Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Adjusting

8 1/2 days ago we headed to the airport in China for almost 30 hours of travel.

7 days ago we landed in the DC area and our daughter was declared a US citizen.

We came HOME and Felicity met her brothers.   They have loved her for months and she instantly fell in love with them.  It was beautiful to see all of my children together, under the same roof, for the first time.


Our home is all sorts of crazy right now.  Dishes overflow in the sink.  There is more laundry than I thought could be possible begging to be folded in my living room.  Toddler toys can be found on the floor in every room in the house.  I am realizing that we did not toddler proof enough.  The boys start back to their homeschooling tutorial tomorrow and I have spent the last few days attempting to get them back on track with their work, and failing miserably. I try to remember we have only been home for 7 days. and I work to extend myself grace.

And then there is Felicity.

She is a sweet, adorable little thing and she has my heart.  She is doing amazingly well; better than we expected.  We were educated in all of the ways this time could be, and we have been so amazed by her courage and her vulnerability.

The smiles. The beautiful, sweet eye contact.  The hugs.  The kisses that have gone from her just giving us her cheek when we asked for a kiss, to full, grab-you-by-the-head-and-draw-you-in-for-a-lip-kiss.  And in these moments things seem,

 Oh
























So 

                                                                                          Perfect
























But there is another side to this.

There is a girl who screams and acts out at bedtime or nap time.  A girl who rarely sleeps.  There are the normal behaviors of a toddler who is testing boundaries and learning about her environment.  And then there are the behaviors you learn about in your adoption education classes under: What to Expect.  There is a little girl, who I call my daughter, that has experienced a great deal of loss and suffering in her short life.  Loss caused by the brokenness of the world we live in.

And as I hold her, kicking and screaming, fighting me and sleep, I am reminded that redemption always comes at a cost.  It comes with pain too.  I only have to look at the cross and my own redemption to know that.  But I also know, that it comes with an unspeakable joy.

So, please continue to pray for our family.  For Felicity.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gotcha Day and the aftermath

           We have been in China now for one week.  I have deliberately refrained from sharing about each day and each excursion because there have been so many emotions and feelings about it, most of which are really for our family, especially our daughter to know and share and experience and not meant for sharing on the world wide web.
      Monday was our Gotcha Day of Xiang Ling (Felicity Grace) and this is a day that I do want to share. It was a full, busy day and there were so many emotions that enveloped the day. 
       Due to jet lag, Pete and I have been waking up 3 AM most mornings and Monday morning was no different.  But, what was different was that neither of us could fall asleep again.  We talked and prayed about the upcoming day until about 5AM and then got ready to be at breakfast by 6:30.  We met our guide at 8:30 AM and then headed to the orphanage. The orphanage was only 20 minutes from our hotel, and during that time, I had to keep on reminding myself to take deep breaths and just relax.  As we pulled past the gates of the orphanage, tears started to fill my eyes.  We were really here.  At this moment. Gotcha day. A day I dreamed about for quite a while. In less than an hour, our daughter would be placed in our arms.  She would no longer be an orphan.

        We came into the orphanage and were led to a nice room on the second floor.  Staff started to come in and out of the room, talking with our guide.  We were given paperwork to double, and triple check to make sure the information was accurate, and to sign, followed by placing our fingerprint over our signature.  As the end of the paperwork drew near, we, along with the other family, knew it would be soon. 
Our guide, Helen, disappeared from the room without a word.  I am not sure how much time passed, I was too anxiously waiting for someone to tell me when our daughter would be coming, that I did not hear the steps coming down the hall (although Pete did).  Our guide entered the room and was carrying Felicity Grace!!  To see her, in the same room, knowing the moment had come for her to be united with us was overwhelming.  I stood up and went to her.  She was happily sucking on a baby bottle full of water.   Helen handed her to me.  When I had pictured this moment in my mind and all of the emotions that I thought I would feel, I was positive I would cry. I had shed tears just thinking about Gotcha day.  Yet, I did not cry.  In that moment, as I held her in my arms for the first time, I was filled with so much joy that I started to laugh.  Not a silly, uncontrollable laugh, but a joyful laugh. 

 
          Felicity did not cry, at all.  Which surprised me. As I held her, she continued to drink her bottle, and she seemed rather sedate.  She started falling asleep within minutes of entering the room.  And, truthfully, it all made me nervous.  If you have been around the adoption community at all, you know there are stories of families getting to Gotcha day and their child has more, severe needs than were ever listed in the file or their child was extremely ill.  I began to feel Felicity’s forehead.  She was sweating, but in no way had a fever. As she drifted off to sleep, I tried to remind myself that I had seen video of her and there was no way that her current state could be due to a significant special need that was unshared. I tried to tell myself to relax, everything would be fine.  Even though there were lingering fears, I was just so happy to finally have her in my arms.  Felicity remained asleep for the rest of the time at the orphanage.
 
