Friday, January 8, 2016

Finding Hope

Hope is defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best

Hope, it is something I have done since going to China to bring Kalia home back in 2010.  I told myself she would be the last one, I wanted her to be the last one, but before I left China, I knew wholeheartedly that she was not, and I would return.  My heart was telling me over and over had another daughter.

It wasn't long before we got home that I started talking/badgering Matt about adopting again.  His response as always was "no, we are done, I am done."  After months of begging him, I finally started letting it go.  I told myself there was no way he was going to budge.  Then, out of the blue one day he said that if God is calling me to adopt, he won't stand in his way.  I was TOTALLY blown away.  The only thing he asked was that we wait about a year before we started again.  So, I waited, and waited, AND waited.  I think that was the longest year of my life.

Around this time last year we started getting everything in order to begin the process again.  By the end of February we had submitted a file of a 6 year old little girl to our doctor to review.  Then everything came to a screeching halt with one simple picture...

This pictures pulled at my heartstrings like no other. That smile. Those eyes. His story of teaching himself English in the hopes that he would come to America. Knowing that he had seen many of his friends leave with their families and asking daily when his was coming. I knew instantly this boy was our son. I also knew I was absolutely insane for thinking we could get everything done in time before he aged out, let alone come up with the money to do so. His time was literally running out. From the time I saw his picture to his 14th birthday was around 90 days. We (and by we, I mean each and everyone who helped us financially, with prayers, and with encouragement) were able to get to him just in time. From start to finish we got to him just in time, 84 days!

So, in May of 2015 we welcomed Owyn into our big, crazy family, and I cannot tell you how well he fits. He is a undoubtedly our son. A son we had no idea existed. A son that has added so much to our family.

While in China, I was hoping and praying that Owyn would be it. That he would be the missing piece that would complete our family. I really, really did. But, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, I once again knew, without a doubt that the missing piece was a little girl. I told everyone I would be back, in fact, I loved Xian so much, I shred with a friend of ours (who lives there) how I would LOVE to go back there.

When we got back from China Matt made it VERY, VERY clear that he was done! Now, he has said this with 4 out of the 5 adoptions we have done, so to be honest, I didn't read too much into it. However, over time, he was not buckling, and the more and more I pushed, the more and more we argued. I cannot even begin to tell you the tears I shed at the thought knowing our family was not complete. I spent many nights bawling in the closet, praying that God would open Matt's heart, One. More. Time. Or that He would slam the door to adoption so that I could move on and get past the disappointment of not completing our family.

And then, I saw a picture that would once again change EVERYTHING! This little girl was being advocated for and I instantly fell in love. As with each of our other adoptions, I instantly knew she was THE ONE! This little girl was the daughter that I had hoped and prayed for, for 3.5 years.

Her special need scared me, and I knew they would terrify Matt. She has a diagnosis of Cerebal Palsy, which is not something we have ever felt "comfortable" with. However, I knew I had to inquire about her, I had to know more. So, I asked to review her file. Her file was pretty standard for a child's file from China. She did have an update that said...

"She is walking with assistance: she can walk for 30 minutes when she is holding the T frame and 10 meters with adult’s help.
Her hands are not fisted often.
She has tension of left limbs but her face and neck doesn’t seem affected and only her left Arm, hand, leg and foot are affected. She is not able to hold an object in her left hand. Her right hand is normal.
She is able to speak “Ma Ma”, “Ba Ba”, “Nai Nai”, “Ma Ma eats”and“Ma Ma finishes”. She can say number “one” and “two”.
Her vision and hearing are normal."

And of course there were pictures...

But it was this picture that caught my eye...

I remembered seeing this picture on another agencies FB page when they had her file and were advocating for her. I also remembered thinking how adorable she was and how much I would LOVE to get my hands on those chubby cheeks. But, I also remembered her CP diagnosis and as much as it scared me, I knew she our daughter.

So, which a knot in my stomach, I approached Matt about her. He was standing his ground, "I am done." Heartbroken doesn't even begin to describe how I was feeling. Again, I cried and cried. I prayed. Oh how I prayed! I prayed that He would soften Matt's heart, because I just knew she was ours. I continued to pray that if it was not God's will, to please not just shut the door, but to slam it.

A month or so went by and my prayers were answered, sort of. After weeks of talking, discussing, and even arguing, Matt agreed to ONE MORE, but NOT to the little girl with CP. It was just not something he was comfortable with. He was concerned about her being 3.5 and not being able to walk. She wasn't potty trained, and she was just learning to talk. It didn't matter how much research I did, or how many people I talked to, he wasn't budging. As happy and excited as I was that my prayers were being answered, I was equally devastated for the little girl I was certain was ours.

