Posts from the ‘The Journey’ Category


One day after my last entry, Reece received this in her hotmail inbox:
Congratulations!  Your dossier has been logged in by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption!
Your official dossier log-in date (LID) is: 04/04/2014
So…we officially are logged in.  Usually this step takes a few weeks but our paperwork was on “fast track” for some reason.  It’s a huge step (HUGE with a silent “H”) and  now the question becomes, “when can we meet our little girl?” I’ve heard the match times can vary from a few days to six months…so I’m trying to keep everything in perspective.  The main thing is, we’ve passed a major hurdle and now head for the finish line. WOW!
My nephew, award winning photographer David Hamburg,  finally got the pics of our silent auction )
Here are some moments from that wonderful night…. 
The Sisters of the Transfiguration talk politics with mom…
Connie makes the best cakes around…
Mike, Laura and Nick pick a winner…
Scott Baker wins “Split the Pot” then decides to give it all back…
 Lori Hemmelgarn’s unbelievable cookies…
 Wonderful ending to an unforgetable evening with friends and family….



We’ve had a flurry of exciting emails lately—-


Bill & Theresa,

Congratulations!!! We received your package today AND we completed the critical review of your dossier! Everything looks fantastic! Job well done! J Your dossier has now been moved to translation and will be mailed to China within a few days! We will notify you via email once your dossier has been mailed, once it’s received in China, and once it is logged-in at the CCCWA.


 Then there was this—- 



Here’s the news you’ve long been waiting for—your dossier was sent to China today (3/28/2014)!  Hooray!  J

Here’s what to expect for the next month:

The CCCWA will receive your dossier in approximately 3-5 business days. Our China Department will contact you by email once your dossier has been received by our representatives in China and hand-delivered to the CCCWA.

The CCCWA usually logs in dossiers within 3 weeks of their receipt.  This Log-In Date is called your LID, the date that you may “count down” to your referral.  We will e-mail you as soon as we have confirmation of your LID and will then give you instructions on how to download your LID Packet. Your LID will also be posted on your “My Adoption” page of the CCAI website the instant we are notified of it.

Now that you’ve reached this huge milestone, the ladies in the Child Match Department will be monitoring your file and contacting you with regards to any required updates and/or information that’s needed between now and when you receive your match. 


 And finally—- (don’t know why I can’t change the font…)


Congratulations!  Your dossier has been delivered to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) on March 31, 2014. 

We will notify you by email as soon as we receive your official log-in date (LID) from CCCWA, and then you will be prompted to go to the CCAI website to download Dossier Log-In Date Packet.  This will occur within approximately 3 weeks from now.  Please notice that this wait time can vary due to CCCWA’s LID processing speed.  
So now we wait for our LID…
joy shatter


As I remenisce the wondferful silent auction evening, I keep thinking to myself…

I am not worthy.  

I say “I’m not worthy” not to play the martyr, but to show how blessed I am.  We all want to help eachother…it’s in us.  When we allow that part of us to shine, God takes over and miracles happen.  I see this fundraising experience as a miracle because out of an idea…one idea…people joined to support someone in need.  Most of the guests were friends and family–but some didn’t know us from a man on the moon.  What an incredible thing!  That’s why I say “I am not worthy.”  Who is worthy of such outpouring kindness? 

The night went perfectly. The weather, turnout, EVERYTHING went like clockwork.  My mother and wife are mostly responsible.  When you put heaping amounts of time and energy into something, good things happen.  But even the most meticulously planned events have issues.  Not ours.  It was as though God took care of all the variables. There was a good mix of old and new friends, family and relatives. My Godfather who lives in Naples, Florida came as well as friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was especially touched by the Sisters of the Transfiguration who showed their support and provided insight into the adoption process.

As one guest put it—”if nuns show up then you know it (the party) is meant to be.”  I had to laugh because I couldn’t agree more.

