We have some big news in the Eshleman household – we are officially Dossier To China today!! More than likely, if you are in the adoption community, you know what this means. For those of you who are like “what in the world are all these acronyms she writes about”, it is a pretty important step to bringing your little one home!

 dtc collage

Yep, we’re just a tad bit excited!!!

Our dossier (pronounced ―doss-ee-ay) is collection of approximately 13 documents submitted to the CCCWA for permission to adopt a child from China. It contains everything that we have been working on for the last 7 months to get Max home, including a lot of sweat, tears and a ton of prayers. Your DTC (Dossier To China) is the date that your dossier is sent to China. China now has an electronic system set up to send these, but we also have to snail mail the hard copy to them as well. There are quite a few more steps to take before we get to bring our little one home, but it is looking like we will have him in our arms within 4-6 months!

4-6 months means that we will add another birthday AND a gotcha day into the mix of our Fall celebrations. From late September to November we celebrate Dave’s birthday, Max’s birthday, Max’s gotcha, my birthday, Landon’s birthday and Daisy’s birthday. It goes to show we don’t make the plans around here! All I can say is that Max will be a pretty special birthday present for all of us; definitely one we will remember. Another interesting fact is that Max was actually found and taken to his orphanage on my birthday in 2012. This makes me sad, but happy, all at the same time. Oh, the many paradoxes of adoption….

The next step? We wait for our LID (Log In Date) and we get to ask for an update on Max! We should have this in the next couple of weeks.

Please continue to pray for Max to be loved by his care takers until we can become his permanent family. Sometimes I let my mind drift to the worst of situations in institutional care. I have lived in China and have seen the hard places, but I have also seen the beauty and kindness of the people there. God cares for the orphans and I pray daily that He will use someone, on the other side of the world, to love on my boy.

We love you Max!!

Missing Max

I don’t know why exactly, but today I have been missing Max. I know, it’s weird, I haven’t met him yet. How can you miss someone you have never met? 

Maybe it was all the kids with siblings I saw at Farm Day. Maybe it was the little Asian boy we were behind at the water fountain who just happened to be 19 months (Max’s age). Maybe it was it was the lunch box I saw labeled “Max” while we were eating our picnic lunch. Maybe it was the two tricycles I walk by everyday in our garage….

Who knows why, but it just happens to be hard today. I just plain miss Max. 

Max, this mommy you don’t even know yet loves you so much. I’m praying for you and hugging you every day in my heart! 

Once step closer…

Last Friday was a packed day – first of all we received this in the mail….


That, my friends, is a pretty important piece of paper! It is the hard copy of our I800a approval. Basically, we are now approved by the United States government to adopt internationally from a Hague country. I am not sure if I explained what a Hague country is before, so just in case here is the official definition:

Hague- Hague is a collective of regulations and standards agreed to by various countries around the world, which standardizes the level of care, concern and ethics involved in international adoption. The United States
is a Hague country.

This isn’t the approval to adopt a specific child (Max). We will have to complete that application later on down the road. Most people at this point in the process do not know who the child is they will adopt and wait to be matched once their paperwork is sent to China. We will probably end up knowing who Max is for a whole year before meeting him! Talk about a lesson in patience, perseverance and trust!

In about a week we should be able to send all of out paperwork to China (something called a dossier). Right now, it is being certified/authenticated by our adoption agency. Yippee!

And some more important news….

on March 28th (the same day we received our i800a approval) Dave and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary! It is hard to believe it has already been 5 years. I honestly can say they have been the best of my life. I love him more and more each day…


We celebrated our 5 years by spending the weekend in Charleston! Dave planned the whole trip back in January and didn’t tell me until Valentine’s Day where we were going. It was soooo gorgeous and relaxing and fun and did I say gorgeous?! I love old architecture and design….my favorite part of the trip was just walking down Rainbow Row.


I’m lovin’ this Coral door


And for some reason this little house makes me so happy. I love how it was hidden behind some of the bigger houses, all nestled nice and cozy just ready for me to come and live in it.

We actually stayed in North Charleston, about 10 minutes from the city. We did lots of tours and dined at some fun restaurants all for free…yep, we got roped into one of those travel club presentations. It was not a “time share” presentation and we were in and out in about an hour….I’d say that was a good deal!


Here we are inside the boat on our Harbor Tour (It was a crazy windy day so we spent most of the tour inside the boat).

And where did the littlest Esh stay? With our AHHHMAZZING friends, Chad and Raeanne. Landon absolutely adores Rae Rae and Chad and had the time of his life with them. He has so much fun he keeps asking to go to “Rae Rae’s house” all this past week. Thank you so much for taking such good care of our little guy!

Well, I am off for now. Hopefully we will have more updates soon! Maybe some DTC (dossier to china) news!?

I800a approval!!

