Adoption Timeline

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A painful change...

It's no surprise to the adoption community, that changes happen. Rules change, policies change, programs open and close.  Some of these rules and changes happen to better protect the children, while others happen and seem to have no reason or purpose.

This week, in China, new rules for prospective adoptive parents were implemented immediately.  There were several changes, but I will highlight the major ones.

  • Adoptive families can have no more than 5 children in the home
  • Adoptive families can have no children less then 3 years of age in the home
  • Adoptive families can no longer adopt 2 children at once
  • Adoptive families have to wait 1 year in between adoptions

To an outsider reading this, you may not think these new rules sound harsh. In fact, you may be even thinking they are beneficial or positive.  But, let me tell you, this week, I mourned over these changes.  Like, I shed tears. I cried for the families that are no longer able to adopt a child they saw as their son or daughter. I cried for our family, as the reality of Ri being our daughter would not exist had these rules been in effect 1 year ago.  And mostly, I cried for all the children that wait.   

It may not seem that there are many families that will be disqualified from these new rules, but oh friends, that is just not true. I cannot even begin to count the number of families who plan to return to China who have 5 or more children, who have a child less than 3, who planned on adopting more than one child, or have only been home less than a year. 

Every family that is now denied = one more child that waits. There are families that were ready to say "Yes".... who now are being told "No". 

I am haunted by the images of children who were ready to be placed, had families ready to move and fight for them, who now are back...waiting. 

And let me be very clear and open on my opinion on a few things.  Do not tell me, that one particular child will "find another family".  Do not tell me "there is another family out there for them."  The facts are very very clear. There are more children WAITING then there are families. Period.  So, eliminating a large pool of families mathematically leads to only one result...more waiting children.

And friends...these are NOT just faces. These are lives. These are lives, that if not brought home, will either sit in an orphanage until they "age out" at 14. Or they will die. There is no sugar coating it. All of these children, regardless of the health condition, deserve a chance at life, they deserve a family.  They did not choose their circumstances.  But we, can ACT. We can speak and act on behalf of those who cannot. 

Let me also be very clear an another misconception.  You cannot sit here and tell me, that a large family or a family with a child less then 3, is automatically not capable or qualified to raise another child.  Do not tell me that it would be better for them to an orphanage with 800 other children, when they could be in a FOREVER home with a large family or a family with a younger child.  I know it may look crazy to some. I know you may think it would be crazy to come home from China and turn around and run back.  But you know what if it is crazy? What if that craziness led to one more child getting a chance at life? Or let's flip it around...the other scary horrific side.  What if our lack of "craziness" led to a loss of a chance at life? What if our fear kept us from doing one of the most beautiful things God had planned for us?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline" 2 Timothy 1:7

So, tonight, I truly plead with you.  Will you consider where you and your family fit into this?  Does your family still qualify?  Could you, possibly be a forever family to a child who is waiting? Do you have room at your table? Do you have room in your hearts to say Yes?  Maybe it's not China...that's totally OK!! The need friends....spans the east to the west, in all countries including our own.  But please, would you pray? Would you consider where you can help? Would you take that first step?

As long as there are children waiting, our hearts should be burdened.  May we not let new rules stop us from being their voice. May they not stop us from fighting...because these children deserve our fight.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A special kind of friendship....

We all have those friends, the ones who deeply understand things that other people just don't.  I have been blessed beyond measure by so many friends in my life. Friends from my childhood, friends from work, friends from church, neighbors...and now...another community of adoptive momma friends.  Each friendship is so special and unique and God knew I needed each of these friendships for different reasons. 

Tonight, I'd like to tell you a little about one of Morrissey's best friends from her 1st year of life, the friendship that I was blessed with because of this, and the amazing work of our God, that brought our paths together. 

Shortly after being matched with Ri, I posted a question on a Facebook Group for adoptive families from China.  Let me just say, that this is a very large group. There are probably hundreds of posts a day.  And unless you are friends with someone in the group, you definitely have to be scrolling through the feed to see all the questions that post.  So I posted about Ri's name.  I asked about the possible meaning of her name and received multiple responses. In addition to the responses, I received a message from another adoptive mom named Melinda.  She had seen my post and noticed that my daughter's name was Ri.  She asked was there anyway that Ri was at Little Flowers in Beijing.  She proceeded to say that her daughter had been in that home her first year of life, and she had a friend name Ri. I quickly answered the question, that No, Ri was in  Quanyuan Children's Home and she was only 18 months.  Something in Melinda (Holy Spirit!!) pushed her to ask a few more questions.  I started contemplating the possibility, that not all records are accurate or complete in China...actually, records are rarely really, I had no idea what her past entailed. I had 3 pictures of her. And I did have a report of her current living situation and a few hospital reports. Not knowing anything about Little Flower (LF)....I asked Melinda, did she by chance see a scar down her chest? She said yes! Then she sent me a picture of her daughter with "Ri".

