Archive for the ‘China 2013’ Category

  • Thoughts rolling around in my head (part 1)

    Date: 2013.05.27 | Category: Adoption, China 2013, Thoughts to ponder

    I thought these 3 a.m. postings would stop once we got home, but I guess not.  Children are not wishing to sleep so I am trying to type with Eli lying on my shoulder.  Not sure my post will make sense. I can’t even guarantee that there won’t be any typos, but I did want to get some of these thoughts down in writing so I will give it a shot.  Here’s to sleep deprived blog writing…..

    ABOUT THOSE FIRST FEW DAYS:

    I will admit to being knocked to my knees when we got the kids.  When we picked up Lainey, she was just so sad and acted out the first two days.  She had been moved from the only home she had known for almost 2 years.  She went by train for 16 hours and ended up in a new place where people didn’t know how to help her calm herself.  So by the time we got her, she was in full meltdown mode for most of the time.  She refused to look anyone in the eye, pulled her hair, rocked on the floor, slept for about an hour, at the most, at a time and screamed….a lot.  It was unbelievably overwhelming.  Add to that Evie’s severe malnutrition and Jasmine’s disability and what that meant for Jasmine’s future and my heart was just broken.

    I had dreams.  Dreams of five toddler beds with the sweet little babies all tucked in at night.  I could picture home schooling 5 little kids at about the same level and watching them grow.   I could picture us getting Jasmine her surgery and helping her achieve her schooling dreams.  I could see her happy and thriving.  I could picture this and so much more. I have dealt with Codey’s severe physical and mental disabilities for 26 years, it’s not that I was afraid of doing that again.  With Lainey, I was afraid of not being able to reach her.  I was afraid of what would happen if this was all there was for her.  Screaming and yelling and pulling her hair – stuck in her own little world.  What if that was all there ever would be.  Could I handle that?  What if she never even realized that she had a family?  Would adopting her even make a difference?

    That is a scary thought as a parent.  With Codey, I felt I didn’t have a choice, you don’t walk away from your child, but here I was  half a world away being asked if we still wanted to adopt her.  I was tired, worn out, frustrated by the lack of information we had before we proceeded with the papers in the first place, overwhelmed by what would be required to care for her and Evie and Jasmine.  Add to all of that, the fact that Eli would only sleep, while I was standing, with his head on my shoulder, and Evie was eating every 2-3 hours; well, the sleep deprived state I was in, didn’t help me in regard to having any rational, scripture based thoughts.  I cried out to the Lord.  I questioned whether He knew what He was doing because how could He possibly think I could handle this?

    Lainey cried and cried and cried, but she is comforted by lying her little head on your shoulder.  She calms there.  So I held her.  Dan held her.  Cassie held her.  Linda held her.  And we cried lots and lots of tears. Tears for dreams lost and tears from the fear of whether or not we could handle it.  The final decision came down to us knowing that God lead us to her.  We believe that with our whole heart.  I have written about it a lot.   So many things led us to this little girl.  I had looked at her picture for close to a year.  I had prayed for her.  I had fallen in love with her little piggy tails and her sweet little face.  This was our child and we would bring her home.  As I said before, you don’t walk away from your child.

    As the days went by, Lainey came out of her shell.  She giggled and laughed and danced and ran and played….even purposely played.  She responds to her name.  She pats you and looks at you with such love.  There is a sweet little soul there.  After just two weeks with her, there is a glimmer of hope.

    DISRUPTION:

    While we were in China, we met quite a few couples.  We traveled with five couples and many couples came up to us when they heard/saw that we had adopted four.  They wanted to know how we did it.  We explained that we had special circumstances and why it happened.  They were friendly.  Lots of Facebook friend requests and e-mail addresses exchanged.

    During all of our conversations, we heard about a little nine-year-old girl with mild cerebral palsy whose family had shown up to adopt her.  I don’t know her adoptive family. I only know this story as told by the family, that we talked to, that was at the office with her on their “gotcha day”.  This little girl was beaming.  She was so happy to finally have a family.  Her disabilities didn’t seem immense. She was able to walk and seemed pretty bright although she did have some institutional delays.  She went with the family.  She ate with the family.  She slept with the family.  She believed that this was her family.  Only to be told the next day that they did not wish to sign the papers.  She would not be their daughter.  Now everyone can say that it is for the best.  She shouldn’t be with a family that doesn’t love her.  She is better off waiting for a family to come forward that really wants her to be their daughter.  BUT what if one doesn’t?  Is she really better off in an orphanage?  How did this happen?  Did they not know about her disabilities?  What made them say that it was too much?

