God is writing another story

God is writing another story. It starts with 3 Johnsons, a ministry to unwed mothers in Taiwan, 2 passionate God-loving ladies, an 18 year old girl and 1 tiny baby. Let's see where the story goes...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Adoption Update

I'm heading to bed after a long day, but here's a quick update:

~We found out today that our dossier paperwork has been submitted to court for a court date.  We should find out in 2-4 weeks when our first hearing is!

~I gathered all the documentation needed to apply for a change of country with USCIS.  We are currently approved to adopt a child from Ethiopia and need to have that switched (back) to Taiwan.  I'll mail that package out tomorrow after work.  I have no idea how long it will take for the approval to be changed; I just hope and pray I filled everything out correctly and mailed it to the proper USCIS office.  We have received conflicting information from several sources, so I'm counting on God to get it to the right place at the right time and done the right way!

~We found out that we need a new Power of Attorney document for His Hands.  It looks like our court case may occur when Holly and Trena are out of the country this summer.  So we are preparing a new document which gives their administrative assistant the power to act for us in court.  This means another round of county and state certification and authentication at TECO.  Such is the way of international adoption!  And I'm getting pretty good with it now! lol

~I have new adorable Selah pictures and 3 new videos to post soon.  You're gonna love it!

K, that's that.  TTFN!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pictures you haven't seen

Eric and I were so excited to receive this package from Taiwan a couple weeks ago. 
It contained the Chinese translations of our Adoption Contracts, Power of Attorney and Home Study.  These were the final pieces needed to complete our dossier.
Here's a portion of the Chinese translated adoption contract.
With all of our needed dossier documents in hand, the next step was to get everything county certified.
Then we had each document state certified.  1 document (marriage license) was sent to the Illinois Secretary of State; the other 16 documents were sent to the Tennessee Secretary of State.
The final step for completing the dossier was to take everything to the Taiwan consulate (TECO) in Atlanta (well, except for the IL marriage license...but we discovered that later) for certification.  TECO requires 1 complete set of photocopies.
Noelle helps me pack up the stack of paperwork to bring home "her baby"
Taipei Economic Cultural Office in Atlanta
We were in and out in under 30 minutes.  We filled out an application, showed our passports, paid our fee, handed over our documents, photocopies and the pre-paid FedEx return box.  We were told, "Paperwork done in 7 days".  That was Monday morning.  We had it in hand Friday afternoon!
A sticker like this was added to the back of each document to show that TECO had certified the document as authentic.  Very simple.  Very pretty.


10:00 p.m. Update:  Just heard from Holly and Trena.  They received our dossier and have looked through our paperwork.  Everything appears to be in order and should be ready to submit to court on Monday.  In 2-4 weeks after that we should have an assigned court date!!!

Densise has processed many adoption packages for us in the last 2 1/2 years

Quickie Update:  Our dossier arrived at His Hands Taiwan at 10:36am Monday (Taiwan time)!!!  It took approximately 52 hours to get from Chattanooga, TN USA to Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  Simply amazing.

We haven't heard anything from Holly and Trena yet, so are anxiously awaiting word that everything is in order.  We also emailed our Family Photo Pages to them Sunday night (our time).  Turns out that was a bad decision.  It took about 10 emails and still never arrived in one piece.  Ptooie on technology.  I guess we shoulda taken the time to make a hard copy photo album and FedEx'd it with the dossier.  Live and learn.  We shall see what the ladies say about the photos when they contact us...  Hopefully they can piece together a respectable photo album for the judge.

Ohhhhhhh I'm so anxiously excited to submit our paperwork for a court date.   Eeeeeeeeeee!!!  I'll let you know when we know something. :)

Noelle was too into playing "Angry Birds" to give me a real smile ;)

"The Box"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GREAT news...

The last step to complete our dossier (adoption paperwork) is finished!!  The Taiwan consulate in Chicago returned our authenticated marriage license to us today.  And our 16 other documents (adoption contracts, home study, financial statement, etc.) authenticated by the consulate in Atlanta arrive tomorrow morning!!  Our goal is to quickly scan the authentication page of each document, head to FedEx, box up our life on paper and ship it to Holly and Trena at His HandsOnce they receive our dossier, they will apply for a court date

This. Is. Big. 
Court is where the action happens, baby!

Thank you Lord!! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Pics and Videos!!

Just wanted to show off a few sweet photos taken over the last week or two.  I could upload lots more for you to view, but you do have a life! lol


Monday, April 11, 2011

Paper Chase = Almost Complete!!

The past 7 days have been a paperwork marathon.  Listen to this...

