Friday, May 30, 2008

The Maker of heaven and earth

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

That's about sums it up!!  Psalm 121:1-2

If you have been following along, I had to take a couple of post off at the suggestion of my agency.  They did not read it, but made some suggestions that made my think I should remove the last two.  
If you have missed reading this last couple of days, our little girl has a foster family that loves her very much.  They are having a very, very difficult time giving her to the orphanage so that we can be granted travel approval to come get her.  This has left our agency and many others in unchartered waters.  This is unheard of in China and has never happened before.  We are so thankful that she is and has been loved so dearly, but we love her too.  We are lifting our eyes to the maker of heaven and earth and asking Him to do His will.

I am not going to be able to give many details right now about what it happening, but I will that the situation is being worked on...

I have moments when I get really upset and want to leave with the rest of the group I was supposed to travel with.... in 19 days!!!  There are times when I can't think about the possibility of not having this little girl, because in my heart she is mine and love grows for her more each day.  But, then there are other times I have complete peace.  I know God always has my best interest at heart.  He will do whatever is right for our family.  I am positive it involves a little Chinese girl who needs a mom and dad and sisters and a brother.

But, until I have clarity from the Lord, the little girl that you see when you scroll down the page is mine.  Please pray that for us- that we would have clarity.  That God would grant us peace and wisdom.  And, without a doubt, we would know 100% what we are supposed to do.  I would love to read your thoughts and comments if you have any.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Yellow Chick

That's me... the yellow chick... the one left behind.  Here's the email I received from my agency this morning. (sigh)

Hi, April! 
I was so sorry to hear you did not get your TA last week--how difficult
it must have been to hear so many families got theirs and you did not. I
don't know why yours didn't come (or the other family's); I have not yet
had a chance to read the correspondence from last week from our Beijing office to see if there was anything stated in that information (this is how we receive updated information on children, etc.) I will do that
today and let you know if there is any information listed there or not.
If not, I will certainly ask today if they can find out anything. It
often happens that some families in a group do not get theirs when
others do; that is unfortunately not uncommon.
Yes, I can relate to what you are saying about the spiritual end; I am
sorry you have had other things going on in your life at the same time.
I have no idea when your TA will arrive, but again, will most certainly
check today and get back with you as soon as possible. Again, I will
let you know if last week's correspondence contained any information about
your situation. I am so sorry, April! I will be in touch asap!

On a different note, I have often learned the hard way that God's timing is always best.  I think I have said this before, but with so many years of walking with the Lord, you would think I could quit reminding myself of this fact.  I believe life is boot camp.  It is a test and a preparation for the "real" life that follows this one.  When things don't go the way I think they are going to go or the way that I want them to go, I tend to let my circumstance rule my emotions.  I'd probably not have this test so often if I wouldn't shut down and feel sorry for myself in situations like this one.  I really believe God sees the big picture.  He loves me and sees things that I can't see. 

A couple of years ago, there was an issue with a friend.  The friendship became weird and I felt really hurt and rejected.  It bothered me for a full year.  I prayed and prayed and prayed about it.  I asked God to restore the friendship, etc...  After awhile, I knew that it was not going to happen.  I also had a feeling one day I was going to understand.  Well, at the end of that torturous year, events unfolded that explained everything.  Never could I have imagined in my wildest dreams what unfolded and I wouldn't wish the details on my worst enemy.  After I had some time to process the situation, I will never forget the love that I felt envelop me from God.  The whole time He was trying to protect me.  If God had answered my prayer the way that I prayed it, I would have been immersed in a situation that would have been infinitely more painful.  See, God can see the big picture.  He loved me enough not to give me what I had asked.  I will always take God's plans over mine.

So, now that I have had some time to get my thoughts down, I like being the yellow chick.  Besides, the yellow chick is much cuter!!:-) 

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I know how Charlie Brown feels

Well, TA's arrived at our agency yesterday.  I knew they were coming because I am in contact with lots of others adopting SN children.  So, I emailed our agency to see if ours had arrived.  Normally, I would wait for them to contact me.  However, the SN coordinator has been on vacation so I didn't know what the process would be since she wasn't there.  This is the email I received in response to my question.

We did receive 12 of the 14 TA's today. Unfortunately, yours was not
one of them. I'm sure Maury will call you next week if they were to
arrive. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks! Have a good weekend.

Man, talk about knowing how Charlie Brown felt when Lucy pulls that football away!  OUCH!!
I mean, are you serious??  12 out of 14 came but yours wasn't one of them.  Ok, have a good weekend!

This is how things have gone for us for the last several weeks.  We do not have any updates on Mylei.  No pictures, no medical, no height, no weight, no milestone updates, NOTHING!!!  I don't know what size clothes to buy her.  I can't make any arrangements for the kids if we don't know when we are leaving!!  I am sure you get the picture!

