Travel Approval!

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Wow! What a week it has been! First of all, since the update with pictures, we heard our Article 5 drop off had been “picked up” on Monday, March 21st from the US Embassy in Guangzhou and Express Mailed to the FINAL STOP in our adoption process! Hooray for the end of paperwork!!! Well, the end up paperwork until we have her in our arms. 😉

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Article 5 pick up means that the next step in the process is TA or Travel Approval. TA gives us a few date options of when we can leave and sets a Consulate Appointment date while we are there. This is what the travel dates will be based around. Usually, TA comes about 2 weeks after Article 5 pick up, but we noticed many families from our agency were receiving them earlier.

Tuesday, we received our visas back from the Embassy in Washington, D.C. These had been sent off and cared for by a the same courier service who took care of our dossier paperwork in D.C. John and I need to obtain visas in our passports in order to enter China. I had to go through the same process when I went there in 2012. It was so good to have our passports and visas back safe and sound…and all ready to go!

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Thursday, March 24, we were greatly surprised…soft TA came through in our email!

“Great news!  We received a soft copy Travel Approval (TA) for your child(ren) today!  This is amazing news! Please thoroughly review the possible travel dates below and let us know via email as soon as possible if all of the possible travel dates will work for your family.”

I couldn’t believe it! Only 3 days after Article 5 pick up? Wow! Since we had been talking for some time now about our ideal date to leave, I immediately emailed back with our request to take the April 13th date. Then, we just had to wait for the CA (Consulate Appointment) to be set and we would have “Hard TA” emailed to us with more instructions about travel arrangements.

This afternoon, I checked my email again…

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CCAI TRAVEL UPDATE 3/25/2016

“Great news!  We just received your Consulate appointment confirmation!  Your group’s Consulate appointment is confirmed for 4/27/2016.

Based on this Consulate appointment date and the adoption schedule in the local province, CCAI asks that you arrive in Beijing on, or before, 4/14/2016.”

Is God GOOD or what?? We are just THRILLED! He set the date in our hearts and now it is really REAL!!! We will be meeting our daughter and forever celebrating “Gotcha Day” on April 18, 2016!!!! It STILL doesn’t seem real!

It’s just amazing to see how this all plays out. John and I started dating on April 17, 1999. And now, 17 years later, almost to the day, we will finally be holding our daughter on the other side of the world. Overwhelmed. Amazed. Blessed.

Dear Mia,

My heart is just FLOODED with JOY! Mommy and Daddy are coming SOON!!!! It has been such a long journey, but we KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that YOU, sweet girl, are worth EVERY single step! We are counting down the days till we can hold you and kiss you forever. You are SO loved!!! Your brothers talk about you and pray for you daily. They CANNOT WAIT to hug you and love on you, too! Camden said he can’t wait to hear you talk! Your room is waiting and made up for the princess you are. YOU are a child of the KING and forever loved and treasured. Hold on, precious one. We are coming soon!

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WE RECEIVED AN UPDATE!!!!!

As a momma, can you imagine only having 7 very similar pictures of your kiddo? Can you imagine those pictures already being 3 months old when you received them? Now, wait another 3 months before you get to see her face again….Can’t do it? That has been our story of Mia to this point.

On November 30, 2015, we were matched with our beautiful daughter. We were given a handful of pictures, all taken the same day in the same outfit, taken back in September when she was just over two years old. We were fortunate to also receive a short video of her playing in her orphanage and we captured another picture of her from that video. That is all we have had for months. Some have asked me why I post the same things all the time. Well, that is all we have had!!!

We were given the opportunity early in February to ask five questions about our daughter, knowing that they may or may not be answered by her orphanage. We also knew we may or may not receive an updated picture and measurements. We prayed and pondered over what five questions we should ask about our child’s life…a life of which we have already missed 2.5 years! (We also sent a care package back at Christmas time and still have no idea if she received it or if she will have the things in it when we get her.)

Needless to say, there is a LOT of hoping and praying and waiting in this process.

When other adoptive parents had already received updates and we had not, I was getting anxious. I wanted to see my baby girl. I wanted to know she was okay. Others in our agency group were praying for us as well, as they understand this momma’s hurting heart. On March 10th, I couldn’t wait any longer. I called our agency to see if they thought we had ANY hope of an update. We do plan to travel in a month, but just a little update would help to carry us through until then. After a short hold on the phone, they said they DID just receive an update!!!!! WOOHOO!!!! I called John right away and told him to be on the lookout, too.

