our journey to little one {part one}

So…nothing new on the adoption front. We are waiting word that our dossier (all our paperwork) is done getting US state seals & authentications and on its way to China. Hopefully any day now. I am so anxious to hear it has left this country. Of course, Monday is Chinese New Year…so it will arrive just in time to sit on a desk probably, but better a Chinese desk than an American desk!

As I’ve shared a bit about our adoption, I’ve been asked A LOT how we ended up on the specific path of China. I’ve gone back and forth on sharing it. It is hard to know how to share a personal journey without sharing too much personal stuff. How to tell a journey full of crazy details, from a broad perspective? It has been difficult to know what to share. However, I want to share a summary of it. Maybe there will be something about our story that will help someone else considering caring for a child in need. This is the short version of our story. Obviously, so much thought, prayer, discussion took place that is not included here. As much of a summary as this is, it still is too long for one post. I’ll start with the first half today…

(Updated to add: I would hope that if you have read this blog even a week, you would know I am crazy about my four kids. I am beyond grateful for each of them. My life is full and I am consistently humbled by the incredible gift it is to be their mommy. This is the story of our adoption journey, it is not the complete story of our family. It is not the story of how crazy we are about the four kids we have. It just a very small glimpse of our adoption. You can read nearly every post from the past 4 years regarding how grateful I am to be a mom and how much I relish my days with my kids…)

High school years: began becoming exposed to and educated on children globally that were often forgotten by society; knew whether I ever got married or not ~ I’d adopt

2000: spent the summer in Kazakhstan with Chris. We volunteered weekly at an orphanage, where I met a little girl named Sabina (click here to read about her & see her cutie patootie face). Watching Chris interact with those kids made me know he’d be a great dad and that I wanted to be his wife…and that we’d adopt.

2004: Our first son was born
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After his birth, we began looking into the process to adopt from Kazakhstan. It was an obvious place to start in regards to adoption because it was what we knew and understood from a personal experience. We grew to love that country and its people. It felt natural. At that time some big changes were happening with adoption and Kazakhstan. There was talk about adoptions no longer being allowed. We decided to wait a bit to see if things would change.

2006: Our second son was born
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After his birth, things with Kazakhstan were still changing so we began looking into other countries. China was the first country we considered because it was another familiar country to us. Chris had been several times before and in 2005 we took our oldest son. We looked into the adoption requirements and found out we weren’t old enough to adopt from there. We moved onto other countries and domestic options, it seemed everywhere we looked, we ran into roadblocks.

2008: our third son was born
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Shortly after his birth, we began looking heavily into a domestic adoption. I made lots of phone calls, did lots of internet searches, talked to lots of people. In all that searching, we didn’t get much positive feedback. At one point, an organization told us that because we had 3 biological kids, a domestic adoption would not happen…a birth mom would never choose us. (At the time I trusted what she said, back then I didn’t know she was wrong.)

We felt lost. Longing to adopt, but constantly being stopped and discouraged. It made no sense. There were millions of children in our own city, state, country and worldwide that needed homes….we wanted to open ours….and doors just kept closing. Nothing logical about it.

fall of 2008: we were a bit confused on what the next step in pursuing adoption would be, then were surprised and overjoyed to find out I was pregnant
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2009: our daughter was born 1.12ourstory-5

We never dreamed we’d have four biological kids. It wasn’t our plan, but goodness how grateful I am that life doesn’t go according to how I plan it. Our plans always included a brood of kids, but not all would share our DNA. I’m forever humbled and thankful for my kids. They bring a joy to my life that can never be explained on a blog. Despite the immense joy we felt in our family, there was an awareness that we were not complete. We were surrounded by families adopting and we were thankful to get to share in their stories…but were still so confused by our own. It was hard. It had been 10 years since we laughed alongside each other in the courtyard of that Kazak orphanage. We had four kids, but were aching to know how God would write the story He began in us so long ago.
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Four little ones, the youngest two being close together in age, we knew we needed to delay a bit on the adoption front for our own sanity. We agreed to put all adoption plans and talk on hold until our daughter turned one. It felt like a long wait. Starting the process ~ again in many ways ~ was always on our minds. When we pack up our Christmas stockings each year, we write notes for the things we hope will happen in the following year (then read them when we hang the stockings back up the next Christmas season). For nearly a decade, we have each written “start the adoption process”…and every year when we put those stockings back up, we’ve rejoiced in all the hopes that came to life, but it has also been sad to read that one specific hope did not happen, yet again. It was incredible to read it this year…hope alive.

2010: our daughter turned one and we began talking about adoption again
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Chris says it is mean to cut the story off here, but it feels like the most natural place to pick back up tomorrow.

So, the happy side of this long process I’ll get into next ~ to be continued…

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  • Sonnet Gal - I am an adoptive parent and no matter what the reason behind adoption, it is truly a gift to the child, but above all to the parents. Blessings to you on this journey!

  • waiting for holden « thelittleeverydaythings - [...] I read some posts on a great blog, Under the Sycamore, about a family’s wait for the child they are adopting. Mom, Ashley Ann, [...]

  • Carley - Hi there! I am so grateful for the documentation of your adoption journey. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have found much inspiration in your blog. My husband and I have four beautiful children (7, 5, 2, & 9 months). We feel a calling to adopt and always have. We are starting to think about it again and wondering if this is the time God has planned for us to move forward with the process. While we have always felt called to adopt a child with special needs from China, your story of adoption has opened my eyes greatly. What advice do you have to offer those who are in the initial stages? Did you work with a small local agency or a large agency? We would love any advice you have to offer! Thanks in advance!

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