Dave: Adoption is one the truest attributes of God. Being a supporter of the pro-life movement and the whole aspect of what that means, adoption is a wonderful way to show His love to others and the least of these.
Shara: I have worked in Pregnancy Resource Centers and with women who are facing unexpected pregnancies for over 12 years. I was a teen mom myself. Having seen adoption provide hopeful options to mothers and loving families to children has endeared me to it. We have many friends who have adopted children and I have an aunt and uncle who were adopted many years ago. Adoption is a part of my story.
Dave: A few years back, we suffered through a tragic miscarriage, and we came away feeling like someone was missing from our family. We’ve come to a point of being settled with a house and fairly strong jobs. God put this desire to find that missing piece.
Shara: The journey to understanding that adopting a child was a plan for our family started 3 years ago. We were expecting our 5th child and we had mixed feelings. It took a couple of weeks but once we got over the shock we were happy to be welcoming another member of the family. At about 8 weeks pregnant we went in for our first ultrasound, only to find out that our baby did not have a heartbeat and something was not “normal.” A second ultrasound confirmed that our baby was not alive. That miscarriage was particularly difficult on our marriage and left us feeling empty. For three years we have felt that there is a missing piece in our family. I thought it was the child we lost that was missing. Very recently God showed me that it was not the child we lost that was missing but the child we have not yet welcomed who is missing. In a sermon series on Jesus at the table our pastor asked the question “What does love require.” God answered that question for me by saying “Adopt.” It was a couple more weeks before Dave received the confirmation he needed for us to move forward. It came through the knowledge that we were not just to adopt but we were to adopt a child with Down Syndrome.
Will you join us in our adoption journey?
Dave: I am married to wonderfully passionate woman and have been married nearly 14 years. We have 4 kids ranging from David (15) to Aine (12) to Carson (9) to Avelyn (5). They are all great and individually unique. We moved to Colorado from our home state of Texas nearly 2 years ago and while we miss Texas, we have made Colorado Springs our home. I have been in the service industry for nearly 25 years in some capacity or another. Currently, I am a general manager at a Burger King in The Wheeler Group. I love being part of the service industry because of the ability to be a part of the community. I also work at Peaks and Pines Brewery close to our house. I enjoy playing golf when I can.
Shara: I have been a wife for almost 14 years to the most incredible man! I am a mom to 4 amazing kids. We have called Colorado home for the last 2 years and really made it home this year when we bought our first house. We’re native Texans and you’ll see a passion for our home state displayed in our home. I have an extensive background working with women in unexpected pregnancies after experiencing my own when I was just 16. I have been a volunteer, Board Member, Development Director and Executive Director of Pregnancy Resource Centers. I am now the Director of Consulting for Save the Storks, who exist to support the work of Pregnancy Centers. I have found a passion and a gift for Strategic Planning and teaching/training. I volunteer at Life Network Pregnancy Care Center once a week. I meet one-on-one with women facing an unexpected pregnancy and help them to understand their options. I also volunteer with the 8th grade girls at Pulpit Rock Church where we walk through the journey of following God together. I love to sew, especially for my girls. I am 96% extroverted. I love people, having parties, and being in community.
We’ve recently become fans of our local pro soccer team, the Colorado Switchbacks. It only seems fitting that we would use a soccer term to celebrate this incredible occasion.
Ch*na said YES!!!!
After a day of weeping and prayer we received double blessings when we heard that Gia is ok in typhoon Mangkhut’s wake and we have been officially been approved to adopt her! Here is the series of events from here:
Tomorrow we receive a hard copy of our Letter of Approval. We sign it, copy it, and send off our I800 application to the US government, asking for permission to bring Gia into the US.
We wait for I800 approval (2-3 weeks)
We are issued a GUZ #, and Article 5 – I don’t know what these are but we have to have them
We get travel approval
Here’s the other amazing news….the company I work for, Save the Storks, has promised to help us in the last mile of fundraising support. We want to continue to give all of you opportunities to be a part of Gia’s adoption journey and the reasons we’ve been able to say yes to her. We have at least one more fun fundraising event coming up for you to be a part of, especially if you’re in Colorado Springs. And, in the end we will not have to worry about the finances thanks to my supportive Storks family.
