Week 36 of Our Adoption

How “far along” are we in the adoption process?  36 weeks

Best news of the week: Our dossier was officially sent to Ch!n@ on Friday!!!!!  This is a huge step and represents 36 weeks of background checks and paperwork. Both B and I cried when our sweet Social Worker told us the news. Without any hesitation, we both said, “We are coming for our baby!”  Although honestly…we could still be waiting this time next year (maybe not) and we don’t have a referral yet.

Worst news of the week: The database system is still not working properly and will likely affect our timeline in a significant way.  The C3WA seems to be doing the absolute best they can with a very unfortunate situation.  Please pray with us that the bugs in the system will be worked out.

What are we waiting on: The next step is getting LID (log in date).  When we get the log in date, it means that Ch!n@ has logged our dossier into their system.  Currently, there are very significant slowdowns for this step.  Please join us in praying that we are LID soon.  Our best guess, which really is just a guess, would be about 4-5 weeks from now.  Nothing is predictable right now given the slowdowns.

What are we working on (adoption related): We are currently applying for a grant.  We’d appreciate your prayers for provision.

What are we reading: Right now, I am reading books to prep for the fall semester.  However, today I read an excellent NY Times article written by an adult adoptee.  I try to read everything I can that was written by adult adoptees so that I can learn from their experiences.  http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/explaining-my-adoption-to-my-biological-daughter/

What Ch!nese words are we trying to learn: I spent several hours this week practicing counting to twenty and discerning which tones are being used.  I have some great apps on my iPad that turn it into fun games.  I made a lot of progress this week, but if you came up to me and said, “Say seven in Mandarin!,” I’d look at you like a deer in the headlights.  One of my former students who studied abroad in Ch!n@ told me to bob my head based on the tones used and this helps tremendously.  As I traveled this week, I noticed a lot of funny expressions – people were trying to figure out my head bobs.  Right now, my favorite iPad app is http://www.mindsnacks.com/subjects/mandarin.  If you have small kids, and want them to learn vocabulary in another language, it makes it really fun.  We are currently saving our money to buy more sophisticated software, but for now the apps work!  This is the software we will eventually buy http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Mandarin-Fluenz-supplemental-Podcasts/dp/B00310UXQW/ref=sr_1_6?s=software&ie=UTF8&qid=1374440152&sr=1-6

The funny thing is, the iPad app indicates that I have mastered numbers.  Hahahaha!  So now, I am learning how to say different body parts in Mandarin…and numbers.

Fun things we did this week:  One of the things I have noticed through this process is that B and I have to be more intentional about spending quality time together. Adoption is expensive and the paperwork takes a lot of time.  Because of the expense, we have cut way back on our discretionary spending, and that means for several months we did not go on dates.  I often see that every dime I spend on other “stuff” is , money that could go to our adoption, someone else’s adoption, or to charities that we support that take care of orphans.  Since we have learned so much about orphan care, it has really changed us and how we view the money God has entrusted us with.

But, adoption is also stressful.

Recently,  I told B that we needed to make sure that we are spending time together making memories and having fun while we wait.  So this weekend, and for our 11th wedding anniversary, we stayed at 21c, a local museum hotel.  I love modern art.  Staying at this hotel felt like staying at the MoMA in London, even though we are in Arkansas.  It was nice.

This week, B and I are going on vacation (paid for by frequent flier miles) to Estes Park, Vail, and to see friends and family in Boulder.  I am so grateful for a trip away with B that is not work-related.

How we were encouraged this week: B said he was encouraged this week by finding a photo of me from when I was 18.

Some background – when we had our homestudy interview, one of the questions our home study social worker asked B was, “Will M be a good mother?” B got a tad bit emotional when he told our SW at length all of the reasons why he knows I’ll be such a good mom.  The entire time he talked, our SW grinned from ear to ear.  At random moments, B will stop me and say, “Seriously, you are going to be the best mother.”  I always say, “Oh yeah? How do you know?”

B has never mentioned it to me, but he said he always knew I would be a good mom when he saw a particular photo of me when I was 18.  In the photo, I am snuggling my nephew.  B has not seen this photo in over 10 years, but had vivid memories of it.  He dug and dug and searched and searched and found it.