We started looking at some files, but none of them felt "right." I still checked daily to see if the other girl's family had found her yet. I emailed the agency and asked and was told they had had a few families inquire about her, but nothing serious. I was asked if I wanted to see the updated pictures they had just received and as much as my head was telling me "no," my heart was saying "heck yes!"

And a video...

I was in love all over again. And again, approached Matt about her with more research, and more info from others how have adopted kiddos with CP. And again, he said no. By this time I had decided that this was God telling me she was not ours so I decided to let it go and focus on getting our paperwork ready to start another adoption, until...

One morning as we were getting ready for work, Matt was doing his thing and I was doing mine, I heard a voice as plain as day "tell him its going to be okay, she's the one." I kid you not, it was like someone was sitting next to me whispering in my ear (I get chills thinking about it. I don't think I have EVER had anything like this happen to me before). It really kind of freaked me out so I didn't say anything, because to be honest, I was second guessing what I heard.

A few days passed and I was folding laundry one morning and once again found myself thinking of "my girl." I once again told myself that there was nothing I could do, but pray that her family found her. Then my phone dinged. I got a message on my phone from my friend in China with a few pictures and of course a video...

She was WALKING!!!! And, there a couple other videos that showed her singing and counting (I can't get them to upload)!

I called Matt and told him about what had just happened and about the earlier day when I heard a "voice." I wasn't really surprised by his response, but I was hopeful. He was still not on board, there are too many "unknowns" he said. Once again, I let it go.

We were going out to dinner later that night and just as I was getting ready to leave to meet Matt I got a call from the agency we used with Owyn telling me they had just got a new batch of kids in and would we like to see any of them. One little girl stood out so they sent me her file. I wasn't sure Matt was going to be open to her either because she was much younger that we had decided on. So, over dinner I shared her file with him and by the end of dinner he said he would feel way more comfortable with her (she was only 1.5 and had a repaired heart condition) that the little girl with CP. So, he gave me the go ahead to put her on hold and have our Pediatrician look over her file.

Finally, I felt like we were on the same page, sort of. I still felt like I was grieving for the other girl.

Within a few days we had a positive report from our Pediatrician as well as a Heart Doc and they both said they thought she was perfect. Absolutely adorable and would most like not need any intervention until she was older, and that was a big IF.

So, in this case most families would be locking her file, writing up their request to China to adopt her and be completely overjoyed that they had found their child. I, on the other hand was dragging my feet. I COULD NOT get the other girl out of my head, or my heart.

Finally one evening Matt and I were talking and he asked why I couldn't commit to the baby and I just told him, "I just don't think she is our daughter. I truly believe that the other girl is our daughter, I don't know why, but I just do." I went on to tell him that sure, the baby may be "easier," but that I truly think we could handle whatever comes our way. She was already making HUGE progress. In the few short months she went from not walking, or talking to walking independently, talking, and singing. Imagine the progress she could make with the right interventions and therapies. By this time I wasn't sure what to expect from Matt, but I was completely blown away by his response..

He said he needed more information and wanted to meet with someone, preferably an adult female that has CP. He immediately sent an email to our Pastor asking if he knew of anyone that could help us. We made a plan; we would contact the local agencies that work with kids that have CP and get their opinions, talk to someone who had CP, and do some more research.

By the next day, we had contacted an agency who looked at her file, pictures, and videos and said they were amazed by the progress she was already making and that once she was home, and had the proper therapies, she would most likely excel even more. Our Pastor put us in touch with an lady that is on staff at our Church and within a couple days we were meeting with her. Matt and I met her at Starbucks and we weren't 10 minutes into the conversation that Matt said he felt like a complete idiot. In those few short minutes she had explained to us that there was NOTHING she couldn't do, she graduated HS, went on to college, got married, had 2 kids, drove car, etc. She looked at her videos and told us pretty much the same thing, once she is home and in the proper therapies, she would only get better.

On the way home we were talking and Matt said it was ok to put her on hold, lock her file, and move forward to brining our daughter home! I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was. I was bursting. For months I had hoped and prayed for this little girl. I could picture her in our family. The countless night of lost sleep, the tears shed, the aching in my stomach was all worth it because my hopes of finding my daughter were paying off.

