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.

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don’t ask me how I am

I’m totally overwhelmed!  We’re keeping it real here, right?  I was already pretty emotional and overwhelmed about adoption/travel details, and now we’ve added a big project (which is amazing, but a lot of details very fast), and my dad is very ill and in the hospital.  Every time someone asks me how I am or tells me they’ve been praying for me, I start crying.  I gave my sweet husband a, “I’m hanging on by a thread,” warning the other day.  He’s been such a rock – I fall more in love with him every day.

Today was such a good day, though.  I had lunch with a great friend and we had such good just talking time while the kids played.  I love chatting with this friend because we dig deep and talk about real stuff.   I left feeling refreshed and more ready to face everything that’s going on.  Then, we had a park playdate this afternoon with a wonderful friend who recently adopted.  She’s my only in-person friend who gets the complexities of how I’m feeling right now in relation to the adoption.  There’s a wonderfully supportive online adoption network, but it was so good to get to talk to this particular friend in person today.  Two playdates in one day is more social that I would normally choose to be, but God obviously orchestrated exactly what I needed today with these two specific people.  I’m so thankful for our community right now.  We had several years without community, which forced us to really lean into each other.  We needed that at that time, and it strengthened our marriage considerably, but I’m thankful to have community again after a pretty lonely season.

More details on the project very soon.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  In the meantime, if you see me, just talk about the weather or tell me what’s going on with you.  🙂

such a day of encouragement!

Today has been a wonderful day.  I had the sweetest encouragement from my friends at MOPS this morning, we got approval to start planning for an amazing fundraising opportunity, and we received some awesome books about China and beautiful Chinese home decor/antiques from friends.  Such a needed reminder that God is in this, even when I get too self-focused to see Him.

DSC_1793We are coming, sweet girl.  It’s double digits of days until we get to meet you.

2 years

Two years ago today, we officially started this journey by applying to the Ethiopia program with our adoption agency.  What a roller coaster it has been. At times, I’ve been able to tangibly see our faith grow; and other times I have felt like we are wasting the trial, rather than choosing to grow from it.  Some parts of these two years, we have felt so encouraged and held up by our community; and for other parts, we have felt very alone.  Right now, I think we’re just a little numb.  We want our girl in our arms so badly, but these last few hurdles feel mountainous.  It’s so close, but feels almost as far away as it has for the last two years.

Will you pray for our perseverance, please?  And also for a miracle as far as funding?  We got some discouraging news about one of our grant applications today.  We’re weary, but trying to take one faithful step at a time.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday for you, from when we first started this process:

Daddy and Baby Girl just hit "submit!"

Daddy and Baby Girl just hit “submit!”

george_family

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.

care package & update questions

We sent a care package to our girl!  You know, that crazy lady who started crying in the post office?  Yeah, that was me.  (And not just because I spent $90 on shipping and stamps!)

So, what was in our care package?  I searched a lot of sites and talked to a few friends, and here’s what I ended up with:

-toddler backpack, labeled with her picture and Chinese name
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-thumb drive, labeled with her picture and name
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-toddler chewable vitamins, labeled with her name and a “1 pill/day” label  (I had this translation checked with a native speaker, so if you want to copy and paste it, here it is: 1粒/天)
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-a couple of motor skill development toys (the little girl in the car is Fisher Price, I found it at Target)
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-some candy for the nannies (I didn’t verify this translation)
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-A photo book from Shutterfly that my mom’s sweet friend translated for us.  The translations are beautiful, and I’m frustrated with myself for not taking a picture!  Hopefully we will see it again and it will be well-read.  It was simple with few words and lots of pictures.  A page of pictures of my husband and me, a page for my oldest son, a page for my younger son, a page for my daughter, page for grandparents, page for cousins, page for house, page for pets, etc.

-A soft blanket and little lovey that I stuffed in my pillowcase for about a month to make it smell like me.  I know, that’s a little weird and probably won’t work, but I figured it was worth a try.  I have another of that same blanket and lovey to take with us when we go get her.  I read it’s great to send sleep-related things, if possible, to help ease the sleep transition.  (Again, I feel like we’re in, “I don’t know, but it’s worth a try,” territory here.  That’s all I have right now, so I’m going with it.)

-I also freaked out about how it’s cold in her province, but also not in a location where they would likely have heat in the orphanage.  My logical husband gently pointed out that people stayed warm for centuries without heat.  But, I sent two fleecy, warm outfits (in different sizes), mittens, a hat, and several pairs of thick socks to help her stay warm.  None of it is anything I’m madly in love with, so I won’t be heartbroken if we never see it again.

