November 22, 2014

Love Everywhere

(I wrote this a couple days ago, but am only posting it now)

Hi guys,

As I write this I'm sitting in a dark hotel room as four of our children are sleeping. Heather and Lily are out doing some adoption medical check-ups. It has been a crazy few days...

So we left a few days ago from Xining. Recently we had a falling out with our landlord and I thought I had wrapped up everything with our apartment the last week we were there. When we were leaving for the airport with all we owned we were stopped at the gate of our neighborhood. They refused to let us leave. I was told to head to the office before we could go. They called our landlord and said we couldn't leave. I was so stressed out. Even now I'm not totally sure why he wouldn't let us leave, but regardless we couldn't go. In my mind not only are we dealing with missing our flight, but also messing up the timeline of appointments for all our adoption work. I called a local friend who showed up 10 or so minutes later with his wife and then the manager of our apartment complex also arrived. They worked things out as I huffed and puffed my way back and forth through the office. (Friends of ours also started praying for us.) And we found out that they would let us leave. I was so relieved. It was honestly an incredibly tense moment. (Also thank you to all our friends who are still helping us to wrap up our apartments!)

We then made our way to the airport with our family of 7 and 9 bags (not including carry-ons). We got checked in (without having to pay any fees) and board our first flight as a family.

That night we arrived in Xian where we would stay with some friends. It was an incredible time. We felt so loved. The next day we went to the Civil Affairs building to finish the adoption. We also got to meet the official who months ago came to our home (and we were shocked to see how high up he is in the Xian adoption world, honestly). Everything went smoothly without any hiccups. That night we celebrated with our friends in the best way we know how, Indian food and cake! 

At this point Lily is officially adopted! It does feel different, I can't say how, but it feels like a weight is slowly lifting from us. I say slowly, because I think it will feel even more removed after we get her visa and land in America. But. We're getting there.

The next day we arranged to meet with Lily's foster mom. In the past these meetings haven't gone so well, but we felt like it would be good for Lily (and the foster mom), so we made it happen. We met her and her son at a little cafe and the time went really well. I'm glad she was able to see a healthy, happy Lily with her family. She even gave our other kids gifts, which was sweet.

That afternoon I was able to meet up with one of my oldest and closest friends, Ethan. It was awesome to see him if even for only a little bit. We were able to hand him the money raised for their project and it was awesome to reflect on how far the work has come in the past few years.

That night we flew to Guangzhou. The flight was ok, but we got in at 10:30pm and, naturally, we were exhausted. It wasn't the greatest of moments. We got to our hotel and I watched as a bellboy let one of our pieces of luggage fall off a large stack of luggage. Shortly afterwards I walked over to the bag and noticed it was wet and my jaw dropped in disbelief (with a side of exhaustion and frustration) as I thought it could be Lily's medicine, which is crucial for her to take and not the easiest to replace on short notice. I then realized that it was only a bottle of Benadryl that was destroyed in the fall of of the leaning tower of luggage.

We got into our room and noticed it to be 'a bit tight' for our family of 7 for the next 11 days. We did our best to make places for everyone to sleep (because it was after midnight at this point). The next morning we found out that the pool we had been telling our kids about was, in fact, not open right now. I went to the manager and explained my situation. Shortly afterwards we were upgraded to a much larger room.

This morning Heather took Lily to the hospital for some tests that need to be done for our visa appointment. And now you know why almost everyone is sleeping in our dark hotel room.

We have been so blessed, by so many people, in so many ways, in so many places that it seems unfair. We're trying our best to receive God's gifts without trying to explain, justify, earn, or rationalize them. We are so grateful to so many of you. 

much love,
the petersons

November 6, 2014

WOW! Got Our TA!

I can't even believe what I'm about to write. Last night we found out that Beijing has already processed our travel approval (TA) and is going to be mailing it to us!

We thought we would be on this step for at least a week or ten days (and maybe up to 3 weeks), but its already done! It will come to us in the mail and then we will get our appointments in Xian and Guangzhou lined up.

This also means that we won't be needing to extend our visas, saving us money and stress.

We still don't know the exact dates of when we will be traveling, but we will keep you all posted as it happens.

much love,
the petersons

November 5, 2014

We Got Our Article 5

Our Article 5 was issued on Monday. Now our information is being sent to Beijing and they will mail us travel approval. At that point we will be able to head to Xian and then Guangzhou to finalize our adoption. We are so close. Our visas run out December 4th, so its gonna be close.

Besides that I'm finishing up my teaching job this weekend and we are continuing to sell off our stuff. It seems to be going well, but there will be some stressful days ahead.

Much love,
the petersons