Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013…What a year

It's the waining hours of 2013 and we are partying like crazy over here.  The boys are watching football, last I saw Jenny she in her closet watching a movie and Sarah finally gave it up a little while ago.  I'm a night owl but after a day working to reclaim our house from the throws of Christmas I'm fading fast.  I want to take a minute though and remember all that God has done for our family this year.

We started 2013 with home study visits and mounds of paper work.  I ended 2013 laying in bed with my new baby girl singing quietly while she looked at her books until she drifted off to sleep next to me. I can't help but wonder what she was doing last year on New Years.  I am so thankful to have her here. I am so thankful for the Lord's prompting when I saw that picture.  I am so thankful that the Lord answered my prayer for Shane and I both to be on the same page when it came to saying yes.  I am so thankful she is home.  She is so loved and she loves in return.  There were times in 2013 when we were scared or worried or tired, but there is tremendous peace in obediance.  Do what the Lord asks of you. It won't be easy or fit the picture others may expect from you.  It might scare you or scare others for you.  It might seem crazy or weird or impossible.  Do it anyway.  Do what He asks of you.  There is peace in obedience.  There is blessing unimaginable in watching Him work.

What will 2014 bring for our family?  It feels like all 3 of my children on on the edge of big things.  Will turns 16.  He wants to get a job and a car.  He will be a junior in high school this time next year.  He will be making big choices very soon.  Jenny turns 13 this year.  Another teenager in the house.  Sarah has lots of new things in front of her at every turn.  It overwhelms me at times.

I am reading a book called The Circle Maker right now.  It is about the power of prayer.  And so one my resolutions this year is to continually circle my children in prayer.  I want to pray big things for them.  I can not wait to see where they are in a year, but I'm not going to rush time.  It is going way to fast as it is.

My other resolution this year to focus on being unselfish.  I struggle with small acts of selfishness.  I want to continue to learn to daily take up my cross and follow Him.  To point others, including my children, to Him.  I want to die to self.  I struggle with this and am being convicted of it every day.

I am waiting in antcipation of what God has in store for this year.  Our hearts have been broken for the fatherless.  We will never be the same.  This year has changed us and I can't wait to see what happens next.  Until then here are the Huff's top ten moments of 2013.

10.  A quiet, relaxing vacation in the mountains of North Georgia.

9.  Jenny winning a talent competion at camp with her mad hula hoop skills.  The prize?  TWENTY                               pounds of candy!!

8.  Will making show choir at Madison Central!

7.  Lots of trips to Menches to celebrate milestones in our adoption.

6.  Jenny and Will both being in school plays!

5.  Will finishing his Eagle!

4.  A trip to New Orleans to see Wicked to celebrate turning 40!

3.  Seeing her sweet face for the first time!

2.  Having my sweet girl in my arms finally.

1.  Seeing God bring to fruition a dream he placed in my heart so long ago.  He who began a good work is FAITHFUL to complete it in you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

To Sleep or not to Sleep….

Will, my beloved oldest child, was not, is not, and never will be a great sleeper.  He's almost 16 now so he is sleeping more than usual these days, but sleep does not come easy for him.

Jenny, well I earned Jenny after Will not sleeping for 3 straight years.  She was and still is a 12 hour girl.  No matter what time she went down as a baby you could set your watch to 12 hours later.  Three hour naps, 12 hour nights, asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.  It was a beautiful thing.

The verdict is still out on Miss Sarah Ann.

While we were in China she slept in the bed with us.  She slept in a crib in her SWI and they put a crib in our hotel room, but she didn't want anything to do with it and I don't blame her.  We loved her sleeping with us but we knew it wouldn't work once we got home.  That was confirmed the first night home.  Sweet sister likes to sleep completely sideways and is so very restless.  Not gonna work in our queen size bed.

