Saturday, December 10, 2016

Shanghai Day One: A Little Surprise

Friday morning our kiddos woke up early and we decided to pull out the credit card for a little surprise visit to Shanghai Disneyland.  It is so much cheaper here and we knew how much they were wanting to go!!!  We didn't tell them where we were going and even as they posed with the character pictures on the Disney-themed subway car they still didn't figure it out. ;)

We arrived right around opening time and headed in to spend a fun day and one of our last days as a family of five. :)  They were crazy excited that we were taking them to it.  Kate kept telling me, "But Mom, you said we couldn't go there."  So sweet!!

They loved finding Uncle Scrooge's vault!! 

And the castle is AMAZING!!  Our family is a Disney family.  In fact, this was the last park I needed to visit to have been to them all... Usually Disneyland parks have a small castle.  This one is huge and gorgeous.  Probably bigger than the one at Magic Kingdom.

And that was just the beginning of the differences...!!!  Pirates of the Carribean blew us away!!! It was AMAZING.  THE BEST RIDE WE'VE EVER GONE ON.  It really set the bar very high for rides.  So many cool things that were unexpected and amazing.  It was Disney Magic.

Every Pirate Princess needs to have an "I mean business" face, right?

This boy... we were honestly both excited and terrified at the thought of taking him back to China.  He has a lot of hurts.  A lot of emotional baggage.  We kept questioning.. Is it the right time?  Will he be able to handle it?  He did great this first day.  We don't know if it is because Disney is familiar to him or because he's going to do well here, but we'll take it either way!!!

They have this cool "iron man experience" where you can fight there in position as Iron Man.  He was all about it!!!

Laila couldn't ride most of what was there other than Fantasyland, which was a madhouse, but she still had fun!!!  Ticket prices go by height, so it was free for her to get in to Disney anyway.  Wish they'd use that system in the US for tickets!!!

We only got to do a fraction of all they have at Shanghai Disneyland.  It's much larger than Hong Kong Disneyland was.  We all left hoping that one day we can bring the whole, complete family of seven back to China to do this park together.

But as Laila said, starting around 6pm... we were tired and got out of there before closing time.

We tried out a noodle restaurant in the mall across the street from our hotel.  The food was great but everyone was SO TIRED>  Jet lag is a beast!!

Chengbin fell asleep right there in that position at least 3 times while waiting on the food to arrive.

And when it was time to go Laila begged to be carried and put to bed.  She was a trooper all day so we just went with it. :)

What a great day!!  We are so amazed how well the kids are doing!! And only a few days to go until Lily Day!!  I can't wait to see her again!!!

To China for our babies!!

Tuesday evening we loaded up the car and headed to New Orleans to stay in a hotel for our early flight.  Trying to take everyone with us for this big life change meant looking at hubs and airports outside of our local area to find the cheapest possible flights.  We were very fortunate to get a great fare on out of New Orleans that was less for ALL of us then we'd previously flown with far less people the other two adoption trips to China. 

All the kids willingly hopped out of bed after only 3 hours of sleep.  They were ready to go!!

She was super excited for her very first flight that she remembers!! She only made it up into the sky before that 3 hour sleep got the best of her and she was out for the count! :)

We met up with our friend Michelle at the Dallas area and after a short layover we boarded our plane for Shanghai!

We thought it was cool that we passed over my hometown of Woodward!!

The kids were AMAZING on the flight!  Even Laila, who usually spends a long road trip whining and complaining that "this is taking so long" decided to be awesome.  15 hours in the air and around 2 hours on the tarmac in the airports and we finally made it to China.  After some craziness, we took a van and headed to our hotel. 

At this point it was around 9pm and we were jetlagged, starving, and sooooo ready to be done.  So this happened...

Yep!  Our first meal in China was an American fast food joint that we don't even eat in America!!

And then... BED!!!  Travel day over & time for some China exploration before we get our babies. :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Adoption Update & Our Final Fundraising Friday!

