Sunday, December 31, 2017

It Goes On

In three words, I can summarize everything I've learned about life: it goes on. --Robert Frost.

There are only a few hours left of 2017, and it's bittersweet to leave it behind us. Between the first day of the year and today, we've had ups, downs, highs, lows, and all of the in betweens. Like many of you, I found our Top Nine on Instagram to be a refreshingly accurate representation of our year. As Mr. Frost so eloquently referenced, life goes on.

But...sometimes life moved slowly. There were days that didn't seem to ever end, like the day of Jordan's heart surgery, and then the day of his second surgery a few days after. Silent cries because he wanted to be held but there were so many tubes and wires and lines attached that it wasn't possible. Helping him out of the car when we got home after being discharged and realizing the boy who ran down the hall toward the operating room couldn't even walk or talk. The days and weeks post discharge when he would cry and and shake because he was weaning off some pretty heavy narcotics, and we were giving our two year old methadone and Ativan just to take the edge off until he could start to feel like himself again. It's old news for many of you, but it was just yesterday for us.

But, then there were the quick, happy flashes, that happened more and more frequently, like holding our son for the first time after two weeks. Seeing him smile and ask for PomPom. Learning to jump, both feet leaving the ground. Taking our first family vacation ever. Building sandcastles and eating shaved ice and fish tacos and experiencing our first hurricane like true Midwesterners. Getting colds and not ending up in the hospital (except for that one time...). Experiencing the holidays the way they're meant to be experienced, with family and friends.

Learning that we would be a family of four, very quickly. Buying new clothes for another little boy, just a couple months younger than Jordan. Counting the days and realizing that in less than two months from now, Derek and his dad will be in China bringing home Judah. Emails and updates about our newest son, stacks of paperwork and red tape completed just to receive and send off a fresh bunch.

So 2017...was bittersweet. It was fast and slow. There were parts we'd prefer not to relive, parts that we wish would stay forever, and parts that point to a future we can't wait for. We don't make New Year's Resolutions, because why decide to make a change later when we can just do it today? I realize that's a rather lofty and somewhat arrogant sounding statement but it works for us.

If we've learned anything this year, it's for these two control freaks to not hold on so tightly. Again. We've made a number of plans this past year...and not a single one has happened the way we anticipated. Not one. It's almost--but not quite--comical. And we're not perfect at letting go, not by a long shot.

Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. --James 4:13-17

Does this mean we don't make plans? Absolutely not. We still make plans. We still pray about those plans. We hope those plans will come to fruition. But, we've also learned to be flexible. We listen more to our gut when things don't quite feel right. We aren't in control. We never have been. God is God, and we are not...and when you finally, finally remember that, you can hopefully find comfort in it. So when incidences like unexpected health issues, bills, matches that weren't the right fit, paperwork logjams, or small rodents that tunnel through the backseat of your car happen, we can accept...that was in The Plan. Just not ours.

So there are no New Year's Resolutions here. We have some hopes for what 2018 has in store, but we don't call the shots. We also don't intend to sit idly by and watch life happen. Time doesn't stop for us, life is fleeting, and we intend to be present for every moment, planned or not.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Plus One

Plus One Day: the day when your child has been home with you one day longer than they weren't. 

Typically, it's used as a marker for adjustment and attachment. When you reach it, it's a good measurement for where your family is in your attachment journey. For many, it's indicative of how well-adjusted your child is. To fully erase the damage of being alone, institutionalized, without a family, some experts say this particular day can be when your child will finally begin to feel wholly and completely a part of your family. A Plus One Day is a good thing. Some families even choose to celebrate this day, especially since it only comes once. 

Well, we didn't. 

In fact, while I've thought about Jet's time with us off and on over the past eighteen months or so, I never actually marked the date, and it was only yesterday that I saw a post on Facebook by someone else who mentioned it and I realized I should count back since surely it was coming up. Well, it actually came and went over two months ago, with no acknowledgement and absolutely zero pomp and circumstance in this house. 

I brought it up to Derek even, marveling at the fact that Jet has been with us for more than half his life. Part of that is due to the fact that he was just barely sixteen months old on our Family Day, which is atypically young, and the other part is because time truly does fly. Ten pounds and nine inches worth of time, actually. 

So while we (belatedly) acknowledge this day, it's also bittersweet. It's one more day removed from his country of birth. It's one more day removed from his birth parents, who may never know that their son is still alive. One more day removed from his Nainai. It's realizing that he no longer responds to Jian Guo. It's realizing that his little "xiexie" has morphed into "thank you". 

Please, don't misunderstand. These are all good things. I'm thankful that Jet's adjustment and attachment went smoothly. Of course there were bumps in the road, as expected, but overall we're grateful that we have a pretty confident, well-adjusted little boy who we can call our son. Yet we can't help but grieve, to realize this isn't the way it's supposed to be. 

In a perfect world, Jet's birth family wouldn't have had to worry about their son needing costly, open heart surgery. They wouldn't have had to make what I can only imagine was a devastating decision. Their son would grow up happy and healthy, with his family who loved him. 

But, that's not how things worked out. His birth family was forced to make the hardest choice parents can face. For reasons we'll never know but will always be thankful for, God orchestrated Jet to be able to receive his lifesaving surgery while still in China. Then, while recovering and up to the time of his adoption, Jet was able to learn to live in a family, a part of a family with a woman who loved him as a son, teaching him important things like how to love and how to be loved in return...thus making his transition into our family as our son smoother than most. We're forever grateful to her for her sacrificial love. 

We don't live in a perfect world. We have lots of questions, and never enough answers. But we do know that God doesn't make mistakes. His plan is perfect. He's in control. 

So we forgot Jet's Plus One Day. I haven't even done the math to figure out when it was exactly, because right now, it doesn't matter. What matters is our son, growing up happy and healthy, with his family who loves him. Jet is where he's supposed to be. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Tale of Two Names

I have to admit, Derek and I struggled quite a bit finding a name for Judah. Nothing on "The List" we've carried around and added and subtracted to and from seemed to fit, and we wanted to make sure his name would mean something to him and to us, just as Jordan's does. Having two names that start with a "J" was not planned, simply a coincidence, and we apologize to all of their future teachers. 

Jordan's name was instantaneously easy to decide. For Judah though, we were completely unprepared and had nothing picked out...and nothing we both agreed on. We were even fearful to pick a name while we waited for our pre-approval to come through (which took most of the month of August), just in case we ended up being denied.

What we did know was we wanted a name he wouldn't be ashamed to carry.

