate that "Yes! We want these boys!"

We were able to sit down with the someone from the Travel department and ask all of our many questions. It made it seem very real. Somewhere between eleven and fifteen weeks from now, those two boys will be part of our family forever. Or, as my funny friend said they won't just belong, they'll be-Leong!

We have decided that we will travel as a family to China. That means six of us going and eight of us coming home. We are excited about sharing in this experience together. We believe that the boys will enjoy having other kids around to smooth the transition. And we are trusting our great God to help us keep track of everyone and everything!

Today we ordered luggage and spent a lot of time talking about what other things we need to think about packing and purchasing. Even though it's a few months away, it's all starting to seem very real.

We have also been burying ourselves in some excellent adoption material from "Empowered to Connect." This is a ministry featuring the work of Karyn Purvis and her counterparts at TCU. She is the author of the book "The Connected Child." I cannot recommend this work highly enough. I am so thankful for all that we are learning and applying. It's geared toward adoptive and foster parents, but there is a lot that would be excellent for any parent to consider.

We are so thankful for our parent's love and support through this process. They love these little boys and pray for them daily. We are so richly blessed. Our church family is standing with us as well. We know that these support systems are such a gracious provision of the Lord.

Next stop: TA and CA (travel approval and consulate appointment). At that point, we pray that we can use our frequent flyer miles and make reservations!! Wahoo!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fun on the Farm

We spent Thursday morning at Wishing Star Farm. Moriah had a field trip with her preschool class. So, all of the kids decided to come along. It was a fun outing for everyone.

Lots of sheep

A little pony ride. Moriah's was named "Dash."

A little train pulled by a tractor. This was her favorite part of the day!

Neat old wagon

Four kids smiling one last time before lunch and heading home.

Beautiful Kimberly (whose new camera is responsible for these shots!) Great view of  Pikes Peak in the background.

Josiah in the pumpkin patch. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


When we left the military I thought we would no longer be peppering our conversation with acronyms. Terms like TDY, PCS, BX, BAH etc were not longer part of our daily speech.

But the adoption world, we found, has it's own set of acronyms. Each country is a little bit different, but for China there are several important ones.

PA: Preapproval. This is when China gives the initial ok to let you adopt the child. You can send them a package at this point and post pictures of their sweet faces. Very exciting!

DTC: Date to China. This is the date that your paperwork goes to China.

LID: Log in Date. This is the date that China logs your paperwork into their system. (As an interesting side note, our LID for Moriah was August 28, 2006. In case you're counting, that was just over five years ago. If we had not switched over to the SN (special needs) side, we would still be waiting for a referral of a child. Can you imagine??? So glad we switched.)

LOA: Letter of Acceptance. This indicates that your paper work has been reviewed in China and the next steps of the process are underway.

CA: consulate appointment. This is the date that you will appear with your child in Guanzhou at the consulate to swear that you have told the truth in all of your documents. Travel dates are determined by this all important date.

TA: travel approval!! This means that you can buy your tickets and make your plans because you're GOING TO CHINA!

We heard from our agency today that we should be DTC tomorrow! Indeed, our dossier is complete, reviewed and almost on its way! Next up LID, LOA, CA, TA...perhaps a few more in there that I forgot, but that's the highlights. Getting just a little closer every day.

I sent a package to each boy this week. We put a few toys, a shirt, a little stuffed animal and some candy and pictures of us in there for each boy. We also had our Chinese-speaking friend from the Chinese restaurant translate a letter from us for each of them. A couple of days after I mailed the boxes, one was returned to us because I failed to sign the customs form. I took it back to the post-office with customs form signed and it is now on its way. The postage is more expensive than the contents of the box, but the love that we put inside is priceless. So I hope they get them soon and know that we are coming as soon as we can.

God has been so faithful to us through this process. He gives grace for each day. We are so thankful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gotcha Day!

Sun in our eyes, but happy to be parents to this girl!
Saturday we celebrated Moriah's third gotcha day! Three years ago on September 8th we met our little one for the first time. She was tiny and scared and so very sweet. Three years later, she is spunky and funny and comfortable with herself and us. Such a blessing to see God's faithful work in her (and in us!)

Psalm 139 reminds me that "all the days ordained for her were written in your book before one of them came to be." It is painful to reflect on some of Moriah's days. But I am comforted (and I will comfort her) with the knowledge that she was never, ever alone. That God was with her through each transition. That He was watching over her every moment because she is very precious to Him.

