Seven. It is a pretty good number. We are so thankful to being starting the day to day life as a family of seven. On August 27th, 2012 we met our youngest daughter in Guangzhou, China. It is difficult to sum up the time leading to the moment she was placed in my arms and the days that followed. I documented most of our journey here on my blog. You can read through the main posts below…warning it might take a while. I suggest a cup of coffee, kleenex and a lot of time before you get started.

Here is our first photo as a family of seven, taken by my friend Shannon Phillips at the airport when we arrived home.

(They are listed from the earliest to the latest, left to right, top to bottom.)


June 3, 2011 – Mailed our application to Living Hope Adoption Agency (LHAA) to begin a China Special Needs/Waiting Child adoption

June 13, 2011 – Got our acceptance letter from LHAA

June 15, 2011 – Mailed our contract to LHAA

August 19, 2011 – Mailed off all the needed documents to begin our homestudy visits

September 1, 2011 – first homestudy visit (3 more during September & October)

October 12, 2011 – rec’d final copies of homestudy, mailed off our I800-A

November 22, 2011 – fingerprint appointment for USCIS

December 22, 2011 – USCIS approved our I800A

December 27, 2011 – received I800A approval in the mail

December 28, 2011 – mailed our dossier to LHAA

February 6, 2012 – DTC (dossier to China, lots of delay due to new years and Chinese New Year)

February 15, 2012 – LID (dossier logged in, we received the notification on 2/23/12)

February 27, 2012 -  received our referral for an amazing baby girl

March 1, 2012 – sent our LOI (Letter of Intent requesting approval to adopt her)

March 2, 2012 – received our PA (Pre-Approval from China to adopt)

June 13, 2012 – received our LOA (official approval from China)

June 13, 2012 – sent our I800 paperwork to US Citizenship & Immigration

June 28, 2012 – received our I800 approval

July 6, 2012 – NVC Cable (visa paperwork sent from US to China)

July 10, 2012 – Article 5 dropped off

July 24, 2012 – Article 5 picked up

August 7, 2012 – Travel Approval received

August 23, 2012 – leave for China

August 27, 2012 – we met our daughter!

September 7, 2012 – we celebrated being home as a family of 7!

Here are a few ‘background’ posts from oldest to the latest…little snippets while we waited to actually formally begin the adoption process. You can find all my posts related to adoption, advocacy, foster care, etc by going to the very bottom of the blog to the “Categories” option, look for “adoption & advocacy”:


  • Allison - Your story is beautiful! I too was adopted and families who adopt I think are so special. You have done a wonderful thing for such a beautiful little girl. She will cherish, be grateful and love you for all of time.

  • Kristin E - Sign me up for the newsletter please

  • Allie Bramlett - Hey Ann! I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog, especially your adoption journey! We decided to adopt from China a couple months ago and are so excited to embark on this journey! Your blog has been such an inspiration and help…thank you so much for sharing your life and journey…I hope I can do the same! I’m new to the blog world…I really have no idea what I’m doing! I’ve basically figured out the basics and that’s it! But I guess for me it’s more about getting the journey down on paper(well not paper) and if it helps others in the process then that’s an added bonus! Obviously you’ve been down this road and you know about the expenses…we are doing some fundraising ourselves and one of them is selling our t-shirts that we had made! We get them tomorrow and I can’t wait to see them! I am hoping to sell them to family and friends as well as people I don’t know that want to support this cause or have adopted themselves, etc. I was wondering if I might be able to send one to you??? I’m not sure if its possible or not for you to advertise it in some way….I’m sure that you have so many people visiting your site that may be interested in buying one and perhaps you could steer them my way?!?! It was just a thought and I totally understand if that is not something you want to do, or if its even possible! If it is, however, let me know! Either way, I’ll send ya a t-shirt, just let me know the size and place to send it to and it will be on its way shortly! Thanks so much for your time and consideration!

