Friday, July 29, 2011

A Governmental Apology

I seriously couldn't believe it!  I'm sitting quietly at my desk late this morning working away on a power point presentation for a conference on Monday in Greenville,SC and my phone rings.  Ok, so that's not the unbelievable part.  When I answered the phone, there on the other end, was the most pleasant, sweet voice of a woman who identified herself as an immigration officer. (USCIS).  

She indicated that she had caught wind of the troubles that we experienced earlier in the week with one of their agents and she just "had" to call me and offer her deepest apologies!  I was almost speechless at the thought of it! (And, trust me, this does not happen often.)

So, not only did our awesome Senator's office "get the job done" on our behalf, but they made sure that the appropriate supervisors were aware of our unpleasant experience.  Wow. Ok, they have been great, so maybe that's not the astounding part, but for USCIS to actually track me down and offer apologies?  I am forced to re-evaluate my opinion of government agencies (at least for today) and share that this particular officer was very sincere and genuine in her remarks.  

But, it didn't stop there. She gave me her full name and DIRECT phone line so that I could call her early next week to touch base on our paperwork.  Even though the paperwork now moves on to a separate government agency, she still offered to contact them on our behalf if they had not responded quickly enough getting the approvals cabled to Guangzhou. She was very sensitive to our tight timeline.  

So, the moral of this story is: Don't hesitate to report inappropriate treatment to someone who can do something about it. We must be the advocates for our children even if it seems that we are being pushy and impatient.  (Which of course, we would never really be-right?)  Stop laughing. I can hear you-- all you people out there who know me and are laughing-- out loud-- stop it!  Contrary to popular opinion, I CAN (when ABSOLUTELY necessary) be calm, cool & collected. :-)  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More good news. Can you stand it?

What a pleasant surprise to hear from the President of "A Child Waits" today and hear those words, "I've called to give you the good news.."  Everything after that seemed to fade into the distance. :-)  We were approved for a nice grant and we are so blessed and relieved that we are that much closer to our goal.  We have updated our thermometer accordingly.

We still need our travel dates and hope that they will come next week sometime.  Can't wait to get going so that we can get started with our lives as a family of four.  For those of you praying on our behalf, you can switch your efforts to airfare now.  August appears to be peek travel season in China and the fares are steadily rising.  We need that super deal to pop up just when we need it.

I hate that we spend so much time focusing on money, but sad as it is, it is a necessary evil in the international adoption process.  A year from now, it will all be worth it and the money problems will not be what we all remember about this time in our lives.

Soon, we will have a full kitchen table for every meal. Two boys sharing a bathroom and chasing each other around the house.  Refereeing arguments over what's fair. Lots of charades and google translator races to facilitate communication.  All this just in time for another school year, full of very different challenges.  Looking forward to sharing the journey with you all.

Thanks for walking alongside us,
The Rylands

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Praise the Lord, we got our I800 approved by USCIS this evening. Long story short, there was an issue with an unmotivated, unimpressed USCIS officer and with the help of our FABULOUS Senator DeMint's staff, we were able to get the approval TODAY.  We even received a very nice phone call from a different officer who personally notified us of the approval.  So, off it goes to the National Visa Center and then to the consulate in Guangzhou!  Yeah.

Still not looking good that we will get our travel dates confirmed before August 1st, but we should hear sometime next week.  Hoping to travel by August 12th.  We have begun the task of searching for different flights and figuring out where to enter and depart the country. All of the travel arrangements IN China will be booked by our agency.

Still no word on the "A Child Waits" grant, but we are still praying and hopeful that we will know something by Friday.  Our thanks to each of you who are walking with us and praying us through this emotional roller coaster.  We are confident that it will all be worth the effort in the end.

The Rylands

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pray! Pray! Pray!

This afternoon, I received a call from "A Child Waits", a foundation that offers financial assistance for families adopting children internationally with special needs.  In Colin's case, his special need is his age.  We knew that they typically do not make final decisions about grant recipients until the last minute and we are nearing that point.

I had a lovely conversation with the President of the foundation this afternoon answering all her questions about our son and she indicated that the board would be making their determination about our application by Friday.  If they decide to help us, they could award as much as $5000 toward our travel expenses.  This is much needed money and would be an enormous blessing to our family.

