Saturday, July 19, 2014

Encouragement

I've been a little bummed this week.  We have entered the great unknown as far as the wait for Emily goes.  We are 16 days into our LOA wait.  Sixteen of how many.  Who knows?  Last year for Sarah it was 42.  That is very fast, especially for last summer.  Last year the central authority in China underwent a major database change and it was, in a word, disastrous.  We somehow managed to skirt past that and came out just as things straightened out and started working again.  Things are working fine now but wait times tend to cycle.  I don't really understand why but they definitely do.  You will see several weeks or months of LOA waits in the 40-50 day range and then it will get a little longer and a little longer and then suddenly it corrects itself.  Who knows?!  The fact of the matter is though that right now they are stretching between 70-90 days.  Almost twice as long as last year.  Once you get LOA you travel about 10 weeks later.  The days add up quickly and we are looking at Christmas at least.  I have prayed that somehow our whole family could go.  I have prayed for her heart to be prepared.  The thought of her waiting that much longer hurts my heart but maybe she needs that time.  It's just been a little discouraging this week.

Until…..

One of the most precious things about adoption is the relationships with other adoptive mammas out there.  We just "get" each other.  The best thing this time around is that Emily's orphanage is a long time partner with Lifeline and many people are matched from that orphanage.  I have been able to send several letters to her and that has been so nice.

 This past week a precious Mamma was headed to China to get her sweet son who is from Emily's orphanage.  She was taking a letter and some stickers for her from us.  I knew what day she was going and so I woke that morning wondering if maybe she had messaged me.  Goodness knows she had way more to deal with than my letter but I checked anyway.  All of a sudden a message popped through!  A message with this precious picture.



Not only a picture but a reiteration of what everyone who meets her says.  She is sweet and soft spoken and precious.  And not only that but a letter.  A Letter!!!  From her!  She wrote us back and it is the most precious thing I own right now.  I am holding it close but I can tell you it did my heart good.  I have been doing some reading on teen adoption and it is deep, hard stuff y'all.  We are peaceful and are preparing and we are not under the delusion that because she is sweet that it won't be hard but this little letter just made things ok for today.  I can not wait to love her  in person.  She deserves that.

We are encouraged by her level of care.  The nannies at this orphanage are so good and we here nothing but good things.  She always looks cute and taken care of.  It is just a different experience for sure!  But she needs to come home.  She needs PT and school and her mamma and daddy.

I am so thankful that the Lord hears the cries of a mother's heart and has without fail during both adoption given us just what we needed.  It is such an exercise in trust and faith.  He is stretching us!  

  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

8 Months

Eight month sure flies by fast when you are in the thick of life.  And that's what it feel like right now.  It isn't always easy but we have a front row seat to what God is unfolding not just in Sarah's life but in all three, four, of our kids lives.  June- July have been busy and fun.  We've kept fairly busy but have had planty of lazy summer days.  We hit some MAJOR milestones in Emily's adoption.  It's been a good summer!

We started off June with a BANG!  VBS was so much fun and Sarah did great in her class.  We have been putting her with the 3 yr olds at church and that seems to be working well.  

The best part of VBS though?!?!?  Our precious church raised over $4,000.00  for the new foster home Lifeline is opening for the kids from Sarah's orphanage.  We were so blessed to be able to share about those children in church and our church responded in a huge way!  We are blessed and humbled and grateful!  The foster home is scheduled to open this week so keep that in your prayers!


Boys and Girls were dead even!

Next up, Sarah "ran" in her first 5K.  Actually she was pushed in a stroller by her Aunt Cam and uncle Josh but you know… it counts!  Sarah went to the Flash Dash with them while we took Will and Jenny to see Tim Hawkins.  Fun was had by all that night!

  

Sarah has continued with her gymnastics and is doing great, pretty good, getting better, getting in some good practice on her listening skills as well as gymnastics skills.  Girl still can't find the Big, Green wall and she can do a mean front roll.

On your belly Sarah- or not- whatever


We said goodbye to our boys for 16 days during June! Shane and Will spent 16 days in New Mexico on the Philont Scout ranch.  I have known this was coming since before we even started the proess for SArah so I had been praying for almost 2 years about those 16 days.  We did just fine and Sarah even slept pretty good. I was sure happy to see them home though!!  