        After the other family was united with their son, the orphanage director came in and we were able to meet him.  He was a really nice, very friendly man, who smiled a lot (although you would not know that from the pictures).  He presented us with a small photobook with pictures of Felicity from her time at the orphanage and a gift made by some of the older, permanent residents of the SWI.  This was followed by photos, and then we left.

   
    The rest of the day was filled with stopping at several different governmental agencies to get our pictures taken (more than once) and to finalize the adoption. Felicity had to be woken up at our first stop.  She was content, but the poor thing seemed a bit in shock.  At one point in the afternoon, our guide Helen (whom the children at the orphanage know) walked by us and Felicity wanted to go to her.  Helen said something to her in Chinese and then said in English “stay with your mama.”  Felicity was making very little eye contact with us, and even while we played games in the hallway, she would turn away from me so as not to face me. I would hold her and she would lunge back in an attempt to get away from me.   I knew that most of these behaviors were normal, but I would not be being honest if I did not say that it did make me sad a little.  But, I had come to this moment with full knowledge of all that could happen and I just whispered in little Xiang Ling’s ear that I was not going anywhere and I would be patient with her as she grieved the loss of her life at the orphanage and adjusted to life with us.

      Now, it is two days later.  We have had more stops at more offices.  More signatures.  More pictures.  Xiang Ling is officially ours!! We have taken a tour of the city our daughter has come from. But, mostly, we have spent a lot of time at the hotel, allowing Felicity to get to know us, play with us, and for us to love on her.  Each day she has blossomed more before us.  Smiles come more readily.  She was even singing today and saying mama. She has only been with us two days, and her personality comes out in many moments.  Each smile, each laugh, each time she is in my arms and just stares into my eyes, is such a gift.  These are things I have taken for granted with my boys, but I cherish each moment with Felicity when her guard is down and she allows herself to feel comfortable enough to share herself with us.  I am happy to say that she is a mama’s girl, but still will go to Pete without a fuss.  And, even though she wanted to go tour guide on Gotcha day, there have been several times since then that our guide has motioned for Felicity to come to her, or she has wanted to pick Felicity up and Felicity has run to me, or, if, in my arms, she will turn away from my guide.  As our guide joked about it yesterday, I told her that I was glad that Felicity no longer wanted to go to her and preferred me.  Little by little she is feeling more comfortable with us and I have no doubt that all of your prayers have made this transition the joy that it is.  Xiang Ling is a precious soul and I am honored that God chose us to be a part of her story.  I am humbled by this gift that He has given us and overwhelmed by His love for us and for our daughter that is an orphan no more.

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting ready to bring our daughter home!!




We first saw her face at the end of April.   Her pictures fill our home.  Our hearts have been with her these long months.  And now, we are just days away from boarding a plane, seeing her country, experiencing her culture, and most importantly, holding her in our arms for the first time.  That day will be the last day she will be an orphan.  

"God sets the lonely in families" - Psalm 68:8

We have longed for this day to come and it is almost here!  We are thrilled, and excited and a little nervous too!

Our Gotcha day is exactly 6 months from the day we first saw her precious face!

Please pray for us.  For our travels and for our daughter!




I will attempt to update my blog as we travel.  
But, my time may just be taken up with this smiling face!




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Preparing for the run, and some changes with the Run for the Little Flowers

My family. Last year's run
The 3rd Annual Run for the Little Flowers is NEXT week everyone!  I cannot even believe that we are almost at mid-October!

I can barely stop my head from spinning these days with all of the developments and changes in our adoption plans.  Within the last week we have gotten travel approval and will be flying to China just days after the Run for the Little Flowers to finally hold our daughter in our arms!

So, my mind has not been, exactly, on the run or the details of it.  But, there are a few things I want to share with you all about it  . . .

First, even though I had originally stated that the proceeds from the run would be split between our adoption and Little Flower Projects, I have decided that 100% of the proceeds will go to Little Flower Projects.  While money for our own adoption would be wonderful, I truly never felt right about taking some of the money from the run for our own adoption expenses. This run has always been about the amazing work that Little Flower Projects does for those precious orphans in China and I want the focus of the run to remain where it started.

Second, registration for the run this year has been very LOW.  Right now, we have raised about half of what we have in the last two years.  I know that my inability to spend much time promoting it has been a big factor in this.  My head has just not been on the run because of our own adoption and, well, life.  But, my heart has and continues to be with the run.

So, because of that, I am keeping registration at $15 until the close of registration.

The last day to register will be Sunday, October 12th.  Please consider registering or sharing about the run.  Everyone who registers will be entered to win one of many great prizes.

Thank you all for your support and prayers for Little Flower Projects!!




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy Feast of St. Therese!! Run for the Little Flowers Discount!!



Happy Feast of St. Therese of the Little Flower!

In honor of the Little Flower all Run for the Little Flower registrations are only $15!! 

 Register today and share with your friends!