Adoption Timeline

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 time...read 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 then...you 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 conditions...to 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 us...re-inforcing, 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 Ri...so 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 of...you knew first hand the beauty of a family built through adoption.  So, we "planned" our lives...it 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 boys...you 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. Wow...in 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. 

Mom...you 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 calls...you 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, presents...to everyone who supported us financially...to everyone who donated to our garage sale...to 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 me...you 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. 


 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another month closer...

I can't believe September is here.  This post might be all over the place, as my mind tends to be all over the place lately.  Here's what we have been up to...

The boys both started a new school in August.  Wyatt started Kindergarten at a local private school.  We plan for him to do Kindergarten twice, since he is a summer birthday.  So, after lots of research we found a great small Kindergarten program right down the street from us, at a local church.  He is in a class of 11, with his own little desk, and they still take naps!! Curriculum ends at 12:30, so you can either pick them up then, or they can stay until 3:30. If they stay after 12:30, the kids have lunch, take a nap, play and work on homework.  This works great for our family! On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, he stays until 3:30, because I am working. But on Monday and Friday, I get to pick him up at 12:30 and enjoy some extra TLC.  They also have a preschool program, so we moved Xander there as well.  It is much smaller. Xander is having a little harder time adjusting, but I think it is just his age. This will also be the program Morrissey will start in January.  I am hoping that having her and Xander in the same class (which only has 6 kids currently) will help her adjust.

Maternity/Paternity Leave - That's a whole other blog. But basically, we are going to try our hardest to cocoon her at home between me and Matt both taking time away from work.  We want to do this through the end of the year. Hopefully she will attach to us quickly and her immune system will be strong enough for a childcare setting.  If not, we will look into finding a nanny for her on the few days I work.

WE HAVE TA!!!!!!!!! What does that mean??? Basically, all approvals have happened. We got our GUZ#, then our NVC letter, then TA (Travel Approval) and then a confirmed CA (Consulate Appointment).  Travel approval is China saying yes for us to travel. The consulate appointment is our last appt in China. It is highly suggested that you wait to buy any plane tickets until you have these dates.  (Unless you plan on buying refundable flights or flights that you can change without a charge).  So, we got TA on September 6th and our CA was confirmed on the 7th.  Those 24 hours I worked with our travel agent to book our flights! If you are on Facebook, you can join the group by clicking here This is where I will be posting daily updates as we travel through China!

Booking flights is NOT easy. Of course you want, good seats, the fewest layovers, layovers that are long enough to change flights and go through customs, but not too long. You want a good price and with all this you are buying LAST MINUTE! But, I think we found the best option.  We will be flying Delta for majority of the trip. We have 2 layovers (2-3 hours each) and we got pretty good seats I think.  Whew...flights are booked! Hotel is booked!

So you would think I would be on Cloud 9 and gleaming with excitement, right?!? I am. But, it's also been a weird situation, where I am watching other families, getting TA's at the same time I am, leaving this week.  It's a long story, but in short, that wasn't really an option for us.  At least, it was never really presented as an option, and now, we are so close to the dates, that everything else at home that needed to have been organized (work, childcare, etc) would not be feasible for a one-week notice to travel.  And, our agency only travels once a month...so we wait. Again.

I just want her in my arms.  And if I can't have that, I want an update. Someone tell me that she is ok? Someone send me a picture and tell me she is eating ok and gained a little weight. Someone tell me she got the pictures I sent of us. Someone tell me she has seen a doctor recently. No updates. We are praying for an update this week. But, we have to prepare ourselves too, that updates are few and far between, and not always accurate.  Which leads me back to...I just want her in my arms.

God, I know she is yours.  You know where she is. You have her in YOUR arms. You know the number of hairs on her head.  You created every perfect cell in her body.  And the hard truth is, even when she is in my arms, I still must hold an open hand.  My arms will give her love. I will do everything in my power to get her the best medical care, to love her, to help her grow, to teach her about Your love. But, tomorrow is not promised to us...to any of us.  My grip on her, or any of my children, family, friends, has to be open.  May I serve you Lord each day you give me. And may I teach my children to do the same.  My heart aches for the days I lost with Morrissey.  But I thank you for letting me be her mommy now.  Your timing is perfect.  I may have lost 20 months with her, but I prayerful and thankful for many years ahead.

