Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our family and friends who we are not able to be with on this day! Lots of love and Jackson kisses...Troy, Amy and Jack

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Surprise Gift in the Mail

We got formula in the mail today! Not just one can, but two!!! What does this mean? Is this a sign we are getting 2 babies? I am going to hang on to them just in case, especially since they don't expire until 5/08. Hopefully we will have our kid(s) by then.

Monday, December 11, 2006

We Have Our LID!

YES! This is the day we have been waiting for since we began the process back in March. Our official LID (Log-In Day), our "place in line" is 12/11/06! Time to celebrate and shop! We thought we might decorate the "kids bathroom" in a rubber ducky theme. The walls are already bright yellow and Troy has always wanted this. It is also gender neutral since we do not know if we will be getting a boy or girl since we are open to either, AND TWINS!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

6 Years Ago Today...

Troy and I got engaged at the Bethany Senior High Christmas Party! The host presented Troy and I each with a gift and I was to open mine first. Follow below to see it all unfold!

I am opening my gift only to find...

That it is an angel Christmas ornament with the ring tied to the dress!

Troy is trying to untie the ring from the dress.

And he gets down to ask the question...

With tears and all in front of 30+ youth...

I said YES!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Adoption Advice for Waiting Parents

Praise God for Eric and Mitzie Tibbets! Troy and I received the first copy of Shaohannah's Hope Today. This is a newsletter put out by Shaohannah's Hope, an adoption ministry founded by Steven Curtis Chapman to "mobilize the body of Christ to care for orphans". The following article by Eric and Mitzie was just what we needed to be reminded of during our wait for our child(ren).

Eric and Mitzie Tibbets- Parents to Bethany, Judson and Aleena (adopted from Russia 2005); waiting on Josiah from Guatemala

During your adoption journey you are likely to become child-focused instead of God-focused. You might even think more about the creation instead of the Creator. Let me challenge you that if you are longing more for the child instead of the Savior, you may want to pause and take inventory of your relationship with God. After many years of infertility and empty arms, it is easy to be impatient for the blessings of a child. I’d like to share a few truths we learned as we journeyed with God:
* You aren’t waiting on man, you are waiting on God.
* God isn’t going to send you where He is absent.
* God is not bound by geography, timelines, politics or finances.
* God hasn’t asked you to walk this path alone. Not only will He remain with you each step of the way, He has prepared many warriors to go into battle with you. You’ll be amazed at who He uses to meet your needs.
* Don’t put serving the King on hold. Waiting doesn’t equate to idleness. Invest in the wait, don’t waste it.
* God’s gifts to us are never late; they are always on time and far beyond what we could ever imagine.

Adoption is about stewardship. Your child and everything you possess belongs to God. During the wait, surrender it all to God, for His glory.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Storm Update Pt. 2

In this mornings paper, 18,000 residents are still WITHOUT power! Troy and I feel so blessed to have had power and only minor issues! So many of our friends have lost trees, have structural damage to their house, etc. It looks like a tornado ripped through the city, but only in winter. It was 38 yesterday and the ice melted from trees and power lines which has been good. We got another inch on snow last night and the high today is to be 20 degrees! It is to be in the 40's this weekend which is perfect weather to help clean up all this mess! We take so much for granted (power, heat, technology) etc. that this storm has made us reevaluate how we live and our priorities.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Winter Storm Update

Blogger is now here are some pictures I was wanting to post earlier.

We are grateful to still have power, but 40% of Decatur still is without! After driving around town, it looks like a Siberian war zone. Trees and limbs are down everywhere...streets are blocked...power lines remain down in some places. It is sad, yet beautiful in its own way. We only have about a 1/4 inch of ice on our plants/trees, put the north side of Decatur has 1/2 to one inch of ice. It is crazy!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Jack!

Jack celebrated his 3rd Birthday today and woke up to snow!!! He absolutely LOVES playing in the snow and demanded to be outside three times in the first hour he was up! I took him on a walk to access the trees and limbs down in the neighborhood and he had a great time bouncing in the snow! Troy still wishes Jack was 2, but says Jack is now 2+1! Next year Jack will be 2+2! Troy has a thing for the number 2! I will post pictures once I figure out this new blogger!

Operation Kirby, Whirlpool and Fans!

Just when I thought all was well with surving the ice/snow storm that has hit the midwest, I go to our basement. There I find a 6x6 soaking wet area of carpet near my crafting area! I call Troy downstairs and he ran to the sump pump only to find it not working!!! Last night we lost power for an hour and a half. No worry since we have a battery back up to our sump pump. Well...we were hit by lightning about 2 months ago and it damaged the surge protector and we never reset the back-up battery. Big lesson learned! Luckily the sump pump is now back in business. Since then, we have been busy doing some grape stomping using ALL the towels in the house and drying towels in between using the Kirby vacume cleaner which can suction up water. We also have a fan going at the same time.

