Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in China

Thanksgiving in China!
We have had our daughter, Jaelynn, for 4 days now. The best word I can use to describe her is joyful. We have heard so many giggles in the last few days and we are loving it.
On Monday morning the twelve families in our group loaded up on a bus and headed for the Registration Office. Our children were coming from about six different cities in the Henan province. When we arrived a couple of children were already there waiting. The children from Jaelynn's city had not arrived yet so I went around the room taking pictures of other families receiving their children. Some children showed no emotion, some screamed, and some seemed happy and content. This was the most intense yet beautiful thing I have ever experienced. It was such a mix of emotions. Most of these children were between 20 months and 28 months and didn't understand anything that was going on. On one hand I felt so badly for them because they were so frightened, on the other hand I was so happy that these precious little ones had a mama and a baba now. One of my favorite "Gotcha Moments" was a little girl, around 2 years old. Her father came to China alone to get her and she just cried and cried for a good thirty minutes. Her daddy took her outside and comforted her. When he came back in she had settled down nicely and was even smiling and she has not quit smiling since. I think she has her daddy wrapped around her finger... If you saw her I am sure you would say, "how could she not?" About forty five minutes after we arrived at the Registration Office we were only waiting on the children from Luoyang and then a van pulled up. My heart jumped and then I saw her, my daughter! I stood by the door and when she saw us she recognized us from our pictures. It was a moment that one cannot adequately describe and also a moment that is meant just for a little girl and her mama and baba.
Monday we spent most of the afternoon in our hotel room getting to know each other. A huge blessing is that Jaelynn understands us very well and she speaks English very well. She has had fun trying to teach us some Chinese. She is incredibly smart. I have asked her who taught you that several times, and almost without fail she responds "Rebekah". Rebekah is the pre school teacher at Maria's Big House of Hope and has done an amazing job teaching and loving these children. I will forever be grateful for what you have done! In the evening we walked about a mile to Wal Mart with several other families in our group. Wal Mart in China is certainly different than the Wal Mart we know.
Tuesday we had to travel to the city where Jaelynn is from to apply for her passport and we also were able to visit Maria's Big House of Hope. This was a highlight of our time here in China. I have always wanted to visit here and especially since Jaelynn spent over three years of her life there. I walked in this building and it took my breath away. This special care facility cares for some of the sickest babies and children. We met the nannies that have been taking care of Jaelynn and Jaelynn was able to show us her friends. It was so touching when one little girl who could only lay on a pallet on the floor smiled really big when Jaelynn got close to her face. We met Dr Martin and his family and they were so very kind to us as they showed us around the facility. David and I felt that this visit helped give Jaelynn some closure.
Wednesday we walked to Wal Mart again with some families and then we had lunch at Pizza Hut. Jaelynn loves pizza.
On Thanksgiving day David, Jaelynn, and I walked through a large park near our hotel, ate lunch at McDonald's, and had dinner with some of the families in our group. Not a traditional thanksgiving meal, but we enjoyed it just the same.
Today we are all waiting on our children's passports to be delivered and tomorrow we fly to another city (Ghuangzhou) where Jaelynn will have a visa physical examination and her picture taken. We are looking forward to arriving at the next city.
It has been such wonderful experience to watch God knit the hearts of these little ones together with their families. It has been fun getting to know people who have been on similar journeys to bring their children home and to know that when we left the Registration Office on Monday there were twelve less orphans in the world. So happy and grateful that our family could be a part of welcoming one into our family. We have truly seen a picture of the Gospel this week as so many children were given the gift of a family and as they learn every day what it is like to be part of a family.
Thank you for your support and prayers. Please continue to,pray for Jaelynn as she adjusts to her new family. You all are going to love this girl!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

We're Counting Down The Hours!

We arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening Beijing time (Thursday morning Florida time). We took a bus ride to the hotel and got some much needed rest. Our guides, George and Michael kept us busy on Friday and Saturday. We left the hotel early in the morning and didn't get back until early evening both days. We visited The Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, the Great Wall, the Olympic Park Village, and the Hutang Diatrict of Beijing (very old area of Beijing). We left Beijing early Sunday morning for our second city, the city we've all been waiting for and the reason we are here, Zhengzhou. This is the city where we meet our new daughter. In six hours we will load up on a bus and head to the registration office and twelve families will meet their children and there will be twelve less orphans in the world. In the group we are with most of the children being adopted are between 20 months and a little over 2 years old. I am sure there will be a lot of crying as these new babies meet their families. At this age they have no idea what is going on and are likely to be very scared. Please pray for these sweet babies that God would knit their hearts together with their new parents and that everyone's anxiety would be calmed.

