Sunday, July 30, 2017

Strength and Joy Amongst Hardships in Life


Finding Strength Beyond My Own



I cannot believe it has almost been one year since we met this sweet, sassy, strong-willed little girl for the first time!   The journey to our Little Miss was a long journey, nine years in the making....

I have seen how God was changing me, through a painful refiners fire that at times made me call out, God, where art thou?  In moments on my knees because I simply didn't have the strength to stand I could not see what God saw, I did not see the plans he had in store.   Through the trials, tears and heartache he molded me to become the mother of a special needs little girl who needed me to be who God molded me to become before we made the long journey to China to bring her home.

I have learned many lessons in the past two years, through our adoption journey from the submission of our application to almost one year home.   I remember reading the blogs of other adoptive mothers listening to them say how hard and yet how beautiful the journey of adoption is......

A Beautiful Broken Road

How can something be beautiful while at the same time be the hardest thing you have ever done?  It is God's hand in the plight of an orphan that makes a broken, painful, difficult journey beautiful and joyful.  I have seen God's hand in every moment of our adoption journey, blessings that left me speechless because of their magnitude.  

I would like to share the lessons I have learned and continue to learn on this journey and pray that God will use my experiences to bless the life of another on their journey.   It isn't an easy journey, but we as Christians have covenanted to have a heart for the widows and the orphans.

Lesson #1 God is bigger than money

If you think for one moment that I had $38,000 in my bank account or even the ability to pay that much for anything, you would be sorely mistaken.  After some very severe financial trials our savings account was $ZERO!!!

If you think you have to have access to money to adopt, all I can say is, God is bigger than your financial situation.  We did not have the means to adopt....and honestly in comparison to the cost of our adoption donations we received only covered about 5% of the cost.  

The adoption is 100% paid for, we do not have any debt from our adoption!

Where did the money come from?  Honestly, when it was needed......it came!  I can't explain it other than to tell you that God's hand was in every moment and the money came as needed in ways we never could have expected.  We stepped out in faith and with each step we took....the money needed came....never all at once, just step by step until all adoption costs were covered.

Grief and Loss in a Child is HARD to witness

You see happy pictures on Instagram, you see smiling faces on Facebook and adoption looks like the happiest most joyful journey one could ever take......and that is all I want you to see.   When our little miss came to us, she was 6 years old and after evaluations from psychologists, special education teachers, therapists etc.... it was determined that she was developmentally 2 years old.  

There are many aspects of International adoption that are unknowns....you have to be willing to take WHATEVER comes your way!  There are no guarantees.  I was not fully prepared for how profoundly delayed she was, I wasn't prepared for months of sleepless nights, cleaning up poopy diapers in the mornings 4 times a week for 7 months, grieving and crying for hours, meltdowns, tantrums........

I was aware of the possibilities but nothing can prepare you to live through it......not only live through it but do so without a single friend in the world.  Isolation was the hardest thing I faced!

No one stopped by to see how I was doing, no one called to see how I was doing, there wasn't a friend to call when I felt it was too hard to handle, no shoulder to cry on when I didn't think I could change another poopy diaper, no friend to cry with as my heart ached for my daughters fears and pain from trauma......

Loneliness was a battle I fought day after day after day while fighting in the trenches for this Little one who was afraid, grieving, and living in fight or flight mode from all she has faced in her life..... 

Among the loneliest hours I found myself on my knees pouring my heart out to God....pleading for patience, for strength, to be what my little miss needed me to be, asking for forgiveness feeling like I was failing her......

I asked God why He chose me to be her mom.....certainly there was a mother who could be so much more than I.   

Pleading for Patience and Strength

I learned the key to praying for patience is not about expecting God to MAKE you patient.....it is about learning to rely on Him in every moment when you are not enough, praying in every moment when you are weak and knowing He will meet you where your weakness begins and give you the strength to carry on.  It isn't one simple prayer....it is a constant prayer in your heart coupled with the absolute humility and desire to BECOME what you are praying to become.

God doesn't force it on you......He gives you the opportunity to BECOME and it is up to you whether you will become or not.  I learned that on the fourth day in a row of changing a poopy diaper....my heart praying to God for patience to serve this child despite how exhausted I felt, despite how upset I felt inside......... The answer to my pleading...

This isn't about YOU!

Is that the answer I had hoped for?  No, but it was truth.......bringing an orphan into your home is NOT about you......it is about serving them in their weakness, in their pain, in their suffering, in their worst moment you are called to be their strength, to be God's hands and showing them love even in their worst most unlovable moment!

It's HARD.....it goes against our fallen nature......and yet.....I found that with God I am able!  I found patience when I didn't think I had any left, I found the ability to calmly change a poopy diaper like I was pouring her a glass of juice, I found the strength to not be heartbroken when she rejected me......It wasn't my patience, it wasn't my strength....it was a tender mercy from God. 

