• What is Love?

    Date: 2017.10.10 | Category: Adoption, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang) | Response: 0

    Edited:  Jasmine and I worked on this blog together.  She told me what she was okay with me sharing and her main thought throughout this post was that we, as parents, can not assume we know what our child is feeling.  

    We’ve been having some interesting conversations with the middles lately about love.  Jasmine recently asked, “How do you know if you love someone? What is love?”  I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this one.  It seems like it should be easy enough to describe what love is but it was harder than I thought it would be.   How do you describe love?  How can you put it into words that a child from an orphanage can understand?  How can you adequately put into words that overwhelming feeling that you feel in your heart?

    Jasmine questions everything about how she feels.  We have had a hard couple years with her coming to terms with never being able to walk.  You wouldn’t think that would be an issue with a child who has never walked and has slowly lost more and more bodily control, but it is. The China doctors said if she wasn’t so lazy she would be able to walk so she believed if only she worked harder she could walk.  She was left at the orphanage at the age of 8 by her grandma who could no longer care for her so she believed if only she wasn’t so heavy she would have been worthy of staying with her grandma.  She was told by the orphanage director and the nannies that coming to America would allow her the medical help she needed to walk so she believed if only she held on just a little bit longer and a family came, then all of her dreams would come true.  This HOPE is what has kept her going for years.

    When she had her surgery over two years ago, she realized there was nothing that could be done.  She was never going to walk.  She was depressed and it was understandable.  She raged a lot.  She would be angry for days.  Just recently she shared that the driving force behind her wanting to stay with our family was that she was going to get treatment and be able to walk back into the orphanage and her grandmother’s house and prove that she was worthy of their love.  She wanted to prove them wrong.

    So while we thought she was adjusting well to our family, because she was happy and never complained, the truth was even though she acted like she was doing well, she was just waiting for the opportunity to walk so she could go back to China and show them all what a mistake they had made.  She was NOT vested in growing connections with our family because she already had a family in China.  Her HOPE was to one day go back to China where her grandma would welcome her back with open arms, tell Jasmine how much she missed her, and Jasmine would live happily ever after.  Jasmine liked us well enough but she wasn’t going to be staying so why attach?

    After her surgery she was so mad that she was never going to walk that she still wasn’t vested in working on relationships.  Her dreams had died.  Her HOPE was gone.  We were the people who had let her down and she was mad.  Everything that she had been planning was never going to happen.  Everything everyone had told her was a lie.

    It’s amazing how much you can miss when someone is quiet and pretends very, very well.  Jasmine is a sweet, sweet soul who has been through so many horrible things and has spent lots and lots of time alone.  As a very little girl her grandmother often left her sitting on the sidewalk for the whole day or she would leave her alone at home. No one else in the home was very connected to her.  Jasmine remembers one uncle/brother (The terms used in China are loose so I am unsure of his actual relationship to her.) who took care of her once when she had a horrible fever.   Outside of that she can’t remember anyone holding her hand or hugging her or tucking her in at night.  For the most part she was left alone and had a very lonely existence.

    When she went to the orphanage, she was unable to go to school because it was on another floor.  She was unable to eat with all the other children because the dining room was on another floor.  She was unable to go out to play because she couldn’t get down the stairs.  She was left alone in a room with her Chinese soap operas for days on end.

    It’s no wonder she doesn’t understand love because she was never shown love at least not in the way our family shows it.  We often talk about how love is “action”.  We love by how we care for others.  We hug and say “I love you” often.  We help each other.  My love language is doing things for others so I show them by doing.  I have explained that to Jasmine on many occasions.  I love you so I fix your favorite foods.  I love you so I am happy to take care of you.  I love you so I teach you.  I love you so I make sure you have your Chinese shows and music.   I love you so I hug you good night.  I love you so I make sure you take your medicine.  I can explain those things to her but the concept is foreign to her.  She can see how excited I am to see each of the children in the morning, how I care for them through out the day, and how I hug them and put them to bed, but it doesn’t resonate because it wasn’t her life until she was 14.  She sees these things and she knows I do it because I love them, but it still doesn’t make sense.

    She isn’t able to do much for anyone.  The truth is she is barely able to move.  She can brush her teeth and feed herself.  She can play on her Ipad and she can fold her origami birds, BUT she isn’t able to do all those things she sees me do for others, so she assumes she isn’t able to love.  She assumes there must be something wrong with her.  We tell her over and over again that when she hugs the littles or reads to them that is showing love.  When her heart hurts because they hurt, that is love.  But she still questions.  She still believes maybe she isn’t able to love.  She has been on the outside so long that she doesn’t know how to join the dance.

    Jasmine loves and cares for others but she hasn’t been able to put it into words.  She keeps saying she doesn’t understand or she doesn’t get it.  We know she loves in the way she cares about the kids, in the way she cares so deeply for all the orphans left in orphanages around the world, and in the way she cares for others that she sees hurting.

    So imagine my thrill when she said to me, “I think I got it Mom.  Remember when we had to share the bed in China? Remember how you pulled me close and held me? I don’t have the words for it. I never had anybody hold me close before. I never had anyone really hug me before. I can’t tell you how I felt. My heart was warm. Do you know that mom? My heart was warm and happy. How many kids will never never never know how that feels mama? That makes me sad.”

