Thursday, January 30, 2014

One Year Forever Family Day

Olivia, one year ago we walked into a crowded Civil Affairs building.  We were full of nerves and anticipation.

 How would you react?  What would you look like in person?  What would your personality be like?  Were you small or big for your age?  Could you walk?  Were you loud like your brother and sister or a calm addition to our family?  Would you bond?  Would we bond?  What was your favorite food, favorite toy?  How did you like to be soothed?  Did you like to sleep?  In what position? Would you know how much you were loved? 

We never could have imagined the love we felt the instant we saw you.  It reminded me so much of the day your brother and sister were born.  I locked eyes with you, touched your hands and consoled you by gently rocking while stroking your head.  The terror you felt is nothing we could have prepared ourselves for.  I am so so sorry you had to go through the pain you went through.  No person should ever have to experience what you experienced.  You are brave my daughter. 

It has now been a year.  I can now answer all of the questions we had that January afternoon.  I love watching you each day and seeing more and more of your personality unfold.  I am certain that God created you for our family.  I am just sorry that you had to go through what you did so God could get us to you.  Your first mommy, your tummy mommy made a very brave decision so that I could be your forever mommy.  I am so grateful for her.  In my eyes she is a hero. 

Your forever family day will always be a favorite day of the year for me.  I don't ever want to forget what you went though a year ago but, I don't want to dwell on it.  Because, that baby is not you.  It has been a miracle this year watching YOU unfold.  You are mighty, you are spicy, you are loud, you are loving, you are silly, you are stubborn and you are a miracle.

So to celebrate you we decided to indulge in your favorite "cocholate" (Chocolate) with a trip to the local French Bakery.  We let you pick out any item you want and eat until your heart was content. I loved our day together just as I do all of our days together.  You lighten our world baby girl.  You are so very loved.


On Sunday we gathered with Life Group friends and family to dedicate Brooks and Olivia to the Lord.  Kyrie was baptized as an infant.  We wanted to make sure that she was included in the event and asked if she would memorize a scripture verse.  She was more than happy to do so.

It meant so much to us to have the Brooks and Olivia dedicated together given the story of how their relationship has unfolded over the past year.  The weekend we chose also was significant as it was two days before Olivia's Forever Family Day.  So we decided to have a big celebration after the dedication as a small way to thank our Life Group family who supported us from the first mention of adoption right through our first year home.

Brad built us a beautiful fire to gather around for the ceremony

"Oh Mom" she said as I was getting teary telling her how proud I am of her
(and yes I am reading notes from mom phone.  Public speaker I am not)

As the marriage is the forefront of the family, our pastor encouraged us to renew our vows.  What a difference 9.5 years makes.  This time I had a clingy two year old in my arms.


Sweet boy and his daddy praying 

And at the end the crowd went wild.  Maybe the most unconventional dedication ever!  But, just he way we like it.

We went inside and dined on Chinese Food made by our neighbor who owns the local Chinese restaurant.

And of course we ate cake!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Inbox Surprise

Today I received the most wonderful surprise. New photos of Olivia in China.

I have mentioned my friend before who I connected with because our daughters were at the same orphanage and adopted just a week apart.  She has been a blessing in my life and we keep Cecelia's photo framed in Olivia's room.  As you can tell from these photos they were best buddies and it our hope they will remain China sisters for life. 

While Cecelia was in China her mom sent a USB in hopes of receiving photos in return.  She told me today that when the orphanage handed it to her it was still in plastic so she figured it was never used.  Much to her surprise when she plugged it in today, a year later they found 38 new photos and a few included Olivia.

What a blessing that when I put them on the iPad they were time stamped so I know exactly when they were taken and relate back to Olivia's exact age.  My fellow adoptive mamas know what this means to me.


These photos were taken on Nov 22 just a day before our girl's first birthday. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Remembering TA

One year ago today we received Travel Approval (TA).  Like much of our adoption process, and quite honestly life in general, it didn't go as planned. I never wrote the whole story because I wanted to make any negative comments regarding our agency private until we had our daughter in our arms. 

