cherished and dearly loved daughter

I love this picture from my daughter’s surgery today.  I’ve been staring at it since we put the kids to bed.  When I see it, I see a simple picture of her sleeping to recover from anesthesia, but there’s also so much more.  That pink blanket, tucked securely around her, has been to China and back.  I vividly remember standing in the store agonizing over what to send in the care package, and finally choosing this blanket. We have pictures of it on her crib in China, and then we got it back when we met her.  Her Chinese name is written on the tag.  It isn’t her consistent favorite at home, but it was the first thing that she allowed to bring her comfort after surgery today.  Those sweet casts so clearly show the incredible amount of love that the medical professionals at Scottish Rite Hospital put into caring for the children there.  That someone would take the time to cut out a heart for not only my daughter’s cast, but also her doll’s, moves me to tears.  I cannot communicate how much Scottish Rite means to us.  The beautiful shade of her skin against the white sheets takes my breath away.  Her complexion hints at the story of her birth family’s journey across Asia, a story we will likely never fully know.  The Beanie Boo, her favorite “kitty cat” stuffed animal, makes me smile, because in some ways she’s already just an American kid.  The overall picture shows her as exactly what she is – someone’s cherished and dearly loved daughter.

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what will you say…

I was chatting with my boys, ages 5 and 9, about how we can respond when someone asks us about FuMei’s hand differences.  My older son had obviously thought about it some already and had several good ideas for when someone is just curious, for when someone is being rude on accident, and plans to call people on it when they’re rude on purpose, by saying, “That was rude.” (I reminded him to be respectful to adults, but I think it’s fine if he’s fairly sure that a child is being deliberately rude to respond that way.)

My 5 year old is just smitten with her, but hadn’t contributed to the conversation at all, so I prompted him to answer.  He was very thoughtful,  and replied seriously, “I think I would tell them that I want to kick them in the balls.” Oh my word, that boy! My husband and I don’t talk that way and don’t condone violence or inappropriate language, of course,  but oh my goodness, I had to try so hard not to laugh and/or give him a high five. We talked about some alternative ideas, but I love that he wants to defend her so strongly! She is going to be one protected little girl with these two big brothers around!

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surprise update! it’s complicated.

A friend emailed me Sunday to tell me a person was trying to get hold of me with an update about our daughter.  I friended this person on Facebook, and she runs the foster home where my daughter is now.  Yay internet!!

I spent Sunday evening in a glorious fog.  She’s smiling!  She’s growing!  She’s healthy!  She has gorgeous hair!  She has so many teeth!  She’s using her hands and fingers more dexterously than we thought!  She’s eating solids!  I have beautiful updated pictures!  I have video!  She’s receiving treatment for her clubfoot that we didn’t think she’d get for months!  I can get pictures and updates regularly until we go to get her!  It was a wonderful, emotional day. 10518573_10152763894838473_9175509928124429256_o10916337_10152763894918473_6109687456446386774_o Then we got in bed.  My brain starting spinning and wouldn’t stop.  I realized she had been an additional two places (with two or more additional sets of parental figures) than I already knew about.  She has been moved around so much.  Every time she’s let herself love someone, then they were gone.  She had two surgeries without a mommy or daddy or even a stable nanny to care for her.  She must have been so scared to wake up in a hospital alone.  In less than two years, she’s had more grief and loss than most of us experience in our entire lives.  I am heartbroken for her.  I am very, very worried for her.  It was a long, emotional night.

The two people I shared my concerns with encouraged me with the Truth:
God can redeem this.
He loves her, too.
She hasn’t had a mommy, but she’s had the perfect Father.
He has a heart for orphans, too.
We have a God of restoration.

They are right.  I know they are right.  I’m so thankful to have people to whisper Truth to my scared mommy heart.  This is so hard!  So complex!  So much joy mixed with so much grief – and this is just the beginning.

care package update!

Little Miss Fu Mei’s care package was finally delivered to her!  It had a slight detour because of the fact that she was moved a while back from her orphanage to foster care – which is great news!  She’s pretty much in the most wonderful place she could possibly be, in our opinion.  She’s with foster parents who seem to care about her, and frequently receiving therapy and structured play at the foster center.  We’ve earnestly prayed for two years that our daughter would be well cared for while we couldn’t be the ones caring for her, and God has been faithful and answered those prayers better than we could have ever asked for.

The only downside to this wonderful news is that her grieving process will most likely be intense.  It seems to us from the little bit of information that we have that she is close with her foster family, and her innocent heart will likely be broken to leave them.  Will you please pray that God will somehow prepare and protect her heart and mind throughout this process?  And that her foster family will prepare her as well as they can, by talking about it, showing her our pictures, and telling her who we are and that we love her?  Thank you!  My heart aches for what she’s about to go through.