I am hoping Tuesday brings some good news!  The other 12 received tentative travel dates of leaving on June 18 and coming home on July 2.  So, for now, I am pretending like those are our dates!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Wedding

We are back from the wedding!!  It was really fun.  I'd rank the reception right up in the top- the 20 piece big band was amazing!  Jackson had a great time despite being trapped at the church for 6 hours before the wedding!  He was given Heely's (tennis shoes with wheels) for his birthday.  If it weren't for those life saving shoes, Paul may never have made it through the day!  (I had to put that picture in because Gracie took it and it cracks me up when people take pictures and cut off

The girls and I did not meet Miley Cyrus!  Bummer!  But, we did see the old Ryman Auditorium, the Parthenon, the Belmont Mansion and Belmont college, music row, downtown, etc...  We also saw pictures of our friend Hillary plastered all over Nashville.
The ironic part about seeing her all over Nashville- Ryan (the guy who's wedding we were there attending) dated Hillary before he dated and married the girl he's with now, Chelsea.  We loved/love Hillary.  She came to visit several times.  She's very down to earth!!
She love the kids.  Brought gifts for them.  Sat in Shelby's room for a long time writing a song with her in the notebook she bought her to write music.  So sweet!!   Hillary sings with a group called Lady Antebellum.  They just won a CMA (country music award) for new group this past Sunday.  So, because they are such an up and coming new group, we saw their pictures all over the city.  Shelby's still mad at Ryan for breaking up with her.  Don't get
 me wrong.  We like Chelsea.  We just
 spent more time with Hillary and Hillary was really into the kids.

Nothing new on the adoption front.
I think TA's should arrive this week,
at least I hope!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nashville, Tennessee

     We are in Nashville this weekend.  Paul and Jackson are in a wedding!  Last night was the rehearsal.  It was so fun.  Macaroni Grill catered the food.  After eating, a dance instructor came and taught us some swing dancing and the fox trot.  At the wedding tonight, there will be a 20 piece big band playing.  So, they wanted all of us to be able to lead the dancing.  How creative and fun is that???
     The wedding it not until 7 pm this evening, 8 pm according to our body's time:-)  Poor Paul and Jackson have to be there at 1:30.  Pictures do not even start until 3:30.  We can not figure out why in the world they have to be there that early.  Me and the girls are hitting downtown.  I think we are going to go meet Miley Cyrus since she is filming a movie 
downtown:-)  Don't they wish!!

On a different note...
     Paul and I are really into this show on the Food Network called Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  We both love visiting those type places when we travel.   So, this morning we got the low-down on this place by Vanderbilt University call the Pancake Pantry.  You know a place is going to be good when 1) The lines goes out the door.  2) They have coffee and water for those waiting outside.  3)  The bathroom smells really bad.

      Ok, #3 is Paul's- not mine.  Paul said that when we were dating.  We met at (the old) Milano's at UD.  He had never eaten there before.  He went to the restroom before our food was ready.  He came back to the table and said, "This place is going to be really good!"  I said,  "How do you know?"  "Because the bathroom smells really bad" was his reply.  Who would ever say that???  He was concerned about the food at the Pancake Pantry when he went to the restroom this morning.  He came back and said it was too clean!  If I go into a gross restroom before I eat, I lose my appetite.  Hey, maybe I'm onto something!!!

     The one hour (maybe more) wait was worth it.  Paul thought the hashbrowns were the best he had ever had.  Shelby and I shared the french toast and it was amazing.  It was grilled french bread with cinnamon cream syrup.  Yummy!!

On the adoption front....
     There was a rumor floating around that TA's might arrive today.  I think it was a nasty rumor because I haven't gotten a phone call yet!  I did hear from someone else who has the same dates as mine, that her agency told her tentative travel dates around June 19.  My agency, bless their hearts, would never predict such things.  They are like nervous little hens.  Don't get me wrong, I am very happy with them.  They just don't speak until something has been written in concrete and the concrete is dry!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A few things....


     So, I haven't posted in awhile because I can't get out of the spiritual battle that I am fighting long enough to post on my blog!  AHHH!!!!!!  I have even tried to write about the battle itself but can't seem to get it finished.  The latest round involves a severe neck/back injury.  I have pretty much been laying around taking Darvoset.  Hopefully, the chiropractor will give me some relief tomorrow!

     In the meantime, I wanted to let everyone know that the earthquake did not affect Mylei.  As a matter of fact, according to my sources (haha), there wasn't any damage to any social welfare institute (orphanage).  Also, the families that were in China with my agency were not affected either.   Such a sad, sad situation!  Makes me REALLY excited to go to China.... NOT!!

