Monday, December 2, 2013

The Difference of a Year

To say that this Thanksgiving we were thankful is probably the biggest understatement EVER.  We have been thankful for years for all that we have been blessed with, I mean, seriously....even before this year it was overwhelming.  But, I got to sit next to my daughter at the Thanksgiving table...my daughter.....incredible.  She sat happily eating turkey and green beans (no, she's not a normal toddler!), and had no idea why her mommy was about to well up with tears.  I truly feel like we are living a real life miracle in our house every day.  We have been home a little over a month, and I can't imagine now not seeing her smile every day when she wakes up, or hearing her laugh when she's sword fighting with the boys!  It really does feel like she's been here all along, even though I am reminded all of the time how much we missed in those first years of her life.  We have so much time to make up for, and I plan to do that every day!

After the turkey was cleaned up and the pumpkin pie was eaten, the Christmas decorating could begin.  As we were getting decorations out and put up, I ran across this:
I swear it almost took my breath away to see it.  We bought this last year around this time, and it hung on our tree until we took it down.  However, it was almost a year ago that the ban was signed, and we didn't know what was going to happen.  I remember sitting at the table on Christmas Eve (we got Chinese take out, ironically), and I was really feeling numb.  It hurt too much to be celebrating Christmas while not knowing what was going to happen to our daughter.  At this point we didn't have pictures of her, we didn't know what her eyes looked like, what her hair looked like, or even how old she was, but we thought God was telling us she was in Russia.  It was so hard to be joyful at such a wonderful time of year, even though we knew that we had already been blessed so much.  Fast forward, and most of you know the story....we realized that was a detour since our Lainey wasn't quite ready for us to go get her!  So, this year we get these sorts of pictures instead:
For whatever reason, she is insistent the camel goes on the roof!

The boys were working on cutting down a tree...i worked on a candy cane instead!

I was so blessed to watch all three of my children decorate the tree (twice...but that's another story) this year.  The boys helped Lainey put ornaments on, and it really overwhelmed my heart to watch.  Now she is in a home where she can learn about CHRISTmas.  She can learn that she has a family that has adopted her and loves her, but so much more than that, she has a God that loves her and adopted her into His family.  A God that loves her so much that He sent these crazy people called mommy and daddy halfway around the world.  Just. To. Get. HER.

As blessed as we are, and as overwhelmed with joy as we are to have her home and in our arms every day, I can't help but look at this ornament and think of the children that are still waiting in Russia.  I will never know their fate, but I know that it cannot be what is best for them.  I still pray for a change of heart, and that they will let these orphans become a part of their forever family, no matter what country that family is in.  It is heartbreaking that they have become political pawns, and no child should ever have to live without knowing what it feels like to be loved and wanted.  Please keep praying for these children, that they will somehow know that even though they have been abandoned by their worldly parents, their Father loves them, and they will one day be able to feel that love.  It makes my heart hurt to know that children are dying not ever knowing what it is like to be loved so much that you can't even put it into words.  Please pray for their little hearts.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

One week

I swear that somehow when you become a parent, you move into this vortex of time where it just flies by without you even knowing it.  I can't believe that we have been home an entire week already!!  Could be the fact that at least for the first couple of days I was in a bit of a daze from jetlag, but truly, I was pretty lucky there.  I've heard it takes about two weeks, but I felt better in about two days.  I may be the exception though too since our girl likes to sleep, and mommy is just fine with that!!

We are starting to settle into our new "normal"....yes, I realize we will never be normal, but you know what I mean!  I can't say it's not a little hard to give up my quiet days and to have to constantly have someone following behind me, but when I see her face with that scrunched up smile, it makes it just a bit more tolerable :)
Girl loves some noodles!!


I keep telling Jeremy that we must have hit some sort of adoption jackpot.  Lainey has transitioned to our family better than we ever expected.  She has gotten over the dog thing really quickly, and she will even pet them now!  She's sleeping well in her own crib in her own room, and she's loving all of the new foods she's having!  We have had several sweet friends bring us dinner this week, and she has really loved all of it, which is such a blessing.  She's already managed to sit through hours of tae kwon do with the boys, and tonight was even yelling and dancing with Gavin and the demo team during practice.  I don't know how we hit the lottery, but I'm just going to sit back and say thank you. 
Lots of pink around here now!


I'm also trying to adjust to being a stay home mom, which is very difficult for me.  I tend to keep busy (I know, that may be a bit of an understatement), and normally have full time work, grad school, the two kids, adoption, and then throw in there being pregnant here and there....and now I have, well, nothing except taking care of kids!  Don't get me wrong, I love being able to spend time with my kids, but I can see already that I have a strong potential for becoming a very lazy mommy.  So, I will have to come up with some projects for sure!  I have about 10 dresses waiting for me, so that will be the first order of business next week.  Maybe I  can teach Lainey to sew and she can be my tiny little helper!
Oh no...shopping already!



On another note, I had someone tonight tell me that he thought he had been feeling the "call" to adopt for a little while now, and that seeing us made him think about it more.  He didn't know if his wife was also feeling it, but I can't tell you how happy it makes me to think that someone else that we know may take this path.  It isn't something that everyone can do, but for those that feel that call and that pull, I can tell you that the rewards are far greater than the trouble to get here.  Much like a difficult pregnancy where you instantly forget everything as soon as you hold that sweet baby, all of the paperwork and waiting dissolves the first time she smiles, looks up, and calls you "mama".
Doesn't get much better :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So close to home

Well friends, we are less than 24 hours from getting on a plane to head home.  I will say, this trip has given me new appreciation for our wonderful country.  We have problems, but it is amazing!!!  There are so many things that I have taken for granted for years that I have found a new appreciation for.  Being able to drink water out of the tap, being able to have something REALLY cold to drink, and some of the social gestures like a man holding the door for me, or someone letting me go in front because I'm pushing a stroller!  I truly miss the male chivalry that I've grown so accustomed to, and I appreciate my husband for being that kind of guy so much more now. 

It has been a long trip for sure.  I never thought I would survive leaving the boys for two weeks, but knowing they were home having fun with their friends and doing their tae kwon do, and being taken so well care of by my parents has made it so much easier.  That being said, I can't wait to get my arms around them!!!!  They are such troopers with all of this, and they are so excited to meet their sister.  She has been carrying around the book we sent to her for the last 10 days and today she started kissing their pictures.  With her smile, all the boys in our house are in big trouble!  I've already told her that cute won't take her quite as far with me as it does with daddy!
She has already learned that when she takes her bows out, she has to take them to daddy to get them back in, mommy has stopped that game already!

We are so ready to be back with our family and friends.  I think I have also taken for granted my friends, and being able to go next door or pick up the phone and call.  It is such a needed thing to have amazing friends, and I do.  We have been able to keep up with some notes and messages, but nothing beats spending a couple of hours just talking and being together.  It's hard to go through something like this without them.  I can't wait to have her meet them! 

For now, we are planning to take things one day at a time and see how she does.  We have been so blessed here, and her behavior has been amazing, and are hoping of course it keeps up, but who knows!  We are going to try to not overwhelm her with too many people, but here she has loved to go out and be around people, so I think she will be okay.  No parties for a little, but we do want to see everyone!!
These are the 5 kiddos from our travel group.  This pretty much sums it up...the little girl on the left is looking for her mom, who is trying to hide behind the couch so she doesn't scream.  It was just as funny to watch as it seems :)
This is our travel group.  It was a great group of people to travel with, it was nice to have other families to go through all of this with!

