Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reflecting

I woke this morning, of course much earlier than anyone else and couldn't stop thinking about where we have come from in this adoption.

When we began over 6 years ago (for the first time) it was all romance and rainbows. We were going to sweep in and rescue some poor lost child and make all of their dreams come true. I remember exactly where I was standing in my house in Florida as I spoke with our agency. I was smiling as she told me how it all worked and how long it would take. Then she told me how much. Believe me, it wasn't long after that that I started to seriously doubt if this thing in my heart was Rachel-made or God's design.

Soon after, in an effort to keep up with the Jones's we moved into a much more-more-than-we-could-afford house, our agency called to say they had lost their Hague accreditation and so everything just stopped! At that time adoption was the last thing we could consider. We were drowning in a sea of debt, a house payment we couldn't afford but the dream of adoption that would not die.

We moved from day to day just existing. This is what happens when you're house poor. And then two job offers and an email introducing us to Dave Ramsey happened and life began to take a new turn. There was hope again. Hope that we could get out of this huge financial mess we had created and hope that there was a little girl whose life we could assist in changing.

I remember so many times talking with B and bringing up adoption over and over again and he would always respond the same. "Why do you think that b/c I don't talk about it, its never going to be a reality?" He never lost hope, only I did. Probably b/c of my microwave mentality about so many things in this life.

Well, fast forward a couple of more years and there I sit in the spine doc's office being told I have 2 herniations and one bulging disc in my neck. After months of therapy, injections (that did not work I might add) I am facing one mammoth surgery to repair at least one herniation that has begun to compress my spinal cord. I was terrified. Terrified of the unknown, what if it didn't work, the months of recovery, the list goes on and on. I literally had hundreds of people praying for me. People would pray over me constantly and lay hands on me. So, on my pre-op visit imagine my surprise when the Doc said, "Your spinal cord is no longer in danger..." I don't think I heard much else b/c I was so excited just to know I wasn't going to need surgery.

And, b/c of the Dave Ramsey program we were pretty much debt free minus one student loan. It was time and we began our adoption process again!

Then the lessons really began. After the months of paperwork chasing and homestudy visits, trips to the USCIS office for fingerprinting and the basic stripping down to our souls our dossier was on its way to China. We received our LID (log in date) and we knew we could be matched any day!
I remember receiving the first referral. I remember exactly where we were. I remember the emotion. I remember the answer was yes before I even looked at her picture or read her file.
I remember the second, third and fourth referrals. I remember the answer was yes. I remember sitting at my kitchen table and not being able to breathe from crying as our doctor explained what her special need meant and what it would mean for her and for our family. I remember receiving the fifth, sixth and seventh. I remember so well the eighth and ninth. And about the tenth referral I help up my hand and said STOP!!!! I can still picture her sweet face in my mind now. She had severe cleft pallet/cleft lip but the special needs didn't stop there. She had monumental problems that would cost thousands and thousands every year. We would most likely spend more time in doctors office/therapy appts than at our own home. But we wanted to say yes. We never wanted to say NO! We suddenly realized enough was enough. We were about to give up. BUT GOD.

Two weeks later we had switched agency's and a month later had a match. Our sweet Jenna Grace.
I learned patience, I learned trust, I learned to truly lean on God. I learned it is OK to be human and to struggle through. I was told one time (before we switched agency's) you're too emotionally into this. You need to take it down. Seriously?! No, I will never take it down. These are children, not animals. This not being emotional enough is what has led us to the abortion epidemic we now have. I will never apologize for being this emotional over children who have no family. Whatever breaks God's heart I hope will ALWAYS break mine.
What I truly learned and saw with my own eyes is that His eye truly is on the sparrow and therefore on me and that His ways are SO much higher than mine and thank GOD for that!!!

By the time we meet our daughter it will be almost 7 months since we were matched with her. But if you want to be technical its been over 6 years from the very first time we submitted our application.

God knew. He knew 6 years ago, he knew 2 years ago. He has been working all of these things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. In this 6 years I have made some of THE most amazing friends. Friends who, even though I don't get to see all the time have some of the greatest influence in my life. I have one friend, who I met in the blogosphere and even though we've never met I just have this amazing connection with. She has been such a source of encouragement for me. And the best thing is, she's been there and done that 3 times. She knows every thing I am going through and feeling right now. I can be so real and I love it. Just yesterday I sent her a picture of how little I'd packed so far. She just laughed. That is the sign of a good friend. The ultimate pen pal.

I just love looking at all of these things and knowing that if the timing had been what I wanted it to be I wouldn't have learned all of these great lessons and I wouldn't have made all these amazing connections.

