Friday, December 28, 2012

A Beautiful Ending

     Lately, I have been so drawn to a particular family's adoption blog.  It is not someone I know personally, but a friend of a friend.  I think what has drawn me in is this mom's complete honesty, in sharing the good and the bad.  So many people think that once a child is adopted, the fairy tale begins and everyone lives happily ever after.  And I so wish this is how the story always goes.  But what a lot of people don't realize is that these children are broken - they have felt loss and grief that many of us can not imagine. 
     This particular mom has shared the account of bringing home a 16 month old girl from China.  Most of her orphanage days were spent in her bed - a plywood board for a mattress.  Orphanages such as hers are eerily quiet - the children quickly learn that their cries will not be answered, so they simply give up.  After being united with her adoptive parents, she grieves so much that all she can do to comfort herself is bang her head on the bed, and then on her mother's chest as she is being held.  And this is just the beginning.  In the months that follow, this child screams in anger for hours at a time.  She lashes out at her parents and siblings by hitting them.  And the hardest thing is that the mother takes the brunt of it all.  Even though this little girl knows that her mother is the one who is there for her every moment of the day, it's her mother that she pushes away the most.  AND ALL THIS FROM A CHILD ONLY 16 MONTHS OLD AT THE TIME SHE WAS ADOPTED - JUST A BABY!
     Honestly, this blog scares me to death.  But what I see happening as this story unfolds is beautiful.  This child, once so broken and lost, has completely turned around.  After realizing that the love her family has for her is unconditional and that they will never leave her, she has been able to finally trust and begin a truly beautiful life. 
     It is said that adoption is a perfect example of Christ's love - He loves us so much that he adopted us to be His sons and daughters, never to leave us.  But through this little girl's story,  I can see an even bigger picture of God's love for us.  At some point we have all pushed Him away.  Even though we are broken and need Him more than anything else, we hold Him at an arm's length and just won't give in.  We think we can get through it on our own.  But once we completely surrender and accept His unconditional love, our lives can truly be beautiful. 
     Like I mentioned above, this mom's experiences truly scare me and make me question the path that God has chosen for us.  But HER story, as raw and real as it is, also has a beautiful ending.  She confesses that before this adoption, she thought she knew what it meant to completely trust God and give everything over to Him.   Now she can honestly say that she didn't - but during this process she truly learned what it meant to put every minute of every day in His hands.  Only by giving it all over to Him and asking for strength continuously did she survive this season of her life.  And now she can look back and see how her relationship with her savior is more beautiful than she ever imagined it could be. 
     All along, I have sensed that God has a plan for our family through this adoption.  Yes, part of it is definitely to give an orphaned child a home, family, and unconditional love.  But more, I think he wants our family to get much closer to Him - more than we ever imagined we would.  PLEASE keep us in your prayers.  We do not yet know how our story will unfold, but I know that it's ending will indeed be beautiful.
He has made everything beautiful in His time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Department of Homeland Security!

     One of my favorite things about this special season is receiving Christmas cards.  Among my favorite are the photo cards - I love having a small glimpse into the lives of those who thoughtfully remember our family at Christmas.  But it has been a different mail delivery that has prompted my daily trek to the mailbox this December.  We have been waiting for the final document we need before our dossier can be approved and sent to China - our I-797.  In English, this is the document from the Department of Homeland Security that states we are approved to adopt one child from China.  It can typically take 60-80 days to complete this process and receive your approval.  When you change the days into months (two months or longer), it seems like an even longer wait.  Thankfully, this wait has been during quite a busy time for us.  Christmas programs, class parties, and the usual hustle and bustle of the season have made the wait a little easier.  And I know that God has orchestrated this entire adoption around His perfect timing, even down to the day we receive this final document.
     Earlier in our adoption journey, I was having a hard time submitting to His timing - I selfishly wanted things to happen according to what I thought was the right timing. About this time, I came across the following verse...
But these things I plan won't happen right away. 
 Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision
will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow, be patient!  For it will surely take place. 
 It will not be late by a single day. 
Habakkuk 2:3 
     God's timing was for our 1-797 to arrive this past Friday - yay!!!  As our dossier is getting ready to be sent to China, my prayers are with two families in our community who left for China TODAY to get their precious new children.  How exciting that the vision God had for these families is about to be fulfilled - it will not be late by a single day!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Life Goes On

     Hmmm, so I have not been very faithful to keeping up with this blog:-)  As much as I think about our adoption (maybe only every other minute of the day?), life is not standing still.  And I guess this is a good thing - staying busy seems to be making this long process a little easier to endure.
     When we started our dossier process (think A LOT of paperwork) at the beginning of June, I was told that it usually takes six months to get all of these documents together.  My super-mom plan was to get it done much faster, of course.  And now here it is (almost six months later) and we are still plugging along.  I have had to learn through this that sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do but sit and wait (and pray:-)

     So here's an update in where we stand in all of of this...
     -our Home Study is complete (yay!!!)
     -we have started sealing our documents
     -we have sent off our I-800a paperwork (immigration)
     -just yesterday we had our USCIS biometric fingerprints taken

    Here are some pictures of what we have been up to during these last six months...

We took our yearly trip to the beach...
maybe the last time as a family of four!
We feverishly cleaned the house for our home visit from
our social worker...our house will never be this clean again:-)

Henley turned seven.