    Allie Bramlett
    Enumclaw, WA

  • Molly - Thank you for sharing your adoption story! I first read about your blog in a magazine and was pleasantly surprised to see the journey your family has taken. My husband and I served in China for 4 years and will return next year. One day, Lord willing, we would also like to adopt a little girl from China. We would like to name her Helen Louise, after my grandmother who regularly hosted missionaries to China in her home.

    I am not a blog reader and most definitely don’t write people I don’t know, but I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your story. Thank you!

  • Tahnie - Thank you for putting your heart out there and sharing all of your story. It makes me smile to read others adoption stories.


  • kate - First I apologize for posting this all here… I just couldn’t find your email. feel free to delete this comment (after reading of course:)


    I’ve been a silent follower of this blog for quite sometime. I wish I could express in words how the Lord has used your blog to cultivate a heart for adoption, but I just can’t. I check your blog every single day & always leave so encouraged and pointed to Jesus through your writing. I’m not real sure how to transition into why I’m emailing so I’ll just go for it;)

    husband and I are in the adoption process. Any day now we will receive the news that our home study is approved and our information will then be given to birth mothers. We are adopting domestically this time around but plan to adopt internationally one day as well.

    I’m writing all this to simply ask if you could help a sister out. Domestic adoption is still very pricey (especially for this SAHM and wife to a pastor). I started praying through ways to raise money for our adoption. After much googling, I ran across a blog of a sweet girl who hosted a “grow your blog & help her adoption” giveaway. After exchanging some emails with her & realizing how much she was able to raise, I knew I had to do something similar. Girlfriend raised $1200. My gosh!

    I’ll be hosting a “Grow your blog & Bring Him Home” giveaway in Mid October (October 14-18). I’m asking blogs that have really touched me about adoption/motherhood to join in. If you’d be willing to give away an ad space for the month of November to one lucky winner and then promote the giveaway through social media the day it starts… that would be FANTASTIC!!! For people to enter to win, they will give a small $5 donation to our adoption through paypal. They can then receive other entries through following the blogs that are a part of the giveaway (that’s you, yay new followers for you!!).

    I 100% understand if you can’t be a part of the giveaway for whatever reasons. Seriously, no harm done. If giving away an ad space just can’t happen, maybe just promote it on instagram or something the week of. I understand that with bigger blogs, sometimes you just have to say no so that you don’t get over run with requests. I totally get it:) Please don’t feel obligated.

    Thank you so much for reading & just considering. And seriously thank you for sharing your adoption story so openly & radiating Jesus. It’s encouraging beyond words.



  • Cindi - Hi, I’m sure you have MANY people trying to contact you on a daily basis, so here’s to hoping you see this comment and can respond. I was wondering why you chose to go with the agency that you did? Just wondering as we are beginning the process of adopting. Thanks

  • AshleyAnn - Cindi – We chose Living Hope based on several recommendations from families that had used them prior to us. We were very happy with Living Hope. There are lots of great agencies out there and lots that are the opposite. I would ask those you know what agency they used and if they would recommend their agency. Personal recommendations are really helpful. Also, most agencies only work with certain countries, so that plays a role too.

  • The Best of Us | Sweet Goings - […] blog. And while you’re at it, read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I could do this all […]

  • Jenny - Hello,

    I have really enjoyed reading your stories, thank you for sharing! We have two adopted children, one domestic and one from china. We are wanting to adopt more, but are having trouble getting through the financial aspect of doing it a third time. Do you have any suggestions on raising and saving the funds that have worked for you? Thanks for any insight…

