Wednesday, January 28, 2015

oysters and george michael

like george michael once sang:
gotta have faith...
sure we're talking about two different things, but it you take those three words out of context they apply beautifully to our situation.


back in december we submitted what is called a supplement 3 to our i800a approval. this request a change in approval for number of children, age, gender, etc. 
we were told by our home study social worker there was no fee associated with this, so we mailed it in. 2 and half weeks passed and we received the dreaded pink paper in the mail known as an RFE (request for information). this is sent when more information, material, etc is needed to process the application. we were told there was a $360 fee due for a supp 3, and the approval could not be issued until that was received. and we could not pay it over the phone. 

i'm about to get raw. raw like this tray of oysters. 


i was livid. any virtue left me and i was in a state between crying myself into a puddle in the floor and  wanting to punch something. not really. but kind of. 

i felt like a horrible mother, i should have sent in a blank check just in case. i should have called ahead. i should have....
so much. 
the whole process just became delayed ANOTHER month, because once we sent in the check, it still would take 10 days for them to clear it and process our approval. two weeks ago, we overnighted it and paid $45 to guarantee it would be there by 10:30 a.m. the check cleared a few days ago, so now, we are just waiting....waiting...praying...praying for time

this is a screen shot of george singing praying for time. i call him only george because i believe we are on a first name basis.


once we receive the approval in the mail, the hubs can use his day off to run around town and get it, and a few other things notarized, certified, and authenticated. it's a crazy process: see this post

then, we pay for overnight delivery by 10:30 a.m. again and it is deliver by a man riding a unicorn, sliding down rainbow, playing the kazoo. (our adoption worker assured me this is how it was delivered last time we paid that much for an early next day delivery). 

i know our Father has no ill will upon our children. i know He loves them more. i know that everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen has passed by His Sovereign hands. i know He know the exact minute we will become a family and be together for the first time. 

even though i cannot necessarily trust in any person, organization, office, i can trust in Him. 
He's big enough to cover misinformation of fees due, and delays, and waiting; He's Holy and Loving enough to bring us together in perfect timing. 

the blessing of it all: they are in a loving environment. "one of the good ones".

january 18th was our sweet lucy-girl's 11th birthday. so, we threw her a party, from several 1,000 miles away. we also threw a party for our little dude letting him know he would be our son too. 

here's some pictures of the spectacular occasion:






right before i published this, my hubs texted me to let me know our USCIS officer notified him it was approved on the 26th and mailed out--we should have it by today or tomorrow. hope he's ready for another rat race! 



















Tuesday, January 6, 2015

there are enough families

Update:
a few days after I wrote this post, this sweet and precious girl passed away. she is free from pain now, free from loneliness,  and in the arms of her eternal and loving Father. Rest well sweet girl.  


there are a lot of children living in orphanages and foster homes around the world. the numbers vary: 147 million to 165 million.

some of these precious ones are "double orphans"--both father and mother have passed away or are not raising them (either by choice or other), still others are social orphans, while others have families that cannot afford to care for them, so they are handed over to their country's social welfare institutes.

the futures for each precious child (who collectively makes up that huge number at the beginning) vary greatly. some, based off of their special need(s), are left to be institutionalized, still others are turned out onto the streets (and we won't discuss what they resort to in order to eat and live), while others are fortunate and able to remain as staff at their orphanage, and some become "lost"--disappear, as if they never existed.

but, there is hope. the hope is us (you, everyone).
He sets the lonely in families -- psalm 68:6

there is a link at the top of this page, that takes you to another post, detailing why adoption is so expensive. the truth is: not many families can easily afford it. even after all the saving, 2nd jobs, fundraising, donations, grants, etc. there is still a gap, and that gap is often what separates loving people from adopting these very deserving children.

in comes Reece's Rainbow

a wonderful organization that raises money for children with special needs, who are waiting on their forever family.

