Friday, October 23, 2015

1 Month HOME!!!

FINALLY, there is an update. I know some of you are saying that. I'm so sorry. Since my last post in June there has been a lot of activity here at the Freriks home. Up until late August of this year there really was nothing to report. We were just waiting on filing of papers so we could get our approval to travel to go get Leah!

In mid August we knew the approval was coming down the pipe and would happen soon. We were hoping to get to China and back before the end of September because due to holidays there would be a shut down of offices in China the first few weeks of October. If we didn't make the last gotcha day in September (the 14th) then we would have to wait until at least October 19 for the next one. Well, our agency emailed us September 3 and informed us if we got approval by Monday, Sept 7, we could still make the 14th gotcha day.  If that was the case we should be prepared to leave on the 11th. That is EXACTLY what happened. We received travel approval on Monday Sept 7, and left on a jet plane that Friday, Sept 11. Talk about a whirlwind week! But with the help of family and friends, we made it happen!!

So, we were off on a plane for 24 hours of travel to Fuzhou, China to meet our daughter.
someday I will publish our daily diary I kept while we were there. We arrived on Saturday September 12, and were scheduled to meet our daughter on Sunday the 13th. Time to rest and psych ourselves up for that meeting!
We met Leah in our hotel at 4pm the next day. She was in a conference room with a few people from Civil Affairs and someone I assume was from the orphanage. The whole thing was so surreal. There she sat in a big office type chair, by herself, looking scared to death. I asked if I could pick her up, and was granted permission. She came to me without much fight. You could tell she was scared but was so quiet, and still is today. She is a very quiet little girl, most of the time ;)  We signed a few papers promising not to take off with her from the hotel, basically and we were done! She was ours to take. CRAZY!!! We were handed this 16 month old little girl that came along with NO instructions. We had no idea what she wanted to eat, or when she wanted to sleep, nothing. The orphanage person took off so fast we didn't have a chance to ask any questions, we were on our own! Off we went to get to know each other.
Gotcha Day! 09-13-2015
Saying goodbye to Fuzhou, her home city.
The next ten days were filled with meeting new people, sightseeing, appointments and fun. We were with one other gentleman and his daughter on the first 5 days of our trip. They were there adopting his and his wife's 51th and 16th child! They had 7? bio kids and the rest were adopted with some sort of special need! The girls they were there adopting, one had downs syndrome and the other had Apert syndrome, I believe. Such a great family. They arrived home with Brooke and Jillian in Seattle on Sept 24. On Monday Sept 28, their daughter Brooke, tragically passed away. It was found that she had pneumonia that went straight to her blood stream and the Lord took her home. Please keep this family in your prayers still today as they are dealing with this loss.
The second half of the trip was in Guangzhou, China. We were in a group with 9 other families and were so happy to meet them! In Guangzhou we had a medical appointment, consulate appointment and some more sight seeing, eating dinners with our new friends. Then, on the 23rd of Sept, it was time to come HOME!!!!! I was ready! WE were ready!
Guangzhou Zoo
Dinner with the goup
Shamian Island (shopping)
So, this happened exactly one month ago today! We were so excited to see the kids and let them meet their sister for the first time!

Leah is such a gift! It feels like she has always been here! We cannot believe that the Lord chose us to be her parents and her family. Everyday we look at her an are struck by how beautiful she is and how blessed we are to have her. She has changed us, all of us, forever. Her smile will light up a room. Her laugh is contagious.  She has really come out of her shell in the past month. She has gone from sleeping in our bed, to sleeping in a pack and play next to our bed and just today, we put her in her crib in her own room for her nap. She loves to cuddle, play, laugh, explore and eat! Eating was interesting to figure out. She started out really bland, but is starting to explore more flavor and textures. We have been out and about lately and she does so well!!! I would say transition and attachment are going beautifully! That all is possible because of all the prayers and support we have gotten from all of you! We cannot begin to thank you enough for the cards, meals, and visits. It means the world!
We are excited to see what the next months and years holds for her. I'm sure we will discover more treasures the is hiding from us! We'll keep you posted.




1 Month HOME!!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It's a GIRL!!!

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

Well, that was the LONGEST pregnancy EVER!! At least that's what it felt like. In case you haven't heard me screaming it from my rooftop, we have a baby girl!!!! BABY!! We are thrilled to announce that we accepted the referral, and have been pre approved to adopt little 12 month old baby girl from China. She is simply gorgeous and a perfect gift from above.
We have given her the name Leah Joyce Freriks.

