One Year with Rowan!

 

Tomorrow marks one year since we met Rowan in a large receiving room in China. It was a surreal experience, and it’s so hard to remember it now without all the memories of this year overlaying that day. I’ve already shared some about how difficult our first weeks and months were with Rowan. He was a scared, traumatized little boy, and while we had taken all the classes preparing us for what it is like to adopt an older child from an orphanage, there is nothing quite like experience to truly teach you!

This year has been a beautiful year for us in so many ways. That is not to say it’s been easy. God has used Rowan to teach us more about what it means to lay down our lives for others. God has met us in our most difficult moments and sustained us. He has shown us that His delight in us is not in our accomplishments or abilities. God delights in us because He is our creator and our Father. Human worth and value have absolutely no correlation to human capabilities. We are loved, plain and simple.  We are loved for who we are, not for what we can do.

We named Rowan after a tree (more like a hardy shrub, actually), that, among other places, grows in the Himalayas. In our nerdiness, we also liked that the Rowan tree appears in many mythologies as offering protection to travelers. We prayed that Rowan would experience God’s protection in his heart, soul, mind and body as we carried him from place to place in our family, but as we’ve spent this past year with him, we have seen more and more how Rowan is a blessing to others, also. Rowan has a smile that can light up a room. He loves so well. When others are hurt or sad, he cares, and he shows he cares by offering a pat on the shoulder or a kiss or his own lollipop to help someone feel better. Rowan has spent time with some teens here that we work with who are hurting and suffering the effects of their own abandonments and very broken families, and his smiles and hugs for them is something that would melt your heart if you could see it in person. He knows their names and he welcomes them into our little community at the Ranch. We are all travelers of one sort or another in life, and Rowan’s presence in our lives is a beautiful reminder of God’s protection.

Rowan likes to help…he opens the gate for our car at the Ranch and helps his sisters find all their lost things (from water bottles, to glasses, to books, to toys!). He listens and pays attention and observes so carefully what is going on around him. Every morning, he finds me wherever I am to say good morning and give me a kiss on the cheek. This little guy has me absolutely wrapped around his finger! He asks me everyday to play with him, and he also loves to just play wherever we are, even if we can’t play with him in the moment. He asks “why” about a million times a day. He spontaneously tells us thank-you for everything. We took the kids out to ice cream a few weeks ago, and walking back to the car after ice cream, he grabbed Pete’s hand to hold and says, “Thank you, Daddy.” (It’s hard not to remind our other kids they could seriously learn a thing or two from Rowan’s gratitude!)

I could go on and on with everything Rowan can do after just one year! When we look back over the year, we stand in awe of what the Lord has done. We also share that we have a long way to go. Rowan suffered 5 ½ years of neglect, and that has left a toll on his mind and body. He is still very small for a 6 year old, and he is “behind” when we compare him to others. But we’ve learned not to care so much about comparisons. God has stepped into Rowan’s story and beautifully woven it into ours, and we are so grateful. We always covet your prayers for complete healing in Rowan’s life and mind, but we also trust in God’s redemption of our brokenness, and in the way He wants to put us together, and it doesn’t always look like what we believe would be the perfect outcome with all of our comparisons and what we think is “normal.” But after this year (and the previous 6 actually, here in Mexico), we’ve decided that normal isn’t really what we want anyway.  We want radical love and inconvenienced lives in total surrender to Jesus.  We thank God for how he’s used this year to show us more of that kind of life.  We thank God for our own healing and for Rowan’s.  We thank God for all the things He will do in the next year.  We rely on Him to show us the way.

 

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One fine day in China

(Another post written many months ago. I had planned on publishing this a while ago, but considering how honest you thought I was in the last post, which now is 7 months old, I thought maybe this one was way too honest, ha! So I never shared it. But, you guys, I am getting ready to share all that God has done for me, for Rowan, for our family in the past year, and remembering how hard it was at the beginning is part of it all. Life is hard, God asks us to do hard things all the time, half the time I feel like we don’t do what He asks of us because of fear, but it is so, so worth it to obey. This post is a story of God’s faithfulness. And so is the story of this year. God is good.)

