I am going to try and post from my phone. This ought to be interesting. :) (Hint- it didn’t work. -Cassie)
We will be traveling to three different cities on this trip. Stage one – Hefei, stage two – Zhengzhou, and the final stage – Guangzhou.
This has been the most relaxed adoption trip ever so far. They messed up our room at the Hilton and we ended up in a suite. A two bedroom suite with a jacuzzi tub that Elyse has loved.
We have played cards, shopped, ate pizza and watched some really interesting shows on a channel called Diva.
We visited the orphanage and met Elyse’s foster grandmother, mother, father and assorted family. Elyse spent the first 7 years or her life with them before being called back to the orphanage. It was a very moving moment in time and I believe allowed Elyse some closure. Elyse had not seen them for two years and yet she acted like it was just yesterday. Elyse’s foster grandmother told her to go, love her family, and be happy. What a gift!
Tomorrow, bright and early, we head out to Zhengzhou for stage two of our trip. We meet Max on Monday. I am so ready to hold our boy. Praying that he isn’t too frightened and ready to he loved up.
Please surround our little guy with prayer. I can’t imagine what it feels like to all of a sudden be with other people who look so different from you. Elyse has done really well. She has been prepared well for adoption. Praying the same is true with Max.
Well, the day is finally here. We leave bright and early at 4 a.m. It didn’t sound so bad when we bought the tickets. What was I thinking?
It will all be worth it when we meet these two….
I’ve been informed that Elyse says, “To hurry up. What’s taking you so long mom?”
The countdown chart has been prepared.
Friends even dropped off a little gift for each and every day that we are gone.
Thanks Foerch family!!!
This trip will be different in that Dan is staying home. With Evie and Elijah recently having surgery, we decided it would be better if one of us stayed home. It won’t be the same without Dan with me. We’ve never been apart more than a week in the 30 years we have been married.
He’s sad and I’m sad.
But he is going to fly to Chicago so that he can meet the kids before everyone else does because that’s what daddies who wish the could go….do. I love the way he thinks.
The kids have been kissed and tucked in.
They all told me to hurry up and get Max and Elyse so they can come home and see the Christmas lights.
Cassie and daddy have the fort covered.
Everything’s packed and ready to go.
So even though I’m sad about leaving my loved ones behind. I am reminded of the reason we chose to adopt in the first place. It’s not always an easy journey but well worth it.
Look how far Lainey has come! She is such a happy girl now.
Family is a beautiful thing.
Cassie will update while I’m gone.
She’s a little busy with some wedding plans, but I think she can handle it.
Wedding plans you ask?
Oh! Did I forget to mention what happened the other night?
Well, Reece graciously included all her siblings and surprised Cassie by proposing at Jolly Holiday Lights.
Jolly Holiday Lights is a couple miles of lighted up signs and at the end you can get out and get a picture with Santa.
So we loaded up the bus….
and the siblings had their picture taken.
She said “Yes!”
It seems we have lots of good news to share!
We will be home soon! Please continue to keep us all in your prayers.
Max and Elyse as their lives change.
All those that wait at home.
Zach, Steph, and I for safe travels.
We have so much to be thankful for this year.
Blessed with hearts that are healing.
Both physically, from surgery,
and emotionally, from trusting that forever really means forever…
Thankful for new additions to the family.
Thankful for hockey teams that aren’t afraid to be silly to make sick little girls smile.
Thankful for older siblings that are always willing to go the extra mile for their little siblings.
Thankful for fun new adventures.
Thankful for the things the whole family can do together.
Thankful for the ability to order anything on Amazon. (chicken feet)
Thankful for new friends from all over the U.S.
Thankful for the strong arms of a big brother.
And traditions passed on from grandfather to father.
Thankful for siblings who love each other and find comfort in each other’s company.
Thankful for God doing big things in the lives of little girl’s who touch our hearts.
Thankful for God’s comfort when those big things aren’t what you planned for.
Thankful for a soft place to fall.
Thankful for little girl’s who are making BIG progress.
Thankful for pink little toes.
Thankful for food in bulk.
Thankful for being able to travel soon (12/13) to meet our newest blessings.
Thankful for wonderful places to stay while going through surgeries.
And the blessing of being able to proclaim your faith in Christ by baptism after being saved by God’s grace.
Thankful for daughter’s who feel safe enough to blog on their own.
