Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BabyCakes featuring HopeCakes & LilyCakes!

Now you have an excuse to eat cupcakes! For years people have told me I should sell my cupcakes. They go on and on. I don't know what the big deal is....but I decided to do it since we are about 2 months away from our trip and about a month away from needing to buy plane tickets and we still need the finances. So here goes! By the way, the LilyCake is white cake, white icing. Its the one that started it all...so I recommend it.

These are LilyCakes! I am making them to help raise money for our trip to China!

Husband made this fancy card for me.


This is my faithful friend Wendy who is helping me! And she provided the cute aprons!

We got orders for over 20 dozen the first weekend!

This is a HopeCake. Chocolate, like Hope's hair. LOL

And this is pink strawberry. Just because I like pink. Plus, it has real strawberries in it to make you feel good about eating it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lily and Hope....the Harvest

This photo was taken right in front of the orphanage where Hope and Lily live. It is the field directly across from the orphanage. When I was there in June I looked at that field every day when we arrived and left the orphanage. I always thought about how beautiful wheat fields are.

Just last week I remembered those fields again and something else came to mind. The Harvest. Wheat fields in the Bible represent souls. And I think about those little boys and girls in that orphanage. They are eternal souls. In need of a mom. In need of a dad. In need of proper nutrition. In need of love. In need of education. In need of stimulation. In need of God's love. In need of a Savior. So that when they grow up they have an opportunity to know and accept Jesus as their Savior and be saved.

And by adopting them into Christian families, they will know God's love everyday of their life.

Orphans. The Harvest.

Lily and Hope will know God. They will hear about Jesus. They will be raised along side brothers and sisters who worship, love, and give their all to God. How easy will it be for them to believe when they are in this family.

Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn't you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I'm telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what's right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time!
John 4:35 (The Message)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Signing to be Lily's parents!

Here is the official document we received by FedEx all the way from China! We signed it and a bunch of other important papers and sent it back on its way! What a moment! I have thought about this moment for so many years. I guess I expected it to be so weird and scary when this all happened. But since I have actually met Lily and am already in love with her, AND BECAUSE IT"S BEEN 3 YEARS, it wasn't. It seemed so natural. So easy! Yes, we will sign! Where? Right here. OK, there you go! Easy as that!

Easy as that! No matter what the future holds, Lily is now in it! And we are so excited!!!!

Lily's Family Book mailed to her yesterday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A note from Lily's orphanage

Dang Ning Li was found abandoned by the road about 10 meters west of Social Welfare Institute of Qingyang City at 8:00 on October 12, 2001. She wore a colored cotton coat and wrapped by a little red and blue quilt. The person who found her reported her to Wenquan police station on the same day. They tried to search her birth parents and relatives, but no one claimed her. After she was brought to the institute, an abandoned announcement was published in a local newspaper called Gan Newspaper. Still no one claimed her. She was then adopted by the institute.

It's hard to believe that after 9 years of living in an orphanage that you'd be able to smile like this now! When I think about Lily I think about how she doesn't know what's she's missing. Does she even understand what a family is? Does she even know a world exists outside of those four walls? I really don't know. But for some reason, she smiles! And she laughs. And she loves! She loved on me that week, and I on her. She cried when we all left that week. She yearned for love and attention and fun!

And then I think about the things we complain about sometimes here in America. About how the parent at school never waves at us when we pass her in the car. How our food at the restaurant was NOT the right temperature and we demand it to be! How the light only stayed green for 5 cars in rush hour. Or how the blinds in the guestroom are so ugly and we can't sleep until we get nice new designer ones. Or better yet, how we got mistreated as a child and felt unloved. Or how our dad never came to our football games when we were a teenager and we will NOT forgive him.

Do we really have a right to complain? Lily's not complaining. Don't you think if anyone has a right to complain in this world then a special needs female orphan in China that hasn't had a relative to love her in 9 years would??? But I guess we shouldn't compare, right? Cause everyone has pain. And everyone goes through junk in their lives. And everyone is important and so are our feelings.

But...doesn't Lily sure help our perspective on life. I mean, if you are reading this, you probably live in America. Reason one to be grateful! We could have been born in another country and left on the side of the road a day old. And most likely we have at least ONE person in our lives that loves us completely and truly. Reason number 2 to be grateful. And if we are a follower of Christ and have been redeemed from Hell....need I say more?

Perspective....it's all how we look at it. What we compare ourselves to. What we expect. And our attitude.

There is no greater perspective than God's. And what do you think He thinks when He looks down at me in America, with people all around me that love me, and I have so much, yet I'm still trying to get over the offense from eight years ago. Or if I'm complaining that I don't have baseboards in my safe, happy house. And He gave His only Son to die for our freedom, for our salvation from Hell. Hmmmm. What would make God happy?