One day when she was just a few months old, she was left at the entrance to a hospital.

That same day she was taken to an orphanage.

Another day she was taken to a foster family.

After a year there she was taken back to the orphanage.

Another day she was taken to a different foster home.

Then finally, one Monday morning, she was brought to us.

In my arms at last!
Andy signing paperwork just minutes after we met Moriah
So much shuffling around in the first nineteen months of her life, yet each of those days was planned for her by her loving Father. Planned for her good and His glory.

And we relish the joy in each moment we have shared with her. We look forward to all the days we will share in the future. We are so thankful to be her forever family. We will  share gotcha day after gotcha day with her.

Our celebration was simple, but our hearts were full as we rejoiced in the blessing of having Moriah in our family.

We have begun a gotcha day tradition of going to our favorite park to eat Subway and watch the ducks. We get her an adoption-themed book each year and wrap it up pretty for her to open. It is fun that she is getting old enough to remember that this our tradition and she really likes it. Sometimes the simplest things make the best traditions.

Happy Gotcha day, sweet Moriah Mei. We love you so much!

Not a great picture, but somehow it's the only one we got of both of the boys. They had little balsa wood planes that they were flying. Andy brought a little remote control plane to fly, too. 

Moriah with her Gotcha Day book!


Not sure I like this book as much as I thought I would, but Moriah likes it!

Beautiful September Day!

Reading her book.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Routine?

We are halfway through our third week of the new school year. The first two weeks we all felt like we were barely hanging on by our fingernails. But I think this week we have begun to feel like we are settling into a routine.

Four kids....four routines....four learners....four little disciples. A full plate for sure.

Kimberly returned to College Pathways for her eighth grade year. She goes two mornings a week and does a great deal of work at home. (And I mean a. lot. of. work.) It is a great program and she enjoys her friends and teachers a lot. Add in a little babysitting, a little piano and she is a busy girl.

Caleb and Josiah do most of their work at home with me, but they go one day a week to an enrichment program. They are in fifth and fourth grades. Yesterday was their first day and they really enjoyed it. They will do some science, history, drama, art, P.E. and (their favorite) recess and lunch. It is really a blessing to live in an area that offers so many options to homeschoolers. This program is through the school district and is completely free to us. They have several neat projects and field trips planned. We also are able to access Rosetta Stone in the language of our choice through this program. (Ni Hao!) They are close in age and just a grade apart in school, so it is fun to do many of our subjects together.

Moriah goes four afternoons a week to a blended preschool at our local public school. Her class is comprised of five special needs kids and ten non-special needs kids. Honestly, I have no idea which kids are which. But Moriah is able to go due to her hearing loss. She gets some speech there each week. She has really blossomed this year and is talking a lot about the other kids and all that she is learning. Yesterday she shared that a friend "got sick on the table." Oh my. God bless those teachers.

Meanwhile, the laundry is a like beads on a string without a knot on the end. And the house....well, it has that "lived in look," but that's how we like it! It means that we're all here together (at least some of the time) learning and growing and living.

Andy just finished his tenth (yes 10th!) trip to Qatar. He has one more to go and then he is on to different adventures (trips to Hawaii and possibly Australia). We marvel at God's faithfulness to us this year with all of his travel. But we are definitely looking forward to having him home more. And he is sure he will not miss the 28 hour travel days that he has endured. Frequent flyer miles are nice, but that is just a long time to be on a plane no matter how you look at it!

We are thinking a lot about what it will mean to add two more to this mix, but we trust that God will give us wisdom and directions or each step of the journey.

Since I have been a failure at getting a picture of the kids on their "first day of school" I will include some random recent photos of all of four.

Josiah and his quarter creation

Caleb and his giant pickle at camp this summer

Moriah loved the tea party on the lawn that Kimberly made for her.

Kimberly went to Breckenridge with her cousin's family and grandparents this summer. What a treat!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Two Little Swallows

Our adoption process is progressing...although it feels painfully slow to us. We have been waiting for about six weeks for a paper from immigration that will enable us to move forward. I'm sure the neighbors are wondering why I check the mailbox twenty times a day!

Meanwhile, we continue to be reminded of God's care for us and for our boys. If you can follow this story, it's really a neat demonstration of God's care. Hopefully, it's not too confusing.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from our friend, Pam who lives in China. She has our little boy, Isaac, in her foster home which is called Swallow's Nest. She forwarded an e-mail from a family who adopted a little girl in April. This little girl, Lydia, was asking about our Isaac because they had been good friends while they were in Swallows Nest.

