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 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 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 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 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. my soap box...

We were not financially able to adopt

Guess what....we were not financially 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
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"

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 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 :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

One month home.....I cannot begin to recount to you the full experience of this past month...there were sleepless nights,  up at 3 am with a child who thinks it is morning, up at 2 am with a crying grieving child...there were tantrums, crying and yet....among the heartache and sleepless nights there was joy, laughter, and happiness.  The emotions of this month have been beyond any I have ever experienced before in my life.

Amongst the sleepless nights and constant and relentless care of a six year old orphan who is developmentally more like a two year old I felt that I was cracking under the pressure.....My life was not the same.  I found myself wracked with guilt as I grieved the loss of the life I had life was easy, I spent my days easily cleaning the house and could come and go whenever I life profoundly changed on Aug. 29th, it was a day I had waited for, but it brought with it profound changes that left me grieving a little for what I had before......

Life is not meant to be lived for yourself

Today as I was sitting at the counter while little Miss was eating her breakfast I opened the Ensign and began to read.....the answer to my pleading prayers was found within the words of the short article....

A story of Parley P. Pratt profoundly affected me.. he had been imprisoned in a hotel, sleeping on hard floors in the freezing winter months and during the night he managed to escape.  He found himself trudging through a winter storm, the snow covering his tracks and the snow covered trees concealing him.....he stood in that freezing storm contemplating the choices that lay before him.  He could continue on to freedom back to his family, or he could turn back and face imprisonment and accusations of high crimes with his friends he had left behind...

The Scripture in Mark 8:35 which reads, "He that seeks to save his own life shall lose it, but he that loses his life for my sake shall find it..."   

The words of that scripture sank deep into my heart...that moment I chose to accept God's will in my life to provide a home for a little orphan girl, I chose to lose my life in the service of God, in the service of someone in need.  Where was my heart now...looking back, seeking to 'save' my life of ease and comfort...that is not where God had called me to be, I must lose my life in the service God had called me to and in doing so I would find life, life eternal.

And the answers continued to come....

Sitting in sacrament meeting today, listening to the speaker talk about service and that a life without purpose has no meaning...he also read the scripture in Mark 8:35 and then he detailed President Hinckley's story as he had been on his mission for several months and wrote home to his parents saying he felt he was wasting his time and his family's money as the people did not want to hear his message.  His fathers response really struck me....."Forget yourself and Go to work"

I felt it pierce my heart, I knew that I needed to forget myself, stop looking back at the past and get to work.  You have a work to do, it isn't easy, but it will be worth it.  I prayed this morning that God would help me be able to see others as he sees them....and it was answered as I looked at this sweet little girl God has entrusted to me and I saw what he had called me to do, to love her.

and here I sit....being chastened and called to become a better version of myself.  

Adoption shines a light on weakness

Through this adoption every weakness within me has painfully been brought to my attention, every ounce of impatience, selfishness, ungratefulness....every part of me I wish I could sweep under a rug and never have to face......and yet God never intended to leave me the way I am.   Through this adoption, my life is being changed and unfortunately with this kind of profound change comes is HARD!!!  It isn't easy, every moment of every day, all my time and attention is demanded....I am preparing food, she doesn't like that food so I am preparing more food, changing clothes, changing soiled bedding, sweeping the floor for the 100th time is a thankless job and yet, I would not be anywhere other than where I am...God is changing who I was into something much greater...

Videos and Pictures of the Last month home

 Little Miss received a gift from a friend clear across the country who had been so inspired by her and her story....she absolutely LOVED the boats, she carried them around all day and took them into the bath with her!  What a perfect gift!
 Little Miss found dog food on the floor.....she actually gave up her "Ji mu" Blocks that she had been carrying as her toy of choice the last few days...That is a BIG Deal!!  I was praying she was not going to decide that the dog food would be her next toy....luckily we were able to get it away from her and distract her with something else :-)  She kept listening to the sound of the dog food in her fingers and food, dog food....Oh goodness!  Never a dull moment around here.....

We took her to Cornbellys...she LOVED the tater tots and kept asking for 'More tater tots pwease"  She was very overwhelmed...she did not enjoy playing in the dried corn, and did not like the bouncy houses and so we let her ride on the 'horsey'  or Qi ma and she enjoyed that.  

