Sunday, December 30, 2012

Late Christmas Present

The day after Christmas we got a late present from our agency, updated photos of Eli. It looks like he has grown some and he is walking along objects and sayings some basic words. We hope to be getting our travel approval soon. Please keep him (and us) in your prayers.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting Closer!

It has been a while since I have blogged so I thought I would catch everyone up on our progress.  Currently our paperwork is with the U.S. Embassy in China and should be there another week.  It will then be picked up by our agency and taken to the Chinese placing agency and we will then officially be waiting for our Travel Approval!!  We are praying that we will get to travel in January and be there and back before Chinese New Year starts in February.  If we don't make it before Chinese New Year, then we will be delayed for another few weeks because EVERYTHING shuts down in China for Chinese New Year for a couple of weeks.
We are currently making our "To Do", "To Pack" and "To Buy" lists.  We are waiting for an update on Eli and are anxious to get it.  Once we get that, we hope to have a better idea of his size so we can get some clothes, diapers. shoes .. you know, the fun stuff!
We have been blessed by everyone's prayers, bracelet orders (we recently received an order for 24 bracelets from someone in Alabama!) and puzzle piece purchases.  If you'd like to donate or buy a bracelet, let us know!  We have to send our donation for the orphanage by the end of the year and are honestly scrambling a bit to get the $$ together. 

We will post as soon as we know our travel plans and hope that everyone can follow along with our journey to Eli!

Praying you all have a blessed Christmas and wonderful New Year to come!

Monday, November 5, 2012

LOA, Halloween, and the average week at the Garland household!

This was our first week with no soccer ... no soccer practices, no soccer games, no tournaments to get ready for and no uniforms to constantly wash.  Have to say, it seemed like a very quiet week, but put Halloween and parent/teacher conferences in the mix, it all of the sudden did not stay so quiet. 
Halloween was fun even though the weather did not cooperate this year (cold and rainy!).  Bella lasted 30 minutes of trick or treating, but the boys made sure they went to every single house in the neighborhood.  And when they got home they were a muddy, wet mess.  I wish I had taken a picture, but I was so concerned with getting them dry I did not even think of it.  We had a wounded hockey play, a beautiful mermaid and a gorilla ninja living in our home that evening.  Here is their pic before they stepped out into the cold and rain ... 
Aidan had Spirit week at school.  One day was crazy hair day and he wanted pink hair to support Breast Cancer Awareness month.  It was so fun to see all of the kids on the school bus with hair painted about every color of the rainbow (and then some!)
I also had my meeting with Keenan's 1st grade teacher this week.  Keenan, as many of you know, is our clown in the family.  His teacher told me that he is very considerate and really watches out for his little sister.  She even said she has had no sitings of "Keenan the clown" during classtime.  So thankful for how well he is doing this year in his new school and new routine.  Here is a recent picture of Keenan and LuLu ...
And last, but not least, we received our LOA for Eli on November 1st!!  This is the letter from China giving us their approval to be his family.  The LOA arrived at our agency on the 1st, then arrived at our door on the 2nd.  I ran it around to get Michael's signature and to say "yes, we accept!" and then quickly took it to the FedEx store to be shipped back to our agency.  We think we will travel in 2-3 months and are praying we travel before Chinese New Year begins in February.  The next steps are new to us as they are different from what we did when we adopted Bella and there are several steps to go through.  The good thing is that we will be notified as each step is completed so we will really have a better idea of when we may travel as each step is marked off the to do list.
So thankful that every day we are a little closer to bringing Eli home.  And so grateful for our God who we know is watching over him and all of the other precious children each and every day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where oh where is our LOA??

I feel like singing this every minute of every day.  We have been waiting 60+ days since we were given our pre-approval for Eli and now 3 months since our dossier was logged into China.  The LOA is the Letter of Approval, saying we are approved to be Eli's parents.  It also gives us a little better idea of when we may be able to travel to bring Eli home. 
I've said this before, but patience is not something I am good at and adoption is a true test for my patience.  All I know is that there is a little boy in China who goes to bed by himself every night, who doesn't even know that he has a family that prays for him every day and cannot wait to bring him home.  Please pray that we will get this LOA as soon as possible. 

While waiting I was able to create this.  I hope to have it printed for his room.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Puzzle Update - Can you help us complete it?

