Two weeks from today (Wednesday) we will leave for China to get our Katie Ann & bring her home!!

Many, many people have asked me, “what can we do to help?”

And my reply is usually, “prayers” or “I don’t know…”

Now I have something…

The orphanage where Katie Ann is in China has a list of specific needs. Would you consider joining us in donating some of these items?

  • Winter clothing up to size 18 months (specifically onesies/pajamas & winter sweaters)
  • Small hand towels
  • Baby bibs
  • Toys that make sound (small enough to fit in a suitcase)
  • Special Bottles for babies with cleft palate and/or lip
  • Nursing pillows

If you are local to Johnson City-contact me to arrange drop off of any items.

If you are a central Indiana resident & would like to contribute-my mom has offered to collect any donations and bring them to us when she comes right before we leave. If you choose this option, you will need to have any items to her by 4/28.

We will have to pack the items in an extra suitcase and thus there will be an extra fee for the bag on one in-China flight of $100.

If you’d like to contribute, but haven’t the time to shop the winter clearance racks and would like to make a financial donation towards the price of the extra luggage airline fee or in order for me to purchase additional donation items from the list for you… You can do so through PayPal.

Donate Button

Thank you for blessing these little ones as they are cared for and wait in hopes of their own forever families.

Thank you for loving us in this way and  for your continued prayers!

 

We have official travel dates and we are so excited to share!

We will leave May 6 & return the 22nd. The kids are super excited! We looked last night at the seat map of the airplanes and talked about where we’d all sit and what it will be like. I’ve got lists going all over the place of things to do, things to remember, things to get… 

And meanwhile, we’ve been moving some furniture around and setting up a little nursery in the master bedroom of our house. 

  

Getting ready…anticipating…waiting on our baby girl to be placed in our arms-in our family. 💗

About two weeks ago, I was privileged to go with my friend Helen to Knoxville where she was born & raised. I got to meet her sweet parents-Josephine and Peter Shih. We ate at a Chinese restaurant, went to two Asian grocery stores and visited their home where they allowed me to ask them questions and they even cooked some Chinese food for us. Helen’s sweet dad cheered for me every time I was able to get food successfully into my mouth with chopsticks. :)

Their pride for their heritage was evident. They both were born and lived their early childhood years in China before moving to Taiwan. Peter came to the US as a college student to study civil engineering and Josephine came to work as an already trained nurse. They actually met here (in the US) and settled in Knoxville for Peter’s job with the TVA. 

I learned some about how Chinese names are chosen and the importance of language. They told me what they could remember about the landscape where they each lived, what their house was like growing up & who lived there. They had very different stories as one grew up in a more usual way with a grandfather who was a farmer and a father who was a teacher while the other was a child of what we would call a state governor. 

Here is a picture of Helen and her sweet parents. They were such cute, sweet, happy and kind people. 

  

Helen & Josephine helped me pick out some items at the Asian grocery stores. It was TONS of fun! I bought these things that we have now already cooked using the steam setting on my new rice cooker (that I got for my birthday-along with my first wok-Thanks honey!). The kids thought they looked like the “dumplings” on Kung Fu Panda. :) 

 

They were delicious! We ate them along with rice cakes and green beans made in the wok (according to the instructions in the cookbook that I bought at one of the grocery stores.) The cookbook was published locally and has some of Helen’s mother’s recipes in it. 

I also got to meet one of Helen’s friends, Angela, that lives in Knoxville who has a son adopted from China (and even used our same agency.) To hear her story and share ours was such a blessing. It is so encouraging to meet with other adoptive moms who have gone before you and can share in the joys and trials and truly have a place of understanding. Her knowledge of the actual adoption trip to China was so valuable as we prepare for that in the near future. 

All in all it was a special time for me to learn and experience some more of what it is to have Chinese heritage. I hope I can continue the relationships made there and share some of it with Katie Ann as we attempt to teach her about her heritage as she grows. 

I love my family. We aren’t perfect. But I think we are a lot of fun. I’m grateful for my family heritage. 

Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”

I know this scripture often refers to money. It also makes me think of the inheritance of what it means to love, be faithful, committed and a part of a family. 

Exodus 20:6 “But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

Psalm 112:2 “Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

I am so grateful to my ancestors that loved the Lord & taught their children to love & obey His commands. 