There were a number of difficult days in China, nothing worse than our second day with Rowan, which I briefly wrote about last time. But things calmed down and we got through our first week. The second week we were in a new city to do our US visa paperwork and appointments. One of the requirements for a US visa is a medical checkup. We didn’t want to take all four kids with us, so Pete and I decided that I would take Rowan and he would take the girls and a friend for the morning, while the parents of the girls’ friend (another adoptive family in our group) helped me with Rowan. We figured three adults, 2 recently adopted kiddos, medical tests, what could be hard about that? (Actually, we didn’t think that at all. We knew it would be hard, we just liked to fool ourselves!)

What I didn’t count on was that the morning of the appointment, one of my daughters woke up and told me her head itched. Where we live and what we do have conditioned us to know what that means. And sure enough, I found lice in not one, but 2, of my girls’ hair the morning of our medical appointment in China, when I was tired to my very bones and wondering how we would survive the day to begin with, and very near tears most of the time. My friend (the one whose daughter was going to be hanging out with our girls that day) had the best reaction ever when I told her at breakfast and gave her an out from hanging out with us. First, she used a very accurate word which summed up exactly how I felt but which I shall not repeat here…use your imaginations. Then she said that she would rather they get lice from friends than from who-knows-where, and she sent her daughter to play with mine. Who does that?!! Real friends is who, friends who are in the trenches with you! Nothing better, and our story will forever include this other family who blessed us in more ways than just this…

Well, the medical appointment was as expected. Rowan was a mess, crawling all over the floor, which meant I was all over the floor. The doctors couldn’t spend much time with each kiddo and so when Rowan didn’t know what to do for each assessment because he had never been to school, they had to write intelectual delay all over his paper. And while we had had glimpses of a little boy who could learn and talk and listen during the past two weeks with him, I couldn’t help the fear from sinking deeper when I saw those words.

We made it back to the hotel, we tracked down lice treatment (thank you previous traveling families for leaving things with guides!), and I did the best I could combing out hair in a cramped hotel room full of 4 kids. We topped off the day with a panic attack from one of our other kiddos. Two hours on a bathroom floor (on top of towels that probably had lice…are you itching yet?!?) touching pinky fingers because that’s all that was tolerated.  At midnight I dropped into bed, utterly exhausted and wondering what God was doing. He told me…I think because He knew I would crumble without His voice!

He was telling me not to fear, because He created Rowan and looked at him in perfect love, no more or less than me or anyone else.

He told me that He knows the number of hairs (and lice) on my daughters’ heads.

He was telling me that He is the healer, the One who can mend broken hearts and minds. And that even if it’s not all okay in this life, it will be in the next.

Life has gotten more “manageable” since China, despite our current living in between as we wait for visa paperwork. But what I learned in China refreshed me in a way that is beyond human understanding. By all accounts, I should be completely done, exhausted, at my limit…which in some ways I am, but in the ways that count, I feel more content than I have in a long time. I know beyond all doubt that what we did in adopting Rowan was what God wanted us to do. And in coming to the end of myself in obedience to Him, He gave me that strength to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint, and even to soar on wings of eagles.

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The First Weeks

(I wrote this about 3 months ago, now! I am finally feeling brave enough to start sharing some of our journey with Rowan these past 4 months! He is a gift to us, and we are thankful for the joys and sorrows of our life together. But I am glad I didn’t share right away…looking back over all the past months have held is just more confirmation of how only God could write such a crazy, beautiful, epic story!)

We have been a family of 6 now for a little over three weeks, and my feelings and thoughts about our first two weeks are still so raw that it is hard to find words to describe them. We have been posting a bunch of happy, sweet pictures on social media lately, but the truth is life is so much more complicated than that! I believe in adoption, and I also believe in being real, so here is some of what went down and some of the fight we are in as we teach a little boy how to live in family, and as we are refined in the process!

We have some pictures of a happy boy with us on family day, but in truth our little guy was so overwhelmed with being out of the orphanage for the first time in his life that he was off the walls hyper. I wish I had a video to show you of how many times I had to chase him as he tried to escape the receiving room. He was one of the first kids to arrive, and we had to wait a few hours for all of the families to receive their kids. Rowan ran around the whole room, wanting to touch everything, taking the other families’ snacks and trying to escape the room. I was sweaty before we left for the bus and the safety of our hotel room, which thankfully had a lock on it to keep our escape artist confined.

