Friday, March 30, 2012

the internal stuff: the power of adoption

Having James in our family is a constant reminder to me of the power of adoption.  Both earthly adoption (like us adopting James) and spiritual adoption (like God adopting us into His family/kingdom through Jesus).  It's just crazy to me how redemptive both these forms of adoption are.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:4-6

We may not realize it, but we see spiritual adoption all the time.

People's lives literally turned around because they came to know Christ and received His power of healing, love and grace.  That deep, knowing that you're accepted exactly as you are.  That was (and still is) huge to me.  When the day came that I got it -- when I realized that I am loved, truly loved regardless of the mistakes I've made -- the freedom and peace I felt was so comforting.  I hadn't experienced that kind of acceptance before.

That's my hope for James.

That through his adoption into our family he will get it.  That he will feel accepted exactly as he is.  That somehow God will use us, equip us, and empower us to show him the love of Christ.  That he will feel that freedom and peace one day.  If he isn't feeling it already.

This is my prayer for all our kids: acceptance and knowing.

My gosh, you guys, I screw up on a daily basis.  Read: a daily basis.  Those closest to me know this.  I lose my patience, I shout, I scold, I...dare I say it...even belittle at times.  I'm ashamed to admit it.  I am such a failure in so many ways.  But my constant prayer is that God's grace would be sufficient for my shortcomings.  I have many.

And Paul says so in the Bible so I'm going to choose to believe it.  And I regularly ask this of the Lord on my children's behalf.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  
2 Corinthians 12:9  

Bringing James into our family has brought forward a lot of my humanness -- my issues (laziness, selfishness), my hang-ups (what others think), my uncertainties (my mothering), my doubts (my abilities).  I'll never forget what was going on in me internally those first few days after we got James in China.  It was a wave of enormity -- fear, doubt, concern, unknowing.

It's like night and day.

It's like I was over-thinking things so much at the beginning that I wasn't experiencing a lot of the joy that I'm so glad to be experiencing now.  We're just living it.  It helps tremendously to be living it at home.

I know there will be bumps -- we all have them -- whether our children are biological or adoptive.  But, my gosh, I feel grateful to be the mom of these kids.  I just know this is where the rubber meets the road.  It's right now.  It's in the grit of life.  The digging down deep.  The funny thing that I chuckle at sometimes, is God has given me the desires of my heart.  I yearned for this.  I asked for this.  I desired to be stretched and to be more dependent on Him.  Well, here I am!  And He is faithful.  He has answered every prayer.  I can look back over this process to all the twists and turns along the way and see His hand on it all.  That's an amazing thing.

There's much ahead for us.  A summer full of consultations with doctors, many appointments and then probably procedures.  Of course, there's the fun that must be had too!  So we'll navigate through and learn as we go.  We'll continue to flex as we gel into a family of seven.  I, in no way, feel like we've arrived.

One day at a time.

Er, one poopy diaper at a time.  Are we really changing diapers again? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

much to share

Although I'm only posting mostly 'fluffy' updates loaded with photos and video, there is much going on internally that I want to share at some point.  It's so good.  I don't know if I'll be able to put it into words.

James is just...awesome.  I don't know what else to say.

And God is just...awesome.  I don't know what else to say about that either.

We were lavished this weekend by two families -- our biological family and our church family.  We so enjoyed our time at the lake on Friday with my family, a nice visit with JD's parents who arrived on Saturday to meet James, and then we were able to return to church on Sunday to the warmest welcome.  Man, have a lot of people been praying for us for a long time.

We hardly ever go to my parents' and not spend the night.  It was almost painful to head home on Friday.  So much so that we didn't leave until about 8:30 PM.  But it was a full house and we knew we wanted to hold off for as long as possible on having James sleep somewhere other than home.  He needs to know what and where home is.  And that's right here.  :)

So home we came and James was a champ.  He transferred from the car (where he and all his sibs fell asleep) to his pack-n-play without a peep.  Don't misunderstand.  He fully woke up, but is so dang easy-going sometimes that we just laid him down and he went right back to sleep.  Love that kid.

Here are some more photos from our visit at my parents'.

Clearly, James is warming up to dogs.  There were seven there that day (some residents, some visitors).

Is it obvious that James is often the center of attention?

James is quite used to being outdoors now.  He often asks to go outside.  So sweet.