She LOVES to copy everything we evening she had been playing with one of my solar patio lights and she dropped it and the top came off...she calls out Zhao Dao (find) and I say 'Oh crap' as I notice it broke and of course our little parrot as we call her says.... 'oh crap'  Kenzi and I laughed so hard and so she continued saying oh crap, oh crap..... thank heavens she has not said that again...I must watch my language

She has begun having conversations with herself mimicking the conversations we have with is so funny!

Example:    "Zhao Dao" (find)  "Say, help me please"  "Help me please"  "Good job"

This is the conversation we have every time she drops a toy which is like 10 million times a day...or maybe I am exaggerating..but only a little :-)   She says in Mandarin "zhao dao"  (find)  and I remind her to ask for help please, then she says, help me please, I tap on the floor where the toy is until she comes and finds it and then I tell her good job.  She has this conversation with herself when she is laying on the floor or jumping around in circles....

Kenzi taught little miss to say "David Archuleta is Bae"   so everytime she talks about buying David Archuleta tickets little miss promptly yells, David Archuletta is Bae...we all laugh and she keeps repeating it..
We took her to get ice cream a couple times after swinging at the park and now every time she finishes swinging she yells....Isu Crea....Ice cream!  Now, she expects ice cream after swinging..

Last night she was laying on her trampoline giggling while daddy and brother were watching the college football game and then she stands up and says, I pizza pwease.... she remembered that last time we watched football she got to have pizza...she is a smart little one.

**If you want to follow our journey I post all the videos and pictures and little funny moments on my facebook wall.....

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Blessings of a Sunday Morning.....

A few days ago I shared with you the difficult side of International adoption, there are truly hard days....but today I want to share with you the beautiful I called International adoption a 'Beautiful Mess'   I first shared with you the messy side and today I would like to share with you the beautiful side.

I often spend the quiet hours of the morning in scripture study, prayer or quiet reflection...I have poured my heart out to God in these last few weeks....because caring for a grieving child is not an easy task.  

We all have difficult days, this is a reality of life that none escape and therefore International adoption is simply in keeping with the typical trajectory of life...there are difficult days and dark times....days when you don't know if you can handle another sleepless night..days when you feel that your heart can't take witnessing the grief of a child one more time.......but then the morning comes....

I poured my heart out to God and then I waited....I didn't just get up and go about my day expecting that I could hear Him above the noise of everyday life...I sat and I waited in the silence.  In the silence my aching heart was filled with joy, my tired and foggy mind was filled with clarity.  It is so very difficult to think clearly in the fog of sleep deprivation...everything is compounded and seems so much harder, and yet as I sat in the silence I was filled with clarity.

Experiencing the process of International adoption, seeing how God literally moved mountains to give this little blind orphan a family...I have learned so much of the love of God for every single one of us.   I wish I could share with you every moment of the precious journey that began years before Little miss was ever even born.... I didn't know where God would lead me and I had no idea what He would make out of the ashes of my own heartbreak....but He did make beauty out of the ashes.

When I walk into her room in the 10 am after she has had a good nights sleep and she is laying there in her bed with a smile ear to ear.....I see God's work, I see His love, I see what He is doing in her life.
As I sat in the stillness thoughts came rushing through my mind....I thought of a blind little girl, frightened and alone abandoned on the streets of a remote area of that moment.....she lost everything!  
If I did not know God, if I did not know of His infinite love I would be compelled to cry out....How could such tragedy happen?   If all I could see was the tragedy of abandonment, or orphanage life I would say, where is God?   But this is not all I see........

That blind little girl, completely and utterly alone in the world, more alone than most of us will ever be.....was not truly alone.  God was aware of her....He had a plan for her life.....even though in that moment all she could see and all she knew was loss, grief, pain and suffering....but God never planned to leave her that way....A half a world away, He had already begun preparing a family for her!  

As she found herself placed in an orphanage, sitting alone in darkness.......a sister was being prepared for her...who knew she had a sister coming...even though she didn't know how or when that littler sister would come into her life....God was preparing this big sister for her....

She knew when she was six years old, the same age Little Miss is now....that she had a sister that would be coming into our family...God was preparing her to be a big sister to His precious child!  I do not know how I could even bear to witness the injustice in the world...without the knowledge of God, without the knowledge that all will be made right in the end...