First of all, we would just like to say "Thank-you!" for all of the support we have received so far for Eli.  Your prayers, encouragement, gifts, donations and bracelet orders have been wonderful!!  We are well on our way to raising the funds we need for our required donation to Eli's orphanage.  Wanted to give an update on our puzzle fundraiser.  Several pieces have been donated.  Here is the puzzle so far and what the pieces look like.  Just a reminder ... for every $10 donated, we will put your name on the back of a puzzle piece.  The puzzle is a picture of Eli and our hope is that this will help represent everyone who helped bring Eli home, which he will be able to see one day.  There is a link to PayPal on the right of the blog where you can make a donation if you would like to.  Some people would rather not go through PayPal, which is fine.  We can accept checks/cash through the mail or if we see you as well.  We have never done a fundraiser and feel awkward asking for help, but we figure this is about as good a cause as any.  We are so anxious to bring Eli home and cannot wait to show him the love that every child deserves.  We appreciate your support!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Weekend!!

We love to explore and take little day trips when we can.  Our falls are usually very busy with soccer and Tae Kwon Do.  Aidan's games are normally on Sunday afternoons and Keenan's games are normally on Saturdays, so getting away and doing anything is sometimes impossible during these months.  We love it and wouldn't trade the fun the kids have . . . and I am totally one of those crazy soccer moms, but when we can, we do really enjoy getting away for some family time.  This Saturday was one of those days that we had nothing planned, notta, nothing.  So he packed a picnic and drove a little over 2 hours away to Hocking Hills.  We had never been to Hocking Hills but had heard a lot about it after we moved to Ohio.  Within minutes of getting there, I heard Aidan say, "This is so awesome!  Thank you so much for bringing us here!"  We were blown away by the beauty we saw and the weather could not have been more perfect.  We explored the gorge and a couple of different caves.  We saw a few waterfalls and hiked through some amazing fall foilage.  There are cabins to rent around the area and we hope to come back sometime when we can stay a night or two.  There was a lot more to see and we can't wait to come back.  The kids have not stopped talking about our day there.  I feel so blessed to be their mom. 
Here are some pics from our day to Hocking Hills.
Family Pic

The kids holding up the rock

Michael and the kids on the rock bridge

Keenan in front of the lower falls

Another great pic of Keenan

The trio 

Upper falls

LuLu came on some of the hikes with us
Bella and the beauty of Hocking Hills

Scenery Pics of Hocking Hills


Sunday, September 23, 2012

While we wait ...

While we wait for the Letter of Acceptance from China, we have been enjoying the outdoors and this beautiful weather!

Bella loves that she is going to be a big sister (check our her shirt that a friend of mine gave her) 
We are able to send care packages to Eli.  Our agency prepares a letter in both English and Chinese and provides labels for pictures.  Under each picture in the photo album we have included the Chinese name for "Father", "Mother", "Big Brother" and "Big Sister".  This is usually the orphanage's first communication that Eli is being adopted and that there is a family eagerly waiting to bring him home.

We took a trip to an apple farm today.  The kids enjoyed the time with friends.  We took a hayride and survived the corn maze.  Here are a few pics:

Keenan, Aidan and Matthew (Aidan's friend)

The farmer allowed Bella to feed donuts to the pigs ... who knew they loved donuts?!

Bella, Aidan, Matthew and Keenan

Me and my kiddos

Keenan, Aidan and Matthew

Also wanted to share this pic.  Love this "in action" pic of Aidan

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I know and what I don't

What I know ...  I know there are 147 million orphans (and some believe that estimate is low).  I know that less than 1% of 1% of them will ever be adopted (that is an extremely low number!).  This number saddens me to no end.  I know ... that 2 of those will join (and already have) joined our family.  I know that there is a little boy on the other side of the planet who has never had the love of a mother, the love of a father or the love of brothers and a sister.  I know that he does not know about us yet and that he wakes up each day surrounded by many other "orphans" and goes through his normal routine each and every day, with many days probably looking a lot like the others.  I know that as I write this, he is probably sleeping and my heart aches to have him here ... to hold him, to love on him and for him to know that he is ours ... forever ... and that he will no longer be motherless, fatherless or without a home and siblings who adore him.  I do know that he has a Heavenly Father that loves him unconditionally and is watching over him each and every day and will for the rest of his life.  I do know that our family has been called to the fatherless and the orphans of this world and we have been blessed beyond measure to see so many orphans find their forever families.  I believe everyone is called to something and this is our something.  Not too shabby, huh?