My heart hurt for her though.  Can you imagine?  She was used to sleeping in the dark, in a crib, in a room full of children.   I am sure someone checked on them during the night but I don't know how often or if someone was there the whole night.  She left that and slept in a HUGE, super comfy bed with 2 strangers and then we flipped her time zones upside down and brought her to yet another new place.  No wonder these kids have a hard time sleeping!

After the first night I decided I would make her a pallet on the floor in our room.  Didn't work.  At all.  So I decided I would sleep on the floor in her room.  Her bed is a twin, but it a bed that converts from a toddler bed to a twin and it is on a small setting right now.  It's little.   I spent a night or 2 on the floor and then Shane spent a night on the floor.  I decided I couldn't do the floor again and so Shane slept on the couch and she slept in the bed with me.  Didn't want that to become a habit so after the first week home out came the cot.


And the cot stayed for over a month.  Shane and I traded off.  I usually took 2 nights and then he would give me a break.  Obviously the sleeping wasn't that good and I could nap when she did during the day.  She was so very restless during the night that it was hard to sleep soundly.  

Why not let her sleep alone?  For one, she wasn't used to sleeping alone.  Also, she didn't know our house or where to find us should she wake up.  I wanted her to know we were there.  She would be so restless and would cry out during the night a lot at first.  It was good for one of us to be right there.  However, after a month of the cot we were both so very tired.

Mid December Sarah and I were headed to Birmingham to the adoption clinic for a follow up.  I spent three night on the cot before that trip.  I got up well before her the morning we were leaving.  It was dark in the house and it was dark outside.  I went to my bathroom to begin getting ready when suddenly the door flew open and there stood Sarah.  She had woken up and found her way to me.  She wasn't upset or scared.  A turning point!!!  We went on to Birmingham.  I didn't sleep at all that night in the hotel.  I took another night on the cot when we got back and then I hit the wall.  Actually I slammed into it.  I was so, so tired.  A few night later we just decided to go cold turkey and for the first time since November 3rd Shane and I both slept in our own bed alone.  She woke up at 1:00 and busted into our room and loudly announced her presence.  I put her back down and she slept until 6:30.  Two more nights and she didn't get up at all.  We had won the sleeping war!  We were home free!  We were so bold as to take the cot down!!


Silly, Silly parents!

We have had a few rough nights since.  She has gotten up multiple time a few nights and because the cot is down I have slept in the teeny, tiny bed.  She has gotten up ridiculously early several times.  I once again slammed into the wall two nights ago.  I hit it hard too.  Oh to sleep a whole night.  Doesn't she know I'm OLD this time around!!!  It was hard enough at 25!!  

I feel like falling asleep in my food too!

She must have heard my plea because the precious child slept straight through until 7:30.  When I woke up and saw daylight I knew we had turned a corner.  I could tell immediately I was going to live to see another day.  
She was up early again this morning but not ridiculously so and then she climbed in our bed and laid still for another 45 minutes or so.  I'll take it!!!  

She has done so well and we are so proud of her.  I would sleep on a cot for another month if it is what she needed, but I am glad to be finding a since of normalcy for her and for us. 

Melatonin is my new best friend though.  Seriously.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas

Just as Christmas was getting under way this month I turned on my Christmas playlist on the computer and went back to whatever I was doing.  Suddenly THIS song came on.  And all of a sudden I was weeping.  My kids just looked at me like I was crazy.  I couldn't stop.  I couldn't make it through that song last year for sure and this year she is home and here and we are so grateful and amazed by God's goodness and blessing.

As we celebrated the birth of our savior this Christmas, we were so aware of the miracle of adoption.  That God sent his son so we could be adopted into his family.  So we could be called Children of God.

How great the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the sons of God. And that is what we are! I John 3:1

We read with renewed amazement the lineage of Jesus.  What was once a "boring" passage of the Bible becomes amazing, when you realize it is the lineage of Jesus through Joseph - his adopted father.  We read with excitement the names of Ruth and Rahab in the lists of names.  Women who were not Jewish but were adopted into the family of God's chosen people and put into the line of Jesus.  Make no mistake.  God loves adoption.  We live in a broken and sinful world.  The least of these will always be with us.  But never doubt that their defender is mighty!