As I read the e-mail, I smiled because I realized that I have spoken with Lydia's mom before. Laurel put me in touch with her when we were first considering adopting two boys. Since they had several biological children and had just brought two girls home from China, Laurel felt that it would be helpful for me to talk with her. We had a good conversation back in May. But I never thought to ask her where her little girl had lived in China.

When I realized that it was our Isaac that her Lydia was asking about, I got in touch with her again. We were thrilled to realize that our two children who lived as brother and sister on the other side of the world, will live in the same city and be able to see each other again.

Lydia has been concerned for Isaac's well being. She has been praying that he would find a family. At one point she even told her mom that she didn't want to live in the US because Bao Tao (Big Head...yes, that is his nick name!) needed her to take care of him. There were four little ones about the same age who lived together at Swallow's Nest. Three of the four are now home. Only our little Isaac still waits. As Lydia's mom shared with her that we are going to bring Isaac home, she was so happy. I am amazed to think of the closeness of the bond that they must have shared for her to care so much about him. With tears in her voice, Lydia's mom shared that Lydia recently told her that she doesn't want to move back to China anymore. She is glad to live in America because Bao Tao will have a family, too. A lot of her longing to return was China was stemming from her concern for him.

We are planning to send a care package soon to Isaac and Joshua. Little Lydia sent a note to include. This  is what she wanted us to tell him:

Xiao Hui (Isaac),

I am so glad your family has found you.  I am happy you will live in America in Colorado.  I live in Colorado, America too.  

You are so nice.  We will be friends in America.   

Be good in China.  I miss you.  I love you.  I am happy with my family in America.  My leg is getting better and stronger.

Your friend,

(Gong Li)

Isn't that cute? I can't wait until the day that we can get these two together again. The Bible says that God sees each little sparrow that falls from the nest. This whole story reminded me again that He knows all of the details and cares so much for us and for our boys. Rather than being fearful or full of anxiety,  I can trust that He who sees the sparrows sees these little Swallows and every detail of their lives is in His care.

Our Isaac with a volunteer. This picture was taken about a week ago.

Isaac is on the lower right. He is the oldest child at Swallow's Nest now.  Look at all of those cuties!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Memory of Laurel

There is still a bit of a feeling of un-reality about that title. It is hard to imagine that our friend and her three girls are gone. We were at family camp with our church when Andy got an e-mail letting us know that she and her three girls had drowned in a flash flood in Wyoming. It was a blessing to be surrounded by our church family as we wept and tried to gather our minds around this reality.

Laurel helped us with our adoption for Moriah as well as the home study for our two boys who are still waiting for us in China. After we brought Moriah home, she came several times to check on us and see how we were doing. Her observations of Moriah were always so encouraging. Because she was also an adoptive mother, she really understood all that we were going through. She supported us as we found out medical diagnosis after medical diagnosis. She helped us not to stress about the trouble Moriah seemed to have in bonding with Andy. She gave us helpful ideas and supported us all along the way. She was bubbly and cheerful and her presence was comforting and reassuring.

When we began to think about adopting again, I was so excited to call her to get our home study started. She was delighted and surprised. She wisely wrote the home study in such a way that we could adopt one or two children. At the time, I kind of laughed and thought that was not going to happen. She visited with us several times. I remember talking with her about my own childhood and the loss of my mom when I was seven. I cried remembering. And I also cried because I know that our adopted children all face losses of their own. She was a friend that was easy to share with. (Only with a paper and pencil in hand as she took notes for our home study report.)

I called her and told her that we were considering adopting two. She talked through some of the issues with me. Then I e-mailed her and told her that we had changed our minds. She was still supportive and encouraging. Then I called her again and told her that we had changed our minds yet again and wanted to adopt two. She again gave helpful input and things for us to consider.

Our paperwork was tied up for several weeks as we waited for clearances from all of the states in which we have lived. She finally was able to finalize and send everything up to our agency just before she left on her trip to Wyoming. We got the message and e-mailed her to say "thanks" only finding out later that day that she had already died. Really hard to believe.

The Lord promises that He will use all things for our good and His glory. We trust Him. We love Him. We believe in His good purposes and plans. Most of all we believe that He is sovereign over all things. I do not think I will ever understand His ways in this...and I am comforted to remember that I do not have to understand. Only trust. I am thankful for the time we had with Laurel. I am thankful for the encouragement that she offered us again and again. I am thankful that she leaves a legacy of many little children who came home from China partly because of her work. I am thankful for the challenge that I feel to share my faith, to live each day for Christ, to hug my children and husband a little more, and to give thanks. Each day is a gift from God. He did not spare His own son, but freely gave him up for us all. When I think of Christ and his great sacrifice for me....His adoption of me, I stand in awe and can only praise Him. Even when it's hard.