That's a weird statement to make, maybe here in the States, but in the country where our boys are from names carry meaning. Some names, given to abandoned children, even point toward the child's difference or special need; and that name given to them as children stays with them for life, branding them, adding to the social stigma of their special need in addition to being an orphan.

For the record, neither of our boys' names given by their orphanages points toward their physical differences. Should they want to be called by those names someday or if they return to their country of birth for work, school, or whatever reason, that's their decision. We'll always make sure they know their full names. Still though, we struggled. Should we keep some of Judah's name and incorporate it into his new one? But we didn't do that for Jordan, so would that matter to Jordan someday? Probably not. What if it did? And so, we were stuck.

Two sons: one with internal differences not seen to the naked eye, and one with more obvious external differences.

Two sons: both with emotional needs and differences that coincide with their physical ones.

Jordan: to honor the choice Derek's birthmother made. Because of her brave decision, Derek's life, my life, Jordan's and Judah's, were forever changed.
Ezekiel: to honor the ones who cared for him as "Zeke", a name meaning God will strengthen.

Judah: praised, to be praised (Hebrew). Praise, because Judah will be an orphan no more, and instead a beloved son in our family. 
Lev: lion (Russian), heart (Hebrew). It might seem odd that our non-heart boy has a name meaning heart, but that was not a mistake. It will hopefully serve as a reminder to him that he's got a lion-sized heart full of brave that will help him in the next few months, and years, as he adjusts to his new life here and learns he can do hard things. We can do hard things. 

Two sons, adopted into our family, as if they were born to us. There is no difference between a biological child and our adopted children. They are just children. Adoption is a physical act, an action, a verb. It is not a definition, a qualifier, an adjective.

It's a part of their history, but it will not be something that forever defines their place in our family.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him--Romans 8:15-17

Adoption could not be a clearer picture of God's grace. There is nothing, nothing we've done to deserve it, no reason at all why He chose us, but He did. And because of that, we are forever grafted into the family of God as His children and heirs. And we'll continue to shout it until we are blue in the face.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine.--Isaiah 43:1b

Jordan Ezekiel, Judah Lev. You are ours. You are God's.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Glorious Unfolding

I remember dates of the strangest things. I can tell you the day I graduated high school, the day I graduated eighth grade, the day I went to Pokagon State Park with Derek's family for the first time, the day we left for our Disney cruise five (almost six) years ago. It's a weird tic that I have and for better or worse, I'm stuck with it.

If you would have told me one year ago today that I would be healthy, both body and mind, I would not have believed you. If you would have told me one year ago today that we would be adopting again another little boy, and soon, from China, I would have laughed in your face.

Exactly a year ago from today Jordan had just been discharged from the hospital, again. He was sick, again. We didn't know what to do, again. It was a downward spiral, for me, that started in August and bottomed out somewhere around this time last year, a little after that particular ED visit. I've briefly alluded to or mentioned this time period, but I'm only now feeling comfortable sharing. There were days, even a week, where getting out of bed was the hardest part of my day. Leaving the house? Forget about it. 

Anxiety has always been a part of my life. I can't remember a time where it hasn't. However, there have been times where instead of being a part of my life, it turned into my life. And last year I hit the breaking point. I had dealt with it on my own and believed the stigma associated with it that I was somehow deficient, that it was an unchangeable, flawed part of me. A pastor once said (and I don't believe he knew the full extent of it or he wouldn't have said this) "You'll always be a nervous person and that's okay. Some people are wired that way." 

Was I so weak that I couldn't even handle a few ED visits and a perpetually sick kid? After all, many parents have gone through or are going through much, much more devastating events. Was I such a failure at life that I couldn't keep it together for even a small amount of time? 


"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak. then I am strong." --2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

It has been a year, and it has been a long year. For me, the "before and after" that people talk about once they have children didn't happen to me when they placed Jet in my arms. It happened months later, when I was rocking my gasping-for-breath son waiting for Derek to come home with new prescriptions and wondering "what have we done". A side of me wants to say there were more downs than ups. But deep down, I know that's untrue. 

I don't want to get into a theological discussion that maybe my faith is weak or I need to read my Bible more. I've considered the lilies. I've looked at the ravens. And yes, worry is a sin. But sometimes, you need to recognize (with some nudges from close friends and family) that yeah, you are wired differently. That it's okay to seek outside help. Because believe me, I've pleaded and begged and bargained that this "thorn" would be removed. 

And as of today, it's not removed. It's there, but it's managed. There are still days that I wake up and it's hard to function, hard to do life..but I look at Jet with all of his Brave, and I think of Jude and the different kind of Brave that he'll be needing, and I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.--Phil 4:13

The biggest hurdle that I needed to overcome was I am me, and this is me. Obsessive anxiety me. All things considered, adopting a son with medical needs, plus having the medical needs present more often and sooner than anticipated, plus having to become a stay at home mom, plus keeping track of the various appointments and therapies, plus being housebound off and on (but mostly on) for the better part of ten months, the counselor/therapist I see told me just a few weeks ago that it's 100% understandable for someone who doesn't already struggle with mental health issues to have feelings of anxiety and depression if faced with those changes. That it's okay to need to learn coping methods, to stop and think before letting feelings take over, to learn when my body and mind have had enough. I'm learning to not let it control me and get the best of me. I can think of at least five other adoptive moms I wish I could be like, but I'm not them. And I'm learning to be okay with that.

It's not just Jordan who's come a long way since May 30, 2016. If I made a list, I bet I could name a hundred low points for our family since then. But if I could make a list of our high points? There are too many to count. Sometimes, you just have to look for them a little harder. 

If you would have told me a year ago that I'd be writing--and publishing--this, I would have hid in the closet in shame. But this past year has been an amazing time of growth for our family--for Jordan, for Derek, and for me. I never want to experience last October again. Ever. (I don't think Derek or any of our friends and family do either.) But I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have nothing to be ashamed about. And because of all of these things, because of where we are now, when we received Judah's file we knew it was the right time to move forward. 

Jordan and Judah, Seaside 2018
I believe I'll never know what it's like to live an anxiety free life, this side of heaven. I also believe that even in the ups and downs, the best is yet to come.

Judah Lev, we are ready for you. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hey, Jude

Everyone, this is Judah Lev, or Jude if you prefer. Judah means "the praised one" in Hebrew, and Lev means either lion (Russian) or heart (Hebrew). Jude, our little Lion.

