Monday, February 5, 2018

MaeBeSew Fundraiser!

We were selected to do a fundraiser with MaeBeSew!!

THIS week, (Feb 5-11th) if you order from her shop and put our name (The Mercer Family) at checkout, our adoption will get 20% of the proceeds!

Natalie, the owner of MaeBeSew, originally started making dolls as an effort to fund her family’s international adoptions. With her family of 6 being all together, she now teams up with families like ours to continue helping more children find their forever families.

MaeBeSew offers ready to ship items as well as custom items. Take a peak at the beautiful ready to ship dolls, bows, and blankets. The Donut blanket is especially close to my heart! ;)

MaeBeSew also offers custom dolls which means you pick out the details-hair, skin, fabric, facial name it! Design Your Own Dolls are perfect one of a kind keepsakes while still allowing imaginative play at any age

Check them all out at - what wonderful gift and keepsakes!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Timing is everything

Timing is so important and especially tough when it's out of your (my) control.

I'd say that has been the hardest part of this. I can say that now because I know the really hard part is still coming - we haven't done much at all yet besides collect paperwork, do trainings, have appointments and pay some money. A lot of time and energy without much to show for it.
Anyway, at every step of this process, there is a time estimate: 2-4 months for this and 1-3 weeks for that. When we started this process, we weren't quite ready. We had waited 10 years and were comfortable waiting. We were told it would take 1-3 years and that was just fine with us. We needed time. In January 2017, I (Kassie) went to Brian & asked him if we could start the process. I had done some legwork already, so I felt a little prepared as to where we would adopt from and how we would pay for it. Brian agreed & we started the process fully ok with it taking awhile and not in any sort of rush.

Now we are here and our flights are booked. We will travel in 6 weeks. Tomorrow is one year to the day that I questioned Brian about starting the process.

It's funny how everything has moved faster than expected up to this point, yet our travel is now delayed from the usual 10-21 days after travel approval, for a full 6 weeks! It's twice as long as expected due to the government offices shutting down for Chinese New Year in February. At first, I was very disappointed, but I now see how lucky we are! We have time to plan and time to book halfway decent flights with minimal transfers and seats that are together. We have time to get our dogs healthy (both had recent bouts of diarrhea...eew!) and get our jobs and time off in order. We have time to arrange Suzie's medical appointments for when we return and we have time to learn a little bit more Mandarin and practice using our translator and apps.

My heart still aches because it's another month that this little girl doesn't know what a family is or that people accross the world love her and desperately want her. It's another month that she misses in preschool and a month of therapy that is lost. Time spent in an orphanage has been directly correlated with growth delays. One month of height growth is lost for every 2-3 months spent in an orphanage. I mourn that she will be almost 10 years old before she spends more time out of an orphanage than in one.

But, she will have one more Chinese New Year Festival in her home country. She will have one more month with the other children that she has grown up around and the nannies that she knows and has attached to. We've been told that she eats slower when she's with the nanny that she prefers. I pray that she has lots of slow meals this month and I vow to never ever rush her at mealtimes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's a date!

We have a date...we will meet our daughter on March 5, 2018!!

This is less than one year from when we submitted our application to CCAI!

We missed the Chinese New Year cut off and this delayed our travel a whole month. The 2018 Chinese New Year falls on February 16th, and the festival runs until March 2nd, about 15 days in total. It is an official public holiday, so Chinese people can get seven days' absence from work, from February 15th to 21st. The US Consulate observes both US and Chinese holidays, so they are closed that week.

We are SO bummed! For the last 24 hrs we thought we might be leaving on January 24th as we had requested an appointment date before the New Year. As scary as that was, since it's only next week, we knew we could make it happen. But sadly, there wasn't an open appointment for us at the US Consulate until March. Our appointment is scheduled for 3/13/18. At this appointment we will take our oath and apply for Suzie's visa to enter the US. A couple days later, we'll bring her home!!

It feels like sooo far away, but I know it will come quickly.

Starting to pack...

Friday, January 5, 2018

One step closer...

Our Chinese Visa's have arrived!
and yes, all 4 of us will be traveling to meet and bring back our newest family member. This was part of the reason we waited to adopt until Addie & Mason were older and good travelers.