All told, about 100 people showed up–the cream of the crop. I say that because many of them (the majority) stayed till the end.  Out of 70 items offered, only five remained when the bidding stopped. 

(My hypnosis treatment was one of them.  I guess the thought of Billy boy putting someone in a trance freaked out the masses)


65 out of 70 items sold! That’s amazing considering only a third of the people showed and that’s why I say “cream of the crop.”  Had all 300 invitees attended, the outcome would be the same.  Not to get all biblical on you, but it put me in mind of Jesus dividing the bread and fish. We had a huge hall fit for 300 guests, yet it never felt empty. 

I can only recall one other time in my life (at my wedding) when I was so full of spirit/support/love.  But this night was better.     At the wedding, the enormity of the event swallowed me up and I retreated from the crowd instead of embracing them.  This party was altogether different and I’m blessed to have been part of it.

Thanks everyone for supporting our journey! (There will be pictures of the night as soon as my nephew emails them to me)


Our I-797 form is here!  For anyone who does not know, this is “the” form that takes nearly 90 days to process through the Dept of Immigration and it’s completion symbolizes the end to our long paperwork road.  We have been waiting to receive the I-797 for several months and our wait has ended.  Now the fun begins.  Once this form has gone through the rigmarole of being certified, authenticated, etc. then a matched child is close at hand.  Something that seemed so far away, suddenly stares me in the face.

A matched child.  A matched, freakin child!  Little P. will be here before you know it. Wow….

Through all of this, Reece has been a warrior.  We’ve both done our share but she has shown relentless persistence following every minute detail to the end.  Her unyielding efforts have paid off.


Add to this awesome news that Saturday is our silent auction and you have the makings for a wonderful weekend.  Several weeks back, Reece and I were nervous since all we had to auction were gift cards from LaRosas and one basket from the Oriental Wok. Now there’s cooking supplies, jewelry, purses, sports memorabilia, a mountain bike, pottery….and this doesn’t include the space, food, beer, wine, DJ services, time all donated by family and friends. To date, our amazing support group has compiled over $6000 in auction items.  That’s absolutely unbelievable. To say we are blessed would be a major understatement!  I am numb to it all.  Numb because it’s difficult wrap my mind around everything that has occurred thus far.

My prayer through everything is to remain focused on what this (the adoption process) is all about.  I wear a red cord/band around my wrist for reminders, but even then I get lost from time to time. Sorry to say, but Little Panda is not always in the forefront of my thoughts and there are days when I am consumed with “process” instead of “purpose” which is…her.  It has always been her.  I pray that after we see a picture of this little angel, my true intentions and focus will return.

But it’s funny….

God began the whole process by laying His relentless Spirit of conviction upon our hearts.  Sometimes I wish that feeling of basking in his Light were always there…but it’s not. Such an emotional/spiritual state is wonderful but thank God it’s temporary.  Who could endure such intense feelings without being consumed by them?  I believe God sent this initial spark to motivate us over the mountains that stood before us.  Once on course, He took those feelings away. I don’t mean He’s totally absent.  He checks in from time to time, turning me into a blubbering mess. But He knows what He’s doing…giving you just enough juice to get going, before letting you go.  You could compare God to a loving parent. The easy road (at first)  is to do everything for your kids, but eventually there’s a balance between teaching independence and allowing for mistakes.  I believe that is what God is doing for us (Reece and I).  Pulling us to our feet, then allowing us to walk, stumbling past the coffee tables and chairs of our life until we cruise on our own.

Something incredible happens,  “pressed down and running over” when people join in spirit and even though I’m numb from it all, I realize God is working through these people and circumstances to bring Little Panda into our home. My hope is that I can somehow give back to all of these people.  I don’t think it’s possible, really.  But I pray that each supporting heart will receive a blessing of reciprocating love.  I don’t know how to do this but God knows–and I will put everything into His hands where it belongs.