Blessings beyond imagination

Blessings from money provided when I couldn't comprehend how, strength beyond my own to watching this precious child of God go from rocking back and forth flicking her fingers in her ears and crying constantly........to a little girl who is speaking in sentences, asking for things she wants, laughing, teasing, and enjoying swimming in the pool, talking to mommy, laying in big sisters bed all snuggled up tight.....no longer an orphan...but a beloved daughter, sister, grand daughter, cousin...

Watching this little girl blossom has been a blessing beyond imagination and I wouldn't trade it for anything.....despite the heartache, trials and tears.....with God the joys far outweigh the pain!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Family Valentine Adventure

Family Valentine Adventure







My husband was on a business trip to Houston for Valentines Day!  Apparently one of the 'Big Wigs' at the company is sleeping in the dog house....or at least I hope he is.....for planning a company meeting at the headquarters in Houston for the entire week of Valentines!

I thought since hubby would be gone it would be a lot fun to have a family Valentines Day with the  three kiddos.  I bought tickets to the #AGentriValentine concert and planned a nice dinner at a family favorite restaurant.  My husband left for Houston early Monday morning and I dreaded the long week ahead of getting up early to drive kids to school coupled with sleepless nights because I just don't sleep well alone.....yes I am afraid of the dark :-) and I am not ashamed to admit it

Our First Adventure of Valentines Evening



The Gentri Valentine Concert started at 7:30 and I wanted to plan plenty of time for dinner so we would be able to park close at Kingsbury Hall and not cause too much stress on Little Miss for her first excursion into the city.  I planned to leave at 4:30..it would take 40 minutes to get to the restaurant maybe a bit longer if we ran into some traffic. I figured since we were leaving early traffic would be fine...I was wrong!!  An hour and 15 minutes later we arrived at the restaurant.  Hubby knows I HATE driving on the freeway and in big cities...I may or may not have had MANY episodes of calling him crying because I was lost on my few excursions into the city...it just never ends well. 

However, tonight I was determined to go dinner and to the concert no matter what...so I was going to brave driving into the city. 

Second Adventure of Valentines Evening


We arrived at the restaurant at about 5:45 and there were only about 4 other small groups in the whole restaurant...it was still early so the place wasn't busy yet.  Kenzi and Cam ordered the all you can eat Pizza and I find out they didn't have the regular menu that night....Little Miss refuses to eat pizza or salad and cannot eat a big sub sandwich....that was the whole menu that night :-(

I ended up ordering her an appetizer and a Sub sandwich that we planned on cutting up into a bunch of pieces in a bowl so she could eat it.  Oh the best laid plans....

45 minutes later..... Kenzi and Cam had received only a few pieces of pizza and we had not received our appetizers, Little Miss's meal, or my food!  Our food arrived about 5 minutes before we needed to leave to make it to the concert on time...little miss is a S.L.O.W. eater and so I had to send my son up to ask for boxes, our check, and two brownies to go because we didn't have time to eat. 

I shouldn't admit this but I had not eaten much all day because I was excited for this meal so I was STARVING!!   On the positive side the scale was down this morning since I didn't get much to eat at Valentines dinner.

Cam had to Feed Little miss in the car... Kenzi was in the front seat with navigation helping me find Kingsbury Hall.... while Cam was in the back seat with little miss trying to quickly feed her so she wouldn't be hungry..She is VERY ornery if she is hungry!

I may or may not have almost slammed into the back of another car that stopped for the Trax train...Heaven help us I am not good at driving in traffic.

Handicapped Parking


Hopefully if you read this blog often you are aware that Little miss is blind. 
Before anybody starts judging about this....our handicapped parking sticker is for our personal situation and I am not saying that anyone else needs one or doesn't need one.  Little miss is a V.E.R.Y. S.L.O.W. walker....for three reasons. 

First - she is still learning to trust us and so when she is in unfamiliar places she is very cautious and nervous. 
Second she has very little experience with a cane and so she cannot get any information about where she is going or the terrain ahead of her and it makes her cautious. 
Third -  She came from a remote area in China and living in an orphanage and has extremely limited experience with walking on busy streets. 

We are working with the school district on getting orientation and mobility for her....but for now we are where we are.   I don't use the handicapped parking anywhere close to home, restaurants, or big box stores ...it takes us quite awhile to get through parking lots to the store with her but we do it.  However, when we are in large cities and have to cross very busy streets with cars everywhere it is NOT SAFE for us to walk with a child that walks in S.L.O.W. M.O.T.I.O.N...we can't get across the street before the light changes, not even close.  She becomes agitated and nervous with all the hustle and bustle and sounds and it is just a nightmare. 

I had fully planned on using it so that I would not have to stress about getting  her across busy streets all the while trying to figure out where we were going because I don't know my way around the area at all.

Parking Attendant tells me there is NO handicapped parking and to go around the block to the parking garage

I realize that we were late...I had planned to get there 30 minutes early so there would be good parking left....but with unexpected grid lock traffic and a restaurant that didn't get us our food before we had to leave I did the best I could.  In stop and go traffic we drove around the block and I am not kidding as soon as we are the next car to drive into the parking garage the attendant puts out a sign  Parking lot full

They suggested we drive to the stadium and take a shuttle.  I had no idea where in the world the stadium was or how to get there and traffic was moving at 2 miles an hour stop and go... I just pulled down a side street and parked about three blocks from the parking garage.  

