Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sharing Pictures of our Sweet Angel in China

Pictures of our Sweet Little Girl in China

I know many of you have been following our adoption journey and I thought you may enjoy seeing more pictures of this sweet little girl we are so impatiently waiting to bring home.    We have a whole collection of videos and pictures of her, some are from the file our adoption agency sent us, while others are photos we have collected from her orphanage.

It is so hard for us to is such a LONG process to go through to adopt a child Internationally and you just sit and wait.  

NO it is NOT like Pregnancy

Some people have compared the adoption process to pregnancy, no it is NOT the same thing!  Anyone who has not been through this process may not understand, so let me explain.  When you are pregnant your child is tucked snuggly and safely inside of you.  While you may not be able to see your child, your child is with you every moment of everyday.  Your child hears your voice, your heartbeat, and gets to know you as he or she grows inside of you.  Your child is not away from you for one second, but is growing inside of you.  You are still nurturing, loving, and providing for all the needs of your child.

Adoption is very different from this scenario.  Your child is thousands of miles away, clear across the world in another country.  Even if you know your child is being properly cared for and loved by his or her caregivers your child is not near you, is not with you, is not hearing your voice....your child does not even know who you are.   You long to know your child, to hold your child and wait.  You wait as you jump through government red tape over and over again....waiting months for them to go through your paperwork and approve it all while your child´s life goes on another day, another week, another month without you!  The adoption process is not the same and the heart wrenching wait is not easy!

We are Grateful she is in a wonderful orphanage and is in good hands as she waits

Little ¨M¨ is showing her Christmas artwork!  Her orphanage was featured in a magazine in China and all the children were featured along with photos of their artwork.  I know the picture is a little fuzzy but it is a picture of the actual magazine so it isn´t completely clear but I think it is just precious.

Christmas Celebration at the Orphanage

You can see the little reindeer antlers and bells on her wrists.  It is fun to see all the things she is doing in the orphanage as we wait to go pick her up.  It is hard, we want to be with her SO much but we are grateful for the Internet and the ability to receive pictures of her so easily.  

Little M with her Ayi

The word Ayi in Chinese means (Housekeeper, Auntie or Nanny)  

Last Quick Update on our Adoption Process

Our I-800a was sent FedEx overnight on Saturday and should have arrived at the Government office yesterday.  The I-800a is a form you send to the U.S. Government to receive permission to bring a child into the U.S. and for that child to be a U.S. citizen when they arrive.   It takes about 3-6 weeks generally to receive this approval.  It seems like an eternity to wait but I know the time will go quickly.

Once we receive the I-800a approval we will then be able to send our dossier to the CCCWA for authentication.  Once that is completed......We will receive our travel date!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Perhaps Christmas means a little bit more......

Merry Christmas

The Meaning of Christmas has Changed For Me

As I sit here in the quiet silence on this Christmas Eve I reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas and the miraculous events that have unfolded in our lives over this past year.   During this season most people are frantically shopping for gifts, fighting the crowds, buying gifts without a thought in the world as to the reason why we celebrate Christmas.  The true meaning and gift of the season can get lost amongst the hustle and bustle of spending far more money than we should on things we don´t really need. 

We rush around in a stress filled frenzy, spending ourselves into debt trying to purchase a nauseating amount of gifts for everyone we know including the kids school teachers.  Yet, through it all, as we speak of peace, joy, glad tidings of this season...... the meaning of it all is put on the back burner so we can buy the latest Xbox or i-Thing.   Santa takes front and center stage in every aspect of our celebration, the kids excited to sit on his lap and rattle off a laundry list of things they want him to bring them on Christmas morning.

As I sit here, in the silence, I ponder upon that little baby, born in the most humble of circumstances, the very reason we celebrate CHRIST-mas.  We celebrate Christmas because we were given the greatest gift of such infinite worth no mortal words could describe its depth and meaning to all mankind.  It is not a gift that will break, wear out, or get lost, but a gift that was given out of the greatest love the world has ever known and required the greatest sacrifice.

Our Savior agreed to come into this world, to give His life, to right every wrong, to lift the hands that hang down, to ease or burdens and remove our sorrows and greatest of all to save us from a sin filled life to be lifted up at the last day and exalted on high.   If we reflect upon His life and His example what do you think He would want us to do in celebration of Him, His birth, His life, and the supernal gift He gave?   

If we were truly seeking to celebrate His life, would we be sitting on santa´s lap rattling off all the needless things we want, would we be running around buying gifts for those who already have more than they need?

If we Remember Christ, we Remember the ¨Least of These¨

Santa does not visit these children 

There are millions of children around the world who do not have enough food to eat, children dying of starvation while we stuff ourselves with a Thanksgiving Feast and Christmas Day dinner.   There are children living in orphanages who have never known the love of a mother and the joy of a family.  There are families living in homes on dirt floors without electricity, indoor plumbing or even clean water to drink.  There are families in our midst who secretly suffer without being able to provide a coat, shoes without holes, or enough food to fill little tummies....and yet....Santa never comes to the poor.  Is this really what Christ would want the celebration of His birth to be?