Losing Myself

Been feeling kinda lost lately.  Not because I’m forty…I’m over that for the time being…or at least until I hit fifty.  When I say lost, maybe what I mean is–overwhelmed.  Life can do that.  You get all geeked up over small, trivial things until they take over your mind creating a reactionary robot instead of a present being of thought and action.  I hate that this world wires us to live like scurrying mice, running through our hectic days as though every conceivable ounce of time should be efficiently spent. And what are we doing during those “efficient” moments?

Finding pictures of cross dressing cats on bing images, apparently.

We really over-estimate our importance don’t we?  When I think of all the time I spend updating Facebook, looking through my emails, checking voicemail and even writing in this blog it makes my head spin.  When did this happen?  When did our lives become hyper driven?  Better yet…how do we stop?

I have tried putting away my smart phone, turning off the laptop, forgetting about my profile on Linkedin, but a few days, hours or even seconds later I’m at it again–checking Facebook or answering the buzzing phone.  It’s beyond choice now. This world has conditioned me to do idiotic things like text while I’m driving (yeah, I hate to admit it but I do it), check the I-net during commercials and message friends during play time with my kids. 

That last part really stings.  I don’t want my kids seeing a father who appears absent, uncaring, distracted, aloof.  What message is that sending them?  That they aren’t important?  This sudden awareness of my habits comes during a busy time in my life.  To be fair, there are times when I need to multi-task and when the kids need to take a back seat, but those times are far and few between and I need to start thinking of how to be present with my family…but how?

I need to start asking myself: “What is really important here?” Is texting back a friend really worth plowing into a telephone pole at eighty miles an hour? Is deleting all of those voice mails or emails more important than playing with my son?

It’s simple, really.  But like most simple things, putting it into practice is not so simple.  Eckhart Tolle has made a career on this advice: Be present and in the moment, always.  I admit that such a mantra doesn’t make much sense when you’re charging through a day of work schedules, dropping kids at school, managing a budget, working out, supporting your spouse…add to this the adoption process and organizing a large party and you have a sure recipe for chaos.  But there is an eye to every hurricane.  and I am gonna try my best to find it each day and every moment.

What are the storms that keep you from being present?  What are you gonna do about them? 

Here’s one idea:

Good luck!

Rounding second and heading for 41…

So I turned forty the other day and guess what I thought about all day long?


Everything in my life is great.  I’m healthy,  have a supportive and loving family, a dependable job…basically life is good. So if this all is true then why did I spend my birthday thinking, “I don’t want to die.”

 What’s up with that?  After thinking it through here’s what I came up with:

I don’t want to have lived a wasted life

I don’t want to lose what I already have

I have so much more to do

I’m rounding second and heading for third–what have I accomplished?

It’s silly.  I’m not afraid of dying.  True, I do fear the pain that may come with the whole deal but my next transition will be glorious–I have no doubt about that.  Still, I find myself ruminating over what my life has been about.  In some ways I’ve come a long way but then again–what have I really done in 40 years?

 I love my family and consider myself a family man, but I could be supporting my wife and kids so much more. I’m a therapist with experience in many fields but there are so many people who have done so much more with their OT degree.  I’ve written a few short stories and gotten them published but then I see writers in their twenties running their own publishing companies. 

Dreams.  I have a lot of them.  But are they worth it?  What about just living a content life where the primary focus is to help others?  To support those in need?  What would a life like that look like?  Would I lose myself?  Isn’t that what this is all about?  To lose your ego? To be less so you can become more? 

But what is more? 

Does “more” mean doing great things that are world renown? Or is “more” simply taking out the garbage for your next door neighbor?  How do you measure greatness? Meaning?  Is there a way?