On difficult days...I reflect on this little face...this little orphaned girl with a buzzed head and I know I cannot possibly imagine what she has been through in her young life....As heart wrenching as the thought may be...I know that God had a beautiful plan for her, that He never intended to leave her in the ashes of grief and despair...and that although on that day we made her a part of our family in China, she may have felt as though she had lost everything in her life, little did she know that God was giving her Far More than she lost!   I know this with all my heart, that whenever in life we feel as though we are losing everything, when your heart aches beyond what you feel you can bear....God sees the whole picture, and He will bless  you with far more than you have ever lost!

This is the beautiful part of International Adoption.....the days that I get to walk into her bedroom and see this.....

Smiling happy face!

I see brokenness, I see grief, I witness the tragedy of abandonment....but I also am privileged to be a part of healing, to see a smile break through sorrow, I hear her laughter, I watch big brother spin her around the living room for hours, I watch big sister carefully brush her hair and help her get ready for church....

I also witness the joy of God's great work of healing, the joy, the peace and the happiness that slowly but surely brightens each shadow of darkness......and that is what makes it all worth every hard moment!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Home Two Weeks...

Home Two Weeks

When we began this journey nine months ago.....nothing on this earth could have prepared me for the adoption trip...or life post-adoption!  You read every adoption blog, International adoption book, you read about attachment parenting, parenting the hurt child, Reactive attachment think you are prepared for it all....and then Real Life Happens!

The best way I can describe International adoption is "A Beautiful Mess."   As God leads you to open your heart and your home to an orphaned child you see His hand in every aspect of the process.  It took about NINE years for me to finally realize what God had planned for me in my life, and it wasn't at all what I had planned for myself!

I was not prepared emotionally to watch a little girl grieve in a hotel room in a foreign country FAR away from the comforts of my own home, struggling with my own culture shock, jet-lag, and emotions.  

Far More Lies Beneath the Smiles

I have been reflecting back on "Gotcha Day"....what you see in those photos is a happy little girl, a family full of smiles.  In keeping with my authentic self I am going to help you understand the reality of this day.  While we flipped through updates, photos, and videos of this little girl..learning about her, raising money to fund a very expensive adoption and working to bring her home...she has been living her life in a home for the visually impaired unaware that her life is going to change forever.

As much as your whole heart, soul and life go into the adoption for 9 long, grueling are essentially going to pick up a child you have never met, who does not speak your language, in a foreign country while suffering culture shock, and jet lag.  The really is nothing about the process that day that feels 'Natural'.  You are over-joyed and happy and yet at the same time you sign some documents and they hand you a six year old child.....  

This child has a background of grief, loss, hurt, and suffering that none of us could even possibly imagine and on this day....she just lost everything all over again.  She doesn't know she gained a loving family, to her, her whole world turned upside down, she just lost all she has ever known....again!

As much as we loved her from afar....when you take that child to your hotel room it feels a bit more like honestly takes some time to integrate in your mind that this is YOUR child!  I can't tell you that it has fully sunk in for me is like glimpses of knowledge that this is your child and then when the tantrums start...all the sudden you are like...who is this stranger in my house?  It is a fluctuating thing as your mind and your heart try to embrace the reality that this is now your is NOT the same as having a biological child and you will never understand nor could you possibly understand unless you have been through it yourself.

The first day was a fun day out for her...she had no idea what was happening....we held her, took her out to eat and she probably ate the best food of her life, she out ate Dave and I combined...she got to get into soft jammies and climb into a VERY soft bed with a fluffy comforter and she was happy.  

First night together

Happily ever after right?  Not so much.  Then the morning came.....she was confused and a little nervous....

Where am I and Who are these Strangers?

She had comfort items that she needed in her hands 24/7 or she would start to cry (these changed daily turtles, bobbypins, metal clips, hair clippy)  she wanted to lay in bed all day times she would get up and play but most of the time she wanted the bed...a place she felt safe.  You saw pictures of smiles, giggles, and fun.....but behind the scenes we were dealing with a grieving child.  The second day she screamed an ear piercing scream several ears were ringing 20 minutes later and I felt that I probably should apologize to the entire world for that loud scream she let out because it felt that piercingly loud!

