Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Guess Who I Saw Yesterday?

You will never guess in a million years who I SAW yesterday!  Well, maybe you can.  She is cute, spunky, amazing, and lives in China.  If you guessed Channah (Yun) you are correct!!

How, you ask?

Our agency finally received updated pictures and videos of our dear girl.  What a blessing to see her and she looked great!  I think knowing that she has a mom and dad has given her much hope and joy; it shows.

I really want to share the two pictures and two videos, but alas, they are being held hostage.  Well, since you were so kind as to click on my blog I suppose I will share one of the pictures with you.

Digging in the dirt with sticks.  For those of you that know our family personally, do you think she is going to fit in or what?  When the boys saw this picture they started to laugh and commented on how she has a closet full of dresses, "She will be very pretty when she plays outside with us!"  Yes.  Yes she will, and it will be wonderful!

There is another picture of her that is even more telling of her spunky personality but it will be shared for a price.  $68.  When our Reece's Rainbow grant reads $3600 I will reveal the next picture.  After that are two videos to share, too!  To get to our grant please click HERE.  I will check on the grant and once it grows I will post the picture on my Facebook page as well as on this blog.  Can't wait!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dreams Do Come True

Dear Yuan,

I received a note from Ms. Tang this morning and learned that you now know without a doubt you have a family.  Sadly there was no video of this moment or pictures, but the written words are a treasure.  I can read them and re-read them knowing that one of your most deepest desires has just come true:

"She is smart and very excited to be adopted.  When she sees her friends get adopted she feels jealous because she wants a family.  She always asks, 'Can you help me find a home?'  The nannies told her she has a family and she almost can't believe it.  She keeps asking for reassurance, 'Are you sure?  I really have a mom and dad?'  Every time she sees her nanny she asks, 'When can I see my mom and dad?'  Even though she has Cerebral Palsy her development is good.  She is afraid her mom and dad won't like her.  Usually they call her by her nickname, Yuan Yuan.  She is going to school and doing well."

As I read the words tears ran down my face.  You know it feels like this is all a dream to me, too.  "Do I really have a daughter?  Really?"  Almost every day I ask the adoption agency, "When can we go to China?".  And I also have fears that maybe you won't like us.  But you know what?  I think we can do this.  We have all waited so long for this to happen that it will give us the strength and determination that we all need.  YOU, Yuan, are strong, smart, and you never gave up hope.  I admire you for that.  You have much to teach us, your new family.

These next several weeks are going to feel like an eternity as we all prepare for this new chapter in our lives.  You will finish up school, your brothers will finish up school, we will finish getting your room ready, and Elijah and I will begin to pack up for one of the most amazing trips of our lives.  I have been gathering some clothes to bring to you and I try to imagine what you will look like.  Will you like them?  I know that you love to wear dresses so I may have gone a little overboard in that department.  Your closet has nothing but dresses at the moment.

I wish I could tell you in person how much you are already loved.  How daddy and I have laid awake at night praying for you.  Being scared is normal, I think.  But I truly hope that you soon learn that you have nothing to worry about.  You are loved.  You are cherished.  You are our daughter.

I love you.

Always & forever,

Mom xoxoxoxo...

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Can See The Finish Line!

Back in the day, before children, before blown out knees, and when I was in better shape I was a distance runner.  I LOVED the thrill of the race and could run five miles without even thinking of it.  In fact, when I was in high school I fractured my foot during a cross country meet and was so intent on finishing no matter what that I ran on the foot despite the fact that it was injured.  Determination.  Slow.  Steady.  Keeping the pace.

Adoption reminds me of the races I used to run.

For Dima's adoption there was a lot of sprinting involved.  Ukraine was going to shut down to International adoptions and we had a deadline to meet.  Despite our best efforts we did not get a travel date before the closure but during the wait we remained steadfast to Dima.  Slow and steady.  Eventually we made it and now Dima has been with us for 2 1/2 years!

Channah's adoption has been like a marathon.  We started out slow last February when we first saw her picture.  Then we could submit our letter of intent.  Then we received our pre-approval.  And the pace picked up a little.  Once we did all of the paper work things slowed down once again as we waited for others to do their part.  We kept moving forward.  Slow and steady.

Today, however, we came around a rather large corner and we now see the finish line off in the distance.  Today we received word that we are "matched reviewed" which is fancy talk for we are officially matched to Channah and have been approved by the Chinese government!  According to our agency we will be traveling in 2-3 months which could put Elijah and I in China as early as the middle of June.

This brings us to the part where we begin to pick up our pace once again.  We have a many preparations to do in Channah's room, clothes to purchase, minor home improvement projects, logistics to figure out while I am out of the country, and I cannot forget to breathe.  Life has suddenly become more interesting!

