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GOTHCA DAY—March 31, 2014

Well, so the “keeping you updated along the way” has not really worked for me. As those who have been here know, we are more than tired, but today finally arrived. As we had breakfast this morning we were both a little anxious. We have worked hard at not building this day up in our minds as how we wanted it to go, but as you know that does not always work. Dang Er Xiang (our Ella Claire) and another little girl from her orphanage were the last two to arrive. We had watched some of the arrivals and parent-child meetings go really well and some be very tough. When ours arrived, we recognized her right away when she got out of the van. As soon as the nanny got inside with her and told our guide she was here we were able to get her right away. She does not talk much, but she never cried. She let both of us hold her and tolerated us loving on her. Of course, the fact we had snacks and juice were a big help. She never cried, but would not make eye contact with us for a long time. Since she got there so late we did not have to spend much more time there before we were able to come back to the hotel. She was fascinated with the bus ride and started making some little talking sounds on the way back before falling asleep. When we got back to the room we got out some more toys to start playing. Mia Lohmeier, she loves the purse!!!! It has been the biggest hit. She loves to put stuff in it and empty it back out, the Velcro confuses her some, but she just hands it to us to undo. When I couldn’t stand it any longer I got her a bubble bath ready. We did not know how she would react when we put her in, but she LOVED IT. She was so funny, she knew exactly what to do. She started washing herself and the ducks we put in there with her. She played and played and loved it when we washed her hair. She has had a short nap and is now ready to play. I know this isn’t very long, but we just wanted everyone to know it was a beautiful morning and now she has had a great day and is now laying on the bed laughing when tickled. WE would not be here without the support of all of you. Thank you for getting us to this day and most of all THANK YOU LORD for ordaining this day for us and having it in Your plan for us.

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Celebrating Nanna’s Birthday

First, a quick update on where we are. We are soooooo close. We are in the midst of all the immigration paperwork at the end. The other day we got our I-800 approval and I loved that part that declared her as a relative. We have had to give her Chinese name and her American name. Each time we write it, it gets more and more real. We are on hold the next two weeks as the government is shut down for Chinese New Year so we will work here getting her room ready and preparing to travel. My main reason for writing today is to share about my mom.

Today is my mom’s birthday. It is hard to believe she is 77. She still works full time as the manager of the cafeteria at the high school. Her friends ask her all the time if she isn’t ready to retire, but she says as long as she feels good there is no reason to. We have lived with her since we moved back to the states in Dec., 2006. She has always welcomed us and supported us in all we have done. I think we floored her when we shared with her our plans to adopt. You have to remember that Tracey was going through cancer treatments and we had no funds for all the costs involved with adoption. We told her we did not know how God was going to work it all out, but as long as he kept the process moving forward we were going with Him. She was very honest with us, and told us she would never stand in our way, but she did not understand why we were going down this road. Her concerns were very real. We have freedom of time to do what we want without having to worry about children at home; we are at a good point in our lives where one son has graduated from college and has begun his career and our second son is in college. Freedom to come and go with friends, to do things at the last moment. Adopting a child means starting over. Her financial concerns were very valid as well as not knowing how Tracey’s health was going to turn out. She said she would pray with us and support us.

God has really shown Himself faithful. She has seen Him provide all of our funding through grants, and through people buying puzzle pieces (see this post) and Christmas ornaments. So many of you that we have not even met bought puzzle pieces and sent donations. You have no idea how that has spoken to her and others watching our journey. You never know who your actions and deeds are speaking to. Now, Mom’s heart is so ready for Ella Claire to be here. We went the other weekend and Mom bought Claire clothes for when we go get her. Mom is assisting us in getting Claire’s room ready and is loving her more and more each day. It’s just like our heavenly Father to work through a little girl in a faraway land to influence the hearts of so many. It’s just like him to give the gift of a new grandkid (He has given Mom many and she loves each one of them) to such a wonderful Nanna as my Mom.