Wednesday we will go to a service to remember Laurel and her three daughters. Andy will share some thoughts. We are praying that the Lord will be glorified. I would also like to ask for prayer for Alex, Laurel's husband. He alone was able to escape from the van as it plunged into the rushing water. It is hard to imagine his agony. Please pray that the Lord would be glorified in His life as he processes through all of this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Boys!

(Joshua is showing Isaac the pictures that we sent him of us.)

What? You're adopting two?? This has been the question we've received a lot lately. And it is quite an amazing turn of events.

We were not really seriously looking to adopt again when we found out about Joshua. When we saw his pictures for the first time, we knew immediately that we needed to move forward to bring him home. But there was this little whisper in my heart. "Couldn't we bring home two?" China has recently begun allowing this. Two unrelated children can be adopted together if they are designated "special focus." Joshua has this designation. So I found myself looking at files of other "special focus" children. We talked about it a lot. Andy talked with our pastor about it as well. Finally, Andy told me to e-mail Pam, our friend in China who was advocating for Joshua. He suggested that we ask her how she thought Joshua would feel about coming home with a brother. She responded right away that most kids do really well. That it is a benefit for them to have someone to share this whole experience with. And...she included a picture of a little boy in her care whom we might consider. I was familiar with this little boy because I had spoken with her about him over two years ago. He had gone to Shanghai for a tethered cord release surgery about the same time that Moriah had that same surgery. We prayed for a day or two. Finally, we called our agency and asked to see his file and began to process to bring him home as well.

Zhu Xiao Chuan and Dang Xiao Hui...two little boys born in different cities in a land far, far away from us were planned by our gracious, sovereign God be brothers and to be our sons. We are in awe of God's work.

Now we needed a name. It took us so long to settle on a name for Joshua. But as we sat in church one Sunday, our pastor was reading the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac and how God provided a ram. I began to think of the name Isaac. Dang Xiao Hui and Moriah will be just four months apart. Her name also comes from this Bible passage. The name Isaac means laughter as Sarah couldn't believe that God would give her a child in her old age. And it seemed perfect. Isaac reminds us of God's provision on the mountains of Moriah (pointing ultimately to the provision of Christ). And we do have to laugh a little in the amazing plans of God to bring this blessing to us. So Isaac Xiao Hui it is.

Pam, who has Isaac in her care, made arrangements for our two boys to meet and spend some time together. We laughed and cried when we saw these two precious boys together. Soon to be home with us...brothers forever.

Homestudy is done. Soon, it will be headed to USCIS for immigration processing. Hopefully we will be able to get everything to China by September. And perhaps travel sometime in January or February. Meanwhile, we trust the Lord. Only he could begin this amazing adventure. And we know that he is faithful to us and to our boys.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's in a Name?

We have struggled for weeks now to come up with a name for our little guy. For some reason, Moriah called him Bobby. Then Kimberly called him Little Dude for a while. We found out that his nickname in China is Guan Guan so we call him that a lot (and will continue to after he is home if he likes it). We talked about so many names, but with six opinions, it was tough. The other things that made it hard for me is to think that he has had his Chinese name for eight years. That name identifies him and has been part of who he is for all of his life. It is hard to imagine swooping in and giving him a new name. Yet, we see in Scripture a new name was often given when God established a relationship with someone: Abram became Abraham, Saul became Paul. We wanted a name that would be easy to say and spell. We figure he will have enough challenges without having to constantly explain his name. Yet we wanted one that wasn't so common that he wouldn't feel unique. I like having all of the kids to have different initials because it makes it a lot easier to write a quick note in my calendar if I can just write: K--Dentist. I know that's not a really big deal, but it did come into my thinking. We also wanted a name with spiritual significance. After many conversations, we have finally settled on a name.

Joshua Xiao Chuan

I hesitated with this some because Josiah and Joshua are quite similar. (And I won't be able to write J--Doctor in the calendar.) But those two will be virtual twins, so maybe it will be fun to be "Joe and Josh."