    She said she finally understood what love was.  She could put it in terms that she understood.  That was a HUGE moment for her.  But that moment was followed up by the words “Last night was the first night I no longer wanted to go back to China.”

    I will admit that I just stood there staring back at her.   Why would she want to go back to the place that caused her so much pain?  Why would she want to go back to the place where she was tortured?  Believe me when I say that I don’t use that word lightly.  She has never been treated with the kind of dignity and care that she deserved.  Why would she want to go back to the place where she just sat in a corner all day long?  America has power wheelchairs and opportunities.  America has a family that adores her.  Why would she want to go back to the place where they dropped her down stairs and left her alone?  But that’s just it, even when I think I know what she’s thinking, I don’t.  I am so far off because I don’t think the way she does. This is what she said, “I want to go back because I want them to tell me that they made a mistake.   I am worthy.  I AM NOT WORTHLESS!   I want them to pay for the horrible things that they did to me and I want to make sure nothing bad every happens to another child.”

    I’ve tried hard to explain that as much as we want others to do things, we can’t make them.  They are not going to make any of the past ok.  They are not going to take back what they did. There is no way she can protect every child in China, no matter how noble the wish is.  If there was a way to make this happen, we would travel with her and happily help in making this dream come true.

    We tell her she is worthy.  We remind her that her family has viewed her as worthy from day one.  We remind her that since she accepted Jesus Christ into her heart, she is the daughter of the King.  She is kind and beautiful and smart.  She is beyond brave.  She is resilient.  She is so much more than the person China deemed “worthless”.  We remind her again and again that walking doesn’t make you a worthy person, but in the end she has to believe this fact herself.

    We called this summer “The Summer of Healing” because we were working on healing our family after dealing with some pretty rough patches with Jasmine and her rages.  When someone is so unhappy the whole family ends up feeling it too.  As parents, you can try and protect the others as much as you can, but there’s hurt feelings no matter how hard you try.

    We turned a corner in her healing when she finally shared how she was feeling and how much anger she had toward those who hurt her.  Had I known any of what she was planning, cause we knew she had anger but not what she wanted to do because of that anger, we could have talked through it.  I was relieved that she finally shared so we could move forward.  And the question that started her healing was “Then what?”.  She hadn’t given any thought to what she would do after she went back or what would happen to her then.  She was stuck.

    So we worked on our Summer of Healing and now we are off to work on the Fall of Forgiveness.

    Forgiveness doesn’t make it all okay, but to truly heal you need to be able to forgive and let things go.  Forgiveness of ourselves is a must too.  I’ve been there.  It’s a hard road sometimes to forgive ourselves and to forgive those that have hurt us so deeply, especially when we carry the physical scars inflicted by them.  It makes it almost impossible to forget, but to heal we need to forgive and move forward.

    “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”   –  Marianne Williamson

    I think Jasmine has taken a huge step forward in deciding that she has to let go of her dream that she can some how make them all pay for what they’ve done.    Jasmine has taken giant healing steps forward this summer and we are praying that the “Fall of Forgiveness” will bring her heart the peace that it needs.

  • What If… (Mama’s turn)

    Date: 2017.09.05 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    I have been working on this blog post for a while now.  I am having great difficulty finding the right words to put down on paper that describe how I am feeling.  I have started the beginning over and over again.  I put it on hold when Jasmine came to me with her own blog that she had titled “What if” too.  I let her go first and sat on this some more.  It still doesn’t convey exactly what I want it to convey but it’s sat there waiting to be done long enough so I will give it a go.

    Recently I was honored to get to be a part of the launch group for Katie Davis Majors’ new book “Daring to Hope”.  I loved her first book “Kisses for Katie” and when doubting myself about being able to raise a large family, I would think things like, “Surely I could handle being a mother to 16 if Katie could handle being a young mother to 14.”  I had already parented.  Some of our kids were already grown.  I had a husband, a large home, food and anything else we could possibly need.  We had great medical care and insurance and I wasn’t running a non-profit on top of everything else.  Surely if God called us to this journey, we had everything we needed to be able to finish it.

    In her book Katie talks about redemption and grace and mercy and wrestling with God.  She talks about being prisoners of hope and how there’s beauty in the ashes.  This book is so much like my own life.  The being fully aware of how lacking you are and how much God isn’t.  The embracing of how you don’t have control.   The new seasons that you didn’t ask for and never would have chosen.   The pain of trauma and trying to heal little hearts and realizing it isn’t about you at all.  You were never meant to be the rescuer, God is.  God is faithful.  God loves your children.  God knows.  God sees the beauty in the pain.

    I wouldn’t have signed up for this life.  I was much too happy and content living our comfortable life to sign up for anything perceived as hard.  We did much like the Hill’s talked about in their book “House of Hope”.  We climbed into the river and let God lead us where He would.  To some that would seem reckless like we weren’t giving enough thoughts to all the “what ifs” that are out there but that just wasn’t true.

    My mind was full of “what if’s” as we proceeded…

    What if we spend our lives being obedient to God’s call and the world never, ever agrees with anything we’ve done?

    What if I work from the time I get up until the time I go to bed and I just can’t get it all done?

    What if  a full night’s rest never happens?

    What if we do everything we can possibly do to make it better and the trauma seems to win too many times?

    What if we can never, ever retire?