But, we ended the day happily eating dinner together. Rowan sat calmly and ate with a smile, which was a good reminder as I looked back the following few days after that first one looking for glimpses of hope.

The next day was a day I pretty much want to forget. We had to take our new son to 3 government offices, with a lot of waiting. He was with strangers who couldn’t communicate with him and he pitched every gigantic temper tantrum you could possibly imagine in the span of those 5 hours…it was awful. We didn’t know him, he didn’t know us, and it was hard not to compare him to the other kids in our travel group, who (on the outside) seemed to be handling all of it so much better. I won’t go into details about what was going through my head, but I went down the panic road. I let fear march in and tell me all sorts of lies. Anxiousness became a near constant thing every time we left the hotel room. We just weren’t sure how Rowan would react and it became clear he was grieving in a way that we did not expect…you can read all the books, but experiencing the raw emotion is hard, so much harder than anyone can ever tell you.

What I know, though, is that in those worst moments, Jesus was practically shouting at me to trust Him. I had an assurance of His presence in a way I have not had in a long time. Jesus reminded me that his commands are worth following. His commands to love others, to lay down my life for others, to follow Him in sacrifice, to hand over my anxiety and give thanks. And so I started giving thanks for Rowan, something maybe no one had ever done over his little life. I didn’t feel like thanking God at the moment, but obedience won out over feelings. I prayed that Jesus would show up in Rowan’s dreams. I prayed that God would be my peace. Pete and I chose to ignore the fears for the future and work on the day before us, no more. And we were and still are in awe of how God gave us the assurance that He has His hand in our lives and in Rowan’s life and our life together.

Adoption is wonderful and redemptive and heartbreaking and beautiful and hard, all in the same day! Every day we work to a new normal and toward healing in our boy’s heart and soul. But we aren’t the healers, God is. And He’s got this. We are in his hands.

On the plane ride back to the US, Rowan fell asleep and was really restless. I was honestly wondering what type of dreams were scaring him so much. But at one moment, he woke up, looked at me and smiled, grabbed my hand and kissed it and fell back asleep peacefully with my hand in his. My heart completely melted in that moment, and while we have had hard days and moments since, I am grateful for the fight because it is a fight for a little heart and for my heart, too. God took those prayers of thankfulness offered only in obedience and turned them into prayers of love now, too.

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On to tomorrow

Today we leave Beijing and head to Zhengzhou. Our son will be there tomorrow to meet us! The fact that we are this close is at once exciting and terrifying. We have enjoyed these days in Beijing and think it is genius of our adoption agency to plan these extra 2 days. We finally feel better and are not as exhausted and overwhelmed by the new sights, smells, and food. The past two days have been full of amazing sights, but the push is definitely for tomorrow. Looking at our family pictures in these past 2 days just reminds us that someone’s missing! It’s time to get him.

We have been enjoying getting to know the other families in our travel group. Yesterday while hiking the Great Wall, we were sharing how God has provided for our adoptions…it is simply beyond what I can describe. We are all here, welcoming our new children, and each and every one of us is surrounded by beautiful communities who have prayed and sacrificed for these children, too. 

Tomorrow the beautiful, hard, worth-it work starts! Thank you is not enough, but I still say it…thank you, for your love and prayers and gifts and excitement! We will post an update as soon as we are able either tomorrow or the next day, depending on how Rowan is doing! We love you all!


Pete and I in front of the entrance to the Forbidden City. And a picture of people taking pictures of our girls…they are quite the attraction.


Delicious food!

The girls have made friends with some other sweet girls in our group! Again, super thankful to have such a great group!


A rickshaw tour and another shot of enjoying the Forbidden City!

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We have a date!

Kylah helping decide what we should set aside and pack!

We received travel approval and have our consulate appointment all lined up! Drum roll please….we leave August 23rd! All those prayers prayed, by us, by you! Thank you! God truly could not have worked out the timing any better and we are just so thankful! Rowan Hao becomes a Johnson on August 28th!!!