I don't know how I can ever doubt the goodness or faithfulness of God. But I think that is why I needed to sit and reflect for just a minute before the craziness of travel overtakes me.

Blessings.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's actually happening...

Its been 2 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 2 days since we started our adoption process and now it is finally coming to a close.
This morning our Consulate appointment was confirmed and its official. The upside: we leave very soon. The downside: we will be there longer than we originally thought.
But as I was praying this afternoon it came to me that after all this time waiting, hoping and wondering, 19 days in China is a small sacrifice for a lifetime (Lord willing) with this child.
So, today I am asking for one last thing. Please please please pray for us. Specifically. Here is how.
For Brian: he has a lot of work to do before we leave at work. There is a lot he needs to make sure is in place so he will not feel burdened while we are gone.
Me: I don't fly well and anxiety plays a huge part at the thought alone. Please pray for a peace that passes all understanding. Also, there is so much to do between planning/packing/paperwork gathering and a last minute yard sale. Please pray for things to be smooth and most of all for us to both rest in His timing and comfort in all of this.
Boys: this is the longest we have ever been gone. Pray for their protection and comfort.
Jenna Grace: this precious baby girl is about to have her world turned upside down! She needs the most prayer. Pray for her heart, that God is preparing it even now.

At the moment that is all I can think of but I am sure there is more, much more. Thank you so much for being on this journey with us. It isn't over yet but we are closer than ever.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jenna Grace, You're on candid camera!!

After a really rough start to my day... I opened my email to see my agency had sent us 4 videos of our daughter. This time she is laughing, running and playing with the camera person instead of crying and running away, like last time. JG is the one in white and yes her butt is exposed b/c those are training pants. It surely brightened my mood. Hope it makes you smile too.

video

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are you ready for an UPDATE?!!!!

I have been back to checking my email relentlessly waiting for the update to come. It is our final one before travel. TODAY WAS THE DAY!! I was so excited. Then, I wasn't. I'll explain in a minute.

First things first, here are her pics.
She is just so stinkin' cute. I also think
she looks older in this pic. 


A smile. 
Her stats are as follows. She is 22 pounds and 34 inches tall. She has 16 teeth and her feet are 12 cm long which is weird because her last update said 13. I am guessing, based on all the charts I have read she is about a size 6. I will take the shoes I bought for her but I am not holding my breath they will fit. I am also a little nervous about the clothes. In weight the charts say she is on the cusp of 12-18/18-24 months but her height makes her more 18-24 months. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

Here are the answers to my questions. 


1. Is she talking at all? If so, what can she say? Does she understand simple commands and directions, for example “Put the toys away, come here or time for bed?”
According to her group home parents, she still speaks baby babbles sometimes and she doesn't talk any meaningful words yet. She can understand simple commands and directions.

2.What is her bedtime routine? Does she sleep through the night?
According to her group home parents, she usually goes to bed at 8:00pm and gets up at 5:30am. Before sleep, she will play for about half an hour. Sometimes she may cry for a short while during her sleep at night and go back to sleep again. She rolls over often when she sleeps. During the day, she takes a nap after lunch for 2.5 hours.
Allow me to interject here how happy I am with this news. At last update she was still waking twice a night and getting a bottle. 

3. Does she still drink solely from a bottle or does she use some kind of sippy cup? Does she drink regular milk or formula?
She still drinks solely from a bottle. She drinks formula.

4. What things cause her to become upset or angry?  What helps her to calm down if she is upset?
Her group home parents said if other children take her toys, she will become upset and angry. When she gets upset, her group home parents will give her some food or snacks to help her to calm down.

5. Does she play well with other children?
She plays well with other children. She will compete toys or snacks with other children, too.

6. Relationally speaking, who is she closest (attached) too?
said she is attached to the group home mother very much.
This makes me nervous. I fully expect I will be the one rejected since some have said the new mom is seen as a threat.  

7. Is she potty trained? If not is she learning and does she understand what that is about?
Her group home parents will ask her to sit on the baby toilet to pee or poops at intervals.
I am not concerned about this in the least. 

8. How does react to strangers?
She is still shy with strangers, but will warm up after a while.

9. Does she like or hate bath time? Teeth brushing? 
Her group home parents said she hates bath. She cries when taking a bath or has her hair washed. They haven't taught her brush her teeth yet.
I know this may sound strange but this and a couple of her pictures kind of ended my excitement. I always had so much fun bathing my boys. It wasn't just something that had to be done. We played and always had a good time. I know things will change with her after time. It just struck me the wrong way. I'm also wondering about the teeth brushing thing. Does that answer mean she doesn't brush her teeth?