For our anniversary, he gave me random cards that one-by-one that listed 11 things he loves about me.  The last one said, “You’ll be such a good mom.  How do I know?  Take a look at this picture.”

photo (14)B had the photo framed.

I can’t believe my little nephew is now a tall young man who will be in high school this August.

A Precious Anniversary Gift

One year ago today, this happened —

B and I were in Positano, Italy about to leave for Switzerland to celebrate 10 great years of marriage. I went to bed like I always go to bed. And like always, I woke up at 3 AM. Normally, I roll over and fall back asleep. However, this time, I felt like someone woke me up. I sat up in the bed while B snored. “M, you are infertile. Read the story of Sarah in the Bible. My promise to you is to work in Mighty ways.” Quickly, I tried to remember the story of Sarah. I grabbed my iPhone and read through the Bible online. I woke B up and said, “B, something weird just happened.” He rubbed my back and started snoring again. M, you are infertile. The next morning, I told B what happened. “Interesting,” was his response. That’s always the answer he gives me when he doesn’t think something is interesting or does not want to think about what I want him to think about.

Today, exactly one year later, we learned that all of our adoption paperwork (dossier) was uploaded to Ch!n@’s database.  We are now officially DTC (dossier to Ch!n@).  Our social worker just emailed us to let us know, and we were both together when we received the news.  There were many tears — happy tears.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that this would happen exactly one year later–just in time for our 11th anniversary this weekend.

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Just this morning, we were talking about how easy it is to become restless on this journey, to say, “Okay Lord, please hurry up!,” to see all of the slowdowns and problems with the database and to become anxious.  It is so easy to lose faith and to walk by sight instead of by faith–but the Lord wants us to walk by faith.  Lord, we are walking by faith.

Lord, we are walking by faith that you will take care of our children while we are apart.

Lord, we are walking by faith that you will show us who are children are.

Lord, we are walking by faith that you are preparing our children’s hearts for adoption.

Lord, we are walking by faith as we wait.

Lord, we are walking by faith that you will help us with the enormous financial costs of adoption.

Lord, we walk by faith and not by sight.

Week 35 of Our Adoption

How “far along” are we in the adoption process?  35 weeks

Best news of the week: Our dossier was authenticated by the Ch!nese Consulate in Houston

Worst news of the week: We are so weary by unprecedented slowdowns with Ch!ne5e adoptions.  The C3WA converted to a new database computer system and it is not working properly–they are doing the best they can, but it is just not working.  Please pray with us.  Please pray that the computer system will begin processing the paperwork effectively and efficiently.  Will you please pray with us that there are a flood of Letters of Approval this week?

What are we waiting on: The next step consists of sending our dossier to Ch!n@.  (This is known as DTC). And this is huge.  35 weeks of paperwork and waiting.  Yea baby!

What are we working on (adoption related): We are currently researching grants to apply for.

What are we reading: I’ve been reading Toddler Adoption by Mary Hopkins Best

What Ch!nese words are we trying to learn: We are trying to learn to count to 15.  B is tone deaf–not good for a tonal language.  I keep wanting to say things in Spanish.  Ch!nese is nothing like Spanish…in case you did not know.

Red thread moment:  Opening my fortune cookie to see my Ch!nese word was “daughter.”

How we were encouraged this week: Every week, I get to see several kids who were once orphans get a family. And every week, I see those precious ones suddenly get brighter eyes and smiles and just shine bright. Every week. Kiddos who are half the size they should be, kids who are developmentally behind because of institutionalization… but with a family, suddenly, they learn they can be a kid. You see that anxiety and burden of being an orphan get lifted. Every time I see that transformation, it makes me cry and it reminds me of what Christ did in my life when he adopted me.

B was most encouraged this week by a video he saw on our agencies page for families adopting from Ch!n@.  One of the families recently got home and posted a video of their little boy praying.

 

 

 

Questions

There are a series of questions that we are asked regularly.

Question 1 – Why adopt from Ch!na?

Quite simply, since I was a young child, I have felt such a place in my heart for Asia.  I spent two summers living in Thailand as a teenager, traveled to Korea, and Ch!na — I just love the culture, many of the customs, the people, and the cuisine.  I had the opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage in Southeast Asia.  It had a lasting impact.

