Friday, May 6, 2011

Jian’s Journey Part II

So, our dossier (our file of important papers) was sent to China on August 11, 2010!! The order things were done was very different due to the urgency of this adoption. Once our dossier was accepted by China (meaning they approved that we could adopt Jian), looking at the list of the steps left to complete was very daunting! Then, August 20, we received our letter and picture that we had to sign agreeing to adopt Jian Feng, I hurried to Jon’s office so we could sign, and then we could send in the form to US immigration for Jian to become our son. At this point, we & our agency were more concerned that things would not be completed on time, but were continuing to trust in God’s timing. There were still multiple steps to be completed with each one having a processing time ranging between 2 weeks to 2 months!

Also on August 20, our agency received a package that we had sent to be delivered to Jian Feng! Some of them were going to Jian’s orphanage and delivered this to him. This was the first he heard of us! Since we still did not know if the adoption would take place, we wrote a short letter (that was translated into Chinese) that indicated we were hoping to meet him soon. We also sent family pictures and some signs in ASL (Mom, Dad, brother, deaf, family). He received this a few weeks before we were there. They sent us a video and pictures of the day he received this package. We love reminiscing with him about this, what he remembers and watching the video of him practicing the ASL signs! Here are a few of the pictures from that day!

jian august 2010 Jian August 2010 family pics Jian signing family

September 1 we received approval from USCIS (US Immigration) that we were approved to bring Jian in as our son into the US. Our agency sent us an e-mail that this was the biggest hurdle and it may be a record how fast this came through (We loved seeing God’s hand all over this)! On September 3, we put a hold on 3 tickets to China! We also called the NVC (National Visa Center) to see when Jian’s visa could be processed (this must be done before they could do other required processing). We were told it would be a few weeks! My heart sank. After explaining the situation, we received a supervisor’s name and e-mail and I immediately sent a message there. It is now 26 days until Jian’s birthday, and the 6th is Labor day, so everything will be closed. We also were aware that the Visa process can take weeks to months to process.

September 7 we received an e-mail that the visa was approved and was on it’s way to the US consulate in China! After hanging up the phone, we called the travel agent and purchased 4 tickets – 3 to go to China and 4 to return. At this point we thought everything was complete, until we talked to our agency. We realized there was one more hurdle. We needed to wait for our article 5, official approval to adopt. This comes after our paperwork is delivered to the US Consulate in Guangzhou. This paperwork can only be delivered on a Monday or Thursday and can be picked up exactly 2 weeks after it’s dropped off. We discussed again that we might be taking a family vacation to China, and returning with our family of 3. Thankfully, God’s overwhelming peace continued to cover us and help us remember that He was in complete control!

September 9 we received a call that our Article 5 was completed in one day!!! Another miracle! Now it was official, as long as all flights and everything else went as scheduled, we would be bringing home Jian Feng Lee Bergeron! At this point, we did not have our official travel notice, so, we would possibly need to stay a little longer in China since this was needed to complete his visa, but, that was not a problem since the adoption would be completed.

By September 20, all of the rest of our remaining official paperwork was received. We heard on this day, that we would be meeting Jian on Saturday, September 25th and his adoption would be complete on September 26th – 3 days before his 14th birthday!

We learned from our agency that from the time our dossier was sent to the time we received travel notice was a new record for them.

What a mighty God, who cares about even the smallest details and is able to accomplish His work using many people, agencies and governments! We praise God for all of the people and organizations He used to accomplish the task of bringing a boy from China home to his family in America!

hotel lobby

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What a difference a year makes!

A year ago today, May 5, 2010, a friend had forwarded me an e-mail.  It had been forwarded to her, and 4 other people forwarded it before that.  This is the e-mail we received:

Subject: Urgent---family needed to adopt deaf 13yo boy---please pass along

JF is a handsome, well-behaved 13 year old boy that is deaf and he uses sign language to communicate. He goes to a special school for the deaf. He is known to be very smart even though his grades are not the highest. He is described as being a very energetic child who loves sports and is good at basketball and skateboarding. He is also very good at the computer and participating in online chat groups. He is a tall boy who is responsible, independent and confident, taking the bus or riding his bike by himself to school. He helps the younger children and enjoys helping with chores. We were told his behavior is very good. He lives in a foster home with foster parents and five other children from the orphanage. When the foster father goes to work, he is one who is responsible for watching the other children and enjoys doing so. He is very envious of others who have been adopted. He needs a family to love and enable him to reach his full potential before he is 14 years old – when he becomes ineligible for international adoption. He has waited too many years already, and has been passed over so many times for adoption. He desperately needs a family who can recognize his many qualities before it is too late.
This was the first we heard about the young man who would become our son.  We had been discussing on and off whether we would adopt or foster again.  The biggest concern was always Tanner’s health.  Would we be able to take care of his needs along with another child, and would both children get what they needed while dealing with Tanner’s issues?  We had always assumed it would be a younger child in which those issues would be more of a concern, we hadn’t really considered an older child.  We also hadn’t really considered international adoption either.  In fact, on the day we received the above e-mail, I had decided (on my own) that we would never adopt internationally, it was too much paperwork and too expensive – but, clearly God had other plans.  Another interesting (actually, providential) memory was from March, 2010.  Jon and his sister were discussing investments one evening and a little bit later, I clearly felt God saying “why not invest in the life of a child?” Hmmmm, I hadn’t really considered that, and really didn’t think about that again until much later!

