Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Introducing Miss Grace TongJiao!

With the decision to adopt our sweet Charlie, we were sure our family was complete.

Absolutely positive.

However, whenever someone asked Mom, she would always reply with, "we think this is it... but never say never!"

Sometime in November 2009, as we were paperchasing for Charlie, the file of a beautiful little almost 10 month old girl went on an agency's list. She was absolutely adorable and we were in love. However, we knew it would be impossible to adopt her because first of all, she was a 10 month old girl. And second of all, she was listed on another agency's list and we were already, of course, in the process of adopting Charlie.

Ever since sweet "Sophie" made her appearance into our hearts, we knew we had another girl in China and that shortly after we came home with Charlie, we would go back to China.

We were finally DTC for Charlie on November 24, 2009 after frantically going around DC and ending that little trip, which should've-been-2-but-ended-up-being-4 hour drive, in Delaware, where we ourselves gave sweet Diana our dossier. Looking back, that decision was important.

A day after we got an email with our tracking number for our dossier, the day before Thanksgiving, we saw a post on our agency's yahoo group that the files of all the new "Camp Ox" kids had been added. You see, the week before, some of the staff from our agency had been at a camp in Jiangsu, China. This was the third trip that year and basically, they were getting to meet kids and received referrals for many of the kids they met-- boosting the chances of these kids to be matched. (mostly older kids or younger kids with major SNs)

12 new files had been added, one of those being a list of all 40+ of the children.

Mom and I were scrolling through it (with NO intentions of having our hearts captured, we really were just looking at all the precious kiddos!) All of the kids were oh-so-adorable. Then, we got to number 30. She was a beautiful older girl and had been given the name of Norah. I first noticed the huge and bright smile she had stretched upon her little face. I then noticed her birthday. November 25, 1999. She was celebrating her 10th birthday that day. With no family.

Mom commented how sweet she was and I commented how it was her birthday. After looking through the rest of the kids, we went to look at a few of the full referral files they had posted. Of course, the first one we looked at was sweet "Norah." We opened the file to see 3 more beautiful pictures of this little girl and found out that her name was Tong Jiao. We immediately fell in love with her precious smile. However, it wasn't until later on in the file that she truly made her way into our hearts. She had a very detailed initial referral report telling all about her. She sounded like such a good girl... so very sweet. She had been in the orphanage for her first year of life and had been in foster care with a LARGE foster family ever since. Then we got to it... the sentence that changed our lives. A sentence that read... "Because of being raised in a large family, Norah would like to be adopted by a family with lots of children. She has no fears about coming to America and would love to be adopted." You see, when at the camps, our agency had interviewed the older kids and asked them if they would like to be adopted and what they would like in a family.

She said that she wanted to be adopted by a family with lots of children.

Our family... 2 older brothers, an older sister, 2 younger sisters, and a little brother...


Mom and I just looked at her and talked about her all night. I think Mom couldn't even sleep. She was trying to figure out sleeping arrangements if we could bring sweet Tong Jiao into our family! We were also looking at another agency's list (VERY randomly) and saw that Tong Jiao's referral was also on their page. Mom emailed our coordinator, thinking that by doing so, she could be saving a family from heartbreak. (of finding her file only to find out that someone ELSE on another agency had already sent in LOI.)

Uhhh. That'd be our family.

The next day was Thanksgiving and we still couldn't get her out of our minds. People were posting on the yahoo group saying, "oh my! have you seen Norah? I'll definitely be advocating for that cutie." Yet, no one was reviewing her file, no one was saying anything about how they saw her in THEIR family...

We went to the park to take Christmas pictures and afterwards, Mom, Dad, the little girls, and I stayed to play at the park. We talked about sweet Norah... we came up with English names for her... we talked about where she could sleep... we talked about how in the world we could possibly adopt twice in one year........

We got home and checked to see if she was on hold. Still no. We showed Dad her pictures, and he too, fell in love.