    The rumor was that the family thought she wasn’t a good fit because she wasn’t bright enough to be in their family.  Now normally I hate rumors.  I don’t want to spread words that I did not for fact hear myself.   The reason I have chosen to even include this statement is just the thought that that could be okay in someone’s world.  Can someone really not be smart enough for your family?  How do you get children that are smart enough?  What is smart enough?   This little girl’s life has been forever changed.  She has been abandoned again.  She has waited at least a year to be chosen.  She has probably spent most of her life in that orphanage.  The orphanage can now deem her unadoptable if they wish.  Will she be afraid to ever love and give up hope?  What must she think as she sits there in that orphanage?  My heart breaks for her and all the other children deemed unworthy of a family.  We are all unworthy.  When did we lose sight of this fact?

    NOT AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION:

    Those were the words I read when I asked about the little girl in pink from Jasmine’s orphanage.  She is not available for adoption.  For reasons outside of her control, she will live her life in that orphanage and be released when she is 14.  The longing look in her eyes still haunts me.  The sweet hug and her head laid softly on my shoulder still breaks my heart.   She wants a mama.  She wants to be in a family and she will not be allowed to.

    Yes, even with all that was going on I wrote and asked about her.  Even with all that was going on, I would go back and get her in a heartbeat if they told me her papers were available.  Why?  Because every child deserves a family.  EVERY child.  Not some.  Not the worthy.  Not the healthy.  Not the unbroken.  EVERY child deserves the love of a family.  Especially little girls, with broken hearts, dressed in a pretty pink shirt and green dress shoes with bows, that steal your heart with just a look.

     

  • Heartbreaking

    Date: 2013.05.23 | Category: China 2013

    So excited to be leaving in the morning. I can’t wait to hug my babies at home and check on my mama.  I can’t wait to not be stared at, have a glass of water right out of the faucet, eat some regular food, exercise, recieve texts, and be able to check Facebook.  I’m looking forward to not living out of my suitcase.  I just want to get home and start working on my new normal.  Not that I’m ever normal mind you.

    Our guide in Guizhou, Bill, and our guide here in Guangzhou, Kathy, have asked Shuang over and over again if she has any questions for us.  She always shakes her head no and says she is fine, with a great big smile on her face.  We have been communicating with Google translate, but she talks so soft she isn’t able to be picked up by the microphone so she hasn’t been able to ask us any questions.  I have been able to say things to her like “I’m happy you are my daughter.”  and “Everyone at home loves you.” and even “Do not be afraid.  Everything will be ok.”  She has always answered “Ok!” and smiled, but tonight I asked her if she was excited about going to America and she said, “Yes!”  I then said, “Do  you have any questions?” and she answered, “Yes!”   I couldn’t believe she was finally asking a question.

    I called Kathy to come down to our hotel room right away.  I figured Shuang would ask about how long the trip was, what time we were leaving, or what our home was like in America.   Kathy came in and asked her if she had any questions and she said, “Yes.” again.  I was not prepared for her question.  She asked, “When I get to America can anyone take me away from my family?”  We all sat there with tears in our eyes.  We had Kathy explain that no one could ever take her away.  That no matter what happened she would be our daughter.  We explained that no matter how sick she gets we will never let her go.  We told her how much we love her and how happy we are that she is our daughter.   We told her of our friends who would be able to communicate with her because they speak Mandarin.  We told her about all that she will be able to learn and she was so excited.  We told her of all the people who care for her.

    Dan and I were talking about how hard all of this is.  How do you explain what happened to a child?  Is it easier for her to think that she was abducted instead of abandoned?  What does she remember?  Do I even want to know?  Did the orphanage tell her that she was taken away from her family because she was ill?  What has she been told?  I hate that it will take years for her to feel safe enough or have enough English to be able to share what actually happened.  I hate that my little girl has had so much pain in her life.  She has really been so brave. We have to do everything for her and she just trusts us.  What a blessing that has been.

    I’m praying for her peace as she transitions to our family.  I hope she can see how much love we have for her.  Others have commented on our unconditional love for her so I hope it is as clear to her.  Her life is going to change so much in the next 48 hours.  I wonder what she will think when she meets all her siblings.  What will she think when she sees our house?  What will she think the first time she is able to swim in our pool?  How will she feel about America?  So many wonderful, overwhelming changes.  Jasmine Shuang Ellsbury – welcome to your new life.

  • When it rains it pours….