RR just finished their largest yearly fundraiser (Angel Tree), and there are now many beautiful children with sizable grants. some well over $5,000. this is an incredible boost to helping them find their family...helping their family find them.

you can see the beautiful children that benefited from this year's angel tree here:
epic grants for precious ones!

there are other precious children who were not part of the angel tree fundraiser that have sizable grants too:

this doll tugs at my heart. what a precious soul she is: you can read about her here:
precious girl


her grant is over $15,000, with the country she is located in, a family would only have to provide an additional $7,000 in the due fees/travel expenses.

she is so deserving of having a loving mommy wrap her arms around her, kiss her sweet head at night, and whisper prayers over her.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

spiders for families

watch this video first: i made it will all the passion in my heart. :)




this guy can help a lot of families bring their children home.

that sounds weird, but it's true. 
see, there's an awesome advocacy group: reece's rainbow (how we found our lucy-girl, and thus little luke-dude), and every month there are several (4-5) families chosen for the 5/5/5 families grant fundraiser. it serves that with many people giving just $5 a month can make a huge difference: therefore at the end of the 30 days, what money was raised is split between those 5 families to help bring their children home. 

here's where the furry arachnid-demon pictured above comes in: 
i am terrified of spiders. i have jumped out of a moving car before to get away from one. so, i've put my life out there, nightmares for years to come, quite possibly my stomach's contents...everything!
if by january 4th, $1500 is raised to be split amongst the families (we're one of them this month!) or there are 50 NEW signs ups for AT LEAST $5 A MONTHLY RECURRING DONATIONS (to help all future families) i will go to a crazy school that for some reason has a tarantula as their school pet, and let it crawl on me for as long as it takes the keeper of the furry demon to tell us 3 facts about them. 

donate here: www.reecesrainbow.org/555families
you can either donation a one time large amount to be split amongst us and 3 other families, or sign up for at least $5 a month in recurring donations. :) 

if we meet one of those goals, i'll post the video here of my letting one of these horrible and terrible things crawl all over me. :) 

y'all have until january 4th to be a part of something monumental and possible my heart attack. 
<3
all for our children! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

pickles and ice cream vs. chopsticks and pleasant goat

this weird thing is pleasant goat:
(he/she is all the rage in china)



there are obscure times i'll catch a glimpse of this weird goat on t.v. in the background of a world gymnastics competition, or in documentaries about girls in china, and it's the closest i can come to feeling my baby kick in the womb. 

while you excitedly talk about your weird cravings and post pictures of your pregnancy concoctions, i crave an email telling us we are at the next step in the process, and pictures of the fedex envelope holding our latest government approval. 

while you reach down and rub the belly that holds safe your child within, reminding yourself your dear one is so near, i eat dinner at a local authentic asian restaurant and listen with a longing in my heart to the background conversations in mandarin, wondering what her voice would sound like. i clumsily hold the chopsticks in my hand, and envision my children laughing at me when we are spending our first week as a family together, in china, while i try to eat all our meals with these two sticks. 

we all come into motherhood different ways: some conceive right away, seemingly on their honeymoon! others struggle for years, and finally see the sweet little pink plus sign they've prayed for, while some find themselves at a last resort of ivf, still others find themselves adopting in addition to their biologicals, or adopting because they cannot have biologicals, and then some, like me, have always known their children will look nothing like them, and choose to adopt to begin their family growth. no matter how we become mommies, the journey is filled with this incredible softening of the heart, tears that flow like a faucet during commercials, movies where a child is kidnapped, and reading stories in the news of ebola orphans, aids orphans, social orphans and orphans of poverty.  each of our journey is filled with thousands of thoughts a day, where we imagine what it will be like when we hold our child for the first time, and we already dread the first time they will be sick, we fear the possibility of bullying for our child, and we all fear for them, at the environment of the world we will be raising them in. we want no harm to befall them, no judgement to be pointed to them, we desperately want to protect them from the mistakes we've made, and build them up in the areas we were torn down.

we all want better for our children. people who think the best of us say with smiling eyes and sincerity they believe our child will be just like us. i want to shout "NO! NO!" i want so much more for her, for my lucy-girl than what i am. i want more strength for my little luke than i have. i don't want them to be just like me i want them to rise above me. i want their lives to be filled with beauty and wonder, i want their spirit to soar, i want strength be so mighty within them it seeps out of their veins. i want their eyes to always see as His do, and not to be as easily tarnished by the tragedies of the world and circumstance. 

we are all mommies, and though we all become mommies in different ways, our desperate love for our children is the same. i just don't have the weird cravings. and you don't have to worry about prefecting your chop-stick usage. :) 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the story of luke

God brought us to lucy, and everything since then has been perfectly orchestrated by His hands.

our journey began with this picture:


the last news for lucy is that we received LOA from china (this means they accepted our dossier (the 1,000,000,000 sheets of official paperwork and such) and approved us to adopt lucy), and yesterday i sent the signed LOA and a few other required applications/documents to our government's immigration services for her. now, we are waiting on all those documents to go through the next process (this is only a few weeks) so her visa can be eventually be issued (once she enters the country, she will become a citizen) (i feel like there should be unicorn and leprechauns inside the airport where numerous children like lucy are entering and at that moment becoming u.s. citizens :)).