Was that her????? Remember...I only had 3 pictures of her, and they were all 12-18 month pics.  Babies change a lot over 18 months! I then sent a picture back to you think this is her??

Melinda was confident! I was speechless. I sat there as my eyes filled with tears and my heart started racing.  I kept flipping back and forth between the pictures.  How could this be? They told me she was at Quanyuan??

Then Melinda sent me the 1st picture Little Flower had of "Ri". This was a link to their Facebook page. I was able to suddenly search "Ri" in this group....and there she was. The date that they posted saying Ri arrived, matched my paperwork of when she got to Beijing from her providence orphanage. The picture of her coming home from the hospital 6 weeks later, matched my paperwork on one of her hospital discharges. It was her.  There was my a baby. My baby. I literally was shaking as this became a reality that I was staring at my daughter...only 3 months old.  Pieces of her story slowly came together over the following weeks. I was still in a little denial, so I emailed my agency and asked if they knew of this home. They said they would look into it, but I never heard anything. So, I reached out to Little Flower directly. I provided them with private information that only I would know and they would know. They quickly emailed me was her. And better yet, they sent me over 900 photos over Ri's 1st year of life.  WHAT?!?!?  I just went from 3 pictures, to over 900!!!  This huge chunk of her past...was suddenly visible in pictures.

And sure I scrolled through the pictures, one after another, after another, of Ri and Ying (Morrissey and Jaelyn).  Best buddies. They arrived around the same time in Beijing, both had CHD requiring immediate surgery, they were in the same hospital, at the same time, operated on by the same surgeon and both returned to care at Little Flowers for their care. 

Jaelyn (Ying) was brought home to her forever family when the girls turned one.  At that time, we think Ri was medically stable enough, to be transferred out of this home, into another home..the home she lived at until October 2016, when I brought her home.

Do you see God in this??? I mean, the chances that Melinda would see my post. The tug in her heart to just ask (by the way...she was currently staying out of state, with her family, days away from Jaelyns open heart surgery!), the tug to keep pursuing the possibility even when it seemed unlikely. 2 little girls, with an undeniable similar background, and an unknown bond that will be interwoven in their hearts and stories. 

This...this story...gave these 2 beautiful girls a chance to connect. They get a chance to talk one day with someone who can truly "get it". They walked in the same shoes. They shared the same room, the same nanny, the same surgeon, they were essentially sisters. They may not remember each other now, but one day...they will have each other. And I have no doubt, that this was God's plan. For these girls to have each other.

This story...gave me a HUGE piece of Morrissey's background. Without Melinda reaching out, I would still, to this day, know nothing about her prior to 1 year old. I have pictures now that I can one day show Ri. These pictures even provided huge insight to her medical background. (Pictures of her on oxygen, feeding tubes etc).

This story...gave me Melinda. I wish I could say she lived right down the street from me, but she lives WAY north!! But, even so, thanks to technology, we have been able to communicate and support each other in so many ways. 

So I will once again give all glory to God for this. Thank you God for working in the details, for giving Morrissey and Jaelyn each other. Thank you for being their Father, for being our Father. Thank you for the gift of miracles, and thank you for the gift of peace and hope even when our days are dark and miracles don't seem possible.

Morrissey and Jaelyn....I think it's about time we get you reunited. But I will save that for another night...

Until then...sweet dreams our little heart warriors.

Friday, April 28, 2017

If I'm being honest

If I am being honest, the past few months have left me asking God "why?" more often than not. Maybe some would call me sensitive, maybe some would call me crazy to cry for a stranger or a child I have never met. But, that's my heart, that's where I am at. Some days it has felt like weights on my heart. The pains of this world just seem to be like a flood.  Stories of pain and brokenness seem to be at every turn. 

Cancer. Why?
Orphans. Why?
Death of child. Why?
Addiction. Why?
Broken Homes. Why?
War. Why?

I get discouraged that I ask why. Does that mean that I am weak in my faith? Does that mean I am questioning God?

I think not. I think that just like an innocent child asks his parents why, it's ok for me to ask my heavenly Father why too. Sometimes Wyatt will ask me questions, and I try to explain. But there are some questions, that no matter what answer I give...his sweet little mind, just can't understand. So, maybe I will rest in that...That some things I just won't understand until my eyes have seen beyond this earth.

But then what do I do with this heaviness of my soul? What do I do when my heart stings?