A girl's gotta have shoes, right?
Just a little side note while speaking of shoes.  If you see Jeremy, be sure to check out his feet.  We were out shopping with a guide and while on the subway, she looked down, and went nuts over his feet.  She told him that he could make alot of money as a Chinese foot model, as his feet were "perfect".  Who knew??  Guess maybe he missed his calling.  Guess if the restaurant has problems, we would have other avenues to explore....hehehe

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gotcha Day

I've been waiting to write this post until I had a better internet connection, and here in Guanzhou, it's much better, so here it goes.....

We flew out of Beijing on Sunday around lunch, and before we even could fly out, we were both stressed.  We didn't get to the counter to check in for our flight until about 40 minutes before the flight left, so that of course started everything off a little crazy!  We went right from the check-in through security, and then through the gate and onto a bus to the plane.  Nice to not have to wait, but a little nerve wracking being there "right on time".  So, we made the flight, had the pleasure of sitting in the middle seat in two different rows, and I got to sit next to the loudest snorer I've ever heard!  If I spoke Chinese, I considered telling him he might want to see his doctor about some sleep apnea...but, I wasn't sure how to translate all that!

We made it to the airport in Lanzhou, and met with our guide, Melody.  She was very nice, very fast, and very excited!  We had to try to keep up with her to make it to the car.  When we got in the car, she told us that they were on the way with our baby to the hotel, and she had about a 3-4 hour drive to get there.  She said we would change money with a "guy" in our hotel room before they got there.  Then, about halfway through the hour long trip to the hotel, she tells us that they actually are already there with her, and that they are taking her to get something to eat and then will meet us.  So, she says we will either change money or get our baby first....whoever is there first.  Uh, okay.....I can't even put into words what I was thinking/feeling.  She's giving us the run down of what we need to do when we get to the hotel.  Change money, find our gifts for everyone, find toys for the baby.  Okay, sounds easy enough.  Hahahahaha!  Like it happened just like that.....

We are driving past a cross street and I see 4 people walking together carrying a baby in a pink coat, and I say to Jeremy, "that's her."  I've been looking at those pictures for months, I could spot her anywhere.  She was less than a block from the hotel.  I didn't say anything to the guide, I figured she would think I was crazy!  We go into the hotel and the "guy" to change money is waiting in the lobby.  Jeremy is getting passports to check in and in walks these people carrying the little girl in the pink jacket.  I couldn't say anything, I couldn't believe it, she was there....in person....not a picture, but really our baby, in the same room.  She had no idea what was going on, of course.  Our guide had a stroller for her and they put her in, and I assume we got checked into the hotel, but to tell you the truth I have no idea what was going on.

Here comes the comical part.  It wasn't funny at the time, but looking back I wish I could have seen it from the outside.  From the beginning I've been terrified that we would offend someone, or do something that would make them take her away from us.  I'm probably paranoid, but the culture here is just so different.  That being said, picture this.  There is the "money guy", the orphanage director, a doctor (we later found out), the driver, a woman I assume was a nanny, and our guide and us all in the elevator going to our room.  We get to the room, and our guide tells us to find the gifts...what???  You want me to go through the luggage and find this stuff with everyone here and my baby here, and what????  So, of course my brain is gone and I couldn't for the life of me remember where those stupid gifts were.  After what seemed like an eternity, we managed to find some of them and threw things in a bag and handed them over, I asked my questions (though I'm pretty sure the answers weren't the most accurate), and all but the "money guy" left.  All I have to say is, thank God for Jeremy who had the sense to find the camera in there somewhere and snap some pictures!
The arms in this picture are of the "driver", but he was also there the next day at civil affairs and she obviously knew him pretty well, so not really sure who he was

No idea what to say to my daughter....

Candy is the universal language!!
So, Jeremy  handled all of the money stuff, and that was done, which is still weird that this little old guy came to our room to exchange money....but whatever, then we were left alone with this beautiful little thing.  We were soon off to get her picture made and do something else that i can't remember because the day is a blur....

Officially the craziest, most wonderfully wild day of my life.  I will never forget the sweating trying to find everything in our bags with all of these eyes on me.  Trying to not pull a bra or something out of the bags while digging....funny now....wanted to crawl under a rock then.....but would do it all again if it meant having this face smiling at me!!!
Yep, I could eat her!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hello from China!

Hello all!!  Many of you have already seen a few pictures from Gotcha day on FB, and I wanted to get a few up here also.  The internet here is not so good, so I'm going to try to just get a few pictures up.  It should be better in Guanzhou, so maybe we can get more posted then.  Lainey is doing so well, and truly even better than we could have hoped!  She's been laughing and talking and eating and sleeping.  We couldn't have asked for more.  She of course is gorgeous, and we are over the moon in love with her!!!!!
Her red footprint and our red thumb prints mean that our adoption is final and she is FOREVER ours!!!!!!

While we were doing the adoption paperwork, she was also hard at work!

Best.  Smile.  Ever.

We got her new shoes today, and she didn't take them off until she had to have a bath!         

We are doing so great!!  Her laugh is probably the best sound I have ever heard.  We have a few more days here in her province, so we are going to see as much as we can here, and then we head out on Friday.  We have gotten to facetime with the boys, but miss them so much.  I just can't wait until we can all be home and just be a normal family (well, as normal as our family can be anyway!!)

Thank you for your prayers, this is truly a prayer answered for us and we are so thankful for our many many many blessings.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Day We have Been Waiting For

Here we are....its GOTCHA day!!!!!!  it's 4 in the morning here, and to be honest, the alarm is set for about 445, but Jeremy has been up for a while, and I'm up, so I figured I'd take a minute to send out an update.  It was amazing yesterday to climb the Great Wall and see the Forbidden City.  Never in a million years did I think we would get to see these places.  Jeremy climbed as far as possible with another dad in our travel group and they were able to get some pretty incredible pictures up there.  I didn't climb quite as far, and realized how out of shape I am!!  Didn't help that I have a cold...but probably there's no good excuse!!




The Great Wall was really amazing, and I'm so thankful that we were able to see it.  This is truly a once in a lifetime trip!!

We will be flying out of Beijing at 850, and then they should bring Lainey to us around 2 or 3 at the hotel.  I was trying to pack things up last night and thought, what do I want to wear tomorrow when we meet our daughter.....for the record, there is no answer for that.  There is nothing that is worthy of that meeting!!  Next post will be pictures of our newest family member!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for praying, please keep up the prayers, especially today as Lainey's whole little world is turned upside down.  Pray that we can find the right way to comfort her and show her how much we love her!!



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The time is here....

Tomorrow is the day that we have been waiting for for close to two years.  Tomorrow is the day that our lives change forever.  Well, maybe not actually tomorrow, since it will be just spent on an airplane, but by far, this the most important flight either of us has ever been on.  Tomorrow, at 155 in the afternoon our flight will leave from Charlotte and get to Chicago, and then after a bit of a layover, we will be on the way to Beijing.  Truly, I never in a million years would have ever thought I would be saying that.  I've never had a great need to go to China, but now, since my daughter is there, it is the only place I need to be!  I feel like I should be running around getting things ready, but really....we are ready.  Bags are packed, plans are made, and we are ready.  I do feel strangely peaceful tonight.  I know that the boys are in good hands with my parents and with our friends who are helping to get them to some of their many places to be.  I know that He who has brought us here will be with us and will have control over everything and it really doesn't do me any good to stress.  I know I've said that before and not really meant it, but I really do feel like I have kind of let go of the worry for once.  Never thought I would say that one either!!

