Wednesday, December 31, 2014

All things Emily!

Things have been moving slow and then BOOM!  Things move really fast.  That's just the nature of adoption I guess.  It wears a mamma out!

We got our much waited for LOA on November 23rd.  From there we filed with immigration for Emily to be classified as our daughter and be allowed to enter the US.  We then waited for that approval and then we call, call, call, email, email, email, the National Visa Center asking for some numbers we need and an email copy of a letter being cabled to the US Embassy in Guangzhou.  Then we send it all off to china where we have something called "Article 5 drop off"  This is packet of papers that are important and do something...what I am not exactly sure.  Two weeks later exactly (unless you have Thanksgiving in there, which we did, then it's two weeks and one day) you have Article 5 pick up an you are officially waiting on your travel approval.  That takes roughly two weeks.  Nine days for us last year.  Several people got them in 4 days around us.  Three weeks for us.  Three. Weeks.  Or all of eternity in adoption time.

Mixed into that was a major spiritual lesson for me.  Someitmes the answer to our prayers in No.  Oh how hard that is!  I have prayed for a year that we would all be able to make this trip.  That limited us to certain times.  Namely Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I just knew it would be Thanksgiving but it wasn't. Then I was sure we would spend Christmas in China and it was down to the wire.  We needed one of those 4 day travel approvals for that to happen.  And it didn't.  So we aren't all going.  The answer was No.  I don't understand why and we are sad but I do know that God loves Will and Jenny and Sarah and Emily even more than I do and He is working all for their good and we have to trust that.

So... with so much uncertainty about travel along with the flu that wiped us out I was WAY behind on Christmas.  But we got it all done and had a fabulous time.  And our travel approval was mailed just before Christmas and arrived at our agency on Monday.  We got our confirmed consulate appointment date Tuesday morning and booked our tickets.  We will meet Emily on January 12.  To say we are ready is an understatement!

We had a major blessing during this wait!  Our agency set a skype call for us and we were able to talk with Emily.  Rules about conatct are very strict and I am thankful they are seeing the value in being able to "meet" ahead of time for these older children.  I was prepared for it to be awkward but it all worked out so great and we loved it!

We also had a friend who visted her orphanage and took a package for us and got some pictures and video.  I LOVE this one!  

It won't be long now!! So much to do! 
 I've had a bit of a language panic attack and have been downloading hooked on  phonics apps and Chinese dictionaries.  I've got lots of markers and crayons and colored pencils in order to have something to do that doesn't require talking!  

Please pray for her as she prepares to leave all she knows.  We know that she is excited which is a positive thing but sometimes reality is different than what you expect.  We expect her to grieve pretty hard.  Pray for sweet heart as she gets ready. 

I plan to blog our trip and would love for you to follow along!

12 months....a whole year home!

On November 4 Sarah had been with a whole year.  In some ways it seems like it can't possibly have been a whole year already and in some ways we hardly remember life without her.  She keeps us on our toes every single day.  She amazes us with her ability to love despite her hard beginnings.  She amazes us when we see those survival instincts kick in.  She is a fighter for sure and she will fight when she feels threatened in any way.  It has been so neat to watch her learn to regulate that and learn when not react that way.  I find myself saying things like, "I am so proud of you for not hitting me!  Thank you!"  We have loved watching her learn to relax, learn to love us, learn that we aren't going anywhere, that there will always be food.  We have marveled at how she has learned to communicate. We marvel at her everyday.  There are days that are so hard, and so busy that life just takes hold and you just get through but there are so many days that she still just takes my breathe away,  Days I still cry over her at night wishing I could take all the hard beginnings and sadness and brokenness from her.  I am so thankful for a God who redeems.  I am so thankful to be a part of Sarah's story and I pray everyday that I can do right by her.  Do the very best for her.

Here's what she was up to this month!

The Fair!  

First Fair ride ever!  She felt that is was fabulous!  The fair was MAJOR sensory overload but she really handled it well.  

Daddy's are so awesome!  I'm so glad she has an amazing one!

Big brothers are pretty awesome too and this one takes the cake.  These too have the sweetest relationship.  And by sweet I mean they make a lot of noise together and she really likes it when he throws her on the couch!

She ate the big pretzel at Sam's.

And topped it off with a big drink all her own!

She turned 6 years old!  What a great day celebrating the day she was born!  I am sad to not have been there and I hurt for the woman who had to make hard choices and I am so thankful she choose life for Sarah.  

(Just as an aside....a little "Please be careful what you say" if you will.  I've had several people say to me things about how terrible "those" people are.  How could a woman throw her baby away.... I would NEVER....  Here's the honest truth about that...  We have no idea in our comfortable American houses of the struggles woman all over the world face- the terrible choices made for them.   When you say things like that  to an adoptive mother you are talking about a part of her child.  Her birth family.  The woman who made hard choices to bring her into the world.  I don't like rules about what you can and cannot say to people but that's just a little bit about how I feel about that one. )

Halloween was so fun!!!

It was dress up day at school and Sarah went as Doc McStuffins!

We carved pumpkins

Just look at this face will you!  

And for trick or treating she was a panda!
And a mighty cute one at that! 

She's saying "eeeeeee"  which is Sarah for "Cheeeeese"

It took a few houses for her to figure it out but she loved it!

This picture makes me laugh.  It is no secret among the moms of kids from her orphanage that they used suckers A LOT.  She still lights up at the sight of a good sucker!

A HUGE event for Sarah this month was changing schools.  We loved our time at Covenant but with some encouragement from friends we decided to move her to our local public school in their special needs class.

She started Kindergarten and has absolutely loved it.  She is doing so so well and will start therapy there soon.  We are so happy with this decision.  It was so hard for me to let her go but it was the best thing for her!!

When Will and Jenny were babies I made handprint tiles for them every other month until they were one year old.  I couldn't do that for Sarah as a baby but we have been doing it all year for the first year she was home.  

Working on her angel ornament!

I got the tiles all hung and I just love this wall in my pantry!

It has been a great year.  It's actually also been one of the hardest years of our married life.  We are so excited to see what Sarah accomplishes in the next year.  We really think she is going to take off this year! She has so much attachment work behind her, so many initial assessments and setting up of things done.  She is secure and safe and I believe she is finally relaxing and realizing how loved she is.  It's still two steps forward one step back some days but we are getting there everyday.