Time-wise, this may be the only time we get to send a care package (plus it’s really expensive), so I wanted to get the most bang for my buck.  I’ve heard it can’t be a very big box, or it won’t get through customs.  I tried hard to balance sending what I wanted to send and cramming it in the smallest box it would fit in (maybe just larger than a regular shoe box).  We are using Red Thread China for care package forwarding.  Ann is translating a letter for us and is going to try to get updated measurements and pictures.  Because I know I searched to find out what people ask, I will post our questions here.  I used a document on a message board that I’m on to help me come up with these.  Our agency told us that if we send too much, they probably won’t answer, so I tried to keep it brief.  I learned in college about how Asian languages tend to communicate in a much more polite and round-about way than we do in America, so I tried to sweeten it up a bit.  I have no idea if that is actually true, I just read it in a book at some point in college.  As my husband said last night, you catch more flies with honey.  (Worth a try?)

Here’s our letter:

Thank you for caring for [name]!  Please tell her that we love her and can’t wait to be her Mommy and Daddy!  We are so thankful for your time in reading this letter and opening the care package.
 
We would like to ask a few questions:
-Does she use a bottle?
-Does she drink formula?  (If so, what kind?)
-What are her favorite foods?
-What is her eating schedule?
-Does she sleep in a crib or a bed?
-What are her favorite toys?
-What songs does she like?
-Is she especially close to any caregiver?  Can we please get a picture of her with that person?
-Is she especially close with any other children?  Can we please get pictures of her with her close friends?
 

If anyone would like to communicate with us, we can be reached at [email address].  Thank you, again, for your dedicated care of [name] and the other children.

We did also send specific questions about her life prior to being in the orphanage and about her special needs.  I almost forgot to include those things in the letter, so I’m making a note here that I did include them, but did not want to share them on the blog.  You can email me if you want more information.

Have any of you sent a care package?  What did you send?  What did I forget to ask?

you might be adopting internationally…

I think, all the time, hearing Jeff Foxworthy’s voice in my head, “you might be adopting internationally,” when I do something crazy that I know other people in the process have probably done.  Here are a few from this week:

-If you hope you’ll be awaked at 2 am by a shipping update text, you might be adopting internationally.

-If you start crying (hard) at Target when you finally find the perfect toddler mittens, you might be adopting internationally.

-If you stand at the UPS store, desperately trying to find the right words to make them understand that these are THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS THEY HAVE EVER SHIPPED, you might be adopting internationally.

-If you hand sew a stocking for someone 8,000 miles away who you’ve never met, you might be adopting internationally.

-If you look at your spouse and say, “This paperwork is literally insane.  No one could possibly do this.  I cannot do this.” but somehow stay up two more hours to finish it, you might be adopting internationally.

-If you stand in the baby toy aisle for thirty minutes, texting your friend about qualifications for the perfect toy to help a toddler start catching up on two years’ worth of deficient sensory experiences and motor skill development (that also happens to be small, lightweight, and easy to pack), you might be adopting internationally.

What have you done this week that could be added to the list?  Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done these things!

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.

oceans

We really love music here.  My husband and I met in algebra class, but we became good friends in band.  We were both in choirs and music groups throughout childhood, and in band through high school and college.  We listen to music at the house all the time.  I know music means different things to different people, but it is really important to me – like a soundtrack to my life.  Some songs take me back to certain times in my life so strongly that it’s like I’m there again.

Probably most of you reading have heard the song, Oceans, by Hillsong United.  I’ll admit that I didn’t like it that much when it first came out, and then it was seriously overplayed on the radio, so that didn’t help me like it.  Right now, though, every time I hear it, I get goosebumps and start to tear up.  It is such a perfect song for where we are right now.

After waiting and dossier building and feeling like we were making no progress, now our adoption is moving so fast we’re dizzy.  We know this is a good thing – our girl needs a mommy, daddy, home, and medical treatment ASAP.  But, it’s a little overwhelming.  The task before us is so big – like an ocean.  There is absolutely no way that we can manage it on our own.  There is no way we can raise the money, no way we can figure out the practical details, no way we can be prepared for our girl the way that we need to be.  It’s not unlikely.  it’s impossible.

You know what else is impossible?
Walking on water.

Here are the lyrics, in case you aren’t familiar with them:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

30 days

In the China adoption world, people spend a lot of time talking about all the different wait times.  Honestly, it is all very confusing to me, and I don’t really keep up with the numbers.  One thing I do know, though, is that we’re on day 30 of our “LOA wait.”  The average wait for LOA (Letter of Acceptance from China) seems to be around 60-70 days, so we’re about halfway there!  I’m trying not to have expectations, but also sort of thinking it would make a nice Christmas gift.

Speaking of Christmas, it is my favorite time of year!  I can’t wait to put the tree up.  We’re doing the Jesse Tree this year, and I’m really excited to get started on it.  My MOPS group did a swap to make the ornaments, and I think it’s really neat that I have handmade ornaments from my dearest friends who have walked beside me through this crazy season of my life.  What a special keepsake to have.  I will probably post about the Jesse Tree again, but if you’ve never heard of it, check out Pinterest and see some of the ornaments.  I haven’t been great about doing advent with the kids, but I’m hoping this year, we can all be deliberate about preparing our hearts for the Savior!

30 days from today will be December 21.  Stay tuned!