As I was driving Matt was pointing something out in sky "look, look, do you see it?" I did, but I wasn't sure what I was seeing until he told me. It was a shooting star! I have NEVER seen one before and it was so cool. Matt kind of chuckled and when I asked him what he said "well, if that isn't a sign, I don't know what is."

I have an absolutely amazing husband. One that is willing to walk a path that may not necessarily be his path, but because he knows it is mine, he is willing to walk it with me. I thank God everyday for bringing him into my life.

I have an even more amazing God. He planted the seed of adoption in my years ago. What I thought was just a "selfish" need has turned into so much more. Because of adoption, I am a better person. I am a better mom. I am way more patient (most of the time). But more importantly, I am a much better believer. In the last 5 years my faith in God has skyrocket. He has Blessed me and my family in more ways than I can count. It is because of Him that I am able to see and experience the transformation of a terrified child blossom into a happy, healthy family member. It is because of Him that I have 8 (soon to be 9) kids call me "mom" every. single. day!

Today is Paisley's birthday. She will turn 4! My heart aches knowing that I cannot be with her, but I am also overjoyed knowing this will be her last birthday spent without a family.

I adore this little girl with my whole heart and cannot wait to get to her! Oh, I almost forgot, remember when I said how much I loved Xian and would love to go back there???? Well, Paisley is from Xian, the same orphanage that Owyn was from. God is SO good!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

20 Years

Earlier this week Matt and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I CANNOT believe we have been married for 20 YEARS! It's crazy to think we have been together for 20 years. When we got married we only knew each other for 6 months. We met at a college party on Labor Day weekend, and from that point on, we spent almost every day together. The first time he met my parents he asked my dad if he could marry me, and proposed later that night.

We didn't have a big wedding, in fact, we didn't have a wedding at all.  We went to the local court house on a Friday, got married in front of a judge, and 5 days later Matt left for basic training in the Army.  Our first 5 months of being married we were apart.  As a matter of fact, we could only talk on the phone once a week. 

After basic training Matt was going to be stationed in S. Korea for a year.  It was an unaccompanied tour which meant the Army was not going to pay for me to go, in fact, they highly recommended I not got.  Yeah, that wasn't going to work for me.  Matt came home in August for 2 weeks before leaving for Korea, by the middle of September I was getting on a plane to join him.  When I got there I was met by one of his Sergeants and was told that I wasn't allowed to be there.  I informed her that I was there on an American Passport and Visa, and that I have every right to be there.  She said they didn't have to set him live off post, my response, "try it."  Needless to say, I lived with Matt in Korea for 10 months.  I came home early because I was pregnant with Blake and didn't want to get too close to my due date and not be able to fly.

From Korea we spent 3 years in Honolulu, HI where Blake was born.  Hawaii is absolutely beautiful, and we made many, many friends while living there.  It was a great experience, but to be honest, we were ready to get back Stateside.  We missed the seasons (what I wouldn't give to be in HI right now), and our family. 

After leaving HI, we went to Washing DC for a little over a year. Absolutely LOVED living there. There is SO much to do. I highly recommend visiting there at least once. Anyway, while living there, I was working full time. Matt was never home, he was always at work. He was an MP (Military Police) and was either always working shift work or training. During this time he was also going back and forth to S. Carolina for Sgt. training. Blake and I lived as if I were a single parent, which is not something I signed up for. I'll be the first to admit I was a terrible military wife. It was not the lifestyle for me. People don't realize how much military wives do, and give up for their spouses. I have so much respect for ALL military spouses. It takes a special person to be able to live this lifestyle. So, after a year in DC, we decided to move home.

About a year after moving home, we were blessed with our daughter Emma. I cannot even express how happy I was to have a daughter. Don't get me wrong, I love Blake, but I so badly wanted a girl. During this, Matt was working and training to become an Electrician, and I was running a daycare out of our home. Life went on. We were happy, and had no plans to have any more kids.  I was more than happy with my boy and girl.

A few years after having Emma, Matt started talking about having one more. So, along came our son Gabe.

God had blessed us with 2 happy, healthy, beautiful children. But something was missing. Before Matt and I got married he knew that someday I wanted to adopt a little girl from China. I have no idea where this came from, but since I was in middle school I wanted to have a Chinese daughter. A year or so after Gabe was born we started looking into it, saw the cost, and ran. There was NO way we were ever going to be able to afford to adopt.

A few more years down the road my urge to adopt got stronger and stronger. Finally, we made the call and set up an appointment to meet with an agency. By the time we left, we had filled out an application and were ready to go. We decided that since the wait at that time was about 2-3 years, we could easily save the money during that time. Until we got the call asking if we were interested in SN adoption and from there, things changed really fast for our family.

