Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cutie Pie!

Now who might this cutie pie be? Yes, it is my baby boy. I was looking through an old LWB newsletter today which I had printed off in 2007 because it had a picture of Susu with her adoption announcement. I flipped through the rest of the newsletter and whose picture do I see in the same newsletter. My baby boy Jacob. Who would have thought back in 2007 that Susu and Jacob would have their pictures in the same newsletter and that in three and a half years we would be heading back to China to bring Jacob home and his older foster brother too. I can tell you that I never ever would have imagined that. I have to just say that I think my baby boy was one of the cutest baby boys ever. I don't think I am even one little bit biased either.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Please Pray for Kirill and His Family

Last week a sweet little boy named Kirill was denied the right to have a family because he has Down Syndrome. This little boy's adoptive family traveled all the way to Russia to adopt him. They are approved to adopt from Russia but a judge made the ruling that a child with Down Syndrome is better off living in an institution and so they are not allowed to adopt Kirill. This family has experience with children who have special needs and they were told they should pick another child who is "typical". They are appealing the judges ruling and they are in great need of prayer. You can read the whole story at their blog, Our Eyes Opened.

Here is a video of the family meeting Kirill for the first time. I can only imagine how hard this situation is for this family who have met and love their son even though he is not legally theirs yet. I would be absolutely heart broken if we were unable to adopt our boys!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Journey to Levi - Part II

If you missed the first part of our "Journey to Levi", you can read it here.

Over December, I just could not get Nicholas out of my head. I had found out that he would no longer be eligible for adoption when he turned 14 years old on this upcoming July 10th, five days after my birthday. On Christmas morning, I woke up at 3 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I ended up downstairs on the couch and was reading my Bible and praying. I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness and pain for Nicholas. It was a very odd and awful feeling that I have never had before. It actually felt like my heart was hurting for him but not really with a physical pain but with this deep spiritual pain. I actually took two Tylenol because it felt so terrible even though I knew it wouldn't help. I begged for God to take this crazy burden off my heart since God knew I would say yes to adopting Nicholas and give that pain to my dear husband if we were really meant to adopt Nicholas. After a couple hours, I was able to fall back asleep. I did have a really wonderful Christmas and I briefly mentioned to Aaron waking up and feeling sad about Nicholas but that was about it. The next morning, I woke up early again and I came downstairs and started reading a book my Mom had given to me at Christmas about Amy Carmichael, a missionary from India. Amy Carmichael described having this great pain in her heart for the people of India and I could totally relate to that feeling with what had happened the night before. As I was reading the book, I got this overwhelming feeling that Aaron really needed to see all the facts of this situation with Nicholas.

After Aaron got up and had his breakfast, I asked if we could discuss Nicholas and Aaron said that was o.k. but he wasn't excited about it. I asked if it would be alright with him if we wrote down all the reasons why we shouldn't adopt Nicholas and all the reasons why we should. We started with all the reasons why it would be a bad idea and then we wrote down all the reasons why we should. After reading all that we had written down together, Aaron said it was obvious what we should do and that it looked like we were suppose to adopt Nicholas. I was very very surprised and I asked Aaron several times if he wanted to think about it more or sleep on it. Aaron said no, he did not need to think about it more or sleep on it so that is how we came to the place of submitting our Letter of Intent (LOI) to adopt Nicholas.

I had been praying that God would show me this was really his plan and not just my crazy idea or that God would close the door if this would be too much for our family. Two days after submitting our LOI to adopt Nicholas, I went over to read new posts on the Love Without Boundaries blog. Well I just about fell out of my chair because there was a blog post about Nicholas and it talked about his younger foster brother and there was a picture of the two of them together. It was crazy because the younger foster brother in the picture was our Jacob. I was shocked because I had no clue that Jacob even had a foster brother living with him. I called Aaron and my Mom crying and they could not believe it either. Now I saw why I had been so burdened for Nicholas and why I could not get him out of my heart or my mother's for that matter. Here is the link to the blog post!

