Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Unfortunate news but pressing on!

Well, we got the final confirmation today that Hannah's orphanage will not be waiving or reducing her orphanage fee.  When we began this process we had very high hopes that this fee ($5700-$5900) would be waived, so this is a big blow, but God knew it wouldn't and we have faith in His plan.

We are having a huge garage sale this Saturday to benefit Hannah's adoption and we would really appreciate prayers for blessing on that day and for good weather.  We have been so incredibly blessed by the many donations of items from family, friends, and even people we've never met before!  The kids are excited to help out and will be selling lemonade and cookies as well.  The large amount of donations is amazing but also means we have a lot of work ahead of us in getting things ready for the sale.  I'm doing my best not to be overwhelmed, so prayers for that would also be very much appreciated.

We also still have our puzzle fundraiser happening.  We've had 20 of the 300 pieces sponsored already and it would be great to have more to put together!

We have an appointment on May 5th with our social worker for Asher's 6 month update and for a homestudy update for Hannah's adoption.  After that report is complete, we will be sending it to immigration for approval there.  Those papers along with our Adoption Petition will need to be notarized here, certified in Indianapolis, and authenticated in Chicago.  Once that's done, they will be off to China and we will wait for approval!  It's crazy how much faster this adoption is going compared to Asher's but it's good because I'm impatient by nature :)

Although we've had some tough days lately with finding out Asher will never see out of his right eye and a few bits of unfortunate news about Hannah's adoption, we know God has this and we are resting in Him.

Thank you for your prayers and support as we continue to move forward!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Puzzle Fundraiser!

We got our puzzle in the mail today and I love it!  We decided on a mommy and baby panda for our sweet Hannah Joy's puzzle and I hope she likes it.  So here's how it works:  to sponsor a piece of Hannah's puzzle, you just need to click on the Paypal Donate button at the top left of the blog, and your donation will go right into her account.  Each piece is $10, so if all 300 pieces get sponsored that is $3000 that will help bring our girl home before she ages out!  When you sponsor a piece, please let me know via facebook or by emailing me at carlyduvall1628@hotmail.com what name(s) you'd like me to write on the back of your piece(s).

Whether you sponsor one or multiple pieces of Hannah's puzzle, please know we are so very grateful because ANY amount helps bring her home!

As the puzzle progresses, I will be posting updates and pictures so keep checking back!  We'd also love it if you would share this with your family and friends.  Thank you all for your love and support!


Friday, April 3, 2015


I've really been falling behind on blogging since Asher's been home, but that's a good thing because it means we are busy spending time with him and our other kiddos :)  He's doing great!  He recently had surgery that went very well and he has his first eye surgery scheduled for April 14th.  We are so excited for this eye surgery and are praying for restored vision in his right eye after the cataract is removed.  Asher continues to amaze us with all he takes on.  He has been learning so many signs and shows us each day what a strong little guy he is.  Yes, there are still behavioral struggles and we still have hard days, but God has been pouring into me and sustaining me and I'm so blessed by this provision.

Not only is Asher doing great, but we have some surprising news to share.  We are adopting again!!  Are you surprised?  We can hardly believe it ourselves!  We had no intention of going back so soon (if ever!) but once again, God had other plans.  We found our sweet girl on Reece's Rainbow and we are just so excited to add her to our family.  Hannah Joy Xin Xin (yeah, that will be her new name :) ) is 13, has Down syndrome just like her little bro, and will age out of China's adoption program when she turns 14 on December 1st of this year.  We must be in China and have signed her official adoption papers before her birthday.  This gives us less than 8 months to get all the paperwork done and approved and for us to get back over there.  

We are already off to a running start with Pre-Approval coming today and we are getting started on getting a homestudy update.  If we had been smart when we were adopting Asher we would have asked to be approved for two kids because that would have made this process super easy, but 20/20 hindsight....  It's still going to be an easier process and even though I thought I'd never want to do this paper chase again, I'm feeling so ready.

Hannah Joy has a $10,461 grant through Reece's Rainbow (how incredible is that?!) and we are praying that her orphanage will agree to waive her orphanage fee of $5700-$5900.  We've also had the inredible blessing of having another adopting family offer us a very generous donation to help get Hannah home before she ages out.  God is already paving the way!  We will be doing another puzzle fundraiser (more info on that later!) and we are hoping to do a Halo Fundraiser through Angels In Disguise (again, more on that later).  We are also considering doing another garage sale if we can get some items donated in time.  Our neighborhood is having it's association sale toward the end of April, so we would have a great chance of exposure.  We also have our Paypal Donate button back up and you can find that at the top left of the blog.  