She cried from 10pm to 2 am on the third night....she was grieving and it was painful to witness...this is the raw, real truth of International adoption.  These are hurt children, they have been abandoned on the streets and taken to orphanages, they have no idea what family even is.  We know it is a blessing for them to have a family...but in this moment, when they have just lost all they have ever known, they don't feel blessed at all. In fact, I wonder if they ever really will feel blessed...some of them may never get to that place because there is just too much hurt inside their little hearts....

She screamed, she cried, she pushed boundaries, she said Baba bye bye, mama bye bye...meaning she wanted us to go away (she still says this to us often)....she would play and be happy and then she would just cry.  This is life, it is messy and it is just hard.....

When we had to go to Guangzhou she was NOT thrilled that we were in a new place and she didn't know her way around anymore.  She had learned the layout of the first hotel room and now she was lost once again....  It took a few of days for her to calm down and relax a little.  She still struggled and asked for Shui Jiao or to go to sleep a lot!  

We had meltdowns frequently....she HATED the seatbelt in the van...luckily our guide explained to her in Mandarin that she HAD to wear it when in the car and she reluctantly complied.  To make matters worse the morning after we got to Guangzhou she had to go to a medical appointment and have her blood drawn.  They really make sure these kids are fully traumatized by the adoption process...flying all over the country and medical appointments etc... it is ridiculous.

She had a laughing spaz attack and laughed through the whole medical appointment...they did NOT allow us in with her during the blood draw....

We waited outside the door...I listened intently but she did not scream or cry.  She was VERY upset when she came out and was pulling that band-aid off immediately....they finally explained to her that she needed to leave it on for a minute because it was bleeding.  We distracted her with a Lollipop and she seemed content. 

She would cry every time we tried to get into the van saying Bu Zuo Che...No ride car.  The first three days in Guangzhou were filled with two things.....On the Verge of a tantrum or having a tantrum.....

It was 24/7....she was holding bobbypins or hairclips 24/7 and would drop one every 2 seconds...maybe up to 2 minutes and then she would dramatically cry out  Zhǎodào... (Find) 

If you didn't find that bobbypin on the floor in 1 second flat the meltdown started...we were on edge every second of the day...we carried extra hair clips and bobbypins in our pockets....backpacks...everywhere....We were in full on survival mode.  At home I wouldn't cater so much to demands like this...but when we are running around to civil affairs offices, the consulate, medical appointments etc.... the child just needs to not be throwing tantrums.  We have to eat in restaurants and survive outside the comforts and privacy of home and therefore...survival is in full effect.

After the third day she started to calm down and as we were walking to breakfast on the fourth day a woman stopped Dave in the restaurant and guys look so much better...the first few days you were here you looked so haggared and rundown..but this morning you have smiles......yes, on that day...things were calm...but calm always preceeds the storm....with International adoption you never never let your guard down thinking you have arrived...there is always another storm of grief, tantrums and lack of sleep awaiting you.....

You see the pictures of playing, smiles, and all the squishy cuteness....what you don't see is the black circles under my sleep deprived eyes...passing the two week mark with a child who refuses to go to bed before 10:30pm and wakes up at 4-5 am..... and then we know we are about to deal with crying, screaming, tantrums and the orneriest child we have ever seen for the next 18 hours before she literally is so tired she cannot eek out another sound.....and we want to stay awake and enjoy the silence for a moment.. but alas we know that we are going to be awakened from a dream at 4am to do it all again!

This my friend is International is messy, it is hard.....I will say...this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!  Emotions that hit the highest highs and the lowest lows of your entire life!!  Welcome to the most nauseating roller coaster you have ever been on.....although you can't get off.

You did this to yourself

When you are in the trenches of International adoption.....there is no community, there is no understanding, there is no are entirely alone because in the eyes of all around chose this!

As much as you would like to turn a blind eye to the extensive and intense amount of suffering in this world...turn a blind eye to the millions of children being held and trafficked as sex slaves, millions more who are living as orphans in unimaginable conditions around the much as you would like to live in your fantasy world pretending that all is well....while you point your finger at me and chose this....No, I did not choose this!

I did not choose a world where children are abandoned, abused and live through unimaginable trauma, grief and loss entirely alone in the world....I only chose to SEE  that this is the reality we live in and someone needs to do something!