Here are Jasmine’s words from today on her blog. (Happy Thanksgiving)
We have so much to be thankful for this year, including our friends and family.
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!
On this date, thirty years ago, I stood in the candlelight at dusk and said “I do” to my best friend.
I often wonder what I would have said if the minister would have proceeded to list what we would go through in our first thirty years.
Do you, Lisa, take Dan to be your wedded husband?
To have and to hold, from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
through adding eight children in three years after your 46th birthday,
to constantly being busy and pulled in all directions at all times,
through stacks and stacks and stacks of paperwork,
through three trips to China,
through Dan’s 17 years of training to become a physician,
and having to move away from friends and family for years,
for richer, for poorer,
$125,000 in student loans,
through the years of not having enough money to pay the bills,
to giving up retirement until well past 70,
to giving up vacations and fancy cars, and using bonuses to pay for adoptions,
in sickness or in health,
having twins 3 months early,
through the death of a child,
through Codey’s spending the first 14 months of his life in the hospital,
through caring for a child who came home with a tracheotomy, g-tube, and on a ventilator,
through the many years spent in the hospital caring for your children,
through late nights of no sleep,
to caring for sick children forever,
to the possibility of losing five children way before it should be their time to go,
to helping little souls heal after they have had to go through more than any child should,
through too many surgeries to count,
through losing your mom, aunt Kay, Dan’s dad, Dan’s grandpa, your grandpa, Dan’s grandma, and your step-dad all in a six year span.
to never having an empty nest,
to love and to cherish ’till death do you part?
I often wonder what my twenty-year-old self would say. The twenty-year-old me set out to marry an art teacher, to live in her small town, and raise a couple of children. Obviously, we don’t want the hard in our lives. We want the comfortable, the controlled, the fun, the happy, and none of the above says fun or happy to a 20 year old. We learn that it is all about the American dream from a very early age. Work hard, make a lot of money, and live the most comfortable life that you can.
But the fifty-year-old me knows better. The fifty-year-old me knows just how blessed I am. The fifty-year-old me would run down the aisle for a chance to spend another thirty years beside her very best friend, the man who holds me up when I think I can’t go on, the man who knows God is in control and trusts God’s plan, the man who tells me every day how blessed he is to have all of us in his life.
Because the fifty-year-old me knows something the twenty and thirty-year-old me didn’t. The fifty-year-old me learned I shouldn’t live with my eyes on the world, but that my eyes should be firmly planted on eternity. I learned that I should have been listening harder to God’s call. I learned that this life isn’t all about ME. The fifty-year-old me knows what it feels like to have a front row seat to God’s miracles. The fifty-year-old me knows that those hard times have given me the gift of a closer relationship with Christ.
It has given me great joy as I’ve watched Jesus in my children’s hearts as they opened their hearts to adopt others. They didn’t fret that their new brothers and sisters might not be on this earth long, they trusted in the fact that God promises forever. They trusted in God’s plan. My children learned the precious gift, that this life isn’t about them, way before I did. They know how to give of themselves. They know that sharing their room, or their toys, or their parents time and love isn’t a bad thing. They understand being adopted into God’s family better than most people ever will. They have a firm understanding of God’s grace in ways I never did as a child.
Watching God work in our family has been an amazing gift that goes so far beyond the pain of the hard. When you are so far past what you could even consider doing on your own, you know it’s all from God. The gift of a closer walk with God is priceless.
Yep, the fifty-year-old me would happily take this journey again because it has been one amazing, wonderful, unbelievable, seriously blessed ride!
For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:26 NIV
We are children of God through faith.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 NLT
God has adopted us into his family.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God… Ephesians 2:8 NIV
We joyously accept being called into God’s family simply by believing in Him.
And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV
We rely on the fact that we are sons and daughters of Christ.
In fact, our future in eternity depends on it.
We live our lives quoting scripture about God’s grace.
We talk about God and refer to Him as our Father.
We talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We know what adoption means.
November is National Adoption Month.
November 2nd was Orphan Sunday.
The one day of the year that most churches talk about caring for the orphan.
This month is meant to bring awareness to the need to adopt.
But as Christians shouldn’t we already be aware?
Do we really need a day in November to talk about orphan care?
Does there really need to be a month to raise awareness about adoption?
James 1:27 is pretty clear.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
To look after orphans…
It isn’t a suggestion.
God has COMMANDED us to care FOR the orphan, not just ABOUT the orphan.
