Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Whole Story: Why We Decided to Adopt...Again!

Ok, I'm going to be transparent here. I've had this post written for over a month, but I've been procrastinating publishing it. Partly because I haven't really sat down to read it over since I first wrote it, and partly because it's pretty personal and I am just nervous about putting it out there. I know that not everyone who reads this or knows us shares the same faith we do, and I worry that I'm going to sound a bit strange. I shouldn't probably care about this, but I do. So as a result I've been putting it off. But, no longer! So here it is, the story of how we decided to add another son to our family.

February 10

The first weekend in February I went to adoption conference in Atlanta called Created for Care. It was such a nice time to get away, relax, and spend time with friends. While I was there I loved hearing all the beautiful stories of adoption and healing from other adoptive moms. I can honestly say that I left there not really feeling like it was time for us adopt again. One day, but not yet.

Three days later, I'm back home, and in my email is the monthly email from our adoption agency that contains the waiting children from their partnership agencies. Some months I open this email, some months I don't. It's usually not a big deal if I do, I just kind of scroll through and read about the kids knowing that one day we will probably be looking at these again for real. Yesterday was a day that I chose to open it, but nothing was the same after that. When I opened it I immediately saw three different kids that I was drawn too. And because I am known for being a bit impulsive, I decided to email the director of the China program and ask for more information on those three boys. I have no idea why I decided to do this. Well, actually, I'm pretty sure I was prompted by the Holy Spirit, but at the time I just did it without thinking it through. Pretty much my M.O.

About 20 minutes later Brian got home, and I immediately bombarded him with what I had just done. Because he is such an amazing husband, he very calmly changed his clothes and humored me by sitting down and looking at the email of children. I didn't tell him which kids I had requested more information on, because I wanted to see if he felt drawn to the same ones. Out of the about 15 kids on the list, he pointed out two. One of which was the same as me!(side note: our son's referral name was Calvin) Oh, and I was supposed to run when he got home so I pretty much demanded that he do this immediately and then walked out the door to leave him with his thoughts. Ha!

I completed my run at the playground where Brian was with the kids and we spent some time talking about what just happened and what this might mean. I was still processing my time from the weekend and what God had taught me there. Without going into too much detail, my theme for the weekend was God's still small voice. Knowing it, listening for it, and being confident in hearing it. Prior to the weekend I had been asking God a lot about what the next step for our family was. And I don't mean the immediate future, like the in a few years or so future. Should we adopt again, should we have another baby, should I go back to work in a few years? I felt that the paths were mutually exclusive and that I needed to know right now what the future held. For a while God had been pretty clearly telling me that it wasn't time for me to know the next step. That I was to live each day in the situation and circumstances that He had already given me. And that when it was time for me to take a step, He would let me know. And all of that was confirmed at my weekend away. Can you imagine my surprise when only three short days later I was emailing my adoption agency about a file?! In my experience it seems that God really does love surprises!

That evening Brian and I talked and prayed a little more about it, he much more calmly than I, and then we waited to see what information we would get in the morning.

February 12th

I cannot keep Calvin's picture and name out of my mind. He looks so much like Lily I honestly think that if he's in the same orphanage I'd pay for some biological testing. I keep thinking of him and seeing his face. And of course, stalking my email to see what our agency sends us. Then, after my morning run around 9:45 I get multiple emails. Our agency sent us all three files! I look at them all, but honestly don't give much thought to any of them but Calvin's. I forward them on to Brian and wait to hear what he had to say. Every time I hear a text come in my heart jumps into my throat! Apparently I think he's going to text me a yes or something. As you can imagine my heart and mind were consumed with this little boy all day, and it's super frustrating when you can't talk to your husband about it!

All day I wrestled with it, doubt and fear and worry clouding my mind. A little confusion was thrown in there too, since I had just finally wrapped my head around the whole waiting thing! That night I couldn't sleep. I woke up at 4am and started praying and wrestling again. As I lay there thinking about this boy, I started thinking about names. There were only 3 boy names that I could come up with that I liked, and there was one that was definitely my favorite. Read this post for more on the story of his name.