In 2008, we turned my dream of adopting from China into a reality when we brought home Mylee. Matt didn't travel with me, he stayed home to take care of the other 3. Never in a million years did I ever think going to China would change the person I would become. When I left China with Mylee, I knew somehow, someway, I would return.

I had no idea at the time what God was putting on my heart. He definitely made it clear that we had more than just 4 kids. After getting over the initial shock, Matt agreed that we would adopt from China just "one more time." So began the process to add another son to our family who we would call Andrew.

Just as we were getting everything wrapped up to leave for Andrew, God once again spoke to me about another child that we were to bring home. This child was different. This child was someone Matt and I said we would never do. This child was a boy, who would soon be 14 and no longer have the opportunity to have a family of his own. Once again I went to Matt with what I knew was an insane idea, but I had to at least try. After spending a few hours talking and praying about it, we decided that we were going to not only add one, but two sons to our family that trip. And so began the process to bring Jaxon home. Because he was aging out, our process was expedited to get us to China in time. He actually turned 14 while we were still in China.

By this point I knew Matt would never go for more, so I didn't push it. I personally didn't think we were done, but I didn't want to rock the boat. Until, I saw an absolutely beautiful girl with medical needs way more than we were thought we could handle. I first saw her picture only a month after getting home with Jaxon and Andrew (May), and waited until August before bringing her up to Matt. To my surprise, he wasn't as shocked as I thought he would be. In fact, he seemed pretty open to it. So, we began the paperwork to bring Kalia home.

When we got home with Kalia Matt made me promise we were done. He was adamant that we WERE done. I on the other hand knew we weren't. I knew I had one more daughter. It didn't matter how many pictures I showed him, or how many stories I told him, he was not budging. Until about a year ago he came to me and said that he had been thinking and praying about us adopting again. He said that it had been on his mind for awhile and that this was obviously my calling. "This is what you are supposed to do," he said. "Who am I to stand in the way?" Of course there were stipulations with this. He said that we would not start looking or doing any paperwork for a year. So, I waited, and waited, and waited, until I thought I was going to burst.

Fast forward to now, and you know how this ends. In just a few short months we will be adding yet another son to our family who we have decided to call Owyn. this adoption is like no other. We are the fast track to getting to him before it is too late. Like Jaxon, he too only has until he turns 14 to get home. What typically takes a year to do, we have less than 3 months. Stressful doesn't even begin to describe these past 2 weeks. I have done nothing but sit at a computer and fill out paperwork after paperwork after paperwork. But in the end, when I am able to wrap my arms around this boy, it will all worth it.

Why am I tell you all this? Because for the 20 years that Matt and I have been married, it has all been about our kids. We don't take lavish vacations. We don't live in a massive, overpriced home, or drive fancy cars. We don't go out and party and drink. We would rather sit at home with our kids and have pizza and movie night. If you would have asked me 2 years ago what I wanted for my 20th anniversary I would have said a new wedding ring (Mylee flushed mine down the toilet right after we brought her home. At the time it was new, I got it for our 10th wedding anniversary). Now, when I look down at my ring finger, that is missing a wedding ring, it is a reminder of everything I have. I certainly don't need a big diamond to prove Matt's love for me. I don't need a big diamond to make me feel like more of a person. What I do need is to know that when I walk through the door, I am going to have not only a husband who loves me and would do anything for me, but 7 beautiful, happy, healthy kids, that God has so graciously entrusted us with to call me "mom."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I'm Baaaaack...