Little miss had to ride piggy back on my daughter so we could get there on time. 
Little miss is honestly almost the same height as my 17 year old daughter and she kept letting go of her neck and not understanding that she needed to hold on so she didn't fall backwards.  The concert was going to start in 10 minutes and we had more than 10 minutes of walking to get there.  If we had let little miss walk we would have arrived at intermission :-P  

We finally got there and in our seats just in time...the concert started a few minutes late. 

I am not admitting guilt I may or may not have parked somewhere that you aren't supposed to park...all I can say is Kingsbury Hall get some decent handicapped parking!  All the close parking spots were for VIP's and college presidents etc....  Really...VIP's and college presidents can't walk like everyone else *roll eyes*

I was a bit worried that we may have a ticket or a boot at the end of the concert but the alternative wasn't great either....so I took my chances.   Hubby called right before the concert started and I told him our story and he said...don't worry about getting a ticket...it's okay, you needed to park close and did the best you could. 


Best Husband Ever!!


He felt so guilty about being gone for Valentines Day!!

I didn't know why he wanted me to call him after the concert so badly.  It would be 11pm in Houston and he had to wake up at 6am. 
I called and found out.......

He had emailed GENTRI and asked them to wish me a Happy Valentines on stage

That would have made a very stressful evening so special.....they probably get thousands of requests like that so I am not surprised that they didn't respond to him but it really made my night that he would try to do that for me to make it a special Valentines even though he couldn't be there.

When we got back to the car there was no ticket or boot on the car....my prayers were heard! 

Little miss was asking for 'snuggle with mommy' at intermission - she was almost starting to cry when the music stopped and we were just sitting there.  She was tired and hungry and I felt so bad for her...smart mommy brought M & M's and a lollipop and that calmed her down.  When she asks for snuggle with mommy that was her way of saying I am ready for bed...once they started singing again she was rocking out to the music and happy...whew! 

All in all it was a great night.....the concert was amazing even though the rest of the night was not so great!






Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Results from Cornea Specialist Appointment


Five Months with Little Miss


video

She loves to play the "I Love you Most" game with us...it is so cute!

She has learned so much and grown so much since she first came home.   We remember those early days when all she wanted to do was lay in bed with headphones on listening to Chinese nursery rhymes..... Her language was limited to I hungry, Go potty, drink of water, go to sleep or find it. 
She used to just rock back and forth and jump around in circles all day and did NOT want to interact with anyone.  

She loves to Yell...."David Archuleta is BAE"  all. day. long!!  I am not exaggerating, that is how she gets my attention when she wants something....thank big sister for that one :-)

We have come a long way from just saying those basic, eat, hungry, potty, sleep days!!

Mommy I need something
Help me
Daddy hold you
Mommy sit by you
Toby get off (she says this when she wants one of the dogs off her favorite chair)
Go to Little Miss bedroom
I want a fig newton
I want hashbrowns
Mommy is making food
Good night, I love you
Give Kenzi a hug
I want my toy box
What is this  (usually she says Zhè shì shénme)  She says this All. Day. Long too!!  But she is learning a lot!
I want Chinese Elmo  (she loves to watch elmo in mandarin)
I want mommy read a story
More story please
I want to swing
And a lot more.........


Misunderstandings about the Cornea Specialist Appointment




I feel that I need to clarify a few things about my previous post because many people seem to have misunderstood a lot about this appointment as well as what the result would be if she had a cornea transplant.  

1. Several people questioned us about the surgeon who offered free services for little miss and why would we pay for something that someone offered for free.  You must understand that this offer while so sweet and generous, was made by the surgeons father (who heard her story told by his stake president at a stake conference in Thousand Oaks, California....long story about how this all happened)  He wasn't sure if his son could do anything but just wanted to offer anything that he could possibly do to help her.  Just because you are a surgeon does not mean you perform every type of surgery.    This surgeon was a very sweet and very generous man and I had a wonderful conversation with him and he helped us understand a lot about Little miss condition and where we needed to look for services for her, however, he was unable to provide the services that she would need.  

2. Many people believed that this surgery would restore Little Miss eyesight completely or near completely.  You must understand that Little miss condition is NOT such that her eyesight could ever be restored.  I am sorry if I did not clarify this better but her eyesight would not have been restored with the cornea transplant.  What we were hoping for was some light perception or possibly being able to see some shadows to help her with orientation.  That was BEST case scenario.

Why is light perception or shadows such a big deal?  

Without light perception Little Miss has been unable to regulate her circadian rhythm and therefore her sleep is quite erratic and she runs the risk of developing Non-24 syndrome  Individuals with non-24 can struggle such that they cannot even hold down a job because their sleep is so erratic and they will literally fall asleep anywhere, anytime.  It is hard to explain but if you are curious you can look it up.  