Winter IS Here!

I am using a new version of blogger, so bear with me. I want to add pictures, but it is acting up.

It rained and sleeted on Thursday and we had a thick cover of ice over everything! Then came the snow early Friday morning! Here in Decatur we go 4" and it is beautiful! Troy and I are fortunate to have only lost power for an hour and a half. 50% of Decatur is still without power going on 24 hours now, due to the ice and falling tree limbs. Jack and I took a walk around the neighborhood and accessed the damage! Trees and limbs are down everywhere! School was canceled today and most businesses were closed. People were advised to stay in. All we heard were chain saws and snow blowers busy at work.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Posted by PicasaYesterday was the 2nd anniversary of Jolee, better known as Joey, crossing over the Rainbow Bridge. She was such a special dog who passed away too soon at the age of 5 due to a back injury. Joey was such an incredibly smart dog, a cross between a toy and minature poodle. She amazed us with her intelligence, her love of people, especially children. She got to go to school with me for 2 years while I taught in Wimberley and became the school mascot in a way. She played soccer in the elementary P.E. classes with the kids, was a "drug" dog in the high school (she stiffed out marijuana and cigarettes in two of my students packbacks), and loved to sit and look out windows. Joey made friends wherever we went or lived. She was known as the "little dog in the window" in our neighborhood of Dogtown in St. Louis. We miss you Joey and can't wait to see you on the other side!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish all our family and friends safe travels and a day to reflect on God's gifts to us this past year! We are so grateful and thankful for all of you in our lives, our health, our Dossier being complete and in the hands of Chinese government, and most importantly, our relationship with our Savior, Jesus! Without him, nothing is possible!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Our Dossier Arrived!

We got word last week that our Dossier was delivered to the CCAA on the 15th of November! This is great news! Now we are waiting for a speeding LID. This is our place in line! We are so grateful the paperwork is done and our wait begins!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We Are DTC!!!

Our dossier is on its way to China! Check out the email we got:


Here’s the news you’ve long been waiting for—your dossier was sent to China late Friday afternoon (11/10/2006)!

Here’s what to expect for the next month:

The CCAA will receive your dossier in approximately 3-5 days. Our China Department will contact you by email once your dossier has been received by our representatives in China and hand-delivered to the CCAA.

The CCAA usually logs in dossiers within 4 weeks of their receipt. This Log-In Date is called your LID, the date that you may “count down” to your referral. As the CCAA is the ultimate authority in logging in your dossier, we are unable to estimate your LID. The CCAA should notify us of your LID within the next 8 weeks. We will e-mail you as soon as we have confirmation of your LID and will then give you instructions on how to download your LID Packet. Your LID will also be posted on your personal online Parent Access Network (PAN) page of the CCAI website,, the instant we are notified of it.

Again, congratulations! If you have any questions about this e-mail, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Congrats on hitting this milestone!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And It Is In...

I got a call today at work from CCAI! Our Dossier is in translation! This means it has passed critical review and should take 2-7 days to be translated! WHHOOO HOOOO! For some odd reason, I have this feeling the CCAA will be speeding up its matching process. I don't have any research to back my "feeling" up, it is just one of those intuition things, maybe.

By the way, did you vote? I did! Our polling place was at "The Zoo" which is perfect for our elections in Illinois!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And It Is....

Off and in the mail! The 171-H along with our second agency fee and CCAA fee are flying the FedEx skies to CCAI! My dear friend Glenda and I took the Amtrak train from Lincoln, IL to Chicago on Wednesday to get our 171-H authenticated (I probably spelled that wrong, but oh well at this point). It was kind of stressful for me, but we got it done! I am grateful Glenda went with me for her prayers and suppport! I took my camera to document the journey, but it was acting up for the first time! Satan likes to ruin things you know. I am blessed that all is in the mail and we are done, so far! I mailed our materials Fed Ex this time at a Mail Box Etc. for convience sake and paid extra $ then USPS, but come to find out, a member from our church owns the business and I supported him. Plus, he said he would pray over our documents! That touched my heart! Thank you Tom and Jerrie!