We are so excited to share the new journey with you all and keep checking back so you don't miss the info I will be posting soon about our upcoming fundraisers!  I will leave you with a picture of our beautiful girl!  Love you all.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Life after adoption

It has been a while since I've posted because, well, life.  I decided to post now because I'm watching a documentary on adoption called The Dark Side of Love.  A family from Wisconsin adopted 3 older kids from Russia in 2011.  This documentary has me feeling raw, I'll admit.  I see them struggling with a lot of the same issues we are, and it's painful.

Adoption is hard.  It's beautiful.  It's overwhelming.  Most days, loving Asher comes easily.  Some days it's a consious effort.  I knew in my head that the bond wouldn't be instant, but it was harder on my emotions than I thought it would be.  When you spend a year and a half working toward your son and aching for him to be home, only to have him not want much to do with you, it's hard.  Asher definitely has bonded with me now, but we still struggle with the hitting, head butting, and spitting.  I know he isn't doing it because he doesn't love me or because he wants to hurt me, but it's still hard.

What has his life been like for the last 7 and a half years to get him to this point? I have pictures, more than most people get of their adopted child, and I have reports, but that's not a life.  That doesn't tell me what he has seen or felt.  He may have had foster parents, and people who have cared for him, but he's never had the unconditional love that only a mom and dad can give.  He has a lot of scars.  Physical and emotional.  Those scars came from some kind of trauma.  Something that was lacking.  Knowing this breaks me.  My mama heart is broken when I think about him coming out of heart surgery without his mom and dad there to comfort him.  When he throws himself into my arms and squeals with joy as I pick him up, my heart rejoices and breaks at the same time.  I am so happy that he can still love and wants to be loved, but my heart aches knowing that he is just getting this at almost 8 years old.

Praise God for adoption.  Not just the adoption of children into earthly families, but our adoption by our Heavenly Father.  What a light it is in such a dark and broken world to know we don't have to be alone and unloved.  That He is there to catch our tears as they fall and to carry us when we can't go on.  Adoption and redemption are hard.  It's not the pretty picture that we've somehow painted.  Adoption comes from brokeness, but it creates a family.  Yes, it's hard, but there is so much more beauty in it than I ever imagined.  God has given us this picture of it so that we can try to understand how He brings us out of brokeness and gives us a family.  He loves us that much.

This call to adopt has been hard.  Asher's life has been hard.  God redeems us.  He makes us brave.  I love these words from the song You Make Me Brave:

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

As your Love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in


Monday, November 24, 2014


Since I was unable to make any blog posts in Guangzhou, on the last part of our adoption trip, I thought I'd do a post including highlights from that time and also our homecoming.

Our time in Guangzhou was infinitely better that our time in Changsha.  There were MANY other American adopting families and our hotel was wonderful.  Also, Asher really started to get more used to us, and especially warm up to me.

We got to take a city tour and also go on a boat cruise on the Pearl River with our CCAI group.  It was wonderful to get out and see some beautiful places!

We had Asher's medical exam, which went great and we visted the US Consulate to take our oath and get Asher's visa and final paperwork.

When the 21st came, we were SO ready to get home.  We had a looong day of travel ahead, a 2 1/2hr van ride to the Hong Kong airport, a 14 1/2hr plane ride to Chicago, and then a 3hr car ride home.  It was so amaing to see our boys again and we were so thankful to our family that drove all the way to Chicago to make our homecoming so wonderful!

Asher has been doing AMAZING at home!  I am so thankful for this wonderful transition.  We have a while to go before we beat this jet lag, but everything else has been so wonderful and sweet. 


 We are looking forward to getting Asher into occupational therapy and speech therapy.  We have so much hope for his future!

