Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Home Study Officially approved by DSS!

So, I found out today that the approval of our home study was completed last Friday and it is now on its way to USCIS for processing.  It took a little more than a week, but we are grateful that this step is complete. Please continue to pray with us that each step of this journey be as short as possible. We can not take anything for granted. Our timeline is still extremely tight in order to make travel approval by August 1st.
Thanks friends!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Community Sale Items

Wow!  Our garage looks like a storage shed!  We are getting some really neat donations for the sale.  Items of note so far include dressers, TVs (3-4), a roll-top desk, a dorm sized refrigerator, a gorgeous end table from Havertys, 2 large suitcases, nice coffee makers, a set of tires (for S-10), Boom box with IPod dock, storage shelves for bathrooms, kids bike/helmet, easy bake oven, and of course, the traditional- clothes of all sizes, shoes, books.....

Be thinking about what you might want to buy or donate as June 11th comes closer.  A HUGE thank you to those who have donated items so far. We still need more, but we are excited each day to see what items have been sent our way, some by people we don't even know!

One note about the clothes-- my experience (and I have YEARS of yard sale experience) hee-hee, is that the selection of clothing is not much to get excited about at most yard sales. However, I have personally sorted through each donated bag of clothes and there are some REALLY NICE things here ya'll!  Ladies, teenagers, mens, baby & children's sizes. Some with the tags still attached.  Named brand things.  Coats, gowns, church attire, and casual.  It might well be worth your while to come dig.

We anticipate several more pieces of furniture to come in this week, so if you are in the market for larger items, let me know and I can call you for a "pre-sale".  (Anything we don't have to haul across town is a plus!)


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Update to the Hiccups/ Fundraiser Update

So, I finally received word that the home study that was sent overnight to SC DSS on Monday this week FINALLY arrived on the desk of its intended recipient. :-)  So, she will review it tomorrow.  Then, if all goes well, it will be sent to the Missouri office of USCIS for processing.  I am unclear how long this step will take, but my case manager at WACAP (placement agency) assures me that she has contacts there that can assist with this step.

As for the birth certificate, I finally got someone to return my call this afternoon from RI Vital Records and they agreed to expedite the second request and send directly to the secretary of state for Authentication.  So, we are hopeful that this can come back to us by Tuesday (since Monday is a Holiday).  Fingers crossed!

Heidi (case worker) emailed today and said that she is still working on our calendar of events and we should have that soon. This will give us some visibility into the remaining steps of the process and help us stay on track.  We are praying that we will get Travel approval BEFORE August 1.  Not only because this will help assure a timely completion before his birthday, but also because if we do not get approval to travel by that date, the new laws state that we will need to undergo home assessments from a social worker for 5 years.  These reviews are $300 each and we will need 6 of them rather than the 3 that are required as of now. (1 month home, 6 months home and 1 year home).  If we receive travel approval before 8/1, then we are in much better shape.

Donations for our community yard sale are coming in little by bit and we have been sorting things into categories each evening. Our garage looks a bit like a storage locker at this point, but we are so grateful for the generosity of our friends.  We have even gotten donations from strangers which has been very humbling.  I hope that all of you who are local will come join us on the morning of June 11th to shop!  We will have some super deals.  Even the clothes being donated are really nice. We will have furniture (chairs, dressers...), gowns, clothing, books, kitchen items, baby clothes & toys/equipment, bikes....  If you have things that you would like to clear out of your home for a good cause, we will be glad to take them for the sale.  My goal is to fill Carl & Lisa's yard to the brim.  Our personal goal is to raise  enough to cover at least one plane ticket to China (roughly $2000).  I realize that this is ambitious, but I am confident that it can be done.  Two more weeks... mark your calendars!

I guess that is it for now.  Sweet dreams to you all! Good night!
Love, The Rylands

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our first hiccups-- who said we were accepting those anyway?

Did I mention I don't like delays? Well, today, as I was talking to our new adoption case worker, I learned that the beautiful state of RI sent us a version (certified,yes) of Tom's birth certificate that the Secretary of State in RI will not authenticate.  What does that mean?  Well, basically, it means that the step we thought we completed almost a month ago now will have to start all over.  So, tomorrow, I will send a second request for his birth certificate, pay more money to rush it and hope that they send us the right one this time. (Ugh.)  I will pray that this will not hinder any of our other processes already underway.

Our case worker, Heidi, is working on a calendar for us that will detail the rest of the process and show us what has to happen and by when in order to get Junchi before his birthday in late August.  It will be very helpful for me to have something like this to keep us always looking one step ahead.