After getting Owen from school, I checked my email again. There it was!!! “Update!” I called John at work and asked if he wanted to open it together on the phone or wait till he got home. He couldn’t wait. We read that tiny paragraph update silently, together. Maybe read it twice….maybe three times. Then….we opened the picture files. Only two pictures. She is wearing a BIG coat, but THERE SHE IS!!!!!

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I couldn’t believe it! She had grown SO SO much over six month! The update has metric measurements, of course, so I quickly converted them to find out she is 30lbs and 35in tall! So, much more like a three-year-old than a two-year-old. She will turn three in August, so I guess we better get some more 3T and 4T clothes ready!

The update says she is in good health and normal development. Her speech is good and she can say short sentences and many phrases. She is potty trained and does not use diapers. (I’m keeping an open mind here, but YAY!!!) She is extroverted and affectionate. Holding her or giving her some foods will calm her when she is upset (pretty common, actually). There were no items with her when she was found. (This part breaks my heart.) Her first words were “drink milk.” She sleeps in a crib next to her caretaker. She sleeps 8pm-6am and naps 11:40am-2pm!

So, so many good things in this tiny report! It’s not much, but it is enough for this momma to hold onto until we see her soon!!!

Continue to pray for her and for us as we prepare and get everything ready to be a family of FIVE!!!! We are painting her room this weekend. I bought a few things for the room with Camden yesterday. He had to show EVERYONE his little sister! “Mom, can I have your phone to show them Sister?” Of course! Everyone here is a-buzz with excitement. Not much longer now, sweet girl! We are coming soon!

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LifeSong Matching Grant Opportunity!

A couple of days ago I was doing some hill training and thinking and praying. For a runner, hill training strengthens tendons and ligaments, reduces the risk of injury and improves overall running form.  When you run hills, your muscles work with more power than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides. Sounds good, right? Except the ACTUAL running of the hills! It hurts, it’s challenging, but you know it is for the GOOD.

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Throughout this process it has been easy to ask for prayer support, and we have been showered by such support throughout this entire year. THANK YOU! The harder thing to ask is that of financial support. When we began this journey, we had already set aside a good amount of money for this specific purpose. Up until this point, we have been able to pay for the documents and agency fees out of that designated savings. We have had some help from generous friends and family, but unfortunately, our savings and tax refund will be depleted and we still need to travel to bring Mia home. We are in need of approximately $6,000.00 before April 10, 2016.

Through this process, we have been applying for different adoption grants. For some, we received rejection letters. But, God is GOOD and two opportunities have been given to us. The first is a grant through Show Hope, the same organization we have been working with for years!  We are thrilled and blessed to be a part of what Show Hope is doing. The only down side to this grant is that it will not be received in time to travel, and we don’t know how much it will be.

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While we are very grateful, we are still in that hard place of needing money BEFORE we travel. As I was returning from that hill training session, I received a phone call from LifeSong for Orphans. We received confirmation that we have been selected to receive a $3,000.00 MATCHING GRANT! What a God-thing, right? This cuts our need in HALF! If we are able to raise $3,000.00, LifeSong will MATCH that amount to carry us to our $6,000.00 goal!

So, how can you get involved? PRAY.

  • Pray for Mia.
  • Pray for our family as we prepare to become a family of five.
  • Pray for Owen and Camden as they will remain at home with John’s mom and continuing their schooling and activities while we are in China for 16 days.
  • Pray for travel safety.
  • Pray for immediate bonding with Mia.
  • Pray for health.857131_10152511941285464_1684632008_o

If you would like to support us financially, here is how your donation can be DOUBLED through LifeSong:

  • Checks should be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans.” In the memo, note HARVEY FAMILY and #5877 to assure it goes to the correct account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. Lifesong has been blessed with partners who underwrite all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.
  • To pay online go to lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Family Account Number #5877” and “Family Name (Harvey Family)” fields. Note PayPal charges an administrative fee (2.2% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

NOTE: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.

Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.

Thank you so much for considering partnering with us to bring Mia home! She is already a part of our hearts and we cannot wait to hold her and have her home forever! I wanted to post this information for those of you who had shown interest in helping us in this way. May God bless you richly, friends! THANK YOU!

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One More Step To Mia

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So it has been a little while since an update has happened on this blog, but there has been a lot of “baby steps” happening behind the scenes.