The Lord brought an old friend into my path recently.  This week, he gave me some words of encouragement that I had never heard before. First, he reminded me that our prayer should be to break our hearts, for what breaks His. But he also said, that maybe my gift, to give to others, to give to the kingdom, is prayer. Maybe the Lord is burdening my heart, to the point of tears and sleepless nights, so I will pray on behalf of those too weak to pray. Maybe if I turn my tears and questions into prayer, then not only will this bring me closer to the Lord....but maybe someone somewhere needed those prayers. 

This friend, who just buried his 2 month old, knows heartache. But what I learned this week, was he has Hope. And even in the depths of his sorrow, God was using him to speak truth to not only me, but to so many others.

I may not know the answers. I may not see how any good could come of the pain.  But I have to fix my eyes on my one constant. May I have eyes to see His face in the fire. May I have ears to hear His voice in the storm. May I not let fear be a reason to stand still. May I not be concerned over what the world thinks, but simply walk in obedience. One step at a time, even when I cannot see.

" As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?
I don't want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go"

Monday, April 3, 2017

Morrissey on 28 Days of Hearts

This past February, I had the opportunity to share Morrissey's story on 28 Days of Hearts. This is an awesome website/blog dedicated to children adopted from China with Congenital Heart Disease. February is Congenital Heart Disease Month, so every year, they have different families share their stories. Take a look at Morrissey's story below, and if you have them all! There is so much beauty in each story! :)

Morrissey on 28 Days of Hearts

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Birthday Letter...

Morrissey Ri...

Words can't even describe what all has happened since you entered our life.  Where do I start? How do I begin?  When people ask me how you are doing, or how I am doing, or to tell me about the trip to meet you in China...I stumble over my words.  Your story is so much more than just words.

October 17th...nothing could have prepared me for that moment. The pit in my stomach, my heart beating out of my chest, my trembling hands, the buzz of a foreign language ringing all around me, and I sat waiting.  I tried to soak it all in.  Everything led up to this moment. I loved you, I yearned to hold you finally in my arms....and never let you go. I knew you were in the other room, on the other side of that curtain...and I sat waiting.  Before I know it, I hear my name.  And within seconds, I had knelt down on the ground overcome by the thought of you coming through that curtain. 

And were there. Suddenly, the picture I had stared at for months was alive.  Your caregiver, Sean, carried you into the room, with the orphanage director at his side. Your eyes glanced across the room, gazing at each person...and then our eyes met.

Terrified...sweet girl, you were terrified.  My flood of tears from seeing you for the first time ceased as I quickly knew my emotions could be scaring you more.  On my knees, I reached for you.  My daughter...I reached for you. "I love you, Ri." "Mommy loves you."

The orphanage director quickly pulled out the book of pictures that we had sent you. We started showing you...."Mama" "Baba."  You were overcome with fear and sadness.  "I love you Ri, Mommy loves you." Then I did only what I knew I could do...I held you, I rocked and swayed you, I made a shushing sound in your ear, just like I did with my newborn sons.  And I prayed. 

I didn't know it was possible to feel so much love and relief and joy while all at the same time, feeling so much heartbreak and helplessness.  

I wanted to be able to ask Sean questions about your care, your needs, how to soothe you. I wanted to ask about your living tell me where you had been living.  But the tears and emotions were just too much.  I asked a few questions and then Sean and I decided it was best for him to leave.

They gave me a journal with your schedule, a flashdrive of priceless pictures and videos of you, a sweet panda backpack, bottle, formula and diapers. I was very lucky that for the two weeks I was in China, my guide was able to help me communicate with your foster home when I had questions. 

And, so our journey began. After hours of tears and heartache, your body finally gave in, your soul finally softened, and you fell asleep on me.  We rode back to our hotel and I rocked you and played soft Chinese nursery rhymes. I looked at each finger, each sweet toe, I found your first freckle on her head, I ran my fingers across the soft scar down your chest.  I pushed your long sweaty bangs out of your eyes.  "I love you Ri" "Mommy loves you."  I examined the scratches on your face, I gazed at your dark eyes and long eyelashes.  "Momma, Momma" I would say. 

And our journey continued. Some days we danced through, other days we crawled.  Some nights we were covered in peace, and other nights we were helpless and cried through the wee hours of the night.  You were scared. In time, you trusted me enough to take your first steps. In time, you felt safe enough that you let me put you in a stroller. Just like a newborn, some nights you could go an hour of sleeping, other nights 3 hours. 

I can't imagine what was going through your mind. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all new.

