Adoption Journey || UPDATE

Where do I begin?! I have been dying to give an update, but have also been waiting for a few items to get checked off the adoption road map list.

As many of you know, I announced our adoption journey at the end of May, which we began at the beginning of October 2016. It has been a CRAZY AMAZING God journey from the very beginning. And I HAVE to say, GOD IS GOOD and has opened so many doors, answered MANY prayers, and continues to blow my mind throughout this adoption process. My faith in Christ has grown leaps and bounds and I am so grateful for this experience because of that! And as much as that may make some people uncomfortable, I have to live this process out loud and not leave these specific and most critical details out for the sake of comfort; because God has made ALL of these things possible. I will share more specifically on those details once we have our legal letter of acceptance from China, but until then, here's a little update. 😃

Photo Credit by: Tea Collection

Photo Credit by: Tea Collection

At the end of May, when I first announced our adoption, we had just completed all of the documents for our dossier that had to be sent to China. A few weeks prior to that post, I didn't realize our lives would be forever changed by a little human.

I had been hoping/praying and had a deep down desire within my heart that we would be matched with our little one prior to our dossier arriving in China and receiving it's logged in date (LID for short). A logged in date is a pivotal moment within the adoption process and a BIG check mark off of the adoption "to do" list for paperwork. The LID is received after you have sent all of those critical pieces of paper that you have triple checked and have had notarized and state sealed, been authorized and approved by the Chinese Consulate in Washington D.C. and are on their way to China to be received by Chinese adoption officials who provide you with a date stating the paperwork has been entered and logged into their system. It is a HUGE sigh of relief when families receive this LID, which allows them to know that their documents are now safe and sound in China and in the system.

Prior to our dossier boarding a plane and flying across the world to China, God answered a deep desire and prayer. He introduced us to our son! (INSERT HAPPY DANCE!) The first time I saw his face, I said, "That's my kid." Little did I know that God would take us on a crazy FAITH journey for the next few weeks to follow and would BLOW - MY - MIND. I cannot wait to share these details because they truly are God designed and orchestrated.

So here we are, Tuesday June 20th. I woke this morning and immediately checked my phone to see if we had any updates and if our dossier had been logged in. Nope. Nothing at 6AM... I did my normal routine and then "ding," my phone notified me that I had received an email. There it was, a notification from our adoption agency. Our dossier had made it to China and we are FINALLY logged into their system! (Insert another happy dance).

So where does that leave us now that we are matched with our little guy and our paperwork is in China and in their system? Below is a Q&A to hopefully answer those questions I have been receiving.

What's next? Do you get to travel now? Not quite. But ALMOST! Below is our adoption road map that shows where we are currently at. Now that we have received our LID, we send in a letter of intent to adopt our little guy, which was sent today, 6/20. This letter gets presented to the Chinese officials who then approve our adoption of him and will mail a legal letter of acceptance (LOA) to our agency, This is THE letter that says he is legally our little guy to adopt. It will take approximately 6-8 weeks from today to receive that letter, which would put us at the beginning of August, at the soonest to receive that LOA.

Once you have the LOA (letter of acceptance) THEN do you get to travel? Almost! Once we receive our LOA we begin working on a plethora of immigration paperwork. I just read the process and got a slight headache... Once those steps are completed and sent to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) we wait for our travel invitation.

So how long will that process take until you travel? From LOA to Travel, the time frame is approximately 12 weeks.

When are you hoping and think you will be able to travel? My prayer is that we will be traveling by the mid to end of October.

How much does all of this cost? We have been asked this question many times... and I honestly don't mind sharing. International adoption fees cost between $35,000-$42,000. We have been blessed beyond measure throughout this process in many ways and know God will continue to provide for our every need. We decided to team up with an incredible non-profit 501c3 company called Adopt Together and have created a family profile for those who have wanted to donate towards our adoption process. All donations are a tax write off and go directly to our adoption agency. Click Here to view our Adopt Together profile.

Can you tell us more about your little guy?? How old is he? What's his name? Unfortunately, we are unable to share any identifying information about him online until we have received our letter of acceptance. He is absolutely ADORABLE!!! And we love him already! Once we receive our LOA I will be sharing another update with more details about our sweet boy... and a picture!

THANK YOU isn't a big enough word for all of the sweet messages of support throughout this journey! We are forever grateful for your loving prayers, kind messages, and encouragement!!! 

Thank You - Thank You - Thank You

 

Maternity to One Year || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

Last spring I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting this sweet family as they prepared to welcome their sweet son. I have absolutely LOVED getting to know them and their sweet baby boy who is oh so precious!

I couldn't help but share this quick teaser from their session! I absolutely love that Mama brought her maternity gown so we could re-create the image over one year later.

Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

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Spring Maternity || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

Last week I had the wonderful privilege of photographing my sweet friend! I could not be more thrilled for her as she prepares to welcome her sweet baby boy next month!

Love you JoJo!

Maternity Photography by Michelle Newell

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Life Changes || BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

I have wanted to share this news for a LONG time, but have also felt incredibly protective over this announcement because it is life altering for us and deeply personal. I have debated with myself on WHEN to share our announcement and story... Even now, as I prepare to press "PUBLISH" my heart is pounding. But... I just can't hold it in anymore!

We are extremely excited! It's been a LOOOOOOOOONG time coming. But here we are!