    What if it hurts our big kids?

    What if we sometimes don’t get everything in our school day done?

    What if the house is never perfectly clean?

    What if we eat on paper plates for the rest of our lives?

    What if it’s near impossible to invite anyone over?

    What if we never, ever get to all go to church together as a family?

    What if we sometimes disagree?

    What if we go through some really hard times as a family with medical issues or the emotionally issues of trauma?

    What if?

    What if?

    What if?

    Truth be told?  I don’t feel guilt or jealousy or any of those other emotions that tend to make us feel “less than”.  That doesn’t mean I don’t mess up or need a do over.  It just means I can see the bigger picture.

    Maybe it’s because I am over 50 and with age comes wisdom to some degree.

    Age has allowed me to see that I can not possibly please everyone and as a recovering people pleaser this is a huge deal.

    Age and my children’s medical issues bring the truth of what is really important into the light. I have read the Bible and no where did I find the words that if I believe in Jesus then my days will be perfect, my home beautiful, and my children perfectly behaved.  Instead the Bible states just the opposite.  In this world, you will have trials and trouble.

    His words have helped me find peace with my life and my large family.  I can now temper all those “what ifs” above with the “what if” of not adopting them.

    It’s easier to extend yourself some grace on a sticky floor when you temper it with “would have died in an orphanage”.

    It’s easier to not worry about raising the perfect student when they are trying so hard to learn a new language and catch up from years of no schooling when you compare that to never receiving any schooling.

    It’s easier to stop and enjoy the moment when you aren’t guaranteed that you will have years together.

    It’s easier to go through the hard knowing that every day there is healing – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  There may be almost as many steps backwards as there are forward, or at least that’s how it feel somedays, but there is definite healing.

    It’s easier to find peace with your life when you have been granted the most amazing front row seat to some pretty darn incredible miracles.

    Yes, we are a large family.  Yes, we do things differently than many smaller families.  Yes, it makes it harder to get out and do things sometimes, but on the flip side we have each other.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We love days spent in our backyard that we’ve made into a park complete with a 600 foot sidewalk path where we they can ride their wheelchairs and bikes and play.  We have girls in wheelchairs and kids who are incontinent so we bought our own backyard blow-up pool with slide that they can easily get around on.   Cassie was a gymnastics instructor for years.  We bought the mats and now she has her own little class right in our sunroom.   We want our children to experience life but what we want most is to give them a life with family.  We want them to have a place to belong and a safe place to fall. We want them to know that they will never, ever be alone again.

    I think we all have to agree that every child deserves the love of a family.  Jasmine’s Dream is “A Family for Every Child”!  We believe that in this house.  We can help. There are so man ways to step up and help.  One child at a time, one family at a time, and if we all work together, we can make a world of difference.

    Let’s work together on family preservation.  Love Without Boundaries Unity Fund is a great way to help pay for the medical procedures that families can’t afford.   Let’s support people who foster and help families heal.  Let’s provide surgeries and rehab and food and water so families can stay together and raise their children.  Let’s build schools were children can get the education that they need.  Let’s volunteer in our local schools.  Be a Big Brother or Sister.  Let’s donate a few dollars to help bring other children home because sometimes adoption is their only hope.  Let’s quit pretending that we can’t do anything and instead CHOOSE ACTION!!!

    Because “what if” this comfortable life you are living really isn’t what it’s all about?

    “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”  – Francis Chan

     

     

  • What If… (Jasmine’s Blog)

    Date: 2017.07.15 | Category: Adoption, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Jasmine's Blog | Response: 0

    Now that I am 18, I have been thinking a lot about “what ifs”.

    What if I had stayed in China?

    What if my parents hadn’t come to adopt me?

    What if my grandmother hadn’t left me at the orphanage?

    What if I could walk?

    What if I never learned about God?

    What if I never learned to not be selfish?

    What if I didn’t have a family?

    Recently China changed the rules about adoption.  It got me to thinking about “what if” my parents hadn’t adopted when they did.  What if they waited to adopt for a few more years? They wouldn’t have been able to adopt two at a time or adopt more after Maisey and Ben.  Right now with the new rules you can only adopt one more if you have 5 little kids in your house.  I am happy mama and daddy adopted when they did and that China said “Yes!”.   I am really happy that God worked the miracles that He did so that mama and daddy could adopt but I am sad about all the kids that had a family who wants them but they can’t proceed with the adoption.  It makes my heart hurt for the kids who wait.

    If I had stayed in China, I would have gone to an old person home.  The nannies said that I will sit on the floor and the old people might sometimes give me food.  I used to think that maybe they would let me beg for money on the street.  The nannies said no one would want to take care of me so the nannies would help me die if I wanted to.  They would sit my pee out and tell me if I just drink it, I will die.  Sometimes I thought about drinking it to just be done, but I never did.

    So if I stayed in China, the best I could hope for was to beg on the street or to die.   In America, I can get a job.  I have a power wheelchair.  I can fall in love.  I can be a motivational speaker.  Maybe even someday I will write a book.

    What if my grandma hadn’t left me at the orphanage?  Only my grandma and my uncle liked me.  Grandma would leave me outside or on the bed when she went to work.   I would spend all day by myself because I couldn’t move very much.  When I was 8, I got to go to school for just a couple months and I loved it but then one day Grandma showed up and took me to the orphanage.