I know, it's been awhile since I last posted, a LONG while. I needed a break. I honestly didn't intend for my break to last as long as it did, but life kind of took over. With 7 kids, it's not like I wasn't expecting it, I just wasn't prepared. Like so many others, I took to Face Book to rely on getting my updates, and doing my updates. It was easier, faster, but definitely not as rewarding. I apologize, I didn't realize the impact it would have to stop blogging. At least 2 or 3 times a month I would have someone "friend" me on FB saying they used to following my blog and was so disappointed when I stopped. People would message saying I was such an inspiration to them. How I was so helpful in them bringing their children home. One lady even said that reading my blog was like a good book, and then just one day it just ended, with a big cliffhanger. I honestly had no idea my writing had such an impact on people. I mean come on, I am just an ordinary person. No one special, and certainly NOT a writer. So, I apologize again for leaving everyone hanging. Since Christmas I have been trying to decide if I should start blogging. I've actually started some posts, saved them, and just didn't feel like they were worthy. It's almost like I had a writer's block. I just couldn't get the words out, and even when I did, nothing felt right. I started this blog to document our adoption journey to Mylee, and had NO idea it would lead to so much more. She was supposed to be our 4th and final child. She was the daughter I had envisioned of having since I was little. I knew someday I would have a Chinese daughter, and that's all I wanted. Looking back on it, I was incredibly selfish. However, when I left China with Mylee on my lap, I knew without a doubt that I would return. So, here I am, trying to get back in the saddle. A lot has happened in the past 3 years. Instead of just going through everything that has happened, I will just post an update on each of the kids, that would probably be easier, and much easier to read. Our BIGGEST change will be arriving sometime in May. Let me back up a little... After coming home with Kalia, I knew Matt was done. Now, he's said this with each of our adoptions, but this time I knew, He. Was. Done! I however, knew I wasn't. I desperately knew/know that I have another little girl that I am supposed have call me "mom." So, after a few months, I started bringing up adopting again. To say it didn't go well was an understatement. He assured me again that he was done. So, I finally started to think we were done. I would watch and follow along on FB of others adopting and would get so sad. Knowing that they were doing what I wanted to do. I would read and share all the waiting kids posted and be heart broken that we wouldn't be bringing one of them home. It had been months since I "pestered" Matt about adopting again, and was really coming to terms with the fact that we were in fact, DONE. Until, Matt came to me one day and said that he had been thinking and praying about us adopting again. He said that adoption was my calling and if God was calling me to adopt again, who was he to keep me from that. It's no secret to anyone who knows us that Matt has never been the one interested in adoption. Now, don't get me wrong, he loves each and every one of our kids unconditionally. It's just that he hasn't been the one to initiate it. As a matter of fact, when asked how many bio kids we have and how many adopted kids we have he literally has to stop and think, because to him, they are all the same. So, when he told me this I was kind of in shock. I didn't expect it at all. I was over the moon. I belong to several advocacy sites as well as FB pages that advocate for kids. So, I with Matt's permission, we looked at a couple files of little girls. But nothing felt "right." With each of our other kids, I knew instantly that they were meant for our family. So we went on with our lives. I was starting to think that maybe we weren't meant to adopt from China again. I knew someday we would really be done and started thinking that day was upon me. We started talking about doing foster to adopt. I recently began friends with someone who is a foster parent and she has been very helpful with getting us started and making sure we know the ins and outs. We have 3 of the 4 classes completed. A couple of weeks ago an agency was advocating for a little girl that was 6 (the age we were looking for), so I requested her file, and sent it to the doctor. I really thought this little girl was "the one." While waiting to hear back from our doctor there was an aging out boy being advocated for ALL OVER. He was on every agency page, advocate page, and even personal pages. As a matter of fact I remembered advocating for him on my own FB page back in the fall. I was in shock that he was still available. But adopting an older child was something that Matt and I said we didn't want to do again. (Older child adoptions are just as rewarding, just a little bit more difficult. They come with their own set of adjustments and challenges). So, I shared his picture and went on about my day (this was on a Monday). I think the next day there was a new video posted of him that was just taken the week before. So I watched it, and had the tiniest bit of "what if" going on inside me. I posted a comment about how handsome he was and asking how in the world one would be able to complete an entire adoption in less than 3 months. Of course people started commenting right away about how they had done it, and so and so did it, and it could be done. Tuesday came and went. By Wednesday, I was completely head over hills in love with this boy. I had watched his video several times and stared endlessly at his pictures. My heart was telling me this was our son, but my brain was saying "STOP, NO WAY, NOT GONNA HAPPEN." I don't think in any of our adoptions have I ever listened to my head. I emailed our agency asking what their thoughts on it would be. I mean, we would literally be starting from scratch. We needed to get our HS updated, the whole shebang. She said it was doable, and that it would be a lot of work, but it could be done, she has seen it done. She asked if I wanted to see his file and of course I said yes. At the same time I told her to go ahead and take the other little girl off hold for us. Something just didn't seem right, not with her, with me. At this point I still had not shared any of this with Matt, but knew I was going to have to. Several families were showing interest in him, but no one was committing. I talked to Matt as soon as he got home that