Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Small World...

The world we live in can be so small sometimes!  The week after we received our referral of Makenna, I joined a Yahoo group for families that have adopted from the orphanage where Makenna resides.  The group has been a great resources to see pictures where she lives and connect with other families that have adopted children from the same orphanage.  Within the first week of joining this group, I connected with a woman who adopted a daughter from the same orphanage about ten years ago.  Her family just returned to China during the first week of January this year, and they were able to visit the orphanage.  After a few emails back and forth, I received several emails with pictures from their tour of the orphanage - she sent them to me because maybe there would be pictures of Makenna.

I'm sure you can imagine the shock and surprise as I looked through the pictures and began to see her sweet little face - again, and again, and again! I quickly emailed her back to let her know that I was pretty sure that the little girl in the red sweater was our daughter!  I think she was in as much shock as I was, but she was so thrilled to be able to provide us with some pictures.  When I told her which little girl was ours, she told me that she had video of her - pictures are wonderful, but to actually see your child move or speak is truly amazing!  Unfortunately, the video file was quite large, so she was not able to email it me.  She was so sweet to put the video on a flash drive and dropped it in the mail to us the same day.  We couldn't wait to receive video of our daughter.

As we looked through the pictures over and over again - we were pretty sure that she was Makenna, but there was still a "what if" in the back of our minds - her hair was not pulled back tight as in the other pictures we received and these were candid natural pictures so she was more relaxed.  We really thought it was her - the mom and dad in us said - yes, it's her!

The flash drive arrived on a Saturday and I think I ran up the drive way after getting the mail to put it in our computer.  In the video, Makenna is in a group of children singing a song with hand motions.  Everything is in Chinese so we really can't understand any of it.  However, about the third time we listened to it - we realized at one point, Makenna was playing with a toy and was not singing - the nanny that was leading the group called out her name "Zhen Zhen!" - it's the only thing on the video we can understand, but it was just what we needed to confirm that it was Makenna!

Some of my favorite pictures of Makenna are from that batch of photos - we all love her in the color red and we love seeing her just being herself and playing with friends!  We hope you enjoy...

And my FAVORITE!!!!

We are hoping for some new pictures any day - her care package should be delivered to her shortly.  Then she will know that she has a family - she will know that she has been chosen - she will know that she is loved - she will know that soon she will be a daughter, sister, granddaughter...  Soon, baby girl, very soon!

As we prepare to celebrate Easter this weekend, we wish all of you a Blessed Easter Holiday.  We rejoice that this will be the last holiday Makenna will spend in an orphanage!

Easter Blessings,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

42 Days...

Forty Two Days ago we saw our daughter's face for the very first time, we fell in love with her smile and the sparkle in her eyes.  Every day we have looked at her pictures and prayed for our LOA - the Letter of Acceptance that China's accepted our application to adopt her as our own.  Forty Two long days - Six long weeks - then the phone rang this afternoon.  

We officially have our L   O   A !!!  

China said yes - our request to adopt Makenna Zhen-Leigh Benner has been approved!!! 

You probably don't want to read a lot, right - just see the pictures?  Well, without further delay, I would love to introduce her to you ...

These are the first two pictures that we fell in love with!

July 2013

October 2013

The next batch of paperwork is packed in a FedEx envelope and ready to go out in the mail tomorrow.  We were told to expect travel in 2.5-3 months!

Soon, baby girl, Mommy & Daddy are coming to bring you home!!

I'll post more this weekend, for now, we hope you enjoy the pictures!
Jason & Jessica

Sunday, March 17, 2013

FOR SALE - Our FINAL Fundraiser

We are just over $7,000 short of our total goal to bring home Makenna.  Over the past three months God has amazed us with his provision - remember back in January when I told you Jason accepted a new job?  Well, as a result of having his vacation time paid out from his last job and some other blessings along the way - here we are just $7,000 to go.  It sounds like a lot, but we know God has brought us this far and he will bring every last penny we need.  As part of Jason's new job, he was given a company car, when we looked up the value of his car guess what the Kelley Blue Book Says...$7,500. Coincidence?  Definitely not - we knew that we would need God's blessing and provision, this is definitely not a coincidence!  

