Thursday, February 25, 2010

Slow Going

"Be patient then brothers until the Lords coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." James 5:7

We have worked as fast as we can to collect all our documents but it is rather slow going. Our re-location to Colorado as well as Mike's retirement proved to create a little more work in our collection process. Not to mention the new requirements that have been initiated since our adoption of Emily.

I was reminded as I read this verse in James of how patient farmers have to be as they await the birth of their crops. The girls and I planted a little tomato plant last summer and I can remember it seemed like forever before we finally saw the little green beginnings of our tomatoes and then even longer for those green tomatoes to turn red. That little tomato plant endured some harsh winds, dry soil and hot sun but in September we savored the fruit of our labor. I know that we too will savor the fruit of our labor in a big way when we have the joy of bringing our sweet boy to his forever home. So we keep slowly plugging away on this paperwork.

We have been blessed with a FANTASTIC social worker who worked with lightening speed to get our homestudy completed and in the midst of getting to know her I discovered a friend. What a nice surprise given that we had not had overly good experiences in the past with our social workers and I love having a new friend.

So we continue to work at crossing all our "t's" and dotting all our "i's" and are praying that within the next 2 weeks we will be ready to submit our I-800A.

Oh, the can be tough but I already know how it all ends and despite the length of time I know beyond any doubt that I will feel the warmth of holding my sweet little brown eyed boy.

Updated Photos and Information.

Given that our intial information was over a year old, I was eager to get some new photos and updated stats on our boy so I contacted Adele at Blessed Kids and coordinated these items. Our update and pictures were delivered very quickly and I was thrilled to see our sweet boy. My heart ached to hold him but I was comforted to see that he looked good.
We were told that
  • He weighs 21ibs & 9 oz. and is 29 1/2 inches tall.
  • He is described as a quiet child who is afraid of strangers. (oh my, we might be in for a wild ride when he sees us for the first time)
  • He loves food very much. (good thing since he has a mama that loves to cook)
  • His most favorite thing he likes to do is have snacks. (I can provide plenty of those)
  • His health is good and he has recovered well from his surgery. (YAY, God is so good and has been taking care of him all along. His cleft repair looks fantastic and from the information we've been given it appears as though his palate was uneffected.)
  • He can walk all over the place. However he is not willing to go to places that he is not familiar with. (I know that I am going to be on my knees asking God to prepare this little boy for the day when this strange woman and man will take him away from all that he has ever known and emerse him into some of the most unfamiliar places. I already hurt for his little heart as I know he will grieve with a sadness that I have never known. May God prepare me to know how to meet all of his needs)

I was thrilled to see his darling face in these photo's but my longing for him has now increased as I see how much he is changing and we are missing all those special moments. These photo's are my motivation to move as fast as I can in getting this paperwork completed.


Thanksgiving was a wonderful celebration in our house this year. It was a beautiful fall day and we feasted with our good friends The VanKirks and gave thanks for this new addition that would be joining our family. On November 30th I received news from our agency that we had been approved by CCAA to proceed in the process of bringing our brown eyed boy home.

Let the paperchase begin!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Waiting Game

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"I saw God before me all the time. Nothing can shake me; he's right by my side. I'm glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I've pitched my tent in the land of hope. Acts 2:25 (Msg)
With our LOI on its way to China we begin what I know will be a long series of periods of waiting. In the adoption process it can often feel as though you are in a constant state of waiting for some type of document or some sort of approval. We know that this with this adoption the agony of our waiting will be magnified due to the fact that while we will compile the documents for our dossier our son is a world away from us in China. In most Chinese adoptions the dossier paperwork is already logged into China prior to receiving the referral of a child which is what we experienced with our adoption of Emily. That scenario makes it a little easier in that once you see the face of your son or daughter the time for travel is shortened because you are paper-ready to bring him or her home. Due to the fact we have not even begun the paperwork our wait to bring Wei Zhongcun home will be anywhere from 8 - 10 months. Despite knowing how difficult this wait will be I have great assurance that God began this work and the timing is already ordained by the one who created my son and HE will bring about the fulfillment of each milestone throughout this process in perfect fashion. I will strive to be patient and trust HIS ways and know that HE is never far from our little boy. He will hold him in HIS arms while we wait. I am reminded of how God stretched and expanded my comprehension of who HE was and how vast HIS loving arms could expand during our adoption of Emily. God used this time of "waiting" to polish and refine some rough edges of my humanness. I think that at this present time of my life I am in great need of having those truths become big in my life again while those rough edges have become visible again and are in need of some polish. And so I will wait, I will trust and "my flesh will live in hope..... knowing that HE has made know to me the ways of life and HE will make me full of gladness with HIS presence." (Acts 2:26-28) AndI with great joy I will anticipate that beautiful day when my brown eyed boy is in my arms.

