It was one year ago today that we first "met" Jack. That is, we opened our e-mail to find the cutest (solemn:-) little face looking back at us. It was love at first sight.
In the 10 months that followed it was a flurry of homestudy's, fingerprinting, passport pictures, visa applications, copies of this and that, notarization, certification and authentication of documents, booking of tickets, packing, more paperwork in China...and then that first image became reality.
We have so many people to thank for making this all possible. Please forgive us if we haven't mentioned you personally. You are appreciated, even if your name is not coming to me at 4 am!
Our first thanks and praise is to God for thinking we could be entrusted with this precious little boy to add to our family. We're glad we let Him choose. His choices are always the best.
Thanks to family and friends for supporting and encouraging us throughout this journey. At times it might have been easy to say, "we've waited for years, we can't wait any longer", or, "we can't afford the fees", or "the timing just doesn't seem to be right", but you all affirmed by your words and your actions that God HAD indeed called us on this journey and He would not let us down.
To Stephen's parents, a HUGE "Thank You" for dropping everything and coming to stay with Megan while we were gone. While we would have loved to have taken her with us, your sacrifice will never be forgotten. To my sister and Mom who never stopped cheering us on, even during their own deep loss and sorrow, thanks for loving a little boy I know you are dying to meet. To Stephen's sister, who instead of receiving gifts for a BIG:-) birthday, asked that money be donated to New Hope Foster Home, Beijing, who are part of Jack's story, thank you for your sacrifice, Shirley.
Thanks to our amazing adoption agency, CCAI. They held our hands and led us step by step through all the paperwork. They were very patient with us. They kept us updated constantly. They displayed nothing but integrity and they made sure everything was taken care of before and during our trip. Both the Colorado and China staff were a pleasure to work with. Thanks also to the local agency who did our homestudy and notarized the many documents for us.
Thanks to our travel companions for putting up with us :-) We traveled with the most amazing group of people who were adopting because God had placed it on their hearts. Their love for their children and their travel companions was something that we have rarely seen.
Thanks to the Orphanage staff at Luoyang and also at MBHOH for loving our little boy and caring for all his needs. Thanks to those who work behind the scenes at Show Hope for being there for us as well. If you hadn't made yourselves known to us, we wouldn't have known some of Jack's story.
Thanks to the group of "online" friends who have encouraged us, answered questions and continue to cheer on all those who are coming after us with every turn of the adoption wheel.
Thanks to Stephen's employer who made it possible for him to take the time off work to travel and continues to be flexible.
Thanks to Lifesong for Orphans , an amazing foundation with a mission to fulfill the command in James 1:27. Many may not know, but due to the high cost of international adoption, foundations like Lifesong accept applications for grants. These committed folks review each application thoroughly (all your personal and financial information) and pray for guidance as to how(or if) they can help ease the financial burden. They asked about our life and took into consideration that much of our adoption "resources" were reallocated to allow Megan and I to travel to Ireland to spend the last 3 months of 2011 with my Dad. We are humbled (and I can hardly think about this without the tears flowing) that Lifesong felt our family could use a matching grant. That is, they have designated a certain amount of money to Jack's adoption fees and will match, dollar for dollar, gifts sent to them towards our fees up to the amount they have decided. Considering the hundreds of applications they receive in any given year, they cannot give freely to everyone. We believe God heard our prayer and answered it through them and others.
Lastly, thanks to a little boy, (who may not think much about this until he's older), for accepting us as his family, as crazy as we may appear to be. Hang in there, Jack. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
"Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!" Psalm 126:3