What I don't know ... I don't know why Eli's birth parents did not feel that they could take care of him.  I don't know what that will be like for him as he gets older.  I don't know the struggles that we may have as a family, but who does?

I know that I am a child of God and one that cannot wait to grab my little guy up in China and shower him with love like he has never known.  Please continue to pray for our family.  This is truly a rollercoaster ride.  We are waiting for our Letter of Acceptance and there is no true prediction of when this might come.  Our prayer is that we will receive it this month so we might have the chance to travel before the end of the year.  This would mean a relatively "quick" LOA, but we know God can move mountains!  The kids keep asking if Eli will be here before Christmas and unless we get that LOA soon, I don't think it will happen (because of all the other steps we need to go through before travel).  But again, God can move mountains, so we will see!

I don't like to write a post without sharing some pics, so here are a few ...

Keenan receiving his new belt
 Bella and Addyson

Our niece, Ashlynn, in all her gear

The boys bithday party ... Keenan is now 7 and Aidan is now 10!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bracelets for Eli!!

Orders have been coming in for bracelets and dog collars.  We are thrilled with the response we have been getting with these.  We do have a new color which is an orange and black sawtooth, so if you are a Bengals fan or as my neighbor even pointed out, a Harley Davidson fan, you may like this color.  Let us know if you would like to order a bracelet or 2!!  We can make any size, but the standard sizes are small (5 1/2 inches), medium (6  1/2 inches) or large (8 - 8-1/2 inches).  All colors (other than the orange and black) are found in the picture at the right of the blog page. You can either send us an email or order through ebay (link also at the right on the blog). We can also make dog collars.  We just need the size and color.

Some of the bracelets we made over the weekend
 Bracelet making activities :-)

 Thanks everyone!!! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Update and New Pics

We were surprised on Tuesday when we received an update on Eli.  We received some updated measurements and development information as well as 2 pictures (yay!). 

On the home front, the boys started school this week.  Aidan is now a 4th grader (how am I old enough to have a 4th grader?!).  Keenan started 1st grade.  They both had open houses and we got to meet their teachers.  They were all smiles after the first 2 days of school - so thankful!  Bella starts Kindergarten this week.  We also went in and met with her teacher this past week.  We have heard only wonderful things, so we are really excited about her year. She CANNNOT wait to get started!

Soccer is also in full swing.  First games are today and practice between the two happen almost every night.  We are a busy running family right now, but we love it!

The bracelet orders and dog collar orders are starting to come in and we are all very excited about this!!  (Thanks to those you have ordered some!  And thanks to those who have donated to our puzzle!)  Will post pics of the boys making them soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Introducing our Eli!!

We are so excited to announce that we have been matched with our Eli!!  We have been waiting to share our news until we received our PA (pre-approval) from China.  (Although, if you have seen us, you probably have seen us oozing with joy and ready to share our pics.)  We sent in our Letter of Intent to adopt Eli on August 4th and his file was locked for us on August 9th.  What can we tell you about Eli??  Well ... he is 17 months old and has the biggest, most adorable eyes.  We are totally in love with him and CANNOT wait to bring him home.  He is in Luoyang Orphanage in the Henan Province.  From what we have learned, this orphanage has around 600 children and the Henan province has 20 orphanages in all.

Eli was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and both have been repaired!!  We know there are more surgeries that he will need, but are thrilled that his palate has already been repaired. We are not sure when we are going to get to travel, but we're praying it will be before the end of the year.

Everyone is curious what the kids think of Eli.  Well, let's just say they are soooo excited!  Aidan has already bought him a sock monkey, made him a bracelet, drawn pictures for him, and has decorated a gift bag that says, "Wecome Home Eli!".  He also wants to buy him a little soccer ball so that he has his own.  Keenan wants to get him big blocks since I explained that Legos may not be a good idea yet.  We aren't sure what Bella thinks yet, but she knows Eli is from China just like she is and she asks about him daily.

Now ... for the not so fun part.  As most know, adoptions can be very costly and China adoptions range from $25,000 to $30,000.  Michael and I are blessed that we both work for companies who provide some adoption assistance, but it is not enough to cover all of the adoption costs.  One cost is the orphanage donation that is around $5500 and normally has to be made in cash.  To be honest, this is one expense we are not ready for.  We are starting a couple of fundraisers and if you would like to give to help bring Eli home, we would love your support!!