If you don't mind, we are going to keep her picture off social media and the blog until we have her home. We are MORE than happy to show you a picture of her should you see me or Jeremy out an about. My phone is permanently attached to me should I need my baby fix, which happens hourly :)
You can also ask any one of her aunts or uncles or grandparents and I'm sure they would be happy to share their niece/granddaughter/cousin with you! The kids are thrilled! Its been a long wait for them too. They can't wait to have a baby in the house, so they say right now, that may change when reality sets in and there is crying and screaming going on!

So, now what???? More paperwork, argh!!! We are waiting on an LOA, letter of acceptance, from China. This will tell us that they accept us to adopt her. We then file again with the USCIS, sending the LOA from China and her file to let them give us the ok to adopt her. We then send that approval from USCIS to China, along with some other paperwork, they look it all over and send us travel approval. They give us the ok to come get her! China will have given us a date to come to the Consulate to finalize her adoption, that is what we work our travel dates around. We are hoping this will be sometime in the next 4-6 months. This would mean we will have a pretty great Christmas this year!!

This will also mean we are starting over at the baby stage. She will be around 18 months old when we get her home. So, we need to restock our baby supplies! How fun will that be! I also get to decorate a nursery!!! YAY!!

We will keep you posted on the status of the remaining steps and when we receive the call to travel to get our baby! As always, we covet your prayers as we navigate these last steps in our journey to bring Leah home!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Where we are

Last time we talked I told you that we had made the decision to switch our adoption to China! YAY!!
We did the paper chase, again. Went back to the Dr. to get another form signed. "Yes, I know you already filled this out for us once but we need it done again, for China. Thank you very much" I said that sentence a lot in the last couple of months. We had to have references done again, along with new background checks and order ANOTHER copy of our marriage license and birth certificates. Crazy, I know but it is what it is.
So, our paperwork, for now, is all done. That was our goal before we left for Florida for spring break. I wanted to not have to think about that while we were gone enjoying our vacation.

We had 14 documents were sent to the State of Michigan to get authenticated, then they were off to DC to get another seal. That is where they sit. They will then come back to our agency in TN and they will send them off to CHINA!!!! We should be  DTC(Dossier to China) by May. Did that go over your head? It did mine at first. The world of Chinese adoptions has MANY acronyms. HS (Home Study), DTC, LID (Log in date), PA (pre approved), LOA (Letter of Acceptance) and MANY more. I can't keep up with them. All these Facebook groups I'm a part of talk in acronyms, so confusing. All I know is that our Docs should be to China in the next few weeks. They spend a couple, few weeks there getting processed. We then are issued a LID (log in date). Once we have that date we are eligible to be matched with a precious little girl. Our agency has seen referrals within 24 hours of that LID, it could also take a couple of months. So we could be just a few short months from knowing who our daughter/sister is!!! Can't stand it.
Our prayer is only that we hear the very clear whisper of the Holy Spirit when it comes to a referral. "She is yours" Oh, I cannot wait to hear it! I truly believe that there is a little girl on the other side of the world that the Lord has planned from the beginning of time, would be in our family. To think about that is crazy talk to me because just a few short years ago, I would have told you I was DONE having kids. I may HAVE told some of you that! Every time I said that, the Lord was laughing at me! "Oh, no you're not!" :)
For all my adoptive mamas out there you have to read Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn. This book was given to me by a dear loved one. It has been the best book, by far, that I have read on this journey. I will be reading it again.  It has invaluable information in it and is so relatable!
Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers. We will keep you posted on the movement of our paperwork!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The road

Adoption is a winding road. It takes your heart one way, and then another, and yet still another.  There are hills and valleys too. You are so excited one day, weepy the next day because its Christmas and she isn't here to experience it with us. Then the next day you get angry for a plethora of reasons. Jeremy and I have been walking this road for a year and a half. Our heart strings have been tugged by so much.
The road to adoption for us began a year and a half ago. We started down the road to adopting from Lesotho. It was perfect! All the signs seemed to point that direction! So, we started walking the road that was paperwork, home visits and fundraising. We were on the road to adopting our daughter.
A lot of time has passed since that summer in 2013. A lot has happened, or not happened as it were. We were very excited about the prospect of having a referral within a short-ish amount of time. As with all adoptions, things don't go as planned all the time. There are match meetings that don't happen. There is unrest in the government that makes things difficult. Then, there are serious conversations you have with your spouse, wondering if we are walking the road we were supposed to walk. Well......we definitely believe we are on the right road in regards to adoption. But, we decided we were not on the right road regarding where our daughter was. Thus, another twist in the road. We have reset our course.......TO CHINA!!!! That's right. Your read that right, we believe our daughter is in China. We have added our name to the China Waiting Child program at our agency. This means, our daughter will have some sort of special need, according to China. We will be the ones to decide if she has a special need, or not. :) 
With this decision, we will be starting the paper chase all over again! It will be a busy couple months but we are confident in all of it! Please pray for us as we go through this again.