I fought this....I fought it hard!  I knew this was going to be hard, I knew it was going to turn my world upside down, I knew this child would grieve, cry, throw tantrums and who knows what wasn't something I wanted to welcome into my life......but honestly.... If I won't....who will?

This process began over NINE YEARS AGO.....I cannot detail to you all the events in my life that led me to this place...sitting at my kitchen table after weeks of hardly any sleep...a sore throat, headache, foggy head...getting sick from stress and no sleep.

If it were up to me, NO child would be abandoned or harmed EVER!  All children would be born to loving families and would live with their BIOLOGICAL mother and father!  This is what all children NEED!  But alas we do not live in a perfect world and many children in this world suffer the loss of their parents due to various circumstances none of us will ever truly understand and find themselves victims of unimaginable circumstances that cause them suffering, grief, heartache and pain.....who is going to help them?  Who is willing to sacrifice the comforts of their own life to help them?  If not me..then who?

God calls some of us to help Him rescue His children.......some of you who have been in the adoption community will scoff at this and you are welcome to your haughty opinion but God's hand is in this work whether you choose to see it or not and if God had not brought me to this place, I never would have walked through this of my own choosing plain and simple!   I pray constantly, because in all honesty, I cannot do this....I cannot do this alone...I am not strong enough.   God gives me His strength so I can get up at 4 am and face each day....This is HIS work and He calls who He calls to it!

You may see me as a 'Saint' as many choose to call me.....many International adoptive moms hear this frequently....and they will all tell you the same thing...I am not a saint.  Life before adoption was children were 14 and 17 years old and I did as I was easy....Do you really think I just chose to flip my whole world upside down because I thought it would be fun?  I can assure you I didn't choose this....God chose me!

I don't know why He chose me, I really don't.  I can tell you that I am probably the least qualified for this......
I fought the prompting toward International adoption for nearly 9 years until I could not ignore where God was leading fact...God led me through one of my greatest heartbreaks before I came to place where I was ready to accept this in my life.......

I can tell you that in a small way I knew what I was walking into....but as with most things in life....there is always the unknown.  I knew my life would never be the same.....I knew from watching hundreds of others go through the process that it was going to be it however is a whole other level of reality....

I am in the is hard.....I may not have a smile on my face some fact, I may not seem like my normal self at all for a long time yet....I am sorry but I am not.....I am sleep deprived, my emotions are raw and I am surviving day to day the best I can....I put a smile on my face and try to look as presentable as my 39 year old exhausted self can look....

You can point fingers at me, gossip about me, think I am crazy, walk past and stare as I deal with one more meltdown in the grocery store... and then go back to your happy place where the world is perfect and all is well......

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Home Day 2: It is 3am and I´m hungry for dinner

Good Evening/Good Morning Jet Lag

It is 3am and I am wide awake rocking in the rocking chair in Little Miss room.....she is wide awake as well.  Yay Jet Lag!  Ugh....after last night I thought I would be fine and so I did not take melatonin...BIG MISTAKE!  I woke up at 2:45 am hungry for dinner......It is 4:45pm in China!  We usually eat dinner at around 5pm and so here I am awake and ready for dinner...only it is 3am!

I had been laying in bed for a little while...listening to little miss stirring in bed as well as my stomach growling insisting that it is dinner time.  My mind was racing through thoughts and reflections that I thought I would share with you.  I have been reflecting on the way we treat newborns and children in our world and how much hurt we cause to the most vulnerable little ones in the world.  My heart aches for all the children who are abandoned and then put in orphanages suffering unimaginable trauma!  I wish I could heal the world, I wish that every child could grow up with BOTH biological parents and that NO child would have to suffer grief and loss of any parent, ever!

I know we do not live in a perfect world.....but...we can change the way we treat orphans....they need to be in families and we need to find a way for EVERY child to be able to live in loving families not in orphanages.  I know that is a big prayer for these little ones but it is the only way to ease the trauma and pain that they suffer!   Okay, enough of my ramblings for now....