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Since we received Hard Copy LOA (Letter of Acceptance) via email on February 8th, we had to send in paperwork for our i-800 Immigration Application and our third program fee to our agency before the next steps in the process. Once you submit the i-800 application, it takes a couple of weeks to receive approval on that. We got the hard copy LOA in the mail on February 17th, signed and sent it back to our agency ASAP.

We made use of the waiting period by working on getting some clothes for Mia. In a local online Facebook sale group, I found a girl selling nice 2T clothing. I was able to get 90 pieces for $30! When I brought them home, I was impressed by the quality of them and the boys had a wonderful time helping me sort and wash them all. These guys are AMAZING big brothers and cannot wait for their sister to come home!

This began the process of moving Camden into Owen’s room. It took a while to go through all of their clothes, sort out what no longer fit, and making space for everything in one room instead of two.

Along with this, came a project I had been hoping to do since we moved into this house three years ago. I asked a running friend, Chris, if he would consider making a top twin-sized bunk over Owen’s queen-sized bed for Camden. I knew he had done great wood-working projects before, but he had never done a bunk before. He came out and measured and said he would give it a try. What he came back with was simply BEAUTIFUL. He literally took my ideas and made them into a perfect masterpiece for our boys. They are just THRILLED with their new bunk!

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February 24th we received an e-mail stating that our i-800 application was APPROVED! Woohoo! One more step closer!!! This meant that we would wait just a few more days to receive a GUZ# for our DS-260 application. More paperwork, more hurry up and wait, but every approval is an open door from God and we celebrate every single step to Mia!!

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It was only 3 days later (February 27th) that we received the hard copy of our i-800, which is called a Provisional Approval, or PA. We also got our GUZ# and started the process of filling out visa applications for John and I to travel to China.

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March 2nd was filled with paperwork, looking up everything I needed to send to the visa

applications to the courier, and filing the DS-260 online. Our visas need to go to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., so we enlisted the help of the same courier who processed our dossier in the final stages, back in the fall. This will speed up the time frame and make sure that our visas are processed properly. As long as we have them in hand before we travel, we will be good. I drove to the FedEx center near the Huntington airport and double-triple checked everything going out. ONE MORE STEP!

Now, we wait for an update on our sweet girl. We were given the opportunity to submit five questions about her and hopefully those questions will be answered and maybe even an updated picture!

This past weekend, we had the HONOR of participating in a video shoot for Show Hope. This was the organization that I ran for, and the organization that we have been supporting for years as sponsors. We have been selected to be one of the families featured in their April fundraising campaign. This also means that we should be able to receive a grant, but the amount will be based on that campaign. It is an amazing blessing to be involved in this. (I wish I had pictures of the process, but I think I was just too excited!)

They interviewed the boys first, and they definitely added some comedy into the day. Camden is more concerned about telling everyone about his birthday and color-change cars than talking about his sister. However, he surprisingly had more to say than Owen! Both of them are really excited to bring her home and love on her like crazy. They were silly and sweet and did a pretty good job for a 5 and 7 year old!

When John and I were asked questions about our process and our daughter, it was hard to hold back my emotions. My dream is coming true after 21 years. It is simply amazing. I really enjoyed hearing John’s perspective, too. He is the kind of person who doesn’t talk too much, but when he does, you want to listen. He expressed his love for Mia in a way that is hard to explain. I cannot wait to see them together!

I will be so excited to see what Show Hope does with the footage that they got that day. It was a great experience and I hope that what we said will spur others on to donate to this amazing organization. My long-term goal is to be able to support them in a bigger capacity through my business as a health and fitness coach.

So….What is the next step in the process? Article 5. Article 5 is the confirmation of DS-260 and GUZ# receipt. So once it is dropped off, it is a 10 day wait unless a holiday is in between. Once Article 5 is picked up, we wait for travel approval (TA). Travel Approval is taking about two weeks or less. Travel Approval will tell us when we can go and we will book our arrangements at that time! WOOHOO!!!!

Keep praying for our sweet girl!

Pray for the finances to come through.

Pray for wisdom.

Pray for bonding when we get there.

Pray for our boys as we will be gone about 16 days from them, and pray God prepares their hearts for their little sister.

Pray for John’s mom as she cares for our boys and is away from her home for so long.

Pray that our family has a smooth transition and reflects Christ through all that we do.