It's probably hard to see, but he's holding a red Coke bottle cap in his hand (against his cheek).  He was way into that thing and would put it to his lips and pretend to drink out of it.

James and P, one of his most favorite people.

Love them.

(Lucy's 'fishing')

Home away from home.  

Enjoying a fish fry!  Yum!  Everyone else was out on the deck.

Moving on to our visit with JD's folks.  

They weren't always sure about our decision to adopt, but probably the greatest way we saw God do a mighty work in and through our adoption was hands down in their massive change of heart!  They didn't just say, 'Okay, fine.  Go ahead and adopt.  It's your life.'  Instead, they said, 'We get it now' and got behind us in a huge way.  In other words, God literally used them to help pull this adoption off, so having them meet James was pretty darn awesome.  

Their very first moments together.  They were so tender and gentle with James.  
Just what he needed (especially after just waking from a nap).

He's giving his Mimi one of his little smirks. 

Amazing what 24 hours will do!  He looks like he's known her since birth!  :)

Aside from his size, doesn't James look like he's about five years old here?!  Funny.  

(Jackson didn't want to cooperate with having his photo taken.  Ahhhh...).

Sweet brothers.

Jackson and Brooks thought it was hilarious to put one of my high heels on James.  Avery had been playing in them...Lord knows, I never wear them!  I was almost permanently disabled the last and only time I wore them.  No Christmas party is worth that kind of pain!  Never again.  :)

What a ham!

Love that face.  

Brooks thought he was hilarious to hide behind James.

More cuddle time with Mimi.

James and his pointer!

Pappy, Daddy and James.

James and his grandparents.

The whole gaggle.

Of course we had to go to Cracker Barrel after church.  

James is a fried okra fan!  He's a Beam, isn't he?

We were sad to see them go, but we'll hopefully see them this summer.  It has meant more than I can put into words the way our family has so easily and lovingly accepted James!  Truly amazing.


These moments were so precious to me.  I think my love meter was in the red.  
He snuggled in so close.  

He was sipping on his water bottle.  And just snuggled his head up under my chin.  
Motherhood is made for moments like these.

There's that face again.  
Oh how I love to kiss those cheeks!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

video crazy

I cannot put my camera down these days.

I finish taking a series of photos or a video and then put it up thinking that I'm done and I'm just going to sit back and not worry about capturing stuff.  Then something cute starts happening and I think how I don't want to miss it.  I run for my camera.

Although, one day I know we'll be glad to have it all.

So yesterday was James' first time to Gramma and Papa's (my mom and stepdad's).  They live about 45 minutes away.  We go there regularly.  We had planned to stay close to home and not do any adventuring during these first weeks with James at home, but I wanted to go up there to say good-bye to my grandmother who's been here since January.  She's heading back to Michigan this weekend.  Plus, my uncle and a friend drove in from Michigan to fetch my grandmother so I thought the kids and I would go see everyone before they leave.  The weather's been beautiful and I suspected it would be the first time the kids would get to swim in the lake.

We packed the suits and sunscreen.  I thought I was going to get James in a swimsuit (how cute that will be!), but the bigger kids got the swimming out of their systems while James napped.

We did, however, walk down to the beach to touch his toes to the sand to see what might happen.  Curious to see if we have another offender (with it's partner, Grass).  It seems we do.

Poor little guy.  One day he'll experience these things with glee.  I think.

It appears that this child has been outdoors so little in his life that the first several times the wind blew his hair, he touched his hair and squealed!  And not in delight.  More a squeal of 'Holy cow!  What in the world was that?!'

In Grass' defense, James is warming up to it.  He will touch it and not scream now.  He'd prefer not to touch it, but he will.  On Wednesday, Payton was able to get him to sit on it by distracting him (sort of) with a cookie.  Check out the abs on that kid.  Dude can keep his legs in the air for a really long time while sitting!  What a yogi he'd be.

We also introduced James to drawing.  He's a fan.

And we introduced James to many of our extended family!  Including some of his teenage cousins.  Boy, were they a hit!  It was so incredible to have him so well received and loved by his great                    grandmother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  

So many people see these videos and say he seems to fit right in.  We feel the same way.  

God is so very good.  :) 

Tomorrow will be our first day back at church.  Oh how we've missed our church family so.  We can't wait to go back!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

first impressions

Grass did not make a good first impression on James.

But our dear friends did.  

Likewise for precious first kisses.

Ditto for unwrapping a big package.