All in all I am thankful for the update of course. I think more than anything it is beginning to hit me just how close we are and how much our lives are about to change. 
I have also been following 4 blogs of families who are in China right now. It has been interesting and scary to see how their days and nights have been going with their new kids. 

In other news, I got the suitcases down today and packed JG's. Of course after the update I know I need to take out the pull-ups and just replace with more diapers. There are so many clothes in there but I am sure over half will be donated to the orphanage. Even with all the things we have been buying for the trip there is still another list slowly growing of things to take. B and I want to pack light and just do laundry half way through. Since it will be so hot there this seems like an easy feat but we will see. Packing is not something I like, there is always this underlying anxiety that I am forgetting something major. 

I've been walking/jogging almost 3 miles a day for several months and lifting weights. I am hoping this will help with the holding of a 2 year old that is just weeks away.

I've signed up to do another yard sale. June 8th. My good friend, Sarah will sell her stuff and I'll sell mine. It won't be near as big as the one we had in October but every penny will help us that much more. When you leave kids here money is still being spent. :0) 

The boys are doing well. We officially finish school the 24th and then will just have to do the testing. Things are really coming together for them while we are gone. If we get the dates we are hoping for, the first week we are gone Jack will have basketball camp. The second week both boys will attend church camp locally. In between time will be spent with our good friend Aubrey and my sweet friend Sandy who is like a grandma (without all the wrinkles haha). They love going to Mrs. Sandy's. She gets their favorite food and has 5,000 channels on her T.V. not to mention but Jackson and Mr. Wayne (her hubby) spend hours watching and talking about sports. It will be a good time all around and I can trust she will spoil them rotten. And with no grandparents close by of their own they will have a blast!

There you have it! Next up is TA (travel approval). Since we have the update I am breathing even easier and do not feel near the anxiety I did beforehand. TA will be here soon enough. For now, I am relishing in sleeping in, doing whatever I want whenever I want and of course spending time with my family as we are right now. 

Thank you again for walking this road with us. We couldn't do it without you. Please continue to pray for God's timing and our peace. Thanks. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm a slug.

This is me.

No motivation. Tired. Ready.To.Go. Are we there yet?

I got up and went walk/jogging this morning and it felt so good but since then...
I've been sitting in my bed playing around being a bum. There is so much I should be doing but I just don't want to do any of it. And sitting here only makes me more tired...sigh. What is a girl to do?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Beauty and Devastation that is Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is a day to celebrate, well Mothers. Its a day where, if you're lucky you get a little extra attention, lunch out, hopefully no housework and if you're really lucky some pretty sweet girly presents.

However, for the many of us who are without our moms its the one day we dread. Its the one day a year that the world just screams at you "YOU DON'T HAVE A MOM!"

When my mom first left us in '03 I navigated that first year of holidays pretty numb. I don't even really remember any of those first holidays except Christmas. And as the years went on they did get easier and easier, all except Mother's Day. That day has never gotten any easier and for several years in a row I would just suffer through it. I remember one year in particular. It was the fourth year she had been gone and I was in the shower getting ready for church. The emotion was overwhelming for me and I remember it was the first time I had ever cursed while praying. It makes me smile when I think about it now. God saw my frailty in that moment and understood my pain even more than I did. I'd like to be able to say that the day eventually got better but it didn't. I was miserable.
I remember a friend saying to me once, "But, Rachel you are mom." Yes I know this. But I had a mom much longer than I was a mom. And with the rest of our family being very fragmented and no relationship with my dad my mom was all I really had to lean on. It isn't like I had this perfect mom and I'm pretty sure after almost 10 years of her being gone my memory is somewhat skewed. But none of that matters. She was my mom. I loved her fiercely. I miss her terribly. There are no words to explain just how deep the pain is.
However, I can also tell you just how great my God is. I can tell you that He really is a Father to the fatherless. I have learned so many amazing lessons. God has provided some amazing women to speak into my life since her death.
Nothing will ever be the same as my own mother. I still have crippling moments. Moments where I cry out in an agony that feels physical, wishing I could have just five minutes with her to tell her  everything that is going on. But I can't. So, I stay at the pity party a few minutes longer then I get on with the amazing life God blessed me with.

In the end, the beauty far outweighs the devastation. Just look at those kids! I am so blessed!!!


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Power of a Picture...

Its amazing the power of just one picture.