As you can see, he's got quite the little strut going on, and much like his brother enjoys noodles and biscuits. According to the ayis, he is never full and always wants more. One and a half bowls of noodles is quite a lot of noodles to still be wanting more. Sounds like we'll be increasing our Ming Shee order on the reg.

He'll be three in May 2018 (which if you're still following along, you'll realize that's about three or so months younger than I'm getting the twins I've  always wanted).

According to the information we got, he's fairly extroverted and obstinate at times. He can share with other kids and likes music. Sound like anyone else you know? He's also pretty independent and although a bit younger than Jet, can do things that Jet is yet unable to do (but we're working on--let's go PT!)

When the ayis pass out biscuits, all the other kids take theirs and run off but he points to his mouth instead. The ayis tell him "no, no, hold out your hands" and he'll slowly hold out his hands to take the biscuit before eating it.

There are obviously a lot of medical unknowns. Derek and I for sure assumed we would be waiting a lot longer and that our son would have medical needs similar to Jet (CHD). That's not actually the case so we'll be venturing out once again into a whole new world. I'm fully expecting to be able to add orthopedic knowledge to my resume. And of course, things may not be all that they seem on paper as well so we are prepared for that too.

If the timing of everything works, Derek will be traveling sometime between January and March to bring him home. Chinese New Year is in the middle of February this year, so we'll see how that effects our timeline.

One thing that we're very thankful for that we didn't have the opportunity to do with Jet is that we can sponsor Jude, and by sponsoring him not only will we receive quarterly updates (with pictures) but also ensure that he's receiving adequate food, housing, education, medical needs met, etc. Since travel is a bit farther out than the ten week whirlwind we had with Jet, those updates will be very welcome and of course we will share what we can when we can.

Now, has anyone seen Finding Nemo? I'm assuming sometime in the last fifteen years you have at least once. Remember Nemo's "lucky fin?" Jude has two lucky fins, and he's pretty awesome just the way God made him.
As it turns out, there's a Lucky Fin Project that you can check out for more information.

We'll be keeping his FB Group private a little longer--anyone can join but until we're home, just like with Jet, we prefer to keep things on the private side.

If you'd like to know how you can support us in the coming months, here is a list a things to pray for: 

*For a traveling companion for Derek. If you're interested in an all expenses paid trip to China as a glorified luggage carrier, documenter (that's not a word), and support system, please let us know. 
*For our finances to come together. We are launching the puzzle pieces again this week and hope to continue on with our Etsy shop. Again, traveling much sooner than expected (although still five-ish months out) is a stretch but we know God will provide what we need, when we need it. 
*For Jude and for Jet, as both of their lives are going to be changing pretty drastically in the next six months (and us too, if you think about it). 
*For the process and paperwork to go smoothly. There are a million little things that could pop up that we have no control over. 

Thank you friends. I have a bunch more photos and videos, but here's one last picture (more available on request): 

We think he's pretty perfect. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

I've Been Here Before...

Beginning on Sunday this past week, my nerves were up and my spirits were low. I was starting to get that "we'll never be matched" feeling. I logged onto Rainbow Kids one night and starting emailing every single agency that had a possible match for us; most of them replied that they weren't interested in transferring--and one replied that the file I inquired to see was actually via Taiwan...which since we've already started the China process doesn't help much. Ha!

On Wednesday, I even went so far as to email the assistant manager at our agency's Waiting Child program and asked for a few numbers/wait times. The last time I had done this was May 1st, so I felt I deserved some major kudos for holding off as long as I did. Of course, she was very sweet and said I can ask her any time I wanted but currently for a few of the conditions I inquired after had wait times as long as 24 months--boy or girl--essentially doubling the time that we had been told in May. Other wait times were still the same, but what our hearts were set on made us realize it might actually be a year yet before we were matched. 

A year. 

That night I asked Derek if we should revisit some of the kids' files that we'd reviewed in the past few months but had previously decided that we weren't the right family for them. Derek talked me down off the ledge, as I was pretty close to just saying forget it. Let's change countries, so we can just do something. Let's say yes just so we can get moving. I don't like to sit around and wait; I'd rather be doing

So I doubled up on my efforts that night and started emailing and researching more advocacy sites and on Thursday afternoon I even called an agency begging to see a file. Actually begging. I am 99% sure they thought I was a crazy person, and I don't blame them. We all know by now patience is not my strong suit. (I know, a shocking revelation. This blog is full of them.) This kind lady said she would send over the file and explained how transferring worked and I responded (in a very polite way) "I don't care about that; let me see the file so my husband and I can move forward." (I really do promise, I was much more tactful.) 

At that point, for me, seeing the file and getting a doctor's review were technicalities. A necessary evil that we needed to do before we submitted our LOI. I was ready to start typing it up, site unseen. But then fifteen minutes passed. No email. Twenty minutes. No email. Thirty minutes. No email. A good friend I was texting with said she offered up a quick thirty second prayer for the email to be sent and patience for me. Forty minutes. Fifty minutes. 

Friends, let me tell you, when you know a very important email is coming you will refresh every thirty seconds--am I right? 

For a total of fifty nine minutes I sat on the couch and did nothing but hit update and refresh. 

Then, exactly one hour to the hour, our own agency called--not the one I was anticipating. My initial thought and fear was that they found an issue with some of our paperwork or that there were yet more changes to the China program...given our news the day before the last thing I expected was a referral for a child. 

Except that it was. 

And as soon as we read this file, we knew. This was why we were waiting. This was why we didn't get the other email. This was why we weren't matched yet. This was why I couldn't find a brother for Jet. 

What I thought would be a good match for our family--what we thought would happen--as it turns out, wasn't what God had in mind. Not even close. 

And suddenly, I remember being here before. Feeling this exact same way eighteen months ago. How quickly we forget that when we try to take control of a situation, we are saying "no, no, Lord, I've got this, please, you do your thing and I'll do mine." Which is exactly what I did. And where did it get me? Again? Stressed, sick, anxious, sleepless, etc. 

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5

How many times have I looked at that verse in the past two years? How many times have I posted that exact image? I was scrolling through my IG and saw it, and it immediately struck me--right between the eyes. Sometimes, truth creeps up on you and others, well, it gives you a wake up call like this. 

So here we are, once again, with a referral that's exactly what we didn't know we were looking for. All the minutes and hours and doctor reviews and file reviews and emails that I was searching out...weren't in vain, no--many kids find their forever families due to their parents' due diligence and research. But I was looking in the wrong places. I wasn't waiting or asking permission. I was barging ahead, assuming that I knew the plan.