Sarah had a great Christmas.  I was a little concerned about it.  She had been home 3 weeks when we stuck a huge tree in the middle of our den.  It's a little wierd when you look at with fresh eyes!  She never missed a beat and loved decorating the tree!




She was amazed at the box of ornaments.




So happy to have threee sets of footprints this year!
  I was already weepy about having three sets when Shane says, "If they do this until they go to college Will only gets to do it two more times."  
Well thank you and goodnight.  


The kids' ornamnets came from China this year.  We bought them on the Island in a little shop.  They are a tiger for Will, a snake for Jenny and a rat for Sarah.  They go along with the year they were born.

It was a fun and busy month.  Along with Christmas we had LOTS of appointments both in town and out of town.  There were concerts and dances and lots of things to get done.  I was unexpectedly unstressed though.  I attribute it to two things.  One is Amazon Prime.  I have plenty of guilt for not doing more local shopping, but it helped me survive this year.  And 2 (and more importantly) a renewed since of what matters.  It was just a since of calm. 

It was a busy December though!


Will finished up his Eagle Scout work.  We are SO proud of him!



Jenny had her first school dance!!  How time flies!


Sarah looked for her BeBe on the computer while watching Carols by Candlelight.  We were so sad not to get to see it in person for the first time ever! BeBe understood though, and we watched it several times via the live feed.


We made playdough and Jenny made it into Christmas colors for Sarah!



 Gingerbread Houses
(the premade kind-HA!)


Sarah was more interested in the candy!


These two took it surprisingly seriously.  

Sarah ditched me for the boys cause they let her eat more candy!!


I was a little nervous about how our family celebrations would go.We have kept Sarah very close for     the past 6 weeks.  We made a quick appearance at Thanksgiving and we slipped into church once, but other than that and a couple of errands we haven't ventured out much.  Christmas was going to be the first time she was really around a lot of people.  I was nervous if she could handle the sensory overload of the people and the presents and the noise.  I was worried she would forget who the parents were and just start going to everyone indiscriminately.  The worry was for nothing because she did GREAT!!!  Christmas Eve was tons of fun at the Huffs.  She didn't really know what to do with the presents but had fun watching.  We laughed because we think she walked 100 miles that night just going from room to room and walking around getting a feel for where she was.  

Christmas day was great.  She slept until about 6:45.  Will and Jenny were already up waiting in Will's room and when they heard her they came and got us.  Santa had come!  We had a really great day and she had so much fun!  Everytime the kids would hand her a gift she would walk around the couch and put it back under the tree.  It took a while but by the time we got to Mammas that night she knew to pull the paper off and the pull the tissue out and see what was inside.  She loved seeing cousins her age and she had a great time.  

Jenny's GIANT panda from Santa who also gave her money to go towards the iPad she is saving for.

Will's new guitar!!  This was from Santa for Christmas and also for finishing his Eagle.

What the heck is this thing?

Sisters!

HEY!  This is fun!


I love Balls!

Brothers are awesome!!


This next picture - while not very Christmasy - cracks me up!  Will gave her an Ole Miss jersey and she LOVES hats so she put on Will's flat bill Saints hat and then she gave me this look when I called her name.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it.



We are now 2 days past Sarah's first Chirtsmas.  This is always my favorite week of the year.  Shane generally has most of it off and there are zero expectations of things to get done.  Everyone just wants to play games, watch TV and eat and that is pretty much what we do!  Right now the boys are playing a video game, Jenny is watching something on her new iPad and Sarah is asleep on the couch.



Mamma's about to make them turn off the screens, but for now everyone is just happy to be at home.  I am happy to have my children all with me.  