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Crazy Experience at the Secretary of State

This morning I worked at the prenatal clinic and checked to see if they had a notary to save me one stop in my round of errands! Praise God they did! She notarized a copy of my 171-H and then I was off to the bank for $, the gas station and Springfield. Luckily, I made sure I had some silver change for the meter when I left this morning. I got to Springfield and found a parking spot, put my $ in and it did not work! I moved to the next empty place and it worked. I was a little frustrated at this point. It was VERY windy and the drive from Decatur to Sprinfield was tough keeping my car straight, so I was a little tense when I arrived. I found the SOS building only to be told the Index Department is down the street. I head to the correct place and wait to be helped. 10 minutes after I gave them my document to be certified, they came back and said they could not do it because the notaries stamp had the incorrect expiration on it. I was furious! The lady asked a notary in the office if she could help and she did. We made another copy of the document and I had to hand write this required saying on the back. The document got certified and I headed back home in the wind. Once I got home and looked at the document, I forgot one small line regarding expiration the notary is to sign. I called CCAI and told them about it and they checked with their translation department and said it should be OK. I think I will remain stressed until we get our log-in date. You want it all to be so perfect and done with and these little things happen! I know God is testing my patience! Oh, I almost forgot that they did not have a cash box to give you change for the certification, so you had to have the exact amount! I wound up with my $2, but half of it was in pennies! I lost most of my silver change in the parking meter that didn't work!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

How Much Does an Adoption Cost?

We have been asked many times, "What does it cost to adopt from China?" You will find the information below. One of the things we liked about CCAI was their honesty and explanation of all the expenses, including the Agency Fee. They even gave us an itemized breakdown of how they came up with the fee to cover their services. I find them very legitimate!

$150- Application fee
$545 Money Order, plus $70 per adult for fingerprints- USCIS Filing (I-600A)
$1950- First agency fee
~$450- Dossier Preparation (postage and fees to get documents)
$1500-$3000 - Home Study Fee (depends on what agency you use)
$2300- Second agency fee
$610- CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) fee when you submit dossier

Wait for Child Match

$500- Post Placement Deposit (refundable)
$80 per person- Visa to enter China
$900-$1600 per adult plus $100-150 return lapsit ticket - US Domestic and International Airfare
~$1900 - In China Travel and Accommodations
$400-800 - Adoption Registration and Notarization
$100-150- Child's Passport
$3000- Orphanage Fee
$600-800 per couple- Food
$70- Child Physical and Photo
$380- Child U.S. entry fee

Total: $15,000-$16,000 for two adult travelers (not including home study or post placement costs)

What's In a Dossier?

We have been asked what type of information is included in a Dossier for China! Here we go:

1. Adoption Petition (CCAI gave us a template and we customized it to fit us.)
2. Birth Certificate for each of us.
3. Marriage Certificate
4. Employment Verifications
5. Financial Statement (CCAI gave us a template and we filled in the appropriate info.)
6. Physical exam for each of us.
7. Police Clearance Reports for each of us
8. Copy of our 171-H
9. China Home Study Report
10. A complete set of photocopies of the above.
11. 2 Passport copies each
12. 3 Couple photographs
13. 8 Family Life photographs

#1-9 each have to be notarized, except the Birth and Marriage Certificates. (Thank You Pat P.), then certified by the Secretary of State of the document's originating state (we delt with Iowa, Texas and Illinois), and then Authenticated by the appropriate Chinese Consulate/Embassy that serves the document's originating state (we delt with Houston and Chicago).

CCAI has a fabulous Dossier Guide that walks you through each step and gives you templates and checklists. They also provide all the addresses of the Secretary's of State and Chinese Consulates! I can't say enough good things about them! They even answered all my emails in the same day! Way to go CCAI! Many companies need to take Customer Service Training from them!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Long Awaited 171-H...

Is here! It arrived on Friday and we were sooo excited! It is the most beautiful piece of mail we have seen in a long time. We have waited 10 weeks and 2 days for it exactly! I am taking it to Springfield on Monday and Chicago on Wednesday to get all of its appropriate seals! It looks like we will have a Log-In Date of 11/06! A couple of months later then we expected, but completely out of our hands!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I almost forgot...

CCAI did call us a week ago and had the opportunity to look through our Dossier despite it being incomplete! So far, everything looks good! This is great news because once we send our 171-H to them, the dossier will be sent to China!

Troy and I have been looking at unisex nursery bedding just to get an idea in case we get a "surprise" domestic adoption and one we can use for our Chinese adoption. My parents are giving us two Chinese folk art pictures that a student gave my mom years ago. They are in my childhood bedroom back in Austin. Troy and I have always admired them. We are wanting something that will go with the pictures since they have a lot of primary colors in them. We found this bedding called "Alphabet Soup". We are still looking for fun! There are sooo many choices!

Stork Parking

Last Saturday, Troy and I went to Springfield to the Babies R Us to look around at cribs. We had a potential DCFS foster/adopt case that a family wanted us to have their child if "____" was taken away. The child has not been taken away, but the case continues to be investigated. In the meantime, we figured it wouldn't hurt to look and see what is out there. Babies R Us has "Stork Parking" for expectant moms, so Troy and I took the opportunity to park since we are "paper pregnant" for a child(ren) in China! We both smiled and wondered what the others were thinking! I know there is a lot of controversy out there about this idea, but we wanted to have the same opportunities as "traditional" expecting families.