Over the last 4 years we have gone back and forth with the idea of adoption. Should we? Shouldn't we? Maybe? I don't know? I'm game, but he's not. He's game, and I'm not... Until October 2016. That's when everything changed. But let me back up a little because there's a WHOLE lot more to this story, so I hope you'll bear with me, because the details are just as important to our decision.

Prior to October 2016 I had been following my friend's adoption journey of their little guy they brought home a year ago from China. Every time they made an announcement, I had a tug on my heart. And I firmly believe that God was pricking it. Then another friend announced her foster-to-adopt plans and God tugged on my heart again. Over and over this would occur in conversations with friends or adoption journeys that would take place. That constant tugging...

Last summer was a season of wrestling for me. It was extremely busy. Too busy. Our calendar never seemed to slow down and I felt like something was getting ready to change. But didn't know what. We had finished our first year of homeschooling, which went great and I was planning and prepping for our second year as well as trying to balance a crazy busy summer season for my business. I literally entered fall completely fried and needing something to give. I had no clue what was about the happen. Or maybe subconsciously I did but didn't want to admit it, because that still small Voice kept bugging me, "Hey, remember that idea? Yeah, that one." Because honestly, I was good with my one. I was content (or so I thought I was) and we were moving along in life...

Then at the end of September we were at church and I looked to my left and there was my friend, the one who had just recently adopted their little guy from China. And man did the stirring happen even more. Meeting Knox, seeing his little face. It hit me harder. And it's not like we aren't around friends who have adopted. There are SO many families at our church who are living out James 1:27 and have adopted or who sponsor children or go on missions trips and help orphanages... Our Pastor has adopted two brothers from S. Korea. Our close friends have adopted... It's not like we aren't aware of the need. Because, there is a HUGE need for good families to open up their opens and welcome these little ones in. Jerry and I have sponsored 5 children for over 12 years. We know there's a need. But could we really do it? Did I really WANT to?

A few weeks later my friend Janay and her amazing 4 kiddos came over and she told me they were in the process of adopting their second from China. I asked her a TON of questions about the process, of which she graciously answered them all. (And please know, you can ask me any good-intentioned question! I am an open book on this process.) She told me about the orphanages and all of the little ones still waiting. STILL WAITING. Especially those with special needs... My heart basically shredded. I held in tears and listened as she told me about her own God-designed adoption journey.

That night, I posed the question to my husband again... "What do you think about adoption? I don't want to go through this life thinking 'Why didn't we try?' I think we should fill out the application to at least get more information on the process. What do you think?" And in good male fashion, Jerry responded. "Okay." :) He's a man of many words. LOL

So that night, on October 6, 2016, we filled out the initial application and haven't stopped running since. 

I'm sure y'all have a TON of questions, so I am going to try and answer as many as I can with the Q&A below from questions I have already received. But if you have any other, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments!

Why did you choose China? Honestly, God directed us to China. For the longest time I always thought that if I ever adopted, it would be from Africa, since that is where I lived as a child. But God pointed us to China, of which the reasons have become more clear as we've been on this journey. But International or Domestic, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of children who need GOOD homes. And my child happens to be in China.

Why are you adopting? Could you not have another one? Extremely personal question, but people want to know and I honestly don't mind answering. No and Maybe?? I don't know and it really doesn't matter. When Brooklynn turned 2 we started trying again to have another baby. We tried off and on for 3 years and when she turned 5, I got rid of the crib, which was closure for me on us having another one biologically. But I truly believe it was because God was preparing us for this moment in our lives right here, for which I am grateful for!

Will it be a newborn? NOPE!!! I love photographing newborns!!! But our age range is between 10 months - 3 years of age. In China, newborns are not adoptable. When a Child is abandoned, they spend 9 months trying to locate family members or the parents to claim the child, no matter what age they are placed in the orphanage.

Will it be a boy or a girl? We are open to either. But the majority of children who are waiting to be adopted from China are boys. (And everyone says, WHAT?! But I thought...) Yes, in the early 1990's when the One Child Policy began, there were a LOT of girls being adopted, and still are. Many favor girls for various reasons, leaving boys as the "undesirable children" for adoption. Especially children with special needs. It's heart breaking.

Special Needs?: Our child will also most likely have some form of minor to moderate special need, of which we go over lists and lists and openly discuss with our adoption agency what we feel comfortable taking on.

How long does the process take? Our agency says anywhere from 15-18 months depending on various things. I personally feel like we've flown through the process except for a little hiccup during our Home Study process. We are currently (as of May 6th) 7 months into the process.

Where are you at in the process? We have completed all of the MAJOR paperwork, our Dossier, which is now being processed and on its way to China. Below is a little map of where we are currently at:

Have you been matched with a child yet? Not yet, but I am praying that we will be matched by the time our documents have received their "Logged in Date" in China. This meaning, China has received our paperwork and we've been logged in to their system. I currently don't remember how long this next part can take... But at least a few months. This is where the waiting gets hard.

Will you still run your business? Yes. However, once we have our travel date and head to meet our child, I will be taking a "sabbatical" for a period of time for us to connect and bond as a family of FOUR and adjust to our new way of life. I will share more of these changes soon as I will also be taking on a limited number of clients post-adoption. 

So here we are!

We are really excited about this life change and KNOW it will not be easy. We have studied, watched MANY documentaries, read SO many books and are so grateful to be surrounded by families and friends who have gone before us in this journey...

We covet your prayers throughout this process and will share another update once we have been matched with our child!

I CAN'T WAIT!