    Date: 2013.05.22 | Category: China 2013

    We went to the consulate today to finish the paperwork to get the children’s visas.  Tomorrow we should get the visas late in the afternoon.  The van will be here to get us bright and early Friday morning.  5 a.m.way to early to to have myself ready let alone four kids and 9 bags.   Oh well, it means we are heading home. I miss my babies so much!  We  will touch down at 6:30 p.m. Friday night.

    I know how happy I’ll be but I’m sure no one will be as relieved as Zachary.  Yesterday he had to rush my mom to the ER for emergency surgery.  I don’t believe he will ever let us leave again.  Mom ended up having a perforated gastric ulcer.  She is recovering and feeling much better.  Zach, will be on his own for a few days.  A special thanks to Zach’s girlfriend, Stephanie, for stepping in and taking care of all the kids while Zach was with my mom.  That was quite an initiation into the family.  Hopefully, they didn’t scare her off.  🙂

    Please keep my boy and my mama in your prayers.

  • It’s amazing what a few days will do….

    Date: 2013.05.20 | Category: China 2013, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae

    Now that I am past the shock of things I wasn’t prepared for and have gotten more than two hours of sleep in a row, things are looking much better.   When you adopt, you know you are not getting the most up-to-date reports and you always take the chance at unforeseen circumstances and diagnoses.  We went into this with our eyes wide open about that and I thought I was prepared for anything that came up, but I obviously wasn’t as prepared as I thought  I was.

    Now that I’ve gotten a week under my belt, I will say right up front that God knows  better than me.  What a statement.  I feel like I should put a “duh” in the middle of that. Obviously God knows better. I have always known this but it still blows my mind everytime I see Him work in my life.  He knows what I can handle.  He knows how to stretch me and challenge me and make my faith grow.  All along,  I have said “I’m too old for an infant.  I couldn’t possibly adopt an older child.  Autism is something I just couldn’t deal with.”  I can’t decide if He is just trying to prove me wrong or not so I have decided to change my new “I couldn’t possibly….” to “I couldn’t possibly handle winning the powerball.”  🙂

    I said, “I couldn’t handle an infant.”  Evie is like a newborn.  She eats every two-three hours.  She isn’t able to sit alone.  She is pretty malnourished and delayed.  We took her in for her medical evaluation yesterday and her oxygen saturations read 53%.  She is very blue and very sick.  Because we have dealt with Ben, it hasn’t been nearly as frightening this time around.  I did say I couldn’t deal with a newborn and guess what?  I can.  Had I avoided this adoption, then I would have missed out on the cutest little girl you have ever seen with the biggest personality.  The first few days she was just so hungry all the time so she cried a lot.  Now that she has been fed continuously for a week, she is already doing so much more.  She is trying to pull herself up to a sitting position.  She can grab on and pull herself up to her knees. She smiles all the time.  It’s funny because people expect her to be an infant and then she smiles at them with all those teeth.  It’s  funny watching their reactions. What a sweet little soul she has.  She charms the socks off of everyone she meets.  I’m glad God knows better because I would have missed out on loving this sweet, little girl.

    I said, “I couldn’t handle an older child.  I said it wouldn’t be a good fit for our family.”  Wow!  Was I wrong.  I wish you could see just how brave Shuang has been.  She has taken this all in stride.  She is all smiles and sweetness.  She had to get her immunizations yesterday and she said it was fine.  She would be brave.  She just wants to get to America and be with her family.  She is so good with the little ones.  She encourages them and shares with them.  She helps them in any way that she can.  She offers you her food.  She tries so hard to be helpful.  When we took her into for her medical appointment yesterday, the doctor started off being so gruff.  Then the doctor’s attitude changed, she talked about how sweet Shuang is.  She talked about how her medical records don’t match with what she has.  We told her we were aware of that.  It’s kind of hard to miss.  By the end of the appointment, the doctor was very kind to Shuang and even walked Dan and Shuang to the elevator and pushed the buttons for them.  Shuang is another sweet soul just looking to be loved.  Everyone has been so moved by her and her story.  No one leaves her presence without being moved.  It is hard for us, in America, to understand what it takes to be disabled in China.  We have had people just stop and glare at her for over 20 minutes.  They yell things at her.  She just smiles and tries so hard to be brave.  I can’t wait to get to America and show her how many people care about her.  To show her that her disability does not make her less than.  She is truly an amazing little girl with the best laugh.  I am so proud to be her mama and it has only been two weeks.  Oh what I would have missed.