In the meantime, we are still waiting for the 171-H. It will be 10 weeks this Wednesday that we have been waiting! Hopefully soon! We continue to remind ourselves that God has a better plan for our family then we do!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Weeks in Pictures!

Troy turned 32 on September 26 and proudly displays his new grill!

Troy got invited to the Illinois/Iowa football game by a season ticket holder of Illini tickets! He figured it would be polite to wear his Illinois hat which a church member gave him, but of course he wore his Hawkeyes shirt under his jacket! He was happy to report the Hawkeyes won 24-7!

This cardinal was spotted outside our bedroom window singing away one Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church!

A beautiful Monarch butterfly that was found in our backyard with an injured wing! Jack was playing with it and I had to catch a picture!

Our incomplete dossier, minus the 171-H we sent to CCAI!

Just a Tease!

The first piece of mail I saw in our mailbox on Saturday was from USCIS! I quickly got the letter opener and ran down the basement stairs to Troy and yelled, "It's here! Our 171-H is here!!" I was SOOO disappointed to find it was just correspondence regarding my Sept. 8th phone call checking in on the status. I guess I should give them props for beating the 30-45 day time frame they would respond to my inquiry.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dossier Update

We received this email today and it looks like they are actually looking at our incomplete dossier! This is good news since complete dossier's get priority!

Hi Troy and Amy Roenfanz,

My name is Miranda and I am the Case Aid for the Dossier Department. This is a courtesy email to let you know that I have just finished checking in your dossier, and a response is not necessary. “Check in” ensures that our dossier specialists have all of the required documents needed to complete the critical review of your dossier.

Immigration Update

After emailing (the only way you can contact them) the Chicago USCIS office last Thursday, I came home Tuesday to a message on the answering machine. In my email to USCIS, I told them about our fingerprinting problems and the run-around we had gotten between the FBI and USCIS 1-800 #. I also asked about our possible wait time for the 171-H due to horrible experiences I have been told by people having to go through Chicago. Boy, was I excited to get a response in a timely manner. The lady who left the message said they are processing paperwork received on July 17th and our paperwork was received Aug. 4th. We still don't know where that leaves us in wait times, but at least we have a little bit of information to work with.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Some Good News!

We sent our incomplete Dossier (still waiting on the 171-H) on Thursday via USPS Express Mail and got the message below on Friday! CCAI will review the incomplete dossier's, time permitting to check for any errors. This will speed up the process once we mail our 171-H! We are praying for no errors and a speedy delivery for our 171-H. We have waited 4 weeks so far and people are saying Chicago takes about 10 weeks to process. Keep on praying everyone!

Troy & Amy,

Congratulations! Your dossier has arrived at our office!

Your dossier will now go through the following steps:
Check-in: Your dossier package is checked to ensure all necessary dossier items are present. If your package is missing any item(s), we will notify you without delay. If all dossier items are present, we will begin the review of your dossier! Please do not be alarmed if your fees are not processed immediately; they are handed to the Accounting Department and are applied to your account on a different timeline than the rest of your dossier.

Critical Review and Translation: Your dossier will be here for 9-11 business days if it is complete and problem-free. During the critical review process, your dossier is looked through 3 full times for any mistakes or errors. This review includes a careful inspection of the document in terms of content and format, possible translation problems, and dates. A thorough check of the notarization, certification, and authentication pages are also made at this time just to make sure all is in perfect order. We will notify you by phone or email once this step is complete.

**PLEASE NOTE: Precedence for review is given to complete dossiers so that we can send them to China as soon as possible. Incomplete dossiers may be reviewed within this timeframe, however it cannot be guaranteed. The 9-11 business day timeline for critical review and translation begins once your dossier is complete.

When the critical review is finished, a summary translation of your dossier is completed, making sure the most important information is easy to locate when your dossier is received by the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in China. This also helps decrease the chance this important information is misinterpreted during the full translation of your dossier in China.

Binding: Your dossier is bound in a red folder, with your photos mounted, and your documents carefully lined up and ordered according to the CCAA’s preference.

Mailing: Lastly, your dossier will be carefully packaged and sent to China via international express mail!

Remember, we are as anxious as you are to get your dossier to China and will keep you posted every step of the way!

We’ll be in touch soon,

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Still Waiting...

I know we havn't posted in a while, but there is not any new news on the adoption front. We are still waiting for the infamous 171-H to come in. It will be 1 month this Wednesday since we had our fingerprints done. I have been told it will be 2-10 weeks before we get our 171-H, so it is our prayer that we will be closer to the 4-6 week side! September 18th is our 6 month anniversary in this paperchase. Most people are done in 4-6 months, but it is out of our hands at the moment. We had everything done by the end of May, it is just waiting on all the other govermental agencies for their part! Please pray that the USCIS (Immigration) and the CCAA (Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs) speed up their processing times so we can bring our babies home!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We Got Them!

