Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dumpling Day

Tears streamed down her face. They streamed down ours as well. Watching your child say goodbye to the only family she has ever known is hard but we know it is all part of God's plan. His plan for her and His plan for us. Saying goodbye is never easy but we go forward with wonderful memories and the knowledge that God has amazing plans for her just as He does for Anthony and Grace. To see what God has done in their lives and ours through the miracle of adoption makes me even more excited to see what He has planned for Eva.

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As the van pulled up to our hotel, we entered with trepidation knowing this would be a difficult yet important day for our girl. But every step of the way, I could feel strength that only comes from our Heavenly Father (thanks to the prayers of many). She had been asking to return home since she first came to us, and we now know that was in part because she knew about dumpling day and wanted to know when it would happen. She knew it would be her time to say goodbye.

We pulled up to the orphanage gates and she dissolved into tears as she saw the workers she loved standing there waiting for us. With tears streaming down her face, we visited her school room and friends as well as the rooms of other children adopted in our group.




 
Finally, with heavy steps yet peace in our hearts, we walked toward her door. The door swung open to reveal her foster baba who she immediately reached for with fresh tears. He had tears too. A moment I will never forget.



They ushered us into their tiny apartment as if we were long lost family members. Hugging us and sharing information about Eva with us. Her foster baba wanted us to know she is afraid of thunder and her foster mama showed us her favorite toys.





The dumpling making station was set up in the living room and the kids sat down and got to work. Eva was beside herself with joy over this, a brief respite in a difficult day. The children had great fun, but then the dumplings came out. Of course, the foster mama had made tons of dumplings for everyone with us! It was decided by all that they were some of the best dumplings they had ever had!


They gave us gifts as well. Thoughtful little gifts for Grace and Anthony and very special ones for us. The foster mama made us a beautiful cross stitch.



As I looked around her room, clearly decorated with love, my eyes landed on a beautiful photo of Eva. I took a picture of it so I could remember it and her foster mama came over with tears in her eyes and gestured to me and the wall. She wanted me to take it.



But the real gift they gave us was love. Their love for Eva and their love for us. Love that crosses oceans.





I know I will have more thoughts as I process all that happened but for now I will leave you with this. Isn't our God AMAZING?!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Joyous Yet Difficult Day



Many girls dream of their wedding day and then of what life will be like once married. We picture our children and lives in an array of different ways, but we are almost always wrong, right?! Our new husband doesn't take out the trash when asked or our new baby cries all night.


But sometimes our imagining can be uncertain. That is how it is with adoption. You are prepared for many differ scenarios, unsure of how it will play out. But even being "prepared" for a reaction doesn't make it any easier.

We knew our sweet Eva Hanting would be sad. But knowing that doesn't make the reality any easier.

We knew she would grieve for her foster family who clearly loved her very much. But knowing that doesn't make my heart ache any less for her.

Walking into the room at the civil affairs office and seeing her sitting there with tears streaming down her face made my heart break even more.

So we held her and tried to love on her as best we could in that moment. That is all you can do. We can show her love and demonstrate that we will take care of her, but it is only our Heavenly Father who can truly comfort her little heart.




As I sit now in the quiet of our small and cramped hotel room, thinking back on yesterday and watching my two sweet girls sleeping peacefully (nap time is a must right now), I am so thankful to my God who carried us through the always difficult first day of an adoption. The outpouring of love and support from friends and family was also felt. God held us yesterday as a family and I know He will never let us go.



 
We had moments of tears due to grief, exhaustion and confusion but we also had moments of joy and smiles as her little mind tried to process what was happening. She is an absolute joy.









I am so thankful for the foster family who loved her and cared for her until it was God's appointed time for her to join us.

The sweet foster mama made these amazing books of photos and of her artwork with detailed descriptions. It is truly amazingly. What a gift for us and for her.


As we woke up today, we saw a different little girl. A silly, happy and playful one who called us Mama, Baba, brother and sister. There will be more grief to come, of course, but in her heart, I believe she knows that we will take care of her and love her.



Tomorrow morning (Wednesday in China, Tuesday evening the U.S.) we have a special event planned for us and we would call on all our amazing prayer warriors to join us as we cover Eva in prayer tomorrow. One of Eva's six birthday wishes (apparently, in China you can have multiple wishes!) was to have her first family, as she calls them, and her new family come together and make dumplings, her favorite. So we, of course cannot miss out on this amazing opportunity, but we know it will be difficult for her.

So how are Grace and Anthony doing with all this? Anthony has been AMAZING! He talks to her constantly in Chinese helping to ease her frustration over not being understood which is something he struggled with when we first adopted him. Grace is struggling a little as to be expected because she had certain ideas of how it would be to have a little sister and her little sister can't understand her and takes attention away. But that is a natural response and we are jet lagged so a little grumpiness can be found all around from time to time.

Thanks again for all your support and prayers and stay tuned for the events of Dumpling Day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Long Journey


A haze hangs in the air over Changsha as I look out our hotel window at the city sprawling below. It brings back memories of our two previous trips to expand our family. Each journey was a unique and amazing experience of bonding and attachment, and tomorrow morning we begin again! I can't believe that in just a few hours our lives will again forever be changed by a precious child! Exciting and scary! It almost doesn't seem real! We have been waiting for so long and seen her precious face so many times and tomorrow it all becomes real.










Our trip to China was long as usual but uneventful for the most part. Who doesn't love a 26 hour journey via three planes and extensive layovers?