     I also found out today that Mylei has already had surgery to repair her meningocele.  They said the surgery was a success and she has recovered very well.  I was glad to hear that, but with some reservation.   I think China has a great reputation in the adoption world, however, I found that they tell people what they want to hear, sometimes.  I would love that to be the truth!!

     For now, a comfortable position is calling my name- complete with an ice pack!!:-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why Special Needs??

    When Paul and I started this process, we requested a NSN (non-special needs) girl, as young as possible. However, if you know anything about China and adoption, then you know that the adoption line has turned into a virtual parking lot. In June, it will be 2 years since we logged in and 2 1/2 years since we started the process. If we would have continued to wait for NSN, we could be waiting an additional 2 years. When we started the process, we were told it would take 6-9 months.


   Every week, our agency gives an update. One week, when discussing the wait, they suggested everyone consider the special needs children. Much earlier in the process, when I first learned about the "waiting children", my first reaction was there is no way we could care for a child with medical disabilities , nor afford the expenses. I just assumed that they were children with too many needs for us to handle as well as our other children. But after some very time consuming seraching, I quickly learned that these kids are "normal." Most of the waiting children are healthy, but may have some type of medical issue that is correctable. The more I learned about these kids, the more I realized this was something our famly could handle. Because of our children, there were some needs that we knew we could not handle, but many of the needs seemed very manageable. There are several thousands of children on the "waiting children" list with many minor needs, and some with more complicated problems. But because they are considered imperfect, they are harder to place. After deliberating for several days and contacting several families who have personally dealt with the same special need as Mylei, we decided to move forward.

      Mylei has a form of spina bifida called meningocele.  This means that she has a hole/cleft in her vertebrae that allowed the spinal fluid to leak through forming a sac on her back. (More about this later.)  The "sac" should not have contained the spinal cord itself or the nerves.  This means damage for her should be minimal.  

     The ironic part of the story and how God works - I don't think I would have considered her had I really understood the wording on her diagnosis.

    To get to that,  I'll have to explain a bit about the waiting children program and how it works.  When considering the program, the first thing one has to do it fill out a checklist of things they would be willing to consider.  To be honest, I am pretty sure I checked "no" for spina bifida.  I always thought this was the kiss of death and that the children were immobile and wheelchair bound, etc...  Anyway, when the agency gets a list of special needs children, they look at the checklist and match them with families and the needs they said they would consider.  So, the line starts again for this list.  We would have been family #4o meaning there were 39 people in front of us who would have to be matched before us.  They get 3 or 4 lists a year, so who knows how long this would have taken.  The other option, which is a new option, is a shared list.  This lists is available to,  I believe about 50 other agencies.  So, at the same time, people from other agencies could be looking at the same child.

     I had been looking at the list for several weeks.  While looking at the list one day, it really hit me.  These are little human beings, little lives.  Every day I am passing them over because they have too many problems or they are not cute enough.  I felt like a horrible, shallow person.  I called to talk to the director of special needs about my feelings.  She explained that just because I am passing them by does not mean that other families are doing the same.  She assured me that they would all find families.  She went on to say that one just has to really go with their gut.  I felt a bit better.  I continued to ask her a few questions.

     I asked her how often files come in for the shared list.  She said since it was new that there wasn't a pattern, several had come in since the beginning of the year.  "As a matter of fact," she said, " we may even have some later today or tomorrow."

     Since I had been pouring over the lists, I knew all 75 names and would recognize any additions.  The only problem was that this day was Thursday and on Thursday I tutor from 2:30-3:30.  I looked at the list right before I left- nothing new.  I left tutoring right at 3:30 and flew home and started looking at the list.

     That's when I saw her, a new name. Li Na.  I clicked on her name to look at her picture and her diagnosis.  Immediately, I thought she was so cute.  Her diagnosis was congenital lumber vertebrae cleft.  Paul was looking at the list on a separate computer.  So, I showed him her picture and asked him, "WHAT THE HECK IS CONGENITAL LUMBAR VERTEBRAE CLEFT."  Of course he didn't know, so I said, "I don't care I am asking for her file!"   Once you have a file, it is ok to say 'no', but it is so hard to get a file.  So, I sent an email to the lady at my agency asking her to lock in on her file.  That is the only way to be able to consider a child on the shared list.  You have to be the first one to lock in on her file.  Then, you have 48 hours to speak to an international medical specialist and make a decision.  At the 48 hour mark, the file unlocks.  At that point, it can be locked again, but the agency has to get to it before another agency.  Our file did unlock once and was able to be locked again.