Now for the fun stuff – we learned that she is still on a bottle and formula (which is common for a Chinese toddler), and that she loves rice, apples, and oranges.  She also loves dolls and toys that play music.  We didn’t get any additional information about her limb differences, but we aren’t too worried about that right now – we’ll take it a day at a time and see what treatments she needs when we get home and settled.  She has gained 5 pounds since her birthday, and seems to be healthy!  Ann at Red Thread told us that if we don’t receive pictures now, the director of that center always takes lots of pictures of the children for their adoptive families, and we’ll receive them when we go to get her.  Having pictures of her life in China will be such a priceless gift.

I’ve randomly started tearing up a few times in the last couple of days because I’m so blown away by God’s goodness and provision for our sweet Fu Mei.

all I want for Christmas is you…

An Fu Mei 10.10.14 pic 3Our Christmas was beautiful, slow-paced, and sweet.  We read the scriptures, sang the hymns, and thanked Jesus for His precious gift.  We enjoyed time together and the kids were [mostly] well-behaved and thankful for their gifts.  My husband and I spent some special time together on Christmas night and exchanged just stocking stuffers this year – the little things he got for me made me feel so loved and cherished.  It was perfect…

…except for the hole in my heart that belongs to a little girl who is 8,097 miles away.  Her stocking was hung by the chimney with care, she got a few little gifts, and we had Chinese food on Christmas Eve in her honor.  If I could whisper something in her ear right now, I’d tell her that Jesus came for her and her friends, too, and that we’re coming to get her as soon as we can.

introducing…

An Fu Mei 10.10.14 pic 3_3Here she is.  Her name is Fu Mei, which means, “beautiful blessing,” in Mandarin.  We will be giving her an American first name, a family name, but for now, she’s Fu Mei.  She’s about one and a half, which is just about a year younger than our daughter.  The nannies say over and over that she is lovely and very smart.  She has already had one or two surgeries on her club foot, and will probably need more treatment for that when she gets to the US.  She also has some “differences” to her sweet hands.  We still feel a little protective and vulnerable about sharing those with the world, so we’ll share more as we feel ready.  She’ll likely need a few surgeries on her hands, too.  Other than those two limb differences, she seems very healthy and vibrant.  We don’t know exactly when we’re going to get her, but it will be soon.  Life has been a whirlwind, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future!  God has showed His handiwork in so many marvelous ways in the last week or so, and in the perfect match of us with this beautiful, perfect little girl.

fearfully & wonderfully made

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We still can’t share details about our daughter’s special need, but I’ll tell you that it falls under the category of “limb differences.”  She will probably have a few surgeries after she’s home with us, but she will always have a visible disability.  The medical professionals we have spoken with assure us that she will be able to adapt and do anything that she wants to do in her life.  Honestly, we’re less worried about any possible physical limitations than we are about her attachment and emotional development.  Those will be the primary focus upon returning home, and will keep us all very busy for a while.

But, twice since receiving her referral, I have witnessed children saying hurtful things about other children with visible disabilities.  Both times, I wanted to cry – both for the child it happened to, and for my own sweet one in China.  I worry about adults asking inappropriate questions and making inappropriate statements, and I worry about children being mean.  Of course, we expect inquisitive comments, and we especially know that young children are curious and don’t intend to be hurtful – that is really not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about when they’re old enough to be deliberately mean.  I’m hoping we’ll still be at our sweet charter school that has such a family-feel, and where her older brothers and sister will be close by to defend her, if needed.  I’ve also heard from other families with kids with limb differences that the child’s circle of friends is usually fiercely protective, and that the child gets good at brushing it off.  We think she’s gorgeous and perfect the way that God made her, and pray that our families and close friends will feel that way, too.

I already feel the heavy burden of responsibility on my shoulders of teaching her and the bigger kids appropriate responses.  I will have a little bit of time to practice answering before she can understand me and process what I’m saying, but the three older kids will be carefully watching and listening from the very moment that she’s in the US.  I feel like I can’t mess it up even once.  I talked about it with a good friend, and expressed by concern that I’ll just fall apart early on if someone says something really hurtful.  She said, “Well, I sort of think that would be an appropriate response.  I guess maybe they’d learn to think before they speak the next time.”  That gave me a little freedom to let the expectation of perfection go a little bit, but it still weighs heavily.  I’m praying I’ll be able to educate with grace and love when needed, while setting a polite but firm boundary when that is what’s called for.

Anyone reading have experience with this?  Want to weigh in?

PS – The yellow onesie underneath the black one has her monogram!  I can’t wait to show it to you.  Both of them are beautiful, and were purchased for a very good price HERE.