timeline to Tallula

Some of y’all have wondered about our timeline to Miss Tallula. And mentioned that it seemed that we’d had the fastest and easiest paperchase in history.

It wasn’t exactly the fastest. Or the easiest.

But the question did get me to thinking: when did we ‘start’ for Tallula? How long has it been?

And the answer stung this mama’s heart a bit.

Because our journey to Tallula started with Esther. If we had not fallen completely head over heels for a little girl with pixie ears and long eyelashes, we’d have never found our Tallula.

And, despite the sting, I decided to type it all out, beginning to end. Not only to share with y’all, but to remind myself. Of this journey we set out on so many months ago.

15 months ago, to be exact.


December 12th – see Esther’s face for the first time and fall completely in love
December 17th – apply to Small World to adopt Esther
December 18th – Esther is put ‘on hold’ for our family


January 1st – God gives me a verse: Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. ~ 1 Corinthians 28:20
January 12th – our LOI goes to China
January 27th – PA
March 28th – homestudy update completed and off to USCIS
April 29th – LOA for Esther and Poppy
May 9th – we receive a call from our agency, Esther has passed away
July 1st – receive a file to consider – it’s our girl
July 4th – LOI to China
July 6th – PA for Tallula
July 22nd – LOA for Tallula
July 22nd – August 5th – travel to China for Poppy
August 8th – begin new homestudy for Tallula – due to out-of-state move
November 7th – new homestudy finally complete and off to USCIS
December 22nd – fingerprint appointment at USCIS


January 25th – new 797 and I800 for Tallula, at last
February 21st – Article 5 paperwork delivered to CCCWA
April 9th – April 17th – finally meet Tallula Mae and bring home our girl

Of course, this is the super-lite version of our timeline. It leaves out all that God did to confirm Esther was our daughter. It leaves out all the anxieties, conversations with social workers, and long talks with prayer partners.

It leaves out the countless prayers lifted on our behalf as we fought to bring Esther home.

It leaves out the heartache at losing our Esther.

And how God comforted and carried us during those days, weeks and months after her death.

It also leaves out the elation at finding our Tallula… and the joy-filled anticipation of bringing her home.

And recognizing God’s hand in all of it.

So, thanks for asking the question. I am grateful for the opportunity to look back and see how the pieces of our story are woven intricately together by the Creator Himself.

For everything comes from Him; everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be glory evermore.
Romans 11:36



  1. There’s such peace and beauty in looking back! When we look back, we see how God works everything together for His purpose and glory, and it gives us peace for the future! Thank you.

  2. Campbell says:

    I have been praying for y’all for so long. I found this site when my husband and I were beginning the journey to China ourselves. I believe it was just after Vivi came home. I have come to know your kiddos as we prayed for you all by name. The tears were plentiful on the day you posted about the death of Esther. I celebrated with y’all when you finally had Poppy in your arms. My family has been praying for Tallula since we saw her sweet face. Never once in all the time I’ve been following this wonderful blog did I ever think “Wow, this family sure has it easy!”. I know that over the years people have questioned how you “get kids so fast”. This has always baffled me. My thought was always “Praise the Lord! Another precious child will be leaving an institution in China and coming home to live in a wonderful family in the United States!

    Not even after our own adoption process stalled and has been been at a standstill for so long did I ever begrudge you or those precious children the joy of your family adding another sweet soul to your clan. This is an arduous journey that God has placed y’all on. I don’t imagine any of it has ever been “easy”. Clearly God has a plan for each and every child. It just so happens that your family is large. It is abundantly blessed with giggles and hugs and family chaos and noise and all the joys a large family brings. Y’all have also taken on children with medical issues and had to make countless visits to hospitals, make long journeys to have your boys feet treated over a long and agonizing process. There has been more upheaval in y’alls life than most people will ever experience. There was a devastating loss of a sweet child. Yet y’all continued to have faith. To believe in the path that God has laid before you. It has been far from smooth sailing. Yet there is a joy and a belief that all things work together for good. That God has a purpose and a plan for your lives, even if that plan wasn’t necessarily the plan y’all had envisioned.