And this weather has sent us running for the outdoors.  We have so enjoyed sitting outside (and enjoying some pretzels) with our dear next door neighbors.  Nothing like this time of year.  Mild temperatures.  No pollen (for now).  Singing birds.  No bugs.  And dirty happy kids to boot.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

how're things going?

Amazing how things can shift in just a day.

I started this post this morning, but my mindset and heart are in a totally different place just 12 hours later.

I think this may be adoption.  Very similar to how it feels when you have a newborn (at least for me).  You're up.  You're down.  It's a good morning.  It's not a good morning.  It's a good day.  It's not such a good day.  I have always been very effected by the moods of my babies.  This is no different.  But here's the whole post even if I'm not exactly there anymore after having a great day with James!

'How're things going?'

That's the question I get most these days.

And my answer is always, 'Good.'

Because it is good.

Is it exactly as I expected?  No.

Is James a wonderful child?  Yes.

Am I grateful for him?  Yes.

For me, a huge part of what's different than I expected!  I'm different than I expected I would be.  My humanness.  My flaws.  My physical fatigue.  The reality of having five children and the enormity of what that is for a mom when you love your children so much and want to give them all they need and more.  But you're just one person.  Any mother of more than one child knows this.  Even mothers with only one child, too!  Sometimes you just feel like there simply isn't enough you to go around.  But there is enough God.  And He fills in for me where I can't.  I'm so thankful for that.

In the midst of our family's flexing into one of seven, I am amazed to see God in the midst of it all.  The joy and love our biological kids feel toward James is nothing short of miraculous.  It's something I hoped for, but it's amazing to see.

I remember not too long ago, when we embarked on this journey, feeling like I was laying my life before God and saying, 'Lord, stretch me.  I don't want to live safely anymore.'

Well, He answered.

I am stretched.  I am scared.  I am uncertain.  I am grateful.  I am trusting.  I am honored.  I am full to overflowing.  I am confident that we're right where we're supposed to be even if it's a place of trepidation and anticipation.

There's one thing I know for sure.  God wanted James to be part of our family.  This is His will, so He will meet our every need.  He will equip me/us.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  He created this family and we will rely on Him to carry us through these times of transition and flexing.

Now, an update on each child:

Payton continues to be the doting 'mother-sister.'  She is great with James.  She can carry him most easily (as compared to the other kids who think they can, but he's not that much shorter than they are).  She has a connection with him that's sweeet.  He often goes to her and asks for her to pick him up.  She will pull out all the stops to make him laugh.  Seeing her love for him is truly something to see.  Frankly, I haven't seen this side of her with her biological sibs in years!  ha!

Avery and James are definitely bonding.  More and more everyday.  She is happy to pick him up when he asks and would carry him all around if she could, but she does get tired.  He's 20 pounds and she's only 50!  She and JD taught him how to go down the stairs on his rump!  I came in from the backyard yesterday and was startled.  Avery assured me, 'Mooom...he can do it!' as I nervously lurched for him.  'Daddy and I taught him.'  It's true.  And now he beckons her to come downstairs with him.  Avery fed James his first lollipop today (from Trader Joe's).  She was his best friend after that!

It is so sweet to see Jack-Jack as a big brother.  He loves James and loves doting on him.  Trying to play with him, wanting to help feed him, getting him dressed, etc.  James has started 'barking' at his sibs in protest when they touch the toy he's playing with (eventhough they're just picking it up for him or helping him with it).  And one time James protested because Jackson tried to sit in between James and me (there was plenty of room -- James wasn't even sitting next to me).  Jackson immediately moved and got down in response to James' protest.  I then told him that James can't do that and that Jackson should get back up on the couch next to me.  He was happy to oblige and I was happy to have my boy not feel displaced.  I told James that Jackson can sit there.  Of course, James doesn't fully understand what we're saying, but he understands.  

Brooks is a James fan too.  He too wants to help him get dressed, etc.  In fact, he picked out his pajamas last night and got him dressed all by himself.  He loved doing that.  Of all the kids, Brooks is the most aloof, but that's kind of just Brooks.  He's very aware of James' whereabouts and talks about James being his brother now.  He and Jackson were so excited to return to school today after two weeks off.  They both desperately wanted me to walk them into school and bring James in to show their teacher.  Of course, I was happy to accommodate their request.  It was sweet to see them as proud big brothers.  And, yet again, the support and love and excitement of the people in our community never ceases to amaze me.  Their teachers, teachers' helpers, and other parents were just stopping us to wish us well and lay their eyes on James.  Who never disappoints with his puppy dog eyes or a good batting of his eyelashes.  This boy is a flirt.  