Until next time........

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

It's Christmas week! I don't know why I am surprised every year that it comes so fast. But it always seems to! I was ready for it this year. I didn't feel too stressed or overwhelmed. I think I chose that for myself consciously. I don't like feeling like I have to perform or do all the expected things that a lot of people do during this season. It isn't because I don't care, cause I do!! I just decieded to limit the things I chose to stress about. I made a good list of gifts I wanted to get for people in my family. I love buying gifts for them and knowing that they will love (like?) them.  I did not however choose to do gifts for teachers, Sunday school teachers, mailmen, garbage men, and the like. I LOVE all of these people and value what they do for me in my life, and the lives of our children. I just chose not to add that to the stress of the season. It is too overwhelming for me. I feared that I was in jeopardy of doing these things out of the "have" to of the season rather that the "heart" of the season. I plan to show our appreciation to all these "extra" people in my life but maybe not during this specific season. Call me rude, call me unthoughtful (is that a word?). But you can ask anyone that lives in this house, when mom gets stressed it ain't pretty!

So this brings me to my next confession.......I did not do Christmas Cards this year either. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, I didn't get a great picture of the family this year. Second, if I'm being honest, I was a little sad to send them out. Why??? Because our family looks exactly like it did last year, and that makes me sad. I wanted our family to look different this year!! I want our daughter and sister to be with us! I want the picture to change and it didn't. Our prayer is that it will look different next year. Only God knows if that is true. 

There really is not a great update on the waiting front. Lesotho is still referring children to the USA but at a very slow pace. There were three referrals to the USA in 2014. We hope and pray there are more this coming year. There have been some improvements in communication between Lesotho and the US regarding how the US wants adoptions to go. The prayer is that things have been better communicated and kinks have been ironed out and we will see more match meetings and more referrals to the US this year! Please pray for that. There are children waiting for families and families waiting for children. Everyday these kids are not with their families is a day they are missing out! There have been multiple times this year where I would be sitting at a concert of one of the kids or out to dinner with my families or at a soccer game or volleyball game and thought, I wish she was here to be part of this. She is missing being part of HER family! And we are missing her being a part of our family too.

So, we are coming up on a year since our paperwork went to Lesotho. We have been officially waiting for almost a year. In some ways it went really fast but in others it has been long. As we look forward to 2015 we have great anticipation of a year that our family will look different! It is very likely that it won't but I will continue to pray that it does. Not only for us, but for all the other families waiting out there.

I would also like to take this opportunity to once again thank all the family and friends who have supported us in this journey. Be it a prayer, phone call, text, card in the mail, gift card or donation to the adoption fund. You have no idea how much ALL of that means to us. I get very overwhelmed when someone thinks of us in this season. There is so  much going on in the world and with your families that to stop and think of little ole' us is humbling, really, it is. It brings me to tears whenever it happens. The donations to the adoption fund have been incredible. We are a little less than half funded. Our expected total for this adoption is about $30,000. We have received almost half of that from various donations and fundraising. AMAZING!!!! I am excited to see what 2015 brings.

Merry Christmas From the Freriks Family!
"For unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given" Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I know, I know.......

Sorry all. I know it has been a long time since my last post. I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that there is really nothing new on our situation. We are still waiting.

There has been some movement in Lesotho though. They held a match meeting in August and did match one more family from our agency. Baby steps. That is really all I know that is new.

We are just here plugging along. The kids are back in school. Life has been pretty manageable the past couple of months. Noah and Haylie are busy with soccer and volleyball.
It is so fun to watch her play a sport she is learning and learning to love.
Hunter is busy chasing deer. He would love to "one up" his sister from last year. She shot a 6 point last year and he would love to out-do her.

I am enjoying my quieter times at home since the kids have started school. I still keep busy with BSF and Church stuff and carting kids around from here to there.

I would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers that continue to bless us. We still need them in this time of waiting. Waiting on someone else (Africa) is never easy. Our patience are being tested and we question our decision sometimes. But we are resting in the knowledge that this IS Gods plan for our family and we will see it through.