This is one of my favorite pictures of “my generation.”  (And it’s about 10 years old…)

  

I have a cousin that when she was little & people asked her what her name was she’d say “Katie Katherine Ann McDaniel.” Which was pretty stinkin cute! (She’s still pretty stinkin cute-3rd from the left, front row…) ;)

Cousin Katie’s sweet momma sent me a special gift recently. A special “family” gift. These are both things that belonged to “cousin Katie” when she was a tiny girl and they have now gifted them to our Katie Ann. <3

   

All this reminds me of the beautiful story that a speaker told at the Created for Care Conference…Beth Guckenberger. She told the story of when one of her adopted daughters got married and what her husband said as he gave their daughter away in marriage. It was something like this…(what I was able to feverishly write down as she spoke) “Your branch is firmly grafted into my tree. Grow forth and enjoy the blessings of a thousand generations.” 

What a beautiful picture of being fully loved, fully accepted, fully a part of a family. This is adoption. This is God’s grace to us. This is my prayer & hope for Katie Ann. 

A long time ago, I told the Lord a secret desire of my heart that I didn’t tell anyone else…for a good while. I told him that if it was within His will that I’d really REALLY like to be able to take all our kids to China whenever it’d be time to go so that we could bring Katie Ann “into our fold” together. To be a family together. All together. To experience adoption together as one unified thing. (Yes-experience the blessings AND the hard together.)

But honestly. Sometimes I’m not trusting in the Lord with ALL my heart. And sometimes (a lot of times) I lean on MY OWN understanding. Anybody else riding the waves in this boat? And so I hoped and prayed and dreamed, but really I thought it just wouldn’t happen. I mean…it’s more money for goodness sakes! 

But I wanna tell you that it looks like it’s gonna happen. And I’m thrilled. And I’m so thankful. And a little bit shocked and a little bit ashamed at my shock. And a little bit ashamed that “we” can take our kids. But please understand that this is the Lord’s provision. That we cannot take credit for this blessing and so I will quit feeling ashamed despite what I think others might think…(which could be another whole case study in itself..!!)

So in faith, we have moved forward with applying for the kids’ passports. 



Here are each as they had their mug shot taken. 









And this was the day they came in the mail. Boy were they excited! Fritz made me nervous because he kept wanting to carry his all around the house. I could just picture it getting lost the day we got it!





And now  we have sent our things off for our visas to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago via  my sweet cousin Bethany! Who happens to live quite close to the consulate!! (Coincidence? I think not…) :) 

Her help is so generous as the gift of her time in delivering our things to the consulate & later picking them up will save our family a considerable amount of money. You see, to apply for our visas “someone” has to walk the applications in the door. You can’t mail them or do it online. So our choices were to drive 6 hours to our closest Chinese Consulate (the embassy in DC), hire a courier, or ask a friend or family member to help. So we really are so grateful for Bethany’s service to us. 

Sadly, most of my wonderful cousins grew up & got jobs in places far enough away that we don’t see each other nearly as often as when we were little and so close in distance & in relationship. This is the picture I was able to get of Bethany & I to share with you. It’s from when we were in the same singing group in college. {GO BOILERS!!} Please pardon the matching prescribed lipstick.  



(Now for fun, imagine with me-her beautiful blond curls & crystal blue eyes rocking it out on the electric bass…because she did. And it was pretty fun.) 😊 

Just wanted to send a quick update as we received some news today. 

The news is… We got notification today that our Article 5 has been issued!! I KNOW, RIGHT?!! You are so excited for us, but like us (or used to be us) you may have no idea what that means…

Bottom line is it means that we are one step closer to our girl! Article 5 is a document that’s issued from the US consulate in Guangzhou, China that is an approval of our application to make Katie Ann a US citizen when she becomes our daughter. (That’s my simplistic understanding…)

So it really is great news and we did a happy dance when we woke up to find that email in the inbox. 

What’s next you ask? The Article 5 and some other documents are sent to Beijing where the ‘powers that be’ will review all of it and then issue our family “TA” (Travel Approval). This usually takes 1.5-3 wks we are told. THEN WE MAKE TRAVEL PLANS!

We are praying that as this all culminates to the goal that the pennies we have been scraping together, working hard to earn and gather will indeed be enough and there will be no financial surprises. We also pray that the flexibility in travel dates will work out perfectly knowing God’s timing and His grace are perfect & sufficient.  And also for health, protection and love for Katie Ann while she waits for us. We would so love for you to join us in these prayers. 





Thanks friends. 💗

We decided to go ahead and send our second care package that we put together for Katie Ann and her friends at the orphanage because it takes so long to get there. In this package we included a super soft baby blanket, several sleepers for the kiddos about Katie Ann’s size, another disposable camera in hopes more pictures of her life there will be captured for her baby book, baby food treats to share, mint candies for the nannies and beautifully sweet pictures made by each of her siblings out of love for her. Now I know & realize that she likely won’t understand the pictures, but it was so lovely for them to do it-to work through the process and create something just for her. And then there’s connection. Relationship building. Love growing. 

Here’s all the goodies together:



And here are each of the kids’ pictures they made for Katie Ann. 