So the car is officially FOR SALE!  We would love to sell it to someone who has been reading our blog, but if no interest arises after a few weeks, we will be advertising it online.  Here are the details:

2008 Kia Spectra LX
4 door sedan
5 speed manual transmission
36,000 miles

The car has been well maintained and garage kept.  We are the original owners, it was purchased in August 2008.  The car was just serviced and two new tires were purchased - it is ready to go!  It's the perfect second car for a busy family or great for a high school or college student (great gas mileage!).

We are asking $7,000, or best offer!  Put the information in and you will find this to be a very competitive asking price.

Please feel free to call or email us with questions or if you would like to come take it for a test drive.  If you don't have our number, you can comment below and I will get a hold of you.

Please share this page with anyone you think may be interested!

Jason & Jessica

Sunday, March 3, 2013

LOA countdown...

No exciting news to report, but we are one month closer to receiving our LOA and getting on a plane to pick up our daughter.   While we can't show you her beautiful face yet, I thought it would be fun to start to introduce her to you in little bits and pieces (like a puzzle).

Makenna turned four in September and has been living in the same Social Welfare Institute since her birth.  From what we have been told some of her favorite toys are balls and books - those of you who know Megan and Matthew should find this ironic.  Matt spent his entire toddler years carrying a ball around with him and sleeping with a small ball in his hand.  Megan LOVES her books and has been anticipating the day she could sit and read to her little sister.  What a perfect fit for our family! 

We were recently told that Makenna's Chinese Name translates to mean "a tiny piece of a precious cloud" - tiny she is!  She weighed 28 lbs in December and was 36" tall at just over 4 years old.  She will surely gain weight once she gets home and gets some good home cooking!  Jason can't wait to introduce to all sorts of good food.  In the mean time, it will be nice to have a little peanut to carry around and cuddle.

One exciting bit of information is that she has HAIR - pigtails in almost all the pictures we have received.  It is unusual for children in orphanages to have hair so we were quite suprised to see her pictures with two nice long pigtails.  She is accumulating quite a collection of head bands and hair bows already!

And the first thing you will notice when are able to reveal her picture is her smile - her whole face lights up and her eyes sparkle.  You can see pure joy in her expression - it melts our hearts and is an answer to prayer that she has experienced and knows joy and happiness in the first four years of her life.

Geographically speaking... Makenna lives in the Jiangsu province of China.  China lies on the same latitude lines as the United States - so the area that she lives would be on the same latitude as North Carolina.  Winters aren't nearly as cold as in Bejing or the northern regions.  The capital of Jiangsu where we will be traveling to for "Gotcha" (when we receive Makenna and finalize her adoption) is Nanjing.  Nanjing looks to be a modern city with nice hotels and amentities (another answer to prayer!).

Here is map of China - Jiangsu is just north of Shanghai and Nanjing is northwest of Shanghai:

So, while were looking at the map - I'll quick tell you about the itinerary of our time in China.  We will fly from the US into Bejing, we will spend 2-3 days in Bejing.  Then we will either fly or take a train to Nanjing for Gotcha and about 5-7 days of getting all the paperwork finalized and getting Makenna's passport.  Fron Nanjing we will fly to the city of Guangzhou in the province of Guangdong - this is where the US Consulate in located.  We will spend another 5-7 days here getting all the US Immigrations paperwork ready to bring Makenna home.  From Guangzhou we will make our way to Hong Kong and fly back home.  In case you're wondering it's about 14-15 hours of flying to get from the US to China!  
We are anxious to receive our LOA - praying it arrives any day and we can officially introduce to our sweet, sweet daughter.
Thank you for continuing to pray for our family and Makenna.  She likely doesn't know that she has a family waiting for her yet, but we pray that God would be preparing her heart and mind to leave everything that she has known, to learn to trust us as her parents, and to travel to the other side of the world to become a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece - so many people already love this little girl and we pray she would be prepared to receive all of us into her little heart.
Stay tuned for more updates - I think the journey is going to be much more exciting very soon!