We were in love. There was no question about that. Her age seemed scary, but we looked at those pictures, we read that description, and God revealed to us that she deserved a family "with a lot of siblings." She's 10, but that doesn't make her any less-deserving... in fact, that might even make her more deserving... She has waited 10 YEARS for a forever family.

On Friday, I got home from black Friday shopping and heard Mom and Dad talking about her. I remember saying, "I was thinking when I was driving home and we HAVE to go adopt her. Or atleast do whatever we can to try." I convinced Mom to atleast email and ask... I think I was the one to type out the email! :) We explained that we had unintentionally fell in love with sweet Norah. We told her that she didn't see how it was possible, that she knew we couldn't do a concurrent adoption (our agency just stopped allowing 2 adoptions at once) but that we wanted to know if they would hold her file until we came home with Charle. We decided that with a no, God would be closing the door... telling us it's not meant to be. Yet if we were told yes, which the odds were totally against a yes, than we would trust that it was God's plan. He would work out our fears about the age, he would allow us to come up with decent room situations, he would provide for us to adopt twice in a year. Later on Monday, we still hadn't heard anything and so Mom emailed back just to see if the email had been received. A few LONG hours later, Mom got an email back. They were about to go into a staff meeting and would talk about it.

We waited all afternoon for a response. Of course, a new shared list was coming out and they had a whole bunch of new "camp ox" kids to post and match with families... Crazy would be an understatement for our agency that day. We did go on the other agency's list to see if "Norah" was still on their list, as she had been earlier that day. She was gone. Not on hold. Not matched. Completely gone. Which meant that our agency must have said something. We kept thinking that maybe they had said something because they had matched her... with us.

Finally, on December 1st, we heard back. There was a short email.....

I'm not ignoring you!!!! SORRY!!!!!!!!! I am seriously losing my mind right now.
Lets discuss logistics. You've reviewed the medical right? Are you approved for 2 in HS and CIS?

As dedicated as you are driving up the dossier, we tend to think you'd get this child home fast. :)
So, I'd say this is a yes.

Short... and to the point. YES. YES. YES.

Mom emailed me four little words with a whole lot of exclamation points, as I was at school. The email read:

You have another sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is God not AMAZING?

Yep. We are absolutely crazy. But you know, I don't care WHO thinks that. We're not trying to impress ANYONE. All that matters is that there is a PRECIOUS 10 year old girl on the other side of the world... and she has no FAMILY. And maybe the timing isn't perfect for us, but we're trusting God. We're stepping out in faith because we fell in love with this little girl. And she needs a family. And more, she wants a family with lots of siblings. And we have 6 of those.

So there you go.

Our LOI went to China on 12/15 and we received PA on 12/22 (Yep... that was what the anniversary post was about!!! 4 years after deciding to adopt a baby girl from China, we received notice that we were approved to adopt for the FOURTH time! God is GOOD!) Oh and, we didn't even have a month off of paperchasing, because we are doing it again already!! We'll have everything ready so that once Charlie is home, we will have a one month post placement visit and homestudy update, and then wait for approvals to go to China and get Grace!!! At the moment, we're thinking we'll go by the end of 2010. However, it all depends on how quickly we can get our sweet little Charlie home!!! Come on LOA!

We've got a long time to wait for her. But, God's timing is perfect. And we are trusting Him. Because He knows best.

I have another sister.


Oh! And I know you want info about her!

Her name is Tong Jiao (Jiao means beautiful/lovable!) and she was born on Nov. 25, 1999. She lived in Nantong SWI in the Jiangsu province from the time she was released from the hospital until she went into a foster home in Dec. of 2000. She has lived in that home ever since and is treated as if she was "born into the family." She has the sweetest description, but it's too much to post, so here's a portion of it...

Grace has been in the foster home since she was 1 year old. She has been taken care of by grandparents. She has very close relationship with her foster family. She is very happy and gentle. She has smile on her face all the time. She does not easily get mad and she is easy to comfort when she is upset. She has very good habits, put clothes on by self, take shower and wash face by herself, pack the school bag by self and help to do cleaning, cooking at home. She loves to do things and never complains. She is a good student in the kindergarten and school. She enjoys going school every day and attending all kinds of activity. She is polite to her teachers and loves her classmates. She wants to do anything she can to help people.