Are We Caring for the Fatherless?
Santa does not visit these children either....

  We close our eyes and put these images out of our minds because they are uncomfortable to think about.  We don´t have to face them, we do not have to look the starving child in the eyes, we do not have to see the anguished faces of parents struggling to provide for their children......and so we continue to think of the latest electronic gadget that we want to buy for ourselves, our family, or our children.  We sit down to eat a Christmas feast, all while professing our gratitude for our Savior and yet.....instead of being like He, we sit in our homes warm from the heater, clean water, indoor plumbing, all the conveniences of life, surrounded by wealth and give no thought to ´the least of these.´

I must confess I have been just as guilty of this as the next person, but slowly my eyes have been opened and I have seen that we need to do so much more.  We profess to believe in Christ, we profess to be followers of Christ and yet on the very day we profess to celebrate His birth we do not even follow His example to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and afflicted and give to those in need.

You Will Not Find Santa Here Either....
We are to be the hands of Christ in Service to those who suffer

Being in the midst of this adoption process, seeing so many faces of children who have been abandoned on the streets at 2 days old, 2 weeks old, a few months or even a few years old.  Living in orphanages around the world it has given me time to reflect, time to really ponder on what really matters and what simply does not.

When all is said and done it will not matter that I had the latest iPhone or iThing, it will not matter how expensive the gifts under the tree were...... How can I live in so much abundance compared to millions of people around the world and turn a blind eye.  In the comfort of my own home it is easy to simply forget, but as I have gazed into the eyes of so many orphans, it has been burned upon my heart.  

As the Grinch said, ¨Perhaps Christmas means a little bit more¨  or may I add to this powerful statement... ¨Perhaps Christmas means a whole lot more!¨  It is so much more than Santa, a man who spoils already spoiled children with gifts they simply don´t need while poor children remain without food on the table on Christmas day!  It is more than packages, boxes, bows and bags......

The celebration of Christs birth should be a time spent in the service of others.  It should be a time where children go with their families to serve at a soup kitchen, to take survival kits with snacks, water and toiletry items to the homeless, a time to take a Thanksgiving feast to a poverty stricken family, to give a $200 grocery card to a family in need of food......This is the TRUE spirit of Christmas.  

As I reflect upon what Christmas means to me,  I have set a goal for myself to take a step back and find ways that I can contribute and help those in need.  To think less of myself and more of those around me or even those half way around the world who are in need of help.  If there is something I can do, I will do it.   Santa has not been a part of our Christmas celebration since our children were very young, but more than just moving Santa to the back burner where he belongs, I need to commit to do more.

It isn´t merely about remembering Christ, focusing on His life and letting Santa fall by the way is about ever so much more.  I feel convicted to make Christmas celebration focused upon giving gifts to the Savior, doing what He would have me do and in my heart I know that if He were here today, He would be spending his time with the poor, the needy, the homeless, the fatherless, the widows.....and therefore, so should I.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Homestudy Approved....ready to send in our I-800a

Christmas Gift for Hubby.....Home-study Approved!

I am sure many of you saw the picture of the craft room that we are turning into little ¨M¨s bedroom.  I have been so amazed that Hubby has been obsessed with getting it ready.  He spent hours taking off the wallpaper border, painted the whole room in white with paint block so we could test colors on it without the color underneath altering the colors.  

As I noticed him working so hard in the evenings I realized, he is not very patient when it comes to waiting for anything outside of his control, waiting for this homestudy to be approved has probably been driving him CRAZY!  I realized he felt like he had to do something, he couldn´t just sit around and not do anything, so he has been working on her bedroom.  I can´t complain, I get the added bonus of a hubby willing to work hard on a honey do list.... :-)

Craft Room Before Picture.....

Don´t judge...I know my craft table is means I´ve been working hard ;-)  

This will be little ¨M¨s bedroom, hubby has already removed the wallpaper border and painted the whole room white.  We just picked up sample cans of paint that we think will look cute and we are going to paint them on the walls and baseboards and see if we like them in the room.

It really does feel good to be able to do SOMETHING...while we sit and wait and wait and wait.  It is so hard to be patient.  At this point there is really nothing we can do,  once it is all sent in to the government it is just a big waiting game....I am not a very patient person either so this is not going to be easy.  Distracting ourselves with decorating her bedroom is a great project.  I am also designing a special knitted or crocheted blanket with her name and the saying ¨You are my Sunshine¨ on it.  I can´t decide if I want to knit it or crochet....Hmmmm decisions, decisions......  I will post pictures when I am done.