When we arrived in Zhengzhou one of our guides pulled her cell phone out and showed me a picture she had taken just last week. I was so happy, it was a picture of Jaelynn! She saw her and spoke to her just last week. She told me that Jaelynn is very excited that she will be meeting her mama and baba soon. Pray for us as we meet Jaelynn in just about 6 hours. Pray that we will be able to comfort her and that she will know that she is loved so very much. It is so hard to believe that after 14 months (for most of those months not knowing when we might meet her) of waiting she will be in our arms so soon now. I still have a hard time believing that God is allowing David and I to be the mama and baba of a little girl that we prayed for. Our prayer for Jaelynn was that someone would adopt her and that she would know the love of a forever family. I know I have used this verse several times, but it is just so appropriate, "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" Ephesians 3:20
Well, it is about 4 AM and I guess I will try to get a little rest before we are off to meet Jaelynn. Check back later tonight for pictures of a beautiful little Asain girl and her ecstatic and emotional parents. Praying the Internet continues to work well for us because it is very unpredictable. Signing out as the mother of three and next time I blog I will be the mother of four.

Monday, November 12, 2012

T - 34 hours

It has been hard to concentrate on anything today, but I did manager to tie up some loose ends before Wednesday when David and I leave the US for China. Did I really just say that? Yes, we are leaving. Over the last fourteen months I have read blogs, prayed for and followed other families as they made the journey to China and I have followed them since they made it home. I've looked at the pictures of those families and dreamed of the day that it would be our turn. Well next Monday, China time (late Sunday night US eastern time), we will be taking pictures with our new daughter.
As I have prepared for this trip, one thing that I was not expecting is how I am feeling about leaving my other children behind. I guess I had not allowed myself to spend much time thinking about that part. They will be well taken care of, I know. Katie, Matt, and Abby will spend Thanksgiving the same way they do every year, at my sisters house with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. I am so thankful for my family who has been consistently supportive to us on this journey. Thank you all for loving our children and watching out for them while we are away. When my family found out we would be gone for Thanksgiving they were a little upset, they wanted to know who would pray before they ate dinner, that has always been David's job (they weren't really upset). One of the benefits of being the preacher in the family. I'll see if I can wake David up in the middle of the night, maybe he could still pray if we used facetime.
If I remember correctly this will be the first Thanksgiving I have ever spent away from family, but it is also the first time I've gone to China to get a new daughter. I am very happy that I will be spending Thanksgiving with Jaelynn. We definitely have so much to be thankful for.
Please pray for us while we are away and pray for Jaelynn's little heart, that we would be able to help her as she grieves over the only life she has ever known. God has chosen us to be her parents and my desire is to do that job well. I am so very thankful for the people who have taken care of her over the last several years. It is obvious that she has been loved well.
We will post pictures on our blog and Facebook as the Internet allows. I am looking forward to sharing "gotcha day" pictures with everyone.
See you all in China!
"God sets the lonely in families" Psalm 68:6

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We're Going To China!

I have been wanting to blog, but I have had so many thoughts going on I felt too scattered. This blog post may be scattered a bit too, filling you in on recent happenings for our family.
On October 20th my daughter had a shower for me and Jaelynn. She had everything decorated so pretty. We received practical gifts like a car seat and a stroller and we also received fun gifts like hair bows, toys, and gift cards. It is fun to imagine Jaelynn sitting in the car seat and playing with those toys.
One word I would use to describe the adoption process is waiting or anticipating. You wait to be matched with your child, you wait for a letter of acceptance (at least for a Chinese adoption), you wait for immigration approval, and on and on the waiting goes. We have finally reached the milestone where yes we are waiting to meet our daughter, but the guessing games of when it might happen are over. David and I will leave on Wednesday, November 14 for China. We will be in Beijing for a couple of days and do a little sight seeing then on the 19th we will head to Guangzhou and meet Jaelynn. I feel like I need to keep pinching myself to be sure it is all real. This is an adventure I never dreamed I would ever be on, but it has been so amazing as we have watched God move mountains and provide for our adoption.
Around ten months ago my parents began planning a cruise and they a asked if our youngest daughter, Abby, could go with them. It was planned for this week. My husband and I agreed and made arrangements for her to be out of school for the week. She left today and will be back next Sunday. When she gets home David and I will be home for just two days before we take off and then I will not see her until December 1st when we return from China with her little sister. Almost an entire month I will be away from her and this thought has me a little sad, I am thankful she has this chance to spend time with her nanny and papa because there will be some big changes in her life in about a month. She is a sweet girl and I know she is going to be a wonderful big sister.
When I was in high school I used to frustrate my guidance counselor. She would ask me this question, "Where do you see yourself ten years from now?" Without question I always responded married with a couple children, and being a stay at home mom. She would always try to get me to choose a career, because to her being a stay at home mom was not an acceptable choice. Happily, ten years after graduating High School, I was right where I wanted to be. I was happily married and I had 2 beautiful children. A few years later God blessed us with another child. Four years ago when our youngest daughter was in first grade we needed some extra income and God provided a job for me. This was the first time I worked outside the home since my oldest daughter was born. It was and has been a very tough adjustment for me. I am thankful for God's provision of a job when we needed it, but my goal was to one day quit my job so that I could be at home again. Last Monday I gave my employer my two week notice so that I can once again live my dream. It is a little bit scary, but God has is faithful and I am thankful for scripture like Psalm 37:4 which says,
"Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. "
So now you've had a glimpse into a few of the many thoughts rambling around in my head. I told you this post would be scattered - kind of all over the place. I'll try to post another short blog before we leave and then some updates while we are away. Thank you for your prayers!