I know. If I was as grateful as Lily. If I loved like Lily. If I smiled at each new day like Lily. And found joy in sorrowful circumstances. I want to be like Lily. I have a feeling I'm gonna learn a lot from my new daughter.

How much we have left to pay...

It's hard to believe we are in the last stage of our adoptions! Many people are interested in the costs of adoption so I thought I'd post our expenses.

Here is what we've already paid:
Program and application fee to our agency- $6,250
Home Study and to update it twice because of the long wait- $2,200
USCIS Fee and Fingerprinting (twice)- $1,660
Notarization, Certification, & Authorization of documents- $500
Post Adoption Report Deposit- $1,000
Dossier Assistance Program- $1,200
Dossier Service and Translation- $1,075
Referral Translation Fee- $325
Passports for five- $500
Doctors fees for physicals and updates- $500
Trip to China to find Hope (and found Lily too!)- $3,500
Miscellaneous costs of travel for home study, fingerprints, birth certificates, etc.- $500

Total we have already paid so far- $19,210

Here is what we have left:
Required money needed for Hope in China (which includes orphanage donation, medical tests, Chinese passport, US visa, administrative fees)- $7,500
Same Required money for Lily- $7,500
Visas for all five of us and courier fees- $850
Plane Tickets for us- $7,000
Plane Tickets for Lily and Hope- $1,200
Travel package for us (in country flights to Langzhou and Guangzhou, some meals, guides, transportation and tipping)- $7,000
Spending money for our family (extra meals, emergency)- $1,500

Total we have to go is $32,000

Someone has offered to pay Lily's entire amount needed of $7,500 WE GIVE GOD ALL THE GLORY!
so after that and what we have received into our adoption account through gracious supporters...

We now have around $19,000 left to pay within a couple of months.

We are standing in faith for the rest of the finances and that we will be able to take Phoebe, Rob, and Johnny with us to China. Adoption is expensive but so worth it. It's all the details and documents and travel. God has put the desire and joy in us to accept these girls into our family. We can afford to raise them. It's just the huge amount of money needed to get them! Going by myself to get them isn't an option anymore since we are adopting Lily and Hope.

Will you pray that we will have all we need when we need it? With travel nearing (maybe in two months) we will need to start purchasing tickets perhaps in a month from now.

God is faithful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Adoption is not about finding children for families, it's about finding families for children. Joyce Maguire Pavao

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go!” T.S. Eliot

We've been waiting on FedEx for THREE YEARS!

Wanna know why we love FedEx so much??? Because this the THE INFAMOUS FEDEX PHOTO I'VE BEEN WAITING TO TAKE FOR 3 YEARS NOW! You see, this jolly fella didn't know until Husband burst out the front door hollering WAIT!!!! before he drove off that he was part of a beautiful story today!

In the envelope he delivered today was the official Letter of Seeking Confirmation from Adopter document that has come all the way from China to our home to be signed by us to say "YES, we accept Lily." And then we sign....and become the Adoptive Mother and Adoptive Father of Dang Ning Li, otherwise known as Lily Love Hook!

I've been on COUNTLESS adoption blogs and been so happily jealous (is that a word?) when I saw them get to this point when that FedEx man brought the ever so important official document with lots of Chinese stuff on it to their door!!! I was at Wal-Mart (ha) so Husband had to sprint to catch him as he was about to tear out of the driveway to get to his next destination on time. : )

Way to go FedEx guy! You were part of something big today! And even if you had a bad day or don't like your job or are facing something difficult in your life....today you were used by God to bless us.

Way to go Husband! I sure would've been upset to miss this photo since it only happens once (well twice for us) in our lifetime! I had faith in you...that's why i went to Wal-mart.

Way to go God! You are awesome! What a precious little girl you created on the other side of the world for us! We are grateful!

A cake for Lily and her friends!

We are sending this cake to Lily so that she can celebrate her new family with her friends! Can you imagine the fun?! We were able to include a short note with it:

To Ning Li,

LiLi, do you remember me? I wore the pink hat the nannies gave me when we came to visit. I am your momma now. I will always be your momma. You have a daddy now, too. He loves you so much and wants to meet you! You have a big sister Phoebe. And 2 brothers Robert and Johnny! LiLi, we are so happy to be your new family! We are coming to get you soon and bring you home to America to live with us forever! We have a room for you in our home with pink walls and toys and clothes. We have pretty dresses and shoes for you. And a baby doll that is just for you! You can go to school and learn and play. You can prepare foods to eat with me! We will teach you how to swim! You are part of our family now and will be forever! Please tell your friends that I miss and love them too. I think about all of you everyday. We are coming for you LiLi!!!! We are so excited! We love you with our big hearts! Enjoy the cake! Give all the nannies a hug for me.

From, Renee and Daniel Hook, your new Momma and Daddy

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What would cause someone to do such a thing?

