Monday, April 25, 2016

The Power of Love and a Familiar Face.....Our matching story.

Her sweet face warms my heart!

Before beginning the adoption journey I never could have imagined how much I would come to love a little child I have never met so completely.  It is such a beautiful experience to feel that love swelling within your heart as you work so diligently to bring this child home.  I cannot even begin to explain how this process began because it was something that began in my heart nearly nine years ago and through a lengthy series of miracles and answers to prayers we have come to this moment where we await the answer from the CCCWA to give their final approval for us to bring this precious child home.

It is such a powerful experience to see how a little child can completely change the course of your life in such a beautiful way.  As we study Chinese history, culture and language our lives are enriched and we feel closer to her even though we are a world away.   We have completed the first month of the ¨Big Long Wait¨ as I call it, it is an accomplishment and yet, we still have another month of this long wait before we will receive that final approval.  

Amongst it all, I find myself sitting in church thinking about Little ¨M¨, What will it be like when she is sitting here with us?  Will she enjoy going to Primary?   I wonder if she will love singing the Primary songs?  My mind wanders to thoughts of her in every experience I have.  When we attend the symphony....I wonder if she would enjoy listening to the beautiful music.   

When we go to Walmart I find myself in the toy isle....a place I haven´t been in many years.  I look through all the toys and wonder what she would like to play with.  I find myself wandering into little children´s clothing stores looking through all the cute little dresses, little Sunday shoes and imagine dressing her in darling little clothes.   

I have set facebook to show me the posts from her orphanage first, this morning I woke up to a new picture of her on the bus with her friend.  I look at their sweet smiles and it fills my heart with joy.  I am glad to see her smile but at the same time, I long to be there, I long to be with her, I long to bring her home.  It is such a long emotional roller coaster ride to go through an International adoption.  There are days it almost doesn´t feel real......and then I open facebook and see that sweet smile and I am reminded once again that this little girl is half way around the world waiting for her forever family to come for her.  

Read our Story of how we were matched

This past week our adoption agency contacted us and asked us if we would share our story of how we were matched with our little girl so that other families going through the process can see what other families have experienced.  I sat down this morning and wrote out our story and it reminded me of how much God´s hand has been in this process every step of the way.  It has been an amazing journey and I am happy to share it with others so that they can also see that God´s hand truly is in all things.   I hope you enjoy reading our story.....  I have left out some of the most tender moments that are special to us but I know you will still feel the power of this story..... 

When we began the matching process it seemed so overwhelming at first.  In my heart I wanted to bring home all of the sweet children I saw.  How could I choose just one?   As we were beginning the process of looking through photos and files of children, my daughter came home from school to tell me that her friend´s mother would love to speak with me about adoption as they had adopted three children.

When I called her the first question on my mind was, How do you know which child to choose?  I was not prepared for the amazing and profound advice she gave me.  She said, ¨If you were to walk into a room and start scanning that room for your daughter, your eyes would immediately stop when you found her because her face is familiar to you.¨  She said, surprisingly, you will have a similar experience when you see the child that you will adopt.

Of course, it isn´t exactly the same, because this is a child you have never seen before.  However, there will be a familiarity and a knowing inside your mind and your heart that this is your child.  I was grateful for this advice and prayed that I would have that feeling when I saw the child that we would adopt.  I never could have imagined how true this was and how beautiful it would be to feel that sense of familiarity in a child´s face.

The next day, I began scanning through pictures of waiting children and as my eyes came across this little 5 year old girl, there was a familiarity in her face, for a moment she looked like my daughter when she was 5 years old.  I clicked on the picture and read a little about her,  there was a sense of knowing, of familiarity in her sweet little face.  I became so excited at the thought of adding her to our family. There was a joy in my heart and something different that I felt when considering this little one than I had felt with any other child we had considered.   Though I felt excitement I also felt a little hesitation, I had never thought we would adopt a child who was blind.   Despite that little hesitation, I couldn´t deny that familiarity I felt and I knew in my heart she was our child.

When I approached my husband to tell him how I felt about this little girl he was a little hesitant at first as well.  I knew that blindness was not a special need we had ever considered before and that he would have a lot of questions.  We reached out to a couple families who had adopted blind children and in a matter of a couple of days learned so much and our minds began to be at ease.  My husband continued looking through waiting child profiles and wanted to continue considering other children.  I prayed that we would be able to make this decision in unity and I waited patiently for him to come to know what I already knew in my heart.   He knew how I felt about her and prayed to know for himself and when he woke up the next morning, he turned to me and said, she is supposed to be in our family and I know it for sure now.  Our hearts were both filled with excitement, anticipation and joy in knowing that she was our daughter.

Looking back I now understand that you must have an open heart and open mind when searching for your child.  When we found the little girl that was to be our daughter, her special needs were not what we had expected, but even as we wait to bring her home, our lives have been enriched as we prepare for her.  Learning Mandarin to help her adjustment, studying all we can about her condition and how to help her succeed in life has been a beautiful experience.  My best advice is to let that beautiful experience into your life when that little familiar face finds you.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Studying Mandarin - 普通话

Studying Mandarin 

Little M loves that little red balloon

I wish with all my heart that I could update you on something exciting in relation to the adoption....however, if you remember just three weeks ago our dossier was Logged into the China system with the CCCWA.   Translation of the Dossier takes about 4 as we are so very impatiently waiting I have been spending many hours a day studying Mandarin.  I started studying Mandarin 1 hour a day in January, but the last few weeks I have been studying 1 1/2 hours a day minimum and then spending time listening to music and watching t.v. shows in Mandarin as well.

