Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another step forward!

Just a little update!  Today we received our hard copies of our updated homestudy from our social worker so I will be mailing that, along with other paperwork, to the USCIS ( U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) office.  Because our fingerprints haven't expired from when they were taken for Asher's adoption, they will be able to be refreshed instead of having to travel to Indy to get new ones done.  We will then wait for approval to come back.  When we have that, we will have all neccessary paperwork to update our dossier!  We will just need to go to Indy for the stamps/seal from the Secretary of State office and then we will mail the documents to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago for their stamps/seal.  After that, they are off to China!  I can't believe how much faster this dossier process is with a reuse instead of starting from scratch!

We are so blessed and excited to be Hannah's parents.  We've gotten her room (she will share with Avery) together and we've been buying clothes and things for her.  Yesterday I layed out one of my favorite outfits we've gotten and just imagined her in it.  I can't believe we will be meeting her in 6 months or less!!

As always, thank you so much for your continued support through prayers, donations, and encouragement.  This is truly a village thing and we wouldn't be able to do it without you.  Love you all!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Puzzle update!

I am so excited to tell you all that 114 puzzle pieces have already been sponsored!!  What an incredible blessing!  This is a 300 piece puzzle so there are only 186 pieces left to be sponsored.  We'd love for you to be a part of this journey to bring Hannah home and give her what she has been waiting for over TWELVE YEARS for: a family of her own!  This money that has been so generously donated so far has paid our 1st agency fee, our homestudy update fee, and it will pay for our dossier to get the proper stamps/clearances at the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, our 2nd agency fee, and our CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) fee.  This means we have the money to get our dossier to China!  I can't tell you what a blessing it has been not to worry over how/when the money would come in.  With Asher's adoption we had to wait over 8 months just to get our dossier to China and Hannah's entire adoption will be done in 8 months or less, wow!

Here are a couple pictures of the puzzle progress!  Thank you all so much for your continued support through prayer, financial gifts, and encouragement!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Where we are

I thought I'd just share a little update of where we are in the process.  On the 5th we had a visit from our social worker.  He was here for Asher's 6 month visit and also to update our homestudy for Hannah's adoption.  The visit went really well and our homestudy should be done in a couple weeks.  When that's done, we will be sending a copy of that with some forms to the USCIS (immigration) so they can update our fingerprints and info in the system.  Once we get that approval we will take a trip to Indy to the Secretary of State's office to get their stamp and then we mail those papers to Chicago to the Chinese Consulate for their stamp.  After that, our dossier is all updated and ready to head to China!  I LOVE that we can reuse our dossier and only have to update instead of the huge paper chase again.  With Asher, it took almost 8 months from when we got preapproval from China until our dossier was on it's way back.  This time it should be half that, woohoo!

As far as funds go, we have raised $5,000 of the $20,000 we estimate that we need!  This money will pay our first and second agency fee, the fee to update our homestudy, the fees to send our documents to Chicago, and possibly most of our 3rd agency fee!  This is incredible!  With Asher's adoption, we came down to the day the payment was needed before it was there.  We are so thankful to not have that stress yet.  If you want to help us get closer to our goal of being fully funded, you can check out our puzzle fundraiser: Puzzle Fundraiser and we will most likely be doing a cookbook fundraiser as well (more info on that later).

We were also able to get a small update on Hannah recently with 3 new pictures and her current measurements so now we can take a better guess at what size clothes to get for her.  As soon as we have LOA (full approval from China to adopt her) we will send her a care package like we did for Asher so she can see pictures of our family and have some treats to share at her orphanage.

We are so excited to get back to China and to meet our daughter and we are very excited to be taking the whole family this time.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support, we love you all!


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