    If others in the house had liked me, maybe I could have stayed.  I can’t walk so people in China made fun of me.  They would say, “If you can’t walk, you can’t get married.”  Grandma would pray to Buddha for me to walk.  She gave me duck soup every day for a month because it would make me walk.  They tried all sorts of herbs and medicines to help me walk, but nothing worked.  If I stayed at my grandma’s, I would have had to stay in the house all the time.  I would have had to stay in the bed and people would have been even more angry with me.  I was bad because I was a girl and could not do dishes or cook so I was worthless.

    What if I could walk?  If I could walk, it would have changed everything.  I could have stayed in China.  I could have got married.  I could have worked.  If I could walk, I would have never known about orphans and kids needing help all around the world.  I would have just  worried about me.  I wouldn’t have known any better but I would have been a miserable person because loving others and helping them makes you a happier person.

    “My wheelchair was the key to seeing all this happen—especially since God’s power always shows up best in weakness. So here I sit … glad that I have not been healed on the outside, but glad that I have been healed on the inside. Healed from my own self-centered wants and wishes.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

    When I think about it now, I never wished (prayed) that I could walk.  I was always thankful for my good days and wanted to be loved.

    What if I never learned about God?  In China I felt like there was something bigger than me. I felt like God was telling me to never give up, even though I didn’t know it was God.  I could feel in my heart that there was something else out there if I just didn’t give up.  I watched t.v. and learned about “working hard” for Buddha but it didn’t feel right.  People always talk about having more power.  People always lie and steal your money.  All the t.v. shows talked about how if you don’t have anything you should fight for it.  If you don’t have it, they shouldn’t have it either.

    With God I learned to care about others.  I learned this life isn’t all about me.   I learned that if I just care about myself I will never really be happy.   When I help other people it feels like I do the right thing and my heart feels all “warm”.  I learned that my life has a purpose.   God has a plan for me.  Yesterday, I read a post that says God can use our pain to fulfill our purpose.   I like that.  It was about Joni Eareckson Tada.  If you don’t know her story, you should read it.

    What if I never learned to not be selfish?  I can be pretty selfish.  I only worry about myself.  I think I have it worse than anyone else.  I can spend a lot of my time wishing for other stuff.  All of a sudden I am an adult and I don’t want to have everything just be about me any more.  When I asked others to raise money for shoes and to pray and help Grace, it changed my heart.   I read all the stories on Love Without Boundaries and I can’t believe what kids have to live like.  They need eye surgery and heart surgery and food and school.  Kids have to dig through the dump.  My life is good and I have a lucky life.  Now I want to help others.

    What if I didn’t have my family?  I know I wouldn’t have known what I was missing but I would be sad.  In China, I learned to be mean to other people.  No one really looks out for anyone else.  My family fought with each other and they fought with the neighbors.  They always were fighting.  People drank a lot and hit each other.   In the orphanage, one of the nannies had a boyfriend and she wanted a new boyfriend so he hit the nanny as hard as he could.  He beat her up.  I know it’s not like that for everyone but I saw a lot of fighting.

    In our family, mama and daddy says sometimes you can fight but we stick together and we say we are sorry and we love each other.  Family is about being kind and generous and helping others.  Mama and daddy say family is forever.  This is what mama and daddy say…

    In China, I didn’t have hope but in America there is much hope.  I hope that I can help others.  I hope that I can encourage others.  I hope that I can have a job.  I hope that since I have figured out how to heal my heart that I can help others heal their hearts too.

    Please consider being the “Hope” for a child who needs you.

     

     

  • RE-Adoption Day

    Date: 2017.07.01 | Category: Adoption, Family Life | Response: 0

    Five years ago we started our adoptions in China.  Gotcha Day or Family Day, as people refer to them, happen the day you meet your child.  Most of the time you travel to the Registration Office or some other official building.  Once we met a child in our hotel room.  Sometimes we were alone and sometimes we waited with many other families.  It’s a nerve wracking time as you wait for them to show up with your children.  You anxiously wait for your child to walk in the door.  You see the face you’ve been staring at in pictures for months and you wait for them to bring your child to you.   I can not watch a video of those moments without tearing up.  It instantly makes my heart race and I feel just like I was there.  It’s an amazing feeling for the parents who meet their children.  This is the end of their adoption journey to their child.

    But for the child it is exactly the opposite.  Sometimes the child has only just heard about you because the orphanage director wanted to protect their hearts because sometimes parents stop the adoption process right before the travel.   Sometimes they were too young to understand.  Sometimes they have been prepared as well as can be expected.  Sometimes the children were thrown at you like they didn’t even matter.  Sometimes they were handed over carefully.

    Those moments are a blur for us and the most scary time of their lives for the children.  They walk into a building with people that have cared for them for years and they leave with perfect strangers.   Sometimes there was crying, sometimes there was total shutdown, sometimes with the older kids there was nervous laughter or no words at all.  After you sign all your paperwork, you head to the hotel room and get to know your new child. You have 24 hours to decide if you want to complete the adoption.  Can you imagine what this is like for them?

    24 hours later you go back to the same room to sign your official papers.  If the child hasn’t been prepared or isn’t old enough to understand, they may think you are taking them back.