I have been thinking a lot about Joshua 1:9 since we chose this name. It is so fitting for him and for us. "Be strong and courageous!" He will need so much courage to leave behind all that he has ever known to become our son. He will also need courage to face the surgeries that he will need to address his medical issues. But we know the Lord will be with him wherever he goes. Joshua means "God saves." Very fitting for our little guy.

We found out today that he got the care package that we sent. He got a little teary when he saw the pictures. Our friend asked him why he was crying and he said he just loves China so much. It hurts my heart to think of all the he will leave behind. I'm sure we look very strange to him. Imagine seeing a picture of some big white people and thinking about trusting your life and well being to them. I can only imagine what his perceptions of life in a family in America are. It will be quite an interesting road for all of us.

The paper chase continues as we try to get everything done as quickly as we can. Be strong and couragous, Joshua Xiao Chuan, the Lord is with your wherever you go!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ugh...Mom's Sick

I have never figured out why kids in China always pose this way. But they do...every time.
These two seem to be good buddies. Pretty cute.
Any guesses as to the ingredients in this soup? Sure looks like there's plenty of it!

This has been a long week as I have been fighting the crud. Andy has had it, too, but somehow he has managed much more gracefully than I have. I started to feel bad last Thursday. Really just laid around all weekend. Ended up at the Dr. on Monday and now finally, I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have both had a great deal of congestion, so snoring wars at night have not added to our needed rest. It certainly makes me thankful for my normal good health. It also gives me greater compassion for my children when they are sick.

And I can't help thinking about our little guy in China. Who gives him a cool cloth when he has a fever? Or makes snow cones for him to eat when he is sick? Who sits in the steamy bathroom with him if he has a cough? Soon, the answer will be me...his Mama. I am eager for opportunities to show him love and care that he may never have experienced before.

We got some new pictures this weekend...very fun to see. We are fascinated by him, of course, but the background is also fascinating as we try to imagine what his day to day life is like. There are some newer pictures showing his spine as well. They are quite sobering. We are thankful for the treatment that he will receive, but we know it will be a long road. He will need an expandable rod in his spine which will be surgically expanded every few months until he is done growing. Ugh. But how wonderful it will be for him to be able to stand straight and have room for his lungs and heart to grow.

Our agency is estimating seven to nine months until we can travel, so we are hoping for the seven end of the spectrum. It is possible that we could have Christmas, Kimberly's Birthday and Xiao Chuan's birthday all while we're in China! Our homestudy is nearly done and lots of other paper work is in the works. We are all eager to have him home.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zhu Xiao Chuan

This was the little face that drew us to adopt again. A little boy who has waited too long for a family. A family who has room for another son. A firm conviction that God has had all of this planned from the beginning of time.

Our journey to Xiao Chuan began in April when we received an e-mail from a friend in China. Pam Williams and her husband Clay work in Henan Province teaching university students. They also have a foster home called Swallow's Nest. Moriah lived at Swallow's Nest for about three months before we brought her home, so we have enjoyed keeping in touch with them. She sent an email asking if we were considering adopting again. She mentioned that she was advocating for this little boy who is eight years old. He does not live in her home, but she became aware of him through a friend who volunteers in his home. He had been listed for adoption as far back as 2007! Amazing to think how terribly long he has waited for a family. She thought us of because his special need is scoliosis. She knew we have been down that road to some degree with Moriah.

Andy and I have found ourselves looking at children listed on adoption websites during the two and a half years that we have had Moriah home. We would talk about adopting again from time to time, but never really felt compelled to move ahead. We had said if God put a child "in our laps" so to speak that we would be glad to add to our family. So the day that we got the e-mail from Pam, we were really interested. We talked about it for awhile and decided that we would like to see his picture and get more information. We wrote Pam back. When we saw his pictures we just looked at each other and knew. Our son.

So here we are...moving as quickly as we can through the dossier process. It's easier this time, but seems agonizingly slow as we are so eager to get him home. We have spoken with the orthopedic surgeon who takes care of Moriah and he feels confident that he can help Xiao Chuan with his spinal issues.

So we are stepping ahead in faith...trusting that the Lord has planned this for us and for him.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogging Again...

I have let the blog go for, let's see...just about a year and half. Amazing how fast time slips by! But thanks to Kimberly's prodding, I am back to blogging. Just in time to begin to chronicle our journey to Zao Xiao Chuan, a little boy living in Henan Province, China who will soon be joining our family. I am looking forward to posting more about him and our journey to becoming a family of seven. I am also excited to chronicle our lives together in the normal stuff that makes each day interesting. So, stay tuned! Sola Gratia is back!!