Thank you all for walking through this with us!
If you’re my friend on Facebook you’ll know that my feed has been full of pleas for prayers and exasperated cries today. A major typhoon has attacked the cost of Gia’s country and headed straight for her. Though it has weakened, it still promises to dump tons of rain on her community. My experience with tons of rain = Seguin, TX 1998. I spent the night in the town’s main gathering place with my mother, a nurse, who was receiving and treating people pulled out of flood waters. We were almost evacuated from the emergency shelter. It was scary and it was devastating.
I have never in my life felt so wrecked by my lack of ability to “save” my child. I have no idea if Gia is safe. I don’t know if she lives up high or if she’s in a farm house near the water. I don’t know if her foster family even has access to the news or the ability to move to safer ground.
I have cried so much today. Prayed as much or more. I had to spend hours alone fighting back tears, laying in the grass at the reflection pool next to “Every Home for Christ”. I don’t spend time alone…but I had to today.
And, the news is disappointingly silent for her area of the country.
I wanted my next update to reflect the amazing things God has done over the last week. Indeed he has done amazing things. I will be sharing those soon. But, in the meantime, will you please pray for Gia, pray for our hearts as we live in the unknown, and pray we hear news this week that she is alright?
“[Holt] Checked [on your account] today and your status is ‘to be matched’ which means that your soft LOA (letter of approval) should post any time now!”
Some days I just want to sit on the couch and think about, dream about, and prepare for Gia. Today I had to force myself to sit and fill out the next piece of required paperwork and try not to be overwhelmed. Avelyn needed a story read, Carson needed help with homework, and the dishes still aren’t done.
How do we give ourselves space to prepare for such an incredible next step? I. Don’t. Know.
I had to read through some of Gia’s original paperwork to fill out forms. I held back tears as I read about her abandonment and rescue. Time stopped for a moment as I thought of how I would have dropped everything to be the one to scoop her up in my arms in those fragile first weeks.
Soon…we’ll have her in our arms. The paperwork will seem easy and the overwhelming days will be replaced by overwhelming years spent with our girl.
We’ve got a LOT of funds to raise. Without that $11,000 missing dollars up there we don’t travel. Will you consider turning overwhelmed into Praise by donating whatever you can?
Shara and Dave
Today marks 30 days since our paperwork arrived in Gia’s home country. The average wait time for a letter of approval to adopt right now is 60 days. We should be about halfway.
I have been praying for the people looking over our paperwork. I have been praying for Gia’s foster family and most recently Gia’s little heart as she both prepares to lose and to gain much.
My enjoyment of risk is super high, so is my tolerance for ambiguity, and the number of variables I desire in my life at one time. To say that this season meets all of those thrills for me is an understatement. This year we:
Said yes to adoption
Decided to put our remaining three kids in public school
Dave and I both committed to new adventures in our jobs
But here’s one thing I’ve said no to in this season…wishing it away.
During every pregnancy I have had, I remember daydreaming, and wondering, and hoping to meet my baby soon. And, missing out on what was right in front of me. The children I already had suddenly looked so big after the baby was born. Their needs seemed bigger too. The chores were more burdensome, the time so much shorter, and Dave and I so much busier.
I know I need to not wish this time of waiting away. It is good and God is using it. Gia also needs this time of waiting. She needs time to begin to let go and time for her heart to soften to accept something new.
David, Aine, Carson, and Avelyn need this time.
Dave and I need this time.
Pray for our still minds and full hearts as we wait and pray and love.
Our paperwork left for Ch*na today!!!
This is HUGE! It means in 2-3 months we will have an official letter of approval from Gia’s country to adopt her.
She will now be told she has a family pursuing her and we will send her pictures and a letter.
Thank you all so much for praying and supporting.
It’s crunch time for fundraising. Every $10 donated enters you to win a piece of beautiful artwork by Cady Driver.
When we started this process I assumed there would be lots of trials and tears and begging for money. That’s just how these things work right? I haven’t begged for money, not even once.