Sarah also had her first taste of the ice cream man when a new ice cream truck made an appearance in the neighborhood.  Jenny was thrilled as well and used her quick math skills to figure an ice cream treat into her daily sugar/carb/insulin balance.

Enjoying the ice cream truck treats.

We played at the park with cousins.



And made a few early morning runs for biscuits.



We finally made it to the pool and Sarah has slowly learned to like it.  I can't imagine what was going through her head the first time.  You can see her clinging for dear life to Jenny.  But she has warmed up to it and squeals when we pull out her swim suit.



This was her favorite spot for awhile
While the boys were gone we made a road trip to Collins mississippi.  I know, living on the edge!  We went to the water park for the day and then drove over to Hattiesburg and spent the night in a hotel.  We ordred pizza, swam in the hotel pool and watched TV.  It was a fun, little road trip with my girls!




Sarah got new pink, sparkly crocs and to say she was thrilled would be an understatement.  They don't fit with her AFOs so we mostly use them for the pool or a quick errand but she has gotten better at walking in them and she just loves them!  


She went to her first MS Braves game.  In her pigtails no less! Her hair has finaly gotten long enough to put in pigtails and I love it!!




We had a special treat this month too!  One of the biggest blessings of our adoption journey has been the new friends we have made.  These relationships have been invaluable to me especially.  Most of these frienships have been "cyber" in nature.  Finally we were able to all get together.  We will add another sweet face to this group in just a few weeks!!  And then Emily will join in as the big kid this fall hopefully!

This was the best we could do


Fourth of July was so much fun.  We spent the fourth at home (and at the ER- Will popped himself in the eye HARD with an exercise rubber band making what should be a round pupil really really not round.  All was well though.)  We ate and played outside and watched fireworks later that night. It was a fun, family day.

Making Blueberry muffins

Enjoying the muffins out on the porch.  The weather was fabulous!

Corn on the Cob!  Even with no front teeth she can do a number on the corn!

Swinging with Daddy!

Legos with Daddy!

Sarah discovered the joy of poppers!

Fireworks!  She is still not sure how she feels about fireworks but she tolerated them for us.




It was a fun month full of lots of firsts.  She has made some big leaps in her language and I will post about those separately.  For now, I will leave you with what is my favorite picture from the last month.

 


Happy summer y'all!









Monday, July 7, 2014

A HUGE Leap towards China

It has been a great few days around here!!  We had a great fouth of July weekend and enjoyed being with our family!

Just a few days before that we got a great surprise!  Lifeline had sent a team to Maoming and I sent a small care package with them.  I emailed our SW and asked if I could just make sure she had gotten it.  She did way better than that and sent me 2 videos of our girl getting her package and reading our letter. To here her sound out "Mishishippi"  was too precious. It was not only so great to see and hear her voice it was confirmation to us that she can read Chinese characters. Our precious girl is only alloowed to go to school at the orphanage and so she is a class with younger kids.  The sweet nanny that was with her while she was reading it helped with a few words and encouraged her and gve her a big thumbs up when she finished.  I'm so happy she is being taken care of.  It is an entirely differernt expierence this time around!

Here are some screen shots from the video we got.




And then today we got a very important email!!!  I had a good feeling about today!  We found out we are offiially logged in China!  We were actualy logged in on July 3 so we are already 4 days into our next wait.  Yep!  From one wait to the next and this is a yucky one but I am excited to have four days behind us without even knowing it!  We were logged in last year on 7/8 so we are just ahead of Sarah's timeline.

Its been an exciting few days.  Please pray for our sweet girl.  Pray for her heart as she ponders over our letters and pictures.  I can only imagaine how she is feeling and I am praying for peace for her heart.  Please pray with us! 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Step Forward!

The good thing about boomeranging back to China so quickly is that the process is fairly fresh in my mind and I know what to expect.  The bad thing is - I know what to expect and how long things should take.  So when our dossier headed to the Consuate in Houston for authentication I knew it would take a week.  It was one week to the day last time and we were DTC that day.  DTC means Dossier to China.  It is a HUGE step forward.