Dave´s new favorite movie is Tangled in Mandarin!!  

I think Kenzi and Cam are getting really tired of watching that movie as a family ;-)
However, Kenzi LOVES saying: 

Nǐ shāngle wǒ de mēn shāo

Essentially this means (You broke my smoulder)  Of course this has no real practical meaning in Mandarin but Kenzi finds it quite amusing.

The kids also walk around the house singing:  
Wǒ yǒu gè mèng
I have a dream

In the beginning when I was using the Hello Chinese app, which I highly recommend as a great starting point before spending large sums of money on other programs, I thought, this isn´t too bad.   Well, ha ha ha, jokes on me :-)  It gets MUCH harder!!   

Sentence structure is VERY different in Mandarin and although I have a vocabulary of about 500 words or more I still struggle to put it together into coherent sentences.  I do have a Mandarin teacher that I study with twice a week.  She lives in Shanghai.  The lessons are done via skype and we have lessons at 5pm my time and it is 7 am in the morning for her.  It is extremely helpful to have a native speaker to learn from.  

For example:

We are going swimming this morning.....Becomes: 

Wǒmen dǎsuàn jīntiān shàngwǔ yóuyǒng
    We     intend   today morning  swimming

As you can see, creating a proper sentence in Mandarin is very different and for that reason I am struggling a bit. 

Luckily I can easily say.....are you hungry, are you cold, are you thirsty, I love you and the most important of all.....Where is the bathroom?

Wèishēngjiān zài nǎlǐ

Oh, and of course I cannot forget another critical word.....Bread


I am somewhat of a bread connoisseur......I LOVE bread!!  I know it isn´t a staple item in China, as it is in the U.S., but I still wanted to learn the word for it.  The kids make fun of me for walking around saying it all the time.  

I will teach you a few words in Mandarin:

Nǐ hǎo - Hello

Nǐ hǎo ma - How are you?

Wǒ  - I or me

Jiā - Home / Family

Wǒ hěn è - I am hungry

Wǒ ài nǐ - I love you

Zàijiàn - Goodbye

We have sticky notes all over the house with the Mandarin word for the item written on it.  The kids haven´t taken to learning the language as much as we have.  I wish they would but I suppose in order to motivate a teenager there either needs to be massive amounts of junk food involved or a lion chasing them :-)  

Aside from any updates on the adoption front I hope you enjoyed this quick little update on our Mandarin study.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

In Translation.....

Her Smile Warms my Heart!

When I woke up to a text with this picture it melted my heart.  My daughter follows her orphanage on Facebook and so whenever they post a new photo she instantly texts it to me.   For some reason this picture made waiting even harder......We still have many months to wait before we can travel to China to pick up this sweet girl and when I look at her sweet smile it makes it seem like an eternity to wait. 

I know the time will go by quickly and before I know it we will be boarding a plane headed for China, but for now it feels like a long time to wait.

A Surprise Instagram Direct Message

My daughter is the one who manages the Home From China Instagram account so I don´t generally see the direct messages sent to that account.  My daughter said we had received a video of Little M and I was confused, usually if the agency receives a video they email it to Dave and would my daughter know about that?

She explained that someone who followed our adoption Instagram account was at the orphanage and took a video of her and sent it via Instagram direct message.  There were pictures and a short video.  It was SO wonderful to see her, she was happy and jumping around in circles in the video, so cute!

The pictures were of her with a balloon, he told us that she played with and held that balloon all day long.   I was so happy to receive the pictures and video but another part of me longed to be there with her and to be able to see her.  I have played the video several times, just wanting to watch her jumping and happy.....even though it does make my heart ache and long to be able to bring her home. 

I finished Designing and Knitting her Afghan

**I blacked out her name for privacy

I started designing this afghan back in November of 2015, it took me about a month to finish designing it.  Then I started knitting it sometime in December and just finished it 3/24/16.  It took months to design and knit but I am really happy with how it turned out!  

The wait can be difficult and you feel like there is nothing you can do but sit and wait....which is really hard for me to do.  So I decided that designing and knitting an afghan for her would help pass the time.  It really has helped me feel like I was able to do something, even if it didn´t make things go any faster ;-)  I can´t wait to wrap her up in this little afghan when she comes home.

Adoption Timeline Update

Dave and I took a short vacation for our 19 year wedding anniversary and it was while we were there that we were notified that we had our Log in Date on 3/25/16.    Our dossier has been in translation for about one week, we expect it to take another 3 weeks or so to translate and then we expect it to take another couple of months to receive our LOA or LSC which essentially means our approval to adopt little M from the Chinese government.  

The next few months is really just going to be a Big Long Wait.....this is the longest wait of the adoption process.  I suppose I am going to have to do some shopping or more knitting to help pass the time.  I am in the middle of knitting her some darling socks....I might even get adventurous and knit a nice coat.  
We do expect to travel by the end of August......Praying hard that it will be earlier but at least by then.