We fully expected to hear the phone ring, see it was our agency and cry tears of joy that we were finally going to China.  Instead, I was in bed with stomach issues that plagued me throughout 2013.  I learned from my face book group that many families on our time line were getting TA and I became increasingly anxious knowing we were facing Chinese New Year delays so I decided to email our agency rep.  I was infuriated to find out we had actually received TA a few days before but, was never told.  I spent the next hours fighting with our agency to get us to China ASAP, making tentative airline arrangements, freaking my parents out that we were possibly going to China in less than two weeks, and freaking myself out that we were possibly going to China in less than two weeks.   All the while I watched others in my group receive TA and consulate appointments while we sat and waited at the mercy of our agency.  Finally, four agonizing days later we got the okay and 10 days later we were on a plane.

As I wrote before, just a few days after coming home from China our agency closed.  It was at that time it all came together and I realized why they were trying to keep us from going to China.  It also made sense why our time in China wasn't as organized as we would have hoped for.  Our trip cost them money.  If we had not gone to China at the exact moment we did, our daughter would have sat in an orphanage for 3 more months and we would have incurred additional fees.  I watched this happen to a friend and it was truly devastating. 

This January 10th is so different than last year.  Today I woke up after another sleepless night.  Not because of worry over how my daughter was a million miles away but, because I woke multiple times to comfort as she is fighting a cold.  I am so thankful to be where we are now.  The two weeks between TA and travel were some of the hardest in the process for me.  There were so many emotions involved: anxiety of travel, heart ache of leaving my kids, excitement to meet our daughter and fear of the unknown.

Today, we will simply enjoy what has become normal.  After a year of transition, normal feels so good!

By the way:  This child is nothing but "normal". Everything she does, she does BIG. Today it was painting herself rather than paper with glue and shaving cream.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

True Love

For anyone who has read the blog since the beginning. This photo speaks a thousand words.  

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love".  1 John 4:18

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Year In Review

The year 2013 brought our family one of the largest blessings we could have imagined.


I am choosing in this post to focus on the negative, not the positive of this year.  This year brought us many positives but, I use this blog mostly for adoption purposes.  I want to be real with my fellow adoptive readers and let them know "you are not alone".  I have watched many friends in the adoption community face situations similar to ours.  I do not think this is mere coincidence rather a form of spiritual attack to those who have stepped out in faith.  This is not to discourage but, rather to encourage.

Along with that, we suffered challenges to which I am happy to say goodbye. One do my mantras this year has been "God loves adoption.  The devil hates adoption".  This year, more than I can ever remember we have been challenged in our health, in our finances, in our family and marital relationships, in our resilience and in our faith.
In January we welcomed our precious daughter home. 

In February our kids became sick with a terrible 7 day fever virus while Brad was out of town and I was learning to manage three kids. 

In April I underwent test after test to see why I had recurrent vomiting and significant weight loss. We concluded after no answers it was a clear case of spiritual attack. 

In July I spent a month on crutches again with no clear diagnosis of why I couldn't bear weight on my hip. Again, we said "the devil hates adoption" 

In August after months of sickness and still in the new post adoption phase, Brad and I found ourselves more exhausted and depleted than we had ever felt and our family relations suffered along with it. 

In September Brad underwent a typically routine surgical procedure that ended up being anything but routine or simple. 

October and November were fairly smooth sailing but, December came and went with a bang.

Olivia underwent a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy which left her full of pain and all of us with little sleep.  She took a huge back slide in the attachment department.  Just as her tonsils started to heal she developed a UTI, fever and lower abdominal pain that left the doctors puzzled. 

A week after Olivia started feeling better, we were all hit with a 5 day stomach bug then, to top off the year, just after arriving at our house to celebrate Christmas, Nana fell in some slippery mud. She was taken by ambulance uptown and it was determined she broke her ankle in 3 places and would need emergency surgery. I found myself at one of the scariest places I had ever been. I watched my mom suffer four times as they tried to reset her break. Then, witnessed her in the most vulnerable situation as she required assistance to breathe due to a bad mix of narcotic pain relievers. It was at this moment I truly realized how precious each moment is for in an instant there might not be a next. 

As we say good bye to 2013 I pray for a healthier New Year however, I say good bye to this year knowing that through our trials and tribulations we have been made stronger. 

"But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his  love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who, he has given us" Romans 5: 3-5