Well, the one week mark came and I checked and no dossier. Next day- no dossier.  LONG weekend wait.  Monday- no dossier.  Our social worker is out this week and she let me know who would be handling our "case".  Poor girl.  She got me on an email everyday kind of week.  Tuesday-no Dossier.  Now I was becoming anxious.  Someone in a group I am in posted that they were having a "nightmare" with the Houson consulate.  Anxiety was beginning to creep in.  Pateince Lord, give me patience.  Wednesday- no dossier.  We are bumping up against 2 weeks now.  And then this morning-- "I have your Dossier- It is headed to China today!!!  Praise the Lord!!!  That means we are one gigantic step closer to our girl.


Next we wait for our Log in Date (LID in China adoption talk).  Not sure how long that will be- typically 3 weeks (ish).  Then the yucky wait starts!  We wait for our LOA (Letter of Approval).  Theoretically it could be a shorter wait because we are a "re-use", but who knows.  We had a fairly short wait last time so I am not holding my breath for shorter this time.  We are 6 days behind where we were last year and we traveled the first of November.  I am not looking that far forward right now.  Today I am celebrating the milestone of DTC and praying over my sweet Emily!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Selah

I'm writing this with a baby asleep in my arms. She woke up a little while ago and I can't bring myself to put her down.  I'm amazed at how brown her skin is.  She was so pale just a few months ago.  She's been home 7 months.  She's been put under general anethesia 4 times and there is a good possibilty another one is coming.  She's had major dental surgery, had so many hearing tests I've lost count, gotten hearing aids and leg braces and she really doesn't like having to do what the PT tells her to.  She's learned that if yelling and spitting don't get you why you want, smiling, holding out your arms and saying Mama just might.  She has woken up in the middle of the night with her heart racing, her arms searching and grabbing on to me so tight it takes my breath away.  Scared, unsure of where she is.

But…..

She's had her teeth fixed, she's gotten her hearing aids and leg braces.  She may not like it but she can walk the stairs at PT one at time now.  Her skin is dark from hours of being outside and when she wakes up scared there is always someone there to grab onto.

I'm so very glad she is here.  So very glad we are with her.  I know she has been through it since she got home, but I'm so glad she has a chance.  A chance to know Jesus.

There is another little one.  From the same place as Sarah.  She was there when we were in November and I wished I had seen her and held her.  Pale and  so very sick.  Thankfully she was able to be moved to a foster home to get better care and now she waits in a hospital in Beijing.  Waiting.  Waiting for money to be raised so her heart can be fixed.  Her heart conditon is complicated and complex.  A doctor is willing to do it, but the funds are lacking and honestly they are greatly lacking.  It will take $25,000 to fix Selah's heart.  Only $8,000 has been raised.

I'm so thankful she is being given a chance. I'm sad that she doesn't have a mamma waiting with her, altough I am thankful for the nanny who I am sure is with her.   I'm praying she gets to have dark skin from playing outside and skinned up knees from falling off a bike and she gets to yell at her therapist for making her work hard.  I want her to know Jesus.

Can you help Selah?  As followers of Christ we are all called to care for the orphan.  This is a very good way to do just that.  Can you spare $10?  Maybe more.  I'm amazed somedays what I say I can't afford to do as I drive through somewhere or stop for snacks.  Skip it just once and help give Selah a chance.

You can go here to donate and write Selah in the comments box.

Donate for Selah's Surgery

This will take you to the (un)adopted website.  This is the orphan care ministry of Lifeline Chilldren's Services.  They are our adoption agency.

Here is sweet Selah.


I'm so thankful someone is taking care of her.  Look at that smile. Put please also look at her fingers.  Sweet, dimped, baby fingers- with blue fingernails from a lack of oxygen.  Her heart needs to be fixed.  Soon.

Please pray for Selah and help as you can.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

7 months!!

As of last week "the baby" as I affectionately call our 5 1/2 year old has been home 7 months!  How can that be!  I will admit that the last 7 months have challenged me and frustrated me and wounded my pride and blessed me more that I ever thought possible.  Not just in my parenting of Sarah but with all three of my kids.  When Will had his first wreck last week I told Shane that was proof that I had not yet had all I could take!  The Lord is teaching me to lean and press into Him.  I know its is only going to get crazier from here as we add Emily to our family but I have a total peace about that.