China was anything but easy...but in everyway one of the hardest but greatest weeks of my life.  I wanted you to love me. I wanted to be able to soothe you. I wanted to take away your fear.  I wanted you to know I would never leave you.

How do you show someone that?  You just keep loving them.  Slowly that love soothes your little heart, and you trust me. I am your safe place.  By the end of the trip in China, you knew I loved you. You clung to me.  My heart could explode, but that is just the first step.  The journey now, was showing you, I will not leave you. I am your mommy, this is your family. I will not leave you.

So today sweet girl, I looked at my daughter, on her first birthday home, and I am still overcome with emotions. I still can't put into words the past 3 months. Just like in China, some days we dance, and some days we crawl.  But, one thing is certain, I am a better person because of you. God has taken my weak heart to a deeper level of love and trust then I have ever had before.  You are perfect. You are my daughter. You are loved.

And one day sweet girl, you will see just how much not only we love you, but how much our Father in heaven loves you.  He knew you before you were formed. He created your innermost being.  He has never left you, and He will never leave you.

I love you Morrissey Ri. Mommy loves you.  Happy 2nd birthday Princess.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

5 more days...

Dear friends and family,

We are beyond excited to be leaving to meet Morrissey THIS week!! I really cannot believe it is here.  For years we have dreamed of this...and now, we are only a few sleeps away, from holding her in our arms.

We wanted to write to let you know a little about what this transition period is going to look like for our family – and how you can help!

I know you have heard me talking about "cocooning" and the importance of this.  But I wanted to share a little more about it, and what it MAY look like over the next few months. Obviously, this could change, but this is the method we want to try to instill to help her bond quickly with our family.  
Ri does not know me as mommy, she does not see me as mommy, we have to show her this, and this could take time. So during this time, we will try our hardest to "cocoon" her.  We will be the primary ones to love her, to meet her needs, and we will try to limit new surroundings, as this can be very over-stimulating to a child who comes from an orphanage setting.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in the typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and father at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. For our daughter, she is about to experience the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of her birth country. When she comes home, she will be overwhelmed by this loss. Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about a new environment, but also about love and family. As I have mentioned, she has been in 3 different homes that we know of, had over 50 caretakers most likely, and on top of that, been fragile in health, and in and out of the hospital over her short 20 months of life.

The good news is that we can now, as her forever parents, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the only ones to hold, cuddle, instruct, soothe and feed her. As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that we are mommy and daddy.  We will meet her needs the best that we can. We will love her and NOT leave her.  We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once she begins to establish this important bond with us, and the bond with her siblings, then she will then be able to branch out to other healthy relationships.

Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on personal experience, research, and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from the early interruptions she had in attachment as effectively as possible.
  Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an incredible and vital role in helping our little girl to settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults who are around Morrissey limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with a young child. This will (for a while) include things like not holding or excessive hugging and kissing. 

Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. 

Another area (probably the biggest as we’ll be keeping her close to us for the first few months) is redirecting her desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet those needs. When Morrissey seeks food, sippy cup, hugs, etc...redirect her to, Mommy and Daddy can and will meet those needs.

Former orphans often have had so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have her hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food or comfort from anyone but us.

All that being said, we need you, we want you to come by, we want you to come meet our littlest light.  Though we will be meeting her primary needs, that does not mean that we do not need you. Please come visit, please come by...I cannot wait to show you all the beautiful creation God has made.  You are her village.  And in time, the visits will soon turn in to hugs and kisses from all her village too.  We just want to make sure that she knows who her mommy and daddy are first.  We want to make sure that she knows we will not leave her. And soon...she will learn...not just the beauty of family, but the beauty of her village.   

Finally, until we know the degree of her health, and can get her vaccinated, we will also be limiting her exposure to lots of new places.  Not only can all the new environments be overstimulating, but we have to watch out for her health.  She is a congenital heart disease baby that has no immunity due to passive or active measures.  Any immunity her birth mommy passed on is gone...and she has received no vaccines.  So, please be understanding to, if you are feeling ill or possibly sick, that you limit your exposure to Ri until we have her vaccinated and have a better idea of what her little body is going through.

October 27th...Morrissey, my mom and I, will step foot off the airplane.  If you are free, we would love to see you. Obviously, this will be Matt and the boys first time to meet they get first dibs.  We want them to have their moment in time, their moment to soak in the reality of our beautiful new family.  But, we would love you there too.  (Though it will be late :)) We may be tired, things may not be pretty, but as I have said before, you are my village.  If you cannot come that night, we COMPLETELY understand. It will be quick, and this mommy will be ready to give hugs and get her babies home.  So, if I don't see you that night....come visit in the coming weeks.  Come see what God has done.  Just help us, to teach Ri, that we are Mommy and Daddy...she is no longer alone. Just as God never gives up on us, we will never give up on her. We will love her, we will protect her, and most importantly, we will show her, that even when we fail, there is a God who loves her even more.