This will be a trip we will never forget.  But, I know that the next two weeks for Lainey are going to turn her entire world upside down.  I feel like we need to be as calm as possible to help her to handle all that this change is going to throw at her.  Please pray for her.  Pray that her heart will be ready for us, and pray that she will somehow feel how much we love her and only want her to be happy and loved.  Pray that she can somehow understand what parents are, and what a family is, so that she can know how much we love her.  As excited as we are to be her parents, she will not be feeling that.  We will do everything we can to show her how much love we have for her, and we pray that God will show us what is best for her. 

We should get her in our arms while you are sleeping between Saturday night and Sunday morning.  We will try to post pictures here and to FB as soon as we can, but it will not be until after we have been able to facetime with the boys so that they can "meet" her first.  And, the internet is pretty fussy over there, so it may take a little time.  Obviously our first priority is her and getting her settled, so we won't be doing anything until then.  So, be patient :)  Thank you to so many people who have supported us with prayers, words, time, money, we truly could not be doing any of this without the support you have given us, and I cannot tell you how much it means to us to have so many people in our corner to get her home.  Please keep the prayers coming, we SOO need those!!!

Next stop....CHINA!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Almost there....so many emotions



If you have been following along, you will know that we are getting close to having our Lainey in our arms!  One week from tomorrow we will get on a plane, then another plane, and then be on our way to China.  One week....just one week.  They will bring her to us on that Sunday, which is Jeremy's birthday (happy birthday daddy!!!!), and her adoption should actually be legally finalized on that Monday, the 21st.  She will be ours.  Forever.  I have already talked about the traumatic events that lead up to this day, and we will be trying to remember everything she's gone through before she gets to us, and try to remember that everything will be new to her also.

As we are so filled with overwhelming joy, I can't help but think of the incredible loss that has had to happen for us to be allowed to have her as part of our family.  She has a biological mother.  Words can't express the admiration and love that I feel for this woman.  I cannot fathom how difficult it must have been to make the decision to give your child up in the hope that she could have a better life, even if that is with someone else.  I look at my boys, and I cannot even think of what my circumstances would have to be to make that my best option.  I so wish that there was some way to let her know that her baby is loved, she will be taken care of, and that she will grow up in a family that will love her like she was born into our family.  I wonder if she goes to sleep thinking of what happened to her, I wonder if she has brothers and sisters, I wonder if she ever regrets that difficult decision.  I admire the strength she must have had to birth this child and care for her for months (she was not a newborn when found), and then have to wrap her up and leave her.  I wonder if she watched to make sure that someone found her, I wonder if she walks by where she left her and thinks of her.

For now, I can pray for this incredible woman.  I can pray that somehow she will know that she will be loved by another mother, that she will be loved by her other daddy, and that she will be loved by her brothers and other family.  I can pray that her heart can heal from this loss, and that she can have peace that she made the right decision.  I can pray that Lainey will always know that she is so blessed to have been loved by this first mommy, and that because she loved her so much, she also gets to be loved by this second mommy.  I can pray that there is enough room in her heart to accept me as her mommy and know that I couldn't love her more if I did carry her.  I know that being a mommy is so much more than carrying and delivering a baby, it's love, it's hard decisions, and it's trying to do what is best.  Lainey is so blessed that both of her mommies love her so much and will do whatever they can to give her the best life possible.  I hope that in some way this first mommy can know what a blessing this little one is to us.  We truly feel that God has led us to this exact child at this exact time, and could not be more blessed by the opportunity to be her parents.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Side Effects

I've been a nurse for more than 10 years, and I've heard about side effects from medications most of my nursing days.  Lately I've been thinking of all of the things that have changed over the past almost two years that we have been pursuing our little girl, and I realized that they are much like side effects to medications!  There are many that I will be more than happy to see go when all of this is over and we can move on to "normal" life, but I know that there are many that will be with me for the rest of my life, and I think that is probably a good thing.  I've said before that all of this changes you, there is no way around that, and maybe it's a  good thing.  Here's the side effects I've been experiencing (and I think these are mild compared to the ones you hear on every drug commercial on tv!)

1.   Losing your mind slowly.  Slow to the point that you just look up one day from crying over a blog to realize that you.  have.  lost.  it.  You have a hard time thinking of anything other than this adoption, and wonder why everyone else isn't as obsessive as you about it!
2.  A small....well....maybe not so small, obsession with email.  I cannot even count the number of times a day I refresh my email when I'm waiting for an answer.  I wonder, why the agency hasn't emailed me back when I emailed them an ENTIRE hour ago!!  Don't they know that I need to know right now!!! (see number 1). 
3.  I speak an entirely new language now.  It's full of things like special focus, GUZ numbers, and other fun things like USCIS (I know you are curious now).  There really should be an entire dictionary just for adoption.  Just ask anyone going through a Chinese adoption what their LID, PA. or LOA is, and they will  know you are part of the "in" club!
4.  I have become much more gutsy.  A few years ago I would have never really stepped out and gone door to door to businesses to ask for donations.  I would have never felt comfortable asking for help with things related to anything I was doing.  Now, I find myself still somewhat uncomfortable asking for help, but have found that I will do whatever I need to to get her home!  There is a strength that I have found from admitting I can't do it all myself....wow, did I just write that??  Must have something to do with number 1!!
5.  I have really started to see some incredible good in people.  I have met a group of people who are willing to advocate fiercely for children who need homes.  I have seen people adopting children with special needs that most of us would run screaming from.  These are children that many times get the label of "unadoptable".  Stop for a moment and think about that word.  I'm thankful that our God never labeled me with that, as I'm certain I probably deserve.  I have also been truly overwhelmed by people we know and even those we don't know offering to do whatever they can to help.  They pray, they donate, and they offer words of encouragement that mean so much to us.  I've had people contact me to donate things for us to take to the orphanage (people I have never met).  There really is so much good in this world, and I refuse to believe otherwise.  I smiled the other day when we got the update about Lainey and it described her as "optimistic".  That's right, my sweet girl....there is so much good.
6.  I've started to realize that my quote at the top of my page is maybe not all correct.  "you were given this life because you were strong enough to live it"....maybe.  But maybe I was given this life and these ups and downs so that I would realize that I CAN'T do it on my own.  Maybe the struggles we go through are to remind us that sometimes we need to get down on our knees and ask for help.  I know for a fact that I could not have gotten through this past year without His help.  I am learning to lean more on my faith.  I can see more and more where His plan is always best.  Case in point....Lainey's adoption paperwork was done around the time that Russian adoption was banned.  She is specific to our agency, and this is not the agency that we worked with for Russia.  We had to change, and lost alot of money doing that, but didn't have a choice.  Another mama waiting for her match for a little girl from China reviewed her file and she and her husband prayed and knew that God was telling them she wasn't theirs.  It's because of that that I felt that we could look at her file.  She was so touched by this little girl that she had been praying for her to find her family.  She lives just up the road from us and will get to meet her when she gets home.  If that's not a "God thing", I don't know what is!!