So, I forwarded the e-mail to Jon and he responded that we should pray about it.  I didn’t think twice about it since I had already decided we wouldn’t adopt internationally.  A few days later, Jon asked what I thought about it – I replied “nothing.”   We decided to contact the agency that was listed in the e-mail to see if this was even something that was real (we had considered that it was several years old or that maybe not even true), and found out it was true.  They asked us several questions right away to make sure we were pre-pre qualified (yes, that’s correct – pre-pre) for China to consider us as adoptive parents.  There are a lot of other little details, but, basically, we started praying that God would make it very clear if we were to adopt this boy or not.  We asked for Him to open and close doors if this adoption was to take place.  We also knew, from day one, that if this was to happen, it would truly be a miracle since we had found out that Jian’s birthday was September 29th and he needed to be adopted prior to that day (his 14th birthday).  WACAP (our adoption agency) reminded us many times that they would do everything they could to keep things moving, but, that if things did not happen in the right time, the adoption wouldn’t go through.  All along, we were ok with this because we could feel and see God’s hand guiding this process.   Up until the Thursday before we left for China, we knew that it was still a possibility that the adoption would not happen. 

On May 11, 2010 we received some information from our agency, along with this, our first picture of Qin, Jian Feng.

Qin, Jian Feng 11/1/09
AAAHHHH, what a great smile, what a handsome boy!  Could this possibly be our son??

So, we began our seemingly endless paperwork (I wish I’d counted how many pieces of paper we filled out J) including requesting an urgent homestudy.  This included our pre-pre-approval paperwork, our pre-approval paperwork and then lots of papers for the US immigration and Chinese government as well.  Thankfully we had a homestudy done several years before for Tanner’s adoption and prior to that to become foster parents, so, we only needed an international homestudy update.  We were interviewed for the homestudy on May 22, 2010, and four months later we were on a plane to China! 

There were many steps to complete in the meantime.  We gathered the required documents and had to have them authenticated by the state and by the Chinese consulate.  This entailed several trips to Austin, Houston and the Fed Ex office. 

On July 15, 2010, we finally received our appointment for fingerprinting, scheduled for August 6, 2010.  After calling WACAP, we found out that this would be too late for everything else to be completed on time and that unless we could get in earlier, there was no point in continuing the process.  We were disappointed, but, were confident in God’s plans.  Well, our friends, Paul and Robin Pennington who started Hope for Orphans, are very familiar with the adoption process and informed us that our congressman could help us to get our fingerprints done quickly.  We called our congressman, Chet Edward’s office, even though our agency thought it wasn’t a good idea.  I left a message and didn’t expect a call back until it was too late.  Two hours later we received a call, asking for information.  Before I had even finished scanning our papers to send her, she called back letting us know we could go to Houston that afternoon before 3pm.  Jon had been able to rearrange his schedule and we were on our way.  We also found out later, that at the same time I was talking with the congressman’s office, a friend of Jon’s parents was praying for us and the fingerprinting (we had let our families know the night before about the situation).  We walked into the office in Houston and were greeted warmly and told they had been waiting for us.  WOW!!!  God was showing us how He can accomplish anything that He wants to, no boundaries are too great.

There were several more steps that went through very quickly, but, we had many more to go at this point, and it often seemed overwhelming and unmanageable.  Amazingly, God continued to give us an overwhelming peace about whatever happened, either way!  We were often reminded that God knew before the world began who this boy’s family was, and if it wasn’t us, He had a better plan!

Since this has become so long, I thought it would be best to post it in several parts - I will post part 2 of Jian's Journey tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ten years ago….

Ten years ago, Friday, May 4, 2001 at 7:41am at a hospital in Smithville, Texas, a little boy was born.   Around this time, Jon was probably working on his dissertation and I was at the office for the doctor I worked for (or possibly stuck in Dallas traffic).  We knew nothing of this birth, or how it would forever change our lives 3 1/2 years later! 
Today, we celebrate Tanner's 10th birthday, and 3 days ago, we celebrated his adoption day that occurred 4 years ago.   We love May, and all the celebrations that it brings.  What a gift God has given us and what joy Tanner has brought to our lives. 
This last year has brought about many changes; Tanner has grown several inches and is getting so tall!  He still loves to play with his cars and airplanes, loves playing Challenger baseball and this year, enjoys trying to be like his new big brother!  This last year Tanner has become slower in his communication, and weaker than he used to be, but continues to have an attitude of cheerfulness and joy.
Tanner's choice for dinner tonight is Atami, a Japanese Hibachi restaurant (they cook in front of you on a grill - it's very entertaining), so we're all looking forward to that.  He was excited to get a new hamster this morning (since the other one disappeared, no really, it actually disappeared!) and to celebrate more tonight. 
On the health front, Tanner has had a migraine for more than a week now.  He's been tired and feeling out of sorts, and we're hoping that he'll get back to feeling better again sometime soon! 
We're praying for a good next year for Tanner.  A year that is filled with joy, love, learning, and growth and many more memories.
Happy 10th Birthday Tanner!!