In other news, we do have some more prayer requests for the adoption. There have been some procedure changes in the last month for expats (we just love last minute changes! I mean, life would be boring with no visa drama, ha!), and we found out this week that they will impact us! So, we could again use your prayers, that God would move mountains of paperwork and now give us favor in the eyes of our own government. I will keep you updated on the prayer requests, for now, we are rejoicing in the answered prayer for timing, for God’s provision, and for one less little boy waiting for a family! 

This week when I was stressing about the immigration changes, one of our interns wrote Pete and me a note that reminded me of something we are teaching the interns and that we still need to learn…one of the things she said was this: “Thank you for showing and teaching us how to love and see God in the difficult things we do.” Sometimes God calls us to difficult things, but He is there with us in it! Adoption, the Ranch ministry, life here, so much…but difficult doesn’t mean we should not do something! And difficult can be full of joy and peace, if we choose to present all our requests to God with thanksgiving! 

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Just waiting for TA

There are so many points in an adoption where you are just waiting for the next approval, and here we are again!  Our paperwork is all done, we are now awaiting Travel Approval (TA)!  This takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.  Once we have TA, we can really begin to plan for our trip to bring Rowan home (by way of 2 different cities in China, then 2 different states, lots of traveling in between, and then “home” to Mexico)!  We’ll be praying he understands “home” to mean together with us in our family, regardless of the traveling, and we’ll be bringing out all the tips that we have used with our girls as well in the many transitions they have also been through.

I will post more stories of all the ways God has provided for our adoption of Rowan Hao, because I am encouraged by them and I hope you will be, too!  But first, we have 2 weeks left of summer camp here at the Ranch, so I’m updating quickly here, and getting back to work!  (Camp has been GREAT with over 90 kids coming each day! God certainly has a way of keeping me in the present, that’s for sure!)

We were able to facetime with Rowan via a nanny in his orphanage and it was amazing!  We were so very thankful.  Rowan called us Mama and Baba (Daddy), pointed to us, and tried to share his lollipop with us the entire time!  We feel really encouraged that he seems to know that we are coming for him, and that the nannies took the time to allow us to have this short communication with Rowan!  They also sent us a picture of him with them, among many others!  In every single picture Rowan is smiling!  He sure seems like a happy kid, and that’s what they keep telling us.  Please keep praying for him.  We are about to take him from everything he has ever known.  Pray for his transition and ours!  It’s looking travel really will happen toward the last 2 weeks of August.  Praise the Lord for that provision; the timing is really working out to the best for our family and the Ranch ministry! Thank you for all your prayers and love and encouragement!!!!

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Another Step Closer

We received our provisional approval from the US government last week and have the hard copy in hand now!  We are waiting a few days for our file to be transferred to another government office and then we will be completing a visa application for our son, and from there, our documents will go through several more steps being sent between government offices and we’ll receive travel approval!  We are in the home stretch now are just so excited to meet Rowan.

We also have the exciting news that we will be able to facetime with Rowan this Thursday evening.  Our agency and the orphanage where he is have given us permission to be in contact with one of his nannies, and she has been sending us a lot of great pictures and information on Rowan (through our Chinese tutor of course!).  Pray for our Thursday “meeting” with Rowan.  We’re a bit nervous, of course, and aren’t expecting much more than to just smile and wave, but we pray it will be a good step in preparing Rowan to join our family!

We’ve also received official updates from the orphanage, and want to share our absolute favorite picture so far of our son.  In everything we are hearing about him and in literally every picture, he is smiling so big and is described as a cheerful little boy.  You can’t help but smile when you see his face!  Of course, we’re already biased, but he’s pretty much the cutest little guy around! I have told my friends to just consider me 36 weeks pregnant at this point…all I can think about is going to meet our son.  But, of course, work continues here!  And not just regular work…summer work.  My prayer is that my longing to bring my child home would transfer into deep compassion for the children we work with here, to love them and serve them the way I want Rowan’s nannies to be caring for him!

sdr

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What We Were Waiting For!