Thank you for understanding, thank you for your love and support....5 more days...

Friday, September 30, 2016

To My Village

They say it takes a village....

I don't know where to begin to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported us in bringing our daughter home.  But, I will give it a shot...

Matt...Just 9 years ago, we sat at a table together, and I had just come home from Zambia. I was eager to share what all God taught me in Zambia, and one of those lessons was the awful truth of all the children without mommies and daddies. I was ready to move across the world and somehow that didn't scare you off. Quickly would I learn, that adoption was not ever something I would need to convince you knew first hand the beauty of a family built through adoption.  So, we "planned" our may not have all happened exactly like we thought, but we always rested that God saw the bigger picture.  Now here we are...a dream that is about to come true.  Thank you for loving me through my crazy days. (I know there are many). Thank you for leading our family through this.  Wyatt, Xander and Morrissey are so lucky to have you as their daddy.  

To my are my joy. I am scared to leave you.  2 weeks is a long time.  But, as much as I want daddy to be with me in China getting your baby sister, you need him more.  Yall are going to have fun.  I will miss you dearly.  I can't think about it too much, or it overwhelms me.  But, daddy's got you.  And on October 27th...when our family of 5 is united for the 1st time...I think my heart might explode.  Get your tissues ready...

To my parents and family...thank you for raising me, for teaching me to love. Thank you for teaching me about how much God loves me.  Thank you for believing in me. I know you are scared too. Mom...thank you for coming with me.  Dad...thank you for letting Mom come.  Terry and Charlie...thank you for helping watch the boys. 14 days, we leave.  Mom...get ready...I am a fun travel buddy. :) Thank you all for your support too with all our crazy fundraising efforts.  Dad...that was the mother of all garage sales.  Only you could pull that off.  Go big or go home.  We went big.  Little did you know that on that garage sale weekend...Matt and I had just saw our first glimpse of Morrissey. She was no longer in our imagination...she was our baby, waiting for us to fight to bring her home. get a first hand look into this beautiful journey. My mommy gets to watch me become a mommy again.  There's not much more I can say than that. This will be a trip we will never forget. Make sure you packed your tissues...

To my dear friends....some of you have heard me talk of adoption since college and some of you are just learning about this desire the Lord put on our heart.  Where do I begin?? You've seen my ups and downs.  You've bent over backwards to support us through prayer, fundraisers, showers, phone loved Ri before you knew her too.  You have given so generously that it has literally left me speechless at times.  I know I have been consumed by this lately, and haven't been able to show each of you the love and support back.  But know, we could not have done this without YOU. Each prayer, each phone call, each gift, every dollar, every tear you shed for us, each smile you beamed through the past 15 months...thank you. Actually...this goes way before 15 months. Regardless of time, God brought each of you into my life, at a different time, for a different reason. And I needed and still need each of you. I love you and thank you for loving me and my family.

To everyone who has given clothes, toys, meals, prayers, everyone who supported us everyone who donated to our garage everyone who bought necklaces and shirts. Thank you. I must say, I think my daughter is going to be pretty fashionable thanks to some AWESOME clothes!! :)

To the strangers who I have met that have shared THEIR story of adoption, thank you. To the strangers who have listened to me share OUR story, thank you. 

To all my new China Mom friends...thank you for keeping me sane, sharing your insight.  The adoption community is small, the China adoption community is smaller, and the China congenital heart disease community is even smaller.  I have learned so much from all of you. And I can't wait to see us all with our babies soon.

To Melinda...the mommy who took a leap of faith and reached out to weren't just fighting for your daughter to meet her friend. You were fighting for my daughter.  You gave me the key to a HUGE missing piece of our daughter's life.  Before the night our path's crossed...I had 3 pictures and knew nothing but a name of where she was found, and where she was now.  Because of you, searching for Ri, searching for Ri's mommy, you gave me a chapter of her life...a chapter that I will now be able to share with her.  It really still is almost unreal to me that you found us.  BUT GOD.  The author of the unreal stories.  To him be the glory.  Thank you for listening to his voice. 

To my village...thank you. In 14 days I leave, and I still will need you. In 27 days I will step foot off the plane, with our daughter, and I will need you.  Our first few months home, as we are getting to know our daughter, learning about her and her health, adjusting to jet lag, twins and 3 kids...I will need you.  As my heart grows weary and I am tired...I will need you.  God gave us community for a reason, to not live life alone. He is my rock...but you are my village.