Light perception could allow her to see Christmas lights, enjoy light up toys and help with some orientation in the world around her as well as help her regulate her circadian rhythm and her sleep patterns.   Being able to see shadows of doorways or buildings or things around her could help her orient herself in the world around her a little better. 

This is what we were hoping for in taking her to see the cornea specialist.

Results from the Cornea Specialist Visit
Little miss was SO brave!!  She did really good at the appointment and got some M&M's after

The cornea specialist was amazing...he was so straight forward about everything and we really appreciated that he was so candid with us and yet said I will do whatever you decide.
I feel I need to explain things so that there are no misunderstandings about the ultimate decision that was made for her.

1. The immune system attacks the cornea transplant and in young children their immune systems react pretty violently.  Rejection of the cornea happens in about 20% of cornea transplants.  This can cause inflammation, pain and requires immune suppressing drugs as well as frequent visits to the doctor to manage the immune reaction.

2. He evaluated her 'potential for vision'  this is important because this tells us if there is even any hope of her being able to see after the transplant.  She has little to no potential for vision.  He was hoping to see that she had some light perception that had stimulated the visual cortex of the brain.  Unfortunately both the pediatric opthalmologist and cornea surgeon agree that little miss does not have light perception, or if she does it is so minimal that it is not enough to regulate her sleep cycles or stimulate her visual cortex in any appreciable way.   Even if he could restore some light perception  for her....her brain would likely not be able to perceive it and therefore she would still not 'see' what her eyes were seeing.  This was not the news we had hoped for....we realized that she was not going to be a candidate for the surgery.

3. He said that with her eyes being so small there may or may not be an iris or a lens underneath the white that had grown over her eyes and that would require further testing.  Even if she did have a lens...with the size of her eyes he would not be able to cut enough to transplant a cornea without affecting other structures in her small little eyes. It would be a very risky surgery to perform and more than likely would not result in any more vision for her. 

Ultimately the cornea specialist said:  In her case...the benefit would certainly not outweigh the risks and he would NOT recommend the surgery for her.  We both agreed.

We Did not adopt Little Miss hoping to Change her

 God created her perfectly from her head to her toes....including those sweet little eyes!  God has purpose for her in her life and even purpose in her blindness and she is perfect just the way she is. 

Many people have the misconception that because she is blind she is limited in her ability to do things in her life.  She is NOT limited!!

She can do just about anything any sighted person could do....we may have to get creative but ultimately....she can and will do whatever she wants to do!  Big sister wants to take her snowboarding, she loves going swimming, sledding....and I am sure she will find more and more hobbies as she gets older...

#BlindKidsCan

It isn't some amazing feat that a blind child cleans their room, learns to cook or bake cookies, cakes or pie, goes skiing, swims, runs cross country, knits or crochets, enjoys playing wii games, reading books, goes bowling,  goes to college, gets married, has children.....  Her life will be rich and full and she will do whatever she wants to do in her life and we are here to support her in her journey.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Opthamalogist appointment yeilds unexpected good news!



Little Miss has been home for just over four months and she is learning so quickly.   We put off any medical appointments, dental appointments or any stressful things for several months to give her time to adjust.  We decided that an appointment with the opthalmologist would be a good first appointment because it was non-invasive and would be the least scary for her. 

She had her first doctors appointment with the Opthalmologist on January 13th 2017.  We really were not expecting much at this appointment, in fact, we were nervous about taking her.  We really felt that it would probably be traumatic for her and really not yield much benefit.   Little miss has micropthalmia, no iris and is completely blind.  We knew that for sure and so we didn't really know if the trauma of the appointment would be worth it.

Mandarin Translator

普通话翻译

We hired a Mandarin translator to come to the appointment to explain everything to her.  When he arrived and started talking to her she clenched her fists as tight as she could and sat as still as a statute and would NOT respond to his questions at all.  He noticed her response and asked if she had been traumatized in China.

We told him that we did not know anything specific other than the trauma of being abandoned at three years old and living in an orphanage.  She did not seem comforted by hearing Mandarin at all.  We have had a half a dozen Mandarin speakers try to talk to her and she is very shy and will not speak back to them.  I do feel it was good to have him there because he would explain to her that they were going to look at her eyes and that it wouldn't hurt.  I think just knowing what was happening comforted her because she really didn't seem bothered by the exam.

Eye Ultrasound

© Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons

The doctor decided to ultrasound her eyes, she warned us that it is common with micropthalmia for the eye to not have formed properly, she said it could be like everything is just all jumbled around in there.  However, when she did the ultrasound she found that Little Miss Eyes are actually perfectly formed inside....just very small.

Her retina was attached and everything looked good.  The reason that she has no vision is not because of the micropthalmia....it is because blood vessels and the white of the eye grew over the front of her eye blocking her vision.   She took pictures of Little Miss's eyes and said that she was going to send them to a specialist to see if Little Miss would be a candidate for a Cornea transplant.