This week has been good but stressful with the waiting. I just feel on edge. I don't do well on edge. I struggle with not making everyone else miserable because I am. Brian does so well at controlling his emotions that I try and take cues from him. But the truth is I think I've been holding my breath waiting for this article 5 to be picked up and our update to come in, Friday makes three weeks for both. Today I couldn't take it anymore so Brian put in a call to our agency. They called us back after dinner and I got to talk to my angel, Kristen. There was no news except to say there was no reason our article 5 will have not been picked up and on the list they will receive by Friday. OK, this made me breathe somewhat. Then K told us there had recently been visitors to our girl's orphanage and there some pics taken and there was one of her and she would send it to me.
I immediately got on my computer and waited for it to come in.
And then...there she was. And suddenly, I felt myself exhale. I felt a weight just fall off of me. Right then and there I knew I could wait again. I can't even begin to describe how badly I want to scoop her up and love her to pieces. To tell her over and over how wanted and loved she has been long before she ever existed. How, together we will manage all the sadness and grief she will experience and how I will love her until there is no more breath in my body. "Gotcha Day" can't get here fast enough. But until then and until the update comes I am so thankful to God and Holt for this new picture of my baby girl. His grace is sufficient.



Tuesday, May 07, 2013

40 found me and I embraced it.

Last Tuesday at about this time I was enjoying a quiet day with my family while we celebrated the 40th anniversary of my birth.

I started the day with alone time with the Lord, then enjoyed a 2 and a half mile walk/jog with my two younger boys, indulged in home made pancakes (thanks babe), coffee, a game of basketball, and was back in bed for a nap by noon. It was divine.

That evening found me beyond surprised when I walked into one of the rooms at church and it was filled with all those nearest and dearest to me. All my family live out of state but these people have become my family! It wasn't a surprise party, I knew it was coming but I had no idea how amazing the room would look. My hubby went to lots of trouble decorating it with a Chinese theme and my sweet friend Sandy had a cake made with Happy Birthday in Chinese.

We spent several hours talking, laughing, eating and of course there was singing and lots of present opening. I was blessed by every one of the gifts and the $ will be nice and helpful in China. I was and still am more thankful than I can possibly convey.

I have to note just a couple of the gifts I received because they were so appreciated. A set of Bose noise canceling headphones. I am thinking a must for a 14 hour flight, at least on the way there. I might be busier on the way back with a very adorable 20 month old.
A neck pillow. But wait, this is not your standard neck pillow. This thing goes all the way around up the back of your head and up both sides of your face so you won't fall side to side and even if you do slightly you are well cushioned. And finally, a beautiful silver necklace with a heart on it that says many hearts, one beat. I took the image from their website. It signifies all the people who help make adoption possible. I just love it and haven't taken it off since I received it.



Below are just a few of the pics from a very amazing night. Note: they are in random order, I don't have the time or energy to fix them. ;0) I wish I had a picture of every one of my friends who came that night but sadly I don't. I was/am truly thankful for everyone who celebrated with me. I feel blessed beyond measure.




PRESENTS!!!! My friend, Kerri made the sign. Dove Chocs are my fave and there were 42. Now there are 40. :0)
I love this man more than I know how to express. 
On every table were pics of me from my childhood and coasters with Chinese symbols. 
See the dragon hanging above everyone's head?
There were also Chinese lanterns hanging all over the room.
I didn't get a pic but there were Chinese table runners also.
A wad of cash! Happy girl!

Its almost impossible to get a serious pic with my boys so I posted a silly one instead.
I guess Brian and Jayden didn't get the memo. HAHA.
Even Jenna Grace got a gift. 






Jared and his gf, but I am sure she will kill me for putting this up. They're adorable though. 

Aubrey was the faithful photographer so this is the only good one of her. 
My sweet Sandy, like a mom to me. 





My oldest kid, donning my hat. The thing wouldn't stay on my head.
And the beautiful cake. It was also ridiculously good.
Oh look, you can kind of see the table runner.



In the end it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I have since taken on a whole new attitude. I intend to stop running from this aging thing. I can't stop it or control it so why fight it. My friend over at Unexpected Paths wrote about her "annoying friends" the other day and I laughed out loud. At first I wasn't sure where she was going with her post but quickly caught on and realized she was talking about grey hair. I commented that my "annoying friends" are not grey but something else. I didn't say what but I am sure she, and anyone else can figure out what that is. Anyway, they are yet another thing I have no control over so embrace them I must. If I don't, I'll make myself crazy and take anyone with me I can and its just not worth it. 

So, here's to 40 years young and 40 more!!