    Landing at home after the couple weeks in China was another eye-opening moment.  I have to admit that I have taken for granted what it means to be an American.  What it means to be free.  Those moments when you get off the plane and your children are granted citizenship are a beautiful thing.  It made citizenship more dear for me.  The way our older girls acted when receiving their Certificate of Citizenship is something I will never forget.   I will never take being a citizen for granted again.

    In honor of their citizenship and how proud they are of it, we put in a flag pole and let them raise it on Adoption Day.

    As the years went by we realized that looking back on the pictures of their scared little faces on those first days was a good/bad memory.  We wanted them to have a happy day to celebrate. Now they know what family means.  Now they can yell their “yeses” to the world that they do want a mama and daddy.   So we set out to readopt as a family.  We talked about it and prayed about it.  We picked Hope’s Adoption Day so they would all share the same day.

    The morning of Adoption Day I sat them all in front of me and read them their story.  With our older kids, I would write them a poem each year on their birthday.  They also had a journal, a calendar of their first year, and more pictures than you can even imagine.  I realized how sad it is for our kids to not have these things.  They don’t have the happy stories of their birth or any of the information of our bio kids.

    For our older kiddos, they don’t have the stories of when they first walked, or when they lost their first tooth.  There is so much information missing.  So I decided to make them a book about how we fell in love with them and what it was like before we traveled and included any pictures that we had of them before.  They love their stories and ask to hear them over and over again.  Now they will have them in print to read whenever they want.

    We had pictures taken at the courthouse by our friend Rachel.  She can always get them to smile.

    We entered the courtroom with a few extended family members and waited for the judge.

    All the kiddos were on the front row looking dapper in their red/white/blue American colors that they chose to wear.

    Our lawyer and friend, Marcy, brought them the sweetest gifts.  Hats for the boys and flowers for the girl’s hair.  There were red/white/blue mustaches and light up toys and bracelets.

    My brother Tim and his family were all decked out too.  Tim had the best outfit.

    It was really very simple.  The judge walked in.  We all stood.  Marcy told them about all the paperwork that had been filed.  He said no testimony was necessary and pronounced them all adopted.  We took a picture with the judge and that was that. I’m sure Rachel will have a better picture but this was the only one I had.  🙂

    As they left the courtroom the court room assistant let them each pick out a beanie baby.  They were tickled with their new gifts.

    We went home to prepare for our party.  We invited a few friends and family over to help celebrate with the kids.  It was a beautiful evening.

    This day was everything we had hoped it would be.  The day was full of happy memories.  They had so much fun with their friends and family.

    Thank you to everyone who was there in thought and those who were able to show up.  Thank you to all our friends who prayed for and with us during these trips.  Thank you so much.  We truly appreciate it.

  • My Sincerest Apology

    Date: 2017.06.24 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    I want to apologize to everyone whose inbox was inudated with posts from my blog today.  We have a couple of children who say they want to blog and we decided to keep them all in one place for ease in printing journals of our blogs.

    Unfortunately that meant taking all of Jasmine’s previous blogs and transferring them to my blog.  I thought I was being tricky and publishing them from the date Jasmine published them.  I had no clue they would all get sent to all of you wonderful folks who subscribe.

    My husband asked me why I was forwarding all of the blogs to him and I realized what was going on.  I truly am sorry.

    Lisa

  • Jasmine’s Dream – Forgive Yourself

    Date: 2017.06.23 | Category: Jasmine's Blog | Response: 0

    Everybody in life makes mistakes sometimes really big ones, but God always forgives us.

    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…  1 John 1:9

    But sometimes I think I say many bad things that I can’t be forgiven and I can’t forgive myself.  One time I talk to mama about it and mama says I should forgive myself because if you don’t forgive yourself it is like you are saying God is lying and He won’t forgive us.  But God is perfect and doesn’t make any mistakes and His word is true.  If God can forgive me, then I should trust Him and be able to forgive myself.

    Some people do really, really bad stuff.  Some people kill others and do some really bad stuff and they think they can’t be forgiven.  They think God will never forgive them.  They think what they did was too bad and they mess up their lives.

    But some people do some really, really bad stuff and then they believe God will forgive them and they change their lives and do some really big things for God.  People like Paul in the Bible.  Paul killed Christians and then he saved Christians.  He changed his whole life when he trusted God and forgave himself.

    God tells us to always forgive others.  Mama says I should forgive the nannys and my mama and my grandma.   Mama says it doesn’t do any good to be mad at them because they don’t know I am mad.  It only makes me sad and hurts my family here.  It doesn’t mean that it is okay.  It means that I leave it to God to judge them.

    My family always forgives me when I make a mistake or I get mad.  I sometimes hurt my mama’s feelings because I feel bad about myself.  Mama says that people who are hurting inside hurt other people.  I didn’t want mama to love me because sometimes I am afraid she will leave me too.  I love mama.  I don’t want to have mama leave me too.

    Sometimes I think my only choice is to make everyone hate me so that I can leave and live alone.  I think everybody’s lives will be easier if they don’t have to take care of me.  But my choice was wrong mama says that my family would be sad if I wasn’t here and they want to take care of me because they love me.

    Right now I work hard to forgive myself.  I want to let my family know that I love them.  I want to live here.  I want to do BIG things for God.  I want to make good choices.  Mama always says, “Was that a good choice?”  Now I ask myself that too, cause rule #1 in our house is to be kind.