Doesn't she sound AMAZING?!

We've decided to name her Grace TongJiao (she is called Tong Jiao, even though Tong is her surname). You might remember me saying awhile back that if we adopted a boy, he'd be Charlie and if we adopted another girl, she'd be Grace! Well, now we have both... Charlie and Grace coming home in 2010!!! Prayerfully, we'll have Grace before she turns 11!!!

Oh. And did I mention that she PERFECTLY bridges our age gap? 6 years older than AC, 6 years younger than me...


Heather said...

What an amazing story ... and what a sweet blessing to her and to all of you! God is so very good! Can't wait to follow along my friend.

Julie said...

she sounds WONDERFUL! I was a bit worried about your parents having so many children at their age (when I first told my mom about your family, she was like "the parents are 'starting over' this late in life?!" I was like "really, mom?!") after reading about this child, she sounds easy-going, and...great!!! congrats! God is soooooo good!

Debbie said...

We are so excited for your family! What a great story to tell Miss Grace. She is precious. Praying for everything to go smoothly and FAST so she & Charlie can get home!

Amy said...

i don't think you're crazy. i think you are all wonderful!! Thanks for sharing Grace's story! you will all be in my prayers as you adopt 2 this year!!

Football and Fried Rice said...

Crying. Thrilled. AMAZED like the crowds were amazed at Jesus' teachings. Thank you for blessing ME with your story to Grace. FOR NOT SAYING NO TO GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just finished "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan - (i HAVE to do a post about this book - SO awesome!) Anyways, Chan says something along the lines of - You want to know WHAT'S CRAZY? What's radical???



Your life ISN'T supposed to make "sense" to ANYONE - but God who knew before time began that you would adopt one, two, three, four (maybe more!) times.

And believe me - people aren't going to "get" this and that makes God smile like you wouldn't believe!

sandjardis said...

You have been truly blessed. I feel Grace is going to fit right into your lovely family. Many blessings and congratulations to you all.

Wolfes Home said...

I love it! So neat to hear about Grace.

Football and Fried Rice said...

Oh - and I was talking to Nichole (who I am sure passed this on to your Mom) but I JUST saw a family who had TWO dossiers in at the same time -

AND they traveled to China ONCE to pick up both girls (in different provinces). I think their time frame was similar to yours as far as how far they were along with their first daughter before they began the chase for #2.

It is worth looking into! Of course we know & serve The Only One who can make it happen & KNOWS when Charlie AND Grace are coming home - praying SOON!

Julie said...

I LOVE that the first time you saw her face was also her birthday! And that the 4 year anniversary of deciding to adopt ONE also had meaning for the FOURTH adoptive child. That is SO neat! :)

Ladybugsmom said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story....God is so good!

Amy said...

My heart is so happy for your family, I know you will be so blessed with Grace. I read her file several months ago and she has been on my heart and in my prayers. What a beautiful story, and what a great agency! I love it all. I would love to meet Grace (and the rest the family) someday since we are in the same city.
Many blessings,

Mei Mei s and Mayhem said...

O my what an amazing story!!! I have tears!! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and wanting a necklace!! You can email through my profile and let me know what your thinking?? Similar to the giveaway or something different?
I cant wait to follow your journey, what an amazing, wonderful 2010 you will have!!

Global Girl said...


Welcome, Grace!

Jean said...

How absolutely wonderful!! Oh my- God is so good!

She is beautiful and reminds me of our Sarah who is just 5 months younger than her! What fun you will have!!

Emily- could you ask your Mom to e-mail me at

Thank you!

I love your family!!

The Greens said...

Wow. I don't think you're crazy AT ALL. Just a wonderful family who is willing to follow God's plan for you, even when it is scary. Grace is stunning and couldn't be getting a more beautiful family.


Julie said...

Simply awesome! Congratulations to your family and to Grace.

Prayers for you to reach both children as fast as possible.

Kim said...

