First days

We have our girl! We flew to the capital city of her province on Sunday, arriving at the hotel just in time to drop our bags and head to the government building. As soon as we walked in the room, we saw her. She looked exactly like the pictures we have seen! She came to me right away and said, “Mama!” I picked her up and she gave me a big kiss on the cheek! This was very unexpected, but clearly the nanny had trained her to do this. She then went to James and said, “Dada!” and gave him a kiss. The nanny handed her our family picture we had sent in November. She pointed to each of us and said our names with a big smile. Things were going well and she was very happy. It was good we got to see this side of her before the grief started.

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The nanny and her orphanage director gave us some gifts and said their goodbyes. As soon as they walked out of sight our poor little girl starting screaming. We had to get her picture taken for the documents and she is red-faced with tears streaming down her cheeks. She screamed all the way back to the hotel and then all night at the hotel until she finally cried herself to sleep. We just held and rocked her through it all. She loves to cuddle and even in her crying she was very snuggly.

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The next morning she woke up crying, but quickly quieted down. She refused to eat or drink anything and was just expression-less. Unfortunately we had to head back to the government building and meet with her director again to sign the official documents, finalizing the adoption. She did not cry and was good through the appointment, but would not respond to the director or his questions/comments. He said goodbye for the last time and then she started to cry again. It is hard to see a child go through so much grief. She has had a rough start to life and it seems so unfair! I cannot image how frightened she was, losing all she has ever known and heading off with two complete strangers that sound/look/smell so different.

Finalization

She fell asleep on the way back to the hotel and woke up once we were back in our room. Then the bonding could really start! We played with toys and discovered she loves coloring. She started to smile and engage with us. She also likes to be neat. She picks up after herself with every toy she takes out. She cleans up any spill she sees, runs to get a napkin to wipe her nose, and throws away trash. She must have been the little momma of her class!

 

We never managed to get her down for a full, real nap so around dinner time she really crashed! We quick ran to KFC to eat (although we got there and were told they were out of chicken! How is KFC out of chicken?!). Then it was back to the room where she again cried herself to sleep.

Today she woke up smiley and eager to get down to breakfast at the hotel buffet. We have learned that her favorite foods are yogurt and noodles. She does not like ketchup or the apple sauce pouches, guess I shouldn’t have packed so many! She is a three year old and refuses to drink out of the sippy/straw cups I brought. Only real cups for my big girl! She is totally potty trained, which I did not expect. We spent a lot of time playing in the hotel room. We got some giggles and lots of smiles out of her. She has started to speak again and has learned the words ‘thank you, water, hello, bye, mama, dada.’ She says a lot more, but we don’t know the language we don’t know what she is saying. It is still good to hear her voice (it was really horse from all the screaming on Sunday).

Each day gets better and better! We can’t wait to get her home to her brother and sister. She loves the other kids we spend time with and I know she will enjoy her siblings. Please pray for our health and energy. She has been getting up at 4am and we are all tired! Our arms and backs are sore as we are not used to carrying a toddler for hours on end! Tomorrow we get her Chinese passport and then we head to a different province to get the USA visa stuff finished.

2014 Recap: what a year it has been!

Last December at this time we were driving home from Virginia and maximizing the car time to goal plan for the coming year. We had hopes, dreams, and items to check-off our ‘to do’ list. We were ready and excited about the coming year!

I’m so thankful we didn’t know then what we were driving back to. We got home and almost immediately faced cancer (again). Suddenly our hopes and goals went out the window and each day felt like the best we could do was just get through it. And get through it we did, all by God’s grace.

Spring rolled around, the snow melted, the hair slowly grew back and we got the good news of ‘all clear’! After having had to postpone all adoption plans we were eager to get back to it and get all the updated approvals we needed. Summer came and it looked like we would be able to bring our boy home in September. We started hoping and dreaming and prepping for another son. Little did we know that by August we would lose our referral and be back to square one. Telling our kids the sad news was miserable. Their tears and ‘why’s’ echoed what we felt in our hearts, too. Why had we gone through so much and come so far to get stopped once again? Only God knows and again, it felt like the best we could do was just get through one day at a time.

Leaves fell and autumn emerged, both kids were in school full-time. My life did not look at all how I had pictured it back when we plotted out 2014 goals. So now what? We decided it would be best for me to get another job and try to embrace the season of life God had given us. Adoption was put on the shelf indefinitely as our agency made it clear that our odds were not good.

Back at the end of 2013 I had written in my journal that I was praying God would be glorified in our new year of 2014. What I meant was that I was hoping our adoption would speed through in record time and amazing ease, all to God’s credit. I certainly did not picture God receiving glory through our struggles! Glory came through victories!

Right? Right?!

Well, God is good and he was glorified in our 2014, struggles and all. He carried us through a really scary time of cancer. He strengthened our marriage as we sat side by side at chemo. He grew the character and faith in our children as they watched sickness and then health restored. He surrounded us with community, both old and new, that supported us, loved us, and prayed us through to clear scans.