Our homestudy was delivered overnight mail to SC DSS on Monday, but apparently was not delivered from the mailroom to the social worker in charge, so she still has not approved, or even seen our home study.  I hope that she will get it tomorrow and can turn it around quickly.  So, let's call that hiccup #2.

As far as we know right now, these are the only two issues at hand. A lot for me, but nothing for an all-knowing God who is never surprised.  So, we rest in His plan for our family and scurry around doing those things that we are able to control. :-)

Have a blessed evening everyone!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boys, Boys & More Boys!

We often laugh about the fact that we ended up with so many boys in our families. Tom grew up, after the death of his Father in WW2, being raised by his Mother and her sisters and extended family. Lots of ladies.  And, for most of his early adulthood, lived with his first wife, Anne and their two daughters. Again, mostly ladies.  The next generation, however, is loaded with boys!  We now have one 6 year old boy and another (13) on the way. Tom is blessed with 5, yes, 5 grandsons.  My sister Amy has two 20 month old twin boys.  Our family gatherings are now full of testosterone!  What a switch.  Of course, we have some wonderful nieces also, but the balance has certainly shifted.

We traveled to Virginia this weekend to celebrate the wedding of my youngest brother, Adam to his new bride Kristin.  The setting could not have been more picturesque.  We were atop a mountain in Big Island, VA overlooking the blue ridge mountains.  the sun was bright and the clouds were scarce.  It was a truly lovely day.
Kristin & Adam Jewell

Tommy w/ Aunt Kristin

Tommy w/ Uncle Adam

Then, we traveled to Lawrenceville,VA to meet (in person for the first time) Tom's newest grandson, Jaxon Farmer.  We had a fun time (especially Tommy) visiting with his daughters and their families.  Tommy loved getting to see his two "big sisters" and his nephews (two of whom are actually older than he :-)  I don't think those boys stopped talking for two seconds the entire time they were together.  I learned that it IS NOT just my son who can't seem to stay still in a chair! LOL  It was very reassuring to me. :-)

Mason, Berkeley, Tommy

Jaxon (lower corner)Tommy, Berkeley, Mason, Jacob, Judson

It was the perfect way to celebrate our good news of pre-aproval from China.  We are so blessed and we can't wait to share this great family of ours with our new son soon!

The Rylands

Friday, May 20, 2011

PA Received!!!

After attending a pre-wedding picnic for my baby brother and his fiance', I checked email to find out that our placement agency heard word from the China adoption authority that we have officially been granted pre-approval to pursue Junchi's adoption! What a huge relief and answer to prayer!  This was a critical step in the process that allows us to move forward and officially submit our dossier to China after we get through all the US Immigrations steps.  Thank you to those who have been praying for our son and our family.  Your support means so much to us.  We are excited to move on to the next phase.

Blessings to you....
The Rylands

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Home Study on the MOVE!

So, now that we have finally received our SC SLED checks we can put the finishing touches on our Home Study. So, today, it will be on the move. Three copies to Washington, one to SC DSS and one to us for safekeeping.

Next Step-- DSS approval.  We hope that this can be accomplished by Monday and then from there it will go to USCIS along with our I-800A form for Immigration approval.  It is great to see some movement after almost a full week with none.

Please continue to pray that our Pre-approval from China comes quickly.

Thanks all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home Study Approval #1-- WooHoo!!!

We have a completed home study and it was approved today by our placement agency!  Yeah!  We are one step closer to our new life.  Our next step is to get it to SC DSS in Columbia for approval.  My new goal is to have that step completed no later than Monday and to have the home study documents submitted to US CIS next week.  Our dossier is complete and waiting final authentication.  It looks like there will be no delays in submitting it to China once we receive immigration approval here in the states.  Thank you for your continued prayers and also for those who have already donated items for our community yard sale.  I know it is going to be a very successful day!

The Rylands

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fundraiser No. 3! Kristen's Critters!