Thank you all for your donations to help us get to China and get our kiddos!!  We are truly, beyond grateful for every single donation you guys have given to bring Noah and Lily home from China. 
We booked our flights and we leave on Wednesday morning, 12/7!!! 
We will go to Shanghai first to get Lily and then fly to Guangzhou to get Noah and complete the processing of their visas at the US Consulate.  We will fly back to the states on Christmas Eve and if flights go according to schedule all give of our kiddos will be tucked into their beds waiting for Santa to come!!

If you'd still like to make a donation:

Fast & Easy Way-

Tax deductible way available until Sunday-

We've received an additional $1,280 in donations to "Tag their Bag" via paypal and our Lifesong account.  THANK YOU ALL!!  Every donation makes a difference!  All those $5, $10, & $20 donations add up when repeated over and over again by so many people!!
 You guys rock and we are grateful for every donation.

We received some difficult news that a donor would not be able to complete a large donation we were expecting.  While this was a surprise to us and to that donor, but we know it is NOT a surprise to God.  I know that he has a plan to get these babies home, even if we can't see it yet.  Are we worried? Yes, of course.  Stressed? Yes, absolutely!!  But when those feelings come, we choose to remember God's promises.  It's an exercise repeated over and over again.  We know we've done all we can and that he has promised he will never leave us, nor forsake us. 
We are trusting that "the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it". 1 Thess 5:24

Please keep our family in your prayers as we prepare to travel and our kiddos prepare to meet their forever family.  If you haven't donated and would like to, we'll gratefully tag their bag with your name and pray a blessing for you!! 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt 25:40

Thank you guys for everything!! For good thoughts and prayers and hugs and support!! We're almost there!!! We leave in 4 days and we know that God has a plan!!

Fannie & Matt

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

$3,000 to go on Giving Tuesday!

We received an additional $680 yesterday for "Tag their Bag"!! Thank you to all who have donated!!

That means we are only $3,000 away from our goal!!  We have $21,000 of the $24,000 we will need  to wire all the fees to China and pay everything else (adoption processing fees, guide fees, hotels) on Friday so that we can leave for China on Monday to go get our babies!!!

We are incredibly grateful for every single donation.  A sweet lady who donated yesterday wrote me a message saying that while she may be too old to adopt a child, an adoptive mama had reminded her that she could still help children be adopted into families.  How sweet is that?  And it is SO true!! Not everyone is meant to adopt a child, but we can all be the solution for these children in one way or another.  As we work together, we change the lives of Lily and Noah forever.  Your donations help them get home to us and to the medical care they desperately need.  A lot of families have told me that they'd love to adopt but can't afford it.  My response is "most of us can't afford to by ourselves, but we can all work together to bring this kids home."  So thank you, everyone who has donated already and for all those who consider donating today.

It's giving Tuesday.  Let's do this!!!  I've got a lot of bag tagging to do tonight!! Can't wait to post a pic of that suitcase covered in names!!!

For Tax Deductible donations:

For Quick & Super Easy donations via Paypal:

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

I know that God is faithful; that he loves these children more than you or I can imagine... So, I'm consciously choosing not to let stress take over, but to trust that on Giving Tuesday his plan is being fulfilled by all of you.

Thank you all so much!

Fannie & Matt

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tag their Bags: Day One!!

Wow!!! We are blown away by how many people have jumped in to give gifts large and small to get these babies home!!!

In the first 24 hours, we've received $1,015 in our PayPal account and over $700 in our Lifesong account!! 

Our matching grant has now been fully funded!!! 

Of the $10,000 we started last week needing, we now have $6,315!! 

That means there's $3,685 left to go!! Praise God!! That's a much smaller number than 24 hours ago and we are so grateful for every single donation that you guys have given both large and small!! 

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!!! Please share and ask friends and family to donate, even just $5 makes such a difference!!! Lily and Noah have such a precious village helping get them home!!! 

Thank you all!!! $3,685 to go!! Woohoo!!!

If you'd like to donate the quick and easy way, and don't care about tax deductions:

If you'd like to get an end of the year, tax deductible donation in, our Lifesong account is the way to do it:

Thank you!!
Matt & Fannie

Saturday, November 26, 2016

1 Week til China: Tag their bags!!!

Today, we received a grant denial from the last agency we were hoping to receive a decision from before we leave for China.  This was really tough news to receive, but we know that God will provide.  So, I shared our tough news with some adoptive mamas and they had a few suggestions...