36 days until you are in my arms sweet girl. I know you may be scared when you see me. I know you may not trust me yet.  I know you may not see me as mommy.  But your mommy loves you and she is coming.



"Why even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:7



 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fears and Prayers...


So I have wrote a lot about the process we have been going through, the fundraising we are doing, the excitement that overflows when we think of sweet Ri.  But, I want to be completely honest in my fears, the hard side of adoption and things YOU can be praying for.

First, adoption is beautiful.  I would never argue different.  But, that beauty is from ashes. Behind each adoption is a story of loss.  In China, most children are not adopted as infants...they are older.  This makes the transition, and the trauma they have been through, not always easy as people tend to envision.  You are often loving a child who has had multiple caregivers, multiple homes and is scared.  So, I will jump right in to my first fear....Will she love me?

The truth is. I don't know. The truth is...it is going to take time for Matt and I to show Ri, that we are her parents. That we love her and we will not leave her, even when she may not love us.  That is unconditional love. That is the love that Christ gives.  I love her.  I love her and I want her to know that love.  But I know it will take time.  Ri has been in 3 different homes, in and out of the hospital and had countless caregivers.  At almost 2 years old, she is going to meet a complete stranger, and fly across the world into a completely new environment.  God, prepare all of our hearts for this transition.  God, I know that the day I meet her could be painful.  But let me see the beauty from ashes. God, calm Ri and her fears. Let her see safety in my eyes, let her learn to love me, let her let me love her.  Give me patience as I wait for her to see me as mommy.  Thank you for Ri. Thank you God for Ri's birth mommy, that she choose life for Ri. I do not know the circumstances around her abandonment, but I choose to believe that she loved Ri too.

I am scared for the details...the days, the flights, the hotel, what to pack, will I get sick, how much work to take off.  Pray for the details.  Pray I trust that even though I have no idea how this will all play out...God does. He knows. He knows every detail to this story. It is His story.

I am scared to have 3 kids. Sometimes I question if I am a good enough mom for 2...how am I going to parent 3?  How am I going to parent twins?  God give me the grace I need to forgive myself. May I not compare myself to anyone else, but follow your calling. You choose ME to be Wyatt, Xander and Morrissey's mommy. No one else. I am not perfect, but may I not focus on my imperfections, but instead focus on your love.

I am scared when I think about her health. God, I know you made her heart extra special. You knit together each cell to make it the beautiful beating heart that it is.  But God I pray her heart will continue to function well. I pray that her surgery was successful. I pray she goes many many years before having another surgery. I pray that she grows God...that she eats and grows big and strong.  God I pray for her doctors, that they will have wisdom when looking at her heart for the first time. I pray that I not live in fear but embrace that you are in control. So, no matter what the future brings, you are good, and nothing is a surprise to you.

I am scared to leave my boys and husband for two weeks.  Thank you God that my mommy will be there with me, witnessing and helping me as I become a mommy again.  But I pray for my boys and Matt at home. I pray they are not sad, or scared. I pray that technology will allow us to visit everyday. I pray for my heart as I will miss them.  I pray for safety for my mom and I.

And finally, sometimes I am just sad. I am sad that I missed 20 months of Ri's life. Why did it take so long?  One day without a mommy and daddy is too long. And now that I can see her face...I want to hold her today. Not tomorrow. Not October. I want her home. My heart misses her. My heart mourns the months we lost. That's the honest truth.

But God...thank you for your timing. Thank you for your plan. She is not just my daughter, she is Yours. She belongs to you. You gave her the breath of life. You sustained her in her sickest days. So, regardless of when she is in my arms, I pray I can remember YOU are the giver and taker of life.

God I promise to love her and to teach her to know your love. May others see her LIGHT. Your light.

Please don't get me wrong. We are over the top excited.  But I wanted to be honest in my fears as well, so that others can see both sides.  So you too can pray for us. Adoption is beautiful. He makes all things beautiful.

"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their rightneousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory." Isaiah 61:3



Until we meet...goodnight princess.