My cousin Brett's dear sweet wife Kristen has a real talent for crochet!  In fact, she has been making all these items for some time now and she has offered to donate a portion of her profits from the sale of these items to our adoption fund.  So, PLEASE check them out. My favorite are the hair clips, but the baby critters and the headbands are cute too.  All you need to do is send her a message from her facebook page and mention my name.  She will connect your sale with our fundraiser.  Check them out here: http://www.facebook.com/kristenscritters   All items ship for $3.50; plus $1.50 for each additional item ordered

Snazzy Hair Clips- Great for Summer looks!
Flower Clips - $5
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Headbands - $3

Sm Fish 6” $22
Lg Fish 8 ½" $30

Teddy Set
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Sm Bumble Bee 5 ½" $22
Lg Bumble Bee 8” $30

Cutsie Bib!
All Critter Bibs $16

Chicken Dance!
Bird 4 ½ $18

Bird Hat
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Toddler Bows!
Bow Clips - $3

Bird 4 ½ $18

Elephant 8 ½” $25


Ribbit!  Ribbit!
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Giraffe Hat
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Girl Owl Set

Ladies Cap

Boy Owl Hat
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Sunday go to meetin' tie!

Monkey Hat
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Monkey Set
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)
Zebra, Red, Hot pink , light purple (light pink not pictured) Available!! ALL TUTU's Just $10!!
Add Star button for .25// Crocheted flower $5
Zebra Tutu! Way Cool!! $10

Owl Caps
Critter Hats $23-$30
(depending on hat size & detail)

Did I tell you she was talented?  She can do custom orders too with enough notice.  Please think of who in your family would like one of these custom cuties!

Check out her site and place your orders.  We are down to three months! Angie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We have Passports!

We received our passports today!  Now we have everything that we need for our dossier.  We are hoping to get PA (Pre-approval) from China this week and approvals from WACAP on our home study.  We anticipate getting all our criminal background checks in this week as well, so this is an important week of closure.

Mom and I went shopping for "big boy" clothes today and had a great time at the Community Thrift Store and the Goodwill Outlet Store. Tonight we take a break and relax with some friends over dinner at home.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Home Study DRAFT Complete!

We are happy to announce that our home study has been emailed to the placement agency in WA and they are in the process of reviewing it for accuracy.  At the same time, they are beginning the process of authenticating our dossier documents as this must be done in each state and locality of origin for each respective document.  For those of you who don't speak "adoption", that means that if we submit a birth certificate from Michigan, and I turn in a certified copy, the agency must return it to the MI secretary of state to authenticate that it did indeed come from them and that the signature on the document was duly authorized to certify it.  Talk about thorough!

We also received word today that our passports are finished and being sent overnight, so we anticipate seeing those tomorrow sometime.  This is another key milestone as the dossier can not be completed without copies of our passport pages.  At this point, we have received assistance from Senator DeMint's office to expedite our FBI clearances and hope to have those early next week.

Once all those little pieces are tied together neatly, then the home study and I-800A can be submitted to USCIS (Immigration) for their processing and approval.  We will wait for them to send us an appointment letter to schedule our next set of fingerprints.  (yes, one last time...)  After Immigration comes the final piece of the dossier and then it can be sent to the Adoption Authority in China.

While I can not yet say what a perfect timeline looks like for all of these steps, I can say that we have met our initial goal which was to have a completed home study done by "mid-May".  Thank you all for walking with us through this process and for your consistent support!  Don't forget to help us spread the word about our fundraiser on June 11th and make sure you clean out your closets and garages to see what you might have to donate for the community sale!  Love, The Rylands

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

This is our first Mother's Day that Tommy, our 6 1/2 year old son has been fully engaged in making this a special day for me.  It is so fun to see children enjoy days like this. He jumped on the bed at 6:30 this morning and handed me my Mother's Day card.  Then, with a huge smile on his face, he announced that he and Dad had made my favorite-- cheesy eggs! He was so proud that they had "kept their secret" from me all week.  We enjoyed a brief cuddle in bed and then were called to breakfast by my wonderful husband.  

Once downstairs, I was greeted by another card, this one from my husband and a beautiful orchid corsage that my boys had picked up for me to wear to church.  I haven't had a corsage since the High School Prom.  Tommy led us in a prayer together, remembering to pray for his new "big brother" and we had a yummy meal.

As we got dressed for church, Tommy decided that he needed to wear a tie today since it was such a special occasion! :-) So, off he went to church with his leather flip flop sandles, khaki short, short sleeved white button-down shirt and a pastel tie!  What a sight.  That's what passes for formal here in the south. lol

I am especially blessed today and have a real peace about the weeks and months to come as we prepare to welcome another sweet boy into our family.  I pray that he is well and happy today and that we will see him soon.

Happy Mother's Day to all! Angie

Friday, May 6, 2011

God is good!!!!

This afternoon while I was at work, I received a phone call from our placement agency.  Our contact there said that she had some good news for us.... (Always a great way to start a new weekend..)