The side effects of all of this are surely painful some days.  But, as we say in the medical world, the benefit outweighs the side effects.  I can't even explain how our benefit outweighs all of our side effects!!!  Please keep praying for us as we get through these next steps. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A healthy dose of guilt

I have found over the past nine years of being a mom that there is nothing more potent than "mom guilt".  From the time I was pregnant, I was already feeling like maybe I wasn't doing everything I could to make my child's life perfect.  Maybe I should only eat organic food, maybe I should get more exercise, maybe I should stay away from that guy in room 16 with TB...you know, the usual mom guilt stuff.  I have found that instead of getting better over time, this only gets worse.  This summer has been unusually full of that mom guilt, so let me just put in out on the table now....

1.  Yes, I'm excited that the kids are going back to school.  Yes, I love my kids more than I ever dreamed possible, but while trying to work from home and be with them, it's been a rough summer.  I have loved getting to spend more time with them than usual, but I think we are all ready to be back in our "normal" routine

2.  Yes, my kids played WAY too many video games and watched entirely too much TV this summer.  I was certain that the American Academy of Pediatrics was going to come beat down my door any day for them watching more than 2 hours a day....2 hours....yeah, we got that beat by a landslide.  That being said, Gavin is now a master at Minecraft!  (if you have kids this age, you know what this is)

3.  No, we did not do our summer reading like we were supposed to.  I'm pretty sure at the end of the year there was some sort of "bingo" game that came home for us to read books and fill in the squares.  I'm also pretty sure in the next couple of days we will get many reminders to send those in soon, and I will feel a stab of guilt each time I hear that reminder.

4.  Yes, our house was pretty much a wreck all summer.  Between work, and hanging out with the boys, the last thing I wanted to do was clean.  Though I did teach the boys to clean a bathroom this summer...guess that's one thing we accomplished.

So, in that respect, I feel like the epic fail of moms....and I know that one day they will be in therapy talking about how I didn't care enough to make sure they did their reading bingo over the summer....But, there were a few things we did get done....

1.  We went bowling together, and we laughed when Gavin and Noah both beat me!

2.  I heard my boys say more than once, "Mommy, I like hanging out with you"

3.  I watched Gavin teach Noah how to play games on the iPad like a big brother should, and watched Noah actually take direction from him, which for Noah is a pretty huge accomplishment

4.  I watched my boys show all of their friends that came to the house the picture of their little sister, and tell them how we were going to China to get her.  I've never heard so much pride about being a big brother, that it brought tears to my eyes many times

5.  We had movie nights under the blankets with popcorn, painted pottery, and ate ice cream....all for the most part without a schedule

I guess maybe I didn't have a total fail this summer.  I will remember this as my last summer with just the boys, and I am amazed at what great kids they are.  I'm so thankful that they have such open hearts, and I am so excited to add our little girl to the mix and to see her grow and learn from the best big brothers a girl could have. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Best. Adoption. Day. Ever

Well, I'll say the best adoption day ever...at least until they put her in my arms and I can squeeze her for the first time!  I'm sure you all know by now (since I was posting like I was being paid per post today!)  that we got our approval (in half the time we were expecting it!) today.  This means we should travel in November...did you hear me???  NOVEMBER!!!!  I have been on my knees praying that we would get our approval in time to travel in December to have her with us for Christmas, and never even dreamed we would get there sooner!  If you know me, you know I cried when they called.  Now I'm not sure how I'm supposed to sleep or get anything else done for the next three months while we wait!  The good news is that the boys and I both start back to school next week, and I will be furiously trying to get as many clinical hours in as I can before we travel so that I don't miss anything for school.  

On to the good part...even though you have already seen these on FB....you know I have to add some here too!!!

Seriously...is she gorgeous, or what???

Yeah, she's into that guitar.  Ironically, that's the same look I get from Noah on a daily basis!

 Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us and supporting us.  It's been a rocky road, but we KNOW that this little girl is the one that was meant for us, and we just had to take a little detour to get here.  I am once again reminded that His plans are far greater than ours could ever be.  We are so thankful for the blessing of being able to bring this little one home.  We know that the she is going to bless our family so much more than we could ever deserve.  While most people look at her as the lucky one for getting a family and being "saved"....it's just not it.  We are not "saving" her from something.  We are being blessed by bringing her home.  She is already part of our family, she's just living a little too far away right now! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Through my daughter's eyes

Let me start by saying, I never dreamed I would be able to call a post that!  A daughter...wow...still gives me chills!  Anyway....I have had WAY too much time to think lately, and I can't help but think about how differently we will view all of this than she will.  I constantly think of feeling her in my arms, getting to hug and kiss her, and just the simple things like being able to tuck her in and check on her while she sleeps.  As a mom to 2 biological children, this is what I remember about when I had my boys.  I remember being able to just hold them constantly, letting them sleep on my chest, and my absolute favorite, rocking them and watching them drift off to sleep.  But, as I think about that, I start to think of stories I hear of adopted children not wanting to be held, not wanting to be rocked, and just zoning out for the first few days with new parents.  I have heard many other stories also, and while we have educated ourselves, we are really ready for that, but hoping we won't have those struggles.  All of these stories have really made me stop and think about the process from the perspective of this beautiful brown eyed girl.

Right now I have her picture up at my desk and I look at it all day long.  She is in an orphanage, and doesn't know (and wouldn't really understand if she did know) that she has a family that loves her and is coming to get her as soon as we are allowed.  She may have memories of a mom and a dad that probably loved her very much, but didn't have the resources to care for her.  In the orphanage, she will have different "nannies" caring for her daily, and hopefully she has been able to bond to at least one or two of them.  But, they are not her mother.  I will never know how she was taken care of, and after much reading about the orphanage system, I'm not sure I want to know how she was treated, I think it  might be too much for me to handle.  Then, on a cold day a few months from now, someone she likely may have only seen a few times will put her in a car, which is something she may have never been in, and take her to a hotel, which she has never seen.  This person she doesn't know will give her to two people she has never seen, who don't look anything like anyone she has ever known.  We will smell different, talk different, and eat different things.  And then....she will be alone with complete strangers.  I can't even fathom how terrifying that will be for her, and it breaks my heart to think of how scary that will be for her.

So, not only does she get left with these strangers, we will then take her to many appointments, many people talking to her and at her, and her not really understanding what is going on.  She will likely be compliant, mainly just because she will be much like a deer in headlights and not know what else to do.  There will be medical tests and blood draws, and then.....we will put her in a giant bird and her ears will pop, and she won't be able to get out and play, and this will be another new and scary experience.  So, in a matter of two weeks, she will leave everything she has ever known to go to a place she has never been with total strangers.  Wow......I cannot even imagine......