B had never been to Asia until this summer, so his reasons were different.  In all honesty, when we started this adoption process and were asking for the Lord’s discernment, he started having dreams and our child was Asian.  B never dreams that he remembers.

As we researched more about Hague, Ch!na, adoption, and medical/special needs adoption, our minds became informed and our hearts became burdened for orphans in Ch!na.

I would definitely go into more detail in person.  If you ask, I am happy to talk with you, but just be forewarned that you will have a hard time getting me to stop talking about this.  Quite simply, I think we have become advocates.  I am just very careful what I write about online.

I have no doubt that we were called to adopt from Ch!na.

Question 2 – You are adopting a girl, right?

It is a common misconception that only girls are available for adoption from Ch!na.  There are so many boys who need homes.  To read more about this, go to http://www.lwbcommunity.org/the-adoption-of-boys

When we first started this adoption, like many people, we assumed we would adopt a girl because we thought almost all orphans were girls–after all, we thought we knew all there was to know about Ch!nese adoptions because we watched that National Geographic documentary with Lisa Ling.  Ha! We were so wrong.

We both believe we are adopting a girl (we have a strong feeling), although we are approved to adopt a boy or a girl.  I want to adopt the child that the Lord intends for us to adopt.  Boy or girl.  If we adopt a girl this time, we feel called to immediately start the process again to adopt a boy.

Question 3 – Are you adopting one child or two?  

That’s something you could pray about with us.  We are approved to adopt two children.  We ask that you join us in asking that the Lord gives us discernment on this.

 

 

 

 

 

China Cafe and The Fortune Cookie

I travel to places to eat the local food.  Food is such an important part of culture.  Yeah, it is different, but learning a new culture and experiencing real food is so fun.

B and I discovered a place in our part of the state that serves authentic Ch!nese food–China Cafe.  Since we decided to adopt from Ch!na we have been doing a lot to make sure we embrace our child’s heritage as much as we can right now–learning the language, going to Ch!na, eating the food, reading, and more, and more.  We love the China Cafe.  And, we only allow ourselves to order off of the “real Ch!nese food” portion of the menu instead of the Americanized.  And every time, we try something different.

Last night, my great husband took the 30 minute drive to get take-out.  Our food, like always, was outstanding.  When B opened my fortune cookie for me, he said, “I think you will like the Ch!nese word on the fortune cookie.”

Daughter.

Daughter

What I’ve Learned

When I think back on where I was one year ago and where I am today, I am moved to tears to think through all that I’ve learned.

One year ago, I successfully defended my dissertation and was ending my sabbatical by taking the trip of a lifetime with the love of my life–England, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and France.  After writing that dissertation, the world was mine and I was going to conquer it! I was about to start a new job (a promotion) at the university that I love.  I just finished writing a dissertation that my committee was pumped about and they believe holds a lot of promise (or did). My career was good.  My research–heck, get out of my way, I am going to publish like a madwoman–I should be entering the most “productive” time in my life (especially as it pertains to my research).

But this was a year that I had to step back and realize that I am not in the driver’s seat.

That trip we took where we just knew we’d FINALLY get pregnant–yeah–it did not happen.  Suddenly, after the doctors appointments (seriously, doctors need to role-play in med school how to tell a couple they are infertile), I realized that we had to rewrite that imagined future.  It was difficult when I realized that I could not make myself get pregnant.  It was like somehow my body didn’t work.  I am defective.  I felt like such a total failure.  And, I never even imagined myself with an adorable pregnant belly.  Weird, I know.  But I did not.  I always knew I wanted to adopt.  However, it was so hard to realize that my body did not work the way it works for everyone else (not everyone, I know).  But, I know my God wired me to be a mom.

I’ve heard so many women talk about child birth as empowering.  Infertility teaches you that you aren’t in control.  Infertility was not empowering.  There is nothing like difficult situations to be the educator of the lesson like, “M, you are not in control.”  I’m not in control.

Infertility did not make me feel empowered like Wonder Woman.