night, knowing what his initial reaction was going to be. Of course it was a “no,” but after getting over the initial shock, we sat and talked about it for hours. Matt is not a spontaneous person. He does not make decisions based on emotions. He is definitely the more logical person in our marriage. Knowing that everything would have to be done in 3 months, it was all about the money to him. He said he needed some time to think it over, and to not push. Of course I knew that time was not something that could be wasted. The next day I kept checking with people to see if his file had been locked, hoping and praying that it had so I could move on. As much as I wanted him to be a part of our family, at the end of the day I just wanted him to have A family. Orphans are considered "unlucky" or "cursed" in the Chinese culture. They have very few opportunities to go to school. If they do get to go to school they attend the lowest level of schools because parents who pay for their kids to go to school don't want their kids going with the "unlucky orphans." However, there are a few who are fortunate enough to be sponsored and are able to go on to college. Just because they have an education does not mean they will be able to get a job. Many businesses will not employ them once they find out they were an orphan because of the "unlucky" orphan stigma. The Chinese are very big on family. In fact, many of their holidays revolve around family. Can you imagine being completely alone? I mean really alone? Just think about it for a minute. Who do you run to when you have exciting news to share? Who do you lean on when you need to cry? Who do you call "family?" Those orphans that never get the opportunity for a family have no one to run home to, they have no shoulder to cry on, they have no one to spend holidays with. They. Have. No. One. So, even though living in the orphanage may not be ideal, to them, it is all they have. They have food and they shelter. Once they are 16 (unless they are one of the fortunate ones), they are released to fend for themselves in a society that "fears" them because they may be "unlucky." 16! Seriously, can you imagine at the age of 16 being forced to provide for yourself? At the age of 16 having no one to guide you or to care? At 16, these are still children. Children who have absolutely no idea how to survive on the streets and unfortunately, many of them don't. I know I am painting a grim picture, but this is reality. While we sit in our nice, warm, posh homes, there are thousands of orphans who are getting ready to age out. Children that because of their age may never have the opportunity for an education. Children that may never know what it feels like to be tucked in and kissed good night. Children who may never hear the words, I love you." Children that because we are scared, scared to step out of our comfort zone, who may never know what it means to be part of a family. Matt came home from work that evening and we talked about it again. We looked at the overall cost, and what we had and there just didn’t seem to be any way we were going to be able to do it. I was devastated. I was frustrated, and I think I was heartbroken. The thought of this child not getting the opportunity to know what a family felt like was breaking me. Matt and I started to come up with some creative ways to earn and raise the money. For one, our agency was offering a grant of $3000 for the family that stepped up for him. Now $3000, seems like a lot, but it’s not when you look at the overall cost. All along I have kept telling Matt we just need to take that first step and let everything else work itself out. Of course him being the more logical one, he was not going to let that happen. So, we went to bed again, with no decisions made. All this time Facebook pages were bombarded with his pictures and videos trying to get a family to step forward for him. I woke up Friday morning praying that someone had committed to him. Still nothing. My stomach was in knots. I waited for what felt like an eternity for Matt to call and give me the verdict. About ten that morning he called to say he just didn’t see how we could do it and that if we did, we were going to have to get really creative in raising whatever money we would need to bring him home. So, I hung up with Matt, called the agency and they were able to lock his file while I was on the phone with them. After that with all logistics. We are literally going to have to move at warp speed to complete this adoption. What usually takes 9-12 months to complete HAS to be done in less than 3. It CAN be done, it HAS been done, and it WILL be done. I have never been more certain of anything in my life. This is our son and we have to do anything and everything to get him home. We are now in a race, a race against time. The clock is ticking. So, it is with complete faith that we once again answered the call to open our hearts and our home to another of God's children. Unfortunately, this journey is nothing like any of the others we have taken. We have less than 3 months to get a year’s worth of paperwork done. Instead of having a year to save, and fundraise, we have less than three months. We have already jumped more hurdles than I care to mention. We have already been on a never ending roller coaster of emotions, complete with highs and lows. Our journey is just beginning, and knowing that we are moving at warp speed both excites and terrifies us. One thing is for sure, when Matt and I started the process to adopt 7 years ago, we had no idea the twists and turns that would be involved. But with every door that closed, another was opened. Adoption is not easy, in fact, it can be quite difficult physically and emotionally. However, the end result is worth the sacrifices, the worry, the unknowns, the up and downs, and anything else in between. We cannot imagine our family without all of our kids. So, as soon as we stepped up and said "YES" to God I knew it was time for me to start blogging again. I started out blogging as a way of keeping and family and friends posted, then it turned into each of our kids' stories on how we found them. It was a journal of how they became part of our family. So it is only right that I continue this blog for our newest son.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I know I haven't posted much since being home, but I have been so busy. Between getting settled back in, the kids school projects, and trying to get new spring designs for Cloud Nine, I have burning the candle at both ends. I apologize and will do a better job of posting more frequently.