A few days ago we shared that we will be paying out $24,000 by Friday.  We had $14,000 and needed $10,000 more to travel on time.  Thanks to so many generous friends and family, our matching grant with Lifesong is only $400 away from being fully matched.  So that means we are almost halfway to the $10,000 goal.

We have $5,000 left that must be provided by Friday in order to wire transfer everything due to the appropriate organizations and get to China on time.  A friend pointed out that we have over 1,000 facebook friends and family.  If each person donated only $5.00 it would give us $5,000.  If 500 friends and family donated $10 it would give us $5,000.  If 200 friends and family gave $25 it would equal $5,000.  So here's our humble request... Would you please consider giving a small donation to help get these sweeties home?

If you need it to make a tax deductible then our Lifesong account is the place to go!

If you don't care about tax deductions and just want to get a donation to us in the quickest, easiest manner possible, then our Paypal account is the place to go!

$5,000 seems like a monumental amount to raise in 5 days, but we know that we serve a big God who can use donations large and small to help meet this need and help get our babies into our arms.

And when you donate, we will "tag their bags" with your name as a visible reminder of how many people already love our kids and are praying & supporting them even before they ever make it home.

Please pray and consider donating.  We are truly grateful for all who have donated and will donate.  We truly cannot make it to China to get these babies without you and we are soooo grateful!!

Matt & Fannie

Monday, November 21, 2016

Her Glorious Unfolding

During Laila's adoption I had Steven Curtis Chapman's album "Glorious Unfolding" on repeat.  So many songs on it spoke directly to my heart as I walked in faith during that time.  Perhaps no song held more promise to me than the title song. 

During the hard times as I worried about funding the words of encouragement in that song soothed my worried heart.  As I worried about my little daughter and her state of health in the orphanage, the words were like a promise.

And right as things were getting really close to travel, his organization, Show Hope came through with a $4000 grant for our adoption!

And a couple weeks ago, we got to pay it forward and say "Thank You".  We volunteered to help with Show Hope's booth at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Pensacola.  It was so fun to be able to share our story!! It was so awesome to see my little Laila, taking sponsorship packets for kids in Show Hope's healing homes in China to people who raised their hand.  My own little miracle right there, showing people what can happen when we step out in faith... When we take another step...

And after the concert, this happened...

My sweet little miracle girl, who was dying.  Who was without hope.  Who was misdiagnosed.  Who wasn't walking, wasn't growing, wasn't talking only 2 years ago... She walked right up to Steven Curtis Chapman and told him "Thank you for helping me come home from China."  We shared that we'd received a grant through Show Hope and how grateful we were for the support.  In the craziness of that moment, I never even got a chance to tell him how much that album had ministered to me during her adoption too. But that's okay!  Because our whole family, who had been walked to the front of the long VIP ticket line (even though we didn't purchase a ticket- adoption budget and all) didn't want to take up too much of his time with so many people waiting!!  It was also awesome to meet Mac Powell of Third Day who has also adopted from China and Brandon Heath who is bound to start considering it with all of these crazy adoptive family stories around him. :)

And her story has only begun...  What a blessing!!!  And Chengbin has been singing "Soul on Fire" for weeks now!!! Haha!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2 weeks til takeoff!!!

Okay, we plan to leave in less than two weeks...

We've saved and scrimped and had some amazing fundraising done by some wonderful adoptive mamas on our behalf!!  We've also done a few fundraisers on our own to raise funds.  And we applied for a LOT of grants!!  We've gotten one "no".  We've gotten three that said "yes" but when of them is a special kind of yes...

It's a matching grant from Lifesong.  The granting organization will match the donations in our Lifesong account up to $2,500!!!  BUT if there isn't that much in there, we can't get the full grant.  That means we need one last push... one last fundraiser... and we hope and pray that between the donations received and a few more grant responses, we will have everything we need to leave for China the weekend of Dec 3rd.