    If you forgive yourself and other people, you will make your life easier because you won’t be an angry person.  If you don’t forgive, you become an angry person because you always think everything is about you and what people did to you, but if you forgive people, you can be happy and figure out what God wants you to do with your life.

  • Jasmine’s Blog – Perspective

    Date: 2017.06.23 | Category: Jasmine's Blog | Response: 0

    Perspective – a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

    My friend, Amy Eldridge, Love Without Boundaries, just visited Cambodia and Uganda.  Her stories made me think about what other kids go through in other countries. We should be thankful for what we have.  There are kids with no shoes who have to walk hours to get water.  They want to go to school but they can’t.  They get one meal a day.  They are hungry and don’t have much water.

    In Cambodia, these kids get up as early as 2 a.m. to pick through the garbage in the dump for cans and food to eat.  There are kids with no parents.  There are mean people who take little girls and do bad things with them.  My heart is sad.  There is much evil in the world.

    I hope that we can do something for these kids.  I want to give as much as I can to build schools and send food.  Amy wrote about it on LWB’s blog,

    Cambodia: Part Four

    I have read these blogs with my mom and I cried. These kids should not have to live like this. I am so excited about trying to help them.

    It gave me a new perspective on the orphanage. Even though the orphanage was bad I still had food and a bed to sleep in. I had a blanket to keep me warm and some water to drink. I sat in a wheelchair and I was mostly safe. I didn’t have to work all day. It can always be worse. I HATE that it’s worse and can’t believe that some kids have to do this.

    I looked at all these pictures of the dump and it makes me so sad. I have new nephew and when I held him it was so wonderful. He is so cute and I think about how could you look at this baby and put him in a dump. My grandma told me that she found me in the dump. Because I was “garbage” is why nobody liked me. Holding my nephew gave me the new perspective that I wasn’t garbage because I was in a dump. He couldn’t do anything to be put in a dump and I couldn’t either. No kids should ever be in a dump.

    Some people do anything to help their child and still they don’t have enough. They sell everything they have and still it’s not enough. There are kids that need sponsors on Amy’s page. If you can help, please help them.

    I think about how I want a $20 game but what could they do with that $20? I am having a hard time thinking about buying a game when others don’t have shoes or food. I have a hard time when I am just thinking about myself and being selfish. What could I give up so they could have more? I want to use my money the right way.

    I have a new perspective on lots of things.

     

  • Jasmine’s Blog – Elyse’s Words

    Date: 2017.06.23 | Category: Elyse, Jasmine's Blog | Response: 0

    (Elyse recently asked me to share this on Facebook)

    We have been studying the human body. We were talking about fingerprints and how every single one is different. It was a wonderful talk about how each of us is unique and different. Later that evening Elyse asked me this question.

    Elyse – Mom, how come your fingerprints don’t scar? I mean I have scars all over my body but I don’t have them on my finger. It was cool what we learned about in school today. You lose your skin but you still have the same fingerprints.
    Me – Do you mean your finger tips? Why would you have scars on your fingers sweetie? Did you burn them? Did something happen?
    Elyse – No, when I was really bad. I mean really bad. The nanny would pick up the skin on the end and cut them with a scissors but I don’t have any scars.
    Me – (Trying to stay unemotional because she stated this fact with no emotion whatsoever. It was like she was discussing someone styling her hair.) Why would she do that?
    Elyse – It was only when I was really bad. Like when I asked her why she was being mean to someone. I think she just wanted people to be afraid of her so we wouldn’t tell on her and she wouldn’t get in trouble. She finally got fired though.
    Me – They finally fired her? I’m happy to hear that. You know that no one should touch you like that or hurt you like that. You know you don’t deserve that right? No one deserves that.
    Elyse – Yes, I know that now. No one should hurt me. It’s just the way it is mom. Some people didn’t care and left us alone. Some people were just mean. No one really cared about me because my legs didn’t work or at least that’s how I felt. It’s just the way it is.
    Mom – I’m sure people cared. It’s just different. It’s a different culture and your love language is hugs. No one really hugs there so you had a hard time.
    Elyse – Mom, do you think people understand that it’s not a good place to be a kid? Do you think they understand how much these kids want mommies and daddies? Why don’t more kids get adopted? Do you think it’s just because people don’t know that they need familes? Why can’t we adopt mom? It’s not fair! We should adopt 3 more. Could we tell them we will stop at 3 more? Please mom.

    These are the things that are hardest for me. Things that are part of their past that just become an every day occurrence. It doesn’t stand out as something that was horrible. It just is what it is. These are the hard things. It’s not hard to help Elyse cath, or help her in and out of her wheelchair. It’s not hard to reach the things she can’t reach or help her get into the tub. What is hard is trying to heal the pain of past hurts. The trauma is so much bigger than the physical issues. Elyse is a blessing. She is joyful, sweet, caring, and so very bright. How many Elyse’s are just waiting for a family of their own?

    I know it’s hard. I know it’s out of your comfort zone. I know it’s ridiculously expensive. I know it’s scary beyond anything you could even imagine BUT the longer they wait, the harder it is.