God Bless

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Process: A quick education on the process of adopting from Lesotho

Hi all,
We are still here, waiting.............. I get that you all may not understand why we have to wait. Afterall, there are millions of orphans out there. Can't they just go to the orphanage and pick one out and say "here ya go"! Ha! I wish. There is so much more to it. It is hard for us adoptors to understand, not to mention you all who have not entered into the adoption world.

For us, the process goes something like this:  I will try to make this very long process as short as possbile.
*Apply to the adoption agency on June 21, 2013(Small World Adoption agency in Tennessee) to adopt from Lesotho. They say yes. We hire another agency here in Michigan to do our home study. That process lasted from about August through November.
*Homestudy done so now we can send our home study to the US government to ask them if we can adopt. This is called filing a I800a form with the USCIS. They get our request and ask us to come for fingerprints to make sure we aren't bad people. ;)  When we get that approval we can add that piece of paper (I797 form) to our homestudy and a million other things. This stack of papers is called a dossier.
*We send our dossier to our agency in TN. and they review it. Making sure everything is there that the counrty wants to prove we are worthy of adopting from their counrty and adopting one of their precious children.
*Our agency sends that dossier to Lesotho. Lesotho translates it and logs us into the system.
***This is where details can get fuzzy. We don't know the exact procedures in Lesotho so it is hard to know what happens after our dossier gets there.
*We are then considered "on the list". This is when the TRUE waiting begins. This is when everything is out of our hands and into the hands of the Lesotho government.
*Our official wait began at the end of February when Jimbo, a representative from our agency actually hand delivered our dossier to the Lesotho government because he was there on a trip.
*We have been told by our agency that we are about 14th on the list of families waiting to adopt from Lesotho (out of about 30 or so). We aren't sure if that even means anything. We don't know if Lesotho goes in order or if they are random in the choosing a family to match with a child.

Sidebar: Lesotho is a new country to the Hague Convention ("an international agreement to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child") They just became "Hague" in April 2013, only 2 months before we applied. So, this new way of doing adoptions with the USA is all new to Lesotho. They have to learn the process. As does our agency as they have yet to complete an American adoption from Lesotho. There is one in process, a family from California, and they are supposed to travel soon to go get thier little boy. YAY!!!!

THE WAIT: Here is why we have to wait.

Lesotho has match meetings to match families with children. The first meeting they held was in December 2013, 8 months after becoming Hague. They matched 1 family from the USA, it wasn't us :(. So, we know we have to wait until there is another meeting. That was supposed to be held in March, it never took place. I won't mention the reason here on the blog because I don't know if I'm allowed to. Ask, if you would like to know. So, we wait agian for another match meeting to get scheduled. They finally schedule one for June. They matched three families!!!! YAY. No one from the USA. But what a blessing that three more children will have forever families, in the Netherlands, or Sweden or Canada!
I have connected with a group of families on Facebook that are all adopting from Lesotho, what a blessing that has been. The theory between those families is that Lesotho is waiting for this first adoption from California to go all the way through to completion before they match others from the USA. We are thinking they want to make sure all goes smooth and they know what they are doing. That is just a theory but right now we are hanging on to all we can to make sense of this.
So we wait again for another meeting to be scheduled. We have been told that there will be one sometime around the beginning of september.
That is a HUGE prayer request: Pray that there will be a meeting. Pray that there are children ready to be referred. While there are over 350,000 orphans in Lesotho, that doesn't mean they are all in an orphanage, and it doesn't mean that they are all adoptable. The ones that are at the orphanage need to be researched to make sure that all options are exhausted to declare them adoptable. That is a lofty task for the social worker down there.

Because this is a new program for our agency and Lesotho, we have no frame of reference as to how Lesotho matches families. We don't know if they match only a certian amount of families, if they match all the kids submitted for adoption or just a few. There is soooooo much we don't have answers to as far as the process in Lesotho goes. We just have to wait and see. Go on faith, and trust in Gods PERFECT timing. What we DO know is that this is Gods plan for our family. We DO know that this WILL happen, at some point.

So, there you have it. In a nutshell, some of the reasons as to why we have to wait. 
Again, Please pray with us that there will be a meeting held in September. We most likely will not be matched at that meeting but our hope is that there are families from the USA that are matched so we can move up the list (if that is how they do it down there). I will keep you posted as to what I hear regarding that meeting.

Stay tuned for an update on our fundraising/donations. I want to give you all an update as to how much the Lord has blessed us through our friends and family as far as raising the funds to bring this little peanut home.

God Bless,
The Freriks