We are creating a puzzle for our first fund.  The puzzle is being made with a picture of Eli.  We are asking for a donation of $10 per puzzle piece.  Once you donate through PayPal (link on the right of the page), we will add your name to the back of the puzzle piece(s) and we will put the piece or pieces together.  We think this is one way that Eli will be able to one day see who helped bring him home.

The second fundraiser is that Aidan and Keenan are making bracelets and dog collars out of paracord and selling them through ebay.  They have been working hard on these.  Essentially, you can choose your color, size (small, medium and large) and style (regular or king cobra).  They can also make dog collars if they are given the length that you need.  The bracelets are $5 or $10 (for king cobra bracelets).  The dog collars are $15.  The paracord makes them very sturdy and they really are pretty neat!!  Click on the links below the pictures to take you to ebay for details on the bracelets or send us an email.  We can either send you the products or can deliver them if you live close to us.

Paracord Adoption Bracelet

Paracord King Cobra Adoption Bracelet

We do appreciate your prayers throughout this entire adoption process.  We could not do this without all of the support and encouragement that we are given.  We give all the glory to God for matching us with Eli.  We know he is our son and can't wait to get him in our arms. 

The Garland's

Friday, August 10, 2012

3 years ago today ...

We met our little girl for the first time!!  Happy family day sweet girl!



Sunday, July 29, 2012

We have our LID!!

We found out on Thursday that we have our LID (Log In Date)!!  Our LID is 7/24/12, which is the same day our dossier was delivered to the agency in China.  This is the date that our documents are logged into China.  This LID is very important in that it means we can now be matched at any time with Eli.  I have thought all along that we would be matched immediately since we are open to little boys with various special needs.  All of the files that our agency has that currently would be a match for us have either been matched with other families or other familes are still reviewing the files.  So we wait and now I am beginning to realize that it may be awhile before we are matched. 
In church today, I was reminded to wait and trust in the Lord.  And so I will open my hands and release the control that I want to have and return it to Him.  Appreciate prayers in the meantime.

"Be still and know that I am God."   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adoption Update

So far this journey has been more of a roller coaster ride that the last time (or maybe it is because we are in this now and just like childbirth, you sometimes forget how heart wrenching it can be once it has passed).  We ARE moving forward and we are excited about that, but we are sooooo anxious to see our sweet little guy's face for the first time, to know that he is ours and to prepare for our next journey to China.  We have reviewed a couple of files, but each time we have known pretty quickly that the little boy is not "our Eli".  That's the hard part ... saying no.  But we have been comforted to know that the first little guy we reviewed has now been matched with his forever family, which is a prayer answered for sure! 
Our dossier left for China last Friday, the 20th ("DTC") and it was delivered by our agency yesterday, the 24th.  We now wait for the all important Log In Date ("LID").  With this date, we can then be matched either from the shared list that China puts out once a month for agencies (this is the list where Bella's file came from) or from an agency specific file that is designated "LID only".  There are essentially 3 ways we can be matched ... LID only agency specific files, shared list that all agencies see once a month or from a Special Focus child file that is sent to our agency.  Typically these kiddos have multiple or more severe special needs. 
It is a lot of hurry up and wait with adoption and PATIENCE (which I don't have)!  :-)  Our prayer currently is that we will receive our LID, we will be matched quickly with Eli and then will get a speedy Letter of Acceptance ("LOA")  Of course, this is coming from the not-so-patient momma sitting here waiting.  Michael does much better with the wait, but is also very anxious to know who Eli is.  We also pray that whereever he is that he is getting wonderful care, lots of hugs and attention.

In the meantime, we have continued to have a great summer.  The boys just back from visiting their cousins in Texas.  Mamaw and Papaw braved the 16 hours of  driving each way to take them and they had a blast!  I haven't seen all of the pics yet, but I am sure they are great.  They visited Fossil Rim and Lego Discovery; went to play Laser Tag and also got to swim a lot.  We missed them so much while they were gone, but really got to enjoy a lot of one-on-one time with Bella.  And let me tell ya, she ate it up!  Here are a couple of pics of a trip we took to see Clifton Mill and then to Young's Jersey Dairy Farm.

Clifton Mill


Bella feeding the goats