    Last year internationally adoptions were at their lowest. 5,647 children got families. It is estimated that there are millions of orphans waiting worldwide. There is a foster care crisis in this country right now. There are 400,000 kids in foster care. 100,000 wait to be adopted. 20,000 will age out without ever receiving a family. (Adoptuskids.org) This isn’t ok. Don’t kid yourself into thinking this is ok and someone else will do it.

    Do something! Anything! Just don’t close your eyes and pretend it isn’t happening. Elyse, who was adopted at the age of 9, has asked me to share this story so that people understand that kids are waiting. She says they want families so much! She wants you to understand that bad things happen, but the very worst thing that happens is feeling like you just don’t matter.

  • Do Something from Jasmine’s Dream

    Date: 2017.06.23 | Category: Jasmine's Blog | Response: 0

    Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything?  Like the problem is so big you couldn’t possibly make a difference.

    My mommy and daddy work with Love Without Boundaries.  We pray and talk about the kids they are trying to help.  We talk about their lives and what they are going through. Sometimes it makes me cry.  The kids don’t have shoes.  The kids are very sick.  They kids walk for hours to get water.  They sometimes only eat one meal.  They want to go to school so bad.  They want to learn how to read so they can make their lives better.

    I think about how I get to live a very beautiful life and then I look at what is happening there.  I want to be able to help but I can only do a little.  I don’t have a lot of money.  Sometimes it makes me really sad.  Mama says I have two choices:

    1.) I can be sad and mad about it and get nothing done.

    OR

    2.) I can use my voice to make others think about it and try and do something.

    I want to do something.

    My birthday is coming up and I think about all the stuff I have.  I have so much and they have so little.  Why?  I keep telling my mom I don’t want anything for my birthday.  I wish they could live a good life like us.  I don’t deserve this life so why do I get to live it?   I don’t like the evil world where babies die and kids starve.  I don’t like it at all.

    Mama always says once your eyes are open you can’t pretend it isn’t happening.  I wonder why others don’t do anything, but mama says they don’t know.

    Do you know that there’s a little girl who is 14 called Grace on Love Without Boundaries?  She is in so much pain and LWB has been able to get her a doctor to help.

    Grace 1

    Now you know.  I just want people to help her.  It’s just so sad.  She can only sit for 20 minutes.  No kids should have to be hurting.  Right now I just really want to help her get better.

    That would be the very best birthday present ever.  I pray about her and hope that this time surgery will work.  She’s already had four surgeries.  But now Love Without Boundaries has a really good doctor.  Maybe this time she will be able to be fixed so she can feel better.

    If you are sad about Grace too, please help her get surgery.  She really needs help.  Please pray about her and ask for God to let the doctor know what they need to do so she can get better.

    Thank you for praying for Grace.

  • Adoption Questions Part 3

    Date: 2017.05.22 | Category: Adoption, Elyse, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Jessica | Response: 0

    The girls and I have been talking a lot about what their days were like in China.  We decided to share their answers on the blog so others could understand what their days were like.  They want others to understand that these children need a family.  They need homes and love.  The greater the child’s disability the greater their need for someone to care for them.  All three girls of our girls were in wheelchairs and that plays into how they spent their days and how they were treated by others.  This post does NOT describe every child’s life in an orphanage, this is just our girl’s experiences.

    The following questions were answered by Jasmine (age 17 – adopted age 14), Elyse (age 11 – adopted age 9), and JJ (age 9 – adopted age 8).

    What time did you wake up every day? 

    Jasmine – We woke up at 7.  On Monday every week I would get up at 5 for a shower.

    Elyse – We woke up at 6.

    Jessica – I don’t know.  I never saw a clock.  It was light out.

    What did you eat for breakfast?

    Jasmine – We ate noodles every day for breakfast.

    Elyse – We didn’t have breakfast, only the babies ate bottles.

    Jessica – I didn’t eat breakfast.

    What did you eat for lunch?

    Jasmine – We had rice, tofu, meat, and green beans.

    Elyse – Sometimes we had soup or baby eggs, and rice.  We had veggies like bok choy and seaweed.  Sometimes special we had shrimp.

    Jessica –  I would eat soup with carrots and peas and wet rice (?).

    What did you eat for supper?

    Jasmine – We had pork every night with rice and seaweed soup and sausages.

    Elyse – Seaweed or tofu soup, congee, or rice.  Sometimes we would have meat – chicken or pork.

    Jessica – We would sometimes have chicken feet, pork, and soup.

    Were there ever any special treats?

    Jasmine – Chicken feet on New Year and Children’s Day.  Sometimes visitors brought crackers.

    Elyse – Chicken feet when my foster grandma visited.  Candy from visitors.

    Jessica – Visitors brought candy and crackers and weird milk.

    Did you ever have fruit?

    Jasmine – Bananas and apples for snack.  They would also let us have juice and the Chinese cracker.

    Elyse – Banana and apples and watermelon and sometimes mangoes.

    Jessica – Bananas and apples and oranges.

    What did you do during the day?

    Jasmine – Got up at 7, I wore the same clothes I slept in, breakfast was at 7:30, then I watched tv with everyone, sometimes I read to the kids and played with them, we would eat lunch at 12, watch more tv, take a nap at 1, snack at 3, watch more tv, then we eat dinner at 5, and watch more tv until 9 and then go to bed.   We were always in the same room except for sleeping.