3am Dinner Time

I woke up hungry at 2:45 am.....I laid in bed and heard little miss stirring so I waited and then she started calling out so I went to her room...she was half awake and hungry which led to a small melt down.  My husband came in because she did NOT want me.  She was calling for Baba so he came in and she was asking for food.  Even though I know if you eat in the middle of the night it will make jet lag worse you CANNOT convince a six year old that they are not hungry, nor should you refuse food to a hungry child EVER!   It isn´t about convenience, it is about creating a safe, loving environment.  This also goes for newborns....NONE of us are hungry at the same time every day and neither are babies or children.  Some days we don´t have an appetite while other days we feel ravenous and this is no different for growing babies or children, in fact it is more pronounced for them and if we refuse to feed them when they are hungry we simply create lack of trust and mental health issues and so.......

Cereal for Dinner at 3 am or 5 pm according to our bodies that are still on China time!

If you were unfortunate enough to be up at 3 am you would have seen the lights on in our house, Dave and Gracie at the kitchen table eating cereal, me on the computer...... after cereal for ´dinner´ we turned out all the lights and took her back to her room but she kept yelling NO SHUI JIAO or No sleep....

So Dave rocked her in the rocking chair and I laid in her bed and we visited.   The entire time she has been with us she has been used to hearing us talk before bed so this is ´normal´ for her.  She started to fall asleep and would drop her ´Ji´ and then she would cry.  At about 5am we realized this was not going to work and we needed some off we all go into our bed.

Dave and Gracie fell right to sleep at 5:30.....I could not.  I didn´t fall asleep until 6:30 am and so I slept util 9:30am  I NEVER sleep in!!!  

Breakfast at 10 am......

I got up at 9:30 and went downstairs to make some ´Roll up pancakes¨ Crepes for the family.  My head felt like it would explode, it was so foggy but I had to get up otherwise this jet lag will NEVER go away.....

Gracie woke up at about 10:30 and Kenzi hand fed her crepes and she ate.  She was in a good mood and so off they went to the park while I took a shower.  There is NO food in this house because we had to get rid of all food before leaving so it wouldn´t spoil.  Last night we had spaghetti and grocery store french bread because that is all I could find to make.

We will be going grocery shopping, hopefully little miss will be happy for will be an adventure but it must be done!

First Time at the Park

She loved the park....came home and wanted crackers...I thought she was hungry.....NOPE....she wanted to smash them all over the kitchen and living I pull out the vacuum because I can´t stand a mess!  Well, that was too much for her so she started repeating.....Shui Jiao or sleep!  

Bed is her safe place if things get too over-stimulating and so here I sit in her bedroom listening to Disney songs on CD while she sings and lays in bed playing with her Jis......which is just fine with me.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Day 1 Home: Reflections and Insights

Reflections & Insights 
Home: Day 1
Guess who ended up in our bed for her first night home!  She is a wiggly sleeper!  
She woke up with a smile!

It is 8:30 am, I had a full nights sleep last night thanks to a good dose of Melatonin....however, I still feel foggy headed and tired as if I had stayed up all night!  I thought I would feel refreshed, I actually slept through the night for the most part, but after being awake for 30 hours  I guess I still have quite a sleep debt!

Before, I detail our travel home, I would like to reflect on the last two was a whirlwind to say the least!  I know it seems as if this whole adoption trip is some magical journey filled with joy, happiness, and a child who fully understands that on ´gotcha day´ he or she is no longer an orphan, she is grateful to have a forever family, and happily skips along with you for the next 10 days enjoying a fun-filled vacation.

Well, I hate to burst your rosy colored bubble but that is NOT what an adoption trip is like....not even a little bit!  I am not saying this to be negative, I am saying it to be real.   I do not think you can even begin to prepare yourself for this is a roller coaster of emotions like you have never experienced before in your life... and is very unique in its own special way.

Do not misunderstand my transparency about the struggles that come with adoption....International adoption is an amazing experience, you will see the hand of God in your life in ways that you couldn´t possibly have dreamed, there are joys beyond measure and yet.....there are also some of the lowest lows as well....much like REAL life itself.

I watched many families go through this process on Facebook and I saw a few pictures or videos of crying little ones on ´gotcha day´ but the rest of the posts were smiling faces and happy adventures...and yes, this is part of the journey....but it is only the rosy part.  I do not think this is helpful for adoptive families preparing for travel, because when you experience the tough parts, you feel all alone, like everyone else has a fairy tale and something is wrong with you or your child!  Social media can be fun...but the dark side is that you only see all the happy parts of any one persons life and that is NOT real life! 