Congratulations! Such wonderful news!
For those of us who know almost nothing about international adoption, someday would you please post an explanation of WHY it takes so long?! I wish you could just go get Charlie and Grace next weekend!!! (You and me both, of course!!)
Love and Blessings,
The Donohoes from Wisconsin

Julie said...

Hey, I have a question, just out of curiosity. Do they tell Grace that she has a family waiting for her, and things about yall? As well as telling Charlie? I'm guessing so, since y'all sent stuff to Charlie. I bet hearing it would make them really excited :)

jeanette said...

you know I LOVE this story..and am holding back tears. :)

Jeanette said...

God's fingerprints...all over this beautiful story. Can't wait for Charlie AND Grace to come home!

Julie said...

Another random question, sorry haha. I was telling my parents tonight (Wednesday) about your blog/family and how much I love it and all, and my dad was asking if the kids come home from China knowing English right after they are adopted? I thought that was a good question, especially with Grace being a bit older and talking more and all.

Janet and Kevin said...

We are so happy for you and for Grace! God is so good!

Love in Christ,
Janet, Kevin, Ted,Philip, and soon to be home Eli

Naomi said...

This is a wonderful testimony!!! I am so glad to have been a part of the waiting to hear about her and she is truly going to be so happy in your family!!!

I do not think for a minute that you are crazy!!! I think you are following God's will and it will be used as such a testimony!!!

We'll pray she comes home before her birthday!!

Congratulations to you all!!!

Emily, you truly are of one of the next generations kids whom God has placed such a desire to advocate for the orphans. Linny was talking about this in her last post on her blog 'A Place Called Simplicity'.

Keri said...

I am loving all these pictures. She is so lovely! I think that every picture I see of her is my favorite, and then I see the next one and I think that is my favorite. She is a very photogenic little girl. I know you are going to love that!


Ashley said...

Wow. I was crying by the time I finished your post. I am blown away at God's orchestrations.

Melanie said...

That is just an amazing story!
She seems to be so sweet =)
Congrats!! I can't wait to see your family grow this year =)

Wife of the Pres. said...

So glad to see this update on the blog! I need to email your Mom!!!

Anonymous said...

Crying over here!!! I just love your family. We just completed our first adoption and we are still recovering!! Oh and we are much younger than your parents. I know that God has great things in store for your AMAZING faithful family!! God bless you all including Charlie and Grace!

Leslie (Louisiana)

Laurie said...

Beautiful story- thanks for sharing. Can you imagine the post you'll do to re-cap 2010- that'll be a FUN one to read! :) God bless!

Kristi said...

You know, there was a time in life where I would have been in the group that thought your family was crazy. But since then I've had an attitude check and I'm right there with you!
Your family is so very special and I am blessed to have been in China with you!

Love for Lilly Yin said...

I don't think your family is crazy...I think they are the sane ones. I love, love, love your families story. It is beautiful and so is Miss Grace. Having adopted an older child myself the challenges are a bit different, but wonderful and Grace will do just fine..She is going to love her new family!

Michelle said...

What an amazing story you will be telling Grace one day very soon... A few years ago I would have thought your family was a little crazy know my heart and mind has been changed and I think your family is wonderful. God bless you all...

Cindy M said...

I love your family's craziness! We're hoping and praying to get a little crazy(er) ourselves this year! It's the "crazy things that love will make you do", right?! Congratulations! Thanks, again, for continuing to share your family's story!

Catherine said...

Oh wow! Oh wow! OH WOW!!! Praise God! I love to see how He is growing your beautiful family and how He has led your parents (and the rest of you too :o) to adopt 4 precious children from China!! Praying you received Charlie's LOA soon and that Grace will be home with her new family to celebrate her 11th birthday!!

Praising God from whom all blessings flow!

SO happy for you Emily and Pam...and all the rest too!

CNA said...

Oh Emily!! I'm so happy for you guys!!!! It's all I could do not to burst into happy tears (which would not be good, since I'm at work). She sounds precious and is just beautiful!!! God is truly incredibl! I am always in awe by how He uses you and your family for HIS glory! Truly wonderful.