The name Nicholas was simply a screen name that LWB gave our son to protect his privacy and we have decided to give him the first name of Levi and keep his Chinese name for his middle name. Levi means joined or united and we feel this name is perfect considering how long our son has waited to be united or joined to a family of his own. Levi is joining a large family and everyone is so excited about meeting both him and Jacob. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that my two boys will never be without a family again!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Puzzle

This week I had a writing assignment for my small group Bible study at my church. The assignment was to write my testimony out basically in a nutshell. This was a very challenging assignment for me because I feel like my spiritual journey has been such a long and meandering path with lots of ups and downs. It was suppose to be 100 words or less but typical of my propensity to toss silly rules aside, I did not follow the directions exactly. It took me a long time to get the most important aspects of it boiled down into a couple of paragraphs. So here it is if anyone is curious.

Jesus has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. That has been a huge blessing to me but it does not mean that I have had a smooth or easy life. My biggest obstacle to overcome in my spiritual journey has been learning to really trust in God and his plan for my life in all circumstances, even when life gets really hard. I am a person who likes to be in control and solve my own problems but life has often thrown me big problems that only God could work out. Turning these big things over to God has been a real struggle for me but time and time again I have seen him work things out in ways I never could have orchestrated or imagined.

Sometimes I compare my life to a giant puzzle half finished. Some of the puzzle pieces were nice looking to begin with and fit in easily while other pieces were dirty or ripped or jagged and didn’t seem to fit at all. Over the years, I have seen Jesus’ light shine on some of my dirty and ripped pieces and make them like new to fit perfectly into the beautiful picture that was starting to form. The beautiful picture is God’s purpose for my life. I really believe that without Jesus in my life, those dirty and ripped pieces would stay the way they were or they might even be scattered and lost and my puzzle would never be complete. I would never know God’s purpose for my life. Seeing how God has used the hard things in my life over the years for good has brought me closer to him, strengthened my trust in Him, and made me want to share with others what I have learned so they can experience the same thing. No one should have to walk through the really hard stuff of life alone!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Journey to Levi - Part 1

Some of you blog readers have already heard the story of how we came to the decision to adopt not just one but two boys from China. I decided it was time to post the story for those who have not heard it yet.

The journey to sending in our Letter of Intent asking for permission to adopt Levi has been long and started this past summer. I read about Levi on Facebook when I was searching for pictures or information about Jacob. He was from the same city as Jacob and was sponsored by Love Without Boundaries just like Jacob and Susu. I included this write up about Levi in my post about Patrick waiting for a family but I will include it again.

I have known many of these kids for the last five years, and it was very sad for me to visit the home of Nicholas (Levi) this time. He is ten years old, and has CP in his legs that makes it difficult for him to walk. He is so smart! He has not been chosen by a family yet, but many of his best friends have. He used to be so outgoing and happy, but I was told that he has become so very sad over no one choosing him to be their son. He said to us, “ I am smart, I can draw and sing, I would be so kind to a mama and baba….why does no one want me?” That just about did me in. He sang for us once again (he has a beautiful voice) but with much more sadness and longing in his eyes. Life is so unfair.

That write up touched my heart so much and I sent it to my Mom to read as well and she asked if we could bring Nicholas home for my parents to adopt. It was July, I think, and I told my Mom that China hardly ever let anyone adopt two children at once. Well my Mom and I decided to pray that Nicholas would find a family. The rules about adopting two children at one time changed in September and then the write up on Nicholas was done on the Love Without Boundaries blog. I just could not get Nicholas out of my head. I asked Aaron if he would ever consider adopting Nicholas too and my dear husband said no just as I expected. It really did seem like a crazy idea considering that we were already adopting one child with special needs and there are so many unknowns when you adopt an older child.