Life is messy, it is filled with happy, joyful moments, but it is also filled with mundane daily life, chores to be done, errands to run, bathrooms to scrub and then it is also filled with depression, despair, heart ache, the tough stuff too.....Life is like a dance of highs and lows and even coasting in the middle.... 

It is NOT healthy to try to avoid accepting the fact that hard stuff is normal ,  you aren´t happy everyday of your life, sometimes there are days, months, or even years that are hard, really hard!  That is all okay....when life is good we lift others, when life is hard others lift us..... it is a dance of bearing one another´s burdens....NOT trying to ignore them or shame them for experiencing the hard and NOT being happy about it.   The hard stuff isn´t happy and it is okay to NOT be happy just as it is okay to be angry, sad, lonely, happy, joyful, is filled with a mix of emotions all of which are just fine!

Just Call Me Miss Tell It Like It Is.....

So, in keeping with my authentic self....through this series of sharing our adoption journey....I am going to be BLUNT  and those of you who know me will probably be smiling right now because you know I like to tell it like it is.....and so that is what you are going to get!    You will read about the amazing, beautiful, happy as well as the tragic, heart wrenching, and sad parts of this journey.....REAL LIFE!!  Not some fairy

Journey Home

I am going to start with our Journey home because it is fresh in my mind and then I will go back to Day 1 of our journey and detail the entire journey..videos, pictures and all!

Our Journey Home Started Wednesday Night Sept. 7th.  We received Gracie´s visa from the U.S. consulate in the lobby of our hotel at about 3pm.  Our bags were packed, we had just checked out and we were ready for our LONG journey home!  The small bus we had been traveling in took us to the train station, we were going to see if we could catch an earlier train at 4:15.

The Garden Hotel Lobby

Unfortunately they would not let us change our tickets and so we waited at the dirty train station for an hour and a half before being able to board the train.  I found it very interesting that in China they really do not keep buildings clean and in good repair, except for the 5 star hotels or International business buildings.  The majority of the buildings in China are in disrepair and are not very clean...especially the bathrooms, but we won´t go there right now.

A Little Chinese Humor

You see this all over in China....t-shirts, signs etc...  I HAD to take  a picture of this sign in the train is hilarious!  ¨After the Check in, The toilet of the waiting room is closed for construction¨ is so funny!  I have more of these to come....the t-shirts are worse :-D

The train station was no was not a really old building and yet inside it was dingy, dirty, and did not look very well kept.  As we waited for the train, it was no different than the last 10 days or so had been with was a constant battle to keep her from melting down....we had backpacks full of every ´toy´ she enjoyed, every snack imaginable and it was a routine we had developed to survive the trip.....she would start to breath quickly and would be on the verge of tears and then the mad rush to see which item would keep her from crying ensued......

Do you want crackers
Do you want your turtles
Do you want your ´Ji´ Ji

and the list went on you want X item?....yeah!  Gold mine!!!  Meltdown averted!  

This was our routine and it happened sometimes every 10 minutes...but at times.....we were doing this literally every 2 minutes to avoid a meltdown.  Yes, it was exhausting.  Waiting in a dirty train station while going through our meltdown prevention routine was exhausting.  She did NOT like walking through the train station, going through security etc... and kept asking for a drink of water or juice or crackers and we had to say...... Just a Minute.......

As we tried to get through security checks, waiting in lines (as much of a line as you can have in China), going through metal detectors etc... She was NOT happy about this and so she would ask for something to make the hustle and bustle stop....but alas we could not rummage through backpacks trying to find things while going through security and that did not go over well.  She cried, she yelled and then eventually she learned to say..... NO just a minute!!!!

She got really tired of hearing just a minute....I understand but the reality is we could not give her everything she wanted while trying to get through security, show our passports, stand in lines, go down escalators etc.....I cannot tell you how relieved I was to get on that train!!

Dave & Gracie sat in two seats and I sat in the seat across the isle.  The train ride was about two hours through the countryside of China between Guangzhou and Hong Kong!  As we left the city we began to see that smaller apartment buildings in terrible was truly sad to see how millions of people live.  We passed farms..Iḿ not sure what they were growing but we saw farmers with their traditional Chinese looking hats working out in the fields at 6 o´clock at night as it was getting dark.  It was a mix of beautiful scenery, lush green everywhere and tragic poverty seen in the apartment buildings in terrible disrepair with clothing hanging out on lines on their small balconies.  

