Lift Off – Day 1

Standard

Day 1 to China

I began writing this blog just a few minutes into the longest plane ride I will ever take.  (No space flight aspirations at this point.)

We are literally traveling ‘As far as the east is from the west.’  Any further from home and I would be closer.

It’s amazing! As  little girl, I don’t believe I ever imagined traveling to the far east for an adventure as great as this. Surprisingly enough our travel so far has been uneventful. (If you knew the history of my family and vacations, you would realize that this is something to be celebrated in itself.  The Griswolds got nothin on the Swabys!) People have been patient and kind.  Thus far, the staff of United Airlines has been awesome!  (I managed to sweet talk a couple other passengers in allowing us all to sit together.  They were gracious and kind to do it without complaint.  We’ve had several people ask us why we are traveling to China.  Little HulaLoo says ‘To Bring my little sister home’ which leads to an open and encouraging conversation.  One of my first encounters on the walkway into the plane cabin was with a young women who works with some of the orphanages in China.  “I love to see families going to help the orphans there.  It is so needed.’   As far as I am concerned, she had me at hello.

The ride up to Chicago (in order to benefit from the direct flight) went pretty well thanks to Uncle Tony.  The hardest part so far has been the goodbyes to everyone at home.  Pappo and Grandma Patty are holding down the fort and anxiously awaiting our return. Aunt Jenny has provided a an assortment of fun surprises that we are opening periodically to reward behavior and fight boredom which has been a life saver since about exit #10 on the highway! also has a new tablet loaded with games which is the best $50 we have spent in a long time.  I have already been able to leverage it for good behavior!

Mom was concerned because she didn’t carry her snacks on to the plane, but I have assured her that I have packed enough food for a small army to survive for at least a few weeks.  (If they don’t mind a steady diet of Rice Krispie Treats and cheese and crackers..) Our baggage overfloweth… (I even have winter clothes for the orphanage!  Eric was amazed at what I could fit in.  Those vacuum bags really work folks.) I even have the portable baggage scale to rearrange if we need to! (China’s weight limit per bag is less than in the USA.)

I’m keeping my eyes open for opportunity and adventure! I want to say thank you to all the friends and family who have been praying for us and with us on this very long journey.  I got many warm text messages and prayer offerings before we set off on this journey of a lifetime.  You truly find out who your friends and family are when you step out on faith.  Can’t wait to see you all soon!

 

Your Friend,

Meredith
LLI 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

When are you bringing little Williams home?

Standard

 

International_adoption__diagram.jpeg

‘When will you bring Little Williams home?’  That’s a good question and one I wish that I could answer.  It has become a question asked of us almost on a daily basis.  

When I gave birth to our oldest daughter, I took for granted that I pretty much knew the exact timeline  of her arrival within a week or two.  When people asked ‘When are you due?’ I gave a specific date.

This time is very different.  As I look back, I’m glad we didn’t share the news with everyone right off.  As we near ‘Gotcha Day’, talking about it has become exciting.  However, I think I may have gone crazy if I had to answer the question ‘Where are you in your adoption’ on a daily basis for two years before we were even matched.  Dear friends, don’t think that I don’t appreciate your concern and don’t stop asking!  Its just that the process is so different from a physical birth.  There is so much waiting and so much out of our control.  It can be almost maddening.

It’s interesting because I have encountered some people that I think may suspect I am intentionally being evasive about the question.  The opposite is true.  I WISH I KNEW.  If Dr. Adoption would give me a due date to arrive at the hospital to pick our daughter up, I would gladly go.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. There are many things about this process which have been eye opening.  The complexity of multiple governments, agencies and paperwork is mind boggling.  (But worth it!)

The Adoption Process
Not for the faint of heart (or the averse to paperwork and killing trees…)

For those of you unfamiliar with the international adoption process, let me try to provide a cliff note version of International Adoption 101.  This post has been in production for quite a while because it took me quite a while to create the graphic.  Bear with me as I paint this  picture for you.  (It resembles a Picasso, not just because of the beauty but because it’s not exactly an orderly process.  You will see what I mean!

There are a few things that affect the length and process for every family:

#1 – The country you adopt from

Every country had different parameters for potential adoptive parents.  (Age, marital status, financial requirements, etc.)   Every country also has different elements affecting the length of time it would take to adopt, such as: the number of children available (which is is also affected by whether or not children with and without medical conditions are available for international adoption), the sophistication of the country’s paperwork and communication system(s) and the passport and visa requirements for entering that country.