I don’t think God is measuring anything.  I believe in the end we will experience every act we ever did on this earth and judge for ourselves whether our actions were meaningful…loving…terrible.  Looking at life this way shows me that I have a long way to go.  But I also see a lot of good.  In fact, if we really study our intentions…for everything we do, I believe we’ll see a mixed bag of awful and wonderful. Was the act done out of obligation or love?  Was your tantrum to protect or punish?  I think this is what the bible verse was saying with “only God knows the hearts of men.” If this is true then it makes sense to appoint us judge and jury of our lives.   

Sometimes I ask God why he gave us so much control. Why give your creation the freedom to kill themselves?  Why not make this life safe…a closed system where we cannot hurt anyone or anything?  But as usual my wife provided insight.  I’m paraphrasing here, but in essence Theresa said that life without choice is not love.  If we loved each other and God without choice, what would that prove?  That we are good followers? 

That’s about right.

Maybe I think too much and should just chill.  Ignorance is bliss right?  To close your eyes to life’s ugliness makes everything a lot more tolerable and I do think our attention should trend towards the beautiful.  But truth is truth and it’s true that my life is probably half over. 

I guess this is mid-life crisis.

So where do I go from here?  After kicking these thoughts around on February 6th, I concluded that life is a series of moments. I must look at each moment, wherever it may be and do the most life-giving act possible in that moment. 

What does that look like?  I don’t know–it’s all relative.  But the intention will be there…isn’t that enough?

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…

The other day I was treating a deaf man and trying my best to communicate with him.  Even though I know a little American Sign Language (ASL), talking with Bruce is usually not a big deal because he’s able to get his meaning across without words or signs. In short–he acts everything out like a 300 pound mime.  Most days, there isn’t much to say during therapy sessions.  Mainly, I want to know if my client is in any pain or what they want to work on…stuff like that.  I may want to discuss things like home safety or pain management, etc. but basically all I do is communicate what we are gonna do…then do it.  With Bruce it’s not that easy.  He’s a class “A”  clown who ends up signing that he hasn’t been laid in days or how his penis is useless (at least I think that’s what he’s trying to say????)  His wife (who is also deaf) thinks it’s hilarious which only encourages his clownish behavior.

I have to admit….he is pretty darn funny.

Even though it’s sketchy at times, my interactions with Bruce are functional, but I wish I could go deeper.  Our talks are shallow, like reading cliff notes of a novel instead of delving into its pages.  When questions get complex, I have to defer to his son who translates for me.  But when the kid isn’t home…I’m lost.  One day, Bruce rambled on and on about the railroad.  I know this only because he gave a few “Choo!  Choo’s!”  I thought he worked on the railroad and tried asking if he was talking about himself, but our language barrier prevented me from getting the whole story.  Later, I asked his son about it and found out Bruce’s father was a railroad engineer for thirty years.  I asked Bruce to repeat his story to his son–so I could understand, but he refused.

After my therapy session, I thought about what it would be like to raise a deaf child.  We’re still waiting to be matched and don’t know her medical issues…but what if Little Panda is deaf?  Will her days be lost in silence? Thinking about that motivates me to learn ASL.  Since Reece is fluent in ASL, I should pick it up easy peasy, right?  You would think so, but that’s not been the case.

Reece works with family’s of deaf kiddos and most days they embrace their child’s deafness.  These are the families who learn ASL or work to empower their child through cochlear implants.  Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum or parents who are indifferent and never learn ASL.  Wouldn’t you want to communicate with your own child?

Am I different?  I’ve toyed with learning mandarin and continue to drag my feet with  ASL.  My excuses are:

Mandarin: there are dozens of dialects in China therefore learning mandarin would be a waste of time and effort

ASL:  first learn what Little P’s health issues are—THEN adjust accordingly.

Both are reasonable excuses, but imagine if I had put a little more effort into learning sign language. Perhaps I would understand why Bruce cares so much about his father.  Perhaps there would be less “closed books” in my life.

I need to get crackin!


Do you think fundraising for an adoption is unethical?