We should all be doing our part.
We should support families so they stay intact.
We should come along side those that are adopting.
We should sponsor children.
We should foster.
We should do respite care.
We should help pay for needed surgeries.
We should provide medicine, food, and clean water.
We should educate others and talk about it in our daily lives.
It shouldn’t be one day or one month out of the year.
We are called to help the needy and the poor.
We are called to help the orphan and the widow.
Adoption has been called the visible gospel.
What better testimony is there?
When we care for others, we are the hands and feet of Christ.
“My friends, adoption is redemption.
It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous.
Buying back lives costs so much.
When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” – Derek Loux
Christ paid the ultimate price for us.
But we claim no time, no money, not being called.
We close our eyes, but the truth is…
We have no excuse.
We know what adoption means.
The need is great.
What will you do?
What will you say when you one day stand before Christ?
How will you answer “What did you do FOR the least of these?”
We got the wonderful news Tuesday that we could head home.
7 days post-op from open heart surgery and she was ready to go.
She was ready in two seconds flat with her cape, sparkly boots, phone, and purse with all her critters.
Dr. Marx came to say goodbye and to let us know how pleased he was with her recovery.
She could barely contain the giggles in the elevator.
Everyone thought she was very stylish!
We said our prayers before we took off.
She was so happy to be home with the other littles.
And the middles…
And the bigs were happy too. Although I did not take any pictures to prove this fact.
It’s hard to tell which little is the happiest to have her home.
Trying to get a picture with Lainey proved to be quite the challenge.
After 2 1/2 years of having little blue ones in the house, the surgeries are done and everyone is PINK!
WE LOVE THE COLOR PINK! It looks pretty good on our Evie Faith!
We have been so blessed through the past year with all your prayers. It started with Evie’s heart cath in August of last year, we had four more heart catherizations and three more open heart surgeries. Each one of the kids did unbelievably well. With each of the last three surgeries, the kids were discharged on post op day 7. Have I told you how much I love the number 7? Here is the definition for the number 7 in the Bible.
Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual).
Seems pretty appropriate for these little ones who are healing emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Thank you again for every prayer said, every word of encouragement uttered, and for standing with us during this busy, busy year. We can not possibly put into words how much it meant.
Praise be to God!
We are indeed seriously blessed!!!
I have blogged a few times about what people have said to us on this adoption journey. I wrote about the Top 10 Questions. Later, I wrote another post about the Questions we’ve been asked. And most recently I wrote a blog about the Four Types of People we have met.
I have heard “Boy, you have your hands full.” so many times when I’m out shopping, that I have considered, whenever I am out with the kids, wearing a t-shirt that says, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”
Believe it or not…
Yes, I know how it happens.
Yes, I have time to play with everyone.
Yes, they are happy.
Yes, they like each other.
Yes, they are loved.
Yes, I am blessed.
I know that I am not the only person who hears these things. You-tube is full of funny videos about just this thing. This Christmas video is one of my favorites. Believe it or not we have been asked each and every one of these questions. Although, I don’t think Cassie would approve of the very first answer.
There are many, many blogs talking about this very subject. I know it doesn’t just happen to me. I know most people don’t mean anything by it. I answer politely and with grace as often as possible. I can sometimes be blunt when I think it will make a better point to help someone remember not to judge in the future. For example, when we were flying to Boston for her surgery, Evie asked if she could have a Coke. I told her yes and when they were handing out drinks I asked the flight attendant for a Coke for Evie. She asked me if I was really going to give Evie a Coke. Lots of times I just smile and let things go. But this time she just stared at me with the most obnoxious look on her face and I thought I needed to say something. I informed her that I was indeed going to give Evie a Coke. I also told her that Evie was having open heart surgery on Monday and I wasn’t sure if she was going to live or not so today I was okay with her having a Coke.
I honestly do try to answer politely. I try to keep a smile on my face. I know most people are just trying to be funny. I know most people don’t mean anything by it. I have even practiced responses to lots of the usual questions so I am better prepared to answer, but sometimes I get asked a question that just throws me for a loop.
It happened on this trip. She asked this question right after she had just asked about all of our children. I thought she was truly interested.
“Do you think you might have done something wrong in a previous life to deserve this?”
How do you even answer that? There aren’t any one or two sentence answers that are going to properly answer it.
