In memory of Emme Rose

When we began our China adoption, we kept this page as a reference and timeline. 
 Now it's a page to remember our precious Emme Rose who captured our hearts half a world away.  We worked so hard and prayed harder to bring her home.  
Ultimately, God wanted her home with Him more and used our family to love her.
We were blessed to be the ones who called her daughter.   Emme Rose Aini - we will always love you.  March 10, 2012 - December 23, 2013. 

Adoption for us is truly a journey of faith and we hope that by sharing our journey to our sweet child, that we might have a place to record this information, and to also share with others. It's an incredible journey, full of ups & down, joys and tears. Hiccups along the way seem to be standard - but are not discouraging as we know God's timing is perfect and when He is with us - nothing can be against us.

So here's our timeline of events on our adoption journey!

Spring 2012 - Lisa reads the Love Without Boundaries "Realistic Expectations" article series and feels the call to adopt from China special needs program.

Summer/Fall 2012 - Jeff and Lisa talk, pray, read, learn everything about adoption from China.

December 2012 - We say "yes!" to adoption and decide to go forward.

Received home study packet from Lutheran Social Services of the South.

January 2013 -
Start collecting documents (birth & marriage certificates), medical appointments/check ups for everyone in the family started, passports applied for.  Researched placing agencies and finally settled on one.

February 2013 -
Mailed application to Lifeline Children's Services (our placing agency).
Acceptance into Lifeline's China SN program.

2/22 - First Home Study visit (interviews with children and Jeff's individual interview)
2/23 - Mail acceptance paperwork back to adoption agency.
2/27 - Last of medical for children! All home study paperwork complete from my end!

March 2013 -
3/1    Second Home Study visit (Lisa's & Joint interview, finished children's interviews).
3/12  Third Home Study visit - last one! (Home inspection)

April 2013 -
4/8 -   NCFA Hague training - 10 hours of education required completed online.
4/23 - Home Study finalized and approved!

May 2013 -
5/21   Lifeline puts a little girl on hold for us to review
5/24   I800A application received by USCIS (now waiting on fingerprint appointments)
5/28   Email our social worker & say "Yes!" to our referral file.  Start compiling LOI documents.

June 2013 -
6/4    Submit our LOI (Letter of Intent to adopt a child)
6/8    Receive PA for our girl (but didn't hear until 6/21)
6/24  I800a fingerprint appointments

July 2013 -
7/5    Grandma (my Mom) refingerprinted for USCIS due to fingerprints being rejected.  She needed        to be included since she lives on the same property as us. Our attempt to medically expedite this part of the process is not going well....
7/8    USCIS issues us an RFE (request for evidence) and our home study has to be amended.
7/18  APPROVAL of our I800a.  We wait for our I797 now (that's the official approval paper that goes in with our dossier.  Next step, certification and authentication of our dossier.  Then it's DTC
baby! That's Dossier to China (DTC).  NTTB (that's "now time to breathe!" - haha)

August 2013 -

8/27  DTC - dossier to China.

September 2013 - 

9/16  LID - log in date.  Officially in China's computer system.  The wait for LOA begins.

October 2013 -

10/17 - LOA - letter of approval, the official, official letter stating we can adopt our daughter arrives.
10/30 - I800 approval, USCIS approves our daughter to come into the US as an adoptee.

November 2013 - 

11/4 - NVC approval received and DS260 filled out.  This is our daughter's VISA approval.
11/6 - receive an update on Emme, she is still in the hospital, but out of ICU.  Travel may be delayed      due to her recovery time needed.  She's been in the hospital since early September.
11/6 - Article 5 pick up - the US consulate expedited their process, so we finally saved 2 weeks overall for the medical expedite.  We now wait for the official Travel Approval.
11/21 - Final update received! We FINALLY received some updated pictures and medical information for our sweet girl.  She's been released back to the orphanage so now we can go get her when our TA arrives. So happy to be at this step!
11/26 - TA - Travel Approval arrived.  US Doctors send their suggestions on travel to bring Emme home safely.  We wait for our Consulate Appointment and then book plane tickets.
11/28 - Received news that we have been asked to wait to travel until after Emme's follow up dr appt. Consulate Appointment request was withdrawn.  Heartbreaking news.  We wait some more. 

December 2013 -

This month was filled with phone calls, emails and prayers back and forth with our adoption agency. We all worked so hard to try and get Emme the care she needed and to get her home. Two days before Christmas, we received the call we knew was coming, but hoped was not.  She had gone home and was resting in the arms of Jesus.  December 23, 2013.

*Hiccups.... little/big things along the way that keep us from our goal. A friend suggested I document them too!
- during Jeff's medical, his doctor would only do a chest x-ray to test for TB and not the skin test. So he had to go back for that, delaying sending in his medical form.  Plus, he's not a fan of being radiated....
-at our passport appointment, they wouldn't accept Jeff's birth certificate card (even though it's what we've always and only used as documentation of his birth).  So we processed Lisa's passport application and ordered another birth certificate for Jeff.  He drove up from work and missed lunch to do it - had to schedule another appointment for his passport application.
-at Jeff's second passport appointment, all their equipment broke down (copier, picture maker, etc).  Luckily, he had his picture made at the first appointment and could fill in the second copy of the application they needed by hand.
- we actually picked another agency first, a smaller one and sent off an application after really feeling like we connected with them.  They called the next week to say they couldn't accept any new applications for unidentified children.... Basically that's what they do - match families with children! Found out a few weeks later that they were actually closing.  Luckily, we were not out any money and that door closed quickly so that we could move on. (We know now that Lifeline is who we were meant to be with in the first place!)
-little things like arguments with teenagers (which hardly ever happen) and between ourselves occurred... tension in our home was present when it never was before. Once we recognized what was happening, we were able to get back to our normal happy selves and family.
-our orientation interview with our agency got put on the wrong calendar day - so that had to be rescheduled.
-our schedule Hague training was to take place in Austin as an all day event - cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
-USCIS problems. First some fingerprint trouble, then requesting changes in our home study, then more changes requested to the home study. Not sure if we just have a picky officer or if it wasn't done correctly in the first place.  I'm thinking it's a mixture of both.  Complicating things is having a 17 yr old daughter who could turn 18 before the adoption is completed - thus changing her from a child to an adult.  So the treatment of her in everyone's "systems" is tricky.
-Everytime things start to go well on the adoption, something else not so good happens (family drama, expensive car repairs...)

*Blessings..... little connections we made along the way that made our days easier and our goal attainable.

-friends, their friendship and how they listen to us.  Sitting and listening to what's going on now.  Filling out reference letters for grants for us.
-our many wonderful connections's just amazing! Our home study social worker turned out to be a member of our church.  A doctor we visited for check ups also turned out to be a member of our church.
-surprise donations from friends and church members who we haven't known very long.  So blessed to have them a part of our adoption! Seeing God's heart in others is AMAZING!
-facebook DTC groups! Amazing women and support! Love them.
-facebook Heart Mamas and Heart to Heart groups- so much information to share and a blessing to be a part of.
-prayers to bring Emme Rose home.  Lifting her up to prepare her heart for us, for healing and for her Savior.
-Other families travel before us and ask about our girl. One family is able to get pictures of her the week before she passed away. So grateful for their support and friendship!

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