Infertility taught me a lot about being sad and giving myself permission to be disappointed…even when others wanted me to be happy.  Infertility taught me that it is so important to name my feelings.  Infertility taught me (FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER) that throwing myself into my work would not remedy the disappointment I felt.  That doctorate, those accolades, the articles, the conference acceptance letters–none of it could heal this pain.  Infertility taught me than when someone is grieving, they aren’t themselves–things move slower, and sometimes it is hard to tell what is up and what is down–what is anger and what is sadness.  And sometimes, you just really want to get pissed at somebody, anybody because you hurt.  Infertility taught me that in hard moments, I would sigh, “God, if I were you, I would do things differently!”  Infertility taught me that I am not God, and I really don’t want his job.  Infertility taught me that it cannot be rationalized.  Infertility gave me an appreciation for life more than anything could have.  EMPOWERED? NO.  Broken in all of the right ways, yes.  Broken in a way that humbles you to step back, quiet yourself, and ask the Lord to teach whatever he wants to teach you.  Infertility taught me a lot about joy during the pain.  Infertility taught me about grief and making B my priority.  During the doctorate season, B took a back seat because the doctorate demanded my total focus.  Infertility taught me that I needed to be next to B, even if I could not focus.

Infertility taught me to tell people–NO, I can’t.  I know I disappoint you that I cannot write that article…or do this…or achieve that…but, I have got to give myself time.  Infertility made me realize that what once ruled my life had to take a back seat.

Infertility taught me how to be genuinely happy for a friend’s pregnancy and, helped me learn that it’s natural to be sad.  Infertility taught me what was once a little sad to hear (friend’s pregnancy), can become something that is so exciting and doesn’t hurt at all.  Like seriously exciting.

But most of all, infertility opened my world.  More than my doctorate, infertility led me to a place where I went from an ignorant person to one who has become educated.

I am so thankful, that God in all His wisdom, decided that I would be infertile.

I am so grateful, that God in all of his goodness and generosity, matched two infertile people.

I am so blessed that at 14 years old, God put such a longing on my heart for Asia…and most of all for orphans in Asia.

I am so overjoyed that I learned at 14, that children who live in an orphanage in Southeast Asia and have HIV are just kids who want to be held, and tickled, and cared for.

I am so grateful that when I told my dad that I did not want to pursue infertility treatments, he told me, “Adoption fits you and B.  You always welcome others into your family and home.  I don’t care if your family is as colorful as a rainbow, they’ll be my grandkids and your kids.”

I am so grateful that the Lord heard our prayers for years as we pleaded with him to make it clear–should we grow our family through adoption only? Should we have bio and adopt?  I am so glad my God sent me the memo that he wants us to adopt.

I am so glad that my husband knows what it is like to share his home with kids from hard places.  20 foster kids during his childhood.  Messy stuff.  I love that he is ready for this adventure.

I am so grateful God picked us.  I am so glad he is in control, and I am not.  If I were God, I would screw this entire educational and life changing experience up in a big way.

Next post, what adoption has taught me…

 

 

Some daily thoughts of a first-time (adoptive) mom

“M, you’ve got to start cooking dinner earlier. Dinner at 9:00 PM is not acceptable for a toddler…except for when we all have jetlag after we get home…and if we are all clothed, clean, fed, and breathing we are good…even if we eat dinner at 9PM.”

“Wow, _____ is not childproof. How in the world will I childproof that?”

“I wonder if our kid(s) will be potty trained? Probably not.”

“I wonder if our kid(s) will still be used to sleeping in a crib? Probably so.”

“Oh my gosh, how are we going to survive that awful flight home IN COACH with a precious scared, M@ndar!n-speaking toddler who is with two English-speaking goobers (her new parents) she just met? I mean, COACH on a flight from Asia to the USA is the epitome of hell.  And this sweet baby will be scared of us, scared of flying, just scared.  She won’t be able to understand us. I hope some generous person upgrades our flight home to business class.”  (this became even more real when we traveled there recently).

“I wonder what province she lives in.  God, please send someone to adore her on a daily basis.”

“I wonder how her birth mom is. God, please comfort her.”

“Is she in a Mandarin-speaking province or a C@ntonese one?”

“Are we adopting one or two?”

“Will she be scared of me initially? Probably so.”

 

And those are just some of my daily thoughts…keeping it real.

 

 

Worry

Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong.

Timothy Keller