This post was from August 17 on my blog www.eternallypink.blogspot.com

Years ago I found out about this family who adopted a child who is disabled. I watched them bring him to events, park his wheelchair, and then carry on as normal. He looked younger than their other two children and I wondered why they adopted him. I mean, I had always wanted to adopt (and as you know we are) but not a child in a wheelchair. What could that boy possibly offer to that family, right? By adopting him they just added more work to their lives...and just when their other children looked old enough to get easier to take care of. Hmmm. I was puzzled.

Fast forward to June 21, 2010. I find myself in an orphanage on the other side of the world full of special needs children. At first I was scared. Really scared. Daniel and I had just made the decision after being on the non-special needs list of China for almost three years to switch to the special needs program, or waiting child program as some say. So here I was on a mission trip surrounded by children that met that criteria. Yikes! Did we really make the right decision? I mean, some of the children were completely handicapped and others' medical condition China would not even allow them to be adopted. That night I went back to my hotel room and found myself in a fog. I wanted to go home to safety, to my three healthy children, to my nice home and tell Daniel we should change our mind.

Now looking back to write this, I remember very clearly what was running through my head. But now it's hard for me to even comprehend my thought process because it changed so drastically in those next two days. As I spent time with the children and got to know them I no longer saw their "special needs." Well, I should say I saw their needs, but they didn't make me feel uncomfortable anymore. It was familiar and I felt at home. I can remember playing with a little boy with cerebral palsy. He is one of the children that I really bonded with. He's 12 years old. Once he turns 14 he can no longer be adopted according to Chinese law. I imagined me bringing him home. I imagined him going places with my kids, playing games with cousins, swimming! I imagined him GOING OUTSIDE, something I'm not sure he has ever done. Going to school! To learn! What I didn't imagine is if it would be difficult, exhausting, or expensive. Because while I was there none of that mattered. What if I he could ask me to adopt him? What would I say? Well, sweet little boy, I would adopt you and take you out of this institution forever to live with my fun, happy, loving family in America but I think you would mess up our plans. You have so many needs, and you are 12! We want a little baby that can't remember anything troublesome. And you can't speak English. Plus, we can't afford your medical care. We have to think about not ruining our children's lives by bringing in an orphan with so many needs. Sorry.

That is sad. Really sad. And while I was there I didn't think like that, returning home, back to "reality" (or is it?) I find myself pondering things that are close to the sadness above. I remember one night in China sending Daniel a text that read, "If we didn't think about all the what ifs in life it would be so easy to make decisions." Being at that orphanage, knowing what we have her in America, it's a NO BRAINER. Get a kid, ANY kid, and bring them into tour family! Why is adoption such a difficult decision anyway?

Could it be fear? Fear that they will hate us and never bond. Fear that we will go bankrupt paying their medical bills. Fear that we won't ever love them like one that comes from us. Fear that they will be a burden to raise and may never be able to function on their own. Fear that it will warp our biological children and not be fair to them. Fear that it will be way too much work.

So then how do we make our decisions in life? Based on fear? Or based on what we know we should do. Based on what God would want us to do. Based on our heart. Based on what God did for us!

I think in our minds it may be "easier" to love a child with special needs if they look like us. If they are our biological children. Because we love of biological children no matter what they act like, look like, or talk like. They are ours. I wonder how hard it is to love a child who is not your biological child and has special needs.... That week while I was there God was doing something strong in me. I felt all alone...with Him. I think that being at that orphanage with those children was the closest physically I've ever felt to God. I could feel that He was speaking things to me that I wasn't so sure I was ready for. I felt like He was looking for a response from me. I felt like He was stretching me.

I have read several blogs where well meaning women make statements about adoption that make others feel mad and guilty if they aren't adopting a child. I am not going to say everyone should adopt. I only know that I used to not consider adoption. And now, I'm amazed at the thought of us not adopting. It makes me sad and scared to think we would've missed out on so much! But my aim is to share with you my journey so that you might consider adopting, or giving money to someone's adoption, or sending donations to orphanages, or visiting orphans!

All I can say is that since Daniel and I opened our hearts WIDE OPEN to God and let go of what we had in mind, what we had planned, what we thought was "normal" then big changes started happening! And we like them. It's fun to serve God and know that His ways are perfect. And whatever His plan is for us, we are ready. I just want to be an empty vessel, a clump of clay He can do whatever He wants. I don't want ME to get in the way of HIM in ME!

Back to that family I mentioned first. How could they do such a thing as adopt that boy knowing well ahead of time the work and sacrifice that was involved??? Now I get it. Now I realize that it's not all about me and us! It's about that boy. It's about getting out of ourselves and changing someone's life. Whether it's an orphan in China or the person on the street of Tulsa. It's about doing something led by the Spirit of God without letting your flesh dictate.