Lets take an account of what God has done:
Friends and co-workers pooled together to give us $6000
We received a blessing of $10,000 to use as we chose (we chose the adoption)
Many people have given sacrificially (including strangers) to our Adopt a Love Story account
We raised $597 at our garage sale fundraiser
We were given a $500 grant for families adopting a child with Down Syndrome for Open Hearts for Orphans (openheartsfororphans.com)
AND…two days ago we found out that we have received a $4000 grant from Show Hope (showhope.org)!!!!
We are so grateful for God’s provision and the part each of you have played in helping us to bring Gia home. We still have about $12,000 in expenses to cover but we are confident God will continue to provide.
There are more exciting updates coming very soon!
How do I feel about doing something “special”? Well, like most people, I usually feel pretty good about it. I’ve always been one to push the envelope, strike out on my own, stand out in a crowd, etc. But I think today I don’t actually feel special about doing something “special”.
We received an amazing blessing out of the blue a couple of days ago. Our adoption agency contacted us and said that an organization had a special grant specifically for a family that is adopting a child with down syndrome and they thought of us. We of course said we would love to be considered and gave written permission for our agency to tell the grantor our story.
Here’s where I started to think a bit differently about the unique-ness of our adoption. I have lots of friends on Facebook who have adopted children with down syndrome. Many of whom sought out children with this particular diagnosis. We are one of many families pursuing a child with down syndrome to parent. I didn’t really think it was that special.
In some countries, as many as 90% of children diagnosed in utero with down syndrome do not make it to birth. We don’t know our little girls full story but we do know she made it.
We know that SHE is special.
I wish special in her case had always meant wanted, hoped for, and desired, but it didn’t.
We received a special grant because we are the parents of a very special little girl. Not because we’re “special”.
Sorry to have been quiet for some time. What we thought would be a swift process from this point has not been.
We got our Immigration approval. I didn’t know what to do with it and sat on it for 2 weeks instead of having it notarized and sending it right off to our agency. It arrived to them last Friday…just in time for a 3 day weekend.
From what we understand they have already requested an extension to hold Gia’s file. We were supposed to have all of our paperwork to China by June 13th but because of the delay in that last piece of paperwork that likely won’t happen. Fortunately our agency seems to be on it and they didn’t think filing for the extension would cause any issues.
So now we’re waiting on what the adoption world calls “DTC” or Dossier to Ch*na. That means all of the work we’ve done to this point gets put together and sent to her country for approval. Once that happens it’s another game of hurry up and wait but this time we will be waiting on some pretty big news.
I’m super emotional about it all. I can’t wait to have Gia in my arms…or maybe more realistically cautiously ignoring us. Will she attach to Dave first? Will she be happy when she meets us? Will she even understand what it means to be adopted? How will our lives change?
Please be praying as we try to get creative with the last pieces of fundraising. We’ve applied for a grant through Show Hope but it will be another month or two before we know if we’ve received anything. Bills continue to come due. God has been gracious and supplied for all of our needs. We know he will continue and we need your support.
“…that you meet the eligibility requirements as the adoptive parents of a child who will be adopted under the Hague Convention… Your I-800A application is hereby approved.”
The last few weeks have been a bundle of stress with work, end of the year school activities (PROM), and rushes to put together the last needed pieces for our Dossier that has to be sent to China by June 13th.
Today I unassumingly went to the mailbox to find our immigration approval letter…and the emotions of the weeks caught up with me. I ran inside and yelled to the kids “We got it!!!” I’m not even sure they knew we were waiting on something. I hugged them and then ran upstairs and locked my bedroom door to text Dave and other family through tears.
Then I gave in to the deep sobs. Some days it doesn’t seem real. There is a piece of our hearts on the other side of the world. We’re filling out paperwork and sending in checks and waiting and waiting and waiting. The reality is, she’s been waiting all of her life, even if she doesn’t know it.
We are ONE STEP closer to meeting our little girl and never letting her go.
Remember that $3750 we needed in two weeks? The time has come! We have $1,402.95 raised towards that amount. Thank you!!!! Please share our update and celebrate with us!
Today we had our biometric finger prints done for immigration approval. I feel like this was a big step. The lady doing my prints smiled and said “China, right? I can just tell.” It made me happy to talk to a stranger about our little girl.