Now, how's James doing?  My goodness, he is amazing us.  He is crazy-happy.  Not that he never cries, whines or protests, but generally he is just the most easy-going guy.  He's such a good boy.  He is giving us kisses complete with a full *mwah* to follow.  He waves and says, 'Hi!' to people (including strangers).  He is super expressive facially and downright silly about it sometimes.  I think he may be a ham in the making.    

Yesterday, JD left for work and James began to cry.  He then proceeded to cry and whine off and on all morning as I was trying to get dressed, get the kids dressed and get the kitchen cleaned up.  I couldn't console him.  He just seemed sad and perhaps mad.  It wasn't the best start to our first day back to the grind.  I was not feeling very positive about our days ahead.

James has his first doctor's appointments scheduled: orthopedic surgeon in early April and a neurologist in mid-May.  We're trying to gather as much information as possible from our pediatrician and friends who've adopted and gone down this road before us.

Since we met James and got to know him personally, we learned that he struggles to feed himself (he can't pinch with his fingers like we thought he could) so I've had this vision of some kind of accommodation that fastens a utensil to his hand so he can feed himself.  Therefore, I've been anxiously awaiting getting him in front of an occupational therapist.  But today I got inventive and strapped a plastic spoon onto his little hand with a soft, hair-rubberband.  The look on his face was adorable.  He held his hand up as if he was saying, 'Hey, Mom!  Thanks!'  He then tried to feed himself.  Of course, my piecemeal attempt wasn't exactly what he needs, but I know we need to accommodate him so he can learn to feed himself at this foundational age.

I've taken some photos and videos of James experiencing grass for the first time.  Oh my gosh.  I don't think he's ever seen it in his life.  He does not like it!  He screams every time we attempt to touch his toes to it.  And it's spring!  He's screamed when Payton walked up against a tree so he could touch it!  It's crazy!

Enough for now.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed, messaged me on Facebook, brought meals, left our 'frig and freezer stocked, offered to help, taken our kids for play dates, the list goes on.

We're feeling the love and so appreciate it.  You'll never know how much.

Monday, March 19, 2012

stolen our hearts: {take 2}

Yesterday, a friend stumbled upon this post from last year and made a comment here on the blog.

Which caused me to go back and read it.

Oh my.

Tears rolled down my face late last night as I read this.  I have to post it again for anyone who hasn't read it.  And to think that the little boy I speak of in this post was asleep in the other room last night was more than my heart could bear.

Our God is good.  

Our God is mighty.

Our God is awesome.  

He literally delivered James from an orphanage into a home.  Into a family.  



stolen our hearts...

Disclaimer: this could be a looong post. :)

2nd disclaimer: I can't believe how God has moved our hearts from one place to another. He is so crazy-good to bring us where we are to be open to just the right child for us. But I say this because you may have noticed (as we have too) that we've been all over the map at times! We just thought we knew better what we needed when God's known best all along. I actually wonder if there have been times when He's just giggled at all our attempts to create this, when He knowsHe's the Creator. Including the Creator of families. Even this little family right here.

So here's the story of how this all unfolded...

As you probably remember, many weeks ago we learned that Ethiopia was putting the breaks on their adoption proceedings. We immediately started to re-evaluate the direction we were headed. All along, we were open to adopting a child whose deaf, however that wasn't our first priority (a sibling pair was) -- although deafness was in our home study. In our minds, we thought a great match for us would be a sibling pair, both children within the age range of infancy to 6 years old, preferably both girls (but a sister-brother pair would've been fine) and one or both of the children being deaf. This was starting to feel like a tall order, so we were fine with accepting a sibling pair without deafness involved. Then, when Ethiopia pulled back and we had to change course, we both felt led to pursue a child with special needs. A deaf child. It just felt like the natural progression. In a full-circle kind of way, it answered the question for us as to why I worked with the deaf for so many years; why I grew to love and appreciate this wonderful community of people; and why JD traveled alongside me during those years causing him to also be very comfortable deafness. So, off we went! China Special Needs, here we come!