February 13th

As I was driving in my car, still obsessively thinking about whether or not we should proceed with a second adoption, I noticed that the girls were asleep in the back and I didn't have to listen to their super entertaining phonics video anymore so I flipped over to the radio. These were the words that I heard:

Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

As I listened to the song tears came into my eyes and I knew that this was our path. If I said no to adopting this child, I was going to be saying no to God. My calling as a wife and mother is to keep our children and family in the center of God's will. He always knows what is best for us, and has proven it again and again. I have seen the rewards and joy that adopting Lily brought to our life, and I know that God isn't going to steer me wrong. I may be refined in a few fires along the way, but I'm alright with that. That's how God makes us more like Him. To be honest, I think from that very first email I sent that I knew this was going to happen. As soon as I set that ball in motion, it wasn't going to stop rolling. And even as I struggled with the decision I knew that in the end we would say yes. Three days later we did. At least the fight my flesh put up didn't last that long ;o)

February 14

Saturday morning Brian took our adoption application to UPS and sent it off to our agency. And as soon as that was in the mail, I noticed that I didn't give the adoption another thought. Not like an I don't care and that was just pretend it never really happened kind of thing, but instead the turmoil and chaos that had persisted in my heart for days was put to rest. Brian said the same thing - we both felt complete peace about our decision. In the middle of the crazy I did enlist one friend to pray for us while we were wrestling with this decision, and she prayed that both Brian and I would have a complete peace about whatever decision we made. I love when God answers prayers so quickly!

Some Final Thoughts

The first time we were thinking about adopting, I was completely calm, cool and collected, knowing that this was the path God had for us. It took Brian a little longer to come around to the idea - not only about adopting, but about having 3 kids in general! This time our roles were completely reversed. He was completely calm and at peace with adopting again, and I was freaking out! I am fully aware of how crazy our life is with 3 kids, and having 4 does not sound like a good plan at all. Going through more doctor visits, and the process of bonding, and moving rooms around to make space for another child, and the list goes on. None of these things are easy. But the one thing that does make it easy - the reason that stands above all else and trumps any reason not to adopt - is knowing that there is a child in China without a family who is waiting to love and to be loved and to heal and to come alive - and we get to be a part of that journey. Once you have seen a child transform before your eyes, you know you will go back. You know you will do it again. No matter what heartaches and sacrifices happen along the way, they are worth it. Seeing the light come alive in their eyes, watching them form relationships with siblings, and hearing them call for their Mama and Dada, all of it is priceless.

So I am fully aware that we seem crazy, and probably are a little. But God has given us life to have an adventure where we seek after Him. He will take us to places that we never would have ventured on our own. Some of those places are hard and some are not, but they will always bring us closer to our Savior. Which, in the end, is why we are here. To fill the void in our heart with the One who created it to be there. And let me tell you, I am ready for an adventure!

Brian and Lily mailing off our application!

David's referral picture

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break 2015!

For some reason, Spring Break this year felt different. Good different, but different. Like more of a vacation and a taste of summer all in one, reminiscent of the days of college or when I was first teaching and could do whatever I felt like for a whole week. In fact I was often heard yelling "Spring Break 2015!" all week long.

So in an effort to remember all the fun that we had, I thought I'd blog about it! I have to say it was an absolutely perfect spring break. The days were long in a good way, and the week seemed more like two which was awesome. It was refreshing just to not have any commitments, homework, lunches to make, alarm clocks, and to hang up my taxi driver hat for the week.