Henley and I spent time together at "Mommy and Me" G.A. Camp.

Griffin turned five...


...and started K4 with sweet Mrs. Roberts.

Henley started first grade.

We went on our yearly Pumpkin Patch trip with the Banks' girls.

Nathan decided to go to Louisiana to do storm damage work. 
I believe his favorite part was meeting Troy from "Swamp People."

The kids picked out their very own Halloween
costumes...yes, Griffin is a sock monkey pirate.

Please pray...
-that our dossier will make it to China in a timely manner (the holidays may hold things up)
-for patience as God works out His perfect timing and matches us with the child who was always meant to be a part of our family
-for that child, that he/she will have not only physical needs met until we can be there, but emotional needs as well
-for an easy transition when we get home (for ALL of us!)
-for the UNADOPTED (the many children waiting, and those who will never be adopted)

May God bless you and your family during this Thanksgiving season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"One Hundred Good Wishes"

     To welcome and celebrate a new life, it is a Chinese tradition to make a "Bai Jia Bei" (100 Good Wishes quilt).  It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby.  Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a memory book with the wish for the child.  The quilt is supposed to contain the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the family and friends who contributed a piece of fabric.  The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation. 
      Several weeks ago, while searching for fundraising ideas, I came across a really neat site called...(you guessed it) "100 Good Wishes."  This website is not only a tool that we can use to raise financial support, but it also gives us a way to share about our adoption journey and gather good wishes for our sweet baby-to-be!
     Our pastor just recently preached on "True Generosity."  One point that really stood out for me was that God meets needs and answers prayer through generous people...

                      "And my God shall supply all your needs."  Philippians 4:19  

Our human side worries - worries about the thousands of more dollars we will need to pay for this adoption, and the extra expense of a third child.  But we know, without a doubt, that our needs will be supplied :-)
     To check out our "100 Good Wishes" page or make a donation, click on the link located on the right side of this page.  In your generosity, God is meeting the needs and prayers of sweet Anna Li, our baby to be!  To sum up Sunday's sermon...
                              "We are never more like Jesus than when we give."

Thank You!
Nathan, Aimee, Henley, and Griffin


Monday, September 17, 2012

"Choosing to See"

     Perhaps some of you recognize the title of this blog, "Choosing to See."  It's definitely not original, but it does have significant meaning to our family's adoption journey.  This is the title of a book written by Mary Beth Chapman (Steven Curtis Chapman's wife).  Almost two years ago exactly, the kids and I were in the Rainbow City Public Library when I happened to see this book being displayed.  I barely gave it a second glance - I briefly knew that this family had lost an adopted daughter in a terrible accident, and I knew the book would probably be very depressing.  But something made me pick it up and read the inside cover.  I noticed that the Forward was written by Beth Moore - I was currently doing my first Beth Moore bible study, so of course I had to read this.  I was hooked.  I checked out the book and prepared myself to be pretty depressed :)  And yes, it was sad.  But more than that, I finished the book with a sense of awe and excitement at what this family had done.  And a tiny little voice in my head (yes, it was God :) was saying "what if we could do this?"
     Just so you know, adoption is not something that Nathan and I had ever discussed.  Not that we were against it at all - it had just never come up in the plans we thought we had for our life.  We had two children - a girl and a boy - and our family was complete.  So I had no idea how Nathan was going to receive the news that I felt God had a different plan for our family.  I think that, for a while, he thought I was into this because I had just read the book.  He thought my enthusiasm would fade.  And when it didn't, he really tried to get on board.  But this was really hard for him - who can blame him?  And after about a year, he just told me that he did not feel the same calling that I did.
     I was crushed.  I did not understand how I could feel so completely sure that this was what God wanted me to do, but Nathan was not receiving the same message.  In my extreme sadness, I decided that I would no longer discuss adoption with him.  But I prayed, probably harder than I have ever prayed for something in my life.  I prayed that if this was truly God's plan for us, that he would put the same yearning that I felt into Nathan.  That Nathan would develop a heart for the orphan - as much or more - as I had.
     Well, I guess you can see what happened at the end of the story.  But really, that was just the beginning.  We are "Choosing to See" the plan that God has for us; we are "Choosing to See" that God commands us to care for the fatherless; we are "Choosing to See" that we are definitely not in control :) 

I really recommend the book :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hello Blogger World!

     I never imagined I would start a blog.  Those of you who know me well know that I don't post much on Facebook, just recently learned how to text, and usually when I try to use my cell phone I find it dead:)  But after much anxiety and consideration over this, I decided that because of what is going on in our life that this is what I needed to do.  One reason I am doing this is to record this adoption journey for Henley, Griffin, and our daughter-to-be.  I pray that one day they will look back at these events and see the amazing way that God was present in every part of this plan.  The second reason I feel led to do this is to share with others a command that has changed our life...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 
 James 1:27

     Nathan and I feel that God has not only called us to adopt, but to be a voice for the other 147 million orphans around the world - the "least of these."  But please don't follow this blog and think that we have it all together.  Our life is hectic but fun, our house is usually messy, and I have to learn from the mistakes I make with my children everyday.  And please keep us in your prayers.  Thanks for joining us on this journey!

My two monkeys, Henley and Griffin:)