I’ve found myself more nervous about parenting a child with special needs. We’re reading tons and taking courses. Those are good tools but I feel like I could read for years and not be fully prepared.
Here’s our need:
Prayer for the preparation
Prayer for tight timelines
$3750 in the next TWO WEEKS! Eeeek
That last one is scary. We serve a big God and we know he can provide.
Thank you for walking with us in this!
We’re in a season of being able to move forward again. It feels good to be able to do something more than just wait.
We received notification last night that the immigration office has received our I800a application. Basically we’re asking for permission to bring a child from another country into America. They’ll read our home study, take biometric finger prints and review our request. Hopefully in no more than a month we’ll have immigration approval and we’ll be on to the the next exciting step!
Please pray that everything is in order for us to be approved quickly. The next step can take some time and we need to have that piece in place before June 13th.
Our home study is complete!
We passed our home study! We are officially approved to adopt!
We now get to apply for permission from the US immigration department to bring our little one into the country. The quicker we start this process the quicker that approval can facilitate the next step, which is sending all our legal documents to China for approval.
Thank you for continuing to follow our journey. The financial support that has been given so far has helped us get to this point. The immigration paperwork will bring with it about $1000 in fees. Would you consider giving to help support this cost and bring Gia one step closer to home?
May God Richly Bless You!
Dave and Shara
Some times I just don’t know what to say. I start the day hopeful to hear good news, transition into panic as a seemingly tiny detail turns into a potential deal breaker, and then back to joy and awe as God works out that tiny but oh-so-significant detail. This is such a roller coaster. I have been waiting for so long to post the words “Our home study is complete and we’re on to the next step.” However, I still can’t type those words without wishful thinking just yet. There isn’t anything particularly unusual about our case it’s just part of the process.
At work we moved offices over the weekend and today I was unpacking my things. I had 3 pictures of our precious girl in my box and I picked very special places to put them up, praying for her as I did.
One thing we haven’t told you is that we have chosen an American name for her. Angelina is the name the agency gave her when putting her on their wait list. It is not her Chinese given name and it is not a name she will have known.
We gave her the name Gia. It means “God is gracious” and it sounds close to her Chinese name (which we can’t share just yet). We certainly feel that God has been gracious to us in even allowing us to love her. He has been gracious throughout this process and we know her life is a reflection of God’s grace both to her and to us.
My Facebook status the other day stated “Struggling today…I just wanna bring our little girl home.” The reality is we’re doing all we can and moving in the right direction as quickly as we can. We are signing and re-signing, notarizing, paying, ordering, mailing, praying, and waiting. It’s hard though. We’re still waiting on our home study to be complete. Our background checks from Texas are the last thing we were waiting for for that to be complete. And that’s all we can do…wait. Thank you for praying and financially contributing. It helps to know that God is using his people to provide. Thank you!
As you can see donations are coming in! Thank you so much!!! Soon I will share an exciting video with you about how some very special people surprised us (and made me cry).
We also wanted to share that today is our last home study appointment! This is the one thing left we had to have complete before we applied to immigration for permission to bring an orphan into this country. We should have the final report in a couple of weeks.
In case you didn’t know your donation through Adopt A Love Story IS tax deductible. Please, if your still considering an end of year gift think about being a part of Angelina’s family and helping us to bring her home. Thank you!
Some of the things your dollars will go to:
$750 – Dossier processing fee (all of our important documents have to be notarized, certified, and authenticated before they can be sent to China)
$3000 – Home Study Fees
$950 – Application for Immigration
$500 – Adoption Education (required)
$130 – Court Adoption Validation fees
You have to be willing to get a little messy in order to answer God’s call to adopt. Last week we had our finger prints taken after our agencies were chosen and we made our first home study appointment. The volunteer finger printer reminded us not to touch our clothing as the ink was permanent. Our new child will be a permanent part of our family and at times it may be a little messy. Maybe I’m just sentimental (I cry at the drop of a hat – kinda like when I was pregnant) but I see symbolism everywhere throughout this process.
We’ll get through a 4 part series of home study appointments in the next 2 weeks. Once our home study is approved we can officially be matched. Stay tuned for more updates!