Here are our referral pics. What a cutie pie!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Out of the Ashes!

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness of a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places only devastated they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." Isaiah 61:4
Life always has a way of taking unexpected turns and around each corner lay surprises and sometimes we need some directional signals to send us to the right road. I am constantly in awe of a God who is so intimately acquainted with my ways as well as the lengths to which He will go in order to reveal Himself to us. I just love it when He overwhelms me with just how close He is to me and how He longs for me to live with an abundance of joy. There was a time in my life when joy seemed so foreign to me, so far within my grasp that I thought I would never taste the sweetness of it again. yet in the midst of that season of my life God knew that He would restore my joy and that slowly I would savor that which I longed for. When my sweet baby boy Connor left my earthly presence and was welcomed by His Creator into the glory of Heaven, my heart was crushed. I hurt with a pain that left my emotions in "ashes". I moved through life with a sadness as I longed to have my son with me in everything I did on a daily basis. Each day I had to make a conscience effort to choose joy. It wasn't beautiful and it wasn't natural, it was a choice that I had to make for Cody and Grace and Mike. I really thought that I would never know the natural, spontaneous feeling of happiness again. However, slowly over time God healed my heart, He brought beauty from the ashes in my life and gave me hope that I WOULD live with that joy again. Through the adoption of Emily we were given a special mega sized dose of happiness that healed those dark places in our hearts more than I could ever describe and life has taken on that sweetness that I thought would never exist again. I still long each day to hold my baby boy and to have my lips rest on his sweet face, to get lost in his eyes and to feel his gentle touches of deep, unconditional love but my longing doesn't hurt as much and I have learned to delight in the gifts God has given me and love and soak in the memories. Despite the healing there is a day when the pain remains very real and very strong and that day is on October 31. It was on that day in 2003 that Connor left my physical presence and not matter what I do each year to make it easier the day is just hard. I ache for him, I utter the questions of why all over again, I cry and I just simply try to make it trough the day. And so last October 31 I awoke on that day with the expectation of grieving my loss. As in past years I posted a tribute to my precious son on our family blog. It is something that I started a few years ago that I enjoy doing. I love honoring the memory of a little boy who transformed my heart both in life and death. You can read my post here. Little did I know that this post would be used by God in providing one of those directional signals in the pathway of our life all the while transforming a day that remained "ashes" to beauty as He brought a new memory in the form of something joyful.

After posting to our blog I went about my day. I chatted on the phone with my sister, did a little house work and planned an evening out with Mike and the kids. Later in the afternoon before we left for the evening activities I decided to check my email. Upon signing in a specific email appeared in my inbox. It was an unfamiliar address although the sender's name led me to believe it was something I should read. To my amazement I read the heart of a woman who had been touched by my post about our Connor and moved by God to suggest that I take a look at a little boy on an adoption agency's waiting child list. I immediately clicked on the link and saw this darling face for the first time in my life......

I gazed upon the face of this sweet little boy literally stunned. Overwhelmed with many different emotions within about 60 seconds, I knew instantly that it was no coincidence nor was it an accident that God had allowed my path to intersect with the path of this little boy. Confident that God was at work and grateful to this woman whose heart was very attuned to the heart of God I found myself in drawn into considering the possibility that the deep brown eyes looking at me in this photo were indeed those of my son. I know that for those who haven't adopted before this concept of knowing a child is yours simply by looking at a photo can sound a little odd but for those of you who have experienced the gift of a child through adoption, you know exactly what I was feeling on that day. I have never had the joy of giving birth to a child but I have known the miraculous pleasure of looking into the eyes of each of my children and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt from the first time I saw them that they were created for me. This moment was not unlike each of those memories etched in my heart and mind when I came to know my sons and daughters.