She warned us that because of the micropthalmia and the severity of the blood vessels and white of the eye she may not be a candidate but she would speak with the specialist to find out.

We Received the Call Today.....Little Miss may be a Candidate for a Cornea Transplant

We will schedule an appointment with the specialist to discuss benefits, risks and then decide if a cornea transplant is the best option for her.   The biggest hurdle for the cornea transplant if we determine it is the best option for her is the high price tag!!!

We are still paying $420 per month on an adoption loan...OUCH!  We are not sure how we would be able to pay for it....but we are just going to take it one step at a time.   We are just excited at even the possibility of restoring some sight for her......I will keep you updated and let you know what the specialist says!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflections as the New Year Approaches


The events that have transpired over the past year have been nothing short of a miraculous unfolding of the hand of God in every aspect of our lives.  Years ago in the middle of confusion, knowing with all of my heart that there was a child missing from our family and yet...that child never came.  Nine long years passed and my arms were still empty.....I cannot adequately express in words the heartache and confusion I went through....... but now I know, God had a plan far greater than I could have imagined.

I know we often hear the phrase 'God has a plan'  but what exactly does that mean?   I don't know what it means for anyone other than myself but let me detail to you a little of how it has unfolded in my life.

In 2007 I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a child that was supposed to come into our family.  That feeling stayed so strongly with me that I couldn't shake it no matter how hard I tried at times.  It is amazing as I reflect back because our sweet little miss was not even born until 2010.  God was preparing a mother for her before she was ever born.  I know that may seem like a trite statement because of course every child has a mother, it is only a mother who can bring a child into this world.  However, in the devastating circumstances of a little child being abandoned on the streets, a child loses their mother.....their whole family in one traumatic, frightening moment as mother or father vanish into the night never to be seen again.

I will not go into all the details but I will say that the next the next five years of seeking this child brought surgery, six months of acupuncture, herbs, medication.....and ultimately frustration and heartache.  In the end of 2012 I felt I could not take another minute of this heartache and I prayed that God would take this feeling from my heart because it hurt too much.  My burden eased but the feeling that there was a child that needed to come into our family never left my heart.  I am ashamed to admit, I began to ignore it....I figured there was nothing more I could do.  Interestingly in 2013 in a dream I was again reminded of her.....it was a profound and vivid dream with a simple message...."Don't forget me"

I awoke from that dream with renewed strength to press forward in trying again to bring this child into our family.  Little did I know that pregnancy was not the way in which she would come.....as I look back I realize that it was that same year, 2013 that our little miss was abandoned.  When I think of this I am so amazed at the hand of God in every little detail of this precious story.  He made sure that I did not forget....so this little one could have a family.


My mom invited me to attend Women's Conference with her and I was excited to go although I did not realize that God had a plan even in this seemingly random decision in my life.  I had been struggling in my heart.  I felt that there was nothing more I could do and that I needed to just turn this over to God because I could not become pregnant no matter what I tried.

It was the last day, the last class, and it was so full we ended up on the back row....we almost missed it.  As the speaker began I was sitting in the back frantically trying to finish a scarf I was crocheting for charity at the event....I was listening as she said she wrote her speech and then felt it was too personal to share and thought that she should select another topic and redo her speech.  She prayed and she said the answer came, "There will be one in the audience who needs to hear your story"

Hmmm...I thought, that is interesting.  As she continued delving into her own nine year painful journey of infertility tears started to well up in my eyes....she could have been telling my story word for word!  I hate to cry in front of anyone but I could not hold back the tears as they began streaming down my face.  I bowed my head and crocheted even faster as I tried to hide my tears.  I listened intently as she described her heartache, confusion, unanswered prayers and I literally felt every painful moment she described and relived my own pain as she told of hers.

As I sat with tears streaming down my face these words pierced my heart..........

The answer to my prayer had to be no....so the answer to her need for a family could be YES!

In that moment I had clarity, in that moment came purpose and meaning to the heartache, suffering, and tears that had filled my life for the past six years!   This little saying that pierced my heart that day has become the motto of my journey toward this sweet little girl.

I would take a thousand No's to my own prayers so that this little one could have a YES to her need for a family!!!  There were times I felt forsaken, there were times I thought God had forgotten me, there were times I felt as if my prayers hit the ceiling.....and yet.....God had NOT forsaken me, He had not ignored my prayers....He simply had a different plan, a greater plan than I had for myself.

I had thought of adoption years ago but I allowed fears, concerns and the adversary to sway me and I resolved that it simply was not the avenue to pursue...but I was wrong.  I went home after this beautiful Women's Conference with direction, an answer to my prayers, and I felt as though my heart would burst I was so full of Joy.   

The rest of the story is smooth sailing right?  

I wish I could tell you that once God answered that prayer and provided direction that things just fell into place....but they didn't.  My husband had lost a business in 2010 and we literally lost everything...every dime we had in the bank, our cars, our retirement account....everything.  We were left penniless and moved into a small home that had been an old one room log cabin in the mountains.  We only had one $2000 car, our home did not even have heat vents in many of the main living areas and we had to use wood stoves to keep warm which I often was unable to get fire going and the kids and I sat in the living room in coats, wrapped in blankets to keep warm,  the kids often slept on the couch because there were no heat vents in their rooms and the fire would go out at night and it would get too cold.   We lived very simply, it was hard but we enjoyed a lot of happiness there too.