My Mom and Dad traveled to AZ to my brother's wedding right before Christmas this year. My Great Aunt Gennie and my Great Uncle Mike came to the wedding and spent a lot of time with my parents. My Great Aunt Gennie is about the same age as my Mom. She was adopted by my great grandparents (my Mom's grandparents) when she was 18 years old and about to age out of her orphanage in Korea. My great grandparents sent money to this Catholic orphanage and a nun had written them about Gennie because she was such a nice girl but would have no future in Korea because she had difficulty walking since she had suffered from polio as a child. She needed braces and crutches to walk. My great grandparents agreed to adopt her and everyone thought they were crazy to take on such a thing in their 60's. My great grandparents already had 11 children, my great grandfather had been completely blind since he was a child, and they did not have much money. A nun from the orphanage ended up bringing Gennie to my great grandparents in the U.S.

my Great Grandparents and some of their children

some of my Great Grandparent's grandchildren standing in front of the little home
where my Great Grandparents raised their twelve children

some of the great grandchildren

My Great Aunt Gennie was able to get surgery after coming to the U.S. and she only walks with a limp now. She married her husband Mike who has cerebral palsy. At my brother's wedding in December, my parents spent a lot of time with Gennie and Mike and Mike shared with them how he could have lived his whole life being supported by disability payments but that was not what he wanted for his life so he became a downhill ski instructor instead. Talk about a role model for Levi in my family. Gennie and Mike lived in Colorado until they retired to AZ and now they spend time with their two daughters and travel around the country. They have promised to come visit us here in Maine. My great grandparents have been such an inspiration to me and Susu is named after my great grandmother.

my Mom, my Great Aunt Gennie, my Great Uncle Mike, and my Dad

So this visit got my Mom thinking more and she and I talked more about Levi (Nicholas) and I said I would see if there was any way for us to bring him home for my parents. I was thinking we might be able to adopt him and then give my parents legal guardianship. I presented my idea to Meg at our adoption agency and she said that it was a nice idea but illegal. I knew Aaron would probably never agree to adopting Nicholas so I was determined to find a family for him. I sent his profile to quite a few of my friends and I also posted stuff about Nicholas on all the adoption yahoo groups I am part of.

to be continued...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Little Boy Waiting and Waiting

There is another little boy, Patrick, who is in the same foster care program as our Jacob and Levi but unlike our boys, he is still waiting for a family. The director of LWB did a write up on a number of children when she visited our boys' foster care program in June of last year. The first paragraphs were about Levi, Patrick, and Jacob. I read this write up last July and was excited to read about our Jacob. The paragraph about Levi touched my heart but I did not have a clue that he might one day be ours as well. Well, sandwiched in between these two paragraphs is Patrick. Now Aaron is incredibly thankful that there is no way on earth I can bring three boys home together because no one will allow it, not China, not my agency, and not my husband. Just because I can not bring Patrick home, that doesn't mean I can't help him find a family. We would like to do a fundraiser soon to raise money so that Patrick can have an adoption grant which will make it more likely for him to be chosen by a family. He deserves a family just as much as Jacob and Levi do.

So here is the write up about all three boys and this was the first time we learned about Levi.

Our next stop on our trip was to visit all of our foster care children in Kaifeng...

I have known many of these kids for the last five years, and it was very sad for me to visit the home of Nicholas (Levi) this time. He is twelve years old, and has CP in his legs that makes it difficult for him to walk. He is so smart! He has not been chosen by a family yet, but many of his best friends have. He used to be so outgoing and happy, but I was told that he has become so very sad over no one choosing him to be their son. He said to us, “ I am smart, I can draw and sing, I would be so kind to a mama and baba….why does no one want me?” That just about did me in. He sang for us once again (he has a beautiful voice) but with much more sadness and longing in his eyes. Life is so unfair.

We got to go visit Patrick in his school program. I am SO proud of him! He also has mild CP. When I first met him, his speech was delayed and his CP was more obvious. We helped him get intensive PT, and now he is in public school! He helps the teachers in a big way, pulling out chairs, helping with the younger kids, etc. The teachers just love him. I sure wish he could find a family. He is on the shared list. I know the CP diagnosis is so scary to many people, but he is such a kind little boy.