Our Chinese translations of our home study, adoption contract and our Power of Attorney (all of the above in triplicate) arrived via Taiwan postal service on Tuesday!  I was in the Walmart parking lot about to go in the store when I received a text message from Eric which said, "Translations at my office."  Huh???  I immediately called him and shouted, "What?!?!" when he answered.  In an ever so calm voice he explained, "I have our translated documents from Taiwan right here."  At which point I started screaming in his ear! lol  It turns out that the documents had been mailed Taiwan Express Mail but had been sent to the wrong address, so they ended up back at the post office.  Fortunately Eric's cell # was on the mailing slip, so this is how we received our precious delivery.  I hopped back into the car and drove straight to his office at the church, crying and praising God all the way.  These translations are what we had been waiting for to finish our dossier!

We spend the next 2 hours trying to figure out where to sign our names on the Chinese adoption contracts (thank God for facebook friends who jumped in to answer my questions!), making photocopies and tracking down a dear friend who is a notary.  I even made it to my shift at Chattanooga Coffee Company on time!  During a break at work, I sped to the county courthouse and got 16 documents certified before the office closed, then headed back to work.  The next morning (Wednesday) I cruised on down to FedEx and overnighted the documents to the TN Secretary of State in Nashville for the state certifications.  By Friday morning we had our completed documents in hand!!

Friday I called the Taiwan Consulate (TECO) to find out the procedure for getting our dossier documents certified.  There was some confusion about what the fee would be for this service.  We had to bring a cashier's check for the proper amount and I received conflicting info from several sources.  I didn't get a clear answer from the TECO representative either, due to communication difficulties.  In the end, we went with our gut and purchased a cashier's check for the most logical amount.

Today (Monday) I was able to get the day off work, so Eric and I drove our dossier documents to TECO Atlanta.  We guessed correctly about the amount due.  Yay!!  Well almost.  We were over by $15 because we had included our Illinois marriage license in the stack of documents.  Turns out TECO Atlanta doesn't service Illinois.  Ahhhh I missed that one!  So before we left Atlanta, we called the Chicago office and FedEx'd the marriage license to them for processing.

So we have just a few more days of waiting.  I expect that next week sometime we will be able to ship a large stack of legal documents to His Hands Taiwan, Inc.  These documents will be our "ticket" to a court hearing to adopt Selah PingChen.  It feels great to be moving forward!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Girls' Day Out

Check out the video for a Girls' Day Out at Qing Ming Jie weekend.  You can see Selah and her little buddy Kara early in the video and also towards the end.

Selah, Kara, Christel and Sara go to the Dream Mall in Taiwan

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2 New Videos! - bathtime and morningtime

Christel took these videos Saturday night and Sunday morning (yes, today!!) and posted them for us on the His Hands photo sharing site.  Selah was having a little sleepover and here is some of the cuteness that ensued!

My Heart MELTS!

This is Selah and Emi the pup at Christel's house (Christel is one of the fabulous volunteers for His Hands) Saturday night.  I cried for a while when I saw this picture.  She is so precious--she takes my breath away!!  I touched the computer screen and rubbed her little tummy and prayed for her to be happy and healthy and that we would be together soon...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Really Good News---and some Not So Great News

Ok so one huge blessing in this adoption is that we are eligible for the first time for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit!!!  With the very unexpected referral in February of a new daughter, we were relieved that God had provided a means to us to pay the first "goodly chunk" of our adoption expenses!!!  As a provision in Obama's recent health care legislation, the federal adoption tax credit was changed for 2010 to be a straight refund instead of a credit.  Under the new rules, we filed to receive the refund at the 2008 rate for when Noelle's adoption was finalized.  That is super duper news for our family, since as a "Self Employed" Pastor, most of our taxes are actually paid as social security taxes, not as traditional federal taxes, hence the lack of eligibility.

The not so great news is to get the refund money, we are essentially being audited by the IRS.  From what I am learning through lots of internet research is that most adoptive families are having their cases being sent to review.  We are one of many.  We are being required to send additional documention-- more proofs of the adoption plus itemized expenses, receipts, etc.  What I am hearing is that the beauracratic run around could add additional months onto refunds being processed and sent out!!  This is a huge prayer request.  Eric and I thought this money would be coming much sooner.  We have adoption fees to pay to His Hands.  We have to pay USCIS to file a change of country for our I-171H.  We have to pay TECO for document authentications.  We have international shipping costs.  Eeeek!!!  I keep reminding myself that nothing in this whole adoption was a surprise to God.  So family, friends, love-ones,,,will you join us in prayer for God to unravel this situation in His way and His time...and for us to have peace in the meantime?  I know you will.  Thank you in advance!