  • Tere Bible - SO, I just turned 54 yesterday. I have not really understood or grown accustomed to blogging, tweeting, etc. I just stick to my emails, Skype, Word, research,online shopping, etc. I am a procrastinator at heart. A very creative one. And I will get lost in an Internet website rabbit hole before you can say “let’s run off to Mexico for a girls’ weekend”! So, I think subconsciously, I was avoiding the blogs etc so as not to be MORE distracted (plus, again, didn’t really understand it all). WELL, today, somehow, I found some incredible sites, blogs, creative postings, and finally YOU and your adoption story. Please pray for me because this great stuff I have found is so awesome but may lead to my destruction!! I was actually inspired to write to you, which hardly happens. I must say, besides your creative artistry and photography (and I haven’t completely finished looking at your whole site), I am particularly impressed with your big heart, and that you have shared your story and your life on the web. I may be a little old-fashioned, but I believe we all have in us a desire to help and to do good. It’s stronger in some than in others. It can be a gift, like an innate musical talent. But some have the further gift of being able to effect that desire into reality, and further, to spread the word and inspire others to do the same. I was very fortunate to meet a woman who came to my door 24 years ago to be my part time housekeeper. When I learned of her incredible past, escaping from the Congo after being jailed and tortured for a month (while pregnant), I felt compelled to help, even though I had not a clue how to go about it. As a young mother with my first child, I was horrified to hear that she had to leave her four children (4,6,8&10) behind in a raging civil war when she left. Long story shirt, we got Pauline political asylum and four years after escaping, she was reunited with her children in Houston, TX. She became and still is an award winning teacher in Louisiana and a few years ago, started a non-profit (, raised money, returned to her homeland and built an orphanage (among other good works). She even adopted a brother and sister (10&12yo) to make her a proud mother of 7! Her oldest recently received a PhD in microbiology and her fifth child just filmed a documentary about the orphanage for her college project. It’s titled “A Child Shall Lead Them”. Just like I didn’t know how to get Pauline political asylum and get her kids back, I am not sure how to help to promote her cause and raise funds. But because it has to be done, it will be done. She has had help from her local church, but we really need to step it up a notch as, although the home there is trying to be self-sustaining, there are still many needs to be met. I live in Denver and have started to reach out to groups so I can learn what I can to help them best. I do have a chronic illness that gets in my way at times, but for some reason, today, your site, you, inspired me to write, albeit too much perhaps :-), and maybe this blogging “thing” might be a way to spread the word about these beautiful kids in the Congo and my incredibly talented, big- hearted friend Pauline. SO, forgive me for going on and on… I guess that may be one of the downfalls of having a public blog… You never know what kind of whackos might respond! :-). Good luck in your journey and thanks for the ear!

  • KA - Our daughter was born in our hearts and also she had the same “beautiful whole in face” as yours. A lot of patient, joy and heatlh! For all family :)

  • Sarah - I have thoroughly loved reading through all of your adoption posts. I came upon your blog by Google searching China adoption blogs. We are in the very beginning stages of adoption and are looking at China to add to our family. Your daughter is adorable and your photography is beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Kat Smith - Oh my goodness! My husband and I are also believers and we are currently in the paper pregnancy. We have an eleven month old and this entire process has been exciting and scary but I cannot wait to see where God is going to take us! This is so encouraging and I cannot wait to read every last post!

  • Danielle - Wow! This is so wonderful! My husband and I are in the process of adopting from the Philippines, and this information is SO helpful! Thank you for sharing.

  • Wilfred J. Clifford - My son and his wife will be departing for the Yangxi Social Welfare Institution, Guangdong Province, from Massachusetts, on 1 April 14. They are a childless couple, married for 4 years; his wife is originally from Shanghai, and upon completion and acceptance of her Phd, she came up for air and found my son. Their daughter was abandoned on the door steps of the Institute at about 40 days of age, created birth date is 2012-08-15. She has a cleft pallet; her new parents have consulted two or more pediatricians, and are lining up a surgeon to correct this child’s problem(s); the nursery is outfitted, high chair(s), car seat(s) crib, clothing and toys all in readiness. Cutting to the chase, they believe, according to info received, that they will not be allowed to go to the Institute; I was amazed to see your photos indicating that indeed, it is possible to be allowed to enter. My question is, can adoptive parents be allowed to enter? P,S, I doted on your “Under The Sycamore.” Your family radiates pure love and tenderness. Will Clifford

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *