Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting Closer

Some really exciting things have happened with fundraising over the last few days!
Micah’s concert was this past Saturday. Nearly $1000 was raised at this event! Again, thank you so much to Arbor Village, the Cares Team, the artists, donors and attendees for your generosity!

On Tuesday, we found out that we were selected to receive a generous grant from the Gift of Adoption organization! This was super exciting and an answer to prayer!
Now, we have been offered a matching donation up to $1,000
So fromThursday the 25th at 8AM, through Monday the 29th at 8PM, any additional donations to our Reece’s Rainbow family sponsorship page will be matched up to $1K.*** So if you were waiting for an opportunity to double your donation value, this is the time to take advantage!
*To donate just go to http://reecesrainbow.org/76440/sponsorbrangers and click the PayPal donate button. In this case, online donations will work best to better track progress toward our match goal.

I cannot express how thrilled and relieved we are that we are getting nearer to being fully funded! If we are able to achieve the complete matching donation, then any additional funds raised will go toward the higher costs associated with October travel/lodging due to the Chinese Trade Fair. 

We are getting so close to the end, but really need this final push to get us over the finish line! Then all we have to do is get our butts to China and get our son!

Adoption Update:

Our Article 5 document was picked up in China last Thursday, so all we are waiting for now is travel approval (TA). If current trends continue it is possible we could receive TA next week! So far everything is progressing right on schedule.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

It's getting real!

I think it’s time for an adoption update! On September 2nd our Article 5 documents were dropped off at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. These documents will be picked up by a courier and sent to the CCCWA on the 18th. We have been told that if current trends continue, we should receive our travel notice about 2 weeks later. Or case manager told us that we should be able to travel 2-3 weeks after we are given travel notice. So we are still on track to travel in October!
The only down side of traveling in October is that it coincides with the China Import and Export Trade Fair, and will likely increase the cost of our airfare and hotel stay. Still, as I have told several people, if China tells us we can go get our boy, you better believe we are going, and will not delay if at all possible. Our son needs his family, and the sooner the better!
So now we just need to get this thing fully funded!  Our next fundraiser is coming up on September 20th at 7pm! It is a LIVE WEBCAST CONCERT played by local artists. If you would like to tune in to support our adoption, just follow the link to the Concert Window page, then purchase a ticket with the donation of your choice. At the time of the concert you just log in and enjoy some great music for a good cause. We will receive 70% of proceeds as the artists are donating their time and talent to help bring Micah home (the 30% is for web hosting). Link: https://www.concertwindow.com/shows/8590-bring-micah-home
This event is courtesy of Josh and Melissa Gale, the amazing Cares Team at Arbor Village Apartments, where Phil works as a  leasing specialist. They are throwing the live fundraiser concert event at Arbor Village for all the residents, which will also be webcast on Concert Window so the rest of us can tune-in online! Thank you Josh, Melissa and the staff and residents of Arbor Village for thinking of us! Recently I have been asked how people can make donations for Micah in which 100% of the gift will go toward his adoption. We have a couple of ways to make that happen. Micah has a family sponsorship page through Reece’s Rainbow (a special needs adoption advocacy organization) where they accept donations toward a grant that we will receive prior to travel. To make the most of the gift and avoid a 3% processing fee, they ask that you consider sending a check (just send a note along with it to specify it is for Micah/The Brangers Family). Any gift given through Reece’s Rainbow is tax deductible. Link: http://reecesrainbow.org/76440/sponsorbrangers We are also able to accept donations via Paypal if needed. Please contact us if you need details. And, please know that I am providing this information only because I have been asked by several people and want to make it readily available.
I am so thankful for the support we continue to receive on this adoption journey! We could not do this alone, and are so grateful for our friends, family, and even strangers who have supported us with kind words, prayer, and donations. I have been stretched and my faith has been strengthened. I can’t tell you how ready I am to get our boy home! I know life will never be the same:)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Fundraising Home Stretch Begins

I want to take a moment to again thank everyone who participated in our Thirty-One Fundraiser! We raised enough money to cover the expenses to apply for our Chinese entry visas, which is the next fee we expect. Every bit helps and it continues to come just as we need it!

As we continue to quickly approach travel time in October, we still have a long way to go on the fundraising front. Our travel expenses will be due in a lump sum at our agency before we go get Micah. So to cover those costs and avoid delays, we need about $9,000 more in 7-9 weeks. 

Our next fundraiser begins TODAY and is yet another fabulous way to shop for a cause! Trisha Flagler, a friend and Mary Kay consultant has offered to donate 40% of her sales from NOW UNTIL AUGUST 31st to our adoption! Any orders placed at Trisha's website with “Micah” or “Brangers Adoption” placed in the comments box will be applied to the fundraiser!

I actually attended one of Trisha’s in-person events with my friend Cassie this past Tuesday evening for a little pampering and to learn about Mary Kay’s new products! It had been a very long time since I had tried Mary Kay. I remember tagging along with my mom to a party as a teenager and thinking that these products seemed a little outdated. I saw a clientele of older women wearing a lot of make-up. Well, I can tell you that my experience with Trisha was an enlightening one.  I learned that the Mary Kay company has done a lot in recent years to revamp their product line, and has invested in research and technology to make more innovative products. They have a line of skincare products to repair and protect your skin, as well as make-up for every-day wear and date nights out! 

My favorite products of the evening were their Satin Lips Lip Mask and Lip Balm. I am not really a lipstick girl. I was given full lips and fair skin and always felt a bit risque when wearing bright lip color. But by not really paying any attention to my lips, now they are constantly dry, hard and cracking or peeling. I think the best example is what my husband calls “crusty morning kisses.” Gross right?! (I try to avoid these crusty kisses but he sweetly insists) But I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. I have tried treating my dry lips with all types of balms and chap-sticks, but still have the same problem. Then, one of the consultants told us that your lips are the only area of skin on your face that doesn’t naturally shed dead skin cells (explains the crusty morning kisses hugh). So Mary Kay has a solution. Their Lip Mask is a lip exfoliant that gets rid of all that dead skin, and then their Lip Balm moisturizes your lips up to 6 hours. 

So, even if you are skeptical about Mary Kay products, give them a try again! You might be surprised! Trisha is such a sweet person and would love you to bring a friend and meet her to sample some products. It is a win/win situation. Not only do you get a little pampering, but any purchases through the end of August go to help bring Micah home! 

Some details about the fundraiser: 
Be sure to enter “Micah” or “Brangers’ Adoption” in the comment line so that it will apply to the fundraiser.
For any orders over $50, Trisha will throw in a free gift!
If you live outside the Charleston area, there is a $5.75 shipping fee.
Trisha is available on Tuesday evenings and on Saturdays for in-person consultations. Contact her from her web page by clicking "send me a message" if you would like to set up an appointment with her.
If you already have a Mary Kay consultant but would still like to support our fundraiser, just let Trisha know.

Thank you everyone for your continued support, and keep praying for our fundraising efforts!

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Picture Time!

The LOA wait is over! On Thursday the 7th we received our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC or LOA) from China. This was such exciting news, because officially (paperwork and all) China has approved Phil and I to adopt Micah!!! The letter is just for us to confirm that we still want to. Well, that letter was signed and sent back to our agency within 30 minutes of receiving it.:) 

Because China has now approved us to adopt Micah, I can FINALLY publicly show everyone how stinkin’ adorable he is!!!

I can hardly stand it! I just can't wait to hold this little guy in my arms!

I know what you are thinking. So what happens next and how long will it take? As I understand it, these are the remaining steps:

I-800: 3-4 weeks
On Thursday afternoon, our case worker received our signed LSC and sent this along with our previously completed I-800 application, to the U.S. immigration office (USCIS). Two to three weeks after they receive our application, it will be approved and forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), who will in-turn send the approval to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. 

Article 5: 10 days
When we receive the letter from the NVC stating this has taken place, we will complete Micah’s online “Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application” and send the confirmation form to our agency. At that point the agency will send our NVC letter and visa application confirmation form to the US Consulate. After they review these documents (taking approx.10 days) they will issue our Article 5 Letter and agency letter seeking confirmation.

Final Travel Notice: 2-4 weeks
When the Article 5 and agency LSC documents are ready, a representative from our agency will pick them up and express mail them to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) in Beijing. Then the CCCWA will issue our Final Notice of Traveling to China for Adoption!!

Travel To China: 2-3 weeks later
After we get our travel notice it will finally be time to buy plane tickets and receive our travel itinerary.

This all means that we will, barring any unforeseen delays, travel in October TO GO GET OUR SON!!! I don’t think I can express how excited I am! 

This also means that we only have 9-12 weeks to raise $9,500 more for travel costs! (Eeek!)

Our Thirty-One Fundraiser that ENDS TOMORROW. So if you are planning to purchase an item please get those orders in ASAP! See the Facebook event for details or check out https://www.mythirtyone.com/shop/catalog.aspx
Thank you Amanda Pruitt for generously offering to help us bring Micah home!

We have applied for several more grants and are waiting for those to be processed. We are also still planning a live auction event though we have hit some bumps in the road while attempting to find a venue. We may have to scale it down a bit, but it will happen!

Micah’s family sponsorship grant with Reece’s Rainbow will remain open for donations until we travel. These donations are tax deductible.

If you feel lead to help fund our adoption we will be forever grateful! 

Prayer Requests:
Please be praying that our adoption continues to move smoothly. Also pray that our fundraisers are a success, and that God continues to work in those around us to make a way to overcome the financial barriers associated with our adoption!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Match Reviewed!

Quick update: Today we found out that our dossier is MATCH REVIEWED! This is exciting news because it means that China has approved us to adopt Micah and the official document (LOA) is in the mail! Our case manager at our agency said that we are still on target for travel in October to get our son! I am over the moon about this news!

Fundraising Update: With all this progress our fundraising situation is becoming a bit more urgent. We still need about $9,500 in order for our adoption to be fully funded. The remaining funds will cover our travel expenses and orphanage "donation." 

My friend Amanda Pruitt, physical therapy school classmate, and Thirty-One Consultant is throwing us a week-long online party fundraiser through Tuesday, August 12th. She is generously donating her commission to help fund our adoption! This is a private Facebook event, so if you have not already been invited and would like to be, please leave a comment. 

Keep those prayers coming! We have a lot of funds left to raise and not much time to do it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

LOA Wait Day 58

Until July rolled around I think I had been pretty chill about this whole adoption process. I was actually becoming a little concerned because I wasn’t responding with the same level of worry and emotion as the other adoptive moms in the plethora of new China adoption Facebook groups I have joined.
Well faithful audience….I have arrived! I am now counting the days. It doesn't particularly help that another waiting mom/online friend (and former financial analyst) has shared an incredibly detailed spreadsheet of everyone’s time lines in an attempt to predict when coveted milestones will occur. For instance, I know that it has been 58 days since our dossier was logged in, and that the shortest wait to have a dossier reviewed is 59 days. I know that on average, 4 days after it is reviewed, the match between child and family is reviewed. Then per current trends, about a week later it’s official! You receive your confirmation that the adoption is actually happening, in the form of a document called the letter of approval (LOA)! FYI: That is when we can share pictures publicly! Don’t get me wrong, this is valuable information to have. I’m sure other adoptive families can relate to wanting to somehow determine when the ever anticipated gotcha day will arrive! But it is also MAKING ME CRAZY! Even with all this counting and predicting, there are certainly no hard and fast rules. Anything can happen, and you never know how long it will take. Needless to say it been a pretty rough few weeks! I’m starting to become so weary of waiting to meet my son and bring him home. I’ll just say that Jesus is getting a little extra weight on his shoulders lately. It’s on Him that I cast my burdens, knowing that it WILL happen in God’s timing, in His way! Fortunately, I was also given a gift a few weeks ago, in the form of a long video of Micah sent with an update from China. I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I was to see a smile on his adorable little face! He seems to enjoy playing with toys very much, and is quite pleased with himself when he completes a goal. I was also incredibly thankful to hear that he receives 40 minutes of rehab each day in the orphanage. I imagine that the nannies wanted to show off his accomplishments, as they were sure to include moments of my boy standing against a wall and taking a couple side steps toward his weak side. With all of this good news, also came a bit of concerning information. Micah has a very sensitive stomach, and has some GI distress if he is not fed a very specific diet. Who knows what the cause of this is. Hopefully it is a minor problem, but it will definitely need to be addressed as soon as we get him home. The positive in this situation, is that it does shed some light on why Micah is so very small for his age. After converting all his recent measurements I have determined that he is the size of an 18 month old (less than half his actual age). Over the last few weeks I have been fighting the hard fight to distract myself. I have painted Micah’s room and have been hitting up yard sales for toy storage options. Now that we know Micah’s size we have also been able to get a car seat. Thank you so much Laura and Brandon Priest for this gift; and to Cassie Sartin for giving me the safe car-seat thumbs up! We also got a crib, which Phil so expertly put together (Babies R Us- yay for sales!). I am probably most excited about the crib quilt I made for Micah, and actually finished just this afternoon. I was so happy with how well the fabric matches his room! What do you think?

On the fundraising front, we just got a much needed boost from a yard sale that my family in Kentucky had. Again, thank you again to all who donated and made it possible!
Even with their generous gifts, we are very far from being fully funded. We still need just over $10,000 to pay for all of our travel costs and mandatory orphanage donation. A live auction fundraiser event is still in the planning stages. So please pray for sponsors and donors, because it won’t happen without them! As we get closer and closer to the finish line (3 months), that dollar amount makes me pretty nervous (as my husband can attest). Again, I know in my heart that it will happen. To this point we have been provided with funds as we need them, and not a minute sooner. I have to expect that this will continue to happen, regardless of what my planner’s brain may tell me. My God is continually challenging me to not box Him in. He’s got this! While we wait, we ask that you continue to pray us and our boy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things are happening y'all!

Yes, this stickler for grammar, finally gave in to South Carolina ways and said “y’all.” Things are definitely happening, and happening quickly with our adoption! It is getting real, and we are having trouble containing our excitement!

Our dossier was sent to China  (DTC) on 5/23!
Our dossier was received and “logged in” (LID) a week later on 5/30!
We were told it could be 2 weeks to 3 months to have our dossier translated but…
Our dossier is out of translation (OOT) TODAY!

Ashley, our poor case manager at WACAP, must be done trying to predict time frames for us, because things are consistently processing faster than her shortest projections:)

I’m pretty sure what your next question is. When do we travel to China to get Micah?
That is the million dollar question. Ashley’s CONSERVATIVE estimate is 4 months!!! You can guess what that could mean. Our hope is that, Lord willing, we will travel in late September or early October!!! Is that not just crazy?! We started the adoption process this January! I can’t tell you how ridiculously excited we are!

With all this excitement however, there is also some trepidation. As you might expect, this pertains to fundraising.

Let me stress that thus far God has completely provided for us financially each step of the way as we need it. We have seen Him move and been astounded by His faithfulness! We know in our hearts that God will continue to provide! But for this to happen, He will be moving in the lives of those around us! We need help from His body and our village to make this happen!

We need an additional estimated $14,000 to bring our son home! Because things have been happening SO FAST we hope to have that “in the bank” in 3 months! So this is crunch time guys!!

I’m not going to lie, but our initial reaction to this information was a bit of panic. After it set in a little, we know that of course this can and will happen.

If 14 people make donations of $1,000, we are fully funded! Just fourteen!
If 140 people gift or donate just $100  for Micah, we are fully funded!

We don’t expect that all of this will have to come from individual donations. We have been blessed by Phil’s new job, and the sales skills he has been gifted with, that make him a rock star leasing specialist! One of our good friends, the amazing and generous Anna Johnson, is donating a portion of her photography sales from a series of mini-sessions to bring Micah home! Also, one of Phil’s co-workers is working on throwing us a fancy art auction. More on that to come:)

Believe me when I say, we IN NO WAY think we are entitled to ask others for financial support. At the same time very respectfully, we do need help! And the time to help is upon us!

The best place we can direct people to make donations is via our Reece’s Rainbow family sponsorship page: http://reecesrainbow.org/76440/sponsorbrangers
These funds will be made available to us at the time of travel.

I cannot express how thankful I am for our friends and family who have already helped support us with your time and finances! It brings tears when I think about what a blessing your sacrifice has been to us! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

In the mean time, if anyone has some 2T to 4T size hand-me downs, talk to me. :)
Cause this is getting real y’all (insert little girl squeal here)!

P.S. I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation points. :)