Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Best Christmas Gift

I sent an email to our adoption agency this week.... I said "All I want for Christmas is our P.A.". They said they hadn't heard if they'd be getting any this week.

When I hadn't heard anything by Friday evening, I was a little disappointed and was resigned to the fact that we'd still have to wait. But then.... at about 5:30 this afternoon, I checked my email from mom's house in SC.... and it was there!!! DHL had delivered the PA to the agency today!! HOORAY!

For those of you who don't know, P.A. stands for Pre-Approval. In other words, we got our pre-approval from China to adopt Chang Hua Hui (aka Samuel). China said YES!! Praise the LORD!

Now we can send Sam a care package and pictures of us. We can tell him that he has a family that loves him and can't wait to come get him and bring him home. We can tell him that we'll love him forever and that he is part of our forever family. Hold on Sammy!! Mommy and Daddy are coming!!!! Hopefully we'll all be patient enough to wait for the rest of our paperwork and red tape to be done so we'll be able to get him late this spring.

Thanks to the LORD for an awesome Christmas gift!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mery Christmas

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard the song "Merry Christmas" by Third Day. I was all choked up by the end of the song. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to get the music to play here, but for now here are the lyrics.... They are worth the read!

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
and we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
and prepare a place for us
so we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Born in Our Hearts

LOI !!!!

We're sending out our LOI (Letter of Intent) today to adopt this adorable little boy from China. Huahui will be four years old in March. He has severe scoliosis and will need surgery to correct it; but it is a very common surgery and will allow him to have a normal and happy life. We can't wait to get him home to hug and kiss him!!

"He (the Lord our God) insures that orphans and widows recieve justice" ~Deut. 10:18

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ladybugs on My Window

According to Chinese custom, Ladybugs are good luck! Yesterday I awoke to find a dozen or more ladybugs on the windows in our school room. Would good news come today? Yes!!!!!

I got an approval call from our agency while I was grocery shopping AND then I came to sit at my desk and found the pile of mail there. "The mail already came?!" It was earlier than usual. And much to my suprise and delight there was the envelope I had been waiting for!! Woo Hoo!! Now we're off to the CIS at the end of this month for our fingerprinting!!

Thank you Lord!!! All the Glory to God!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Homestudy Done!

Well we finished our homestudy!!!! But we're STILL waiting for our appt. with CIS in Charlotte.....uugh. I run to the mailbox every day. Meanwhile, we're waiting and praying for our child in China.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Paperchase

Well, we've officially joined the 'paperchase' in the adoption realm. On September 11th (2006) we filed our I-600A form with the Dept. of Homeland Security (INS); this form requests permission for us to bring an orphan into the country. So, now we wait for an appointment to go to Charlotte to get our electronic fancy fingerprints taken and so forth. Then we wait for the I-171H which actually grants us permission to bring the child in. From what I've been hearing, with immigration laws, etc. in an uproar, it's taking a few months just to receive that form that we need.

Meanwhile, we're working on our dossier.... the homestudy's almost done!! Baby steps......

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I read this post on a message board and thought it so worthy to share that I got the author's permission to post:

Tonight my 12 year old daughter and I came up with a good response to the "have you lost your mind?" that some of us hear when we say that we are adopting again. Just smile and say ever so sweetly, "yes I lost my mind - thank God - because along the way I found my heart."

This came after we had the most awesome discussion about the difference between making big decisions with your mind or by following your heart. It is so clear to me that our current North American culture is incredibly un-child friendly AND incredibly self centered.This thread of discussion about people's inability to understand adoptive families has sparked some really great and fruitful conversations at our house. Our 12 year old is our oldest and our only bio - kid and we are constantly asked by others if she is somehow negatively affected/cheated because we have decided to adopt two (and now 3) other children. As if any child has the inalienable right to be an only child and get all the love, time, resources that a family has to give...

I tend to think that she has been incredibly enriched to have seen an orphanage at age 6, to have understood at a tender age that some people hurt and suffer and live without love and to know at an early age that God calls us to lives that matter - to lives of purpose where we find our joy in caring for the deep needs of others. But then again - what do I know? After all, it IS possible that I have lost my mind. My dh and I were talking tonight about all this and we have reasoned that in our culture the problem is that we feel we are entitled to a certain standard of living: that families should have 2500 sq ft homes, two suv's, go on nice vacations, have a closet full of expensive clothes and be able to buy most of the gadgets that most people have, as well as have cell phones, gym memberships, cable tv and eat out frequently. This seems to be what my parents now assume (which is funny because when I was a child we lived more simply.) Their expectations of standards of living have grown along with the rest of our culture! They seem to think we cannot afford another child - that it is wrong for kids to "have" to share a bedroom, or to "have" to work while in college to help pay their way. Thus they think in some way that we are cheating our 12 year old...