No, I never think that. I honestly often wonder how I got to be so lucky? Why am I so blessed? Why do I get to parent these beautiful children? It has never crossed my mind that God might be punishing me.
It’s all about perspective I guess.
All I know is Seriously Blessed is the name of my blog for a reason.
Amazingly, two days after having open heart surgery, Evie was discharged to the cardiac floor.
Today, post-op day 3, she no longer needs extra oxygen. She has started eating again and is acting more like her sweet, little self.
Yesterday and today have been healing days.
We have blown bubbles to help us clear our lungs.
We’ve dressed up in our pretty jewelry that daddy bought so we can pretend to be a princess.
And we’ve taken lots of naps surrounded by our soft, cuddly friends.
As Dan and I sat there today looking at her sweet face, we were reminiscing about what she looked like when we first met her on that day in May of 2013. She was a 26 month old, bald, very blue little girl with oxygen sats in the 50′s, weighing 13 pounds, unable to even sit up by herself, and able to fit in a 6 month pair of pajamas.
Even then, as sick as she was, you could see her big personality shining through.
Dan and I are feeling very blessed this evening. What an amazing journey this has been.
Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Today Evie has her Fontan surgery. Today Evie gets a chance at a longer life. Today is a beautiful day!
For some reason getting ready for Evie’s surgery has been extra difficult. Ben and Eli both had great results, better than normal results even, but this time there has been a small voice whispering “You’ve had too much good luck!”.
I know this isn’t the truth. It’s not luck. I have nothing to do with it. It’s not based on rewarding or punishing me. Evie’s life has been forever known to God. God did not set out to harm Evie. God did not leave Evie on the side of the road. Man did that. I won’t get into debates about whether God made Evie this way or why her parents had to leave her. I can not even begin to fathom the whys of the world.
If you know Evie, you know she oozes joy. She is a beautiful soul. She is full of laughter and light. She makes friends wherever she goes. Evie’s plan is most assuredly John 9:1-3. If you have never heard this verse, here it is…
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3
I see that with Evie. I see the works of God displayed in her. How many of us can say that about our lives?
As I was flying to Boston I had lots of time to just look at my girl. I watched as the flight attendants and people around us interacted with her. When we landed, the gentlemen in our row told me that he flies all the time and has never, ever seen a child behave so well. If you had seen us earlier when we arrived at the airport, you’d know what a miracle this was. We arrived at the airport and Evie refused to get out of the car. She cried and yelled, “I don’t want to go.” She knew exactly where we were going.
As we headed to security, I went over the plans. We would fly to Boston. We would have a good night and go to our doctor’s appointment. The doctor’s appointment would have no big owies. We would have two days just to hang out and have fun together. I told her we had three days until surgery. I told her if she was sad and worried leading up to surgery, she wouldn’t have fun the next three days. I asked her if she trusted mommy and she said, “YES!” From that moment on she has done really well. Whenever we went to radiology, labs, echo, she was nervous, would cry a bit, and I would say, “Do you trust me?” and she would yell, “YES!” and smile. I can not even begin to explain what that did to my heart.
It was then that I understood why I was so nervous. Evie was trusting us to do what was best for her. We are trying to make the best decisions we can with the information we have. Dr. delNido is skipping the second stage and going straight to the third stage. This is wonderful because it will save her having another big open heart surgery but it makes it a little more complicated. We are trusting the doctor’s decisions. They know so much more than we do and are the best that there is in cardiology. But the risks are still there…complications, strokes, and death are possible. Every time you head in for open heart surgery you take a chance. You are hoping to extend their lives, to give them a better quality of life and a longer life, but the truth is it doesn’t always work that way.
I was feeling a little nervous and then I read this devotional. I have mentioned many times how I love that God brings the words to me that I need to hear when I need to hear them.
“The truth is that all things belong to God, including our time and our children. Every heartbeat is His gift. This perspective encourages us to make our offerings as true worship because we realize we have no claim on the things of this earth. It is only because of grace that we are able to have fellowship with Him and offer those gifts in the first place.” – Parenting by Design
Every heartbeat is a gift. I truly believe that. It is only by grace that I have been granted the opportunity to be Evie’s mama. I am worshiping a God who has graciously granted us 525 days with Evie. 525 of the most beautiful days that you could ever hope to have. Today I praise a God of possibilities. I praise a God of second chances. I praise a God that knows every hair on Evie’s head. He has always known her and will hold her in His hand. He loves my girl even more than I do.