When I hear something totally against what I believe, my initial reaction is to get angry so when I read a post on Facebook about this topic, it fired me up.  After venting for an hour or so, I took ten slow breaths and read the post again. The words “appalling” and “embarrassing” were used to communicate the person’s viewpoint (i.e. fundraising for adoption is wrong.) The source was someone with several adopted kiddos from around the world.

So what?  This group (adopting parents) takes all kinds—right? What I didn’t realize was that the original thread came from an adoptee.  The general gist (in my opinion) was that anyone raising funds to adopt is treating their future child like a commodity–something sold to the highest bidder.  The idea sickened me, because it came from someone who lives that life…a life under the stigma of being adopted.

My mind flashed forward fifteen years.  Little Panda is now an adult and besides hating being called Little Panda, she has many opinions.  Will she be embarrassed…appalled that we asked for money to help bring her from China? Will she see herself as property rather than my daughter?

Complex–this whole deal is so complex. At face value you see a child in need so you follow your heart and do what you think is right.  Then you begin researching and peeling back all the layers involved and see things you never thought you would. For one moment I tried seeing this adoption through my future daughter’s eyes and…I couldn’t do it.  The paradigm shift was just too difficult.

But then I thought of the spark God put in our hearts for this little girl and guess what?….all of my worries vanished.  It’s a recurring theme in this blog (I know so sue me!) but I can’t help it.  God put His desire in our hearts and for some reason he wants the Danner family to include a little girl from China.  I realize this is difficult to understand.  I realize there are children in America…in my town that need love…need a home, but God wants it this way.  He wants us to take this leap and go the distance, all the way to China. So that’s what we are going to do and if people want to help us along the way, I aint stoppin em.

Would I ever have a fundraiser for my biological child?  No. But aren’t baby showers (sort of) the same thing?  This fundraiser/party is a wonderful opportunity for us to receive support from those we love.  As Reece said to me, besides a wedding, there aren’t many opportunities to share your life with so many family and friends.  We are going to enjoy the heck out of it!

Little P. is not a charity case and doesn’t need us to save her.  She is our daughter and our job is to bring her home.  Period.

One Step Closer to the Rising Sun

We received this glorious email the other day….
Just got the approval for your home study from the Dossier Dept. so I’ll be printing all the hard copies and sending everything to Julie.  She will forward the appropriate copies to USCIS and you for your dossier. Congratulations, you are one step closer!

Amy Kinnell

Adoption Caseworker
Yes one step closer. 
We also secured a place for the party/silent auction with my parents offering to pay for it. Pretty awesome!  Things are falling into place, just like I knew they would.  Now that we know this silent auction will happen the task comes down to finding donations.  There’s many, many options of course.  Family, friends and friends of friends have already come forth with ideas and items.  Also, there’s several companies who provide items (such as sports memorabilia) and will split the proceeds, but how far to take this? immediately my mind begins to say–
We don’t know what we’re doing.  What if we don’t have enough items to auction or what if nobody shows? 
Worried thoughts  of a busy brain.  But it really doesn’t matter.  I know things will work out. 
Just keep telling yourself that Billy boy.  
For the first time in this process, I posted on Facebook.  Within seconds (22 to be exact) I had friends reaching out from cyberspace. Most of these friends, I rarely talk to and some I haven’t  seen in years, but there they were, reaching out to help my family. 
I don’t care what anyone says (and I know I have said this before) people are naturally good.  I always knew this.  That’s why I chose to work with people on a daily basis.  But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of our inherent nature. 
Not to sound cheesy but I was pleasantly surprised.
One of first suggestions from Facebook was to use  Theresa and I discussed using another website for donations, but once I poked around Gofundme, it became the easiest course of action.  And you know what?  Those wonderful people I was just talking about have already raised nearly $1200.00 for our adoption!  One guy pledged $500!  This isn’t some independently wealthy business mogul either.  The man has his own family (two kids) and was someone I hung out with during my Roger Bacon (high school) days. To say I’m humbled by this experience would be putting it lightly. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is that Reece (who swore off Facebook from the beginning) now has her own FB page. Will miracles never cease?  For anyone interested, here’s a link to our Gofundme page
Like I said, it’s all coming together.  Each experience, each donation, each generous heart brings us one step closer to the land of the rising sun….one step closer to meeting our precious little girl. 

