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It's Official! Our Applications for Adoption are Complete!

So today it begins. Officially. A year+ experience that we’ll never forget. A path that will change our lives forever. A road that leads to our daughter.

As of tonight, we’ve submitted our initial applications for adoption!

The first step of this journey is to decide which adoption agencies we’ll work with. For most families adopting, there are two organizations involved in the process: the first is the home study agency (typically a local non-profit equipped with social workers to “evaluate” you to become eligible). The second is an international placing agency, who works with you and your home study agency to actually refer and place the child. Additionally, the placing agency typically has either offices or relationships in China, so they help with all the details involved in getting your paperwork overseas, translations, travel arrangements, and in-country support.

We’re so blessed to have found a wonderful home study agency right in our beloved neighborhood, just 1.2 miles down the road here in East Nashville. It’s called Miriam’s Promise (www.miriamspromise.org). It’s a 25-year-old agency based inside a historic church, and they offer pregnancy help, parenting training, and adoption services. We had our intake meeting last Tuesday and met the woman who will be our main point of contact, a wonderful social worker named Tami. We instantly felt the positive vibes and knew we would welcome the organization into our lives. Because Miriam’s will handle our home study and post placement visits (a series of “check-ins” after we bring our child home, lasting for years due to China’s requirement)... having a social worker we feel comfortable with is an important thing. After multiple interviews, a home visit, required parenting classes, and check-ups in the coming years… Tami will become a big part of our lives, and we couldn’t feel more at ease.

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In our placing agency, we also feel more than at peace with our decision to go with Holt International (www.holtinternational.org). Holt pioneered the idea of international adoption in the 1950s, with founders Harry and Bertha Holt being among the first people to come to the aid of orphans during the Korean War (they adopted eight!). Holt has grown tremendously since then, with a home base in Eugene, OR and offices all over the world. They’re now the largest adoption agency, having placed more than 40,000 children with families in the United States. They have a huge “China team” based in-country who we’ll meet once we’re later in the process, and once we land in China to pick up our little girl, representatives will be there to guide us each step of the way. We’re already amazingly impressed with their professionalism, responsiveness, and devotion to the cause.

One thing we love about Holt is that they’re actively involved with the CCCWA (an entity we’ll become very familiar with, and an acronym we’ll use often in writing). It’s the Chinese Center of Children's Welfare & Adoption; the central government office in China that controls adoptions, placements, and such. The CCCWA releases a group of special needs children each month who are eligible for placement, and Holt then actively matches families from its list to hopefully find the perfect adoption pair.

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To even get started with the Holt application, an immediate, major set of decisions we had to make included gender, age range, and most significantly, which special needs we’re open to. The average wait time for a “healthy” child from China is 6+ years. For special needs children, it’s more like 12-18 months. There was no doubt from the beginning that if THAT many children with special needs were awaiting families, that’s the direction we wanted to take. But right away, we’re confronted with some decisions (and a check-list) to give Holt an idea of which needs we are able to take on. The list contains everything from low birth weight to Down Syndrome, so there’s a lot to ponder. The most common conditions for orphans in China include significant birthmarks, hepatitis, missing digits/limbs, heart conditions, and cleft lip/palate. Our choices can change later to give us time to learn more about each of the conditions, but we’re at least initially discussing where our hearts are led.

While there’s a lot that’s overwhelming even in these initial stages, what is only incredible to think about is this: because our process will take 12-18 months and our little girl will likely be around 12-18 months old when referred to us… she’s already out there! Our little pumpkin is alive and waking up underneath her sun as we write this blog post underneath our moon. The moment that realization hit us, it all sank in. Valentine’s night, it was, actually… when I took Sarah for a romantic evening at the Predator’s hockey game. I sat there and wept in the stands thinking about how our baby is among us… just 7,000 miles away.

This isn’t theoretical anymore. It’s real. She’s real. And we’ll devote the coming months to doing everything we can to get to her as quickly as possible.

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"I am a lotus flower – delicate, fragile, yet strong... floating, unfolding, and blossoming into the life where I belong.”