Merry Christmas from the Huffs and a Happy New Year!!







Saturday, December 14, 2013

Our most FAQ


I've contemplated this post for while and since we have now been home a month I thought I would try to get it done.

Every adoption is different. Every country is different.  Every story is unique.  Each persons answers would be different.  These are the my answers to our frequently asked questions about our adoption.  I am more than happy to talk to anyone anytime about adoption.  Please ask anything. 

Does she speak English?

By far the number one most asked question and in a word - No.  In our case, Sarah was not really speaking Chinese either but she understood Cantonese and a very localized dialect.  She is understanding more and more English but no words yet.  A few older children, or ones from American run foster homes may speak a little English.  Other than that, they speak Chinese.  

Do you know anything about her birth parents?

Each country is different and in some cases you may get to meet the birth mother.  China is not one of those countries.  China has a one child policy.  In some cases you can have two.  What happens when you get pregnant with number three?  It is against the law in China to place a child for adoption.  Against the law to have too many children. Therefore the children are abandoned.  It's an ugly, ugly word. However, it is often done in love.  Done to give a chance at life, under threat of punishment.  I truly believe it is a situation our very American minds can not truly understand or appreciate.  It is heartbreaking on all levels.

How much did it cost?

I won't throw out a number, because my Daddy taught me that was rude, but a quick google search will give you a rough estimate. It does however break down into three basic categories.
*Agency Costs: For us this meant fees to our agency for all the work they do including working specifically with Sarah's orphanage.  It includes immigration fees, courier fees for document authentication and other things like that.

*Official in Country costs:  Before we traveled we wired an specific amount of money to China.  This covered all out official costs for notaries, her passport,etc.  It also included a required donation to the orphanage.  It costs the orphanages a significant amount of money to get a child paper ready for adoption.  This is in essence paying them back.  I am thankful they got her paper ready and was more than happy to donate the money.

*Travel costs:  Plane tickets, hotel, etc.  

There are other costs of course.  Our passports, our visas, care packages and chocolate to make it through the rough days.

How many times did you have to go over there?
The China program has many positive things about it.  One being it is a one trip country.  One two week trip completes the adoption.  She is a US citizen as soon as the plane touches down.  

Boy your adoption was fast!  I have a friend of a friend who waited XXX number of years.  Why was yours so fast?

Our adoption was almost 11 months to the day.  The day we had our consulate appointment there was a family there who was adopting through the non special needs program.  They had waited 8 years.  Why was ours "quick."  First, we were adopting through the special needs program.  Very few people are starting China adoptions in the non special needs program anymore.  They are processing dossiers submitted 8 years ago.  That's crazy.   Secondly, there are some things you can control and some you can't.  The things we could control we did as quick as possible.  We somehow avoided the long LOA waits this year and had a relatively short 42 day wait.  We did not wait for a match.  We found Sarah on our agencies waiting child list.  I also truly believe that many things clicked along because the Lord knew she needed out of there. All of things combined for just under a year for us.  

On a side note:  "Things seem to be moving really fast." or "Boy that was quick" could possibly be filed under "things not to say to your friend that is adopting."  I know it was relatively fast.  I know it was "not that much longer than a pregnancy ."  However, when you are pregnant you know where your baby is.  She is safe inside you.  You can feel her move. You can take care of her by taking care of yourself. When you are adopting you get pictures of  her in wet pants or with a green runny nose nobody bothered to wipe and with a constant bruise on her wrists that you wonder how it got there and why it is always there.  It is not the same experience and everyday is long.  Some days are unbearable.


These are just a few of the questions we get asked to the most.  Adoption is hard work both during and after.  Adoption is also beyond a blessing.  The Lord has a deep love for the fatherless.  He walks before you and beside you in this sometimes maddening process.  I am more than happy to answer any question you have about adoption.  Please ask.  


