Saturday, March 24, 2012

Travel Approval

Sorry it's been two weeks since I wrote on my blog.  Last Friday we got our travel approval, but we didn't have our travel dates confirmed, so I thought I would wait until we got them.

On Monday, we were told that we would travel on Wednesday, April 4th.  We had airline tickets that were being purchased for us to leave from Milwaukee to travel to Beijing with a stop in Chicago.  On Wednesday, though, our agency contacted us.  Apparently the province that Shen Yao is from processes paperwork prior to our arrival.  That means that we do not need to be in China as long as most adoptive families do.  We were given the option of leaving on Saturday the 7th instead, without a change to our "Gotcha" day.  Since Friday, April 6th is the first day of my spring break, I was very happy to find out that I would be able to teach my class until spring break started. 

We decided that we would leave on Friday, April 6th, so that we would have a little bit of time to get used to the time zone before we get Shen Yao.  The change of travel dates also allows us a visit to another city.  We will be flying into Shanghai rather than Beijing, so we'll be able to experience that city for one day.  From Shanghai we will fly to Hebei Province, where Shen Yao was born and lives.  In the afternoon of Monday, April 9th, we will finally have our daughter in our arms.  We also travel to Beijing and Guangzhou before traveling home on Thursday, April 19th. 

We are still waiting for more information about what we will be doing and when we'll be doing it.  When we find out I'll post more.  Be sure to keep checking our blog.  Once we get to China, we'll try to update it with pictures and information for you to keep updated. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lost and Found, and Butterburgers

The week before Christmas, we sent Shen Yao a care package.  We had been collecting things and thought we would let her know that she has a family that loves her and wants to come get her.  We sent her a couple of outfits - one in size 2T and another in 3T so that we could determine what size clothing to bring when we came. (We were hoping that they might take pictures and email them to us.) We also sent along a lamb stuffed animal that we bought a year ago.  It has a recorder in it with the accompaniment to "Jesus Loves Me".  Brian and I recorded that song, so that she could hear our voices.  We also found a little fuzzy lamb blanket.  I also collected pictures from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends and made a Shutterfly book called, Who Loves Shen Yao.  We put in many pictures of Brian and I, as well as other significant people in her life. 

We sent if Fed-Ex because our agency recommended that for ease of shipping and clearing customs.  It was sent to our agency's representative in China.  She takes the boxes when she receives them and then sends them on to the orphanage.  Before Christmas, the box arrived in China and was signed for.  We never heard from our agency what we owed for shipping in China.  I decided I should ask a few weeks ago.  When we inquired, we found out that it had never reached the lady we sent it to.  Our agency said they would do some investigating, but they didn't know what had happened to it. 

Of course, I was quite upset.  We sent these gifts to our little girl to show her our love and so that she could be seeing our pictures and preparing to be adopted.  And they never got to her!!!  Someone else in China was looking at her book and wearing her clothes and snuggling with her lamb.  I prayed about it, but I really didn't think that there was much hope of it reaching her, since it had been so long since it arrived in China.  One of my friends told me that I should just pray that the little girl that got it would be blessed by it.  So I did.  I told my class about the missing box and they began praying that it would be found and sent to Shen Yao. 

One of the outfits in the care package
On Wednesday, I received an email that the box had been delivered to our agency's representative and she had sent it on to Shen Yao in Tangshen.  After two and a half months of sitting in a customs office, they must have finally decided that it was safe to send on.  I was so excited to know that she might be looking at her book and snuggling her lamb.  When I told my class, they cheered.  We are all praising God because He has all the details under control!

And now for the Butterburgers...
Last Tuesday, we enjoyed a great evening of fellowship with family and friends at Culver's in Hartland.  They donated 10% of all their sales to our adoption fund.  We will be able to find out how much money was raised when we pick up the check this week!  Here are a few pictures from that night.  Thanks to everyone who came out!
Grandma and Grandpa Peterson, Cousin Doug and Aubrey

Some students from school!

Fellow adoptive family : )

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Counting the Cost

On our refrigerator, I have a quote that I clipped out a few years ago from an ABWE magazine.  It says, "God's way becomes plain when we start walking in it." (Roy L. Smith)  At no time in my life has this been more true than through the process of adopting our daughter.  For years Brian and I had been talking about adopting.  We had been looking into the process, talking to people we knew who had adopted, and had been saving money.  For many people, the cost of adoption keeps them from pursuing it.  I have to admit, at first the cost of adopting was a hindrance to our moving forward.

To adopt from China, as well as other countries, there are financial requirements.  You have to prove your net worth and income, including the income per person in your home.  As we looked into the costs associated with adopting, there were many things to consider.  How will we pay for the necessary fees?  Will we be able to afford to have me be a stay-at-home-mom?  What may be involved financially with our child's special need?  My "Worry Warthog" personality wanted to plan out where every penny was going to come from before beginning the process.  I remember Brian saying to me one day, "Let's just begin the process and see where the Lord leads.  If the doors keep opening, we'll know that we're in His will." 

Well, God kept opening the doors and here we are, right on the edge before jumping out into becoming a family of three.  The Lord has been faithful to us throughout this process.  We see it in many ways in our lives.  One way that He has shown His faithfulness to us is through His financial provisions.  There have been many of you who have been praying for us and even giving financially to us.  We were able to set up an account through Lifesong for Orphans for tax deductible gifts to be given on our behalf.  We have had family and friends who have decided to follow the Lord's leading in their life and have sacrificially given to us.  We are so overwhelmed with the generosity we have been shown.  We know that God has called us to adopt, and He has been truly faithful to us. 

So, I know that many of you are asking yourself, "What does it cost to adopt a child?" or if you know, you might ask, "Why does it cost so much?"  "Is it rude to ask these questions?", you wonder.  Well, to satisfy the curiosity that many of you have, I want to explain the cost of adoption.  The amounts listed below are what was supplied to us by our adoption agency.  They are specific to China.  As with other countries, including domestic adoptions, the cost will vary.

Adoption agency application fee: $200.00
Agency contract fee: $3400.00
Pre-Adoption training fee: $300.00
Home study fee: $2000.00
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services processing/fingerprinting fees: $900.00
Dossier/notarization/authentication fee: $4500.00
Translation fee: $1000.00
Visas: $360.00

Subtotal: Fees paid before traveling: $12,660.00

Airfare/lodging/food for Brian, Erica and Shen Yao: $7500.00
Orphanage donation: $6000.00
In country fees (Shen Yao's passport, notary fees, medical exam, etc.): $1550.00
China Facilitator: $350.00

Subtotal: Fees for travel: $15,400.00

Post placement homestudy fees: $1500.00

Grand total: $29,560.00

Many people comment on how expensive it is to adopt, but as you can see when the fees are broken down, the cost makes sense. 

For those of you who may be considering adoption, I would encourage you to trust the Lord for the finances.  I am not advocating that you jump blindly into the process without counting the cost, but when it comes down to it, if you are in God's will, nothing is impossible.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  His will cannot be limited by our finances. 

We are thankful to the Culver's in Hartland for allowing us to have a fundraising night this coming Tuesday, March 6th between 5pm and 8pm.  They will give a portion of all their sales that night to our adoption fund.  We'll be there and would love to see you.

If you are interested in contributing to our adoption fund through Lifesong for Orphans, you may send a check to them with "Preference: Peterson #2518 adoption" in the reference section of your check.  (Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Lifesong which retains full discretion and control over its use.)
                                   Lifesong for Orphans
                                   Attn: Peterson #2518 Adoption
                                   PO Box 40
                                   Gridley, IL 61744

God is faithful!!!