I didn't.

Today, one day after the call, we submitted our LOI to our agency for our precious little boy.

Everyone, please meet Judah Lev

Friday, July 28, 2017

Signed, Sealed...

Jordan is (supposed to be) sleeping, Derek is out in Springfield getting things certified (see above photo) and I thought I'd take advantage of my quiet time to explain exactly what the China adoption process looks like. I don't know if I ever explained last time--it's all sort of a blur now--and I also know that my friend list has grown exponentially, mostly with other families who have adopted or are adopting from China. Because of that, I just assume (incorrectly) that everyone knows what I'm talking about because you're all mind readers, obviously, or more likely have done this before.

Let's start with a few acronyms/terminology:

CCCWA: China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption--This is the Chinese authority for all international adoptions.

DTC: Dossier to China--The stack of paperwork that we've been assembling and sealing that tells the CCCWA who we are, our intent to adopt, etc.

LID: Log-in-Date--This is the date that our dossier is logged in to China's system.

MCC: Medical Conditions Checklist--A document each family submits stating openness in regards to a child's age, gender, and medical needs.

SF: Special Focus--This term generally applies to a waiting child with more significant medical needs and is assigned by the CCCWA. A family can be matched with a SF child at any point in the adoption process (before LID or after)

LID-Only: Logged-in Dossier Only--This term refers to children's files that are typically younger with more mild-moderate special needs, also assigned by CCCWA. A family can only be matched with an LID-only child once their dossier has been logged into the CCCWA's database.

I'm 99% sure that covers the majority of what we tend to refer to as "the conversational acronyms/terms" used in our house, posts, texts, and blog. No, I will not give up my Oxford comma; you cannot make me.

If you want further reading for more terminology, click here.


Home study: This consists of four home visits (two of them being one-on-one with each parent) as well as five reference letters, copies of insurance policies, bank and tax statements, etc...and about fifty essay questions that each parent has to write separately. Fourteen hours of parent training (online) is also required by our state. (We did this last time; no need to do it again!)

Once the home study is written, then we can apply for the I-800A, which is an application for our family to US Immigration to obtain approval to adopt a foreign born child. Once you send your application, you then get an appointment to be fingerprinted at your "local" USCIS office. (The closest to us is two and half hours away.) Then an officer reviews your information and hopefully sends your approval letter, and hopefully not an RFE (Request for Evidence, or more information).


Next, there's the sealing process and dossier compilation, which we are doing in four steps instead of three, just to make things the same across the board for all documents:

  1. Notarization of documents: Home study, I-800A, Adoption Petition, Financial Statement, Background Checks (x's 2), Medical forms (x's 2), and Employment Verifications (x's 2). (Since I'm a SAHM, I only need a letter stating that my income is $0 and plan to return to the workforce when kids are in school, or something like that.)
  2. Certification of documents at state level: This involves either mailing or driving to Springfield--we are driving because it's saving time and money! All of the above documents need to be certified (and that's what the above photo is of as well). If this was our first adoption, we would also need our marriage license and birth certificates certified.

  3. Certification of documents by State Department: Since some of our documents need to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., we chose to send all of them there for continuity. However, in order to do that, we need to have the U.S. Secretary of State Department certify them. Since we don't live in D.C., or near it, we will be using a courier.

  4. Authentication of documents by Chinese Embassy: Once our documents are certified by the U.S. State Dept., our courier will then take them to the Chinese Embassy in D.C. The Chinese Consulate in Chicago is another option, but many of our documents cannot be authenticated there because they were notarized as copies. 
Once all of these documents are sealed, we will very carefully make copies (to not disturb any of the seals, staples, etc.), arrange everything in a particular order, and send the originals plus a complete set of copies to our agency and keep a complete set of copies for ourselves. We also will send photos of our everyday life, formal pictures, and passport size photos. Our agency will review and bind for us and then send express to China--thus making us DTC/LID. The CCCWA then starts the translation and approval process. 

It really isn't hard, but it is time consuming and meticulous. One small mistake at the beginning that isn't discovered until it gets to China means you have to redo that document all over again from scratch. Thankfully, our placing agency looks at our documents before we get them notarized and then again once they receive the complete dossier. 


Once we are LID, or sometime in the next few months, we'll be matched and then submit our LOI (Letter of Intent to adopt a specific child). We will wait for China to confirm that they've received it and then we wait for our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) from China, which is usually sent once our dossier is out of translation. 

This is when things really start to move, on a weekly if not daily basis. At this point, everything is back in the USA's hands. 


Next steps are: 
  • I-800: Child specific immigration approval
  • DS-260: Visa Application for child to enter the USA
  • Article 5 Drop Off / Pick Up: The is a letter issued by the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou notifying the CCCWA that the adoptive parents are eligible to adopt their child and that the child can enter and permanently reside in the U.S.A. No matter what, this always takes two weeks.
And then we throw it back to China, who then issues Travel Approval, which is the formal invitation to the adoptive family to travel to China to complete the adoption. 


Once Travel Approval is issued, our agency requests consulate appointments in Guangzhou to get the immigration packet. Typically, travel can be anywhere from one week to three weeks from TA. If I recall correctly, we had about a week and a half from TA to leaving for China.


Current Events:

Right now, we are waiting for our home study to be written (completed hopefully any day now) which will then be looked at by our placement agency and us for errors (spelling, dates, wording, etc.), before we can get it sealed. We are doing things a bit out of order this time per our agency's instructions, and sent our I-800A this week which was received yesterday. We should get our fingerprint appointment in the next 7-10 days, and hopefully we will do that by the end of August. Typically the I-800A is sent once the home study is completed since a copy of your home study needs to go with the application; this time we will be sending the home study separately as soon as that's done to save ourselves a couple weeks (hopefully). Our agency/CCCWA is really wanting us to be LID ASAP, so that's why we're doing things a little out of order.

Most of our documents are notarized and certified, and we'll be sending those to the courier this weekend--hopefully to get them back by the end of August! We also hope that the last two missing pieces (I-800A and home study) we will have by mid-September to rush down and across and wherever needed!

We're also waiting for (the right) match for both the child and our family. We've had our MCC submitted since last July, but only opened it up to both genders a little before Jet's surgery--just to make sure we wouldn't be traveling too soon after arriving home and also to give us some time to figure out Jet's medical needs.