    I said, “I couldn’t handle parenting an autistic child.”  The reason for this statement is because I am a very silly, huggy person.  As a matter of fact, the first sentence Shuang learned from us was “mama’s silly”.  It’s a good thing Shuang likes silly.  But the truth is, I was afraid of how I would react to a child that couldn’t show affection back.  That’s not a pretty statement but it’s the truth.  I was afraid of how I would respond as a mother.  I love my biological children and my adopted children the same.  Now we all love our children differently because they are different people.  Nothing in life is even and fair.  I love my children for different reasons because they are different people.  I don’t have favorites though.  That is a totally different thing.  What I was afraid of was the not feeling connected part.  I love spending time with my children.  How would I react to a child that couldn’t show love back.  What I’ve learned is it doesn’t change how you feel as a mother.  It’s unconditional love for a reason.  It’s not based on how they love you back.  It’s based on how much you love them.   Lainey is severely delayed.  Lainey is in her own little world most of the time.  Lainey has triggers that take her into a full blown tantrum very quickly.   We are learning those triggers and have already seen progress in helping her calm quicker and stopping the tantrums before they get full blown.  But Lainey also has a cuddly side.  She doesn’t hug, but she likes to lay her head on your shoulder and just snuggle in.  She laughs and runs and dances and spins.  Lainey has worth and Lainey deserves a family.  I’m glad I get to be her mama.  I know it won’t be easy.  I know we are going to have to make a lot of changes, but I can already see how much she is going to change me as a person.

    God does know better.  God knows what we need to grow as a person and what we can handle.  I will say that without Him I couldn’t handle any of this.  Without His promises to go to time and time again, I would be lost.  I have and will spend many days crying out to Him for strength to get through, but I know His love is constant and His grace is sufficient.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Dan brought me those words to put on the wall in the kid’s room.  It’s a constant reminder of where my eyes should be.

    I would be remiss to not mention little Mr. Eli.  What a charming, handsome boy this boy is.  He is so sweet and soft spoken.  He really does remind me of Zachary when he was little.  God is amazing with how He works.  I am amazed at how He  makes families.  If you know my Zachary, you know what a special boy he has always been.  He has always had a faith that was unbelievable from the time he was little.  He is gentle, smart, observant and the most special kind of boy.  Ben is like that and so is Eli.  It just blows my mind that they are all so alike.  I love that Eli and Ben are going to be such good friends.  I can already see them building things together.  God is so good.

    God has His hands in the smallest of details.  When I stand back and look at how blessed I am to get to be a part of these things, well…..it is just mind boggling.  I humbly stand in awe of a God that would allow me to get to do these things.  Truly, I am amazed.  When I think of all the things that had to come together for this past year to work, it is just mind blowing.  We started out with these words at Codey’s bedside “Faith makes things possible, not easy!”  Faith in God’s plan.  Faith in God’s promises.  Faith that all things work together for good.  Faith in something that is so much bigger than me.  And to think , had I chosen, I would have missed it.

  • The Joys of Traveling in China

    Date: 2013.05.18 | Category: China 2013

    At our final stop, Guangzhou. Two-thirds of the way done. It’s medical appointments and consulate appointments for this last week. We should get the visas on the 23rd and head home on the 24th.

    Travel today went pretty well considering it was so hot and everything takes so long. We left the hotel at 7:30 and arrived in our hotel around 2:15.  It was a long day but everyone did relatively well. We hung out in our hotel room because Evie is feeling a little under the weather. She seems a little better after Tylenol.

    Thought I’d share a little of our adventure today. Our group of five families was waiting in line to check in our luggage. The other parents were standing in line waiting with the children and their carry on bags. I was looking around and noticed a lady pull out her phone and start recording our group. How can I be sure? Well, she flipped open her phone and just started going down our line.  It just ticks me off the way people do that here. They will walk right up to you and laugh all the while taking your picture. I realize that our family makes quite the group but really?!?! How rude can you be? Then for good measure she came over to our group, which was now waiting to go through security, and started snapping pictures.

    The final straw for me was when she followed me into the bathroom with Lainey.  See, I just went through security with my new daughter, who was having a full blown meltdown.  She does pretty well but every once in a while something triggers her and she just loses it. So I’m trying not to get head butted from her because she is in the baby carrier.  She puts her hand down my shirt so my bra is showing and I’m showing a nice bit of cleavage.  I’m trying to load my bags on to the security conveyor belt.  I set off the alarms so security starts waving the wand around me and I have to show them my money belt. The lady in security makes me pull it out so now Lainey has her hand down my shirt, my shirt is hiked up with my money belt and pretty new red underwear showing and the same picture taking lady follows me into the bathroom. I turned around an said “You’ve got to kidding me!” I’m not sure if she understood English or if my body language said it all but she put away her phone and left rather quickly.  Never a dull moment here in China.