We received an email yesterday that our official letter approving us to be Rowan’s parents is on its way to our adoption agency!  This is a HUGE step, and we are so thankful to be here!  It still looks like we could travel at the end of August (latter 2 weeks, hopefully, coming back “home” in the very first few days of September), providing all the other paperwork goes through in the “average” timeframe or slightly faster!  So, what’s next?  We will sign the paper stating we accept Rowan, and then we will start our US immigration paperwork.  We’ll need to get our approval from USCIS, then we wait for a letter from the National Visa Center, then we need something called our Article 5 (final approval that everything is done from the US Embassy. It will be delivered to CCCWA, China’s central authority.  The Article 5 lets CCCWA know that we are approved by the US government to adopt our specific child and have appropriately jumped through every hoop and paid every fee the two governments could think of.)  After this step CCCWA issues travel approval.  Once we get that travel approval, we can make a consulate appointment in China for our visa interview with Rowan, make sure we have our visas lined up, and then we will know when we are actually traveling (so, in a nutshell, we won’t know the exact date of our travel until about 10 to 21 days before we go!).  You can imagine, I’m sure, that this process is patience building.  Basically, we’ll hurry up and submit paperwork, then wait, then submit more, then wait, etc.  You can pray with us that everything proceeds smoothly.  It sounds more overwhelming than it is.  The steps are actuallyLIANG Hao photo 1.PNG quite clearly defined and laid out for us.  BUT…we are doing all of this in the midst of a super busy summer season for us here at the Ranch!  Pray for patience and energy, and most importantly, pray for Rowan’s heart.  We won’t be able to immediately come to Mexico with him, we’ll have to be in the US for a bit while we process his US passport, etc., which is more transition for our little guy!  We’ll need creativity and wisdom as we walk through this with him as a family.  But, we all know that God does work through our prayers.  The fact that we are even here where we are today is a testimony to what God can do! Thank you all for your many prayers and love for our family!  I’ll try to post a bit more in the coming weeks so that you know where we stand in this process!

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The Journey to Rowan

Often, we don’t take the time to write a lot about our personal lives in our newsletters/on facebook, not because we don’t want to share, but rather because we are passionate about the Ranch ministry and want to keep it front and center.  We care deeply about the children, youth, and families who are impacted by our partnership with you in the Ranch ministry, and, well, we want to keep everyone’s focus on that…But, Pete and I often remind ourselves…there is absolutely no part of our life that is exempt from God’s will.  He wants all of us and all of our minutes and activities to be for His glory.  We figured we could resurrect this blog and use it for a little while to post updates on our family’s personal journey to our fourth child!

Almost 8 years ago now, we adopted Ava.  That journey is something that is still near and dear to our hearts.  If you want to make me happy, ask me about it!  Ask me about a good friend crying on her way to work the day she knew Ava was being placed in our arms.  Ask me about those first moments with our daughter.  Ask me about the journey, the long months wondering when our child would join our family, the day we got the phone call and other friends came over with sparkling cider to toast Ava! We look at our precious daughter every day with thankfulness that we are her parents, even in the hard moments.  That gratitude extends to our biological children as well…they are not more “ours” because we birthed them…all three of our daughters are “ours” only because God was gracious and gave them to us for a time to raise in our home and to love and to teach.  But, 7 years ago…we were asking God for the specific gift of being able to adopt again.  After our journey to Ava, both Pete and I became even more passionate about adoption.  The image of the children in Ava’s orphanage is seared in my mind, and deep love for my daughter burns in my heart.  We knew there was another child out there who needed a family, and that we could be that family.

We thought we would adopt our third, but God surprised us with the pregnancy and birth of Kylah!  We call her our “move the Johnsons to Mexico” baby.  Right after she was born, we heard about the Ranch, and quite honestly, if we had been in the middle of an adoption, we would not have said yes to the Ranch…we would not have wanted to give up our adoption process.  Even so, when we moved to Mexico, it was with the understanding that we may have to surrender our desire to adopt again.  We moved saying our hearts and home were open to a fourth child, but we honestly did not know it would be possible to adopt while living in Mexico.

Well, with God all things are possible!  Last year, we started investigating a bit more, and God brought into our lives a social worker with experience in helping expats adopt.  God provided, through her, a way to have a homestudy done, and we are now sitting on the edge of being able to pursue a hearts’ desire of ours…adopting and bringing home our fourth child!