The last month was busy, busy.  We finally finished up school and we were all glad.  Everyone of us.  It was year y'all but we did it.  Moving on to 11th grade, 8th grade and preschool.  Will is done with Spanish and we all sang the hallelujah chorus.  I told the big kids one day when I left them at home that I wanted the backpacks cleaned out and all the school stuff put up while I was gone.  I came home an hour later and smelled a strange smoky smell.  I found them in the backyard standing over the fire pit literally burning their notebooks.  A couple of days later I saw what I thought was a novel half burned in there.  I picked up preparing my speech about not burning books when I saw it was the Spanish/English dictionary.  I put it back.  Done I tell you!!

We were concerted and programmed  out by the end of May.  When school was finally out I breathed a deep sigh a relief and then this happened.


I tried for a good long time to come with a reason he couldn't drive himself to baseball the next day but there just wasn't one.  So off he went.  He hit a little snag a week or so ago but we've all been there so it's all good.



How do you know summer has started?  Roo cups of course!



I had my first Mother's day as a mother of three and we celebrated by having Sarah's Dedication at church.  I'm pretty sure she thought she was supposed to be singing and she lost a shoe half way through but it was a sweet day.



We went to Birmingham for an MRI.  Why all the way to Birmingham?  We love going to Children's of Alabama.  It is a great hospital.  The International Adoption Clinic is there and we love them!  They were able to get us in much sooner there than we could have here in town so we took a road trip.  More on that later.


She played in the splash pad for the first time and loved it!  It is so fun to watch her in completely new situations.  She had absolutely no idea what to do at first.  But after watching some other kids and the help of Jenny and her friend, Isabelle she finally figured it out!




She got a new rock box and has loved playing on the slip and slide.  It has become somewhat of a routine now to spend an hour or more outside after dinner on the porch chatting with the big kids while Sarah slips and slides.  And cackles laughing!




A big deal this month was getting her new AFOs.  They have helped tremendously with her mobility.  She was getting around ok but as she became more and more active her left foot especially was beginning to drop and drag and she was hyper extending her knee.  Her flexibility was improving but her toe walking was not.  She was more active than she had ever been allowed to be and she was beginning to fall and trip.  These have given her so much more stability and she is doing great in them.  She even ends of somewhat flatfooted now with them off.  They have been a great for her and I happen to think they look cute!  They do of course make her different.  They invite comments from strangers like, "Whats wrong with the baby's legs?"  But I just answer and move on.  There are sweet moments too like talking with the janitor at Madison central after she saw Sarah in them about how her  granddaughter has pink ones too and the precious gentleman I met the DMV who is a Shriner and told me all about how he used to drive parents and children to St. Louis to Shriner's hospital.    


And then of course this happened.  "Will watch Sarah for just a minute please."  This is what I come back too.  


 She adores him.  They had a bit of a slow start since he wasn't in China but man she loves him now.  He's loud and silly and so much fun!



And he watches "Let it Go" with her.


She went to VBS for the first time.  She loved it.  She has learned the sign for church and knows where she is going when we say "church".  This was her reaction.  I love that!



It rained a lot so we just played in the bubbles in the sink.  That's why God made mops.  Kept her busy for 30 whole minutes which in Sarah world is like a whole day!


She had her passport picture made so she can get a US passport.  I wish you could have seen the Walgreens guy and me making big ole fools of ourselves trying to get this picture.  It would have made good television.  Sarah has a Chinese passport but because she is now a US citizen she can not travel on the Chinese passport.  I have her Chinese passport though and pulled it out to see if there was a difference in the pictures.



Just a little difference.  Gracious.  That takes my breath away!


She started going to gymnastics one day a week at The Little Gym.  I think it will be good for her.  She is in a three year old class and it's pretty relaxed and she LOVES it.  The teacher told me she seemed a little distracted this week.  That made me laugh.  He keeps telling her to sit against the Big Green Wall while loud music is playing.  I keep reminding him that if she happens to hear him over the music words like big and green and wall mean absolutely nothing to her.  Sit she understands but again only if she can hear you.  Its a process.  A long process.