We will do everything we can like send a photo book to her so that hopefully her nannies can show her our family before we get there so that maybe we won't be total strangers.  We will give her space if she needs it, and we will give her as much love as we possibly can.  I will say now, that I may explode if she doesn't like to be hugged and cuddled, but I will do my best to make it on her time.  I am scared in a different way, but scared the same.  I am scared that her special needs will be more than we know, and that we won't be able to handle that.  I'm scared that there are demons in her past that we will never really know, but that will haunt her.  I'm scared that she won't bond with us.  I'm scared that she won't love me like I love her.....so scared.  I want so much for this little girl, and still can't believe that this is really going to happen.  I pray for her that she is being well taken care of, I pray that she somehow knows that someone very far away loves her more than anything, I pray that her heart will be opened to us when we get to have her with us, I pray that I can see happiness in her eyes instead of the sadness that I see in our pictures.  I pray we will get there SOON!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Amazing

As I sit here, I'm not really sure what I want to write, but feel like I need to.  We have had a wonderful couple of weeks of progress and I wanted to make sure I share and say thank you.  First, let me start by saying thank you to everyone who has supported us by sharing all of our facebook posts and emails and have gotten so many people to share in our journey and to be a part of our raffle!  It has been overwhelming to watch people we have never met be willing to share their money with us to bring our baby home and follow in our journey.  I really can't tell you what that means to us, I'm feeling more than blessed with all of this.  When we started this journey, we believed we were on the path that had been set out for us, and we believed that if we followed where we were being led, then God would give us the resources we needed to finish his plans.  We have had a few detours in the plan, and we have lost more money than I can think about without wanting to cry, but truly, He is providing for us, and it is through people that are willing to open their hearts to us, whether they know us or not.  Right now, we have about $12,000 left to pay for, which includes the travel expenses and orphanage donations (which is really the only money I will very happily give), and more fees to our government and China.  It's still a little overwhelming, but definitely in the "doable" range, and getting closer and closer to doable every day!

In addition to this raffle and the upcoming online auction, we found out just yesterday that we have been approved for a matching grant of $3000 through Lifesong and our church.  What an awesome blessing!!!!  What this means, is that people can donate (tax-deductible) through our Lifesong account and whatever is donated up to $3000 will be matched.  So, if we get $3000 in donations, we will have $6000....wow, awesome.....I will put this information on the bottom of this post if you would feel led to donate to our account.  Truly, what we need the most is for everyone to keep praying.  We feel it, I promise, and can say that I really feel like prayer is the ONLY thing that is holding me together through all of the ups and downs of this process!

So....we still can't post pictures of our little one....but I can tell you that we have hit a couple very important milestones in the process, and we are making progress, little by little.  We have gotten our PA, which means that China has given us pre-approval and they will review our file in regards to this specific child to see if they will approve us (there really is no reason we can see they wouldn't, but it's still up to them).  We have also gotten LID, which means they have all of our paperwork, and it will be translated and the full review will be done.  We don't really know how long that will take, since they have a new system and there's no "normal" now.  it used to take 2-4 months, and we are of course hoping for a quick as possible!!  We still have a chance to get her home before Christmas, so that is our prayer right now.  As soon as our next approval comes (LOA), then you will see some beautiful pictures right here!

One other update...we have been praying about the second of our little ones, and feel like right now isn't the right time.  We don't know for sure if we will be called back later, but if we are, we will go to get her.  We plan to focus on Lainey and getting her settled and all of the potential medical care she needs, and getting her adjusted to having a family.


Lifesong info:
Give by Check 
Please make checks payable to
 Lifesong for Orphans. 
In the memo please note your gift preference with Family Account Number and Family Name: Ashe #3732
 Please mail checks to:
 Lifesong for Orphans 
PO Box 40 
Gridley, IL 61744
 

Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all US administrative and fund-raising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners).  That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the need…helping orphans.

Give Online

 1. Go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate 
2. Select Give to an Adoptive Family 
3. Complete online form and fill in Family Account Number & Family Name Fields
 

*Please note that PayPal will charge an administrative fee (2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction).  Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.
 

Individual donations $250 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax- deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $250 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.
If you have any questions about donations please contact us at info@lifesongfororphans.org.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

35 years....wow....

Well, it's my last night as a person under 35....I seriously don't know how I got this old!!  I've never been a person to really make a big deal about birthdays, and I figure I feel old every morning, so I'm not sure tomorrow will be any different!  I've also never really had a list of things to do before I was 35, or anything like that, so I can't really go through and "check-off" things that I wanted to do.  I'm pretty certain that any list I may have made years ago would not have had all of the things on it I have done in these past 35 years!!  I can't even say that I never thought I would have this life....because I don't think I would have dreamed up my life in my wildest dreams!  I think at this point God looks down on me and says....hmmm...now, lets try this!!!

To say that my life is fairly unique I think is probably an understatement, but truly I feel like even though most people look at the things I have done and would say they were wonderful things to do for others, I can honestly say they have blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.  I would have never imagined that I would be a southern girl going to a baptist church, and listening to Christian music on the radio.  I never thought that "falling" into a nursing career would lead me to such an amazing gift of being able to pursue my passion while being paid.  I would have never guessed that the guy that was a total goof ball and totally turned me off would be the most perfect mate I could have imagined.  I mean, seriously...a girl with a 4th of July birthday married to the pyromaniac that loves fireworks??  who else could have orchestrated that but God himself??  I always thought that I would have children, but no way could I have known the joy that they would bring to my life...until you have them, you can never know.  And, when I thought I would have children, pretty sure it never crossed my mind that I would carry children for others.  Who could have guessed that being blessed with easy (well...mostly) pregnancies would allow me to bless and be blessed by 3 families and 6 children??  Pretty sure no one saw that one coming!!  I would not have said never to the idea of adoption years ago, but I think I always saw it as something you would do if you couldn't have children...hahaha, how wrong was I??  And here I sit looking at a picture of the most beautiful little girl living halfway around the world who has no idea that I pray for her everyday and can't wait to have her in my arms...who else but my God??

I think the biggest thing I have learned in these 35 years is that sure, I can make some plans...but then I can also laugh and say, okay...whatever You say!!  I am a control freak at heart, and I try to keep it together, but I am slowly learning to let go just a little and enjoy the ride.  Obviously His plans are far greater than anything I could ever imagine for my life, He has shown me that time and time again!  I am okay with being older, with being a little wiser, and a little closer to who I'm supposed to be.  I am so excited to see what the next 35 years has to bring.  I can't even name all of the blessings that I have been given, and it really does overwhelm me sometimes to think about.  I am so thankful for the blessings that may have been painful at the time, but have proven to be some of the greatest things in my life.  I'm sure that as I sit here and think about what those next 35 years will bring, He is up there just laughing and saying...you ain't seen nothing yet!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

RAFFLE!!!!

Is it time to update those family photos?  Angel Eye photography, a highly sought after and amazing photographer in Fort Mill is offering a mini-session with location of your choosing (within the area) that includes a photo CD from the session.  We will be raffling this photo session with only a limited number of tickets sold to make sure you have good odds!  You don’t want to miss this opportunity!!  You can check out her incredible work at www.angeleyeportraits.com.  Raffle tickets will be $20 each, please message me or comment for payment details.”





Who couldn’t use a little time away?  Wouldn’t a week at a beautiful lake house be just what you need to relax?  We are raffling a one week stay at a lake house in the development of Edgewater, in Lancaster,  SC.  The house will sleep 21 (or two!) and is sure to give you time to relax or play!  Tickets are $20 and will be limiting the number sold to keep your odds great!  Please click this link for pictures and more info about the house. 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150979301585085.778980.669190084&type=1&l=0b8d8fcf59
 
Message me or comment for payment details.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You can't close your eyes

When we started this adoption journey, I knew that it would change us.  At the time, I thought the changes would be that we would have hair bows and doll babies mixed in with marshmallow shooters and constant water balloon making.  What I didn't realize is how much it would change ME.  As you go through this process you really want to learn everything you can about your child's birth country.  It is the responsibility of an adoptive parent to make sure that they know where they came from and to celebrate the country and the culture that gave them life.  I really feel like it will be a big part of their identity and helping them figure out all of that stuff when the are going through all of that self-discovery when they are older.  We want them to be proud of their heritage.