But in fact it is possible to live well and happily in a simpler way without anyone being seriously deprived. Even on one pastor's income. Even in Southern California. Even if you have 3, soon to be 4 kids... Adoptive parents = countercultural radicals ????? Why are we so surprised that people don't understand? The culture He lived in crucified Jesus. Maybe seeing that tight little look on my mom's face every time I mention adoption isn't so bad. So press on toward the goal my brothers and sisters - your Father in Heaven sees what you do and smiles - after all, He is the one who helped you find your HEART!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Now I know how an amoeba feels

By John Vogel:

Yesterday our homestudy started; the paperwork started weeks ago, but it did not 'feel' real for me until yesterday.

Let me start by stating that our assigned social worker is very nice, and I could tell that she was working hard to put us at ease (I am not just saying that because she might be monitoring this blog). She spent a lot of time explaining the details, making sure we understood, and never rushed us.

But that did not stop me from scrutinizing myself to the Nth degree.

I know someone who has, what I call, a super-mirror. When she uses this mirror, every tiny speck shows up 20 times larger than life! Imagine every pimple, every freckle, every rogue hair amplified to make your face look like a grotesque side-show freak. I don't know how she does it (and no- I am not referring to my wife). I rather be oblivious to the minor imperfections and satisfied that my skin is generally clean and well kept.

But I digress.

Some of the questions were easy:
"Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" - No
"Have you ever been divorced?" - No
"When was your last traffic violation?" - 2001 (speeding) :^)

Then the questions got tougher:
"Have you ever perpetrated drug abuse?"
"Have you ever perpetrated molestation?"
"Have you ever perpetrated sexual abuse?"

Now, even though the answer were all "No", the idea of being asked is awkward to say the least. (I was wondering if anyone had answered "why, yes- I would get high and abuse my kids all the time. Is that wrong? Should I have not done that?") -ok, back to serious...

Then it got very personal:
"Have you ever gone to therapy?"
"What religion are you?"
"What denomination is that?"
"How much money do you make?"

I wonder if the Chinese government uses this data to develop a plan for world domination. (that's for another blog)

The next part is what made me feel like I was on the wrong end of a super-mirror.

Write an autobigraphy. And not a 1 page, double spaced, large font paper describing summer vacation and what my favorite sandwich is.

I had in my hands 5 pages of the most in-depth question I have ever seen! (and I once filled out an application for secret clearance to work in Moscow- true story)
Here are some of the questions I need to elaborate on:
How did your parents issue discipline?
What made you happy/angry?
Describe your significant relationships growing up.
What was your family environment growing up?
Describe changes in your marraige after the honeymoon period ended.
What are some failures that you had?
How long did you date before you were married?
What are your spouses strengths and weaknesses? (does she get to read it afterward?)

So maybe I am over-reacting. But I get the feeling like Ward and June Cleaver are thrilled for the opportunity to share their perfect life experiences, and I would rather keep my history private.

So is my background that bad? I know people with more problems, and people with fewer problems.

I know my skin has blemishes, but I don't need people I have never met writing 10 page reports on each one.

I pray that this process is not as bad as I am making it out to be.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Actively Fundraising

This week we started 'beating the pavement' so to speak. We made a flier asking for donations of stuff for our yard sale/benefit that's later in July. We made an info. sheet about our family and what we were trying to do. We went to Staples and made LOTS of copies. We assembled fundraising packets to take around while we take orders for the Krispy Kreme Fundraiser Cards, and we walked the neighborhood putting fliers in peoples mailboxes while the kids tried to sell them doughnut cards.

Next week I'll begin taking orders for pretty photo bracelets and bookmarks that I'm making. And we'll be cleaning out and organzing the garage, getting ready for the fundraiser extravaganza, bake sale, doughnut sale, bracelet sale, etc. at the end of July. *whew* It's a lot, but we're so motivated while we wait and pray for Sam who's in a orphanage in China, waiting for his forever family to come get him.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Krispy Kreme!

