Sunday, February 21, 2016

Introducing...Cooper Michael Murray

We're dying of excitement today! Exactly one month from today we will have the newest member of our family, Cooper Michael in our arms! It feels like its been an extremely slow and long adoption process but now that we have our flights booked, final appointments in China scheduled, and things prepared for Cooper to come home its hard to contain the excitement we feel.
One question that Brady and I have been asked frequently over the last several months as we've told people about our adoption is, "How did you decide to do that?" or "What made you decide to do that?" We're never quite sure how to answer because we can't really pin it down to a specific moment, event or experience. For some reason Brady and I began talking about adoption even before we started talking about marriage. We had both had different experiences in our lives that had left us with favorable impressions of adoption. After we got married and began our own family, we continued to have experiences that left us feeling like adoption would be an even bigger part of our lives even though we didn't know where, when or how. We continued to be blessed with special opportunities to be involved with the adoption community as our family grew. Last spring Brady and I both began to have those quite promptings or feelings that it was time for us to look into an adoption of our own. After a quiet peaceful weekend listening to and pondering counsel spoken by prophets we love, and after counseling with our children, we felt prepared and ready to begin the adoption journey for our family. Trying to find the right child for our family was difficult but as we sought God's help we received the inspiration we needed to be guided to a sweet little three year old boy who has Down syndrome in Tianjin China. We saw this picture and couldn't help but smile at this cute little boy showing off his balance.
We inquired and were given his file which we reviewed. We were also shown several more pictures.

We were smitten and so excited at the possibility of having him in our family, not just Brady and I but the children too. We kept looking at his pictures and couldn't stop talking about our brother/son in China. Every time Nash saw his picture he would get so excited and say, "Look! It's me!" We wrote our Child Care Plan and Application to Adopt Letter as quickly as we could and sent it off to China. On May 5, 2015 we received our Notice of Approval back from China which gave us the green light to go ahead and begin the legal/paperwork part of adoption. We were also able to send our little Zhang Tong Jiang a small package of treats, toys, and a photo album of us and his new home. And in return the orphanage sent us some updated pictures.

He is darling! Of course we wanted to do everything as quickly as possible even though our agency told us to plan on 12-14 months. We worked as quickly as we could on our home study and dossier prep. It feels like it takes months for certified copies of birth and marriage certificates, medical reports, police clearance and criminal history records to be all properly notarized and authenticated. We felt like we were making good progress and had all of the certified documents and home study ready to submit by the end of July. Then our next step was to submit paperwork and get fingerprinting appointments with the CIS, Civilian Immigration Services, so we could get approval for Cooper to be issued a visa to come to the US. This was like running into a brick wall. It took months longer than we had hoped and there wasn't anything we could do about it. It was hard to know another birthday without his family had come and gone when he turned four in December. We had hoped to be able to do a Skype call for his birthday or Christmas but it never worked out. We did get more updated pictures and a short video though.

 On Christmas day we were all just dreaming of next year when we'll be celebrating with Cooper. Finally the dossier and every piece of paperwork had been stamped, and translated and passed back and forth between our countries enough times that our final approval and permission to travel came in January. Another month and a half of working with our adoption agency, getting our visas and consulate appointment and planning the details of our trip and we'll be traveling in March!
We know its going to dramatically rock Zhang Tong Jiangs world when we show up and he suddenly becomes Cooper Michael. We'll take him from the only life he's ever know into a completely different one. New language, new name, new people, new places, new food, new routine, new experiences, everything will be new. Naturally we are expecting that it will take time and patience as he processes and adapts to his new world. We are not afraid or worried. We know there will be bumps in the road but it doesn't matter, we just love him. He's not alone and we're not alone. We are expecting to continue to see miracles as he experiences the love of his new family.
Love is a powerful force.