So the last several weeks have been spent adjusting our home study from Ethiopia to China. In fact, at this very moment, our home study's not officially approved for China because we're waiting for background checks to come back from North Carolina and Tennessee. But once those come back -- hopefully they won't notice JD's extensive criminal record! :) -- we're ready to pounce!

Well, there is one other little thing we've been doing over these past couple of weeks...

...we've been gazing at the face of an adorable little boy on a webpage.

I stumbled upon his photo on an adoption advocacy website called Rainbow Kids. I registered with Rainbow Kids many months ago before we were even a client of Wide Horizons and probably around the time of us starting our home study. The great thing about Rainbow Kids is that in addition to providing support in the way of resources, articles and general advocacy, it brings adoption agencies together. Children assigned to many, many agencies are placed on Rainbow Kids' photolisting so these children have a greater chance of being 'found.'

I get regular (maybe once or twice a week) automated emails when a child is added to the Rainbow Kids' photolisting. One day, a month or more ago, I got an email about a little boy. His sweet little smile and sparkly eyes drew me in. This little guy isn't deaf and I had become pretty one-track-minded that we were to adopt a deaf child, so I didn't give it much thought. As has been the case at other times in this crazy, rollercoaster-of-a-process we've been pretty sure God was leading us one way (Ethiopia, siblings, girls, deafness) and then it turned out to be another...such a test of faith and trust!

I was asked not to mention his name on this blog, so again I bite my tongue, but one day I'll tell you his name and you'll chuckle. At least we did. It's kinda crazy...

Payton became enamored with him. She started asking for me to pull up the Rainbow Kids website each day to look at his picture. When she had her best bud spend the night a couple of Saturdays ago, she asked me if she could show his photo to her. She made comments here and there. Then one day, maybe ten days ago, I told JD that Payton's been talking about 'little guy' quite a bit and asked if we can adopt him. JD quietly confessed that he too has been thinking about this boy.

Oh, reeeally?

You have been drawn in?

Until this moment, he hasn't wanted to 'go there.' He hasn't wanted to look at children on-line. He hasn't wanted to discuss anything in regard to specific children until we're further along in the process. He just treads lightly. I love him for that. Ya wanna know why? Because when he steps or bites or buys in, I know it's big.

There was a situation a month or more ago when I found out that a little deaf boy who was on the Rainbow Kids' website was still on there by mistake and that he had actually been adopted (praise God for that!), but it taught me that perhaps there are occasions when kids could be posted by mistake. And around that same time, our social worker made the comment that Wide Horizons doesn't lock children's files as some other agencies do. Wide Horizon's position on this is that they want all the children registered with them to be available to as many families as possible to increase their chances of being adopted. None of this meant much to me at the time, but was about to...

I asked JD if he thought we should at least send an email and see if this little guy is actually available. He says with a small grin, 'Yeh, I think we should ask.'

I send the email to the social worker he's assigned to.

She replies back that he's available, but assigned to their agency and includes her agency's application, fee schedule, etc.


Does that mean she wants us to apply to that agency which means we'd have to start all over in order to adopt him? Not a wise option. That would be a deal breaker.

I felt heavy-hearted.

I forwarded her email to our social workers at Wide Horizons and asked them if they could locate him on the China Special Children registry meaning that he's available to all agencies.

And I replied to his social worker and explained that we're already on board with Wide Horizons and asked if that meant that we could not pursue him.

This was on Monday night the 11th.

I decided that night that regardless of whether this little boy was meant for us, we needed to be praying for him: praying for his family to find him, praying for peace in his little heart until then, praying that if we're the family God has for him that all barriers to him will be removed. I printed four photos of him -- one for JD, one for Payton, one for Avery, and one for me. (In hindsight, I probably should've included Brooks and Jackson too? hmm. I find myself still thinking they're too young for this and that, but they're not! Wow...our big boys!). I gave the photos out and explained to the girls to put hers somewhere where she'd see it regularly and each time she sees his little face to say a prayer for him.

Tuesday came. It was a busy day -- all the kids to school, errands to run. All morning as I ran around town, I wondered if the much-anticipated email from his social worker was waiting in my inbox. It would be a tipping point. Yes or No. You can pursue him or no, you can't. I just wanted to get home to know.

I got home around 2:00 that afternoon and...nothing from his social worker. But there was an email from ours in response to my question about whether he's on the shared registry:

Hi Heather,
Thanks for message. This little boy is adorable. I have just checked on the CCCWA website and he is not available there. It seems that another agency has locked his file as is possible with Special Focus children. It looks like there is a contact below to request additional info which I would recommend if you are interested in following-up.