  • 2013 China Adventures: Family Update

    Date: 2013.05.17 | Category: Adoption, China 2013, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae

    I should have posted sooner and I apologize that I haven’t. I have lots of excuses for why I haven’t. First off, I can’t get my phone to hook to internet. I can’t get my blog site to pull up at all. I’ve been blocked here in China. You can get wireless hookup in the main lobby but it’s been too hectic to head downstairs. And lastly, I just haven’t been able to post because I wasn’t sure what to say. I’m filled will so many emotions right now – sadness, anger, grief, joy, feeling blessed and so happy to be with my children. I know Cassie has posted pictures on her site – why she hasn’t been blocked is beyond me. Her site, if you missed it from before, is http://thankfulforthecrazy.wordpress.com/

    I’m not even sure where to start. We have spent days running around for paperwork and today is our first free day which is why I’m trying to post while the kids are napping. Yesterday, we left at 7 a.m. with Evie and Eli. We took a 30 minute taxi ride to the bullet train station, where we walked forever and climbed 3 flights of stairs with a huge bag and a baby waited another 40 minutes and then we took an hour bullet train ride at 300 km/hr to Zumahdian to fill out the paperwork for Evie’s passport. We had time to kill so they took us to her orphanage, which meant another taxi ride. Then it was lunch, another taxi, and run back to the bullet train, up more stairs, another 30 minutes to next stop for Eli’s passport paperwork, more stairs, more taxis, more waiting, crazy women outside of court offices, back in a taxi, more stairs, more walking, one hour and 30 minutes back to our town, one more taxi and then home at 5:00 p.m. and Eli cried frantically every time we were on the train. Overall, that is pretty much how our days are going.

    It is always exhausting when you travel to adopt. Your sleep schedule is messed up. The children come to you with trauma from the orphanage or even if they were well cared for, they have trauma from having to say good-bye. It takes a while for sleep schedules to get worked out, to figure out what they like to eat, and for them to trust. There is a big adjustment period. Though it never fails that they attach themselves to one person and they don’t want much to do with everyone else.

    There is no way to make this short or in a way that makes it one cohesive point so I will finish this and then I am going to write a couple paragraphs about each child. I will tell you ahead of time that this emotional roller coaster has had so many lows – from the unbelievable malnutrition of Evie to the unknown diagnosis of Lainey and Jasmine, to seeing all the children in the orphanage. My heart just hurts, the pain and hurt of knowing what my children will go through and the grief of dreams lost. I know that the will of God will not take me where the grace of God will not provide, but I am having great difficulty understanding all that has happened. I trust His plan and I will continue to trust His plan, but our lives have just gotten ten-fold more complicated than even I thought it was going to be. I will move forward and find a new normal. It will just take some time.

    EVANGELINE FAITH
    On Gotcha Day at the Registration Office, I was so angry when they handed Evie to me. Evie turned two on March 25th. Evie is not able to sit alone. She weighs approximately 12 pounds, maybe a smidge more, by Dan’s judgment and he is usually dead on. 12 month clothes fall off her. We had to head to Wal-Mart and buy her those brand new infant shoes that you get for newborns and they are too big. I can’t even begin to adequately express my anger over her malnutrition. Every horrible thought that you could imagine went through my head, but when we showed up at the orphanage it was very apparent that Evie was loved. Her nanny was so happy to see her. It was a nice enough place. The other babies were chubby. They just weren’t feeding her enough to compensate for the extra calories she needs because of her heart defect.

    We even got to see a new friend’s of ours baby, named Meili. Oh man does this girl have personality. She looked so good and was so happy. She showed us her playroom. Meili danced for us and Dan has a video. We can’t wait to get somewhere that it will let us send it to them.

    We also got to see where Evie was abandoned. It was a street corner covered in garbage and I can’t even begin to tell you how that made me feel. I’m just so happy to take my little girl out of here. The good news is this little girl is full of personality. She smiles at the drop of a hat. She sucks her thumb just like Hopey used to. I’ve never seen another child suck their thumb like this – thumb in mouth, pointer finger up over her nose, and her other arm across her face so she can smell her arm. Plus, she kicks her feet just like Codey did when he was little and still in the hospital. She has brought back lots of wonderful memories. She is so very sick but I still feel so very blessed to be her mama.