God is good when we lost our referral and through tear-stained cheeks he gave us a sense of HIS peace. We had confidence that if God wanted that boy to join our family, then he would have made a way. For whatever reason that way was not made and God was glorified as we learned to trust him more. God was glorified when we broke the news to family and friends and they responded with love and not anger. God was glorified when our kids decided to still earnestly pray for sweet boy, knowing he would now not be their brother, but trusting God would give him a family to love.

God was glorified most this past year when through all our struggles we learned to trust him more, no matter the circumstances. I would like to hope 2015 would be an easier year in comparison. I am all too eager to say goodbye to 2014!! But, I also know that no matter what is in store for us this coming year, we will be okay because God is still God and his love endures forever.

You know what? I bet you had a crazy year, too. Maybe you faced struggles, transitions, health issues, loss, and unmet expectations. Maybe you are headed into a year of difficult circumstances and are wondering how you will make it through. I don’t have any grand words of wisdom, but I can say with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient and his love is enough to get you through each and every one of those days. He is most glorified in our lives not when when everything is picture perfect, but when we truly trust him in all things.

My hopes and dreams for 2015 are different than last year. My prayer is simply that I would trust God more and my hope is to love others with the lavish love God has given. (I can’t wait to love a certain little girl that currently lives half a world away!)

My prayer for you is that no matter how crazy and messy your year was or will be, that you would experience the never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love of Jesus. His love that would come to this messy earth to live among us and offer the greatest sacrifice to give us a HOPE.

One of the best moments of this past year happened on a muddy river bank, serving as a visual reminder that it doesn’t matter the mess we are standing in ~ God is glorified.

MissE made the decision to be baptized, professing her faith in Jesus as her Savior.

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Happy New Year! May you experience God’s love and faithfulness in 2015.

Prayer Request

We have a prayer request. We are waiting on the country to issue our Travel Approval, the last thing needed before we know our travel dates and can book tickets. Unfortunately the country’s computer system has been down for a week and they will be closed from Dec 27 – Jan  5. Will you please pray with us that somehow our travel approval can be issued before they close. It is a small window of time, but we know our God is able.

I am praying we get it before Christmas! It would make the perfect gift

Thanks so much!! What a journey this has been.

Thank you to all who have donated or mentioned I could have/borrow hand-me-downs. I updated our list of needs based on what has been offered and what we still need.

  • size 2t-3t clothes
  • pajamas
  • swimsuit
  • winter coat
  • underwear
  • socks, etc.
  • size 6 toddler shoes
  • bibs
  • baby carrier/sling (Ergo?)
  • sippy cups, snack cups
  • toddler snacks (apple sauce pouches, goldfish, etc.)
  • candy (aka bribes for appointments and long plane rides)
  • small toys/books to take with us for the plane
  • toddler backpack
  • Target registry of other items needed

Here we go again!

We are crazy people with a crazy life. It is hard to keep up with the constant, major life changes that seem to come our way. However, we are embracing this newest change! We are overjoyed and thrilled to announce that we received another referral!!!

What? You guys are trying this again? Yes, yes we are. The desire to grow our family through adoption has never faded, despite numerous obstacles. We have been discouraged – for sure, heartbroken – most definitely, but hopeful all the while.

When our agency called with a file for us to review. We took a deep breath, prayed for God to be honored no matter what, and answered the call.

Meet our precious GIRL!

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We could not be happier. We love her already. Her name means ‘Beloved’. We are so thankful that God has known her and loved her before she was born, that she has been loved so well at her orphanage by the director and nannies, and that we will get the opportunity to love her forever.

What’s next?

We are waiting on a few more pieces of paperwork to fall into place including her visa papers, Travel Approval from her country, and official travel dates. We estimate we will travel in 6-8 weeks. We know that time will fly by with the holidays and everything we need to do to get ready to travel and welcome home our girl!

What do we need?

We are in need of girl items. We never, ever imagined we would have a girl!! All along we have saved boy items, but did not save any girl items.

We need: size 2t-3t clothes, pajamas, swimsuit, winter coat, underwear, socks, etc. and size 6 toddler shoes, bibs, baby carrier/sling (Ergo?), sippy cups, snack cups, small toys/books to take with us, toddler backpack, etc.

If you have any of those items that you would be willing to give or lend to us, that would be amazing! We love hand-me-downs :)

We have also created a Target Registry of items we need before we travel. We will keep it updated as we find/borrow/buy the things we need.

We also need prayer.

It is easy to feel fearful after all that we have been through. My mind quickly goes to worst case scenario. Would you pray that God protects our hearts and provides his peace as we wait, prepare, and hope for the future? Would you pray for our children? They have been through a lot these past years, too. Their excitement of welcoming a new sibling is also dampened by fear. Please pray for our girl. We are about to rock her world. Pray that she is not too scared of us when we first meet! Pray that she would bond to us as a family over time and believe and trust she is loved.