Our set of documents we sent to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago to be authenticated arrived of Friday! All we are waiting for is the 171-H! Troy (not knowing the difference between DCFS and USCIS) said, "I think it came in today!" I got super excited only to find it was our DCFS license from the state of Illinois stating we are a certified foster home! Oh well! Checking the mail is the most exciting, but so far most disappointing part of the day! We are going to send what we have so far to CCAI to have them look over it. Once the 171-H arrives, I am going to drive to Springfield and have it certified in a day and then probably drive to Chicago the next day to have it authenticated! It costs a little bit more $$$, but when you are this close, you just want it DONE!!!

On a happier note, many families got their referrels on Friday for their children! We cannot wait to get there! Please pray that China speeds up the process! As I stated earlier, when we started our paperwork, we had a 6-9 month wait after our dossier was sent to China. Now they are saying our wait will be 12-14 months! We continue to pray for twins and find our selves saying, "When we get our kids...."!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

FBI Fingerprinting...DONE!

Troy and I went to St. Louis today to get fingerprinted for our 171-H. I am going to call USCIS on Thursday to see if my fingerprints turned out OK. The examiner had to roll each finger 2-5 times to get a good print. I learned that I have very large fingerprints and my hands are extremely dry despite the lotion I use daily! It must be the chlorine at the Y...that is my thought! I have heard people have to have them done twice and I don't really want to drive 2 1/2 hours again! In addition to our fingerprints, we got our passport photos taken that are part of our Dossier. We have to submit 3 pictures which means we have an extra since passport photos come as 2. To end our morning in STL, we had lunch at Seamus McDaniels in our old neighborhood, Dogtown. They have the best hamburgers, so of course, we each got one! Being back in STL really made us homesick for the city and where we began our marriage! I almost forgot, the rest of our documents were sent to Chicago for authentication! We are going to send everything in to CCAI minus the 171-H. They will receive it once we get it in, but we want CCAI to look over our paperwork just in case their our errors. Slowly, but surely!

Congrats to my friend and college roommate, Lisa, on their referral! She is precious!

Friday, August 04, 2006

SOS Materials Arrived!

I just checked online to see the status of our documents that need the Illinois Secretary of State certification and got this message:

Your item was delivered at 10:05 am on August 04, 2006 in SPRINGFIELD, IL 62756 to SOS 56 . The item was signed for by M KUNTZI.

Praise God! I had checked my email this morning and saw that a family who is also adopting from China had their Express Mail documents that were needing certification stolen. USPS said that criminals look for Express Mail envelopes since they often have important information in them. In this case, they had to act as if they experienced identity theft since ALL of their information was included! I never thought about all of this! We will be using FedEx for the rest of our mailing needs in this adoption process!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Homestudy Original Arrived!

YEAH! We got the original copy of the homestudy in the mail today! I am going to take the rest of our documents, minus the 171-H and get them notarized on Thursday afternoon. I will then make a trip to the post office to send them to the Illinois Secretary of State! Please pray that China speeds up the adoption process. They are processing dossier's at a slower rate. At one point, families had to wait 6 months to get their referral after their dossier arrived in China. Now they are telling us 12-14 months!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

OK...I Know We Were A Little Emotional...

I know we were a little emotional yesterday, but you can't help but cry when you watch Sophie at give us all kisses (July 30th post)! I don't know how we came across this blog, but this has been one of our favorites we read daily. Shana always has the best pictures and videos!

Yesterday was also an emotional day for me (Amy) due to my job. I have been working at the prenatal clinic (we build relationships and the families get to make toys for their miracle(s) )on Monday and Wednesday mornings and absolutely LOVE IT! We build such great relationships with our moms/families and it is so neat to follow them through their pregnancy and then get to experience their miracles in the end. Well, while reading the paper Monday morning, I saw one of my previous student's nephew died during labor. I shared this with my co-workers and then found out one of our moms who was in the clinic last Monday with her one month old twin boys, lost one the following day. The funeral was this past Saturday! I was shocked! I watched these two boys last Monday and helped their mom carry them down to the car and snap them in! After learning of these two deaths, I then got to visit 3 families in the hospital who just delivered and share in their joys! I love my job and all that BabyTALK has such incredible highs and lows!

Monday, July 31, 2006

We are Bummed Out!

Well, tomorrow is 8/1 and we were praying our dossier would be done by then. We were on such a role, but our homestudy delay truly set us back. Now we are waiting for our fingerprinting appointment to arrive in the mail. At this pace, we will be done in September/October. We know God is in control of all of this and knows what he is doing. It is our prayer that we get a two for one deal and China speeds the process up and produces more "paper ready" kids. There are thousands of children in the orphanages that need families, but only a handful of them are tagged for adoption!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Adoption Bracelet

We had some dear friends give us this adoption bracelet, but of course, it is only worn by me, Amy. It is by Lisa Lehmann, of Studio Jewel. It came with this fabulous explanation:

Adoption Celebration was created to be reminder of all that your family has become, or is in the process of becoming.