    ELIJAH JAMES
    Little Mr. Eli has come out of his shell today. He was definitely loved and believes himself to be the emperor or at least a prince. He offers you his forehead to kiss and he dismisses you with this wave of his hand. The wave is like this “no, no that’s beneath me” wave. It makes me laugh every single time.

    He and Evie refused to eat the first few days. We tried bottles, sippy cups, cups, etc. and couldn’t get them to take anything. Cassie finally got the idea to spoon feed them liquid and that worked. Evie eats every 2-3 hours like a newborn so it’s been a tiresome couple of days. Eli is the healthiest out of everyone. How’s that for a kick in the behind? He looks wonderful and reminds me of Zach when he was little. He’s very quiet. He just sits and observes everything. He was the first to call me mama. Until today he wanted me to hold him 24/7. He wouldn’t eat until we went to KFC yesterday. The chicken finally got to him. If you know Dan, you know that is one of his favorite restaurants.

    Eli truly is very, very sweet. The orphanage care giver that dropped him off said he is unbelievably sweet and easy going. He definitely looks as though he has been spoiled. He plays so sweetly with Evie. He includes Jasmine in everything. He even plays well with Lainey. He shares everything and has the cutest voice. He waved good-bye this morning and said, “Bye, bye baba (daddy).” and then blew dan a kiss. He has adjusted well.

    JASMINE SHUANG
    Jasmine or Shuang-Shuang (Sh-wong, Sh-wong) as she was called in the orphanage is the best girl. Everyone who meets her comments on how sweet and well-behaved she is. She has just gone with the flow. She takes everything in stride. Believe me this is a big deal. We showed up expecting a child with a mass on her back. We knew she was in a wheelchair and expected her to be a paraplegic. We were not expecting a child who can do very little for herself. She tries but she just doesn’t have the tone to do it. She can raise her arms a little. She pulls her pant legs to move her legs. She is able to feed herself, brush her teeth, etc, but that is about it. She has scoliosis that almost bends her in two.

    We are assuming she has some form of muscular dystrophy. I’m going to post that even without a diagnosis because it fits with her story. With m.d. you start to lose muscle function when you are 6 or so. She probably got very clumsy and then it got progressively worse and her parents didn’t know what to do with her. When you meet this girl you will understand what I’m saying when I say, I can NOT even fathom what that took to do that. She is an unbelievable child. She loves being a family and that makes me very, very happy.

    LAINEY RAE
    That leaves Lainey or LuLu, as Cassie has now started calling her. The reason for my pain and anguish. She is a beautiful little girl but she doesn’t just have PKU with a little brain damage. She is severely delayed with autistic characteristics. If you know me, you know that is one of the things I never thought I could handle. There were two things we did not check on disabilities we were willing to take. Those were hydrocephalus, because we had already been through all of that with Codey and I hate seizures, etc. and the second is autism.

    This little girl is so cuddly, which is a gift considering the level of her disability. I’m sharing this with you because when you meet her it is very apparent. This has been a shock and very painful to both Dan and I. We know that no matter what, family will be what is best for her. We will have to make lots of changes in our lives but she is worth it. Just this morning she ran down the hallway giggling and spinning. She was laughing and playing with Eli. She has the capacity to be happy and no matter what her life will be better by not staying here.

    As you can see, we’ve had some adjusting to do – more than we expected – and believe me, I was expecting a lot. Even with the kids being as sick as I knew they were, I wasn’t prepared for this. God has blessed me with quite a few of the “least of these” and I will love them with all my heart.

    FAMILY is a wonderful, wonderful blessing! I just want to get home so we can all start working on our new normal.

  • Contrasts

    Date: 2013.05.11 | Category: China 2013

    These towns are such a contrast in the haves and have nots.  China is known for not really having a middle class.  You are either rich or poor.  These pictures show that contrast.

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    A fancy restaurant.

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    And the back of the boat where the kitchens are.

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    Look at the boats in the bay and the big city behind it.

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    Fishing boats.  (Had to use this one because of the name.)

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    And then these boats…..docked right next to the ones below.

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    Our view from our 22nd floor of our hotel room.

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    And then you look down….

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    Those of us that have been seriously blessed can always help those who have not. Having the resources to help others – and using them for that purpose – is how we really, truly, and fully are seriously blessed.

    If you have

  • The reasons I lost my heart….

    Date: 2013.05.10 | Category: Adoption, China 2013, Photos

    It was so unbelievable being there with all those little kids.  My heart hurt leaving them there.  Dan says we should share their pictures and find them families.  Has God been tugging at your heart?  Take a look maybe a picture will steal your heart too.