An Updated Picture of ¨Little M¨

She loves pretty dresses, doesn´t she look adorable!  I was so excited when I found a bunch of pictures of her on her orphanages facebook page, I went back through the last 2 years of pictures and found all of the ones of her.  I know it will be important to her to know where she came from and to have a scrapbook of her life and so I am trying to find all the pictures I can put together for her.

I know that she won´t be able to see the pictures, but I will be able to describe them to her and create a story for her of where she came from and the experiences she had based on the pictures I have of her.  It creates continuity and a story of her life that she can be told so the more pictures I have the better I can help her keep those memories.  I have quite a collection of pictures now, I am having them printed and will start a scrapbook....that ought to be interesting being that I am terrible at scrapbooking but I will try my best.

Loving Freecycle!!!

We need so many things for her bedroom and she will need a whole wardrobe of clothes when she gets here, she will only have the clothes on her back and a little backpack when we pick her up!  It has been difficult to find anyone with hand-me-down clothes and so I turned to freecycle!  SCORE!  

I was able to find a whole bag of size 8 clothes and all I had to do was go pick it up!  She is only a size 5 or 6 right now but I figure it can´t hurt to have some clothes a little big, little ones grow so fast!  I have been looking for a bed, mattress, clothes, shoes......anything I can find for her.  We found an old dresser we can needs some TLC but hopefully it will work.  We want the drawers to open easily for her so it isn´t difficult so weĺl see if this one works, if not we will hopefully find something at the D.I. or somewhere else that will work better.

I read somewhere that the I-800a was taking 3 weeks, Dave read it was taking 6 weeks....oh the horrible wait!  People keep asking us when we will be going to pick her up......Trust me, I want to know even more than you do!  I wish I knew!

Well, off to send the I-800a and pray that it doesn´t take 6 weeks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

International Adoption and the Big Long Wait......

International Adoption = Big Long Wait!

I have read and watched many adoption stories and one common theme is the difficulty in waiting.  Honestly, I usually skimmed over this part of each story thinking, yeah, yeah I know it takes a long time blah, blah.....

You can think that when you are not the one waiting.  It is a whole different story when it is you waiting to go pick up your own child.  I can honestly testify that these people are not exaggerating, the wait is difficult.  We spent time today flipping through photos of Little ¨M¨ from the orphanage and watching videos of her from the orphanage.   It is our only way to connect with her as we wait.

We received the rough draft of our Home-study this morning

We were excited that the homestudy is now officially complete and was sent to us so we could verify that all the information was correct.  We were excited thinking things were moving along....and then were told that the adoption agency will review it to ensure it is complete and compliant with all requirements and that will take a week....then it will be returned to the social worker for revisions, then it is resubmitted and accepted.....and the wait continues.....

Thinking of Little ¨M¨

I just want to give her a big hug!

At night when I am about to go to sleep, I wonder what she is doing, is she happy, how is school going?   I think of her often and wish that the process could go so much faster than it is.  I understand that all parties involved want to make sure this child is going to a loving home and that all things are in order but the wait is hard.  I know we have only just begun in the grand scheme of things, we are just preparing to send in our I-800a in the next week to 10 days.  That process can take 3-7 weeks!

Once that is complete, we are then able to submit our Dossier to the U.S. Government so they can begin authenticating and approving documents, I am told this can take up to 4 months....then it can be submitted to the Chinese Government for the same process, although I do know that if you are already matched your Dossier takes precedence over those who have not been matched.  Well at least in ONE aspect of the process it may go faster than it would otherwise :-)

We are looking at a minimum of 6 months from now......but if everything happened on the LONGEST end of the estimates we could even be looking at a year from now.  It is hard to even think about or imagine waiting that long.  I try not to think about it because honestly, it just all seems so overwhelming.

I am taking it one day, one step at a time and praying every day that everything will go quickly and smoothly.

Just a Tip....Don´t pray for patience

I made the mistake of praying for patience recently, my kids were fighting and trying my patience and of course I was failing miserably and remaining patient.  For some strange reason I assumed that praying for patience would mean my kids would calm down and be easier so that I would be able to become patient with them.   What was I thinking?

That isn´t how it works, if you are going to learn patience, your kids get WORSE, not better!  Well, that didn´t  work out well......soon though the kids did calm down and things got easier and I thought okay, that wasn´t too bad and then.....the adoption process started.   I hadn´t seen anything yet!

If you want a real dose in trying your patience....go through the long grueling work of adoption.  Many people have said, at least you don´t have to be pregnant.  I LOVE being pregnant so I don´t really see that as a bonus and this waiting and paperwork is difficult.  I think it is easier to know your child is tucked inside you, nice, safe and warm for nine months than it is to know that your child is half a world away living in an orphanage without a family and you just want to bring them home and tell them they are loved, they are safe and have a forever family!