Will





Clara





Fritz



(note-even Lucy made the family photo) 

My heart is full. 

We do a verse on a door in our kitchen that is painted with chalkboard paint. Clara really wanted to do it this time. I’ll close with her artful rendition of Psalm 126:3



I’ve been feeling reflective and looked back and found several pictures that are like “little milestones” in our adoption journey that I thought I’d share with you. 

These two pictures are from one of the play dates we hosted with our friends the Wickershams when they were visiting in Frankfort, IN probably 4ish years ago…? (They live in China, but both parents are Hoosier natives)



The beautiful children in the photos are my Clara & Fritz and their friends – Rose & Grace. Their beautiful momma, Megan, generously spoke her heart for adoption and answering the call God has for us to care for the “orphan.” She sweetly answered my shy and curious questions. And Clara…Clara fell in love with her girls. After their visit… Clara(who was at most 3 yrs old at the time), “Gwace is my sista!” And she would beg for them to come again. And incessantly “when can we go to China to see Gwace & Wose?!” And then at Thanksgiving she picked out a chair for Miss Megan to sit in at mommy’s table. 

This is their family a little more recently. 



This picture is of Clara in an outfit that the Wickersham girls had outgrown. She loved to put it on. 



This was a sweet treasure I had kept from one of Miss Megan’s talks in Frankfort at FPC I think when I was in college… I set it on my dresser every Christmas season. 





Then we decided to adopt our own lil daughter that would be born in China. 



And along the way I met a sweet friend, Helen, who happens to have Chinese heritage. And sweetly shares her heart and friendship with me…has taught me some Chinese cooking…what it is to grow up with a Chinese heritage in NE Tennessee. She has taught me much and I’m blessed to share this season of life with her. 



This is a book I read to learn some of China’s history and culture. I won’t do a lengthy critique here, but it opened my eyes to things I didn’t know and I am glad to have read it. 



And this is a picture of the quilt that I made for Katie Ann in January of 2013. I had made 2 matching quilts for the boys while living in Indiana and then after we moved to Tennessee, I made 2 matching quilts for my girls. Clara sleeps under hers and has since it was finished. Katie Ann’s quilt has patiently been waiting for her as it lays softly over the bottom bunk in what’s currently Clara’s room…that she will soon share with her sister. 



And then of course the picture of our sweet girl. Dearheart, how you are loved. SO. MUCH. We can’t wait to come get you. We pray every night together for your safety and health and for you to know and feel that you are loved. 



Through the eyes of a first-timer…

I went to my first C4C (Created for Care) conference for foster & adoptive moms just over a week ago (2/6-2/8). It was held at a lovely lil conference center in Buford, GA called the Legacy Lodge & Conference Center. Click here to see the webpage for Legacy Lodge.
And here for the Created for Care webpage.

It was AWESOME people!! As a first-timer, I was incredibly blown away, overcome, overwhelmed. I can’t say it was “relaxing or restful,” but that’s because I didn’t want to miss anything. It could have been restful if I had made choices to do things like take a nap or do a craft break out session…but I wanted to learn! And I did.

I learned about how God cares for us as His children. How He adopts us as His own. How He calls us to care for the orphan & widow. How He cares for us as we carry out His call…responding in obedience to His call. How He exchanges our cares for a crown. How we are His treasures.

And how my love alone will never “fix” a person, a child… How God is sovereign. How He knits us together in relationships with each other & with Himself. How only He can fix the broken. How refinement only comes through fire. How blessing can be seen & felt in the hard. How we can choose joy in any circumstance but it is our choice. How we have to withdraw with Him daily to be renewed.

And then things like-
Behavior is the language of children who have lost their voice.
Lying is a fear based behavior.
Early life trauma is real & needs to be dealt with.
How important it is to have a circle of support for adoption.
Attachment.
Managing expectations.

And I’m …. Still …. processing it all.

I’m so grateful for the adoptive mentor moms in my life, for friends that listen and care, for supportive family, for a local church to come to for authentic worship & growth for my family.

Disclaimer-I realize this post has terrible grammar & may not even make a lot of sense. I apologize for this. Please know that just by doing this bit of typing here-you are allowing me to further process all that I saw & heard. And I believe that if the Lord speaks to you, He speaks through you…so I’m sending this forth for whoever’s ears it is intended for.

Happy birthday today to our Clara!

She is growing into a kind and compassionate girl. Clara loves school, friends, gymnastics, playing with her brothers and she can’t wait to have her baby sister home. “Mommy, let’s talk about Katie Ann…how big will she be? When will we go get her? What if she can’t understand us because we speak English?” She is a good helper, a sweet daughter, a fun sister and friend.

We love you so much sweet girl! Happy birthday!

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