Beginning with a prayer...a dream...a wish...placed inside the Prayer Box. A prayer for a child to be your very own, to love and cherish, to guide, to give a home and a future. While you are praying, wishing, dreaming you are Three Strands: a mother, a father and a child...each on your own personal journey...waiting to become something stronger together.

The dream becomes a reality, there is a child who will soon be your very own - that is represented by the Baby Feet and Heart charm. Once that child arrives she becomes your family. You are no longer separate buy you have been brought together. This is represented by the Family Tree charm as well as the three strands becoming a Solid Bangle on the bracelet.

There will be memories and milestones to come as you go through life together, no two days will ever be the same - thus the mixture of beads and twisted wire.

Celebrate! and never forget the journey of how you became a family!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Finally, Some Progress...

Troy and I have been gone for a week at a conference and came home to this great email:

Troy and Amy,

Good news!!!

Just wanted to let you know that I have completed the preliminary review of your China Home Study Report. Any recommendations for these areas have already been sent to your social worker. The final review of the home study will take place during the critical review of your dossier just before it is sent to China!

Now we are waiting to get the final draft from our adoption specialist before she sends it to immigration. We would still like to have our Dossier complete by August, but we do not have control over how long Immigration, Illinois Secretary of State and the Chinese Counsulate in Chicago will process our paperwork! It is nice to be going again after a waiting period!

Troy and I had to go to a mandatory conference this morning in Bloomington as part of our adoption and DCFS foster home certification. It was nice to meet other families in our situation and get some more information on important topics such as adoption myths, stages of grief for infertile couples, grief and loss for the adopted child, adjustment issues for the adoptee, attachment and bonding, maintaining birth culture ties (Troy recommends we eat Chinese food on the 4th of July!), talking to children about their orphanage background, talking to children about adoption, sibling relationships and the adoption tax credit! WHEW! It was a lot of information, but helpful. We have been doing a lot of reading, so much of this was a repeat, but it never hurts to hear it again! The best part was hearing from a lady from the Our Chinese Daughters Foundation (OCDF) . She was great! When our children get older, they can receive a magazine from them with Chinese specific content produced in China, but in the English language. We can also take our children back to China on one of their guided tours! The best part was the journal the children receive on this tour. There is info. about each city they visit, including a place for them to write their own memories. Each child also receives a gift after visiting each city. For example, they got a stuffed panda bear after visiting a panda bear rescue camp! It was so neat!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


We are trying to be patient in this paperchase period, but it is getting really frustrating! We paid the second half of our homestudy a month ago and was told it would be finished in a week. Three weeks later, we still do not have anything! We were told the homestudy process would take 2-3 months and got excited when we received the 2nd bill in June. It looked like we would be on the 2 month track, but now we are at 2.5 months. We were told to be patient, but when you are so close to being done, you just want it to end! I think I am going to send our completed waiting papers on their round of certification so if feels like we are doing something and get our 171-H certified on its own. I emailed our adoption specialist on our status and continue to wait for her reply.

On the more exciting front, Troy's dad came to visit us for a week over the 4th of July and they put up a basketball hoop, Troy's Father's Day present. They had some good bonding time figuring out the plan! Troy had to get the measuring tape out and mark with chalk where the 3 point line would be if it was painted on our driveway. I thought this goal was for fun, but he is serious about it! Hopefully God has us here for enough years for our children to get to enjoy it too!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Today marks the 5th Anniversary for Troy and I! Boy, time has gone by quick! It is amazing to think all that we have experienced in these past 5 years from 4 major moves, Troy completing seminary and is now ordained, my teaching experience and population I serve has changed tremendously, we have gained a new dog (Jackson) and lost a dog (Joey), celebrated the weddings of our brothers and birth of our 2nd nephew this past April, we bought our first house,
have gained some new friends, Troy has completed 2 more marathons and now has 2 triathlons under his belt (we did our first one together in 2003!), we experienced numerouse doctors appointments, testings, procedures for infertility, but now we are adopting from CHINA! Praise God for all he has done in our lives! We have been blessed!