Our girl’s given middle name means GRACE. When I called a dear friend to share the news she said, “It reminds me of that song, His Grace Finds Me! His grace has found you!” That song just happens to have been my theme song for this past year. His grace has found me, time and time again. No matter the circumstances, no matter the past, no matter our future; His grace has found me. In sorrow and joy, in sickness and health, in riches and poverty, his grace has and always will be…enough. Enough for this whole wide world.

 

 

Thank you for loving us so well on this crazy journey! Encouraging us when we most needed it. Praying for us even when you had no idea what was going on! Your support has been a deep blessing and we hope you can share in our JOY now of preparing to bring home our girl! 

 

 

A walk with Sorrow

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We have waited to share publicly, but due to some major errors in paperwork (not on our part), we have lost our referral. It was heartbreaking and we have grieved as a family.

Things have not turned out as planned, but we feel a sense of peace about it all. We continue to trust God for HIS plan for our family. We are incredibly thankful for all we have been given including family, friends, and good health; James had another clear scan!

Thank you for loving us well on this journey.

49 days, but who’s counting

We are 49 days into the 90 day window that the United States Immigration office has to review our file. The last time I called they hadn’t even opened our file yet, so I’m trying to remain patient. Thankfully this is an insanely busy season and I don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. I sure wouldn’t mind if it came in the next week as an early Christmas present, though! :)

The next big adventure…

We are officially announcing that we are pursuing a concurrent adoption program through China. This means that we will hopefully bring home a child from China while we continue to wait for movement in Honduras.

This process began months ago when we started looking into concurrent programs. The ‘C’ word was causing some problems, but we found out that there was a chance China would make an exception. We applied to our agency’s program in June and got THE call in July for a two year old boy. We appealed to China for an exception right away and heard the YES in August. Since then it has been a crazy, intense whirlwind of paperwork. We have our approved homestudy in hand and now we wait for the USCIS (United States Citizens and Immigration Services) approval. That process has been taking 90 days, so we sit back and wait. Once that approval comes our paperwork goes to China and from there it will be approximately 5 months until we have travel dates.

Wow?! What?!

I know. Surprising, right? We are committed to growing our family through adoption, regardless of where and how that happens. We have been praying about this for a long time and really feel that God has led us to this point. We have consulted with trusted friends, adoptive parents, doctors, and our social worker. This is another leap of faith, one where we can only trust that God is going before us. We are praying that this boy can come home quickly and join our family.

Did you say boy? I thought China had mostly girls available for adoption?

China has both girls and boys available for adoption, but in general girls from any country are twice as likely to be adopted over boys. Love Without Boundaries actually lists being a boy as a special need, you can read about it here and here. Either way, we are thrilled to bring home a child!

 

I thought the wait time for an adoption from China was 5+ years?

There is an extremely long wait for those seeking to adopt ‘healthy’ children from China. Our child is a waiting child, meaning there are some documented medical needs. This is part of the leap of faith. We won’t know the extent of those needs until our child is home and receiving medical care, but we are hopeful that he will enjoy a full life.

Why didn’t you say something sooner?

Honestly, I was scared to talk about it. I was afraid that we would venture out, submit a bunch of paperwork, and then have the door close in front of us.

I still am afraid. We are now three years into the adoption world and we know how things can change in an instant. We would very much appreciate your prayers.

Please pray that our immigration approval goes through faster than anticipated, that our paperwork can get to China quickly, that our little guy will continue to grow healthy and strong, that he would feel God’s love and presence in his life even now, and that our family would be woven together.

To God be the Glory!

Girl, Adopted

Last week I watched a documentary called Girl, Adopted. It was a good reminder of the heartache and sorrow connected with adoption, as well the joys and triumphs. Building a family through adoption is no easy task. An adopted child experiences many losses before joining a family and that pain is not quickly healed or forgotten.

“I didn’t want to be adopted, but I had no one to take care of me. We think America is like heaven, it is not. My world was turned upside down and I hated it….To find a family, it was something important. Someone to love me for who I am and be there for me. I didn’t find all of that until I got here. I didn’t like them at first, but I do love them now. ” – Weynsht, adopted from Ethiopia

 

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Watch it now here. I believe it is only available for free through the month of October.

A special Thanks!

We presented on our Honduras trip on Sunday and it was fun to recount all of the great things about Give Hope 2 Kids and our opportunity to visit and serve them.

 20131015-095013.jpgTeam Honduras

20131015-095036.jpgOur trip team with the directors of Give Hope 2 Kids and all our kiddos.

We really appreciate everyone that donated Croc shoes and gave financially to make the trip happen. We love you all and your generosity is inspiring!

I wanted to take a moment to especially thank my wonderful mother-in-law. Without her this trip would not have been a possibility. She eagerly agreed to come and watch our kids while we were gone. It was so great to know our kids were being well cared for and loved while we were away. She acted like it was no problem at all and never complained about child meltdowns, tantrums, or sibling fights. It is possible our children were perfect while we were gone, but that probability is slim. She juggled school schedules, mixed up lunch payments, and library due dates with ease.

We came home to happy kids that were sad to see grandma go home. Junior, in particular, jumped out of the car at the airport, convinced he was going with grandma.

Thank you!!