We would covet your prayers in this regard and will update the thermometer immediately if we receive good news.  Thanks everyone!

Tom & Angie

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bring our children home

I saw this on another blog today and it was a timely reminder that God ordered our steps here and He will provide. Enjoy. I pray that it speaks to you also.

When we cannot see you moving
When it seems the dark has won
May you find us still believing
That you want this more than us
You will finish what you started
And your plans for us are good
Help us cling to what you promised
You are faithful, You are sure

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Keep Sharing!

If you are following along on our $10 "God Adventure", then you know that our fundraising thermometer is inching toward our goal each day!  Since starting the $10 campaign on Sunday evening, we have received over $400! $600 $1200!  So fun to see God's people come together and do something big!  Want to join us? Email the previous post to your family and friends, or post it on your facebook page and see how many $10 donations you can get to bring this sweet boy home!  Our family is so thankful to partner with each of you in this way.

Love, The Rylands

Sunday, July 17, 2011

$10 Campaign

So this evening, Tom and I drafted a letter that we sent via email to our family and friends sharing about our journey to this amazing young boy.  In that letter, we asked them to consider a gift of $10 to support our adoption fund.  Now, most of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know that we have been fundraising and still have a large amount yet to pay.  But, contrary to what you might think, that financial need (in and of itself) was not the sole motivation for making this request.

I thought it would be fun to see what God could do with $10.  After all, look what he did with the loaves and fishes.  Now, some of you might have some independently wealthy family members. Us? Well, no. Not a one. So, we figured that with the law of large numbers, and a little supernatural intervention, we would set the stage for yet another miracle in a long line of adoption related miracles.

So, take a gander at what our friends received tonight and if it touches your heart, then follow the Lord's leading and send a small gift.  Additionally, if you feel led, forward this to some of your own friends and family.  Allow the Lord to use you for something amazing. Watch how he cares for our son and provides what only he can provide.

Friends & Family,

Many of you are already familiar with our family's journey to adopt a 13 year old boy from China.  This has been craziest ride that God has ever taken us on!  For those who are not aware, we began the journey of international adoption this past Easter when we felt the Lord leading us to a special boy named Shen (last name), Junchi.  

As we researched the notion of international adoption, we quickly learned that in China, all orphans lose their eligibility for adoption on their 14th birthday.  We further learned that they are also no longer cared for by the government in China after this tender age.  That's right, they are released from their orphanages and foster homes to fend for themselves.  Many of you have, or know children (I stress children) of this age.  Can you imagine your 14 year old, sent out to live on their own with little hope of a job?  

You see, in China, orphans are considered "unlucky" or "cursed".  They have a very difficult time finding employment as most business owners do not want to risk having their businesses cursed by orphans.  What a silly concept that seems to us, in the most blessed nation on earth.  But, this is not TV, this is reality in China.  Additionally, because it is well known that society does not care about these children, they are especially prone to the pursuit by child predators and often fall victim to them. As we studied more and more about the culture surrounding orphans in China, we quickly realized that we had to do something to help this boy.  But, there were so many (EASY) reasons to look the other way.  Tom is too old to adopt. (No, really, he is too old by China's standards). :-)  Adoption is unbelievably expensive ($25-$30,000)!  We don't have that kind of money.  The list of excuses went on and on.  However, despite the fact that it didn't even seem possible, we agreed that weekend to follow the Lord's leading no matter where it led.

So, we started down a road of tremendous paperwork and certain obstacles only to see what was to be the most amazing ride of our lives so far.  Every excuse that we thought of early on was completely eliminated, one day at a time, by God.  This one email is not sufficient for me to share with you each miracle that we have witnessed to date, so if you want to read about our journey in more detail, please check out our blog and start from the beginning.  It truly has been amazing.

