Sunday, July 14, 2013

Where we are 1 month later...

It has been four weeks today. Four weeks ago when we walked into that hotel lobby in Nanchang, China and saw our little girl for the very first time. I remember how hard my heart was beating and how I gasped as I saw her littleness sitting on that very big couch. How precious she looked and how surreal it was after loving her through a series of pictures for 8 months. And now to be sitting here in my living room in NC while she sleeps in my house just feet away from me.
The biggest feeling I have about the whole thing is THANKFULNESS. I am so thankful. It hasn't been an easy 4 weeks. We've already had our share of ups and downs and there are so many more to come but at the end of it all its so worth it.

So, what can I tell you about life with a toddler after 12+ years out of it? Well, I wish I could take a toddler 101 class. I feel like I need several mom's who are at this stage with me on speed dial. I thought I would have more patience now that I am an "older" mom. Not so much. When she has a temper tantrum, I want to have one too. I am still being way too hard on myself and I need to chill out. I've told B this and several friends: at least when you have a baby you ease into this stage, we have been thrown into it. Not cool and not easy. She is feisty, strong willed and stubborn. Problem is, so am I. And I HAVE to win b/c a) I am a control freak and b) I am a control freak. So the battle of the wills has commenced. Lucky for me I've got some serious experience in this area. Baby 2, who is now 16 was like this. And guess who won. Yup, you got that straight and I've got the battle scars to prove it.
But in all seriousness life really is grand.
However, I need to slow my pace b/c I want everything yesterday for some reason. I am still not sure why I thought life was going to resume to normal once home from China but I did. I'm not all "there" sometimes. So now begins the road to "the new normal" and figuring out what that looks like. Like, how do I clean my house or cook dinner. Oh gosh, I am wigging out about that last one. Thankfully, we have THE Best church family in town and I haven't had to worry about that for the last two weeks we have been home but all that wonderfulness ends this Friday. "I won't have a melt down, I won't have a melt down" This chant will work, I promise.
Again, I need to give myself an ounce of grace and take it one day at a time. Life will slip into a routine, I just want everything to have a microwave setting of add 30 secs. That isn't going to happen and I know if I try and make that happen I will make everyone miserable. So not worth it.

On the whole baby girl is doing amazing. We got to go on our first shopping trip since she is so much smaller than any of the clothes we bought. Nai Nai (my good friend Sandy) went too and she had the most fun. She is the queen of fashion and the reason I look decent at weddings or fun events. She knows how to dress it up. All JG's bottoms are size 12months and her tops are 18months. Tiny, considering she will be 2 in September but I love it.
She is an amazing eater and will try anything at least once and doesn't appear to have a picky bone in her body where food is concerned. Of course in some ways that is bad b/c she would just eat and eat if I let her.
She LOVES her brothers and they love her. It absolutely warms my heart to see her with them. I am sure they will be fierce protectors of her when she is older.
We have an awesome night time routine in place and I am so thankful that she sleeps through the night and has one great nap a day.
I am looking forward to introducing her to more kids her age and getting her in the habit of playing well with others.
She's not talking besides mama, dada, baba, and she says these to anyone in passing. I'm pretty sure she was on her way to beginning to speak Chinese when we scooped her up so now her brain is in limbo and probably pretty confused as she works to shut off the Chinese and pick up the English. I know this b/c she understands us VERY well. When I say its bath time she runs to the bathroom. When we say its time to clean up her toys she starts picking up her toys. This is very encouraging to me. However, I know she also understand Chinese b/c a lady at church today spoke to her and she looked up at her with the most inquisitive little face. We've been asked if we will try and keep that. There is no way. First of all we don't speak it so how would we keep it going at home and secondly, I have no interest in doing that. We will, however, teach her about her culture and bring her up knowing exactly where she is from and all that means.