 

#2 The Hague Convention

Countries that have signed the treaty known as the Hague Convention, have instilled additional safeguards to ensure that inter-country adoptions take place in the best interest of the child.  There are some additional safeguards and steps in the paperwork process.

 

#3 Your state requirements 

Some states require additional steps or documentation that are unique to the individual state.

 

#4 The travel requirements

Requirements vary based on the country the adoption is originating in.  (Some countries have very limited time frames and constraints for entering with a Visa.)
  

There are a few things that are consistently required for the process of international adoption.

– A Home Study
– An International Adoption Agency
– A Dossier (A collection of supporting documents)-This sounds very covert, but it i not driven by the FBI (although the government does fingerprint you TWICE under  the current process..
– Immigration Approval 

 I won’t go into detail in this blog entry about the complexities of each step, but I will say it can be confusing even for the most organized of people!  I realized early on, that I was not going to be able to push our adoption through the ‘system’ more quickly just by being more organized.  Anything with multiple governments, agencies and people is not going to be a fast process.  There is more waiting than doing. But it is worth it my friends.  So worth it!

Look for more regular updates as we get close to our ‘Gotcha’ Day.  Thanks for joining us in the journey.

 

Your Friend, 
Meredith

LLI  (Live Life Intentionally) 

Match Made In Heaven

Standard

We’ve been matched!

Its been a while since I have posted, and there was good reason.  We have been waiting.  And waiting. And waiting.

To be honest, I didn’t have the patience to do a post about patience.  (Side note – I also was not effective enough to actually finish reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  But alas, that is a conversation for another day..)

The tide has turned, and now the countdown to China has begun!  This train (perhaps the Oriental Express) is leaving the station. We have been matched with a little girl in China.  The news came the Friday before Mother’s day.  (How cool is that?)  The weeks since then have been packed with yet more paperwork (even though they say we are at the end of the paper chase, I’m not sure I believe them.  Ugh.)

The moment I first heard her story will be a moment I will never forget.  It reminds me a lot of the ultrasound I had with little Hulaloo.  Within a few minutes I had a picture.  I saw her face and I knew she was ours.  To be honest, I knew before I saw her picture.  Here’s why..

I read a lot of books and it takes a lot for me to say that a book really affects me, but the  The Circle Maker was one of those books.  Our small group recently read and discussed the book over several weeks while we ‘ prayed through’ the big issues affecting our lives. The highlights are Dreaming Big, Praying Through and Going Long.  If I said nothing more than that, I think you would agree that the long process of international adoption requires all those things. But wait.  There’s more.

A highpoint of the book for me was a section that discusses the difference of prayer made in true faith.  Most people who pray regularly ask God for guidance and answers with a hopeful attitude and heart.  But like Indiana Jones who steps on to the invisible bridge in The Last Crusade (all things in my life relate back to Indiana Jones, Star Wars or Seinfeld) someone who truly has faith, ACTS with confidence (as if the prayer has already been answered.)  If we truly trust God hears and will answer our prayers, there comes a point where we are assured its a done deal before we actually see it.

As I mentioned before, we have been waiting for a year and a half.  I was starting to waiver a little bit and become weary and impatient.  I had faith, but I was tired and having difficulty understanding why things weren’t moving more quickly.  I believed there was a little girl somewhere in China that was ours, but I wanted to see her little face . I thought about the birthdays we had already missed.  I want her to know that even though we weren’t with her , they were celebrated.  Every year on our little Hulaloo’s birthday, I write her a note that talks about the year and my hopes and dreams for her.  I put a little gift in the card and don’t give it to her.  I save it.  The cards will be a gift for her on her 18th birthday. Since I knew that our newest little one was out there, I decided to act on my faith.  I wrote the first birthday card for her.  I told her about our eager anticipation of her arrival and told her the special meaning behind her name.  Everyone in our family has the middle name Lee and Leigh, spelled differently but part of the same family.  We are different, but we belong together.  I shared with her that her middle name would be Li, spelled in a way that honors her Chinese heritage.  It would be different but fit perfectly in the puzzle God is fitting together to make our family.

Two weeks AFTER I wrote that letter, I got THE CALL.  During the call the agency was describing her medical history and some of the details regarding her life in the orphanage.  The name of the girl? Her last name is Li. 

Yep, you read that right. Her name was already Li. We will truly be honoring and keeping her Chinese name.  God had worked it out already.

This was one of those few AHA moments in my life.  We probably only get a handful of those in our lifetime.  I’m keeping my eyes wide open for more in the next steps of this journey! Keep your eyes wide open for the aha moments God has planned for you. You never know when it will happen!

LLI (Live Life Intentionally)

Your Friend, 

Meredith