We are so blessed by this addition to our family and so very thankful to everyone who helped us get him home!  God is so good and so faithful!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Last day in Changsha

It's 5:30am, and it's our last day in Changsha.  I am SO ready to leave and move on to Guangzhou.  I hate that I feel this way.  This is Asher's province.  He has never left his province, and here I am counting the hours until we can get outta here.  This has been our toughest place.  It's just hard here.  We saw our first American in days yesterday at breakfast and I wanted to hug her!  We listened to her speak perfect Engligh and it was music to my ears.  Guangzhou means other Americans who are also adopting.  It means getting out of our hotel room every day and actually seeing things.  It means getting into a hotel room that I don't hate, maybe even a bed that doesn't feel like a board.  I feel like such a spoiled child, but this is the place I'm at right now.  It's SO hard to deal with Asher's fits and his rejection of me when everything around us is in chaos too.

Bedtime last night actually gave me a glimmer of hope.  He let me snuggle him to sleep instead of me having to hold him down because he's hitting, kicking, and spitting.  He held my hands and played with my fingers.  He only did the teeth grinding a couple short times, unlike the night before where he did it for 45min straight.  Only one time did he try to hit, but I stopped him so he started to spit and I quickly turned him and then he was back to cuddling.

This is so hard.  It's exhausting.  Sometimes I'm ready to throw in the towel, like yesterday when he wanted to follow Avery around just so he could push her.  Other times, I'm ready for the challenge.  There are times when he is just the sweetest, funniest little guy and I pray that somewhere in the future, that will be his normal.

This was not a mistake.  I know there will be some who think it was (or maybe already do), but this is definitely where we are supposed to be.  Is it hard?  Absolutely, the hardest thing I've ever done!  Here is what I tell myself when the going gets tough: God doesn't call us to find our little corner of the world, make a cozy little house, and live happily ever after.  He calls us to all kinds of things and in all kinds of different places.  He wants us to have faith in Him and to rest in Him.  To find joy in all things.  Romans 5:3-5 is stamped on my heart and mind right now: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

This journey we are on right now is also a reflection of what Jesus did for us.  Romans 5:8 "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  God doesn't only love us when we are pleasing to Him.  He loves us inspite of ourselves,  He died for us while we were still sinners!  I take such solace in this.  This God who loves me so much and loves Asher so much, is the same God who called me to this journey.  He is walking along side me and carrying me when I can't walk.

Again, it's HARD, but it's not a mistake and it's where God has us.  I will leave you with these lyrics from Chris Tomlin's song You Are My King:

Amazing love how can it be?
That my King would die for me
Amazing love I know it's true
It's my JOY to honor you"


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Update from Changsha

We are having a horrible time with our internet here and have not been able to make very many updates.  We met Asher on the 10th, and yesterday, on the 11th, we legally became his parents!  It's all very overwhelming and different than I thought it would be.  He is cute as all get out, but we definitely have a lot of work cut out for us.  When he is happy, it's amazing.  He has the best laugh and his whole face lights up!  But, he is also hitting, kicking, headbutting, and spitting when he is angry.  We have several fits like these every day.  Sometimes they don't last long, sometimes we have to hold him down so he won't hurt us.  Yesterday he slammed his head into my cheek and I look like I've been in a fight!

He is also fully not potty trained and has some difficulty feeding himself with a spoon.  We knew there were be things that would be different than we thought and we knew it would be hard, but this stay in Changsha has put us to the test.

I am SO incredibly thankful for Jon and Avery being here.  They have both been such a help and support for me.  Avery is a little mommy and is always eager to help.  Even when Asher hits her she says "It's ok mommy, it didn't hurt." and she goes right on caring for him.  Jon has been my rock.  He has held me when I cry and reminded me that God knew all these things about Asher, and he picked us to be his parents for a reason.  He reminds me that it is harder here because we are away from our family and friends, our support.  He is so good with Asher and Asher responds much better to Jon when he is having a fit.

Please know it's not all bad and scary, but I'm trying to be open and honest about our journey.  This is real life, and although adoption is often made to seem like a fairy tale where everyone falls in love instantly and lives happily ever after, that just isn't true.  This little boy was abandoned at 6mo. old, has been moved between the orphanage and different foster families, has had no schooling or therapy, and has not had the consistency of a forever family.  He is smart and I see so much potential in him.  God has called us to a hard journey, but I also know it will be a beautiful one as well.  God is faithful and He sustains.

We are anxious to leave Changsha and move on to Guangzhou where there will be many American adopting families staying at our hotel.  We will have a little more free time and hope to see some sights and shop a little.  We are very homesick and anxious to get home, but also remember this feeling we have will likely be what Asher feels once we are home.

Your prayers are much appreciated!  I will leave you with some pictures of the good stuff :)