One year…One month…One week

This week marks one year since we decided to move forward with our adoption.  We mailed our application on December 17.  So much can change in a year.  From a family of four to a family of five.  A little one again.  God proving his faithfulness over and over to us this year.  Meeting me in the depths of despair and promises of holding her close.  A year of growing and stretching and learning.

A month today since we returned from China.  It seems like yesterday and 10 years ago all at once.  Was there a time she wasn't ours?  It feels like she has always been here.  She belongs here.  We are still working the kinks out of course but she is ours.  She is home.

So many firsts in the last month!




First time in a grocery cart!  So thankful for the new Walgreens literally 3 minutes from my house!  Its become our thing to do each day!




First time with play dough!  Success she loved it!


First time in the super bubble tub!  Jenny turned the jets on and made mounds of bubbles!  She LOVED it!


First time playing with the trains at Barnes and Noble.  This was actually our first actual outing.  I needed a Starbucks and we both needed to get out.  It only lasted a few minutes but she had fun.


First time to put powdered sugar on your eggs!
This girl loves the powdered sugar shaker.  We've had to hide it but she discovered it again one morning after everyone left and I was working on the computer.  Powdered sugar everywhere!

One week…. It's been a week since her dental surgery and she is recovering well.  She really didn't eat much for a few days which is very unusual.  She's doing better now and we are thankful that it is behind us.  I knew she would need some dental work, but was so sad to see how much.  Next up is ears.  We are working on that now.  WE head back to Birmingham this week for a follow up at the IAC and an appointment at the CP clinic.  We also have a swallow study coming up to try to figure all that out.  So glad to be getting her the help she needs.

It has been quite a year, quite a month and quite a week.  So thankful the Lord has allowed us to take this journey and I pray more will take it as well.  What a blessing!






Saturday, December 7, 2013

Surgery




This precious girl had some much needed dental surgery yesterday.  Her sweet smile looks a lot different now but it is still just as sweet.  She was such a trooper and although waking up from general anesthesia is never fun, she is back to her funny, silly self today.  She is still learning how to eat with her much fewer teeth, but other than that, all is good.  I'm so proud of her.  I'm so proud to be her mama.


Here she is waiting with daddy.  The hardest part, well one of the hardest, was just not being able to prepare her for what was coming.  Handing her over was very difficult as well.  We are coming along so very well with attachment and I was so concerned that we would take a giant leap backwards but that hasn't happened.  She has done great.


Last night after the big kids got home she planted herself right next to Will on the bench instead of in her seat.  She really loves her brother and she really wanted some of that pizza.  Not tonight sweetie-yogurt for you!


She was still a little sleepy eyed this morning but was doing great.  She loves to paint and she almost always has a ziplock with her.  She carries it around and fills it up with whatever she can find.  One day I sat her at the table with her bag full of stuff while I heated up her lunch.  She reached in her bag and pulled out a half a banana.  You just never know.

Yesterday was one of those days that kind of makes me mad.  Why did nobody ever take care of this babies teeth.  Why did she even have to be in this situation.  Why?!  It was also a day of thanks.  So very thankful those teeth won't hurt her anymore.  So thankful she is home and safe. So thankful we have been given the opportunity to be her parents.  It was also a day of sadness.  All day I kept seeing all the faces of the other children.  The children who won't ever get their teeth fixed.  Teeth that desperately need fixing.  And I think about the arguements I made with God before we started this journey: We don't have enough money, we don't have enough space, etc.  Am I that selfish?  Are we that spoiled that having a little more leg room in my however many square foot house is more important than these precious children.  

I am very thankful for the prayers for her (and me). I am thankful for the dentist and anethesialogist and nurses that took care of her yestedray and got her back to us as quick as possible so we could be the ones to comfort her.   For understanding the nervousness of handing over my brand new (to me) baby.