Traveling to China is not as easy as just booking a flight. It requires not only a valid US passport, but you must apply for a Chinese Visa no more than 90 days before you travel.
In this application you have to list your personal information &  profession and your purpose for traveling, including where you'll be at and where you'll be staying. We needed to include our Letter of Acceptance from the China Center for Children’s Welfare & Adoption (CCCWA).
There are some pretty high fees and then your paperwork & passport need to be hand delivered to the Chinese Embassy that services your state. Ours is in Chicago. Thankfully, the person applying does not have to be the person delivering the paperwork. We paid to have a courier deliver and retrieve our Visas. She was the same courier that delivered our dossier paperwork when it needed to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy. If you ever need a courier for the Chinese or Haitian Embassies in Chicago, Denise Hope at There's Alway's Hope! is the best!
It's nerve wracking sending away your precious documents & passports that took months and lots of money & time to obtain!!

Thankfully we had only very minor hiccups (I sent Brian's birth certificate to the Chinese Embassy in Chicago, but his needed to go to San Francisco since he was born in California and a couple Notary & date issues that they let slide) and we are now all set to travel to China when we get the ok!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Meet Suzie!

I will have to update this posted once our adoption is official and I can share full pictures!
For now, I can share just a few details of the amazing little girl who has stolen out hearts. We plan to call her Suzie Mei Mercer

She is 412 years old and has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka Brittle Bone Disease), which is a genetic disorder that makes her bones break easily. She is currently wheelchair bound, but we are hopeful that with therapy she will gain strength and mobility. 

She is in an orphanage in Shanghai and has been there almost all of her short life. She is delayed as she seems to be pretty isolated due to her disease. She is always in either her crib or wheelchair, for her safety. She has such a joy about her & is described as having an easy smile, big round eyes with beautiful dark eyelashes and a sweet demeanor.  She eats slower when she's with a nanny that she likes and loves books and building blocks. She is behind academically as she is not able to go to preschool with her peers. We know with love and care kids can flourish and we're going to give this sweet child every opportunity we can to thrive and reach her full potential!

We have a nursery!

Preparing to welcome our daughter home has been tough. I want to be completely ready for her, but there are SO many unknowns! 

What we do know is that she is 4.5 years old and TINY. Her measurements might not be completely accurate, but if they are, she is only 25lbs and has feet the size of a 12 month old. I say they may not be accurate as her measurements have all been the same since she was 3 yrs old. Sure, she may not have grown at all, but I hope she has, so I'm hesitant to gather a bunch of stuff that may not even fit her. 

Also, she's currently in a wheelchair. We have no idea if this will be long-term or not. For travel purposes, we'll start with a jogging stroller and wait until she's home to determine if one is needed. Same goes for pretty much everything else I want to get. We'll wait until she's here & see what fits her. That wait is driving me crazy!!

We were, however, able to set up a "nursery." Thanks to some friends who graciously gave us a toddler bed & dresser, we have a spot set up in our room for her to sleep until she's comfortable enough to move into a room with Addie. Just having this area set up puts my heart at ease and I feel slightly ready to bring our little girl home!

Our Timeline

We filled out our medical checklist in January 2017 which put us in line to be matched with a child, but didn't get serious until March when we submitted our application and really got things rolling.

Here's how our timeline went:

Jan 26, 2017:     Medical Conditions Checklist completed
Mar 18, 2017:    Application approved
Mar 25, 2017:    CCAI Orientation
Jun 23, 2017:     Completed Home Study
Jul 3, 2017:        USCIS Second Filing information mailed to USCIS
Aug 21, 2017:    I-800A approval received
Oct 3, 2017:       Dossier received at CCAI for review & translation
Oct 6, 2017:       Dossier mailed to China
Oct 12, 2017:     Dossier Log-In-Date (LID Date)
Oct 20, 2017:     Child Match received
Oct 31, 2017:     Letter of Intent (LOI) to China, file locked
Nov 3, 2017:      Completed our required parent training (24 hrs)
Nov 17, 2017:    Dossier reviewed by CCCWA
Nov 28, 2017     Letter Seeking Confirmation of Adopter (LOA) received
Dec 15, 2017:    I-800 Provisional Approval received
Dec 19, 2017:    NVC letter received, DS-260 submitted
Dec 21, 2017:    DS-260 & Supporting Documents Delivered To US Consulate in Guangzhou

All that's left is
-Article 5 is issued (U.S. Central Authority’s Approval for Hague Adoption), express mailed to Beijing & delivered to the CCCWA...takes ~ 2 weeks after DS-260 is submitted, possibly 3 weeks due to the  holidays.  -update: issued 1/8/18

-Travel approval is received By CCAI...takes ~1.5-3 weeks after Article 5 is received by CCCWA  -update: issued 1/15/18

-We travel to China!  ...10-21 days after Travel Approval is received.

All this to say we are on track to travel in late January or early February!  We may be delayed as Chinese New Year is February 16th and the Consulate shuts down from 2/15-2/20, but our hope is that we can get in right before...fingers crossed & praying!!!