Troy and I have been back for a week now from our vacation to Wisconsin! We stayed 2 days at an all-inclusive resort, ChulaVista in The Dells, and then we moved on to Door County! We LOVE Door County! Our first night was in Sturgeon Bay where we experienced a fish boil (ask us about our experience), we toured the local shops and beaches and took a gorgeous country drive. From then we moved up the peninsula to Fish Creek! This is a charming little city and we had a fabulous condo that we plan to go back to with family/friends. Our highlight in Fish Creek was kayaking on Lake Michigan to visit Cave Point and White Sands Park. I will post pictures once they are emailed to me from our guide! We had a blast and it was a great workout! Lake Michigan was so green and you could see the bottem of it the entire trip! Our trip home was a casual drive stopping at Lake Geneva to spend the day. That is a beautiful area and one we want to explore more! Our trip was incredible and we cannot wait for another one! This was our first vacation in 5 years besides our honeymoon in which we did not have to visit family or go to a wedding!

On the adoption front, we are still waiting on our homestudy! Our adoption specialist said she is sending it to CCAI at the end of this week (Today I hope!) to get approved and then it is off to Immigration! We are still praying we can send our dossier off in August!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there, both spiritually and physically! Troy preached a great sermon this morning and made reference to all the spiritual fathers out there who have been there for those without a physical father. They are sometimes overlooked this special day! We remember that Jesus is our Eternal father who never lets us down!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Waiting...and more waiting...and...

The word this week was that our homestudy would be complete and we would receive a copy of it via email to look over before it goes to immigration. It is Friday morning, so I guess we still have time to receive it today! If not, it looks like our laptop will be coming with us on vacation! Troy and I are leaving for a week to explore Wisconsin. This will be our first vacation that we have had since we got married 5 years ago that does not include visiting family or attending a wedding! We are looking forward to spending time in Wisconsin without an itenerary! I have done some research and we know we will be going to Madison and The Dells, but who knows from there! Jack will have a house sitter so he doesn't have to be taken away from his rabbit friends that he likes to chase!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Good News!

Our first set of papers from the Chinese Houston Consulate are in! Check out the Chinese writing and the official red seal! In addition, our homestudy should be complete by next week! We got the bill for the second half last Friday which means we are almost done! Our adoption specialist will submit the homestudy to Immigration and we will be given a fingerprinting appointment. After that, all we have to do is wait for our 171-H to come in! Once it is in, all the rest of our papers will get their round of notarization, certification and authentication in Chicago! It still looks like we will be DTC (Dossier to China) by August, if not earlier! Praise God!

We FINALLY completed our landscaping around the deck!

Monday, May 29, 2006


Remember the Vets and the soldiers fighting for our freedom and protection this Memorial Day! Thank you all for serving!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

One Consulate Down...One More to Go!

And they are off! My birth certificate and our Marriage Certificate went to the Chinese Consulate in Houston to get their final stamp in the paperchase process! We are still waiting on our homestudy report to be done so we can send the rest of the paperwork to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago!
Thank you all who have contributed to our adoption fund. Every penny counts. $20 pays for the cost of one piece of paper to be authenticicated by the Chinese Consulate and $30 pays for each round of Express Mail we must use each time paperwork is mailed. Soon, we will give you a break down of the expenses associated with an international adoption since so many of you have asked!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jacks New Tricks

Jack created this hole in the screen door while we were at Travis and Rebecca's wedding in Alaska. He wasn't used to having both the glass door and screened door to open to go outside. He was a little anxious and busted a hole. We of course had to clean it up a little bit and cut the torn edges.

We caught him in the act! We can't saves us from opening and shutting the door. We like this type of efficiency and independence!

Isn't that just the cutest face? No wonder he is fat and spoiled!

This is the first rose bloom of the season. We can't wait to see them at their peak.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Worship with Sonic Flood

Troy and I saw Sonic Flood Friday night and had a great time not just at a concert, but a worship experience. Being the busy weekend it was with graduation parties, the concert was not well attended, but it was an awesome, personal experience! In fact, Troy and I saw Sonic Flood as our first date in the Spring of 2000 and now we got to experience them again 6 years later and about to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary! The concert was another reminder/ validation that God has intended Troy and I to adopt as part of his plan for us. Throughout this adoption journey, we have done a lot of reading on starting an adoption/orphan ministry in Decatur. The Bible verse that is constantly brought up regarding adoption is from James 1:27 "Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." The first 10 minutes of the Sonic Flood concert, the lead singer put this Bible verse on the screen. Tears came to my eyes. The band was promoting sponsoring a child from Compassion International, an organization Troy and I have been a part of for 6 years now. We came into our marriage each with a child...Jessica from Peru and Benjamin from Mexico. We recently lost Benjamin due to the fact he moved out of the village Compassion worked in. Our money that goes to Compassion each month has been more then worth it. Besides receiving pictures, letters, artwork and report cards, each child is learning about Jesus and his love for them! We know that by adopting a child(ren) from China, we will get to teach them about Jesus, something they may never get to experience living in an orphanage or foster home. Check out the website for Sonic Flood at and watch their new video "Everlasting". You will see they are teaching about Jesus in countries that may never know Him! As the book Fields of the Fatherless by C. Thomas Davis says, " In this world you are an orphan...eagerly anticipating your adoption as God's child. In this world you are a widow...longing for reunion with your bridegroom. In this world you are a stranger...a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven. This book brings you back to what Christianity is really about: Giving yourself to others. Being Christ to a hurting world and living for the one that comes next." All Christians are adopted!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Troy's 2nd Tri!