    Elyse – I got up at 6, they put me on the toilet for a long, long time, then I would get up and help feed the babies, then back to the toilet,  I ate lunch on the toilet, and they would let me get up and feed the babies, put me back on the toilet, and I would eat supper on my little tiny table while on the toilet.  I would read books while sitting there.  It was so boring.   I would feed the babies before bed, change their diapers, and I would go to bed really late at night.  About once a week I would get to go to the school room and learn.  I like to learn.

    Jessica – I woke up when it was light outside.  I played with toys by myself.  I ate lunch.  I took a nap.  I watched tv. I ate supper.  I would play on my scooter and go around in circles.  I would go to bed when it was dark.

    Did you ever brush your teeth? 

    Jasmine – Once every 3 months or so.

    Elyse– Never brushed my teeth.

    Jessica – I never brushed my teeth.  I never ever see a toothbrush.

    What about clothes?

    Jasmine – I would wear the same clothes for one or two weeks.   The nannies always picked out my clothes.  If I asked to wear a dress the nannies would tell me that I don’t deserve a dress because I can’t walk.  I could wear nice clothes when someone was visiting.

    Elyse – I would wear the same clothes for close to a month.  I would still have to wear the same clothes if I got urine on them.  (Elyse is incontinent from spina bifida.)  I sometimes smelled so they made me sleep in the baby room but that was okay because I loved the babies.  The nannies said I can’t wear nice clothes because I can’t walk and I pee on my clothes because I have to wear a towel no diapers.  The nannies would pick the worst clothes for me unless someone was visiting and then I could wear nice clothes and as soon as the visitor left I would have to take it off and put on my dirty clothes again.

    Jessica – I changed my clothes when I got wet every day.  I wore yucky towels for diapers.   They hurt and was tied really tight.

    Did you play outside?

    Jasmine – No I could only sit at the window and watch the other kids play.  I wished I could play so much but I was upstairs and they couldn’t get me downstairs.   The boys would make fun of me for not going outside.

    Elyse – I wasn’t allowed to play outside with the other kids.  But it was okay because I got to take care of the babies.  Every time I looked at the babies I got upset because the nannies said they hate babies, but I love babies.  Who wouldn’t want a baby?  One time I took care of a baby a lot.  She was always happy with me but then she died because her head got too big.   I feel it was my job.  I liked my job.  The other girls thought the babies were yucky because they spit up and peed on them but that don’t bother me at all.

    Jessica – Sometimes for a little bit.

    What time did you go to bed?

    Jasmine – I went to bed at 9:30 because the nannies want to watch the tv.

    Elyse – I would go to bed sometimes late like 12:30.

    Jessica – I would go to bed when it was dark.

    Who did you share a room with?

    Jasmine – I shared the room with three other girls.

    Elyse – I shared the room with 20 babies.

    Jessica – The little kids.  There was lots of them.  They were little kids who couldn’t walk.

    Did you ever get to leave the orphanage?

    Jasmine – On Children’s Day every year we got to do fun stuff like go to the zoo, eat KFC, and go to a movie.

    Elyse – I never left the orphanage.

    Jessica – They tell me they would take me but they never did.

    Do you have any happy memories from the orphanage?

    Jasmine – I liked to play with the kids and read to them.

    Elyse – Taking care of the babies.  I loved the babies.

    Jessica – Feeding the babies bottle.

    What was the saddest thing for you?

    Jasmine – The nannies would hit me.  They would use a stick from the big apple in the box that China has.  They would sometimes tell me I was bad so I could not eat.  They would throw me on the bed and in the shower.  It was so scary because they would just throw me.  I didn’t want to take a shower.  Sometimes they make me sleep on the floor because they tell me I can get up myself but I can’t because I can’t move by myself.  When they would try to stretch my legs out to make me walk, but I couldn’t.  It really hurt.  When the kids and the nannies were really, really mean to me.

    Elyse –  When the baby died when I was holding it.  They baby just stopped breathing and the nanny took the baby away and brought in a different baby.  It was so very sad.  It made me so upset.  The baby’s head was just so big.   One time the nanny got mad at me and cut off the skin on my fingers.  She said I was going to tell the boss on her and she wanted to scare me.  When they would throw me on the toilet and on the bed and the bathtub.  I hated them throwing me down.  There is other really sad stuff I don’t want to talk about.

    Jessica – I hate the doctor!   I don’t like the nannies yelling at me.

    Did you have any friends?

    Jasmine – Liuli and JoLiy

    Elyse – Just the babies.

    Jessica – Yes, I can’t remember their names.

    Anything else you’d like to say?

    Jasmine – The nannies really didn’t like me at all.  They didn’t like taking care of me.  They always say I can walk and that I am just pretending so I can be lazy.   The nannies said people will never like me if I can’t walk.  They say I will never get married.  I am happy to have a family now.  I wish all the kids could have families.

    Elyse – The nannies tried to stretch out my legs.  They try and try to stretch them out.  (Elyse has contractures on both legs but she has no feeling in her legs.)   Orphanage life is not good for kids.  I wish I could change the world and I would pick that no babies would die or that there would be no evil people to hurt other people.

    Jessica – Orphanages are bad.  The worst place with ugly pink bathtubs and bad doctors.

     

    “Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows we know and holds us responsible to act.” Proverbs 24:12

     

     

     

     

     

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