Thursday was the last day of school, and when we got home that afternoon we had a great time playing outside! Friday morning we returned to the driveway for more bike riding, scootering, and outdoor fun. After lunch we headed over to Baba and Daideo's house to play. They live right down the street from Robinson Preserve, which was the location for a race that we were running on Friday night. Unfortunately it was really rainy, so we weren't sure how that would all go. But the rain cleared right when it was time for us to leave! Matthew and Caroline were signed up for a kids' race, and they were super pumped to have official race shirts and bibs. Caroline went first and I found a spot at the finish line to record her running super fast. Sadly, I ended up recording her falling literally head over heels into a mud puddle. The poor thing! She cried but got up with the help of another mom that I know. Since I was at the finish line all the other kids were running toward me and I couldn't go to her right away. As soon as I could run over without trampling another kid I did. She calmed down once I was holding her, but she was covered in mud. Then it was Matthew's turn, He learned from Caroline's tragedy and purposely avoided all of the mud puddles. They both got medals for competing. The highlight of course!

After that it was my turn to run. The race had both a 5k and a 10k, but I opted for the 5k since I hadn't run one since October and the last two races I ran were totally awful! I was so glad that I was only running 3 miles. It started raining again just as the race began, which made the weather nice and cool. I ran a pretty fast race, and actually ended up placing third in my age group! I didn't expect to place because this is a pretty big race so I was pleasantly surprised. We ate a pasta dinner there, stayed for the awards, and then took three tired kids home.

Saturday we went to a birthday party, and that evening we met some friends at the park to play tennis. Somehow the guys' tennis game turned into duck duck goose with all the kids. We grilled out after and enjoyed a nice dinner on the patio while the kids played together.

Sunday was another gorgeous day. That afternoon we took our kite down to the park. All three kids took turns flying it, but Lily definitely loved it the most! She ran all over that field trying to jump and catch the kite and then holding the string and flying it herself.

Monday Brian went back to work, but the kids and I continued to play! I drag them to the Y with me in the morning so I could workout (Which was cut short because Lily had an accident. How I depise potty training!) then we met some friends at the park. We were there well past nap time, but who cares, it's Spring Break 2015! And the weather was so amazing we just didn't want to leave. We eventually did, but continued our fun by ordering pizza and eating it outside. Poor Brian was depressed about being at work all day so we tried to make him feel better.

Tuesday Lily had speech, but we opted to have her session out on the driveway. Seriously, the weather was so nice all week. We literally could not stay inside. While we were playing with sidewalk chalk I discovered that not only does she know all her colors, but she knows her shapes and numbers 1-10 as well! It did take me quite a while to figure out that she was requesting that I draw her a triangle, but her speech is really coming along. When speech ended we went to the park with Scott and Catie to watch Emmy try the swings for the first time! If anyone is counting, this is now three park trips in 3 days. On the way Matthew informed me that it's cool when boys wear their hats to the side. Who told him this?! Seriously, who. We need to have some words. We tried to get a picture of the cousins together, but it's about as easy as potty training is turning out to be.

Tuesday night we went to the park yet again (I may need an intervention) for a kickball game with our life group. It was so much fun! And it didn't hurt that my team won :o) I might still be limping a bit almost a week later, but it was so worth it.

Wednesday was a beach day! We managed to coordinate the girls from life group and some from Oasis to all be there together. It was awesome! My kids were absolutely in heaven with so many friends to play with. Of course Matthew spent most of his time with Jacob and Caroline was buddies with Jack. There was one minor episode in which Lily pooped on the beach... Thankfully it was in a bush and no one saw it. Did I mention how fun potty training is?

When we got home I sent the kids to their rooms to rest and I continued my beach time on the patio with a book. It was quite relaxing until Lily emerged with Matthew telling me that she'd had yet another accident on the floor. And somehow she managed to get poop all over her legs. I mean, do I even need to say anything at this point? After Caroline woke up (my only sleeper) we met some more friends at - you guessed it - a park! The kids had a great time playing cops and robbers and putting each other in jail. They were having such a great time that they didn't even realize it was time for dinner! I finally managed to drag them home and feed them. And then, because I apparently didn't want the day to end, we got milkshakes at PDQ! I promise we did eventually put them to bed.