At the time of this conference my husband had just barely secured a good job and we were trying to get back on our feet.  We did NOT have the money to complete an adoption of any kind!  I really had to put it on the back burner for a long while because it simply was not financially feasible at the time.

We continued to discuss it and I poured over thousands upon thousands of pictures of these precious orphans from all over the world and my heart ached for them.

My heart cried out....Where are the Christians?


When your eyes are opened to the plight of millions of vulnerable orphans all over the world you can't help but wonder why very, very few Christians are stepping up to provide families for these children.  We are repeatedly told in the scriptures to care for the widows and the orphans and yet....we don't!

We live in our comfortable homes, with our nice cars, consuming far more luxurious food than we should, living in complete and utter comfort without a thought in the world of the poor, the needy, the orphan or the widow.   We wear costly apparel, spend $100's to change our hair color, wear fake eyelashes, have plastic surgery, gym memberships, drive expensive cars, purchase $500 purses or shoes.....and for what reason?   

Do we really need expensive clothing, fake eyelashes, gym memberships and $500 handbags?  NO!  
There are people suffering throughout the world, children without homes and families, people living in devastating poverty and what are we doing...buying a $500 handbag?  I am sorry but I just do not understand this, I just don't.  

I have witnessed many fundraising campaigns and I have seen first hand how very few people there are with hearts for the orphans.    I have seen people even make comments that if you can't afford it you shouldn't adopt!   If not me, then who?  These children need families, someone has to step up and be willing to open their home and literally sacrifice to bring these children home....I was simply not willing to turn a blind eye and think to myself...someone who has the money will do it!  Guess what....they won't!  They will by boats, four wheelers, fake eyelashes or some other fake body part, $500 purses, they will take a cruise or buy a house big enough to house many orphans but they won't open it to them....  It isn't about having the money, it is about having a heart willing to sacrifice for a child in need.

Okay...off my soap box...

We were not financially able to adopt

Guess what....we were not financially secure...my husband had a stable salary + commission job when we started looking into adoption but we were by no means recovered from our financial loss.  We didn't have a savings account...not one dime...we were still trying to pay off credit cards we had used to purchase groceries, propane to heat our little old home and other necessities after my husband lost his first job after the loss of his business.  

Just before the Women's Conference where I realized that adoption was where my daughter was my husband was making about $30,000 per year and our adoption cost MORE than a years salary at that time!  My heart was willing and therefore, God provided a way.   Shortly after the answer to adopt came my husband found another job and his pay doubled....over the course of years as we prepared to adopt his income continued to increase.

I will tell you how the financial end of adoption works = FAITH

There is NO other way in which we could have financially adopted other than by the Grace of God.   We had no savings, we were still financially recovering and yet....God called and we simply had to have the faith that it would work out.  We took out an adoption loan for half of the amount we needed to complete the adoption and then just had faith that the rest would come as we needed it.

Our First Fundraiser -  We began trying to raise funds to bring our precious daughter home as soon as we had been matched with her......I must recognize that we did have a couple of amazing, generous people who donated....but that was all.  It was hard on my husband when he realized the lack of support we would have as we proceeded....but we pressed forward with faith even though we could not see how this was going to work financially...we literally did NOT have the money to complete the adoption!

Miraculously, the money came, when we needed it, it was there.  Donations from a few amazing generous people came just when we needed them, my husband earned far more commission than we ever expected and honestly God blessed us every step of the way.  

At the end of the year my husband was reviewing his income for 2016 and much to our surprise.....
The extra commission he earned was THE EXACT COST OF THE ADOPTION!!    

I could not contain the absolute JOY in my heart, I felt my heart lifting praise to God because I knew that without His hand in this, we could not have done it. 

I learned so much through this process....we literally had to step out into the darkness with the faith that God would provide as we continued to walk forward.  The finances came as needed but we were not able to see how it would all work out or come together beforehand, it was literally a walk in faith the whole way.

Home Almost Four Months
video
Opening her first present on Christmas morning!

I cannot believe that we have been home with this sweet and sassy little girl for almost four months now.  It is absolutely amazing to watch a little child blossom with the love and care of a family. 

When we first came home she did not speak unless it was an absolute necessity.... Go potty, I hungry, Drink of water....she would not even speak to us in Mandarin.  She cried a lot when we first came home...she even cried from 10pm to 2:30 am in the morning at times as we just held her trying to ease her grief.  She was very shut down and afraid of a lot of things, it was almost like having a newborn baby.  There are times I was so sleep deprived and exhausted and yet there were moments when I could not keep from laughing because she would say the funniest things....

She LOVES to say..

