A bit about the Himsels

In July 2011, we were drawn to a posting by our adoption agency of a little girl that was soon to "age out" of the orphanage in China, and they were hoping to find her family before her birthday in February, when she would no longer be eligible for adoption. After reviewing the information, giving it alot of thought and prayers, we knew she was to be our daughter. So we started the paperwork chase to bring her home. But God had a bigger plan in mind for the Himsels. Along the way, we decided to pursue adopting a little boy, and that journey actually led us to two little boys, who are 18 months and 14 months old. All three children are located in the Guizhou province. We are excited to be so close to bringing home Ella (Jinglan), William, and Ethan, and we hope you follow along with our journey.

Friday, December 30, 2011

NVC Letters Arrived

Finally, we received our NVC letters (National Visa Center) letting us know that our I800 information had been forwarded on to the Consulate in China.  Another major step forward in getting our appointments secured for finalizing the adoptions.  Of course, all of the offices in China are now closed, but will open back up Tuesday, and we should hear something soon on our official travel dates.  Keep your fingers crossed that we will be traveling on January 25.  The sooner we can bring home those adorable children the better.  I can't wait to get my arms around each one of them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another step closer

Fedex really blew it last week.  It's never good to have to depend on a delivery around Christmas.  We had to overnight our signed LOAs and DS230s to our agency on Wednesday so they would arrive before noon on Thursday to be included in this week's courier to the Beijing office.  Well, wouldn't you know it, Fedex blew it.  They didn't get our package delivered until after 3pm that day, and we missed our opportunity to get our documents in the courier.  Not a good way to go into the Christmas weekend - very frustrating.  But we had a wonderful Christmas at the Himsels.  Decided to really decorate the tree this year and put out all of our antique Santas as I'm sure those breakables will be sitting in boxes for the next couple of years until the little guys are a bit bigger and can be trusted.  We really enjoyed spending time with family.  On Christmas eve, Mom, Lynne' and I had our traditional "Girls lunch" and Chris & Andrew had their "Boys lunch" - next year we'll have three more to include in the tradition.  We also took Andrew to see the new Muppet movie, and afterwards toured the Christmas light display here in Fort Wayne - very awesome.  Then back home to get ready for bed, and wait for the big guy.  Andrew was so excited he couldn't go to sleep until well after 11pm.  It was all worth it though.  Andrew had a wonderful Christmas, and received the best Christmas present ever from Santa (or at least that's what he declared).

After a family-filled Christmas weekend, it's back to work on the adoption.  We heard from our agency that due to Fedex's delay, they had documents from 4 different families that needed to get to Beijing.  So they sent another courier on Tuesday after Christmas and our docs are on their way to China.  Whoo Hoo - another step closer. We also decided that we needed an extra pair of hands in China.  So we invited my sister, Lynne', to come with us.  Andrew is excited that Aunt Nay will be traveling with us, and it will be such a great help to have another adult on the trip to help keep up with everyone, especially on the plane ride home.

And we were told there are two options for us for traveling, depending on when the NVC letters arrive.  We could leave January 25 (right after Chinese New Year) or February 1 (which is tight with Ella JingLan's birthday, but doable).  Yikes, that's about a month away - so much work to do around here before then.  Let's keep our fingers crossed, and say a few prayers that its January 25th - we'd like to not make it that tight with Ella JingLan's birthday right around the corner.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yeah - we got our I800's

Last Thursday, things were getting a little stressful. Our I800s had been with USCIS for over a week and we still hadn't heard anything from our officer assigned. She had assured us that as soon as she got them she would push them along since we are so tight on time. When I checked with her, she said they hadn't been pre-processed yet and she was trying to track them down. Senator Lugar's office was also involved and our contact there was also trying to move things along. I received a call on Thursday to see if two of our kids were related. Since they are in the same orphanage, they have the same orphanage surname, and someone assumed they were siblings, which they are not.  Because of that, they hadn't processed our paperwork yet because the papers were for 3 unrelated children. Once that got cleared up, our USCIS officer said she was hopeful that she would get the documents sometime early this week and would keep us posted. Well, we got the best Christmas present today - an email with the following from our officer: "A miracle happened at USCIS today! The I-800s left TX Friday and made it to my desk this morning. With the help of several good people I was able to review and approve the I-800s just a little bit ago."  Whoo Hoo - another step closer. Now waiting on our NVC letters to arrive, but going ahead with filling out the US Visa apps for the kids. And so we had to finalize the kids names. So let me introduce you to:

Ella (Jing Lan)



Friday, December 9, 2011

What's in a name?

