Wednesday, July 8, 2015

One step forward, two steps back . . . the attachment roller coaster




I love my sweet girl.

I love the sound of her laughter.

I love it when her face breaks into a smile.

I love hearing her precious little voice sing and prattle endlessly.

I love lying beside her as she falls asleep, looking at me with droopy eyes, whispering, "wo ai ni". 

I love you too, dearest one.


I hate seeing fear in her eyes. 

I hate that she can't quite comprehend yet that we are her forever home. No one will ever take her away. But in time and by God's grace she will understand. 

Some days are good, some days are bad. 

Some days are easy, some days are hard.

Right now, I am her safety blanket. 

Am I tired most of the time? 



Of course, but just to see her smile when I enter the room makes my heart melt and the weariness fall away. 

Sometimes my wrist tendinitis flares up from holding her all the time, but I don't care.  I cherish every minute holding her. I missed out on so many. 

She is a precious gift from God and we are so grateful that God choose to let us walk with her during this time. 

She grows in leaps and bounds each day. She parrots our English phrases with astonishingly excellent diction and she learns the meaning of new English words daily, but without Anthony, we would be even more lost in the sea of miscommunication. 

As her two month anniversary with us approaches, I am amazed at her progress. She is right where she should be. She is learning to trust, rest and relax in our love. 


One day soon, I pray she will know and comprehend the love of Father in heaven. He has great plans for her. I can't wait to see them unfold. 

Blessings,


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Reflections on attachment one month in . . .

My heart is filled with love, love for a little girl.



The site of her smile makes my heart leap.

The sound of her voice saying "Wo ai ni, Mama" is truly a blessing from the Lord.

But it didn't start there; it was a process. A process that has only just begun.

In those first few minutes, hours, and days, it sometimes felt like we would never hear those words from her, even though we knew we would.

I wondered, will she ever run to me and love me, even though I knew she would.

Then, as God worked in her sweet little heart and in our hearts, her eyes were opened to the us.

She understood.

We are here for her. We want to take care of her and love her unconditionally.

We are her forever family.

There is still a long journey ahead, and I can't wait to see it unfold.

I am excited to see how God works in all our lives, knitting us together as a family.



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Many have asked me how she is doing. Is she learning English? What food does she like? Etc. . . 

She is doing great! She is a super sweet, helpful and loving little girl. Each day her love for us grows as does our love for her. Just in this past week, she has started to saying I love you in Chinese constantly and hugging us when she does. It just melts my heart. She loves to be held and snuggled by us. While she is still very small for her age, the good news is she loves to eat. She likes pretty much everything except for cheese (in certain cases). Anthony communicates well with her in Chinese, but she is also starting to wrap her mind around the connection between certain Chinese and English words. As a side note, she loves helping me with the dishes. Score!! ;)

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we work on attachment and bonding with our precious new gift from the Lord.

Blessings,



Monday, May 25, 2015

Finally in Guangzhou

Watching the Chinese countryside whiz by from the high speed train to Guangzhou was fascinating. It brought to mind the many books I have read about life in China and sent me off into my imagination wondering what life is truly like for these farmers.

I must admit the train experience was filled with some adrenaline raising experiences. Imagine me with two backpacks, two little girls (one of which doesn't speak English) and a squatty potty. Next, imagine the NYC Subway or DC Metro at rush hour and then picture the 5 of us, each rolling a suitcase and navigating the mad dash down the escalator to the train with a new child who clearly hadn't been on an escalator before.






Well, the good news is we made it to Guangzhou, safe and sound and to our room (although, there was construction right below our room that was super loud from 9 am to 6 pm so we are now in a different room because naps are a must for a certain four year old). Then, we were up the next morning for Eva's medical appointment and TB test (all adopted children over the age of 2 must be tested for TB before entering the U. S.). Eva did well with the doctors, asking them cute questions about what kind of doctor they were and such. Our guide, Jason, keeps telling us about the cute conversations she has with people. I can't wait to hear all she has to say once she learns English.






On Sunday we went to the Pearl Market which is six floors of wholesale jewelry shops; to quote Adam, a gentleman's worst nightmare. However, we were on a mission to get pearls so we were in and out in 30 minutes. Then, we were off to Shamian Island where we bought a few souvenirs and ate at Lucy's, a novelty American restaurant where many adoptive families eat. The island used to be where many of the final steps of the adoption process occurred but not any more. Now it is just a place for tourists to visit.


Today we went to the zoo and had fun in the CRAZY humidity checking out the animals.



We just got back from the River Cruise which was really cool!



What have we learned about Eva thus  far? She is a crazy, silly, precious little firecracker of a girl who has quite the stubborn streak. In China, they call girls from the Hunan province "spicy girls" and we got an extra spicy one! She loves to be silly but when she is upset, you know it! She is a polite little thing (except when she isn't getting her way, of course) and is always saying "thank you" and "your welcome" in Chinese, and if we accidentally bump into her and say sorry, she gets upset because she wants us to say sorry in Chinese since she doesn't know English yet.


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,


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