David Archuleta is Bae               (big sister taught her this)
Taco Amigo is Bae                     (she loves their fries)
'Little Miss' is the cutest
Kenzi is awesome                       (big sister taught her this)
She loves to bark like the dogs
Just like fire                    (she says this because she LOVES the song "just like fire" by Pink)
Snuggle with mommy   
Bless you                               (she LOVES to say this when you cough)
Do you wanna hungry, yeah   (she says this when she is hungry)
She loves to fake laugh
I want Christmas nusai (music)   (she is still asking for Christmas music)
Mama's right here                       
I want to hold you
Stay with you                           (she says this when she wants you to wrap your arms around her and                                                           walk with her when she is scared.)
I scared                                   (she used to say this a lot but she is saying it less and less)
Give you mama hug
Zuo Che  Ride in the car
Wo men zai jia  we are home
Gong gong qi che   (Bus)        Daddy says blowing on her cheek and she thinks it is hilarious
Wo hai yao                         (I still want...she says this when she wants you to keep doing something)
She loves to yell   Ya ya ya ya ya
I love you
So we got it     (from the "hot chocolate" song from The Polar Express)
AMEN            (She yells out AMEN randomly in the store, at church, at restaurants...) 


She is learning language so quickly it amazes us....she is learning to ask for the toys that she wants...she is starting to play with toys and loves her xylophone, she is learning to ask for the food that she wants.... she is almost able to go to the bathroom and wash her hands by herself.

These may seem like small things for a six year old but we are so amazed seeing the progress she has made in the last four months.  

Many people articulate how much we have blessed her or how blessed she is but honestly she has blessed us in so many ways!  This entire journey has been an immense blessing in our lives, it has been hard and yet so beautiful all wrapped into one.   

In closing, I knew this would be a hard journey, I knew it would be a sacrifice but I felt so strongly that in striving to choose every single day to live a life consecrated to the Lord I would have to let go of living my life for myself and choose to live my life for others.   I am not perfect, I wish I were, I fail every day of my life....but I can say that I strive for this goal every day of my life and this journey with little miss has humbled me, shown me my weakness and helped me to become a better version of myself.  She is a blessing to our family and to all those who have been touched by her story.....

From Little Orphan
(A photo of her shortly after coming to Bethel the home for visually impaired children in China from her orphanage)


To a loved child with a family to call her own
I tear up everytime I watch this "I waving"  "Hi Mommy"

video

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

No Longer An Orphan....

Celebrating Three Months!




Tears swelled up in my eyes as I began editing this video with the beautiful music that so eloquently describes the feelings I have had these past few months.   The absolute joy and beauty of International adoption is something I could never adequately described in words.

As we walked up to the Civil Affairs office on 'Gotcha Day'  my heart was racing, I was nervous and yet excited with anticipation....we had waited for this day for nine long months and finally here we were in China walking to meet our daughter for the first time.

Dave saw her through the glass windows and I could see tears swelling in his eyes as he passed the camera to our guide and hurried inside to scoop Little miss in his arms.  It was a feeling I will never forget!    That day was like an absolute dream, she was so quiet and sweet.  We took her to a nice restaurant to celebrate our first day as a family and she ate and ate and ate and ate....and ate some more!   I don't think a 300 pound lineman could have out eaten her that day!!

I wish I could say that it has been smooth sailing ever since that day....but along with the beauty of an orphan no longer being an orphan comes loss, profound loss!  This little child has literally lost everything!   Our sweet little girl lost everything that day that she was abandoned on the streets in China years ago!!  Now, on this day...again....she loses everything she has ever known!   She loses her country, her language, her nannies, her teachers, her friends, clothes, toys, sounds, smells, everything that has ever been familiar to her is gone!

As much as we shower her with love, this little girl grieves....she pleads with us to lay in bed with headphones on and just lay there tuning out the world....she cries from 10pm to 2am at night....there are smiles, joy, and happiness along the way, but there are also tears.  We are not past the grief and anxiety...but she has found safety with us, she has learned to ask for hugs and kisses, she loves to say "Good night, I love you."

Slowly and surely this little girl who has lost everything she has ever known and everyone she has ever loved twice in her life amazes me with her resilience as she opens her heart to love again!   Each and everyday this strong, beautiful little girl opens her heart a little more and a little more....she sings her heart out to Christmas music, she laughs and wants hugs all day long!  I am amazed at her strength and her ability to forgive and to move forward despite all that she has been through in her young life.

Her language is slowly changing...

Wo Hai Yao......Do it again
Zuo Che...........Ride in the car
Shui Jiao..........Go to sleep (although she often says good night)
Wo ai ni...........I love you

and the list goes on.....

As her language changes so does she.....we have learned to love this little girl so deeply and she has brought so much love, laughter and joy into our family I cannot imagine our lives without her!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Little Miss Two Months Home Amazes Us All!



Love & Family Work Miracles

Nickel City riding in the Semi-truck....she rode this for over an hour and loved it!!