Now, to the reason for our email.  So far, since April, we have been able to secure slightly more than $12,000 in grants and dollars raised to offset the early costs of the process.  That, in and of itself is amazing!  Now that we are a mere 4 weeks from possible travel to China, we find ourselves still a little over $11,000 short of the needed funds.  We held a hugely successful community yard sale with the support of so many people.  This month, we are blessed by two sweet consultants with Thirty-One and Scentsy who have offered to fundraise on our behalf and donate their own commission toward our fund.  That gives us approximately 25% of what is sold which will be a blessing.  However, knowing that these efforts alone will not bridge the gap, we are humbly asking for the help of many.  

We could take the "American" approach and slap out a credit card and worry about the consequences later.  But, we feel (and have felt for many years now) that this is not the way God would have us steward our finances. So, we do not have one. Not one credit card. We are truly walking out on faith that this is where the Lord wants us.  That said, we have applied for one more grant through the "A Child Waits Foundation".  We will not receive a decision from them until after we receive our Travel approval. This could, Lord willing, offer as much as $5000 toward our flights. We continue to pray that this would come through, although there are many families around the country who seek funding for these special needs children and there is no guarantee that we will be approved.

So, back to the $10.  As I think about the many times in the Bible that the Lord did much with little, I thought it might be fun to see what He can do with $10.  So, for all of you reading this who feel led to help our son get home, we are asking in humility that you consider sending a small gift of $10.  Additionally, anyone who thinks they might feel led, could forward this email to their (family, friends, bible study, Sunday school class, rotary... you get the point) so that we could watch God multiply that $10 gift.  We will continue to update progress on our fundraising thermometer.  You can all watch along as we get closer.  Our family blog is  Our mailing address is: (Removed for safety) please email if you need the address or you can donate using the PAYPAL button on this blog.)

As we travel in China, we will be uploading pictures, videos and personal messages/prayer requests.  We invite each of you to follow along on our journey and pray for us as we are so far from home.  Thank you for taking the time to read this epistle and for considering how you might be able to help us spread the word.  We are grateful for each of you and so grateful that we will have Colin Daniel Rylands home with us soon!

Tom, Angie & Tommy Rylands

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Letter Seeking Confirmation Arrived!!!!!

Today at noon, we received the call from our case worker in Renton, WA that our "Letter Seeking Confirmation" had arrived in email and we were officially approved for our adoption!  We are so excited. I got off the phone, called Tom, then shared with my co-workers who shared a "happy dance" and group hug!

So, what is next?  Well, we both signed the copy of the form and scanned/emailed it back to Heidi so that she could attach it to our I800 form (request for citizenship) that will go directly to USCIS.  They will then issue a "provisional approval" and cable that information to the consulate in Guangzhou, China.  When China received this notice, then they can issue our Article 5 and travel approval.

The travel approval notice is what will allow us to schedule our consulate appointment in China.  This is the last step in the two week process in China before we leave for the US.  Once we have this date, we will know when we can return home and therefore make our flight arrangements.

Please celebrate with us and continue to pray for smooth completion of these final steps.

Many thanks for your support throughout this process--

Tom, Angie & Tommy Rylands

Friday, July 8, 2011

Translation Complete

We received word today that our dossier was logged in officially in China on June 29, 2011. Since then, it has been in translation and was received back last night.  The CCCWA (Chinese adoption authority) has confirmed that the file has been marked, "Extremely Urgent" and they updated our online status to "in process".  We anticipate that we should receive our Letter Seeking Confirmation (formal letter of approval) no later than mid-week. This is great news and will be the catalyst for us to file our I800 paperwork with the USCIS office.  This is the step where we apply for our son's citizenship.

We also received word through a translator that the Director of the Shenyang orphanage, Ms. Tan, indicated that it would be challenging to arrange a skype session as our son gets back form school very late and she is already off work for the day.  I am curious about the school timing, but all in all, we have our answer.  The kind guide, who by the way we have never met, agreed to translate a letter for us via email if we wrote a short note to our son.  She will then email it to Ms. Tan and ask that she deliver the letter.  We will work on that this weekend.  We also hope to send a care package of pictures and snacks so that he can get something from us before we arrive.

Thanks, as always for your prayers.  For those who feel led to support our fundraising efforts, please check out the Thirty-One and Scentsy sales going on for our family throughout the month of July.  We are so appreciative of the support!