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    Cassie’s favorite.  If only she had a pocket….

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    Mema’s favorite.  She had him jumping up and down and giggling so much.

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    The little one who stole Dan’s heart…..

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    Entering the orphanage.

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    Her SpongeBob room.

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    The view from her window.

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    Some of her friends waiting to say hi.

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    Nannies, teachers, director,  family and friends.

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    This boy is a charmer.  He kissed Cassie right on the cheek.

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    Handing out clothes to all her friends.  Mr. Charmer went straight for the spiderman jacket.  It was just like Christmas morning.

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    What did I tell you?  Mr. C.H.A.R.M.I.N.G!!!!!

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    This little guy leaves for America in a week.  His family is very, very lucky.  What a sweetheart.   Gave me a bunch of hugs!

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    The schoolroom funded by Love Without Boundaries.  They were very, very proud of their schoolroom.

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    The two girls Shuang (Sh-wong) shared a room with.

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    The tall girl in pink stole my heart.  She sat on her chair and looked sad.  I’m not sure if it was because Shuang was leaving or the fact that she wanted a family too or a little bit of both.  She came and sat by me.  She kept scooting closer and closer and when I put my arm around her she laid her head on my shoulder.  I put bows in her hair and wept when I left.

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    Just had to add the pictures of the kids sitting on the guardrail on their long trek home.  It doesn’t seem that bad from this picture, but when you consider what the hills really looked like….

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    frightening.

     

  • Stolen Hearts

    Date: 2013.05.10 | Category: Adoption, China 2013, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)

    We drove to her orphanage today. The scenery was unbelievable, absolutely breathtaking. Mountains and big deep valleys as far as the eye can see. We drove for 5 hours to get to the orphanage. It was all paved road except for one small stretch. This small stretch was like an amusement park ride. Potholes and bumps that almost knocked you off your seat.

    Have I mentioned how much fun the driving is here? I’m not sure why they have lines on the road. It’s more like a suggestion than anything else. In and out, barely missing another car, add a mountain with huge drop offs and it was just a party. As we were driving home, we saw little kids on the side of this mountain roads, where cars drive fast with all that in and out business, walking home from school with their book bags. I’m telling you there wasn’t a house to be seen for miles. I asked our guide Bill about it and he said these farm children want an education so bad that some of them walk 2 hours to and from school every day. We take much for granted.

    We got to her city, which I was told was a small rural community. Ha! It’s about ten Des Moines’! It is hard to explain what you see there. I’m just glad to be taking her home. I asked if they’d really put her on the street. They said sometimes, they put children in adult institutions. So she probably wouldn’t be in the street, but for a little girl who can do nothing for herself except eat and brush her teeth. It wouldn’t have been pretty.

    When we got to the city our driver and our guide were calling someone and driving around in circles. We were starting to wonder why they couldn’t find the orphanage. We were sitting in traffic and out of no where came Jack, her English tutor from the orphanage, he rode his bike and directed us to this small little shop. The orphanage director had invited us for lunch. The meal was unbelievable. So many different foods to try. We ate with chopsticks. It was a memorable moment full of laughter and good times.

    Then we headed off to the orphanage. The good news is the workers at the orphanage were wonderful. They all love her. First, they took us to see the babies. Their were a couple that stole our hearts with their belly laughs. One wouldn’t let go of Dan’s finger. If only he had a pocket big enough……..

    Then we went & saw her bedroom. It was a nice little room with Sponge Bob blankets. They had the rest of the children in a room waiting for us, all lined up on their little chairs. One little boy smiled up at Cassie and said ni hao jie jie (hi big sister) so she kneeled down to his level and he kissed her on the cheek. Pocket number three filled. Cassie was smitten with a giggly little baby too. This boy had so much personality. We met another little guy who leaves for the states next week. I don’t know who these parents are but they are in for a treat. Oh what a big hearted little guy, who had hugs and smiles for everyone.

    We brought tons of clothes with us for Min because I had two different sets of measurements. Some of the smaller clothes will not fit because her scoliosis is so bad she needs a larger shirt. I pointed to the clothes and told her, with our new made up language – signenglishbadchinese, “too hot, too small” and then pointed to a picture that I have of her two best friends. They share a room together in the orphanage. She shook her head yes very enthusiastically and said “thank you”. Linda had also brought one of those fleece blanket kits to make with Min. It had two pieces of fleece that you tie together so we just let her hand the blankets and the bag of clothes to the girls in another room so the others wouldn’t see. Thy skipped down the hall to their room after giving Min a huge hug. It was a wonderful moment. And mommy would bring those two girls home too. I need to find them a family. They were sweet with no visible defects. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. I’d need a suitcase for these girls, a pocket just wouldn’t cut it.