That being said, we started learning about Russia, but honestly, it was a surface kind of thing.  I read a tour book and learned about the different areas, especially Vogograd, where our little girl was to come from. It wasn't until they started talking about the ban on adoptions that I REALLY started to learn about Russia and what kind of life these children live.  And let me tell you...once you learn something like this, you can never close your eyes to it again.  When we had to tell the boys that our baby was not going to come from Russia, I knew that Noah really hit the heart of the matter when he sat at the table with tears in his eyes and asked, "but where will all those babies without mommies and daddies go?"  Wow....yeah....how do you answer that question from a 5 year old???  I answered it with my own tears and told him honestly, that I didn't know, but that we had to really trust God that this was in His plan.  I said it, but truly, I'm not sure I really felt it.  It is a hard question I think for anyone, even the most faithful people I know I think have to question why these things happen to the most innocent of us.  There is no answer for this question that I can find, and I still have no idea what to tell them except that we are called to do what we can, and that even though we couldn't help  a baby from Russia, there were many, many other children in other places that also needed help.

Noah recovered from that conversation much more quickly than I did.  That was in January, and I still tear up and can see his little eyes full of tears when I think of it.  I have started thinking and learning more and more about China on a much deeper level since we started this process.  It's not so much learning what they eat and what to buy, and what to see.  It's about, how do these children get here, how many of them never get to leave and know the love of a family, how is there still a culture where children are not seen as the amazing blessings they are meant to be.  I have been reading books that are truly some of the hardest things I have ever read, but give me a better idea of reality.  China is a country very different than the US, and has a very strong cultural background.  From a time when baby girls were not even allowed to draw their first breath or were smothered even after taking that breath, it is difficult to even fathom.  Knowing where our daughter (or daughters, depending on His plan) came from is important, and very difficult.  We will never know the woman that made agonizing choice to give her a different life.  We will never know her circumstances, but I can only hope that we will let our little girl know that her biological mother loved her so much that she made the most difficult decision that any mother could ever make.  I will forever be grateful to this woman on the other side of the world for choosing life for this child.  To look at her picture and think that she could have easily not been in this world is something I cannot even wrap my head around.

The plight of the orphan is something that is overwhelming, without a doubt.  With millions of orphans in the world, I used to wonder if us adopting one was really going to help anything.  But, it is more than that.  After you go through this you can never stop at adopting one.  That is not to say that we will be adopting 10 children (unless that is what we would be called to do), but there are so many ways to help.  I promised Noah that one day we would do a mission trip to Russia, and would try to make sure it was centered around children in an orphanage, and I plan to keep my word.  Everyone has something they can do.  Please don't close your eyes to children that need help all around you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Short but oh so sweet

Aside from the One that gave me all of my undeserved blessings, there is nothing I am more thankful for than my family.  I have written before about my incredible husband, and how I seriously would not be sane and making it without him!  I have talked about the boys so much and how seeing them can either make me want to duct tape them to the wall or hold on to them so hard I never want to let them go.  And, you have heard me talk about loving a little girl (or, God willing, two) that I've never laid eyes on, but knew was waiting for us in a far away land.....

Not.  Any.  More.

We have laid eyes on her (well, pictures of her anyway).  WE HAVE FOUND OUR LAINEY!!!!!!!!!  sorry, I guess I shouldn't yell, but I really want to climb to my roof and shout it so everyone can hear!  If you know me, you know that will NEVER happen because I'm terrified of heights, but you get what I mean!  As of today, we have officially submitted our paperwork to let China know that this is the little girl that we want to be part of our family, that we want to love, that we want to see bright-eyed and smiling.  We cannot share any pictures yet, China says so and we certainly don't want to upset them!  But, trust me when I say that she is beautiful, dark, deep eyes that right now seem so sad that I just can't wait to see squint with laughter at one of her brother's jokes or see scrunch up with a big smile when she wakes in the morning.  I can hardly express how this feels.....so.....surreal.....after what feels like an eternity, we have found her.....

So, as for the practical stuff, she just turned 2 in February, and we will hopefully (assuming China gets some computer problems figured out), be able to have her home for Christmas.  Wow, home for Christmas!!!  Best.  Christmas present.  Ever.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear UPS

Dear UPS (and people who work there),
    I feel I need to somehow explain to you why I have called at least 6 times about my package that wasn't picked up on time and is now getting to me 4 days later than I had planned.  It really isn't because the actual papers in there are so important I can't live without them, it isn't because when I get them I will win a million dollars, and it isn't because I'm just neurotic and need things to be on time (well, to be fair maybe it's a little of that).  No, it's not really any of those things....it's because that small package of papers is the last step before everything can go to China and let them know that we have a home for two of their precious children.  And, when they get back to me four days late, then they get through all the other processes 4 days later, and that means that we have to wait another week to tell China that we are ready.
   I realize to normal people that a week is really nothing. 7 days....168 hours....and after over a year of all of this a week isn't much in the grand scheme of things.  But, this is how I see a week:  it's a week longer that my children have to be somewhere without a mommy and a daddy to hug them and tell them they love them every day.  It's 7 days longer without medical attention that they likely desperately need.  It's 168 hours without knowing that someone loves them so much they will move heaven and earth to make sure they know that they will ALWAYS be loved and be able to count on them, no matter what.  So, while I realize that a week is just a week, to me it's so much more.  It's another week without getting to rock my babies to sleep and to watch them drift off in my arms.  It's 7 days of wondering if they are fed, safe, and healthy.  It's 168 hours of loving children that I don't know and won't know when I will get to feel them in my arms.
   I do know that everything happens in His time, and I do trust that it will all work, but today I'm just having one of those days where I just want to be mad.  I am mad that while I am such an amazingly blessed girl, there is part of my heart that I so far away, and I won't have it back until they are home.  So, yes, a week is a week....but this is what it is like to me:  If you had to send your children somewhere, and didn't know who was taking care of them, if they would have enough to eat, or if they would get medical attention if need, or if someone would give them a hug and kiss goodnight, How long would that week feel to you?  I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but if I'm being honest, that is what it feels like to me.  I don't know how it works, but I love my girls as much as I love my boys, and at this point every day feels like an eternity, so a week....well, let's just say it means something to me.
    So, UPS, while that package might just be a couple of papers to you, it's much much more to me.  It's one step closer to my children having a family, and while I understand things happen....it's still hard to make it okay in my mind.  Even if it is just a week.....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Magenta

Before I get started, let me just say that this is not a totally original thought for me.  As crazy as it sounds, I got it from the Golden Girls.  Probably no one but Jeremy really knows how much I love that show, but for whatever reason it's one of my favorites!  So, if you are an avid watcher like me,  you may recognize it.  That being said, here's my thoughts for the day (or week, or month, whatever):

These days at any given moment I tend to have a wide range of emotions, and its pretty hard to be able to say what they are given that most of the time it's such a mixture.  I'm going to say that I'm feeling magenta.  I'm feeling a little blue, because this process of adoption has really taken its toll on me, and some days are harder than others.  I'm feeling a little red, because some days I get so angry still that we are sitting here waiting with open arms and an open room for our girls but they are somewhere without us.  I'm feeling a little yellow, because honestly, I am still scared because they aren't in my arms yet.  After what happened with Russia, I don't think that I will ever feel confident that things will work like I think they will, and until I have them home, I won't breath that sigh of relief.  When they are here, they are ours, finally, and only God himself will be able to take them from me. 