...in the meantime of all the final approvals being issued for lucy-girl, the director of our agency and a few other individuals associated with traveled to china. while there, they were in the anhui province (where lucy lives) and while in her province, they had a day "off" so they traveled to the city she lives in, and then visited the orphanage/foster home she lives in. and....
while visiting her it was brought to them how close and attached lucy is to one of her foster brothers. they've lived most of their life together, as brother and sister, and love each other dearly. and in the 8 years he has been waiting on a family, not one single family has inquired about him.
we simply cannot take her out of the life she has known and the orphanage/foster family she has loved and lived with; and leave him remaining as an orphan in the process. we have the extra room in our house, and more than the extra love and patience in our hearts, so, we are adopting him too!!!



here is he showing off a picture he drew of him and lucy-girl. :) (we may let him keep the mustache ;)) 




















and, here they are together, soon to be forever brother and sister! 

what this means for lucy-girl besides her having her beloved foster brother become her forever brother: we won't be bringing her home at the end of february/beginning of march as projected. everyone involved (us, our social worker for our home study, and our adoption agency) agree bringing them home together best for both of them. so now, we have to submit for a provision to our original i800a approval (this is the american government) to be able to adopt 2 at the same time. lucy's part is pretty much done, except for a waiting game for her visa, and it to make it's way to china, but that will be held off on begin submitted to china while we catch up luke's process.

it's possible we will be bringing them both home this summer. :) 

He does! He sets the lonely in families (psalm 68:6)! 

i am in awe: teary-eyed awe at how He is making our family. what a wonderful treasure, what a blessing, what an indescribable joy for Him to choose us to be the forever mommy and daddy to these TWO precious children, who already love each other so much! 

thank you for taking part in our joy, and loving lucy-girl and luke! 

we'll be able to de-deadmau5 and de-cat his face in a few weeks. :) 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

the greatest of news to be thankful for!

in the (slightly changed) words of freddie mercury:



"we are LOA, we are LOA, we are LOA my friends!
and we'll keep on stressing 'til the end
no time for thanksgiving
no time for christmas
because we are LOA during the holidays my friends!!!!!!!"

LOA, otherwise known as letter seeking confirmation (yeah, i know, the acronym doesn't match ups...LOA=letter of acceptance, but it's also referred to as letter seeking confirmation).

this means that china has reviewed the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 documents we sent them with all the notarizations, certifications, authentications, consulate approvals, fingerprints of God things on them, and accepted them, and said that, "yes! ryan and carmen preciado, you can be her mommy! (and daddy...oops, i leave him out a lot).

now we fill out a few more complicated forms (but for our government) mainly that are for allowing her to immigrate here and become a u.s. citizen through adopt0ion.

the typical timeline from here is 9 weeks to TA (travel approval) and then 2 weeks to travel from the approval to do so.

our agency was in her province 2 weeks ago, and visited her orphanage. they took lots of new pictures of her and even a video of her saying "hi mommy! hi daddy!". but, they have 1,000s of pictures to go through, so, it'll be a bit before they can send them to us. once they do, you'll probably hear me sobbing happy tears wherever you are, and that'll be your cue to come back here and see them! :)

until then, here's pictures of her (almost) completed room. it's in desperate need of cutie-patootie items from landofnod.com, but, we're almost there!




a sweet lady we've never met made this blanket for lucy-girl. oh, the love others have shown her is beautiful! 

mommy and daddy on their wedding day. we knew event hen we'd adopt to begin our family

ever girl needs a cute headband and necklaces

a picture of mommy on her wedding day with all her friend-aunties. also, because we pray her room to be a place of healing, peace, and grace, worship music has been playing in her room non-stop for the last 3 months. it is a wonderful Spirit-filled room! 


if you would like to come along side of us, and help bring our daughter home the link at the top right of the page will take you to our tax-deducible fundraising account. we would be forever humbly grateful for any amount you would donate. thank you for caring about our daughter, and helping to make one less orphan. <3