Brian took Thursday and Friday off, so we were finally able to spend some time with him! I should mention that we have discovered that there is a rabbit living in our yard, or a yard nearby, and the kids have taken to bunny-spotting every morning. We actually went all around the yard hunting for the rabbit's burrow, and we found an old one under a bush. Last year all of our bushes were overgrown, but now they aren't so I think they relocated to somewhere more hidden. Matthew had the great idea to feed the bunny some vegetables, because he learned at school that's what they eat. So on Thursday morning we put some carrots and lettuce near the old bunny burrow. We will now be checking to see if the bunny finds his treat!

Brian had never been to Ringling, and I hadn't been there in years, so we decided to head out there for lunch and enjoy the grounds. We found a perfect spot by the water to eat lunch. Then we walked around the outside of the Ca d'Zan (we didn't buy a ticket to go in) and went to find the playground. We stopped on the way so I could show the kids how much fun it is to climb in the banyan trees. They weren't super into it at first, until I told them how there are secret hideouts and tunnels all over. Then we couldn't get them out of the trees! Even Lily did some climbing! They loved the playground too of course.

Thursday night Brian and I had a date night, woohoo! We sat right on the water at Pier 22 and watched the sunset as we ate. Then we bought some new sunglasses for me because mine disappeared at kickball and finished off the night with some ice cream at Sweet Berries.

Friday we managed to coordinate a day at Busch Gardens with several other families. We normally only go for the morning because that's all the kids can handle, but with friends there we lasted until 4:00! It was pretty much a kid-centered day, but the guys did get to enjoy a roller coaster!

We probably could have stayed a little longer, but we had plans to go to a friend's house for dinner at 6:00 so we headed for home. Good thing too, because we hit quite a bit of traffic and barely made it! We stopped by the house for like 10 minutes to shower and let Cajun out. Dinner was delicious and lots of fun, and the kids even got to make s'mores after!

On Saturday we had our home visit, which went great! And the kids had soccer. It's only April but it's definitely getting hot! Matthew was excited to have his same coach again and be on a team with one of his friends from school. Caroline screamed her head off like someone was sawing off her arm because she hates her shin guards and cleats, but after quite a bit of convincing and tears (hers not mine) she turned it around and had a great game. She actually got the sportsmanship medal for the week for showing good listening skills! We also colored our Easter eggs on Saturday. Nothing like waiting until the last minute!

Easter Sunday! We started our day with an egg hunt, of course! The first of three! To cut down on the candy consumption, this year I bought the older two kids a small lego set and filled a bunch of the eggs with the pieces. Also, usually I fill their Easter baskets with little gifts and tape a scripture verse on them that relates to why we got them the gift. This year I put the verses in the eggs, and when they found one they would bring it to me or Brian and we would read the verse to them and give them the corresponding gift. Once all the eggs were found we headed to church. The service was great! After service was egg hunt number two, along with some Hawaiian Ice and photo booth pictures. Then it was off to Baba and Daideo's house for Easter lunch and more egg hunting! We had a great time with family. Aunt Denise and Uncle Tom, Aunt Sandy and Uncle Barry, and Scott, Catie and Emmy were all there. My kids were loving it! The kids had a hunt, and of course the grownups did too! Lily was hilarious to watch. Last year she stuffed massive amounts of jellybeans in her mouth and I thought she was bleeding only to discover it was jellybean juice from the 15 she had shoved in there. This year she actually found her eggs, and would run across the house to Baba whenever she found a number in her egg that led to a present. And she would point out Matthew and Caroline's eggs to but leave them there for them to find. The grownups all had a six pack of drinks, and we had to find the bottles to fill our empty container. I may have won and found all of mine first. We ended up staying there until dinner, and then we finally realized that spring break was ending and we had to go home and put the kids to bed at a normal hour. Now we start the countdown to summer!