I am thankful that God has allowed me to take this journey and I pray others will step out in faith and bring home these precious children. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Road trip




We have been very purposeful about keeping Sarah at home. It's been hard somedays with active teenagers around and it being the holidays. Concerts, plays, etc are happening all the time but we have really tried to limit her outings. She hasn't been to Kroger or Walmart yet. We have ventures to walgreens this week and we did go to the Mexican restaurant today but that's about it. By the end of thanksgiving week this momma needed a change of scenery. Sarah travels really well so we decided to take a quick road trip. 

We loaded up Saturday morning and headed for West Monroe, Louisiana. To Duck Commander of course. 


It was a couple hours drive and went by quick. Sarah snoozed a little and jenny worked on makeup work bless her heart. We ate at Five Guys and the headed over to the warehouse. Not much to do but look at the places you see on Tv and walk around the gift shop but it was fun. We left and got some ice cream and headed back home. It was a much needed day out of the house for me and was low key enough for Ms Sarah!!








Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Thankful for….

So very much this year!

*I am thankful for Lifeline Children's Services.  Karla, Anna, Mallory, all of them.  They work tirelessly and put up with some majorly crazy adoptive parents.  They love these children so much!  If you have ever thought about adoption, if you have wondered about our process or how different countries work, or about domestic adoption- check them out.  They also have a wonderful orphan care ministry- (un)adopted.

http://lifelinechild.org

http://lifelinechild.org/orphan-children/
(This is the (un)adopted link)

*I am thankful that , for now, I can put this notebook away.  I lived by this thing for the last 11 months. It's a thing of beauty.  Tabs organizing sections, page protectors galore.  Copies in triplicate of everything we signed.  Originals in folders in the fire proof safe.  Its a work of art.  But it is time to put it up.  Time for the work of parenting to begin.



*I am thankful that it doesn't take long to microwave rice.  Once the bowls come out the girl is ready to eat and she does not appreciate the whole, "Let's heat this up a little," idea.



*I am thankful for Will and Jenny,  for stepping up.  Not one complaint about me having to miss some things, about having to be a little quieter, "because if you wake that baby up…".  For loving this sweet girl who is still learning how to be in a family and who to trust.  The are pretty awesome!


*I am thankful for a changed heart.  I am not the same.  When the Lord lets you see the true least of these you can not be the same.  I can not read an article about fighting over "stuff" the day after thanksgiving.  I see news reports of people knocking each other over for TVs and toys and all I can see is a room full of hungry babies.  I am not perfect in this- so please don't hear me say that.  I struggle with greed and want like everyone else, but the sights I've seen come rushing back and I have to ask the Lord to forgive me-again.

*I am thankful for the first painting this little girl did!!  Can you see that she has a paint brush in each hand!  She is ambidextrous!  She hasn't shown a favorite hand yet- switches back and forth with ease!  And quite an artist!



Painting with shapes!


*I am thankful for an afternoon spent painting with my girls.  Thankful for making a huge mess because everybody should have paint all over them by the time they are 5!!  Messes mean experiences and trust me this girl is all about new experiences this week!  I had forgotten how big a mess a little person can make!

I'm also thankful fort hat little bit of belly you see there- it was most definately not there 3 weeks ago!



*I am thankful for the International Adoption Clinic at UAB and for Dr. Jennifer Chambers who saw my girl in China and saw her this week in Birmingham.  Thankful to begin getting my girl the help she needs to be all God has created her to be.

*I am thankful for an infectious laugh from a little girl I was prepared to spend weeks trying to draw  out.  I had a very withdrawn, quiet, scared child in my head and she has embraced life.  She laughs and hugs and can pitch a big ole fit when she doesn't want to take a nap. 

*I am thankful that she has learned how to blow into a toilet paper roll.  That is  a serious life skill that every 5 year old should have!  More importantly is the ability to aggravate your sister with your new talent!


  video


*I am thankful that she loves a bubble bath!  (Her nose isn't bleeding- that is more paint!)


*I am thankful for my Saviour.  I am thankful that he adopted me to be a child of the King!