Lastly, and not proudly, I feel green....with envy that is.  Don't get me wrong, when I read about people who are traveling to get their children in days, weeks, or are there with them now, I am so happy that these kids won't have to spend another day without knowing what it feels like to have a family and to have someone that will be there when they wake up EVERY day, and that will tell them they love them EVERY day.  I think that the little things are so important when it comes to family.  I'm sure that my kids will remember our trip to Disney, and that they will remember so many wonderful things we will do, but what I hope they remember is story time at bedtime, having water fights, and jumping on the trampoline together.  That's what family is.  Wow....not sure where that little detour came from....back to my green.  Like I said, I am over the moon happy for those families being united forever, truly truly happy.  But, I am also truly, truly jealous.  Yep, jealous...not just a little, but so much that it hurts.  I know that they have waited and waited and have been in the same place I am, but most days, I don't care.  I want my babies, I want my family to be together, I want to love them and tuck them in at night, and see their faces when they wake up in the morning.  Some days I'm a little more green than others, and I really am trying to not be selfish, but let me tell you...it's not easy. 

So, the blue, red, yellow, and green probably makes so horrible color like chartruese or something, but I like the color magenta, so I'm going with that.  And, like I said, I'm not especially proud of all of this going on inside, but it is what it is.  This process has brought out emotions that I never even knew I had, and I'm sure that bringing our children home will bring things out in me I never knew were there also.  I am so thankful for those friends and family that have listened to me, and who have rolled with me through all of our ups and downs.  We are getting to the good stuff, I promise!!  We should get our last paper we need this week and then everything (after 5 people sign off on it) can go to China.  We have been able to be matched for a couple of weeks now, but most people are matched after everything goes to China, so we are hopeful we can make some progress soon.  I keep thinking that once we can at least see their faces that things will be better....but then I have to think that it might be even harder to wait to get to them!!  As another adoptive mom told me, "going through this process is like slowly having your fingernails removed"....couldn't have said it better...magenta......

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I love a child that I have never met

I have been a little bummed lately with everything taking longer than I thought it would, and I'm really trying to be hopeful, but it is so hard.  When I was younger, I used to write alot, many times it would be poetry...yeah, I was a nerd, but I have accepted that now!  So, as I have been all emotional lately about things, this is what kind of came to mind.  Just stuff that I felt like I would feel better about if I got it down....


I love a child that I have never met.  I've never seen her eyes, never touched her skin, but I think of her every day.

I can't feel her kick from under my heart, but I can feel the soft whispers of her within my heart.

I haven't seen her face, I don't even know her age, but I know she is my daughter.

I don't know where she is, why she is there, or when she will come home, but I know she is loved.

I don't go to doctor appointments, I don't see her on ultrasounds, and I don't have morning sickness.  Instead I fill out paperwork, send emails, and read blogs to make myself somehow feel closer to her.

The call this "paper pregnant", and in a way that is right, but it is so much more.  It's waiting when you don't know the end, it's not knowing the life your own child is living while you wait, it's knowing you will give this child a family, but desperately wondering, "what about the others?"

This journey has been long, frustrating, overwhelming, and scary.  I sometimes wonder if I will even survive.

Then I consider your small life, and all you have endured and know that the grace of God has brought us to this place, and that He will bring us out.

Every day I wait is one day closer to you.  Every paper I sign is one step closer to you.  Every package I mail means one day less you will live without a family.

I haven't seen your face, but He has.  He has chosen you as my little girl.  He has chosen me as your mother.  He has chosen the time.  He has chosen the place.  He will bring us together when His time is right.  I will be hopeful, I will pray, and I will love you from so far away.

Each day I pray for you.  I pray the Lord will keep your belly full, that He will keep you safe, and that somehow He will let you know that I am coming to bring you home.  


"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
John 14:18

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some progress....and some new news....

Well, just a quick update tonight.  My brain is pretty well fried after a peds test tonight and a migraine last night, so I'll make this one kinda quick.  First let me say....ONLY 2 1/2 WEEKS OF SCHOOL LEFT!!!!!!  I'm so excited to have the summer off.  This semester has been rough to say the least, and I really need this break!

Now that that is out of the way....here is where we are at in our adoption process:  Our home study was approved by the agency this week and just went out today to USCIS.  For most of the world who doesn't what USCIS is, it's the new and improved (haha) version of INS.  Its pretty much the part of our government that says we can bring her back and will give the visa for her (well, that's my understanding anyway, I could be totally wrong).  I just fill out the forms they tell me to and send money where they tell me and trust that everything is happening like it should.  The reason that this step is so exciting is that we just need the approval from the USCIS to be able to send our dossier (fancy word for a crap ton of papers!) to China to officially be LID (log in date for China), which means that they will start the matching.  Wow....feel educated about adoption lingo now??  Technically per our agency since they have our home study they can start matching, but they said that most families are LID when they get matched.  We are hoping that we can still be LID this month since we already had our USCIS approval when we were adopting from Russia we don't have to redo fingerprints and all that and I heard from some others that have done the same switch that it actually only took a week or so to get the approval.  So...this is a pretty big step!!!  And, if you were able to follow that last paragraph, I'm impressed (steph, I know it was too long and wordy for you, I'll make sure you got it later, hehehe)

On to the new business....some of you that know me already know this, but we have had a slight, or huge depending on how you look at it, change in our plans.  It was really just a change in how some thing were worded and which box we checked....but it means that we are now trying to bring two precious Chinese angels home at the same time!!  I'll give you a minute to digest that craziness.....................yes, I said two.  I have always said I didn't want to have an odd number of children (odd children, yes, just not an odd number), so we would need two eventually.  To me, I would rather deal with the frustrations of two adopted kid home at once rather than the frustrations of all of this paperwork and process with another adoption.  Not to mention it saves alot of money in the long run (in the short run, however, it's a bit more...more about that in a bit).  So, for our part we are doing all of the paperwork to be approved for two little ones, but we still have to find a match with two in a short time frame so it still is alot to be worked out.  So, please continue to pray for us that they can find matches in the time that we need and that it won't take too long!

Back to the money thing briefly....most of you have probably seen we are doing another fundraiser garage sale.  If you haven't, then it is May 4th, and we want your stuff that you don't need anymore!!!!  In addition, we are putting together a couple more fundraisers this summer (you didn't think I would relax with my time off from school, did you?), and they are going to be really great.  One in particular I really am excited about and I think it will be an amazing day.  More to come on that, and yes, I will be trying to tap into all of the amazing talents of my amazing friends for help with that!  Thank you all so much for following us, please keep praying, and I will keep updating...who knows maybe the next one will be REALLY exciting!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Finally....