Sunday, November 23, 2014

stray cats and comfortable beds

the animal shelter near us is over-capacity with cats. i love cats (except ryan's....it's a jerk), and so when they started sending out pleas for adoptions, and free of charge at that, i kept presenting the need to ryan, and each time he said we couldn't handle another animal right now with everything going on. whatever. it's a cat.

i still wanted to "rescue" a cat from the shelter. i'm sure it would become best friends with stello, my cat, the awesome cat.


but the husband wasn't budging. i was sulking--how can he not want to save an sweet cat from an animal shelter?! what's wrong with him! and then this:


our neighbor knocked on our door one night, and since it was dark, this cat looked grey and white--like ryan's cat (the one that's a jerk). we were baffled at how it got out (i don't like it, but i would never let it out on purpose....). ryan knelt down and called it to him, and it came, like they were old friends. except it wouldn't let ryan carry it to our house. something seemed amiss. ryan ran inside and found his jerk cat upstairs...so who was this smokey look-alke? it was skinny, hungry, tiny, and it was freezing outside. we couldn't let this cat stay in the cold. (except it wouldn't come inside. so, we sat a food dish and water outside and a basket with a towel in it (cats love to snuggle in baskets!)). i didn't shout "nooooo!" it's not from the shelter! i won't help it!" 

the next day, when it was daylight, we saw it, and silly us, it looked nothing like smokey. it wasn't even grey. 
nevertheless, it still meowed at us and came to us, and ate it's fill on our front step. we've since sat a cat carrier outside with a towel in it--to help it feel more secure at night when it goes in to sleep. nobody in our neighborhood has claimed it, so, i've named her calico purress. 

bit of a rabbit trail to come************************************************************

all too often, we feel as if we HAVE to adopt to make a change for the orphaned
or we HAVE to intentionally live in a self-imposed poverty to make a difference 
or we HAVE to do 3 mission trips a year to an impoverished country
or if we go on a mission trip and don't lose weight on it because we ate (and didn't deprive ourselves of food the entire time to be like the ones we came to serve), we are ashamed and feel like we could have done more 
or if we come back parasite free, we had it too easy

let us stop measuring our care for the world by spiritually masochistic signs. 
now, we are called to NOT be lovers of this world:
james 4:4 says 
"you adulterous people! do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God! therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes an enemy of God" 
but there is a difference between living modestly and living lavishly, and only dressing in sackcloth and ashes. 
the notion that we must sleep on straw mats, eat one meal a week, and cloth ourself in sackcloth to be lovers of God and servants of people holds us back from the beautiful service we can be living out immediately around us! 

sweet mother teresa once wrote: 
"love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do"
she also tells the story of a young woman who came to live at her commune, and once this young woman received the Spirit, and came to be filled with His love, she came to mother teresa, full of excitement regarding her new life, and mother teresa instructed her to return home and love her family and neighbors. she happily did it--and with excitement! she didn't sulk and demand to stay in the slums of india, no, she went back home and loved those there! 

our neighbors, those in line behind us in the drive-thru, the drivers that cut us off on the road, the woman struggling to pay for her basic milk and bread, the stressed out single mother with the child throwing a fit in the middle of the aisle---they are as in need of our love, smile, grace, and gentleness as those living in poverty in lands far away. there is no shame in serving where you are. 

we are bringing our daughter home, but there is also great love needed here. love that only we can provide, the special love that is unique to what God has done in my heart and the hub's heart. 

let us spread our love whoever we are and not believe the lie that any love and service given locally is somehow less than love given far away. 
we are many parts of Christ's body, as spoken of in 1 corinthians 12:14-26:

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

the only thing focusing on how we are not staring our own 501c3 organization, or adopting 10 special needs orphans, or giving away $35,000 a year does is take off our focus of what we can do where we are. don't let the enemy shame you out of the service and love you can give. maybe the grandchild of a person you love toward Christ will do something you never could yourself, there are far infinite ways to His plans that we can see, let's trust where we are, and love where we are. 





also, on a side note: we "should" be LOA next week! wooooo-hoooooo (this is the big thing from china that we've been waiting on....."the wait!" all the next waits are merely 1-2 weeks each, and center around her visa! now would be an awesome time if you wanted to help be a part of bringing our sweet girl home! you can give through our tax-deductible reece's rainbow account (link on right side of page) or here where our story video is: a place called home site with video