We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. They took her to the O.R. at 7:30. They are expecting it to take at least six hours and I will update how it goes in the comment section.
Please continue to pray for Evie. Pray for the doctors and for everyone who will come in contact with her. May they see God’s love and hope in everything that we do. May Evie’s life continue to be a beacon of light showing all of God’s good works.
There’s an amazing thing that happens when we are traveling and in the hospital. We are presented time and time again with the opportunity to share our adoption story, this is especially true when you travel with Evie. We like to joke that Evie may have half a heart but God gave her double the personality. She is social. She is a greeter. She says “Hi!” to everyone she meets. She is just a beautiful soul. She notices everyone from the lady sitting by herself on the bench to the little girl in the hot pink wheelchair in the gift shop who everyone else just walked by. Evie saw her. Evie said hello to her and blew her a kiss. The grandmother even mentioned how most little kids are afraid of this little girl, but not Evie.
Today we had the pre-op appointment getting ready for her Fontan surgery bright and early Monday morning. All day long she has been practicing saying “How are you?”. It just cracks me up. She told the x-ray tech that she was sorry she cried. She even thanked the phlebotomist for her owie.
The adoption talk starts when people say how cute she is, how social she is, and then they ask if she has any brothers or sisters. When I say that she has 13 siblings, there are a variety of ways people respond. You can usually tell within one or two questions which group they will fall into.
“The Skeptic” – these people believe we must have some ulterior motive – want money, glory, to get a book deal or to be on reality TV, etc.
“The Confused” – Why would you put yourself through this? Why China and not the U.S.? Are you crazy?
“The Appreciative” – You are so kind, thank you, your kids are so lucky.
“The Curious” – I’ve always thought about adoption or I’d love a large family…
The skeptics hurt my heart. I wonder how they could think those things. Adoption is hard. How could anyone think you did it for any of those reason? How many people really get a reality show? I most certainly don’t want one. Our house is too loud to be a t.v. show. I often refer to our house as controlled chaos. I love children running and laughing out loud. I love loud, off key singing and dancing. Plus, it is way too much work to try and be famous.
Answering the questions of the confused are much harder because I am constantly on defense. Trying to justify why one child deserves to be adopted is impossible. The truth is trying to adopt when you are older is tricky. There were many factors in why we chose to adopt from China. After we traveled the first time, there were even more reasons why we went back. None of this can be explained in just a couple of sentences nor will any of it make sense to someone who doesn’t understand what a child living in institutional care goes through. (Jasmine’s Blog)
Then there are those who go on and on about what we are doing. They are the appreciative. It’s embarrassing. Honestly anyone who spends a moment with these guys would have to be blind and unfeeling to not understand why we do it. They are beautiful souls full of life and love. Their joy is contagious. I am not special or extra kind or wonderful. I am blessed, truly blessed to be their mama.
My favorite moments are with the curious. I love when people truly, honestly want to know why. What would lead us to do this? Why would we open our hearts to pain? Why would we invest this much time in children that have health issues? Why would we adopt nine?
I love how often God puts those in our path that have been thinking about adopting. It happens time and time again. It is inspiring to talk with those that are in the process of adopting, have adopted, or have gone on mission trips and cared for special needs children. It’s fun to share notes, encourage others, and learn about new organizations that are helping those in need.
I enjoy being able to share how God lead us to each of the children. God has amazingly opened up doors time and time again. I love to share about the children’s stories because it is not about me or Dan or our family. It’s all about God. It is an honor to be able to share their stories, to talk about how far they have come, and what it means to step out in fear, but with trust that God’s plan is perfect!
It’s hard to contain your joy when you have been allowed to be part of such amazing stories. I mean really who wouldn’t want to be a part of this girl’s life?
Just a reminder:
If you are on Facebook, you can follow along at Seriously Blessed by Adoption.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. Psalm 28:7 NIV
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Half the Sky Foundation
- Hats for Gracie
- Holt International
- Hope Ministries
- Jessie Joy Rees Foundation (NEGU)
- Lifeline Children Services
- Love Without Boundaries
- New Hope Foundation China
- Samaritan's Purse
- Show Hope
- Smile Train
- World Vision
- China 2013
- China 2014
- Congenital Heart Defect
- Evangeline Faith
- Family Life
- Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)
- Lainey Rae
- Thoughts to ponder