Gracie was happy for the first hour and then......The Over-tired set in......  this time we did not enter meltdown zone.....we entered a giggling meltdown....this was a new one.  She started just laughing and giggling....this isn´t normal laughing it is something akin to throwing a tantrum only with yelling, laughing and giggling.   There was an ornery Chinese business man on the train and he actually got up, gave us a dirty look and moved to a different seat.....unfortunately the giggling meltdown really was that annoying.  Dave was trying everything to calm her down, but nothing worked.   We arrived at the train station in Hong Kong, went out and found a LONG LINE waiting for taxi´s.  

I was SO over traveling at this point and just wanted to get to the hotel.  We kept Gracie happy while waiting in line by giving her chips, cookies, candy etc.... and then into the taxi only to find out it was a half hour drive to our hotel.  Luckily she fell asleep in the taxi, we arrived at the hotel and it took FOREVER to check us in.  We were so tired and ready for was about  9pm at this point.

They had reserved a room with a queen bed....three of us in a queen bed....ummmm  I don´t think so.  Luckily the woman had compassion on us and gave us the King was amazing!!

Gracie stayed asleep so we put her on the couch and covered her in blankets and she stayed asleep.  I got in the big jacuzzi tub to relax before bed while Dave checked out all the cool things in the room.  The next morning was a whirlwind....down to breakfast at 7am and then take the shuttle to the airport at 8am.  Today is the day we go home!  I cannot even tell you how excited I was to go home!  

We left the hotel on the shuttle to the airport at 8am Thursday morning
We arrived in SLC at 6am (China time) Friday morning!  

22 hours of Traveling and NO sleep!

I won´t bore you with the details but it was an 11 hour 40 minute flight from Hong Kong to Seattle. 
It was LONG.....Gracie did really well...she listened to music, slept about 2 hours, listened to the movie Zootopia, and only had three short crying incidents when she lost her JI (hair pins)  overall the flight went well other than being entirely boring.  

She refused food, would not talk at all, and was pretty shut down on the flight which was sad.  I think she was very overwhelmed and afraid.  She only went to the bathroom once on the whole flight!  

We had a 4 hour layover in Seattle which Gracie just sat and listened to the live band in the Seattle airport and went between sleeping and just laying quietly on Dave.....

Then a 1 hour 22 min flight to Salt Lake City.   When I saw those familiar mountains as we came in to land I cannot even explain to you the absolute sense of relief, joy, happiness.....I was SO happy to be HOME!!!

The Salt Lake City Airport Homecoming

As we were coming down the escalator I hear is Kenzi, my mom and my sister as they see Gracie coming into view as we ride the escalator down to the baggage claim area.  I was overcome with emotion.....being away from home for two weeks, the emotions of the entire trip all came flooding over me as well as the sense of relief that I was finally home!!!  

Tears started to flow as I tried to hold them back....Kenzi was just enthralled with Gracie and couldn´t wait to hold her.  Camdyn was overwhelmed, just excited that we were back home.  It was a very emotional reunion as well as meeting their little sister for the first time.  We loaded up in the car and poor little Gracie was so overcome after 25 hours with no sleep.  We put my neck pillow around her and she fell fast asleep in the car......luckily it was a quiet ride home because we hit traffic on the way home.  

When we first arrived she woke up but could hardly keep her eyes open, she just sat on the couch, she did not talk or respond to questions, I think the shock of the 24 hours of travel and being in a new place was a bit too much.  It took her about an hour or so to warm up a little and start the end of the night she was laughing, playing and completely soaking up all the attention.

Kenzi and Camdyn were fighting over who got to play with her, who got to help her walk down the stairs....
Everything went smoothly until bedtime....however this time I was prepared emotionally, I knew bedtime would be hard...she was in yet another strange place.  She started to cry and struggle and did NOT want to go to bed.  We rocked her for awhile and she calmed down but she did not want to be in bed.  It was nearing 11pm and we were had been nearly 30 hours since we had slept.  

We put her in bed between us and we all fell fast asleep within minutes......

I will post photos of our homecoming at the Airport in a few days.....