She said that she had applied (unbeknown to me) for a hardship grant and we were approved!  She said that the agency has a small allocation of funds for special cases where there is financial hardship and they were now able to offer us an additional grant of $2100!  This, combined with the private donation that had already been assigned to our son means that ALL of our placement agency fees will be covered!  God is so good!  He is faithful and I can't wait to share with this boy, who has likely never heard the gospel how the God of the Universe cared about him and his future.

It was a well timed reminder that, as my Mother said the other day, "We can only do our part and we have to be ok with letting God take care of the rest."  A lesson that I wonder if I will ever completely learn.  Thank you all for your prayers and for your continued support. We still have a long road ahead and more financial challenges to face before our son can come home, but I couldn't wait to share this with each of you so that you can celebrate God's goodness and provision with us.  Have a blessed weekend!

The Rylands

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Home Study #2 Complete

So, this morning just after 7:30, our sw arrived and we began phase two of our home study visits.  Again, things went well and she seemed satisfied that her report would be favorable.  We discussed the various items that are required like our doctor's clearance, reference letters, and guardianship letter.  Once these items are in place in the file, she can place her stamp of approval and forward to DSS in SC.  That is when we get the senator's office involved. 

We both got our physicals today as well as local police clearances checked off the list of requirements.

WACAP indicated that they were working on my pre-approval file today that will be sent to China tomorrow.  All in all, I think our first 12 days have been successful.  Your prayers have been so appreciated.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Home Study Visit

Well, this afternoon was our first home study appointment. I admit, I was a little anxious about it, but things went very well. Our Social Worker (sw) arrived about 2:30 and spent some time interviewing Tom.  When I arrived home a little after 4, she was up in Tommy's room spending some one on one time with him.

Then, she sat down with Tom and me together. Once that portion of the questioning was over, he left us alone for my one on one interview.  The sw was thorough, but not overly invasive. Very pleasant.  She is supportive of our attempt to break the barrier of speed on this one and agreed to come back for visit #2 tomorrow morning at 7:45.

After that visit, we will head to the doctor for our required physicals.  The homestudy was about 50% complete when she came tonight and we now wait on reference letters, FBI clearance for criminal background checks, physician letters, and educational hours. Once Tom and I log 10 hours of adoption education (scheduled this weekend) and get all those other documents sent in, then the sw can complete the home study and send it overnight to Columbia for approval at DSS.

In the meantime, our pre-approval packet has arrived in WA and they are having it translated into Chinese to be sent there for approval.  This should be completed by Friday.  So far, each step of the process has gone remarkably well.  So long as we continue to stay one step ahead of each potential roadblock, we will soon see light at the end of this tunnel and be able to bring our boy home!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Good news from Washington!

I just received an email from our case worker in WA state and she said that she received notice today that China has agreed to review our file in conjunction to our petition to adopt JunChi.  This is big news since we do not meet the standard age requirements.  Praise the Lord!  Now, we will race to get the remaining documents to them so this Pre-Approval packet can be submitted asap to China. 

On a more lighthearted note, Tommy lost his second bottom tooth yesterday and called me so excited!  I love that toothless smile!


Monday, May 2, 2011

The Homestudy

Today is the day that we mail off our home study history packet.  This will allow the social worker to begin the hs process. I spoke with her Saturday and we are scheduled for our first meeting Wednesday afternoon.  She will complete 4 visits over the next couple weeks. In the meantime, we will complete our 30 hours of adoption education and get our medical clearances started. We are praying that we can get this done at hyper speed so that the two additional home study approvals (SC DSS and WACAP in WA) can be checked off our list very soon.

From there, we complete our Dossier and get it to China.  This will lock in the adoption and trigger what we hope will be a very expedited approval.  Thanks as always for your prayers and for your notes.  We are getting them and while we may not be able to respond to each one as we would like, we appreciate them immensely!
Tom and Angie
10th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Very Special Gift

This morning, a good friend handed Tom an envelope with his name written on it.  Once we had the chance to open it, we realized that it was a check for $100! Knowing that we are fundraising for our son, that was a very meaningful and heartfelt gift. However, what made it so very special to us, was that he specifically indicated that it was for "his birthday".  Our son will turn 14 in August and this is a particularly significant birthday as he will no longer be eligible for adoption once he turns 14 in China.

His gift was a statement of generosity, but also one of faith. Faith that we would indeed be celebrating his 14th birthday with him in August.  Thank you dear friends!  Your thoughtfulness has touched our hearts and we pray that the Lord will continue to open doors as he has clearly done this past week so that we can all celebrate together the 14th birthday of this special boy!
The Rylands