We already had our first social worker visit this past Monday, those Chinese are on it when it comes to keeping tabs. They will be riding our tail for 5 years. UGH! 
Anyway, she said that although it seems she is adjusting really well and certainly adorable she is most likely in "survival mode" and probably hasn't shown us who she really is yet. I don't know what this is code for and or what this really is or looks like. All I see is an almost 2 year old acting like any other almost 2 year old. It is clear she has no idea what a family unit is and I have no doubt she has a lot of issues with security. B and I plan on doing anything and everything we can to love those issues away but other than that, I don't think adoption is a science. And I know the homestudy people mean well but all those adoption classes did for us was put the fear of God in us giving us every single worst case scenario and advising us to read 5,000 books of which I read none. I guess I am not the greatest rule follower after all. 
See, the truth is all I know to do is love this girl with every ounce I have to give and ask God to lead me thru the rest of it. I don't need anyone sitting there judging me or making me feel anymore guilt than I already try and heap on myself. Oh, and for the record...we LOVE our social worker. She is totally amazing and wonderful and we look forward to seeing her. 

I think I've covered most of what was in my heart to share. I do just want to say one more time how thankful I am. Thankful God led us on this journey. Thankful to my oldest three kids for being open to this and for being amazing throughout. Thankful for an amazing hubby who loves and listens to the Holy Spirit and who was an excellent paper chaser. Thankful for fam and friends who loved us through this. Supported us and prayed for us. Encouraged us when we felt like there was no hope. Just thankful. My heart is overflowing for love for a God who adopted us when we were scum and deserved death. That He would give us Grace and Mercy and a second chance. How can I not serve Him? And even though the very thought of another adoption sends shivers down my spine at the very idea (and not the good kind either) I will have my hand and heart open to Him b/c He sees the end from the beginning and His ways are higher than mine. And also b/c just today we had two people at church come to us and tell us that their faith was re-ignited b/c of Jenna Grace's story. I mean WOW! How incredible. My only prayer has ever been that God would get the glory and He is. Just WOW!!!! I would encourage you to please submit to God, open up your hand and your heart. Go to him on His terms and live your life His way and not your own and I promise you amazing things will happen. 


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Trying to find the words and the energy...

I really wanted the title of our first post China blog post to read "No Longer a Picture" but alas our journey home and first week haven't gone MY way and so, this this is what you get.

The morning of our travel day home started at 4:30am. I was the first one up since I'm the longest to get ready. We had to be in the lobby by 5:45am. When we woke baby girl all was well. She was happy, I was happy and B was happy. And then we got to the airport. That is when the train wreck began.
After waiting in line more than 20 minutes to check in with our guide, we were told the flight was so delayed we would have to get on another. Seriously?! Ok, we were calm. Nothing major. We got a new flight and off we go, all checked in and we start to board. I think I should stop here and mention my hubs was in hog heaven when he found out what sort of plane we would be on. It was an air bus A380. A double decker plane. As a pilot, he had hoped to always have the chance to fly on one so this was huge for him. I tried not to be negative but I was not excited. I hate flying at best and now we were going to be on the biggest plane in the world? UGH!
OK, back to boarding. They board us 45 mins before time, we get on and all is well until it takes them almost 2 hours to finally take off. I was at my end and by the time we got in the air I was bawling and cried the first 20 minutes of the flight. My nerves were shot. I can't even explain why. I finally just put on my headphones, my worship music and focused on breathing.
Once we landed in Beijing, we were so late and had to gather all of our checked bags and get re-checked in for our flight to the states so we ran to baggage claim and proceeded to wait for over an hour!!! This was not helping. I think B was feeling it by now too. Baby girl was crabby and I'm sure she felt my tension. All the staring, lack of space in baggage claim etc made it worse. I seriously wanted to scream. We finally got our luggage and booked it to check in. We made it by the skin of our teeth and then paid a cart guy to drive us to our gate. We got on board with just 15 minutes to spare. I don't mind admitting that when that drink cart came by I didn't order ginger ale or water. Get my drift. Within 10 minutes I was a little more relaxed. The 12 &1/2 hour flight to Newark was pretty miserable but not for any other reason except we were just done by this point. 19 days gone from home and knowing even after we touched down in Newark we still had 8 more hours of travel wasn't helping. God's grace kicked in when we landed and we made it through everything flawlessly.
When we landed in Raleigh my emotions were so high I don't even know how I was standing. All I wanted to do was see my boy's faces and hug their necks. Once off the plane I was pretty much off and running. B had Jenna Grace and was laughing because I was so far ahead. I couldn't help it.
As I headed to the exit there was a sea of people and all I knew was I was going to keep going until I saw their faces and had them in my arms. Half way down I spotted Jackson and I began to cry. By the time I made it to Jayden and was hugging him I was full on sobbing. And I mean choked up chest heaving ugly cry. After holding onto my boys like grim death I spotted Sandy. Sandy is like a mom to me and GMA to my boys and now Nai Nai (grandmother in Chinese) to Jenna Grace. I had no idea she was going to be there and it was just icing on the cake. I cried even harder when I got to her and then of course there was Aubrey. Aubrey, who had battled her own demons just to care for my kids was snapping pics and taking video but the second I turned her way dropped it all and we both grabbed hold of each other and bawled like babies. It was so awesome. After 30 hours of travel we were on NC soil and I was giving God all of the glory!!!
Another wave of emotion hit me once we walked into our house but it was quickly contained and then the fun began, giving out the gifts. I hadn't planned on doing that at 1am but we were on China time so we were awake and ready to go.
**Quick side note here: Aubrey would love for me to mention how on the two hour ride home I babbled on and on b/c I was wide awake and she and Sandy sat there and did their best to nod politely and not fall asleep. Thank you girls!!!

