Almost a Family

Sunday was it. The final one. The VERY LAST big holiday we will spend without our son. The last time we will celebrate a holiday not as a family of three. (I’m not really counting Mothers’ Day this year – at least for us – as we will be in full on China travel prep that day so I hope to not really notice it.  Although, of course we will celebrate our own moms and all the other wonderful mothers in our lives!) Naturally, we can’t WAIT to celebrate Easter with our little guy next year!

It still seems like a dream in many ways. That we will actually be holding our boy in a little less than six weeks. Thirty nine days – give or take a few hours –  from this exact moment we will be meeting Gabriel for the very first time. Of course we have no idea how that will go. Will he be afraid? Most likely. Will we be afraid? Of course we will! We are first time parents and no amount of training and reading and asking and watching parenting videos can sufficiently prepare you for that role. But we know that we will put every ounce of love and heart and everything else we have into that sweet little man. We already love him with every fiber of our beings. And we know that we will have done everything we could to be as prepared as possible. And it will all be okay. Because we will finally be a family.

As we have mentioned before and as our social worker told us early on – this process is not for the faint of heart. We have had delays upon delays. Each one harder than the one that went before because each time we have been closer to being able to travel and also more in love with our child. There was the delay early on where we lost a month because a background check wasn’t sent by the state of Georgia in a timely fashion. Then we lost 2 weeks in February because a form for immigration was lost and we had to re-send everything. Then right when it looked like everything was falling into place, our adoption agency cancelled the trip in mid-April we were set to make. Some agencies allow you to travel as soon as all of your paperwork is in place. Ours only travels in groups and they only travel to each province once a month. This was the hardest of all the delays because we were so close. We played around with the idea of trying to leave the first of April but it would have cut everything too close. So we decided to make peace with leaving mid-May as that was the next time our agency would travel to Gabriel’s province. As things have a way of doing, it all works out for the best in the end. As tough as it has been to know we have to wait another month to meet our son, other (mostly work related) reasons have presented themselves since then that have made it fairly clear it was best to wait.

This past week we received our official travel approval from China and Gabriel’s visa appointment has been scheduled. We will leave Nashville on May 14th. We lose a day on the way over due to the time change so will arrive in China on the 15th. We will spend Friday night and some of Saturday in Shanghai and are excited about that. On Saturday early afternoon, we will travel to Wuhan (Gabriel’s city) in order to rest up a little in preparation of becoming parents to a very active toddler! On Monday, May 18th, we will finally become a family. It feels pretty incredible to even type that. This little family we have dreamed of creating pretty much since Dave and I met is actually happening at long last. The enormity and bliss of that likely won’t fully hit us until we are on the plane heading to China. But it does hit us now and then in both expected and unexpected moments. Like when we received the email with our travel dates. There it all was in black and white in front of me – FINALLY. I broke down and had myself an ugly, yet happy cry. The relief, the joy, the reality, and – yes – the mild panic – all hit me at once. But mostly the relief and the joy mingled together with just a bit of sadness that he is still not yet in our arms. And it was certainly a moment. Or like when I see the other families we have “met” online that were actually on our same timeline before our delays and who are now in China meeting their little ones. We are overjoyed for them and their kiddos are gorgeous! But there is still that little twinge of wishing we could be there already, too! And as tough as it can be to stay positive, there really is no other option. I mean, what lies at the end of this journey is absolutely worth every moment of waiting! And just when we needed it, last week we got an email from our agency with two new UNEXPECTED photos of our sweet one! WHAT JOY!!!!! Look at that face! I just want to smooch on those cheeks all day long!!

Gabriel outside      Gabriel outside sitting

The unexpected photos are rare so are even extra appreciated. Normally we are only sent new videos or pictures when a milestone is reached in the adoption process. While we did hit a HUGE milestone (getting our final approvals and everything booked), we did not expect to receive any new photos. The flip side of getting these is that we see him growing up with every new photo we receive and that is sometimes challenging for us because we are missing some important stuff. But it is only six more weeks now. 39 days and we will actually be KISSING HIS FACE!

We were incredibly blessed this past month to have many, many friends and amazing people help us with a benefit show to help us raise funds for our adoption expenses. Our longtime friend and Kat’s bandmate, Mike Grimes, owns a couple of clubs in town. He gave us a Friday night at his club, The Basement, and allowed us to hold a benefit show and silent auction on March 13th.

Adoption Fundraiser Flyer

We received very generous donations of gift certificates from local restaurants (City House, Lockeland Table, Tin Angel, Cabana, Baja Burrito, Margot Cafe, Ugly Mugs, Yazoo Brewery) as well as gift certificates and merchandise  from local businesses (Practical Massage, BarreAmped, Hip Zipper, Fork’s Drum Closet, Kelly Judd Massage, Cassity’s, Shay Studio, Cognito Salon, Jen Deaderick at Green Pea Salon, My Veggie Chef, Alegria, Hardwear Merry, Dogtopia, The Frist Center) and some awesome donations of other items like baked goods, wine, make up, and other great stuff from our sweet friends! MANY talented musicians (whom we are also very lucky to call our friends) also donated their amazing talents at the event and performed some super fantastic music. I don’t have room to name everyone here but we are eternally grateful to all the members of The Coal Men, Brian Ritchey and band, the mary nails, Hip Jelly, and Guilty Pleasures for being a part of this wonderful night. With the donation of most of the “cover charges” as well as the silent auction, we were able to raise a little over $2000 and have a blast in the process!! Special shout outs to those friends who came early and helped us set up and make this night as great as it was. Blessed doesn’t even begin to cover how we feel.

We will be having one last fundraiser – another “yard/garage” sale on Thursday, April 30th and Friday, May 1st at our training center. We decided we would have an indoor sale this time and just see how that goes. It will hopefully be a little easier than our last sale especially since we will be leaving 13 days later! If anyone is doing spring cleaning and wants to drop off some items for the sale, you are welcome to do so! Our facility is located at 2605 Winford Ave in Nashville.

garage sale sign

 

 

 

For those that have been asking about where they can donate if they aren’t local and weren’t able to come to the benefit show or yard sales, you can visit our online site to make a tax deductible donation at:

adopttogether.org/ourrayofhope

Because we had to wait an additional month to travel, the costs also went up some as the flights and hotels became more expensive. So we are super grateful for every little bit of help in that department!

For those of you that are on Facebook, we have created a closed group where we will share photos and videos as we journey to China to meet Gabriel and bring him home. We will post a little on our personal pages but prefer to keep most of our journey a little more private and for those that really want to follow it. If you would like to do so, you can request to join our group page. Our Ray of Hope: Bringing Gabriel Home at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1559429154311993/

We can’t wait to share our first family photos and our experience in China with you guys! I mean, who doesn’t want to see Dave Ray eating salamander on a stick???

We have our visas.  Chinese Visa pic

We have our travel approval. TA header TA seal

Flights and hotel are booked.

Pet/House Sitter is booked.

Packing has begun.

IT IS HAPPENING!!!!!

All we need now…

I have arrived

is our son.

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