This is VERY real guys!!  In the coming week or so we will need to pay out over $23,000!!!  From our own money, prior fundraising, & grants given, we have $13,000.  That leaves $10,000 more to go.  This matching grant could get us to the point where we are only $5,000 away from all we need.  There's a little fun news in this video- so be sure to take a look!!! ;)

And if you feel led to make a donation, please donate to our tax deductible Lifesong account and share with your friends & family!!  You never know who might be looking for that end of the year tax deductible opportunity!! :)  We love you all!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

He knows we're coming!!! And other updates!!!

A few days ago, my sweet friend Morgan, who I traveled with on the advocacy trip in April got to meet our son!!

She and Madison's advocacy team met our little guy, took pictures of him for us, and informed us that he is so little and as sweet as he can be!!  Oh, we can't wait to see him with our own eyes!!!  They told him we are coming for him and it's true, we are!!

In fact, things are progressing really, really quickly!  Last week we received our second approval letter from China (LOA), then USCIS approved our I-800 which approves the kids to immigrate to the US.  This week the National Visa Center issued our approvals for both kids and we completed all remaining paperwork on the US side.  Our package will be dropped off at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China on Monday and we are hopeful it will be ready for pick up on Tuesday.  It will get overnighted to Beijing and delivered to CCCWA on Wednesday.  Then we will be waiting for our Travel Approval from the Chinese government!!  This TA is the last thing we need to be able to schedule our consulate appointment and gotcha days!!

We are so excited!!!  It's almost time!! 

If you are currently praying for us, we ask you to pray for the following:

China's system that they process adoptions in has been down since Wednesday for a hardware issue.  Please pray that this system is back online when they open again on Monday and that it stays working!  Without that system working, we cannot receive our Travel Approval and many other families become delayed as well!!

For clarity in the flights we need to reserve.  As you might guess, getting so close to Christmas, we are anxious to book flights as they will continue to rise higher and higher.  We have been praying about which flights to take and at what point to book the flights.  This isn't an ideal situation to book flights ahead of receiving our approved dates for the adoption, but as flights continue to rise, we may have to, so please pray for wisdom and discernment regarding our travel plans.

Additionally, we ask you to pray for financial provision.  We received an amazing grant from Rollstone Foundation this week and we also received a matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans.  We really need God to move to get the grant matched quickly.  We are also still short by a good amount and have a number of grant applications out that we still haven't heard anything on.  We pray we will receive good news on a few of these too to close the remaining gap.  With potentially less than 2 weeks til travel, we are expectant.  We know that God was faithful last adoption and we know that he will be again! 

Lastly, please pray for our children.  Pray for the hearts of Kate, Chengbin, & Laila as we bring two new children into our family.  Pray for the hearts of our sweet new kiddos as they undergo tremendous change in the coming weeks.  Pray for openness in their hearts and spirits to us.  That they would have a sense of peace in spite of all the chaos and upheaval happening in their young lives.  Please also pray for wisdom, discernment, and peace for Matt & I as we make this family transition and work hard to earn the trust and acceptance of these two sweet babies while continuing to be there for our already home kids.

Thank you all so much for your support, your cheers, your prayers, your good thoughts... we appreciate each and every one of you more than you know.  Only a couple more weeks til we go get these babies!!!  Woohoo!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WIN before you BUY!!! Christmas is coming!!

Last adoption we did an American Girl fundraiser and it went so well that we have decided to do it again!!  This time the prize is BIGGER!!!  Our hope is that one little girl's Christmas dream will come true when her mom or dad wins this prize pack!!

And these raffle tickets will go to bring our two kiddos home from their orphanages just in time for Christmas!!! (We HOPE, that pesky paperwork is so slow....)

So here's how it's going to work:  We will do a raffle for the prize pack. 
The winner gets the American Girl doll of "her" choice and the accessory of "her" choice!!  A few doll examples are in the pictures, but she can truly choose ANY doll ($130 or less). 

She will also get to choose one of the beds or tent shown below, or the accessory package of her choosing valued up to $100.  What a great prize right???

How do you enter??? It's simple!!

Make a suggested donation of:
$5- 1 raffle ticket

Click on this link to make your donation!!

  Drawing on Orphan Sunday, Nov 13!!