After soaking up details of this little boys picture, I noticed that the name given to him by the adoption agency was "Connor" and again was in awe of my God's ways in getting our attention. I quickly read the short details about him and discovered that he was absolutely perfect. Not exactly sure how to approach my husband with these events of the day, I minimized his picture and info on my computer, closed out my email and left with my family for the evening.

As a family we spent the evening doing some things to remember our Connor, went out for dinner and attended Saturday night service at our church. Upon arriving home, I went immediately to our bedroom to change out of my clothes while my husband sat down at my computer in the kitchen. When I returned to the kitchen I noticed that he had pulled up the picture which I had minimized and I quickly provided the details of how I came to have this picture on my computer. Expecting the usual conversation of why bringing another child into our family would be too difficult I was surprised by Mike's response which was quietness. He simply sat in front of the computer staring at the photo.

The next morning we both awoke and talked about the events of the previous day. We both knew that we couldn't deny the miraculous circumstances by which we came to know about this little boy and wanted to walk in obedience to what we felt was an invitation issued by a loving God to once again add another thread to the tapestry of our family. We agreed to send in the initial information and request his file. The agency's website indicated that due to the large number of families interested in the waiting child lists we probably wouldn't hear from them for a couple of days but first thing on Monday morning I received a call from them and his file was emailed by that afternoon and within 24 hours we had submitted our Letter of Intent.

The feelings that filled us were amazement, happiness, nervousness but most of all humbleness. We were so honored that God would think enough of us to give us this opportunity to once again become a mommy and daddy to another child. I am far from perfect when it comes to being a mommy and I fail miserably everyday in doing all the right things with my children but despite that fact God still has enough confidence in me that He knows through His strength I can walk this road again. We were overwhelmed with thankfulness to Him for granting us another son and for the glorious way He chose to bring him to us. In His careful way of restoring our joy, He chose to bring about a memory of happiness on a day that had remained ashes. I will be forever grateful to "mommy2achinagirl" for having a heart that was sensitive to the nudging of the Lord and for stepping out in faith to do something extraordinary. Her willingness to act on the Lords behalf has now giving our family another son and brother. I hope to one day know you face to face and have the opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for giving us this miracle.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Feeling Comfy!

"So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so that the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me, 'O house of Israel can I not do with you as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand." Jeremiah 18: 3-6

Moving on to Chapter 2 in our story gives a little more detail about the state of our hearts and minds as God began his working in bring about another miracle in our family.

Each day, we as Gods children are given opportunities to respond to the call of our Father in countless areas of our lives. We are given the choice of saying "yes" or "no". I shudder to think of how many blessings I've missed because I said no to an invitation to follow God's heart. Sometimes saying "yes" takes us to unknown places that stretch us. Stretching can be painful but it also causes us to be more pliable in the potters hand. As our family responded to Gods call 3 1/2 years ago to open the arms of our family to a little China girl who had never known the love of a mommy, daddy, sister and brother we released the floodgates of blessing and healing in ourselves. Our "yes" was at times painful, exhausting, uncomfortable, hard and boy were we stretched but each day I wake up to the beautiful sounds of this precious girl loving life in our family and looking like she has ALWAYS been here. She looks nothing like me but I know confidently that when God formed her, He knew she would be mine. God made her for me, He chose her for me and He brought her home to me and I am so much more complete with her than I was without her. So as I held these treasured emotions in my heart each and every day feeling the warmth of the love they created within me and I always wondered if perhaps God would issue another call and would I be brave enough to say "yes".