Pastor Sharon said something that really hit home to me a few months ago. She was preaching on giving and serving others. She said one of the reasons why we don't get more involved with others is because we are afraid of assuming responsibility. It's easy to send a check to Haiti but it's harder to go there. It's easy to give the homeless man a couple of dollars but it's harder to sit down and talk to him for five minutes and see if he needs help.

I'm asking God to be my Lord of all my decisions. Every move I make. I just don't want to miss out on His plan for my life. Even if the road is harder.

Meet our New Daughter Lily!

Here she is!!! Dang Ning Li, also known as Lily Love Hook! We received our Referral Acceptance for her today from China saying they have approved us to adopt her and they are working on our travel approvals to come get her!

TO COME GET HER AND NEVER TAKE HER BACK!!! TO LEAVE THE ORPHANAGE AFTER NINE YEARS!!!! To come into the arms of a mommy and daddy and two brothers and a big fun sister and even a tiny little Chinese sister!

By now they have probably walked down those long halls where I met Lily and bent down to her and said, Lily you have a family! You are being adopted!

Can you imagine? Will she even be able to comprehend what is ahead of her? Does she even know what she's missing? We don't know! We don't know many things. But one thing we do know! SHE IS OURS!!!!! And we are so thankful to God for her. We love her as if she has been with us from the start. We are forever connected.

We are so thankful to God for entrusting us with His precious little daughter Lily. We feel honored to be her parents. I think about her and think to myself, how did we get so blessed to get her?!

Lily, we are coming for you!!!

Consider the lilies...

When you ask God to see people through His eyes, you better be ready! Daniel and I have been waiting almost 3 years on a little baby girl from China. A couple of months ago I got the opportunity to go to an orphanage in China. While there I knew I had met our little baby...Hope as we have already named her. But something else happened while I was there. I was drawn to the 4-6 older children there. Two of the girls are already over 16. That means that they are no longer adoptable by China laws. There was a little boy around 12, who I have already written about. And then there was a little girl named Ning Li, or LiLi as they called her, or Lily as we Americans called her. And although my heart went out to all of them I found it quite difficult to shake the feeling that Lily was supposed to be in our family. How would I go home and tell Daniel that the little girl in our dreams was actually 9 years old? How would he understand how quickly I changed without having been there himself and seeing these children.

While I was there I found our little Hope. We are still waiting on a referral for her. Her paperwork has not yet been registered with the CCAA. But while I was there I also found a new perspective. What about these older children?! Who will adopt them? They've been at that orphanage for YEARS! Why has't anyone adopted them yet?! I was distraught. I would lay in bed at night, so excited about little Hope, just around 6 months old at that time, but I couldn't quit thinking about those older children....and especially Lily.

While I was in China I must've thought and said several times how much Phoebe would LOVE Lily. Two years apart! How fun! And Lily....she has no family or sisters or brothers. I would think about Phoebe and her room and her clothes and the vacations we go on and the fun family times and everything! And I just could see Lily SO EASILY in our family.

Well, I knew that it was far fetched. We are still trying to raise all the money needed for Hope...so Lily....I mean, where on earth would we get the money just for her! And then Hope will need surgeries and such...how will we afford Lily? And we really don't know much about Lily's medical history. We have a few papers, a few blood tests, a few sentences that represent NINE years of this precious child's life. There are SO many uncertainties. We had planned this out well, few risks, few uncertainties, and now THIS. Everything was turned upside down!

Within several weeks it was evident to Daniel and I that Lily was just as much God's plan for us as Hope has always been. God knew it all along! He was just waiting for us to catch up and realize it. While in China I prayed sincerely for God to let me see these children through HIS eyes, not my American eyes. And He answered my prayer immediately.

When we told Phoebe 4 years ago that we were going to start the adoption process, after listening to our preface about all the millions of children around the globe with no parents, this is her response: You mean we are only adopting ONE! It was like, after all that, and this great need layed out before her 7 year old compassionate heart, to say we were adopting one child didn't excite her. She saw a need...and she wanted to do something about it! Now I know that we cannot adopt a thousand children, and I know that even one life changed is HUGE, but it's just funny how children don't consider costs and problems and such. They speak from their heart. They see the world from their heart!

I really feel like our decision to adopt Lily has come from this same heart. It wasn't HOW CAN WE ADOPT LILY. It was HOW CAN WE NOT adopt Lily. I kept thinking about if I had to face her or face God and give my pitiful fearful excuses why we couldn't adopt her how regretful I'd be. I want to live my life showing others the LOVE OF GOD.

And you know what, God has come through big time for us! Daniel had fallen in love with Lily JUST as I did, even though he's never met her. I wondered how long it would take to love these girls as my own, especially an older child since she is already a developed personality and person...but you know what....it's already happened. I would give my life for this little girl. And I will dedicate my entire life on earth loving her and teaching her and showing her how much her Savior loves her!