The readers digest version of the next few days is this: I got sick sick sick. It started on the flight from Beijing but I just thought it was because I hadn't slept much but after two days home I was so sick I could barely get out of bed. Of course just to be completely honest, I am the worst sick person. I have no pain tolerance and am pretty much just a baby. From Saturday to Wednesday I only slept 10 hours. It was horrible. B called the doc Wednesday morning and thankfully, because I didn't have a fever and it was the day before the 4th they called me something in. Relief. It was certainly a rude awakening feeling that bad with a toddler running around. Reality check for sure. Lucky for me, her sleep schedule adapted quickly. Slept in her crib our first night home and has been sleeping there for naps too and sleeping through the night. LOVE IT!

Here we are 8 days home and three weeks with our girl. Just two days home I weaned her from her bottle and formula. She eats so well, I saw no need to continue with either. She didn't even seem to bat an eyelid at that. Like I said, she is sleeping through the night and we have a very nice bedtime routine. The best part is the rocking her to sleep at night.
She LOVES her brothers. And I mean LOVES! It is so precious to see how well she has adjusted to them. And it certainly helps this momma when I need to shower or start laundry.

Our friends have been just amazing since we have come home. Between the meals, calls/texts/emails, house cleaning etc. we are just soooo blessed. We've had just a few visitors and people are very gracious at giving us our space while we re-adjust to this new life.

I guess I could go into all of the things that concern me or upset me but its not what I am choosing to focus on right now. I would only request that you continue to pray for us. Specifically that we would just lean on God and not on ourselves and our limited understanding in this situation. I guess I could spend hours reading book after book but the truth is every single adoption is so unique because it involves people. And God tells me to lean on Him, to trust in Him and that He will lead, direct and guide me. Well, that is good enough for me. My prayer is that I would remember that when I'm sad, disappointed or frustrated. Thanks for agreeing with me.

I guess that about does it. I'm sure there are lots of details I've missed but there will be more blog posts to come...hopefully.
Thanks again for being on this journey with us. This part might be over, but the next part will be even more exciting so I hope you'll stick around.

One of the first pics of the three of us. You can tell she was not thrilled. 

One of my faves of her. That smile just captivates me. 

I played Monsters Inc on the plane minus the headphones. She would just sit there and laugh. It was so cute. 

How she slept between us. 

On the flight from Newark, we hadn't even taken off yet. 

How sweet!

My FOUR kids!!! So blessed!

The 20 cards and letters we got to open during our trip. They were such a blessing to us. 

I can't believe she let me. 

Sharing her snack. 

She's gonna be a beach bum. And just to boast, my hubs picked out the suit and the hat. 

Love it. 

Her new friend Judah, just four months older. 

Taken today showing off her new shoes.