     The 48, or 96, hours were stressful, don't get me wrong.  We paid $480 for an international specialist to look at her file and review it.  Paul left and went to Colorado with the tennis team for UD (he's the chaplain).  So, I was alone researching like mad, talking to other families with children from China with spina bifida (even one family who told me to call them while they were on vacation in Hawaii), praying, etc...  By the time I had to make the decision, I had a lot of peace!  At one point I thought, "Who am I to hold out for another healthy child?  I have 3 (praise God) healthy children.  Adoption is the only way some will get a child.  They deserve the healthy ones!"  And, I just knew I was making the right decision.

    Back to Mylei's condition... Meningocele is a less severe form of spina bifida.  But, we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  The worst being some paralysis, bowel and bladder incontinence, and numbness.  Right now, according to the last report, she is running and hopping!  That is a good sign!

     It will be interesting to get her home to a doctor.  Remember the international specialist I paid $480 to speak with???  The first thing she asked me was, "Has she had surgery yet?"  I wanted to scream, "WHAT IN THE HECK ARE WE PAYING YOU FOR!!??  We have pictures of her back and it is odd.  There is not a sac.  It also doesn't appear she has had surgery because there is no evidence of a closed wound.  You know, a scar with a long line and little lines running the opposite direction.  Her back, way down by her bottom, has a discolored indentation.  It almost leads me to believe she has spina bifida occulta.  This is the most mild form.  40% of the population has it and most don't even know it.  It is sometimes marked by an indentation, a birthmark, a discoloration, a patch of hair, etc...  Who knows!  Her back just does not look like any of the other children's back I have seen with the sac and all.

     We did not set out on this journey as a rescue mission. However, that is exactly what we have done.  We are rescuing a beautiful little girl from the possibility of growing up in an institution without ever truly knowing what love is. Yes, there is the possibility that she may not walk "normal", or that she may need more procedures, but more importantly, she will grow up with the love and safety of a family that will be her "forever family." I also hope that our children will learn that every child, regardless of medical dissabillities, or special needs,  are just as deserving of love as a "normal" child.  This rescue mission is really not about us, please don't applaud us or think highly of us.  We are humbled knowing that we really did not chose her.  We'd like to think that God has enough faith and assurance in us, that He chose us to be her "forever family",  I have a feeling she will bless us much more than we will bless her.

~Author ~

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why China?? (part 2)

Why China? (part 1 is my 2nd blog entry from March)

"Why are you adopting a child from China when there are so many kids right here in the US?"

That is the question we have frequently been asked since we began this journey. The best answer we can give you is that China is where the Lord is pulling us. Who are we to argue with Him?

There are several reasons we have chosen to adopt from China. Here are just a few reasons:

1. Domestic adoptions can take a very long time. If we were to request an infant, we would have to wait for mother to chose us. This can be a very lengthy process as well as a very emotional process. At any given moment, the birthmother could change her mind. I truly do not think I or our kids could handle that.  The same thing applies with fostering to adopt.  If you give me a child that has been taken away because of abuse or neglect, and then give it back to the same situation, you might as well dig a hole in the backyard and put me in it!!  I couldn't handle that.

2. China has one child policy. Quite simply this means that the Chinese are allowed to have only one child. Boys take care of the parents in China, a culture tradition, so the girls are discarded.  Because healthy boys are preferred, girls and boys with special needs are often abandoned.

3. Adopting  is something I (April) have always wanted to do. I always wanted biological  children, but I also always knew that I wanted to adopt.  God placed a love for Chinese little girls on my heart.  (It's sorta the same as being attracted to blonds or blue eyes, or whatever.  You probably can't explain why, but it's what you are drawn to.)  Adopting from China has been a part of me for years.  I spent many years not believing or trusting God to provide for the process. But, when I started, the money was always there or given to us.  I shared this dream of mine with Paul long before we were married. He also had the same desire. Kinda weird when you have the same desire for something so specific.  Weird or God-ordained???

4. They are just so darn cute!!!

Here is a link to a very powerful website that pretty much sums up WHY. (You'll have to copy and past it into your browser.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Doing the Snoopy Dance

We're dancing like the Peanut's gang around here today!! We got an LOA today!!  WhooHoo!  6 days after finally getting a PA!

We got the call a little after 12:30 today.  I was so surprised!  I was just telling Paul last night that it could happen.   He told me I was setting myself up for a heartache.  But, I knew LOA's were on their way.  They said it would take 2-4 months, but we have already been through review, so I was hoping (just like with the PA) that it would be quick .  But, I was still so surprised.

Now, we wait for TA.  The average wait is 29 days.  We can travel 2-4 weeks after that!  Our agency said probably July, but it could still be June,

Here we come Mylei!!!!!!!!