Here is a chance to get something hot and sweet; at the same time helping us with our adoption fees:

Consider purchasing a Krispy Creme 10 punch card: this card offers you 1 dozen free glazed doughnuts with the purchase of 1 dozen. Depending how much the doughnuts cost in your area the savings are between $35-50!!
Or perhaps you like coffee? Try a 12oz. bag of Krispy Kreme signature coffee (ground or whole bean). Choose from Smooth, Rich, Bold, or Robust Decaf.
Each is only $10
Just email me: john "dot" vee "at" gmail "dot" com or use the donate button to pay (be sure to make a note of your order)

I will email you to confirm and to let you know when to expect your items.

Thank you!!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Woe with Finances

It's easy to get depressed when adding up the costs associated with rescuing an orphan. We're rattling our brains trying to come up with feasible funding raising techniques. So for one, we've added a link to our paypal account so you can help bring our child home. We're also looking into ways that you can donate tax-free. These, unfortunately, are easier said than done and also have fees associated with start-up and maintenance... usually a few hundred dollars up front and the lowest fees we've seen are 3% of everything we raise...uugh.

We'd welcome any suggestions you have as to how we can raise money to fund the adoption... If you're an adoptive parent... what are some things you did to raise money?. John's company will give a $3,000 donation, AFTER the adoption is complete. We have a list of grants that we can apply for AFTER we've complete the dossier. But realistically, we need to come up with $10,000 UP FRONT before we can move forward to complete our dossier.

God has conceived this plan in our hearts and we have faith that He will bring it to fruition. He's still going to have us working, praying, and listening to follow His voice through this whole process.

Here is a breakdown of the costs we're looking at:

Total Fees due to the agency for application, agency fee, and international fee: $9,500
Citizen and Immigration Service Fee $545
CIS Fingerprint fee $140
Home Study $1,500 (approx.)
Document Certification and Notarization $150 (approx.)
Mailing Fees (certified and overnight) $100 (approx.)
Relief Fee (paid to child's orphanage) $3,000
Travel Visa $150
Roundtrip Airfare (including in-country flight) $2,400 (approx.)
Immigrant Visa (paid to U.S. consulate in Guangzhou) $380
In-country medical check-up- required by American Embassy $50
Official Fees (paid when you register in the Province) $150
Notorial Fees (paid at your Notorial Interview in child's birth city) $600
Lodging and food for two adults and new child for approx. 14 days $1,400 (approx.)

These look like insurmountable numbers to me, but God can do anything. Blessings to you if He's calling you to help; thanks for being obedient to His call.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sprouting Seeds

I'm thinking back to about 4 or so years ago when Jake (about 6yrs. old at the time) asked us for a brother. Since we knew that we could not physically have any more children, we told him that maybe we'd adopt one some day. He was very anxious and we told him that it would cost a lot of money and that it would have to be God's timing. Well Jake started saving his money in a glass jar so that he could adopt a brother. You can imagine our surprise when Debbi Butterbaugh came up to us in church one Sunday and offered her congratulations on our upcoming adoption. LOL Jake apparently told all of kids' church our news... that we were adopting a brother. Well folks, that was about four years ago.

We've never abandoned the idea of wanting to adopt some day. When pondering these things in my heart, I can see the seeds that God was planting there. Jake continued to save his money on and off for years, still holding us to our promise to adopt a brother one day. Well in recent months, more seeds have been sown. Unfortunately, Jake hasn't been able to save up quite enough money, but where God has a will, He will have a way. So we have given more serious consideration and prayer about adopting. We feel like God is leading us toward China, probably to a special needs child.
The kids are all very very excited. So am I! I feel so expectant, like when I was pregnant with my biological children. God has conceived this child in my heart! wow! John is more practical and is wondering and worrying about getting the money together to move forward. We haven't quite figured out where we're going to get the money yet; but have faith that God's seeds are beginning to sprout and we wait with expectant anticipation as to how He's going to put it all together and bring our precious child home.

Isn't it completely awesome, it fills me with awe, to know that God has a little Vogel, somewhere out there in the world, God has him in the palm of His hand, and that he is already part of our family, conceived in our hearts, and promised to be delivered?!?! Wow! It just blows me away. I know we can never fathom the depth of God's love for us: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those (US!) who love him" ~Isaiah 64:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9. A promise in both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. Wow.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb (and heart). I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
~Psalms 139: 13-18