I Was Crying…Over You

Ann (not her real name) was one of my first client’s in home health.  When we met, she had fallen while changing her cat’s litter box and broken her neck.  For many people, such an injury is tough to overcome.  For Ann, it was devastating.

During our first round of OT Ann was having trouble managing her home, so we worked on balance, posture and endurance. We raked leaves, stacked shelves in her basement, exercised and discussed the political mess that was America.  When I first discharged her from OT services, Ann’s gift to me was a giant NRA belt buckle.  Pretty cool gift from a lady pushing ninety.

The second time around, Ann had fallen again and suffered a broken a hip. We tried our best to increase her independence by addressing balance and home safety but it was clear that she could no longer live alone.  During our sessions Ann ranted about politics and her declining health, but it was her previous role as a finance manager that seemed to come up the most.

“Being the only woman was tough,” she said with a glint in her eyes.  “For some reason, my boss thought I would make a good manager, so he promoted me.  You should have seen those drooping faces!”

Before discharging her from home health services, our team discussed placement with Ann’s daughter.  We all agreed that this proud lady belonged in a safer environment.  Ann resented the notion that assisted living was her only option, yet she never took it out on me.  Instead, the spark in her eyes faded as she accepted her fate.

Just a few weeks ago, Ann was back on my schedule…a routine surgery gone bad.  She’s past ninety now and rarely smiles or talks politics. Instead she mutters to herself and appears lost.  When I see her, we no longer discuss her distaste of Barack Obama, instead she worries about being left alone and repeats “I don’t know what I’m going to do,”  over and over.

As you can imagine, I hate seeing my friend this way.  I call her my friend because I have shared in her life experience.  I have seen Ann through her darkest time. She was a fiery, independent woman who never suffered fools lightly, but that woman no longer exists and now all I can do when I see her—is pray.

This Monday I saw Ann for therapy.  She was extremely anxious so we started with some relaxation techniques.  After a few minutes, Ann spoke up. “What is this supposed to be doing, anyway?”

“I’m trying to teach you how to relax.”

“Well, whatever you’re doing isn’t working.”

We tried exercises, but Ann’s aching stomach wouldn’t allow it.  After a few feeble attempts at exploring leisure interests and Ann’s daily routines I threw in the towel.

“I’ll pray for you,” I said, packing up my bag of equipment.


I meant I would keep her in my prayers, but Ann’s expectant look told me otherwise. She wanted prayer now.  So I did…placing a hand on her and silently asking for God’s peace.  I was about to leave when Ann began to talk. “This is going to upset you, but I just wish I could get up and run away.”

“That doesn’t upset me.  You’ve been through a lot.”

“I feel like I’m a fool and my life has been a waste.”

“Now that upsets me.”

“Do you like what you do?” she asked.


“Why sometimes?”

“Because I don’t feel as if I can help the people the way I want to.”

“I imagine your job is like that,” she said with sad eyes.  “What do you feel like when you see me?”

A lump rose in my throat.  “I enjoy our time very much.” We hugged and I started to cry.

When you’re dealing with people, sometimes you get swept into a wave of emotion and no matter how hard you swim, the tide pulls you under.  That’s what happened to me…the emotions just took over leaving me shattered in their wake.  I spent the next few minutes regaining my composure while Ann patted my back. When I finally pulled away, she smiled and whispered, “Thank you.”

I have experience as a mortician and therapist and pride myself on being the strong one, the shoulder to cry on, but today I learned that people don’t always need you to be their rock.

Today Ann needed me to cry.


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