If you've made it this far, congratulations! I think you deserve a medal, but all I have are stickers (actually, bandaids). I know I threw a lot of information out there, and I also know this wasn't a "fun" post but more "educational" but hopefully it's organized enough to understand. The biggest goal though was for you to understand the process a little better and how both countries work together; as well as how imperative it is for everyone to dot every i and cross every t, no matter where we are in the process. Maybe, hopefully, this helps you understand why we're--ok, I'm--a bit frazzled or spacy--we thought we had six months to do it all, and now we have about two and a half instead. It can be done--no doubt--but there's a lot of rushing along with simultaneous waiting (not my favorite combination). Thanks for sticking with me for the entirety of this post, and as always we appreciate your prayers while we just keep running along!

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Updated State (of Things)

So you may or may not remember that in the last blog post, I mentioned that the CCCWA had changed their rules and we would not be able to submit our dossier until Jet turned three in January--which was disappointing but did give us time to save, time to enjoy our family, and basically, just time.

On Wednesday, someone from our agency called and said she had news that was about to make me very, very happy. I was skeptical, because I knew they weren't calling with a file referral, and had no honest clue what sort of news would "make my day, or maybe even my week." She proceeded to tell me that they (our agency) had inquired if their families that were already in process but not yet matched or DTC would still be able to continue on as planned, and the CCCWA said yes! I asked her maybe three or four different times, rewording it just to triple and quadruple check, that we no longer had to wait for Jet to turn three--and no we don't! So yes, that was good news! I texted a friend and she asked how I felt about it, and I said relieved--because I no longer had to worry about timelines but yet we didn't have to rush. 


Yesterday, I wasn't feeling well so I stayed offline a lot of the day, but when I finally checked my email late yesterday I actually found out that our "no rush" plan was now obsolete. Per our agency, the CCCWA wants all families who are now grandfathered in under the old rules to submit their dossiers within 3-4 months. That might seem like a lot of time, but it actually isn't...or it isn't if you were planning on sending documents via regular priority mail or ground, not overnight. Our home study visits are complete, but as of the time of that email yesterday we were still waiting on a few documents our HS agency needed to complete before writing. 

Fast forward to this morning: we ended up receiving and getting approval on the last few documents needed to complete the home study...but got another email from our agency that said even though our home study isn't complete, they would like us to file with immigration and overnight those documents, like today. (The reason this is weird is because with immigration/USCIS they NEED a copy of your home study to approve you to adopt--so to send things sans home study means a few extra steps as soon as that is done.)

Again, maybe this doesn't seem like a huge deal. And it really probably isn't. But we went from "ok, we'll wait an extra six months", to "Yay! We don't have to wait but no rush," to "GET THIS DONE ASAP YOU NEED TO DO THIS NOW". Almost every time I checked my email, there was another little tidbit of instructions to follow. 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When plans change frequently, for better or worse, I don't handle it well. 

What? I know. This is completely brand new information to all of you.  

Last time we did this, we didn't have a two year old (who is currently making elephant noises in his crib instead of sleeping), so we could work on it pretty much whenever--but now we really can't until after 7:30 or we have to take him with if there's a last minute errand--like this morning when I ran a few documents that couldn't be emailed or mailed to our HS agency. That means that last night Derek stayed home to help me make sense of everything and get what we could ready instead of going to a meeting he had at 8:30. And it meant that tonight he stayed home from a work thing to also help with getting documents ready for the first round as well as trying to make sense of the I-800A application and instructions. It makes for tense situations and arguments over the most mundane things, such as, should we notarize today or Monday? Should we do it over Derek's lunch break (right before nap) or after he gets off work (also known as the witching hour--or maybe that's just our two year old)? What are we supposed to write in certain blanks on the I-800A application since we aren't submitting our home study with it? How can we get answers to our questions now that our agency is closed for the day? Why don't you know the answers to these questions? I don't know, why don't you? (I vaguely remember having these arguments last time too.) And where in the world are the dining chairs I ordered from IKEA and why haven't they been delivered? What does that have to do with anything? 

Everything just escalates to An Issue. 

But then I opened Derek's wallet this afternoon because I needed his driver's license number (I can't be expected to memorize everything) and see a label I made with our fancy label maker in the retirement home where I worked in college--he still has it, even though his wallet has changed multiple times, it's not even sticky anymore, and I even got him a replacement copper "wallet card" so that he didn't need it. And it helped me remember that we are in this together. It might be chaotic, but that's life. Honestly, if we got through Jet's adoption, his subsequent tests and surgeries, and really just this past year in general, a little upheaval and rushing around isn't going to hurt anyone. Everything will still get done, and yeah, we might be overnighting things and using couriers instead of using ground service, but in the scheme of things, it's not life-altering. It doesn't change the end goal. If anything, it speeds that end goal up a little bit. 

I am happy to report that we have completed all eight documents that are ready for the first wave of sealing. I am also happy to report that we have completed our I-800A application as much as we can (fun fact, there's a rather massive typo/error by the US government on it that we cannot change). The world will not end if we don't send it until Monday to arrive Tuesday. Our home study should be written by Monday, where it will then go to the HS agency director and us to review for errors, and then our placement agency, who will fine tooth comb it at least three times. Things are getting done. We probably will be DTC by the end of October. There's a fairly good chance that with our luck, our fingerprinting appointment at the USCIS office in Chicago will be scheduled during the week we are on vacation, but we'll figure it out. Again, things will get done. 

And as I've said many, many times, life goes on outside of whatever issue we're dealing with. As I mentioned before, last time we did this we didn't have a two year old, and this time we do. We may be working on adding a brother or sister to the family for him, but our main focus is still him--as it should be--until we accept a match--and then he gets to share. We don't want the words "in a minute" or "maybe later" to become the norm in this house. So that means yeah, paperwork gets put aside, we watch "Lots and Lots of Trucks" on Amazon Prime so much that we hear it in our sleep, we do puzzles, we swim, etc. After a lot of thought, we decided Jet really needed some sort of structured social aspect in his life, so he's starting two year old preschool (which is way more intense than I thought it would be) in less than a month. He is absolutely going to love it, and they have a doctor's kit AND a PomPom (panda) so how could he not? Most importantly, school will be "his thing" and will also give me and/or Derek one-on-one time with our new son/daughter to help with bonding and adjustment. 

So. That's where things stand. Our T-Shirt campaign is over, but the link should remain live if anyone still purchases. Our garage sale with our good friends is still scheduled for August 11/12. For our praying friends, we ask for these specific three things (in addition to our son or daughter, whomever they may be): 

1) Finances. Due to an even faster dossier completion we will be sending the money sooner, so wise decisions on that. 
2) Good weather for the garage sale--no rain, and definitely not 100+ degree weather or heat indices. 
3) Pray for a traveling companion for (probably) Derek for when the time comes. If at all possible, we don't want to leave Jordan home for two weeks and then completely disrupt his life even more with a new sibling. 