We met another milestone today – our i800a approval! We don’t have it physically in our hands yet, but I called the USCIS today and the nice (yes, nice) lady on the phone told me we were approved yesterday and our hard copy was put in the mail today! This is a big relief since we have been waiting sine February 14th for it and we have to have our dossier to China by the end of April to adopt Max. Yay!! One step closer :) 

A trip to the Post Office

We have had a lot of those lately – trips to the Post Office. Between shipping things for my business, Darlin’ Designs, and mailing off adoption documents, it has been a place we frequent a lot. Today, though, we shipped something a little more exciting – our dossier documents! Well, I guess it isn’t too exciting because our dossier isn’t actually being sent to China yet. But, hey, every little step counts and mailing all those 13 documents to our social worker means we are just a little closer. Image

Did I mention that Landon likes to get all crazy up in the in Post Office? Oh my, he sure does ;) Image

In our dossier documents, we also had to include 8-10 pictures of our family. This part was actually fun!

When I got the pictures developed for our dossier, I also got a few developed of Max to put up on our fridge. When I first put them up, I put them too high for Landon to see sooo….


they are now at his eye level. It was the sweetest thing ever – he kept reaching for them and saying “Macks, Macks” and once I moved them down he started talking about Max’s eyes and shoes. Max is the “wallpaper” on my computer and whenever he sees him he gets so excited!

Just the other day we were sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and having a little conversation when out of nowhere he told me “daddy at work. Macks in China” Image

Oh yeah, the best part of our little chat was when I asked him “where is mommy?” and he replied “mommy pretty”. 

Melt. My. Heart. 




Biometric fingerprints – check!

Yesterday, among an ice storm and finding out I had strep throat (I’m better now and am thankful for easy access to antibiotics), we received our biometric fingerprint appointment! This is pretty exciting since it takes us one step closer to bringing Max home.  Since most of you might be thinking “what in the world are biometric finger prints”, I’ll go ahead and explain where we are in the adoption process. 

On February 14th, our I800a application was sent to the USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services). Basically, the USCIS has to approve us before we can adopt internationally. We had to fill out more forms, provide proof we are US citizens and married,  complete our home study, and send them a pretty big chunk of change ;) 

Once they receive our application, the USCIS sends us an appointment to go and get our fingerprints taken. We actually had  FBI fingerprints taken back in November for our home study. Silly me thought these were “the fingerprints” adoptive families talk about. Side note: IF you ever want to hire someone and aren’t sure about their background, hire someone who has adopted, I PROMISE you they have been fingerprinted, interviewed, and background checked multiple times. You will have nothing to worry about ;) 

Today, we took our appointment notice to the local USCIS office in Durham and did a “walk in” to get our fingerprints taken. Our appointment was not scheduled until March 21st so we decided to walk in (advice from other  adoptive families) and we were able to get them done in about 15 minutes! This will hopefully speed up our I800a approval and we can get that dossier sent to China!  

A question we often get is “do you know yet when you’ll be able to bring Max home?” We still don’t know the exact date, but if we follow the typical timeline it will be sometime this Fall. A few months ago, I thought that we would already have our I800a approval by now and our dossier would be on its way to China. It’s frustrating that we aren’t on the timeline I had planned, but it’s a reminder to trust in God’s perfect timing. 

So, that is where we are on this beautiful, sometimes frustrating, journey to bring Max home. We pray for him daily, look at the few pictures we have of him (that are probably almost a year old) and dream of the day that he is in our arms….oh how we love you already little Max! 

So, since a blog post really isn’t all that much fun without pictures, here is what we have been up to the last few weeks…ImageImageImage


Puppy sitting George! 



Playing in the snow and making a snowman to look like Daddy 


Celebrating Valentine’s Day


Grocery shopping



Taking “selfies” with the new phone!! (Yep we  joined the 21st century and got our first smart phones!!)Image

Doing Laundry….and no, Karoline, he did not put them up ;)


Hosting a “snow in” play date with our Life Class from church…

And that’s it for now.



Unanswered Questions

Just yesterday, a little girl passed away. Just a little over one years old. She was beautiful and was struggling to stay alive.

She lived on the other side of the world. I only knew here from reading her 24 page file and by seeing pictures of her on a facebook group I am a part of. 

Back in September, Dave and I went through the process of reviewing several files of children with moderate to severe special needs who needed families. They were the kiddos on the special focus list and, as you can imagine, this process was really difficult for us emotionally. I wrote a little about it here: http://ourpotter.wordpress.com/2013/10/

Thankfully, this little girl had a family choose her right around the time we chose Max. She was loved and wanted, not only by her heavenly father but also her adoptive family. Because they had already had a home study completed she would be able to come home sooner than if we would have pursued her.

In the world of adoption, there are always going to be unanswered questions. I don’t know why God chose to bring her home before she met her adoptive family and got the surgery she needed. I do know that she is no longer suffering and is in Jesus’ arms right this very second.