I sink.

'Lord, bring him the family you have for him -- even if it's not us. But, Lord, I wish it were us.'

I talk to JD and he asks if I've heard anything. I fill him in and we talk about how we wish we could have access to him. We just felt like there was something about him. He said, "Honey, be patient. His social worker didn't reply to your email until late the other night so she must be on a different schedule than us." God building patience in me. Again. The story of this adoption journey's life.

Payton and Avery were asking if we're adopting him. I told them we have no idea, we've simply asked if he can be made available for us to try.

Waiting. Checking email. Waiting. Checking email. Waiting.

I fix dinner and feed the kids because I'm supposed to head out right when JD gets home to meet girlfriends from my former MOPS days for dinner. He walks in and the kids maul him. Love that. :) But before I leave I have to check my email just one more time.

And there it is.

This is what it reads:

Hi Heather,
He has been assigned to our agency, however I am so anxious to place this little guy and if you feel you are the family for him, we would consider releasing his file to your agency. Please have your agency contact me with regard to this if you are serious and in the meantime, I will go ahead and send you his file. Since he is specific to our agency you may take longer than 72 hours if necessary but I cannot place him on "hold" if another one of our families comes forward. Please keep this file confidential except to share with a doctor.

A surge goes through my body! I am relieved. I am elated.

'JD! We can have him! She says we can have him if we want him!'

'Huh?! What?!' he yells from the other room.

Right then, he turns the corner and we lock eyes. The look on his face matches mine. His eyes are smiling. He's smiling. We're in disbelief. We know this is it. The moment we've been waiting for.

And then there are five emails from his social worker. Bam. Bam. Bam. One after the other.

You guys, they're full of photos, a video and information on our little guy. And I cannot wait to share them with you!

The kids are feeding off our excitement and feel the joy! They start asking with anticipation, 'We can adopt him!? We're adopting him!?' I call everyone over to pile onto the couch so we can lay our eyes on him together -- all eyes, all hearts at the same time. I start opening the emails one by one.

He's awesome. He's precious. He's perfect. Just the way God made him.

He was abandoned. Found on the street. At four days old. Left.

John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (NIV)

Good gracious.

I fired off an email to our social worker asking that she contact his social worker as soon as she can to request that his file be transferred to our agency and locked with us. Locked.

That's where we are now. His social worker has spoken to their contacts in China and explained that his file is being transferred to another agency and our agency will take it from there. Because it's not officially locked with us 'yet' we can't share his photos and name, etc. But he's been removed from Rainbow Kids' website and his file should be locked any day.

Guess what, guys? In our conversation with our social worker yesterday, she told us this rarely happens. Rarely are files unlocked and transferred to another agency, but his social worker clearly felt like a family had come for him. We have come for him. God is moving mountains for this little boy.

We will not leave you an orphan; we are coming for you, little guy.

Back to the couch...

We all look at the photos and video. I wipe a few tears. JD squeezes my shoulder. He's moved too. We all ooh and ahh. And I go down the line and ask the children, 'So do you guys think we should try to adopt this little guy?'

I point to each child.











Then, Avery asks in the most sincere voice, 'Mommy, what about when he goes to school one day? What if the kids tease him?'

I say, 'That, honey, is why he needs a family. That's why he needs us to tell him we love him just the way he is. Someone to remind him that God made him just the way he is. And that's why he'll need us in life to stand up for him, to encourage him, to be there for him.'

She has an ah-ha moment. She gets it.

Then, Brooks cocks his head to JD and says, 'Daddy? Will we need to get him acrate?'


'A crate, Daddy? Won't he need a crate?'

JD and I look at each other above the children's heads. Uhhh? And then it hits me!

'A crib, buddy? Do you mean a crib?'

He looks at me and says, 'Yeh, Momma, a crib! He'll need a crib!'

'You're right! He will need a crib! We'll get him a crib.'

'Can he sleep in our room?' Brooks and Jackson are already working out sleeping arrangements.

'Maybe. Maybe he can be on the bottom bunk with bed rails?' I suggest.

'Yeehhh. He can have the bottom bunk!'

This little guy will be two in August. It could be a year before we bring him home. But we're going to persevere like crazy through the paperwork we have to get done. We have a new motivation! We're doing all this for someone. Our someone. A little boy on the other side of the world!