We have been home officially a month today and to be honest, things are going extremely well. Our only "real" issue is that Kalia does NOT like school and will NOT go. We are slowly working on easing her back into it with the cooperation of the school, so things are getting better. I will post more on that issue later, but overall, she is truly a fabulous addition to our family.

I have to work on taxes today (ughhhh), but before I did that I wanted to post a funny story about Mylee. Mylee is a hoot, all the time. She may be small, but she has the biggest personality. EVERYone at school knows Mylee, and they all say how much fun she is to be around. She cracks us up on a daily basis.

Anyway, last weekend she had a project due for school so while she was taking a shower, I was getting the craft supplies out so we could work on it. She came downstairs, hoisted herself up on the chair and was ready to go. Mylee LOVES school and anything to do with school, so doing a craft for school was an added bonus in her book.

I noticed right away that she had some sort of mark on her eyebrow. She had a red mark going through her eyebrow so I asked her what happened.

Me: Mylee, what happened to your eye

Mylee: I don't know

Me: Mylee, did you fall down?

Mylee: I don't know

Me: Mylee you have a red mark on your eye. Does it hurt? How do you not know what happened?

Mylee: I don't know.

And then with a very serious face, she says...

"Probably somebody jacked me up. Everybody jacks me up in this family except you."

Me: (trying NOT to smile or laugh) What do you mean somebody jacked you up? Who would jack you up?

Mylee: (still very serious) Can we do my project now.

Mylee is always saying stuff like this and it obviously keeps us smiling. She is such a funny little girl.

I can assure you no one "jacked" her up. If anything, she is usually the one doing the "jacking up."

I just had to share this, because I laugh everytime I think about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Please Forgive Me

I am So sorry for the lack of updating. Things have been crazy, good crazy, but still crazy since we have been home.

It has taken me over a week to get over jet lag. I have NEVER had problems before with jet lag, but for some reason this time has been really difficult. Plus I came home with a horrible cold so that plus the lack of sleep has left me a mess. The first week home I felt like I was living in a haze, seriously. I couldn't manage to get anything done. I simply could not sleep. I would go to bed by 8, then wake up at 1 or 2 and not be able to go back to sleep. I couldn't even take a nap in the afternoon. My body was just not wanting to sleep.

I am finally starting feel somewhat normal again. Kalia did great on the flight home and has done great with jet lag. The first couple of days was tough, but after that, she was set.

Okay, things are going GREAT! Really, really GREAT! I absolutely could not have asked for anything better. I realize we haven't even been home a month yet, but we are amazed at how well Kalia and the other kids are doing.

For Christmas we got a family pass to the YMCA so within the first few days home we utilized that. All of our kids LOVE to swim and Kalia is no exception.

Alot of the pics were taken with my phone so the quality is not the greatest. Sorry:(


We also got haircuts! Kalia has beautiful hair. It is very thick and has a natural wave to it. I wanted to get it trimmed up a bit. At first she was reluctant, but once she realized we were only going to cut a tiny bit off, she was okay. Plus Emma went first so I think that helped.



Emma has natural curly hair and has been wanting to get hers straightened for a long time so I finally gave in.


Kalia, Emma and Mylee share a room which I will get pics of up soon, I promise. I have a few finishing touches I want to take care of before I post pics. Anyway, they each have their own bed, but for some reason Kalia always ends up in Mylee's bed. This is what I found one morning...


I am so in love with this girl. She is such a sweety.

Today was Kalia's first day of school. She was SO excited and has been asking since we got home when she would go. We held off on sending her so 1 she could get adjusted at home and 2 because we wanted to get her blood work results back. In her original file she was listed as being Hep B positive. After having our doctor go over her file, he wasn't sure she was positive and told us that her body had probably regenerated which means she may have had it, but then it went away. So, before we "alarmed" anyone, we kept the possibility of her being Hep B positive to ourselves. So, before sending her to school we wanted to know whether she was in fact positive or negative. We got the results back Tuesday and she is NOT Hep B positive.

So, we spent the day Tuesday getting her a couple new outfits for school, a new backpack, and all her school supplies.

Kalia and Emma will both be in 4th grade. They will be in different classes, but will have math together, lunch, and recess. They were both a little upset about not being in the same class, but are excited to have math together.