With our I800 forms and all of their supporting documents turned in, Chris and I needed to really settle on the kids' names.  Just like with Andrew, they will each keep their Chinese name as one of their middle names, but we want them each to have strong first names as well.  The boys were pretty easy actually.  The older of the two boys, who is now 18 months old will be William.  And the younger boy, who is almost 14 months old, will be Ethan.  And our little Jing Lan - because she is older, we definitely will give her an American first name, but give her the choice to go by either name.  Now to decide on that first name for Jing Lan.  We're torn between two of them - we'll have to make a definite decision soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LID and LOAs

The Chinese adoption process has a lot of abbreviations.  We had to fill out LOI (letters of intent) for each of the kids, we recieved PAs (pre-approvals), we submitted our dossier and were waiting for our LID (Logged in Date), and ultimately we need to receive our LOAs for each child.  (Letter of Acceptance).  That would insure that each of the three children were definitely our referrals.  We also had to resubmit our I800A supplement to increase from 2 children to 3.  That's the approval you have to have to bring the children back to the US as US citizens.  We submitted them as soon as we could but were told it might take a little bit to get that approval, and we only hoped it wouldn't delay getting our LOAs.

On Tuesday morning, November 29 we received the email from FTIA that our LID was November 21.  Now we'll just hope that our LOAs are close behind, and that China doesn't wait until our I800A is updated before issuing them.

Again, God's handprint is all over this adoption journey.  Later in the day on that memorable Tuesday, we received an email from our agency that they had recieved our LOAs in courier.  Unbelievable - we actually received them in record time.  Whoo Hoo.  As soon as they overnight them to us, we'll get our I800 forms filled out  and sent to the Department of Homeland Security (that is another government form that has to be submitted that indicates which specific three children we are assigned and intend to bring back to the US as our children).   We're moving along at record speed right now - just hope we don't hit any speed bumps along the way.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


And our journey continues.  While waiting to get information back on our little guy with the cleft lip, we were not feeling too optimistic.  Again, we felt maybe it just wasn't meant to be.  On October 18th, we received another email from our agency.  They had another little boy just come available - another family had just pulled out their LOI (Letter of Intent) on this little guy - he was just 12 months old, and had a rough start to his life.  He had been operated on when he was about 6 months old to remove a cyst on his forehead.  One look at his photos though and we were smitten.  He had the biggest grin and a twinkle in his eyes.  We still needed our physician to review his file of course. 

Our physician discussed with us the potential risks related to the surgery he had, but also indicated that he appeared to be developmentally on target and cute as a button.  In the meantime, we also received the updated information on the other little guy as well.  His updated photos, measurements, and video showed that any concerns our physician had about him were no longer concerns.  So we had a tough decision to make. 

Chris first brought up the idea of adopting them both.  I thought he was crazy, and said "absolutely not".  That only lasted about 24 hours. After some real soul searching and praying, the choice seemed simple - they were all three suppose to be our children, and we wondered if China would even let us adopt all three children.  We are certain that God had a hand in bringing these two little boys into our lives.

Well, it took a lot of work, but after submitting our request, providing supporting documentation as to the benefits of adoption into our family, and busting our tail to get our dossier completed, we finally received the go ahead by the Chinese government to adopt three children.  And we had committed to getting our dossier logged into China by November 21.  We had alot of work yet to get done - getting all of our documents notarized, then certified at the Secretary of State, and finally sending them to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago to be Chinese Authenticated. 

