2 months

We have had two months with our girl and it has been incredible. Everyday we see more and more of her little personality. She fits so well with our family and we are forever grateful! We love her!

Some insights into our girl:

  • She is girly! She loves dresses, shoes, having her hair done, purses, finger nails painted, etc. Here she is twirling in one of her favorite dresses.DSC_0101
  • She dressed herself on this day and could not have been more proud of her outfit! IMG_0986
  • She is a picky eater! We have found a few staple foods she likes, but we have been largely unsuccessful at getting her to eat a single vegetable. In fact, as soon as she sees vegetables being brought to the table she starts saying, “No thank you, Mama!”
  • She has learned several English words and has started saying 3-5 word sentences. We also have had success using some sign language. For the most part we are able to communicate using the two without any difficulties. She has dropped all Mandarin except the occasional counting to five.
  • She has a good sense of humor which is necessary to survive in our family. She giggles at the jokes of brother and dad and occasionally tells her own little jokes.
  • She adores her big Sister and plays well with big brother. She misses them when they go to school and gets so excited when she knows it is getting close to the time for them to come home. She sits at the window and watches until she sees them. IMG_1229
  • She loves to play outside! Although only moderately enjoyed the snow.IMG_0649
  • My three monkeys :) IMG_1197IMG_1138
  • She hates being messy! She asks for a napkin at every single meal. We have been working a lot on sensory play. Some of it she likes, the messy stuff she hates. IMG_0635This is her worried look.IMG_1081

 

  • She loves books! We spend hours each day reading books.IMG_0954
  • She is crazy flexible! She loves to do flips, time to get that girl in gymnastics! *I love when she does the wrinkled nose smile! My favorite !IMG_0541
  • Loves tea parties with her sister! IMG_0411
  • And so much more!
  • We could not be happier! DSC_0012

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China recap: part 3 Guangzhou

We were thrilled to get to Guangzhou and be in the final stretch of our trip. Here we had to do a medical appointment, consulate appointment, and get her visa. The weather was warmer and we could also do a lot of outside activities.

First up was the medical stuff. No fun. Lots of waiting, being examined/measured, and of course, blood draws. Here we are waiting.

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Outside the offices we found this machine. We joked that it was placed there out of necessity to survive these types of appointments.

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After the medical exam we had time to explore the parks by our hotel and nearby shops.

She loved playing outside!

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This was the park within our hotel.

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Let the Americanization begin!IMG_0248.JPGThese are the famous stairs of our hotel. Our agency takes pictures of each team of families on these steps. Finally it was our turn!

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We had a lot of free time and explored some cultural sites, Sharmian Island, and a Safari Park. DSC_0107

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The Safari park was a lot of fun! She loved seeing the animals. We discovered the giraffe was her favorite!

IMG_0305.JPGIMG_0311.JPGDSC_0297DSC_0365We enjoyed one last authentic Chinese meal with our travel friends. We really liked the food in China! Can you tell we are a little tired? And very much ready to be home.

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We picked up her visa on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 28th and immediately got in a van and headed to Hong Kong. It was around a 4 hour van ride and I’m not sure exactly why, but it made me extremely carsick. Worse than the mountain roads in Honduras! It was touch and go, but finally we made it. We checked in for a quick overnight and hopped on the plane the next morning.

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She was a fairly good traveler and minus a little crying, did fantastic!

We were all too thrilled to land in America. U.S. citizen! Woohoo!

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And we were even more thrilled when we finally made it home!

Our whole family. Together at last. Together forever.

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China Recap: Part One

Our first days in China were spent in Beijing sightseeing. We called this part of our trip our ’10 year anniversary getaway’. No kids! So Romantic :)

The first day we got to see the WALL. It is big, in case you haven’t heard. The steps are also crazy uneven and steep, making for quite the climb.

DSC_0057What goes up, must also come down!

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Later we visited the Olympic park. James was feeling the Olympic spirit and had to stretch before his lap with the torch.

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The next day we visited the Forbidden City. We underestimated the size of the Forbidden City. It is very large; hence a city! It is beautiful and you really can’t capture it in photos. So much history!

Here we are in Tiananmen Square, with the Forbidden City in the background.

DSC_0113And James, being James.

DSC_0120Near the back of the Forbidden City there are two trees that have grown together to become one, just like our lives, slowly over time, twisting and tangling to be this one beautiful life.

DSC_0191Later we visited the Summer Palace. It looked very similar to the Forbidden City. The funny thing was on the way there, one of the families that home school their children were prepping them on the history. The mom said, ‘The Summer palace was built by the Russians.’ Uhm, what?! Turns out she was teaching her kids about a different Summer Palace. We all got a good laugh!

We ate a lot of good Chinese food, mastered chop sticks, had an official tea ceremony, were encouraged pressured to purchase jade/pearl/silk/tea, adjusted to the time change, and tried to have fun in Beijing all the while knowing that soon our lives would change forever.

 

 

 

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.

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.

New Number!

We finally got our new number today!! It felt weeks over due, but we are thankful for movement. The even better news about a new number is that it usually means the committee is meeting soon (possibly even this Friday). We also heard a rumor that the committee was going to try and meet twice this month to make up for a missed meeting (and because they take some time off for the summer). Please pray that the committee does indeed meet and that the paperwork ready children can be matched with families. I am reminded that we are not the only ones waiting in this process.

PS – Thanks for the encouragement these past days! We are so grateful for your love and support!