Thank you to those of you who ask how everything is going and ask questions about the process. It means a lot that you try to understand more what we're working on/toward. I know I used a lot of acronyms in this post, and I'll explain more about the process later--something I meant to do last time but did not. Thank you all, as always, for your support. We appreciate it more than you'll know. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The State of Things

Hi. How are you?

I typically use our Facebook group to give updates on where we're at in the adoption process, but shockingly enough, Facebook is not always the right form of mass media communication (I know, I'm still getting over it too). I actually had to rewrite the majority of this post regarding our current adoption progress, based on the happenings of this past week.

So. What exactly are our updates?

Family: Jet is being fantastically two and a half. I'm not entirely sure where he picks up half of the things he is learning, because Curious George does not strike me as being particularly educational, but over the past few weeks he's really started talking a lot more--new words, sentences with a subject/verb/predicate, pronouns, etc. His new favorite phrase is "What's that?" which is driving everyone (Derek and me) crazy, and also sounds more like "whazZAT!" He's slowly progressing in his physical therapy; even if not much improvement is shown yet at least now he is willing to participate and listen. We also plan to head to Birmingham next week with a stop in Tupelo on the way home to do a whirlwind trip to see some of Jet's MSFH family as well as another special family who was in our travel group in China last year. Also, save the date; J's baptism is set for August 27--now that there's no RSV, pneumonia, heart surgeries, etc. in sight. I have no idea which service, because I didn't ask or specify (maybe Derek did?). If anyone does know the answer to that, let me know! Ha!

We also are planning to take a much needed family vacation (with no agenda or schedule to follow) in September. Derek and I originally wanted it to be just the two of us for our tenth anniversary this November, but after this past year we really want to have some uninterrupted time as a family of three before things get crazy again. Since this is our second go around with adopting from China, I now know that really once you're matched things get pretty crazy, pretty fast...until you land back in the States again (and then they're crazy in a completely different way).

Adoption: Our last home study meeting is July 11, and the majority of our paperwork is ready to be shipped off for the first step of sealing. Casey even gets to get in on the fun with updated vaccines and vet record. He's very excited. We were originally hoping up until a couple days ago to submit our dossier asap, but due to some new laws that China has passed we can no longer do so until Jet turns three in January. It's a little frustrating and disappointing, but in the grand scheme of things, as I mentioned on the Facebook page, it's honestly more of an annoyance compared to what many families are now facing. We do have to do some fancy footwork to time the authenticating of some of our documents accordingly, by not being able to be DTC (dossier to China) until the end of January, but it's all very doable. We have two choices...two ways to look at this, and right now, we're accepting that this is a good thing. It's forcing us to take more time together as a family, hopefully with less hospital time, and giving us the opportunity to save for a few extra months. We also realize that had we already been matched with a child, we may have had no choice but to wait to travel until at least January, or, release the file back to China.

To put this plainly, and bluntly, we'll be upfront and say that unlike our last adoption we are no longer a dual income family, plus--although we have great insurance--we do also have a child with medical special needs. Therefore, our finances are not what they were when we were in the process of adopting Jet. Originally, when we first decided that yes, we want to do this again, it left us with a bit of a dilemma. Do we wait to save up the majority of the money (thankfully costs are still around the same--you can look here for a very accurate itemized list) or do we step out in faith and practice what we've been preaching for the past three years? We did the math, and looked at the facts (hello, I married an engineer)...and while the math doesn't add up, the facts are the same. Last time, every time we came up short, God provided a way...whether that was through an anonymous donation, a fundraising type event, or learning what our real priorities are. Therefore, once again, we're learning (because how quickly we forget) how to do the trust fall.

Therefore, we are mainly concentrating our adoption fundraisers in three separate ways, and it's important to us to share you how those funds will be used:
  1. Adoption T-Shirts: This is the first time we've attempted to do something like this, and honestly weren't sure how it would "take." However, we've been amazed at the generosity shown with people purchasing shirts. There are still about twelve days left to order should you still wish to. Click the t-shirt photo at the bottom of this list to take you directly to the t-shirt sales link! With the funds we receive from the shirt sales, we are applying those directly to our home study fees and document sealing fees, which we anticipate to be around $2,500-$3000.
  2. Garage Sale: We are SO excited to be doing a garage sale again, and even more excited to share this experience with our friends the Zobacs (check out their story here). We had originally planned to hold the garage sale in April/May, but somebody had to go and have heart surgery...and then the Zobacs ended up being matched and needing to travel. Throwing a garage sale is a lot of work, and we wanted to make sure we would all be able to put in the necessary prep time. You can learn more about the garage sale on the other picture below (yes, that has it's own Facebook page too). It will be, rain or shine (but hopefully shine) the weekend of August 11 & 12, and we really hope you'll check it out. Again, the funds Derek and I receive from the garage sale will go directly to our home study and document sealing fees.
  3. Puzzle Piece Fundraiser: Yes, we are doing a puzzle piece fundraiser. We couldn't do one for Jet and not do one for Tanis2 (again, working title). We do not yet have this set up, but unlike last time, we hope to offer people the option of donating to an AdoptTogether account so that people who would like to receive a tax receipt will be able to. If we qualify for a matching grant, we will use that instead of the AdoptTogether site, but only time will tell. Neither of these can be set up (or approved) until our home study is complete, and just like last time, the funds will be used to cover flights and some travel expenses. Since now we won't be traveling until at the very earliest next spring, there is no rush on this but will keep you informed. 
 #adoptionrocks Garage Sale

Although we've given three separate options to help support us in the next phase of our Tanii Life, ultimately, our biggest request is for your prayers. Pray for our hearts as we adjust to this slight delay and change of plans. Pray for people to want to get involved, however that may be--financially, donating items, volunteering time, etc. Praise God with us for those that already have. Pray for Derek and I to be wise with our saving (and spending). We recognize that without asking God for his help and guidance, we really wouldn't be where we are today without His help thus far. So please, please pray for all of those things with us and for us, and most importantly pray that we would not lose sight of the finish line, so to speak, and especially, pray for our second little person on the other side of the world.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Your Yes or No

Your no is someone else's yes. And your yes might have been someone else's no.