There is something that has been weighing on me lately, and I feel like I need to get it out.  If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you have read before, and you know that I have had the privilege of carrying three gorgeous sets of twins for three couples.  Each experience was different in its own way, but this last time was especially unique (and not because I had kankles like no one had ever seen!).  This last time, I got to help make a family for a gay couple....two amazing men who are now amazing daddies.
 Phew, I said it...not sure why I have taken so long to do this.  When we started on this last journey, we decided that we would consider a gay couple, but only on a case by case basis on how we got along with them.  Well, one dinner at Cowfish, and we were sold.  They are truly an amazing couple, and I can honestly say that those two kids will grow up with so much love that they won't know what to do!  So, I guess the only question is, why haven't I done this before?  Why did I feel the need to keep this from some others?  I guess because I am a Christian.  I think that there are so many Christians who don't accept the gay lifestyle, but I don't get that.  Why can't we love all people?  If you say that as a Christian we should follow all of the teachings of the Bible exactly, then we are all surely missing the mark...by far!  Why is this the teaching that you choose to fight with?  Why is this the thing that you decide is such an ultimate sin?  I think that we are called to love all people, not tolerate all people, and then love those that think like us.  I tried to keep the fact that I was carrying children for two men to only fairly close friends and family, mainly so I wouldn't cause some sort of uproar with many people in my church.  But, I am done with that.  I am proud of the fact that I helped to make a family that will grow in love and that they will have two parents that will teach them, accept them, and help them to become the kind of people that we should all strive to be. 
With all of the talk about gay marriage, I can't help but think, why can't marriage just be between two people who love each other?  Why do we feel the need to have control over  happiness for others?  Here is something that I know:  Happy people do not do horrible acts, they do not kill people, they do not abuse children, they do not rob banks.  They live happy lives with people they love and raise well-adjusted and happy children.  GASP!!!  How horrible!!!  Why should I as a straight person have more or different rights than a person who chooses (or just happens to) love a person of the same sex.  If you think about it, it's really just ridiculous. 
So, there it is.  Some of you wouldn't agree with what we chose to do, but then that's okay.  I know that my closest friends embraced me and "the guys" and I will forever be truly thankful for amazing friends that will accept people where they are and love them for who they are.  I will also forever be truly grateful for the lives I have been able to touch by helping them to have a family, whether it looks just like mine or not. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Learning

Just wanted to post an update about where things are.  It has been around a month since we officially made the decision to move on to the China special needs program, and I think I am finally letting myself get excited about the prospect of still being able to get our little girl home.  I have been going through the motions to get everything done, but just in the past couple of weeks I have really started to let my heart get involved, and it is really good to be more excited than nervous again.  I know that we will come out of this better in the end, because to tell the truth I can already see so many things that it is teaching me.  Right now we have pretty much all of our paperwork for China together and we are waiting for our new home study to be completed, which (fingers crossed) will be finished within about two weeks or so.  When that is done, hopefully we can get everything on the way to China within a couple of weeks after that.  My goal is by the end of March, but right now it's out of our hands (but really, isn't it always!), and really we are waiting for clearances from other states and things for the home study.  So much like we seem like we have been doing for so long now...we wait...and I am reminded again that "wait" is an action verb...and a very hard one to handle!

It's amazing to me that many of the things I have learned have been through the boys.  I say amazing, but really they teach me so much everyday I shouldn't be surprised!  I love that they have such pure and loving thinking, and they aren't yet scarred by life experiences.  They talked about Lainey pretty much every day, and to them, she is their sister...truly doesn't matter where she comes from.  We did have a rough night when we first told them that we wouldn't be able to get her from Russia.  Noah had such a hard time and literally broke down crying because he wanted to know what would happen to all of those children in Russia who didn't have mommies and daddies.  He and I cried together at the dinner table that night about that.  It amazes me that he cares so much and that at 6 years old he can think so far outside himself.  It is so hard to have those conversations with them, but we have all grown from them.  This whole process has given us incredible opportunities to talk about things that probably wouldn't come up otherwise.  We talked the other night about how in many countries that it can be illegal to practice Christianity, and that people are put in jail because they are trying to share Jesus.  To them, this is all they know and this has brought a whole new world to them.  I don't want to scare them, but I do think it gives them a more thankful spirit about all that we have.  We have already talked about doing mission trips to help children in orphanages when they get a little older, and it couldn't make me happier to know that they want to do everything they can.  I never would have thought that this process would have led to so much growth for our family. 

I was wearing an adoption shirt the other day and they both told me they wanted one so they could be reminded of Lainey whenever they wore it!  They were so excited this weekend because we ordered them t-shirts that say Ge-Ge, written in Chinese, which means big brother.  I love that they already consider themselves her big brother.  I'm so blessed already, and I can't even imagine how much more blessed I will be with an addition to our family.  This has been a rough journey, but being able to look back already and see where we have come makes me know that when we get her home it will be more than we can even imagine!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A new beginning

It was a little over a year ago that we signed our contract to officially begin our journey of Russian adoption.  I was exactly a month ago that Putin decided to sign into law to ban all adoptions of Russian children to the US.  It was devastating to us, and I know that the only reason I have been able to make it through all of this is because of all of the prayers and all of the support we have gotten.  It really has been amazing to see so many people who have been praying and offering so many kind words of encouragement.  We can't even say how much we appreciate all of that and how needed it was.
As the weeks have gone by, it has gotten less and less hopeful for us and our situation.  By the grace of God, the Russian government has decided to let the people who have been to court and were just in the 30 days of waiting to bring their children home.  Those people have been to meet their children more than once and have already bonded with them, so this is a huge blessing to be able to get them home.  However, for those of us that haven't gotten a referral yet, it doesn't look very hopeful so we were left to make decisions about what to do.   There are so many things to consider.  Do we wait?  Do we give up?  Do we change to another country?  I can tell you that it really was never an option to give up.  We believe that we have been called to care for the orphan and truly feel that means that we are supposed to give a family to a child that needs one.  So, one question answered...We know that we don't want her to feel like an only child, and the thought of waiting indefinitely for Russia to change their mind didn't seem to correlate with that.  The boys are obviously getting older, and we just don't want them to be so old that they are so far ahead of her.  So, that leads us with, which country do we change to?
I didn't realize how hard that was going to be to answer.  I can't even tell you how many hours was spent researching and praying and talking about all of the options.  Many countries were counted out for many reasons, and we ended up with a short list of options that fit our family.  Because of the amount of time and money we have already spent, there were some countries that just weren't an option.  We also considered the US.  The foster/adopt system in the US is more than difficult to handle, and I couldn't bear the thought of fostering a child only to have them leave months later.  I know that my heart can't handle that, and I also don't think it would be the best for the boys.
The question then became, newborn domestic adoption...which seems great.  Newborn, not too expensive (that's a relative statement!), mostly likely healthy, and no foreign travel.  But, we know we have been called to care for the orphan, and truly there is a waiting list for most of those newborns.  It is a perfect option for many families, but for us, we don't feel like it is where we are called.  It would be easy, but then when have things we have been called to do been easy??
All that being said....we end at...China.  The current wait for the China program is something like 6 years, and that really isn't an option.  So, we are now looking at special needs.  We can handle many things as far as special needs, and obviously my training makes me capable of lots.  We know that where we are called, we are equipped, so we can do this.  We are excited to get started, and are hoping we can use at least some of what we have already done to change to this program!   Please keep praying that things will go smoothly and we can make it through this process with less "bumps".  We know that the little girl God has for us will come to us.  The path may have changed, but the outcome has not.