It is easy to make life look rosy and perfect in pictures and for the most part things are going so well.  We pretty much have all our medical stuff with both Jenny and Sarah worked out and a good routine of therapies scheduled.  She was doing so well at PT that we are stretching it out to once a month for awhile.  She goes to speech once a week.  That is a slow slow process and it is very easy for me to get discouraged.  I have to remind myself over and over just how many cards this sweet child had stacked against her.  Our ENT put it best when he said that the 2 things that can cause the biggest developmental delays in children are undiagnosed hearing loss and a neglectful environment.  Stacked on top of each other for 5 years and we are starting from scratch.  She basically had no access to language until just a few months ago.  She is understanding a lot of what we say.  She associates words and signs quickly now.  I can teach her a new sign in just a day or two.  She has a few words that only we can understand.  We think we will get there but it is going to take years.  Years.  

Her MRI showed some significant sinus issues so we will be dealing with that soon and I hope it will help with a few lingering issues.  And maybe help with sleep.  

She is going to go the Covenant Preschool next year a couple of days a week in a three year old class. I've second guessed that a time or two but it is what we feel like is best for her.  I have sought out opinions from every professional we see and they all agree that it is a good place to start.  She is behind deveoplmentaly but also cognitively.  I want to say here that we knew that going in.  We knew these would be issues we dealt with.  We still don't know what her potential is and I am hesitant to have her labeled too quickly by the school system.  When the time comes in another year or so we will go down the SPED and IEP roads and I am prepared to do that but for now I just want to follow developmental steps in order.  So what if she is behind, I want her to get the chance to be a preschooler.  To nap in the afternoons and be little.  She deserves that chance.

We still deal with some behavioral issues but I am pretty sure most parents of 5 year olds do.  How we deal with it is different.  Trust me when I say Will and Jenny didn't hit me more than once.  That was not tolerated.  I am still learning how to diffuse those situations with Sarah.  In all our training we learned that when these kids feel frightened or threatened they will fight, flight or freeze.  Looking at pictures of this little girl I imagined her freezing, just withdrawing and detaching.  Um…..no.  The girl is a fighter.  She comes out swinging.  Part of the time it makes me crazy and part of the time it makes so so sad.  She's had to be a fighter.  We will get there though.  Again….time, time, time.

We are so blessed to be her parents.  I have been amazed by Will and Jenny's love for her and acceptance of her differences.  It is a marathon for sure but we are learning every day how to help her be all God want her to be.









Monday, June 9, 2014

Making progress!

Things are moving along very well in our adoption of Emily.  This is such a different experience than Sarah's adoption.  I can't put my finger on it exactly but it is much like a second pregnancy.  I have a much better sence of what I am doing.  I have a better sence of what to freak out about and what not to fret over.  I am much less fervent.  Last time I had the next step done and waiting this time I have had to scurry a couple of times to have things ready on time. A certain 5 year old keeps me on my toes and keeps my time occupied!  I also have a peace about where Emily is that I did not have with Sarah.  I knew her situation was dire- that she needed to get out there as quickly as possible.  With Emily, I want her home as soon as possible.  I want her to be getting the care she needs and to be able to go to school and to have a mother and father and a family that cherishes her.  I have however been told that the nannies at her orphanage are so great and really love the children.  I have also been told they do a great job of preparing them for adoption.  What a blessing that is!  I am praying for the Lord to use this time of waiting to plant the desire for a family in her heart and to ready her for the coming changes.

One really neat thing this time around is the amount of contact we have been able to have.  We sent Sarah a couple of things and a letter while she waited but I was never sure she got them and I knew she could not understand what was happening.  This time however I know Emily gets what we send and it seems very important to me to have as much contact as possible.  We haven't talk to her- we only have some videos but we have been able to send her multiple letters.  Her orphanage is larger than Sarah's and one of Lifelines oldest partnerships  Many families adopt from there.  I have been able to send several letters.  I mailed a package today for Lifeline to take to her next week when they visit.  That has been really fun!

Our dossier is being authenticated right now.  It should be headed to the Chinese consulate this week.  I hope we will be DTC next week.  We are trying to decide who will travel but so much depends on when and we just don't know yet.  I really want everyone to go at least for part of the time.  It will all work out.  See- much more relaxed this time around!  We have ordered Will and Sarah a passport just so we have our bases covered!

I am hopeful to get knew pictures in the next couple of weeks from this trip Lifeline is taking.  I plan to send another package and ask for an update when we are logged in.  Hopefully around the first of July.

I am ready to see her sweet face.  I am growing to love her more each day and am feeling her absence in our family.  It won't be without it's challenges but few things worth doing are.  We are preparing and praying and trying to wait patiently!