"I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." Jeremiah 29:11 (Message)

I still remember the very first child's file we ever inquired about. It was a little boy with an unrepaired cleft palate/repaired cleft lip. We were so entirely excited, because he seemed like he would fit in so well based on what we read about online. Before we could view the file, another family had already stepped forward to be his Forever Family.

The next file we inquired about was a little girl, and we were the ninth family to inquire about her. Again, we were so excited, but based on the sheer number of families in front of us, we realistically knew we would never see her file.

We did this two or three more times before finally deciding we just needed to wait until we were DTC (dossier to China). Getting our hopes up until getting an email saying that another family had stepped forward to view the file before we could was starting to wear on and discourage us.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"Jeremiah 29:11 (niv)

Then we were matched, just one day after our dossier was sent over to China in January 2016. To be matched means that a child with a medical condition that we had previously "checked yes" to was now available to us. It was the first file we had ever received and we were, basically, ecstatic. We read his file over and over again, and every time we found something to laugh about or something more to love about him. He loved bread. We love bread! Noodles and dumplings were his favorite. We could easily make noodles and dumplings our favorite! And even though he was young, he had a no-nonsense personality that we loved and felt like he would fit right in.

We were encouraged by friends to get his file reviewed by an international adoption doctor. While waiting for that appointment via phone call, in the days between we also researched his need and realized more and more that we didn't know if we would be able to provide the care he needed. The phone call with the IA doctor confirmed that there might be more going on than what was listed, and even though Derek and I were conferencing in to the call each from our own workplaces, we knew that ultimately, we were not the family for him without even needing to discuss it--all while the doctor was congratulating us on such a cute little boy, such a fun child, what a personality, etc. Even now, over a year and a half later, thinking about writing our agency to say no still makes me tear up a little bit.

We gave ourselves a week or two to recover, but I couldn't help myself and started inquiring over files again. One was a boy with mild cerebral palsy--and no one could find his file anywhere. Another was a boy that was listed CL/CP (cleft lip/palate), but it was obvious after reading through the file that there was more going on than what was listed.

Obviously, you all know where this is going. Only six weeks later from our first match did we get the call about Jet. Obviously, you know how that turned out. But that's not what I'm writing about tonight.

You see, for every single one of those kids, all of those files, you have no choice but to imagine your life with them. Or their life with you. Full of family vacations that you want to take, baseball games or basketball, (just hopefully not cross country) favorite foods, reading books in the car on road trips, kindergarten, eighth grade, etc. It's a future that is almost within reach, until something happens and you realize you are not the family for them, and they are not the child for you. And all of those hopes and dreams go away, and you feel that loss significantly.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'Plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'"Jeremiah 29:11 (esv)

And now we're starting this process again. We've actively reviewed one file with the intention to submit our yes, only to have it disappear before we could do so. We've received two more files over the past month that we've been "matched" with per our already filled out medical conditions checklist. One who would have been a great big brother for Jet, and another who would have been a fantastic little brother. Both of which were difficult "no's" to give. Both of which we had those dreams and hopes of a future, but neither were in God's plan.

A small comfort that we've clung to is "your no is someone else's yes." Almost all of the children that we've been matched with--and all of the children that we've inquired about--are with or have their forever families. One is already is in her forever home with Jesus. And we know that that's the way it was meant to be.

Because what is the end goal here? What is the purpose for why we are doing this? Sure, we want to grow our family. Jet needs a sibling desperately (desperately!). Derek and I desire a house full of kids and shoes everywhere with a slobbering dog that sheds all over and those family vacations where no one is really speaking by the end of them because we're all sick of each other--those are the things that we want. But the end goal? It's for these kids to have "a future and a hope." To "prosper and not be harmed." To "be taken care of."

"To not be abandoned."

We're so excited to be starting this process over again. We're excited to know a bit more (not much) about what we're doing. We're excited for Jet's new brother or sister. We're excited for "one less". We're excited to see what God's end goal is here. But we're also nervous. Nervous because every picture, every video, every anecdote and description and favorite food and personality that we see and read about for each one of these kids makes us more vulnerable. It's hard to decipher God's will with both our heads and our hearts involved for each of these children. We ask for prayers again, as we move forward. We have no idea when the next phone call will come. Prayers for clarity, wisdom and strength, and ultimately, to realize that we are being entrusted to care for and raise eternal souls by giving a home to these fatherless. Not our will, but His.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day by Day

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

When I was little, singing hymns before the Sunday evening service was one of the highlights of the day. Soon, I was able to play these hymns for myself. Unfortunately, for my very talented piano teacher (and very talented mother, aunt, and grandmother) I'm not a performance artist; playing hymns at an evening service is about as much as you'll be able to convince me to do for the general public. For me, I get the most joy in playing for myself. There is nothing more calming than sitting down in front of the piano and losing myself in the notes and words in a song, especially when I'm stressed or anxious. This particular melody has been in my head on repeat for a little over a month now.

We're just past a month post-op for Jet's first surgery, and today marks exactly a month from his second. And day by day is pretty much how we made it through the month of April, and even now to some extent. Jet was in the hospital exactly two weeks, with eleven of those days intubated and sedated. We had been hoping for a stay of half of that time, and each day seemed a little bit forward and a little bit back. And every day, especially after the second surgery, we were told we would see what the day would bring. Every day, we were told of a new med they were trying, or one that he was taken off. Every day, we would hear the words "maybe tomorrow...maybe tomorrow." His failed extubation made them extremely cautious to try again and to be absolutely certain there would be no repeat performances, but that didn't make it any less hard to see him try to get comfortable, try to lift his arms to be picked up and held, try to pull at the tubes and wires and IV lines because he was burning through the sedation faster than they could administer. We're just past a month post-op, but time hasn't dulled those memories yet, if it ever will.

The month of April was another anniversary of sorts. It was just two years ago, when Jet was only three months old, that he underwent his lifesaving surgery in China, where he was hospitalized for 41 days. Forty. One. Days. Three failed extubations before the fourth one was successful. Weeks in the ICU, where, unlike here, visitors aren't allowed in China. And I can't help but think of Jet's foster mama, his Ayi, who fought for him to have the surgery and paced the hallways of that hospital in Beijing waiting for news. And we owe her, knowing that she does this for dozens of babies. Loves them as her own. Taking care of them as their "mama for now" before they're placed with their "forever family." And like any mother, I think I can safely assume she doesn't want our thanks or to be recognized, because she was doing what any mother would.