Standing in 62 degree water waiting for the start of the swim!
And they are off!
Out of the swim and heading towards his bike!
Coming in from his 13 mile bike ride (in pouring rain) getting ready to run 3 miles!
Comming in to the finish in pouring rain as you can see by the picture!

Way to go Troy! This was Troy's 2nd triathlon and he finished first in the Clydesale division and second in his age group!

On the adoption front, I received the certified copy of our MC and my BC in the mail today! They will be going off to the Chinese Consulate in Houston to be given their final seal of approval, probably later this week! One more step closer in getting this done! We continue to wait on our homestudy report to be completed and given the OK by DCFS.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yes, This is Illinois!

I spent last Saturday visiting Starved Rock State Park with our fabulous friends David and Glenda! We met some of their old friends from Chicago for lunch at Starved Rock and then we enjoyed some time exploring God's beautiful creations! SRSP has wonderful trails and it is only 2 hours from Decatur! You feel like you are in another state!

It Is In!

Hooray! Troy's new passport arrived in the mail yesterday! He had to get his renewed, so this this one is good for a long time! At least it is one less step we will have to go through with our next adoption!

In the meantime, we are waiting for our documents to come in from the Texas Secretary of State. I made two binders last week to organize all of our paperwork. One has the originals and the other has the copies! I had everything in one binder and it was getting messy and confusing!

Check out the website and watch the video (3, 4.5 or 7 min.- They are all the same)! They will bring tears to your eyes so get some Kleenex ready! The video on their camp is great too! It makes you want to go to China and bring all the kids back home with you!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Homestudy Report

Troy and I had our homestudy done on Monday May 1st and we feel pretty confident we passed. It reminded me of pre-marital counseling along with situational interview questions regarding parenting. We also had to do 2 different exercises with each other. The first had us writing down physical characteristics of each other for about 5 minutes and then we shared. I don't know what they were looking for, in this exercise, but she said we did good. The second one had use sharing 3 people and 3 events in our life that have impacted/influenced us. We had to share these too. Once again, I don't know what the adoption specialist was looking for, but she said we did good once again. I wish we knew more the purpose of the exercises. Part of me thinks she was looking to see how we interacted with each other and reacted to each others comments.

Now we have to wait for it to be written up, summitted to immigration and then to CCAI for approval. After that, we can send all of our documents off to be notarized, certified and authenticicated (I can never spell it or say it!!!) We have Troy's BC certified and I sent our MC and my BC to Texas today to be certified. Slowly but surely we will get our dossier summitted! We will be having a big party to celebrate!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bryan Lehman - 6 Days Old

Here is Bryan (our new nephew) at 6 days old. We cannot wait to meet him!

We Are Waiting...Again

We got my birth certificate in this past week along with Troy's birth certificate certified by the Secretary of State in Iowa. We also got in what was suppossed to be the certified copy of our marriage certificate, BUT we got somebody elses DIVORCE DECREE!!! AAAAGGGGHHHHH! I am going to mail it back and email the sender to have them expediate our MC. Once we get it in, my BC and our MC will be sent to Texas's Secretary of State to be certified!

On a more positive note, we have our first homestudy visit tomorrow! I also FAXED some documents to CCAI to see if they were done right before we have them notarized and they were GREAT!!! YEAH! We have also had a lot of rain this week which is always appreciated. Troy and I dug up some grass around our deck for our latest landscaping project and replanted the grass in some spots that needed some TLC. Luckily, they are taking great. We are just waiting for the yard to dry out before we add the plants and rock! Now I understand why you pay landscapers the big bucks, but there is so much pride in saying you did it yourself!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter...Happy Birthday!

Happy Easter to all our family and friends...Happy Birthday to Bryan Reed Lehman, son of Michael and Tiffany (Amy's brother and SIL) and big brother, Patrick. Bryan was born April 15, 2006 at 6:16 p.m. and weighed in at 8 lbs. 1 oz. We cannot wait to see him!

We have been enjoying the coming of Spring and seeing all of nature coming alive! This is one aspect of living in the midwest that I really like compared to Texas. God has a great way of giving us 4 seasons! With that, we have been enjoying this new season with a storm door for our front door, new patio furniture and flowers around our barn. Next weekend, we plan to landscape around the deck, weather permitting. You can see some of the before and after pictures of our barn and the tree in our front yard which has beautiful blooms!