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she. Is. Mine.

A friend of ours began a tweet with those three words–written just like that.  She and her husband adopted a beautiful, blonde-haired little girl not so long ago.  In this tweet, our friend was referring to what she imagined God saying as He looked down on this precious little life, knowing the plans He had already set in motion to move this little girl from a place of evil to a home filled with His love.

This tweet reminded me of some of my own thoughts about our little girl’s first weeks.  I had been sitting on the deck a couple of weeks ago daydreaming about Ella Claire’s life up to this point.  Trying to imagine what her current daily activities are like and attempting to make some connection with the emotions that her biological parents must have experienced when she was no longer physically present in their household; just struggling to make sense of some things.  That day I was reminded of Kathy’s life verse, found in the ancient writings of Jeremiah, a prophet of God: “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  At the approximate age of one week, our little girl’s biological parents (or older brother or sister, or neighbor, or someone) took her down to the local police station and left her.

But she was not forgotten.  As sure as God sees one single sparrow fall from the sky and as sure as he knows the number of all of the stars in all of the galaxies in all of His created universe, just as surely this one-week old little girl was known.  She was seen with the loving eyes and spoken over with the loving voice that only He has.  Love heard every sound she made. The same loving eyes that looked out through human flesh and saw His earthly mother weeping, looked through divine eyes and saw our little girl.  The loving voice that spoke through human vocal cords and said, “Father, forgive them”, spoke over her in His eternal voice that inspired the writings of an ancient prophet.

And Father said: 为我知道我为你们安排的计划。我的计划不是要降祸给你们,而是要赐福给你们,使你们的未来充满希望。这是耶和华说的。

(耶利米 29:11) Chinese Contemporary Bible (CCB) found HERE at biblegateway.com

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From Cairo to Coen to Claire from China

This is Patrick. He got called Clifford a lot because, well, he IS a dog, and he IS red, so it was an innocent mis-naming; he doesn’t fit the BIG part, though. Patrick was bought in Cairo by some dear friends and given to our youngest son, Coen, when he was born in August, 2003. A bit of Coen’s story is HERE and HERE. Coen enjoyed Patrick and also a lion that another dear friend gave us at that time. Really, there were several small animals that Coen liked having around him most of the time. Patrick made the trip back to America with us in October of that year when Coen had to come here for some medical work. He then traveled back overseas with all of us to several other destinations. He spent a lot of time in car seats and luggage and logged almost as many miles as we did. Patrick accompanied us back to the States in January, 2005; that was our last trip as a family of 5. Since that trip, Patrick has always been pretty close by. We took him back to North Africa in October, 2005, although Coen was no longer with us. Patrick returned to Mississippi once more in December of 2006, when we moved back to the U.S. and stayed. These days Patrick resides on a bookshelf in our bedroom, perched on top of some of Tracey’s economics books. He hasn’t flown in nearly 7 years.

That’s about to change! Patrick’s days of lounging around, absorbing the Taylor theorem and reading Ronald H. Coase, are coming to an end. He’s dusting off his passport and getting ready to take a really long trip. This time he’ll log some miles traveling West rather than East. No layovers in Paris, Amsterdam, or Milan for him. This trip he’ll likely start in a familiar airport but will end up in Beijing. And instead of just hanging out in luggage, he’s about to become playmate to a beautiful little girl named , our daughter, Ella Claire. She lives in China for now but will soon be home with us. If you follow our blog (do that HERE), you have read the parts of her story that we have posted so far. Ella Claire and Coen share several things…Coen was born with Down syndrome as was Ella Claire; Coen had heart surgeries to repair the issues that are common in kids with Down syndrome—his surgeries were at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Claire had similar surgery in China; Coen was a blessing to two adults that loved him dearly, Claire is also; and Coen loved this little red dog named Patrick, we kinda hope Claire will, too. And, as you might have guessed, Ella Claire and Patrick share something in common…Patrick was ‘born’ in China, too. Patrick from China to Coen in Cairo to Claire from China.