This past month has been a blur. It was the beginning of April and now it's almost the middle of May. Knowing what he went through in China doesn't make those two weeks here in the hospital any less hard for him, or for us. It doesn't make the recovery process any less hard for him, or for us. We're still dealing with withdrawal and the medications prescribed to combat that. Next week is a marathon of appointments and evaluations for cardiology, physical therapy, and feeding therapy. Before the month's end, we also see the pulmonologist and have another eye exam...and a hearing test. In case anyone is concerned, I'm 99% positive they're going to tell me his hearing is 100% selective.

It would be easy to get overwhelmed with all of the appointments and therapies scheduled. Actually, it IS easy to get overwhelmed...even easier to worry. But then I look at the pictures of where Jet was a week ago, a month ago, or even two years ago, and realize how far he's come...and that time was just made up of single days and moments put together bringing us to now. Realizing that the only reason we--he--got through them was simply because of God's grace.

I wrote this under a different photo, almost eight months ago now, and it's still fitting...Yes, we will pick up leaves and rocks and acorns and seeds and a worm. Yes, we will walk by our own self without holding hands or in a stroller. And yes, we're very thankful that our independent and ball-of-energy boy can and will do these things! 

We might overreact for sneezes and coughs after almost a year now of being on edge or waiting for the next cold to hit. Jet might be moving a little slower...or at least more cautiously. We might have a newfound appreciation for hand sanitizer (and that's saying something). We might seem worn down and tired and housebound and maybe a little crabby (the crabby one is two). But without those moments of pain and heartbreak and fear and anxiety, we would have taken for granted the moments of joy and peace and calm that have sustained us until now and will continue to sustain us, thanks to the many, many prayers said to our Heavenly Father for Jordan and for us. Thank you to everyone who provided meals, coffee stops, stayed at the house, cleaned the house, helped with the yard, visited at the hospital...we will never be able to fully express our thanks to you, but we appreciate and love each and every one of you. We will continue to take everything day by day, or moment by moment, and hopefully continue onward and upward as things settle back down for our new normal once again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Even If

"They say sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some..."

Post-op first surgery
This. This is how we've felt this past week. A week ago Wednesday we were just returning home from the hospital following a much longer surgery than planned. Per what we were told that night before we went home, we were anticipating Jordan being extubated Thursday but it didn't happen...and then Friday...and then finally Saturday was the day.

It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame
Like I am right now

Within minutes though of taking him off the ventilator, it was obvious something wasn't right. He was reintubated within minutes after his pressures dropped and his oxygen levels dropped to the low 30s and 40s. The epinephrine that was administered caused his healing heart to go into overdrive at over 200 bpm. It was terrifying.

But. Just as the nurse was seconds away, if not milliseconds, from administering a medication to return his heart to normal sinus rhythm, his heart rate dropped to the preset 120 bpm per the pacemaker. Just like that.

We do not believe in coincidences. We believe in a God who answers prayer. And we know people all over the world were praying for our son.

Although, true to form, once that ordeal was over with, Jordan being Jordan, once again confounded the doctors: he returned completely back to normal, with his body acting as if it should/could be extubated again. There were absolutely no signs that pointed to it not working, yet clearly there was something wrong. No more extubation Saturday, or for the foreseeable future.

Post-op Second Surgery
Sunday morning, the doctors conferenced and decided a CT scan was necessary. He was wheeled off with his entourage and back within a half hour while Derek and I "enjoyed" lunch. The PICU doctor on shift came to tell us it looked as if Jordan had an artery that was bleeding...not gushing, but trickling. That could be what caused the problems extubating--when the tubes were removed, the pressure from the fluid surrounding his heart and lungs caused Jordan's airways to close. We would know for sure shortly once the surgeon reviewed the CT. Derek and I just assumed it would be another couple hours, but no less than half an hour later the surgeon was standing in front of us, telling us Jordan needed surgery immediately to correct the issue. They still couldn't tell us what it was until they were in there, but Jordan would be wheeled down for his second open heart surgery within five days sometime in that next hour.

Yet, they discovered he wasn't bleeding or leaking anywhere--essentially his blood had coagulated too quickly to come out through the chest drain. Again, an answer to prayer? Possibly. This is where it gets tricky. The tests they ran could not 100% conclude that he had a bleed. Fluid doesn't show up on an echo, and his lungs looked clear on every x-ray. Who knows? But prayers were heard and answered, because the surgery was less than two hours and they were able to clear out the entire area of the clot.

However, he had another open heart surgery, and now his lungs were showing a bit of congestion by Monday. No extubation. Rest day.

Tuesday. No extubation. Echo looked great! Heart function fantastic. But no extubation and no plans to do so.

We've hit the highs and all of the lows. Maybe before this we were heart parents, but now...I feel like we've officially been inducted into the club. Passed the initiation. A routine repair that's been anything but.

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

Wednesday. Today. Tonight. Chest x-ray looks good and clear, chest drain is significantly less. And they plan to extubate tomorrow.

So here we are, a week later with Jordan's second extubation planned for tomorrow. How are we feeling? Tired. Worn out. Fearful. Weary. Will it work? If it doesn't, then what? Do we want to be there? How could we not want to be there? How much longer can we play this game? Yes. The longer he is sedated and intubated and resting, the more his body is able to heal. Yet, that doesn't offer much comfort when you see him fight his restraints, or shake his head no to every question, or cry with no sound and you can't pick him up.

But then Jordan reminds us in his more and more frequent moments of awareness that he's still in there. He's not able to speak, yet he's giving the nurses the side eye when he's irritated with them (which is often) and typically it's because he didn't get his way. He broke out of his restraints yesterday and it took three of us to get him situated again. He was determined to roll onto his side, and would not take no for an answer. He almost succeeded in pulling all of his lines out of his neck. He's on the least amount of meds since being admitted for surgery last Wednesday. The nurse said tonight if we didn't get him extubated tomorrow he'd do it himself. So moments like that? They give us the hope we need that the boy who ran toward his operating room to see his doctor friends faster than anyone could keep up with is in there, waiting to tell us anything and everything once he's extubated. He's still our fighter

And if not? If tomorrow doesn't go as planned?

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

And so. Please pray with us that tomorrow, our boy will turn this major corner. That we can step down from the ICU. That he will be able to breathe and talk and eat and walk...sooner than later.

And even if that's not the case, pray that we will be able to continue to stay positive. That we will continue to believe in God's plan for all of us. And most of all, that we will still praise Him for the work he is doing in Jordan's life.
Good night buddy. See you tomorrow.