I don´t know that I would say the adoption process is any easier than pregnancy.  I know, I have been through two pregnancies and three surgeries, two long stints of extremely strict bedrest, a nurse assigned to check up on me weekly, during those two pregnancies and I would still say that the adoption process is NOT easier!   It may not be as physically demanding but it is far more emotionally taxing that is for sure.  

That is our update for today....waiting, waiting and more waiting.....

Until Next time...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

International Adoption....handling the realities of child abandonment

The Harsh Realities of Child Abandonment

When we read through Little ¨M´s¨ file all we knew was that she came to her current orphanage at the age of three.  We did not know where she was before this.  I wondered in my mind where she was, she came with her head completely shaved and very frightened.  My mind came up with every potential possibility of where she could have been.....  I was not prepared for the truth.

I shared a very lengthy post last time and most of my readers probably did not get to the end to find the culminating point of the post and so I will offer a shortened version today.

We found out on Monday that Little ¨M¨ was abandoned by her parents at three years old

Little ¨M¨

This is the earliest photo we have of her from the orphanage.  Why was she abandoned?  

Her mother gave birth to a healthy child and so Little ¨M¨ was abandoned because she was blind.  She came into the orphanage because her parents had chosen to keep the healthy child and abandon her.  I do not know the details of her abandonment.  What I do know is that it was heart wrenching to hear that a sweet little toddler would be abandoned because she was blind.

It took me awhile to come to terms with this, at first you feel this sense of anger toward parents who would do such a thing, abandon a helpless little child simply due to being ´imperfect.´  

I prayed to be able to make peace with this, I know the reality is that most children in orphanages have been abandoned for one reason or another.  Depending on the country in which the child lives there are various  reasons that children are abandoned.  In some areas it can be due to extreme poverty, the inability of the parents to provide food and shelter for themselves let alone a child.  In some countries children are often taken from parents due to alcoholism and drug use.  In many cases children are abandoned due to birth defects discovered at birth.

Contemplating the realities of Child Abandonment

Motherhood is a sacred calling and duty that women have been entrusted with.  Unfortunately in our imperfect world there is poverty, cultural attitudes, addiction, immoral attitudes, and all manner of situations that cause mothers to abandon their children.   I will not try to make sense of the complex situations that would cause a woman to abandon her child.  I will say however that I have come to realize very profoundly that we as followers of Christ must be willing to be the Lord´s hands in these children´s lives.

As I began a program of learning how to be mentored by the master this is when I began to see more clearly the true purpose in life.  I had known for years of the plight of children living in orphanages all over the world, some even abandoned because they were born with physical handicaps or illness.  I had a desire to help, I wanted to adopt, but money was a big hurdle I didn´t know how to cross.

Power Hour and Consecrating Our Lives to The Lord

People have told me I was lucky, I only had two children and they are growing up fast and in less than 5 years we would be empty-nesters.....oh how lucky we were!

I started to buy into this belief system, oh yes, a life without children, I am so blessed!  Or am I?

One night as my husband and I were home alone, both teenagers were gone, I started questioning this idea of being ´Lucky.´  I was sitting on the chair knitting and hubby was sitting on the couch on his iPad.  We were casually talking but otherwise the house was eerily silent.  I said, ¨Is this really what we have to look forward to?¨  An empty, silent house?  

Is this really what people consider Blessed or Lucky?

I know society is so focused on ¨self¨ must be rich, you must be stick skinny, you must have the latest fashions, you must buy expensive purses, fancy cars, have a big house and most of all....don´t let having children cramp your style!

As I sat there in an empty home, I did not feel blessed at all.  I felt lonely!  Sure hubby was there and I LOVE spending time with him don´t get me wrong.  

In the following days during my Power hour in the morning I pondered and contemplated on life.  What gives meaning to life?  If I were to dedicate my life to serving the Lord, what would he have me do?  Is being an empty-nester at 43 years old really desirable?

In the wee hours of the morning, my heart was changed.  I realized that NO, a home without children is NOT blessed.  Do I remember sleepless nights with a newborn, changing diapers, temper tantrums, a cell phone that was ´washed´ in the bathtub, broken Christmas tree ornaments, obstinate toddlers, even more obstinate teenagers......  Yes, I remember all of it.  

Is the life of a mother easy...No.  Is life supposed to be easy....No.

When we made the decision to adopt a 5 year old little girl who was blind, this decision was not about me.  I know full well that my life will change dramatically, that my time will be spent helping her learn, helping her adjust to a new life.....  But I realized, life isn´t about ME, life isn´t about being selfish.

What a lonely life it would be if all we did was seek to get gain for ourselves!  I may be only one, but I can make ALL the difference in the life of one little girl.  My life is not my own, and I will not spend it as if it were.  We all can make a difference if we open our hearts, our lives, and our minds to the will of God in serving others instead of seeking our own will and pleasure.