So as we enter into the final stretch of this race I ask that you would continue to pray.  Most importantly please pray for Channah; for her heart to be prepared.  For the boys.  For Eric and I (we have NEVER had a daughter and I confess it is a little daunting after only raising boys for 11 years!).  That we would be able to be fully funded in the next month.  That we would be able to figure the logistics of mom being out of the country for 2 weeks while the boys are out of school.  And finally, that God would continue to guide the process in a seamless manner.

Eric and I expect to receive an update on our precious daughter early next week and we have asked some very pointed questions about Channah and her thoughts on making such a big move to the States.  We want to know what she is thinking and feeling so we can better serve her and help her adjust in the best way possible.  I remember how despite the fact that Dima was SO happy to have a Mama and Papa he was also very upset to be taken from all that was familiar- he was only 7 at the time.  Sweet Channah is 11, almost 12, and her entire childhood has taken place in the shelter of the same place for over a decade.  It is a blessing to know that so many of our friends, family, and church family are praying and just as excited as we are.  Our sweet girl has NO idea just how many people already love her.

I am ready to cross that finish line...

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. 
Isaiah 40:31 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Success & Victory

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who participated in our Bonfire Funds t-shirt fundraiser.  We exceeded our goal and we raised $683!!  That amount will be applied towards our next agency fee that will come due when we receive our LOA.  T-shirts will be sent out within the next two weeks and I hope to see pictures of y'all sporting your shirts!!  Thank you once again for your generous support!!

In the meantime we continue our LOA wait and this seems to be the most difficult part.  We have almost been in process for a year now as it was this time last year that we were seriously trying to get our ducks in a row to even begin the adoption process.  By the time we get this precious girl home she will be almost 12 years old.  Her childhood ended.  It makes my heart sad to think of that, but I know that there have been times of happiness for her.  From what I am hearing about her, she tends to look for the joy and usually finds it.  In that respect she and Dima are so alike.  They are survivors.  Strong.  Determined.  Yun has an amazing future ahead of her, of that I am certain.  Yesterday I received a picture of her from a family that had seen her back in January.  While the picture is blurry, you can see that she is happy and goofing off with her friends.  She is in the green jacket next to the gal in the pink.

Dima's adoption seemed to take forever, too, yet in retrospect it took all of seven months.  He has been with us now for 31 months and has blossomed into an amazing little boy.  He LOVES school, especially now that he is at the school for special needs kiddos, and he is learning.  Not too long ago I had to take Dima to school and I decided to tag along with him to breakfast.  When he walked into the cafeteria everyone turned and said, "DIMA!".  Even the high school students were hugging him, giving him high fives, and I could see that Dima is truly loved and well-liked by his schoolmates.  Despite Dima's difficult and painful past he chooses joy and loves to bring joy to others.  I witnessed it firsthand and it brought tears to my eyes.  Sometimes I wish that those who were in his life before us could see him now...

This past week our county had it's annual field day sponsored by the Kiwanis club.  Dima's school and The Key Training Center were the participants and it was a fantastic day.  Elijah wanted to be there, too, to cheer his "twin" brother on as he raced.  I was able to receive special permission for Elijah to miss school for field day and it was so nice to be able to share it with Elijah.

Dima participated in the 50-yard run and received first place!  It was so exciting to watch him run and see the joy on his face as he ran as fast as he could.  As he crossed the finish line the photographer from the local paper was there to capture the moment and Dima made the papers yesterday:

More pictures from our day:

Elijah holding Dima on his lap.  There is such love between these two.
Dima and the school's therapy dog.
Momma and Elijah waiting for the day to begin.  This young man will be my travel buddy to China.  I am very much looking forward to experiencing China and all that the trip entails with this fellow.  His love for others is amazing and I am blessed to be his mother.
Elijah was so proud of his "twin's" success!

What a fantastic day.  It was just such a blessing to watch not only Dima, but his classmates and our friends from the Key have fun, too.  Our family is certainly fortunate to live in a town where individuals like Dima have an opportunity to live life to the fullest:  an education, a job, an active social life, chances to compete in sports, and even travel!  

I have shared on this blog time and time again that adopting a child with special needs is not about "saving the world", "being trendy", "trying to be holier than thou", and we are not ruining our biological children.  No.  Our family has chosen to adopt Dima and Yun with the desire to help two children have an opportunity.  An opportunity to have a life, be loved, know what love is.  As you can see our biological children have not been ruined, are not traumatized, and if anything, have learned far more important life lessons than the average American child.  Our family loves a God who sacrificed His one and only son for us.  A God who has set a proper example on how we are to love our fellow humans.  With a God like that how could we not love so abundantly in return?  

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  Matthew 22:34-37