    It is my hope that anyone who finds this blog will recognize the miracle of God’s handiwork. I hope and pray that anyone who sees this blog will find comfort and have faith that their China journeys can and will result in the blessings and joys that adoption brings. I would hope that those reading this blog will know that the appearance of “easy and quick” is really the result of an enormous amount of work and commitment and faith on y’alls part, on the part of your family.

    Thank you for sharing your life and your children and the joys and struggles with us. I know I benefit enormously from your willingness to share yourself with the world.

    God bless you.

  3. Dear Stef,
    Although I was ” along for the ride” via your blog thank you for telling the story again.
    He will bring us beauty from ashes and it is plain to see in the journey to your girls.
    Praying for you all.

  4. It has been so long since I have dropped by… I am so glad you have the dates… Am sure little Esther is watching over her sister until you get to China and will continue too…. Hugs

  5. Cannot wait to follow along!!!! I’m so excited for all of you!!!!!!!! She is so precious!!!

  6. Thank you for sharing your timeline to the girls. What a tumultuous journey you have been on! I can’t imagine. Your family is amazing and your hearts are tuned to God’s voice… even through the pain. That is an encouragement to me! Our adoption journey has been a little out of the ordinary and the silent waiting is eating me up. I can’t talk about it on our blog.

    So excited for you all to be traveling soon!!! Tallula is a doll! Oh my, what a cutie pie! I will be watching your blog closely over the next month to see your family welcome this new child. I want to learn what it’s like bringing home a new little one… it scares me a little, to be honest. So happy for Dalton to go with you. What a memory this will be for him!

  7. Thanks for sharing, Stefanie. I know this wasn’t geared toward making somebody feel better, but you did through the bible verses you shared. I am in China now, & I really needed to see those & breathe them in. I hope your travel preparations go well!

  8. We may not always understand God’s plan, I guess thats why faith is key… but we know that God is Supreme. Wonderful to hear you have your dates to bring your sweet Tallulah Mae home.

  9. “easy” and quick”. I Had to pick my jaw off the floor when I read that one. I’ve followed your blog since 2006 when we started our China journey. Your life is anything but easy and quick. Your life IS amazIng, inspirational, and full of hard work, life, love, and faith. Thank you for sharIng it with us, a world full of strangers,who have been forever blessed and forever changed by your courage and strength.

  10. Woman, every time you talk about this story it just makes me cry my eyes out! I struggle with fear, it comes out of not wanting to feel pain. I just want to be shielded from the stuff that makes your heart hurt. Anyway, this story shows so clearly how even through pain HE is faithful. He is good. I hate that anyone has to feel pain and I hate that your family had to go through that, but I’m amazed at his hand in it all! God is so good, even when we doubt.

  11. Stef – I remember – the joy, tears, and return to “normal” (such a clever and hard to achieve word!!) all of that.

    But as I was reading that “reader’s digest” version I kept having this thought…

    Thanks to you, your DH, and all your kids for “getting it”.

    hugs – and looking forward to following your journey with great joy!

    aus and co.

  12. Love following your Journeys! Even the one to sweet Poppy, when she was SO sad for SO many days! I rejoiced with you when that beautiful girl finally shared her lovely smile. I am praying that Miss Tallula’s heart is already becoming readied for the difficult separation from her FF and that she will fall gently into her place as “Baby” of the family. I wanted to tell you that my Mom was born in Tallulah, LA. and I’ve been secretly calling your girl “Talli”! Hugs ~ Jo

  13. Hello! A friend told me to check out your blog and I am so glad I did! My husband and I are headed to China the same time as you to bring home our Mason. I find myself wanting to read blogs rather than finish packing! What province are you going to? We will be in Guangdong the entire time. Maybe we will get to meet?

    Happy packing and safe travels!
    Nancy & Lonnie Kragel

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