    The tall girl looked so sad sitting there. I had her come sit by me so I could put a bow in her hair. She snuggled in next to me and just looked at me with the saddest eyes. She just wants a mama and if she doesn’t get one where will she be? Man, I wish I could clone myself. I wish I could do more. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to build a house with lots of bedrooms. I’d have a classroom right there with a teacher. I’d have a maid so I didn’t have to waste my time on things that didn’t matter and I would be a mama to as many as I could. So right about now I can hear you say “wouldn’t that just be another orphanage?”. No! Because what is missing from those places isn’t love or caring. It’s the feeling of belonging, of mattering, of family. Knowing you have a family is something an institution just can’t give you. Every time Min leans in to me and looks at me with those big eyes and says “mama”, I know what matters.

    Right now, I’m sitting on the bathroom floor, texting out this post on my phone, at 3 am again. I should try to get more sleep. Later, I will download the pictures and you will see what I mean. Be prepared to have your heart stolen.

  • Contemplating

    Date: 2013.05.09 | Category: China 2013, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)

    I’m awake most mornings at 3 am here. I wish that would stop but at the same time it’s quiet, just the sounds of the city, and I have time to think about what I’ve seen.  What I’ll take home with me. It’s easy to talk about the things you miss from home: ice, water from the faucet, familiar faces, privacy, smiles on the street.

    But there’s more. We are in a relatively small city by their standard and it’s huge. I haven’t seen the end of it yet. There’s just so much anonymity going on. No greeting people. No smiling hello. Just staring and glaring and scowling. You’ll probably never see the person again so it doesn’t matter.

    I want to take Min shopping. I want to buy her something new, show her the city, but every time we go out they surround us, big circles of people – way inside your personal bubble, and they stare and the mama bear in me is none too happy. It’s not a “oh there’s a girl in a wheelchair” stare; it’s hard to even explain the animosity felt.  Yesterday, while waiting for the van, a gentlemen glared (not stared) at her for 20 minutes. And her little heart hurts from it. She hangs her head in shame. It just breaks my heart.  She’s been through so much. I try to contemplate what your little soul must be like to know that is how your community thinks about you and yet your first thought is still to care for others. Friends of mine have asked to have a get together so others could meet our new children after we get home.  At first I thought no, then maybe, now I think yes. I would love to show her the love of complete strangers. I would love to show her how many people have supported her and care about her.  What a gift that would be for her.  Just look at the outpouring of love she has from the LWB community alone.

    She is much sicker than we thought. We went into this prepared for anything. It’s ok. We knew no matter what we could give her the love of a family and she so deserves that. But it’s been a little bit of an adjustment. I’ll share more after we have a confirmed diagnosis. Being married to a pediatrician has its pluses, like no running to the ER for an ear infection in the middle of the night, but it has its downsides, especially for Dan. He knows too much about what can happen and what will happen to our children. That’s a blessing and a burden at the same time.

    Back to my girl, she’s so very sweet. She’s so excited to go to the orphanage tomorrow and hand out clothes to her friends. She asked me if we could bring soccer balls. I told her when we go home we’ll send some. I’ll take her shopping where people will smile at her and not make her feel less than.

    She is so very bright. Jack, her english tutor taught her well. She can count to 20 and write the numbers. She knows colors and loves pink! She says all her brothers and sisters names.
    She is picking up on more English so quickly. We are teaching her sign and English and she is teaching me Chinese.  She spends a lot of time giggling at my inability to say the words right.

    We, as a family, are an oddity here. We laugh and giggle a lot. Well, Dan doesn’t giggle but Linda, Cassie and I do.  We find lots to laugh at everyday. Yesterday at the registration office, Bill our guide, told everyone there about us being a very happy family. I asked him why that was noteworthy and he said most people aren’t like that, which led to more contemplating. Did he mean here or families in general? Our family laughs all the time. The kids are silly. Dan, who can look so serious, could be a stand-up comedian. I’m happy I live in rural Iowa where it’s okay to laugh together and be silly. I didn’t realize that silly was such a big deal.

    Well, my mind knows I should try to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a big day. A five hour drive there and five hours back. It will be worth it so we can see where she has lived for the past six years. They cried over her leaving. People have loved her and I am so thankful for that. I’m sure there will be even more to contemplate after tomorrow.

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