First day of school



In other news, Blake is doing great. While I was in China he ended up in ICU due to his Diabetes. Blake was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2010. Over Christmas break, he numbers were out of control which caused him to get very sick and almost ended up in a coma. Thank God, he is doing much better and his numbers have been awesome. He feels so much better. Thank you to all who prayed for him.

Also, remember this post? You know, the one where I got in a wreck right before Thanksgiving. Well, after over 2 months we finally got our van back last Friday. Well, you're not going to believe what happened. Monday morning I was on my way downtown to meet Matt's cousin because we went to his Aunt's house on Sunday and I left my purse there. His cousin had to come to town so she was bringing it to me. Anyway, long story short, I got hit again. YES, again. We just got the van back Friday and Monday I was in another wreck. I will say that the first one was not my fault, but this one was. No one was hurt, thank God, but my van is going back in the shop for another 2 weeks.



Other than the wreck, things are going awesome. I cannot thank you all enough for your thoughts, prayers and rallying to help us get the funds to bring Kalia home. She is by far the BEST Christmas gift I have ever gotten. Matt and I are in awe of what God has done for us and our family. We are truly Blessed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

Finally! I know. I apologize for the laps in posts. We arrived home safely Friday evening just as planned. It was so nice to pull up to the house and see the kids waiting for us at the door. They couldn't get out of the door fast enough.

We had many people waiting for us to get home besides the kids and Matt. Matt's mom was there to welcome us and Steve home, as well as some of my adoptive mommy friends. It was SO good to be home and see everyone. Pics will be posted soon.

I think Kalia was a bit overwhelmed by all the people, but she did well. I don't think we were in the house 10 minutes and she, Emma, and Mylee were up in their new room.

Kalia is fitting in so well. She and Emma are getting along great, better than I expected. I am assuming she was a "mommy" figure in the orphanage because she is trying to be one too Mylee too.

She and Blake act like they have been brother and sister for years. They love teasing each other.

I promise I will upload pics soon. For some reason I am having a horrible time with jet lag plus I have a terrible cold or sinus infection. Once I get back to myself, I will post pics and a more in depth update.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry for the lack of posts, but we are having trouble getting on our e-mail and since I cannot post to the blog myself, I have to e-mail the posts home for them to be posted.

The last few days have been busy, busy, busy. Sunday was an “off” day for our guide which was no big deal. We took advantage of it and rested around the hotel. We did walk across the bridge to the herbal market and pet area. All I can say is it is a must see for anyone coming over. It is truly an experience.



There were tons and tons of seahorses, not sure what they are used for and I wasn’t about to ask



Bags like this lined both sides of the streets.



Once we crossed this street we were clearly in the pet market





Monday our guide took us to a temple. I went to one when in Nanjing when I was here to get Mylee, but never to one in Guangzhou. We are clearly Christian however; it was very interesting to see.





After that we just headed back to the hotel to rest and get some dinner. We ate at the Italian place which is still extremely good.

We also stopped by Susan’s Place. If you have ever been to GZ before I am sure you are familiar with Dong. He is one of the nicest people and is truly a genuine guy. He loves to make tea for the families. Of course Steve shared some tea with him.


Tuesday we went to the Safari Park which is something else I had never done. I have been to the GZ zoo, ad I highly recommend going to the Safari Park instead. Part of the park is taking a train through a safari and some of the animals were so close we could touch them (we didn’t, but that is just how close they get). It was really cool and I was able to get some awesome pictures.



I LOVED seeing the giraffes up close.








Kalia even got to feed the giraffes





I have no idea what these trees were, but the flowers on them were beautiful


After the zoo we made one more trip back to the fabric market. Our guide asked me if the fabric market was the highlight of my trip and my answer was “no, Kalia has been the highlight, but the fabric market is definitely second.” Seriously, I could have spent hours in there looking, and looking and looking. Let’s just say I cannot wait to get home and sew.



And today was THE day. We went to the Consulate today to take our oath and as soon as we land in Chicago, Kalia Faith De Le will be an official American Citizen.

Our guide picks up her Visa tomorrow and at 4:30 pm we are on a van to Hong Kong. We will spend the night in Hong Kong and our flight home on Friday leaves at 10:00 a.m.

This will most likely be my last post until we arrive home so please pray for safe travels. I am SO ready to be home and have all seven of my kids in one place. I miss them and Matt terribly and I know they miss me.

All I can say is God is SO good and we are So Blessed…