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Progress. Great News!

the photo used for a 300-pc puzzle

the photo used for the 300-piece puzzle

We heard from our agency this week and they are almost through with the critical review and translation of our paperwork and then it will be sent off to China. Our adoption and Claire’s presence in our home get more and more real every day yet the wait seems to get longer and longer. It is hard to believe it has been over a year since we started this process, and even harder to believe that’s it’s been almost 3 years since adoption has been in our hearts. God has been so faithful to guide us each step of the way and has provided us with several friends who have walked this path before us; they have been such an encouragement and a wealth of information. Our church family has been so gracious in their support in all ways. They pray for us continually and are always excited to hear where we are in the process.

Our friends have also been helping gather financial support specifically for our travel expenses. They had a 300 piece puzzle made of one of our photos of Ella Claire and have been offering our church family and other friends an opportunity to become a tangible part of her journey. Anyone that participates (meaning buys a piece of the puzzle for twenty dollars) has their name written on the back of the piece. When all pieces have been bought the puzzle will be put together and framed and will hang in her room. We will also frame a photo of the back of the puzzle so that Ella Claire will be able to always see the names of all the people who helped bring her home.

Great news! All but 48 pieces of the puzzle have been sold. God has certainly done so much more than we could ever have asked or imagined (Eph. 3:20). If any of you are interested in participating in the puzzle (or in some other way in Claire’s journey), contact us HERE and we will be glad to give you more information or send you the church’s address. Likewise, you can find the church address directly HERE. If you decide to give toward a piece of the puzzle, be sure to make out your check to Hillcrest and designate it for “Claire’s Puzzle” on the memo line. We can’t wait to see the completed puzzle. Keep praying, because He is listening. His answers and timing are sometimes different from ours but He does listen!

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3 great articles from CT on the church’s role in international adoption

How Can Churches Best Support Parents Who Adopt from Overseas?
There are no easy formulas. Three views.
Megan Hill, Jedd Medefind, and Johnny Carr
[ posted 10/1/2013 3:59PM ]

ILLUSTRATION BY JESSE LEFKOWITZ

Just Be the Church

Megan Hill

The church doesn’t need to do anything. That is to say, the local church most helps adoptive families when it simply pursues its unchanging calling to be what it will be in eternity: a gathering of the redeemed from every language and people, united in worship by a common identity and purpose in Christ.

Sure, churches could set up grants and seminars and support groups. But ultimately, adoptive families don’t need resources that are adoption-focused as much as they need a community that is Christ-focused.

Adoption is scary. Twice now, my husband and I have heard a judge tell us, “Congratulations. He’s yours.” With a bureaucratic monotone and a literal rubber stamp, we were finally and completely joined to another human being. One who did not come from my womb, or even our country, and who looks nothing like us.

In the ensuing months of panic—Who is this child? Am I really his mother?—I needed my local church to do exactly what it has always done and will always do.

The church uniquely values children. The rest of the world loves them for their future potential; the church affirms the image-bearers that kids are right now.

In those frightening days following our adoptions, my church—elders, Sunday school teachers, and self-appointed surrogate grandparents—stood around me, reminding me that this kicking….READ MORE HERE

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If you really wanna know more…

The (current) Adkins Family

The (current) Adkins Family

We are Tracey, Kathy, Scott, Ben, and Coen (who was born while we were living in a faraway land and was with us from August, 2003 to January, 2005).  All 3 of these guys are, of course, equally important in our family.  Scott recently graduated from university and moved out West to work in the energy industry and Ben is a sophomore in college, studying to one day be a teacher.  You will see these three guys pop up in our stories periodically.  Coen was a wonderful little boy with Down syndrome and his life played a big part in our decision to adopt Ella Claire.  Scott and Ben were great big brothers to him and are both looking forward to being very much involved in Ella Claire’s life.  At some other point we will share more about Kathy and Tracey.