(Thanks for hanging in there with this ridiculously long post).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

good times

In China, it was just us and James.  Yes, Karen and Payton were with us too, but we weren't having to parent four other children besides James.  It was easy to give him the majority of our attention.  We all did!  He was showered with attention by us, including Karen and Payton.

Now, we're just busier.  There's been a lot to do being home -- loads and loads of laundry, several suitcases to unpack, new systems to put into place (lying with James when we put him to bed, adding another plate at the dinner table, putting his toys in 'his' spot so he know where they are, etc).  As today wound down we realized we're making some headway.  We're getting a handle on things and are getting the house in functioning order.

And there's been so much joy.  So much, y'all.  Full belly laughter as James gets to know Avery, Brooks and Jackson.  And watching them with him.  Truly precious.  They're arguing over who gets to feed him, carry him, change his diaper.  It's so sweet.  And probably a tad overwhelming to him so we've had to tell them at times to give him some space.  I'm trying to enjoy it because I know it may very likely be a honeymoon period that will end.

All in all, he's doing remarkably well.  I mean remarkably.  Not sure if this is just a phase, but I suspect it's not.  He just seems to be a generally happy child.  He's easy going.  The poor boy slept 10 minutes today after being all messed-up sleep-wise.  He took a five hour nap yesterday.  And then today we were on the go a bit, so he only slept in the car on our way to Target.  He was literally falling asleep at the dinner table so we put him to bed at 5:30.  Hopefully, he'll sleep through the night.  I suspect he will because he's a good sleeper.

Okay, here are a few recent shots and videos.  I'm like Quick Draw McGraw with the camera these days.  Every other minute I feel like I'm going to miss something that we'll want on video one day.  Thank God for the smart phone.  

Look at how teeny-tiny he looks!  

His check-up went well, but we're waiting back from our pediatrician after he consults with some colleagues on the best direction to take and where to get started.  

He doesn't mind the carseat at all.  Didn't even flinch the first time we strapped him in.  They don't use carseats in China so he always rode on our laps.  He doesn't seem to mind it at all.  He just points his little finger out the window telling us what he sees.  So sweet.

We put James in bed with us when it's time for bed and let him sleep with us until the middle of the night and then we move him to his pack-n-play.  When JD was heading to bed last night with James, Brooks wanted to lay down with them too, so JD said, 'Sure!'  I got this shot when I went in to get Brooks an hour or two later to put him in his bed.  Priceless.

Lots of videos of his very first interactions with his siblings.  Precious.  Today was a great day for Avery, Brooks, Jackson and James to get to know each other better.

This is the purity of children's hearts.  They just gained a brother and they simply and purely love him.  He's a superstar in our house.  They want him to wake up when he's napping.  They want to sit next to him in the van.  They want to 'protect' him from our Lucy-dog.  By the way, she could care less about him, but if she comes near him he screams.  It's actually hilarious.  And he screams every time he comes near grass.  Grass!  It's spring and the boy can't stand fresh, green, glorious grass.  Honestly not sure if he's ever seen any.  I'll have to capture those two things next because you're sure to laugh with us.  Speaking of laughs, have you heard his?!  How awesome is it?  I wish I could bottle it -- well, I guess I kind of!

Friday, March 16, 2012


What a trip.

James looking down at the James River.  :)

What a welcome.

Overwhelming, to be honest.

I was not expecting the crowd.

It was a school night.

Our flight was delayed.

But our dear family and friends waited.

And waited.

And waited.  

Folks met for the first time.  

Or caught up.

And goofed off to pass the time.

We couldn't have been more grateful that each and every one was there.  I just cried.  It didn't feel like the end of a 24-hour long journey, but the end of a 16-month long one.  And we couldn't have felt more loved, supported or embraced.  Leaves me feeling completely unworthy.

Then we arrived home and found our 'frig stocked!

Fresh flowers.

Precious words.  

Homemade baked goods!  Friends after my own heart!

The love of Christ literally lived out here on earth and expressed through the people who love Him.  Amazing.  Nothing like it.  

In fact, it leaves a girl like me feeling rather unworthy at times.

And as if we needed anything more to come home to, God gave me this to wake up to this morning.

Blue skies.


Downright unworthy, I tell you.



Design By Sour Apple Studio | All Rights Reserved