This month has been easier than the first month home.....we finally found a way to get Little Miss to sleep through the night and it has made a HUGE difference!   She didn't say much in Mandarin or English when she first came home....her communication was limited to "I need to go potty"   "I'm Hungry"  "Zhao Dao" 
and crying.....

In the last month she has LOVED learning and she will sit at the kitchen table while I teach her English and she just absorbs it.  I will say a phrase in Mandarin like "Shū tóufa"   and then I will say... Brush your hair and she will copy me over and over.   Throughout the day she will repeat both the Mandarin and the English and when I brush her hair she will also repeat them over and over again....she is learning so fast!

She has learned to say on her own:

  • I want to go downstairs
  • I want the trampoline
  • Change your clothes
  • Brush your teeth
  • Brush your hair
  • I want a drink of water
  • I want a juice box
  • I want noodles
  • I want honeycomb
  • I want a drink of water
  • I want music
  •  Gei Ni hug (give you hug)
  • Get in the tub
  • I want to swing
  • I want to spin  (she wants you to spin her in circles)
  • Hold me please
  • Help me please
  • Ride in the car
  • Ride in the wagon
  • I want to pick a tomato
  • All done pick a tomato
  • Wash your hands
  • wash your face
  • and many more.....
She is quite entertaining, she has learned to bark from hearing the dogs and so she will go around barking and then say, "Toby, No"  or "Rosie, No"  She does this in public a lot....people must think she is a little off her rocker :-D

She has conversations with her toys, the toy will say "Hi" to her and then she will say "I love you lid"  She hears I love you all the time from all of us so now she tells all her toys that she loves them :-)  It is SO cute~!
Sometimes she will have a little conversation and say, "Hi, I'm hungry.  Are you hungry.  Yeah.  Okay.  Good job."

Gei Ni Hug



She wanted to snuggle with me in the morning after giving me a hug and so we sat in the chair snuggling...I had so much cleaning, laundry, dishes to do and yet....snuggling is more important so if you come to my house and see floors that need vacuuming, dishes that need to be done or piles of laundry.....This picture is the reason my house is not as clean and I would like it to be!   Keeping your priorities straight is important.....loving a child is far more important than a spotless house!

Little Miss new favorite thing in the world is HUGS! <3  This child absolutely loves hugs!  She does NOT like strangers and so she does not hug anyone outside of our immediate family right now but she asks for hugs constantly.

Here is a short description of my morning.....go into Little miss bedroom to get her out of bed...Good morning...are you ready to get out of bed?    Yeah, all done bed.   Gei Ni Mama Hug.... 

We walk downstairs and she is jumping in the living room and I walk into the kitchen to start breakfast....
Gei Ni Mama Hug....I flip around before reaching the kitchen to give her a hug and a snuggle....back to the kitchen I go.  I get out a pan or a bowl and start to get breakfast and I hear....Gei Ni Mama Hug....
Back I go into the living room for a hug and a snuggle.....back to the kitchen.

I begin again to get breakfast ready....I pour, get out a spoon, and again I hear Gei Ni Mama Hug...off I go back to the living room for a hug.  

When loading the dishwasher I get 2 or 3 dishes loaded between hugs :-)   Thank Heavens Dave works from home in the mornings so she switches between the two of us when he is home...Gei Ni Baba Hug and he comes running to give her hugs.   When ....Pause.....(I just heard Gei Ni Mama Hug from the living room so off I go for a hug)  and...I'm back!

When all four of us are home she switches off....Gei Ni Kenzi hug....then Gei Ni Camdyn Hug.....  
Don't even think about asking for a hug...if you do she will tell you NO Gei Ni Hug!!!  You have to wait your turn...LOL  (Pause...I just heard Gei Ni Mama Hug from the living room again)   and......I am Back....

Whew....Dave just came down and took her out to pick a tomato from the garden so I can have a break and finish my blog...   

Rock-a-Bye Little Miss

I rock her to sleep every night in the rocking chair and she LOVES it.  We put her jammies on and she automatically backs into me wanting to get in the rocking chair and then she asks for her blanket and says I want music.

She listens to the frozen soundtrack while I rock her to sleep.  She will fall completely asleep as Dave and I talk while I rock her and then I put her in bed and she will say half asleep...."Good night, I love you"   It just melts my heart!


Please Don't be Offended

She is VERY talkative at home and sings and talks constantly....but in public and around strangers she is very quiet and shy.   She is NOT a fan of strangers and so she will often become very quiet and then out of the blue she will start Yelling  "Bye Bye"  

She becomes agitated if people she doesn't know talk to her and she may start crying or she may yell at you.  Don't be offended she is just frightened and nervous.  In her little world the last time two strangers came and started talking to her they took her away from all she knew.  She does not understand that she is with her forever family and so she doesn't know what a stranger is going to do and so she becomes afraid and will yell and cry.

We LOVE to have visitors and would love to talk to you about her and she is happy to say hi to you quickly but too much interaction or asking her questions may frighten her.  It is best to say Hi to her and then talk with us so that she feels safe.  Hopefully in time she will be more open talking to strangers....but please don't avoid us :-)