William (Jacob) had also been on an agency list for a long time unchosen, most likely due to his lower limb difference…..and so his file was sent back to the CCAA. He is SO beautiful, and we are all hoping he will get another chance at finding a family. He has a really nice foster grandmother. She had made him little velvet slippers so he can walk on his feet. He loves to go fishing, and the two of them walk down to the stream each day. I am so sad he didn’t find a family. I don’t understand (as the mom of five sons!) why more people aren’t open to boys.

So that was what was written about our two boys and sweet Patrick. Love Without Boundaries also did a blog post on him and I will copy what they wrote below. I know Patrick's family is out there somewhere and they just need to find him like we found our Isaiah, Susu, Jacob, and Levi.

Nine-year-old Patrick is part of our Kaifeng Foster Care Program in Henan and is waiting for a family through China’s Waiting Child program. Currently he attends school, and his teacher says he is eager to learn and improves quickly.

He was visited last week by some of our volunteers. They remarked on how happy and thrilled he was when they gave him paper and markers to draw. He enthusiastically began showing them what he could write. Everyone found him to be sociable and good-natured. In addition, Patrick seems to have a good sense of people, quickly assessing your level of friendliness and then giving you a sign he is friendly too.

Patrick has cerebral palsy, which mainly affects his left hand. He uses his right hand very well. Also he walks and runs comfortably.

In his foster family, Patrick has a younger foster sister with whom he enjoys playing and watching cartoons. His foster family says Patrick is a good kid and will help around the house doing things, such as cutting vegetables and setting the table.

And if you could not tell from the photos here – Patrick loves to strike a pose!

I 800 False Alarm

So I thought we had our I-800 approval but in my excitement did not thoroughly read the document we received from USCIS. It was just our receipt for the I-800 and they are still processing our form. The receipts and the actual approvals come on the same official looking paper and you have to read all the fine print to figure out exactly what you have.

Since we have most things ready for our boys, I am starting to get antsy for our trip. I know from many past experiences that God's timing is perfect but it is hard to wait in the dreary month of March when you just want spring and travel approvals to get here. This is the time of year when I dream of visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Arizona and I wonder why we live where we live.

One thing I am very excited about, besides going to get our boys soon, is that a good friend of mine is starting the process to adopt a baby with special needs from China. There are so many children with mild to moderate special needs waiting for families in China and it makes my heart so happy to know there will be one less child in China and the world waiting for a family.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I 800 and New Picture of our Boys

Today has been an exciting day for us. Not only did we get our I800 approval to adopt Levi but a new picture of our boys was posted on the Love Without Boundaries facebook page here. We may get to travel in April now which is very good news to us. Last week we bought a nice used van so all of our kids will fit in one vehicle. I have been holding off on buying a van for years but now I have finally graduated to being a super cool van driving homeschooling Mom (ha ha ha). Just let me say for the record that you will never see me wearing a denim jumper.

Grandpa is working on the bunk beds and I am going out tonight to pick up the rest of the stuff on our needed list like pillows, sheets, socks, etc. I think "nesting" is an appropriate word here.

Last week we got updated measurements on Levi so we have a better idea of what size he is. He is a little guy for 13 years old at 51 inches tall. Isaiah is 53 inches so he might be losing his spot as the oldest but not the tallest. I had suspected that Levi was very small for his age based on his height in pictures compared to Jacob. We are almost positive that Levi's special need is not actually mild cerebral palsy but a syndrome that causes growth issues, vision issues, and muscle weakness. Thankfully the syndrome is not life threatening but we are planning to take him to a pediatric endocrinologist as soon as he gets home so he can get the treatment he needs.

Well I will close this post with a picture of us with our new van. The kids think our van is very cool! I definitely like the extra room and Aaron is happy to keep driving his Honda Civic to work.