We arrived late Saturday evening in Beijing and went straight to the hotel to bed. We got up this morning, early of course, because of jet lag in part as well as the crazy bright sun shining at 5 AM! After breakfast, which is one of my favorite things about hotels in China, it was back to the airport to head to Changsha.


Now at this airport, the security check was quite fascinating. We traveled several times domestically in China but this time they pulled out all the security stops. They didn't know what several of my toiletry items were so they simply had Adam go behind the counter to show them that Grace's detangler was not dangerous, and they were a little concerned with one of my hair products. Then, after going through the metal detector, everyone got a full pat down. Seriously guys, this pat down was extensive. I'll leave it at that.

So now we wait for tomorrow morning at 10:30. Grace and Anthony are super excited as are we. We can't wait to share our family day pictures with you.

Soon, very soon, sweet girl!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

So what does a China adoption trip look like?

Should I be packing right now? Probably, but this post has been on my mind for several days so here I am, procrastinating from packing. 

After months of waiting and mounds of paperwork, we finally reached the home stretch of our journey. 

In the final week leading up to our departure to China, I have been finishing up work projects, cleaning, shopping and planning out how to pack for five people (one of which we haven't met!).

It can be stressful, so it's best to take it one day at time, make lists and reminders and breath!



Some of my friends ask what I would be pack for a two week trip for five. Below are our suitcases which are still a work in progress and will, of course, be consolidated, but I hope this helps some of you who are traveling in the not too distant future.




















Additionally, I was very excited to receive our beautiful carrier from Lift Me Up: Babywearing to Thrive. A friend told me about this organization and I was excited to learn we would be receiving one! Now we carry our tiny little Eva close to us. 













So with all that said and done, what does our trip actually look like, you ask? Well, let me tell you! ;)

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Friday, May 15 - Depart San Antonio for China at 6 AM! Yep that's right, my friends, I will be getting up at 3 AM. I don't do 3 AM well, just saying.
           
Saturday, May 16 - Arrive in Beijing, China at 9:05 PM (after 26 hours or so of flying and changing planes with two children)
           
Sunday, May 17 - Depart Beijing for Changsha (where our baby lives)
                                   
Monday, May 18 – Friday, May 22 - Adoption process in Changsha which involves various appointments throughout the week to finalize our adoption and receive Eva's passport as well as some sightseeing.

Monday, May 18 - FAMILY DAY!!!

Friday, May 22 - Depart Changsha for Guangzhou via High-Speed Train! Excited!! 
                                 
Saturday, May 23 - Medical exam in Guangzhou
                            
Sunday, May 24 - Sightseeing or shopping                                            

Monday, May 25 - Sightseeing – City Zoo
                                    
Tuesday, May 26 - Visa appointment at U. S. Consulate
  
Wednesday, May 27 - Depart via van for Hong Kong

Thursday, May 28 - Depart Hong Kong at 11:30 AM (after having breakfast with friend who lives in Hong Kong! Yay!) and arrive in San Antonio at 11:34 PM. Wait what? Hah! We are going back in time! 27 hours later, we still arrive in San Antonio on Thursday! 

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Please keep us in your prayers! It is a long journey there and back again. Pray for safety, smooth travel, and most of all, our bonding time. 

Blessings to all,


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Celebrating 4 years with our Grace!

Four years ago on May 8 (which just happened to be Mother's Day that year), Grace Lihua burst into our lives like a vibrant ray of sunshine. With each pass day and year, the joy she brings into lives grows. She is such a precious gift from the Lord. I am so thankful that our hearts and eyes were open to God's plan of adoption for our lives. 

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Grace, my sweet sweet girl, you bring more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined. To hear you to call my name and run to me, wrapping your arms about my waist or neck, after not having seen me for an hour, makes my heart leap. You are so precious to me (and Daddy). You are a gift from Lord and we are so excited to see all that God has in store for you. We love you!
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thinking about Eva (and Lots of New Pics!!)

For so long it has felt as if time has been standing still on this third adoption journey of ours. Now, at 9 days and counting until our departure, it feels like there isn't enough time to accomplish all that needs to be completed before leaving! Of course, God's timing is perfect, but even with extra time, it still feels like I'm running around like a mad woman! We are finishing up school, I am prepping for Module 3 of the Level 1 Pilates training I am teaching, and oh, you know, preparing for a family trip to China. Packing for 5 people for two weeks in a foreign country is always fun!   

Amidst all this craziness and excitement, I opened my email today to find new pictures of our sweet girl. 
As I look at the pictures seen below in the slide show, I can't help but wonder what is she thinking as she looks at the photo album we sent and listens to our voices on the toy phone. While I am beyond excited at the thought of finally holding her in my arms and bringing a smile to her somber little face, my heart is so heavy with the thought of her how her heart will grieve for the only family she has ever known, her foster family, who seems to love her so much. But, she is our child, chosen for us by our heavenly Father. He will hold her and comfort her far more that I ever can or could as she learns that we are her forever family and God is her everlasting Father.  

How would you feel in her situation? Sad, scared, excited, both? I know I feel all those emotions. Imagine how it must feel to a four year old. 

I also can't stop gazing at these amazing pictures taken by my friend on the Gladney Superkids April 2015 Trip. It is such a blessing to have these and watch her countenance as they show her our care package and pictures. 

We also received an update on her size and she is a tiny little thing. She turned four in January and she weighs 28 pounds and is 39 inches. So, I am making a few changes to the clothing I had planned to bring! 

Please be praying for us and her, dear ones. Cover us in prayer!

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