An adoption is a different path than a pregnancy, we know that.  But the end result is the same…another blessing, another life to celebrate, another child who will grow up and Lord willing, be a blessing to others and to this world.  But the path…that is something that is hard to explain.  It is challenging, hard, faith-building, patience-growing, and sometimes heart wrenching (so pretty much it could just be called parenting).  We want to share with you all the ways God has worked in our lives, and all the ways He has provided for this adoption.  We have seen God provide abundantly for the Ranch ministry.  That is a separate thing…our adoption is quite apart from that, and since it is personal, we don’t want to use our newsletters or social media platforms as much to share with you.  Hence, a few long notes here…those interested can click and read.  Thanks for being interested!!!  😊

WE’RE PAPER PREGNANT!!!

Are you ready for more??

Our first question after deciding we really wanted to pursue an adoption again was “from where??”, and we almost gave up on adopting again during our search for the answer to this question.  In every road-block we encountered, we returned to prayer, asking God if this was a NO, or just a prompt to look elsewhere.  We first investigated adopting in Mexico, but for many, many reasons, this proved next to impossible for us.  As US citizens we still would have had to use a US adoption agency, and they all discouraged us from pursuing this path.  Most of the US agencies approved to work in Mexico have their programs on hold, for various reasons, which we understand, especially after working so closely with the social welfare system in Mexico.  There is not a reliable way to verify that children in orphanages have been “relinquished” by their parents.  A lot of parents here view the orphanages as temporary while they work to become more stable, etc.  Also, the social workers here often do not have the time to put together files on children who would be available for “international” adoption.  (Which our adoption would be even though we live in Mexico, because we would want our child to be a US citizen.) We spoke with other expats in Mexico who had tried to adopt, heard their stories, and felt God close this door completely.  Our desire in this whole process is to also be faithful to the ministry God has given us for this season.  As directors of the Ranch, we cannot pursue just any avenue for adoption because we need to be able to meet the needs of any child who joins our family here in La Paz, with the resources here, which, while many, are not the same as the resources in a big city elsewhere in Mexico or the US.

Our next step was adopting from US foster care, and again, God closed that door.  We spent months calling various people, talking with social workers, and trying to understand what it might look like for us to pursue this avenue.  Again, we were highly discouraged from pursuing this route by the one (and only one) agency who helps non-military expats adopt from US foster care.

Back to square one…honestly at this point, we almost gave up…it had been months and months of phone calls, prayer, wondering, hoping (but barely), and we really had to analyze what we thought was feasible.  We don’t live a super “normal” life, we live in a place which would take some major adjustments for an older child, we don’t have special education classes readily available, it’s REALLY hot in the summer here with lots of bugs, etc.  BUT…we work with some really amazing physical therapists who use our horses to help children with physical disabilities, we are friends with the director of a state of the art physical therapy center in La Paz, we live on the Ranch where there is so much room for a child to run and be free and outdoor therapy is a proven reality!  We run activities for children, our friends here love children, Pete is a counselor, I’m an educator.  We really felt we could (relatively) seamlessly work another child into our lives.  And we felt we had some tools to help a child with some different special needs thrive and grow.

Pete’s sister and her husband adopted from China a little more than 2 years ago, and we both really bonded with our niece on our home assignment.  So, they were the first ones we called…we asked if they thought it would be crazy to pursue the adoption of a child with special needs from China.  We were so encouraged by their response and their joy, and after praying and knowing that they were praying for us, we decided to investigate more, talk with our social worker, and see what agencies might be willing to work with us!

Guess what…we found the most amazing agency, which also has some really amazing skills at helping us qualify for this adoption (it wasn’t immediately simple for us), and which has tons of experience working with expats.  We felt prompted to move forward with CCAI…and, to tell you, in each step of this journey, we have been holding this adoption with open hands…asking God to close the door or slow us down if we are ever moving ahead of Him or outside of His plans.  He has been so faithful.  Pete and I have many, many moments of clear direction in this entire endeavor, and we are thankful for that.

So…there you are:

WE’RE ADOPTING FROM CHINA!

The whole process I’ve described took place over more than 6 months…that’s so much longer than with Ava…Pete one night said…let’s adopt.  And the next week, I plopped papers in front of him to sign with our agency, we knew where we’d adopt from, and the date of our first homestudy interview!  It’s not that we were more eager with her adoption; there were just fewer complications, and, quite honestly, we’re not as naïve this go around.