With a hug sigh of relief, I overnighted our dossier to our agency on November 12 - given them plenty of time to get it reviewed, and in the courier to China on November 17.  So the waiting continues - we should hear something in a week or so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One plus One

It's amazing how God's handprints are all over our adoption journey.  When we were working with our social worker on our homestudy, she asked if we wanted our homestudy to approve us for 2 children.  Chris and I hadn't given it too much thought up until then, but after more talking and praying we decided to move forward with being put on the waiting list to adopt a special needs little boy.  And that began the second leg of our journey.  We first filled out the checklist to indicate which special needs we would accept - things like cleft lip/palate, club feet, dwarfism, etc.  We started looking at the Shared Files to see if there were any little boys available that met our criteria, and we waited for the new shared files to be released at the end of each month to see if we would be matched with any little guy.  We didn't have a lot of time - our agency told us that we would need to be matched no later than when we turned in our dossier to be sure that we could complete both adoptions during the same trip.

So began a most heart breaking few months.  We were referred a file on three different occasions.  And each one tore a little bit out of our hearts.  We would review the file, be skeptical, and then consult with our International Adoption physician, and be told what we feared - that this child had much more severe special needs than what we were prepared to parent.  Chris and I were beginning to doubt that we would be matched - maybe God had some other idea in mind for us. 

Our agency works exclusively with a few orphanages in the Guizhou region, and they have a special program called the Jing Li program, where they get exclusive rights to the files of some children in the region for a few months in order to try to locate them a family.  Jing Lan was part of that program, and our agency had been told that they were soon to receive a new set of files, and that they had been told that it included a few little boys that matched what were were looking for - particularly a little boy with a cleft lip/cleft palate.  The only problem was we didn't know when their files would be sent to our agency.  So we decided to just wait and see, and if it was meant to happen, it would all work out.

Well, on October 14, we finally received the file of the little 16 month old boy with the cleft lip/cleft palate.  But his file was not listed as "special focus", which meant that we couldn't lock in his file until after our dossier was sent in to China.  Luckily our agency didn't have any other families on the waiting list for a boy as young as him, so if we decided to move forward, they could hold his file for us while we rushed to finish our dossier.  Although his photo didn't look too promising, all of his paperworks seemed to check out.  Of course, we wanted to send it off to our physician to review.  And boy were we surprised when she came back and said that based on his photos, she had some big concerns, and wanted us to try to get updated photos, measurements, and a video.  So we went from a high, to a low, and then back to a waiting game as we requested the updated information.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How it all began

Chris and I rarely talk about the postings of our adoption agency on Facebook.  We both follow FTIA's page, and periodically they will post about a child they are advocating for a family.  So back in July, when both of us noticed the photo of a little girl from China called Jing Lan on their page, and mentioned it to the other, we should have known then that there was a greater power directing us.  Were we thinking about adopting again?  Sure, but were we planning on doing it at this time?  Not at all.  In fact, since a good friend had just returned home a few months before with her little boy from Russia, I was certain that we would be returning to Russia when it was time to expand our family, especially since we both feel such a passion for Andrew's birthcountry.  But there was something special about this little girl.  FTIA was advocating for her as she was close to "aging out" of the orphanage.  They were hoping to find her family before her birthday in February, when she would no longer be eligible for adoption.  After reviewing her file, spending many hours talking and praying about it, we were certain that Jing Lan was to be our daughter.

So we started the paperwork chase to bring her home.  Since we weren't even in any stage of adoption at this point, we had quite a task ahead of us.  We didn't even have a home study.  Luckily, Jing Lan's file was marked as "special focus" which meant that we could go ahead and fill out the necessary paperwork to "lock her file" as we worked on getting our dossier together.  So we filled out the paperwork and received "PA" (pre-approval) to adopt Jing Lan on August 16.  And we started on our homestudy.  We knew God was in our corner, when FTIA indicated they could be our homestudy agency as they had a social worker on staff that was in the Indianapolis area, and she could travel to Fort Wayne.  Boy were we surprised and delighted to find out she was the same social worker that we used for our homestudy when we adopted Andrew.  We were off and running, and things were going "high speed" in order for us to be able to finalize the adoption before Jing Lan's birthday.  We are so unfamiliar with the process, that we certainly had a learning curve - trying to figure out what all the abbreviations are related to the Chinese adoption process, such as LOI, PA, LOA, etc.  Alot of work ahead of us, with not alot of spare time to figure it all out.