A Super Fun Saturday

Ok, so I must admit that I have wanted to attend Lowe’s “Build and Grow” workshop way before I had a kiddo (maybe also before marriage).

Today, my dream came true and it was so much fun!

Oh yeah, I think Landon and Dave enjoyed it as well ;)

building with mommy

Here we are working on his Valentine card holder. You know what makes this event even better?! It’s completely free.

daddy and landon building

When you walk in, they give you a little hammer and goggles  along with your project kit (Landon LOVED wearing the goggles and really got into hammering those little nails)

mommy and landon building

You have to give back the goggles and hammer, but you get to keep this….

Landon and daddy

An adorable apron that you put badges on. For each project completed you get a little badge. We will most certainly sign up again and fill that apron up with lots of badges!

mommy and landon

Two peas in a pod

I LOVE being the mommy to a little boy, soon to be two little boys! I know, girls can totally do this too and if we have a little girl one day I hope to share my love for power tools and home improvement stores with her.

It’s just so precious to see him doing little boy things…flying his planes, crashing his cars, or getting super excited about working with tools.

Did you know that there are so many more boys than girls that are waiting for families of their own? Not just in China, but in the US and other countries.

Before we started adopting, I had no idea that more people prefer adopting girls. Dave and I went into adoption with the perspective that we don’t choose the sex when we are pregnant so why do that with adoption.

 (Honestly, when we decided to adopt from China I started to write letters to “my little girl” because we just assumed if we were adopting from China, it would be a girl.)

When we started to look through the list of kids with Special Needs waiting to be adopted, it was obvious that most were boys. If a little boy is abandoned in China, it is usually because he has some sort of “special need”, so it makes sense that more would be on the waiting child list. What I didn’t realize is that most of the girls get picked first. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind when going into adoption. There are lots of little boys in China who need families too.

And we can’t wait for Max and Landon to learn how to use a hammer and nails together!

The Waiting

Today, I stumbled across a blog post written by Layla on The Lettered Cottage, http://www.theletteredcottage.net and she put into words exactly how I feel lately

“it’s such an interesting feeling to know someone is your child, but to not know the someone that is your child, yet.”

 It just so happens that we are going through the same agency to adopt and are both waiting to bring our little ones home (AND her DIY creativity is totally my style – just a side note)

When I read that, I started to tear up. When I was pregnant with Landon I had him with me 24/7 in that big ‘ole belly of mine. I couldn’t see him, smell him, or cuddle with him, but I somehow felt like I could protect him. 

Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of my pregnancy in fear – fear that this baby we wanted to desperately might be gone in the blink of an eye 

Fear that the medicine I was taking would somehow harm him

Fear that I would miscarry because of some health issues I live with

With Max, I can’t carry him in that belly of mine or feel him kick my rib cage (as Landon so often did).  This makes the waiting so much more difficult than the 9 months we waited to meet Landon face to face. This is a whole new level of surrendering control to my Creator…and I am so thankful to have Him to pour out my fears and anxiety to. 

And so I pray, just like I prayed daily, sometimes hourly, for our little Landon…

Dear Max,

I love you so much already. You have no idea who we are, but we know a little about you and God knows  A LOT about you. I’m praying that God will wrap his arms around you right now as you sleep. We can’t wait to take care of you. I know it will take some time for us to do that, so I am praying that God will place someone in your life right now to be His hands and feet. I pray that they will love you as God loves you. xi jian for now little one.


Your Mommy  



Waiting for the snow…and Max ;) 






Imago Dei (Image of God)

I have gone back and forth on whether or not to write about Max’s Special Need. Not because I am ashamed of it or scared to share about it, but because sometimes I think we, as a culture, share too much about our children online; divulging information that may one day embarrass them or take away from their chance to tell their story.

Please do not get me wrong, I love blogging about our adoption story and I don’t think that sharing about your kids online is always negative. My hope is that one day Max will be able to read this story and from it see the love we had for him even before meeting him. Part of me wishes I would have started this blog when I was pregnant with Landon, so he would have the same.

In Max’s case, his special need is bilateral microtia and atresia and is something that will be visible to those he meets when he comes home. I know, most of you are like “what in the world is that”? Dave and I both said the same thing when we were reviewing Max’s file, and honestly, we have so much more to learn about it. This website explains it better than I can: http://www.microtia.us.com/

If I am completely honest with you, Max’s special need is not something I think a lot about. I am sure it will become very real to me when he comes home and we have a ton of doctor’s appointment and surgeries, but right now all I can think about is him being in an orphanage so far away when we long to hug and hold him. I have been thinking a lot about how I do not want his special need to define him, but to be a part of him that makes him stronger….I desire for others to see him not as a “Special Needs Child” but as a “Child with Special Needs”. You see, Max is made in the image of God and his special need is just a part of life – something we will help him live with and use for God’s glory.


…and he is beautiful and sooo worth the wait and struggles that come with adoption.