The very first thing we had to do this time was get a letter from Mexico of non-involvement, and let me tell you…it was NOT EASY.  It involved multiple trips to the local social workers offices, multiple investigations of other people who have requested this letter, multiple copies of examples, passports, visas, etc.  Finally, I even had to call a friend in Mexico City, ask her to talk to her friend, and that friend to get in touch with the boss of all the social workers in Mexico, and then ask her to call the La Paz lawyer for the social workers here to explain what we needed and why.  Phew…it was a lot of work.  But we got it this past September (after I made myself a nuisance in the offices here for more than 2 months!).  And, in other good news, we made a lot of great connections through this whole process for the Ranch!

Second, we had to meet China’s qualifications, which we did, mostly, except for that pesky income requirement which China has…but guess what, remember way back when we tried to sell our house before moving to Mexico?  We had no idea what God was doing and why our home didn’t sell…now, we are so thankful! Our adoption agency told us our rental income is considered income, even if it only covers our mortgage! And then, with our Master’s Degrees, China considered us as having “income potential.”  Again, through this process, we just saw how God opened doors for us, and we are thankful.

When the way opened up after clarifying those two steps, it was amazing how God provided for getting our homestudy done!

You might be wondering why we haven’t been sharing this journey publicly from the beginning.  Partly, it is from our desire to keep the Ranch front and center.  Partly, it is because we are holding this adoption with open hands because we are not going to be doing the same amount of fundraising for this adoption like we did for Ava’s.  We are passionate about this adoption, but also about the Ranch and the children, youth, and families who depend on our teamwork with all of you in fundraising. We don’t want to double up!  And, honestly, we don’t have the energy to do so! Instead, we have done the hard work of applying for grants, and in each step, we wait until we have the grant money, and then we move forward to the next step in the adoption.  At this moment, we are so thrilled to share with you that we did receive a hugely generous grant from a Christian foundation dedicated to helping families adopt.  They paid ALL of our adoption agency fees!  We have travel/orphanage fees left, and we have something like 8 grant applications sitting out there, each taking about 3 to 4 months to process.  We only need about 2 more grants (calculating the average amount of grant awards).  Pray with us about that, and we will be letting you know as we continue to rejoice in how God will provide!  (I have another story waiting in the wings here, just wanted to post this eternally long entry first!)

OUR CHILD

The best part!  We have a 5 year old son waiting for us in China!  China has a large list of children available for adoption that they call the Shared List, meaning that multiple adoption agencies can pull files if they feel they have families that might be good fits for the children on the list.  Typically, these children are on this list because they are older, are boys, or have more involved special needs.  Our son’s file was prepared when he was about 18 months old, and he has been waiting for a family ever since.  His file hadn’t been updated, but for whatever reason (we believe God moved us to ask) we picked his face out of hundreds on our adoption agency’s website, and asked to hear more.  His old file was sent to us; we read it over, took notes, talked with my dad, and sent back an email…basically, we asked for an update and a video, if possible to show where this little boy was currently in his motor development.  Our agency had asked for an update more than once, and not received one, but this time, because they said a family had his file, the orphanage responded.  We received a video and a short update on our son.  We had his file reviewed by a physician who specializes in reviewing files for international adoptions, and after our conversation with her, we felt an immediate peace about moving forward.  We asked China if he could be our son, and we have received pre-approval.

We are currently about 3 or 4 months away from traveling to bring home our son, Rowan!  Our paperwork is done; we are just waiting for it to be approved in China and for them to issue our final approval to bring our son home.  Please pray for our papers to be moved quickly through the process.  It would be ideal for us to travel at the end of August, factoring in various ministry events and season of life here.  But again, we are trusting that God knows what needs to happen and when.  We also want to go as soon as possible, obviously, because our son has spent quite a few years now in an orphanage.  Every month is hard on children and their development when they are not in families.  Pray that God protects Rowan and his heart and prepares us to welcome him into our family!  We can’t wait to share that happy day with all of you!  😊

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And He Dwelt Among Us

We recently made a video for our sending church at home for their advent season which highlights some of the work of the Ranch. Hope you enjoy this little Christmas video. Spanish and English versions available!

 

Categories: Marquez de Leon, Ranch | Leave a comment

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