As the months and years passed it seemed as though God was closing that door to another child. Personally, I kept knocking on the door yet it never opened. Life was hard in many ways and I did have a tough time just managing the day to day stuff of our family. We had taken on the chore of Homeschooling which consumed me and honestly left me absolutely spent and frustrated 90% of the time. I found myself with barely enough time to shower and brush my teeth therefore as we rolled into the fall of 2009 I had settled into the reality that we were complete as our little "Six Pack". Life continued in a state of craziness but we were "comfy" and oh how I love "comfy". Doesn't everyone?

The photo at the beginning of this post was taken just before my birthday on October 31, 2009. Unknown to my comfy self the waves of something exciting were brewing...........

Friday, February 5, 2010

In the Beginning

"No eye has seen no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

Welcome to our blog! I am so glad that you are here! This is where we will record details of a journey which will once again takes us across the globe to China to welcome another precious son into our family. It is a journey that we have taken once before and we can't wait to be awestruck by the creativity of God as we follow Him on this path to our darling little boy.

So, let me start at the beginning which actually is 17 years ago when I became the wife of the most amazing man. Little did I know that on the day I became his partner in this life that I was beginning an adventure that would be filled with so much excitement, intrigue, fun, surprises and yes, sadness, all to bring glory and honor to the One who made me and calls me His Own. I haven't always been a willing participant and I fail miserably every day in the tasks He has called me to do but as I sit here today I am thankful that He is patient with me and has chosen to bless me beyond all my comprehension. I have to admit that it all didn't turn out exactly as "I" had planned and I am so glad it didn't! Gods ways are always so much higher and greater than ours!

Now back to the "beginning" .... shortly after our marriage we began the fun of trying to start a family and after many years of "trying" God delighted us with a son. I didn't birth this beautiful baby boy but God chose him for us and brought him into our family by way of adoption. That was almost 13 years ago and how honored and awed I am by God that He would have thought enough of me to allow me to share in the miracle of receiving Cody as my son. Over the course of the next 5 years we had the incredible honor of receiving two more precious babies by way of the miracle of adoption. In 2000, God gave us another son, Connor and in 2002, a baby girl, Grace entered our family. Each of their adoption stories are evidences of how God reaches into the lives of humans and brings about the most beautiful things even in less than perfect circumstances. The weaving together of our family was a process that wasn't always easy but resulted in the most incredible works of art I could have imagined. Take a look at these beauties....

As I basked in the joys of being a mommy to these wonderful children our world came to a screeching halt on October 31, 2003 when our son, Connor made his unexpected journey to Heaven as a result of an accident at our family home. This event set our entire family to the depths of indescribable grief and despair. As we walked through the valley of the shadow of death we clung to a God who we know loved us and long to bring us out of that valley and give us gladness instead of mourning. Through our healing, God gave me confidence that He longed to bring "beauty from the ashes" and that despite the pain and suffering engulfing me, He would return us to a place of joy. Those promises came very slowly and there were little nuggets discovered along the way that furthered the fulfillment of that promise and little by little we began to feel the healing. A golden nugget that God offered us came in the form of a suggestion by our son, Cody in the summer of 2005. God moved upon the heart of an 8 year old little boy to plant a seed in the mind and heart of his parents. After viewing a video at Vacation Bible School about orphans he announced that he thought we should adopt an orphan. This was such a shock in that throughout our adoption experiences we had never considered an international adoption. Cody, Connor and Grace were all three domestic adoptions orchestrated prior to their birth by private attorneys and were fairly easy processes. therefore we had never explored another option. This announcement altered the trajectory of our life and led us down a path that would take us to China in 2007 where we would once again experience the touch of a Holy God through the receiving of a baby girl. Our hearts were impacted in ways that human words cannot express through the process of bringing Emily home and 3 years later we are still standing in amazement at how God has used here to bring "beauty from the ashes" in the life of our family. You can read about our journey here.

Since bringing Emily home the life of our family has been filled with new adventures. We have encountered life changing medical diagnosis's for our son Cody, retirement for my husband, cross-country moves, homeschooling among many other things that have been quite a shock to the system of our family yet in the midst of upheaval, God was at work in bring about another miracle in us. Stay tuned....there's more to come!