Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is Your Mama a Llama?

Lily has settled into our home and family and life like she has always been here. She has no sense of caution or meekness or uncertainty about the way she lives with us. It's as if she has been here for years in her eyes. Which is very odd because I really thought she would be timid and meek and unsure about things. I imagined me lovingly pushing her along to try things and not be scared. She's not really afraid of much...other than stepping on grass without shoes and medical appointments.

Speaking of medical appointments, Lily had four cavities filled this morning and she gets four more filled next month. I wonder if they ever brushed her teeth. I would guess no or maybe seldom. The good news is all of her teeth are salvageable and with braces they should look really nice. I love her smile right now. I think she has a great smile. The braces will correct her bite, but I think she is really blessed with nice shaped teeth and I'm glad she didn't lose any of them due to poor hygiene. The dentist said what helped was the fact that she never ate sugar. So she didn't have any cavities between the teeth. He said American kids get between the teeth cavities because of all the sugar and that if we went 9 years without brushing all our teeth would probably not be in as good of shape.

Anyway, I've really been trying/hoping/praying to get Lily to bond with me more. I think if she hadn't bonded SO well with Husband, I'd be fine. But to see how she can love and be loved so easily and freely with him makes me realize there is a wall between us. The other day we were looking at our China trip photos and I showed her a photo of her with the Assistant Director and a nanny from the orphanage. I said, "Lily, who's that." She said mama. I pointed to the other lady, "Who's that?' "Mama." Then I pointed to myself, and she said, "Mama." So here's the problem, or at least one of them. For the last nine years she has been told to call every older female in her life Mama. Mama is the Chinese word for mother, believe it or not. So when they gave Lily to me that Gotcha Night, they introduced me as MAMA! I was so thrilled and yes I said the words over and over, "Yes, Lily I am your mama now!" so proud to get the glorious title so many women strive to be called by this precious little orphan!!! But now I realize, the "mamas" in her life are nothing like me. And that has not helped at all. I proceeded to tell her that now she only has one mama now.

Most of us grew up with a mother. If not our biological, then our adopted, or an aunt or grandmother, or possible a father acted in that role to show us what a mother does and who she is. If you had a bad mother, perhaps you saw what a loving mother looked like on a TV show, at your friend's home when you visited. We grew up knowing that mothers sacrifice, give, and love. Once I gave birth to Phoebe I became a mother to her and it changed me forever. I no longer put myself first. I thought about her night and day and would do anything to care for her completely. It wasn't so much as what I did for her, but also because I was there. I was her mother. She knew it. She knew I would come when she called.

Lily has never had that. I am not sure how much attention she has been given in her life, but as I said earlier, her records say she did not walk until she was almost 5. I am guessing she laid or sat in a crib for 5 years. I am just guessing. And from the way she responds to me and almost every other female, I don't think she received much attention and love and affection in her life. So that is the wall I'm up against.

I try not to let it bother me but it does. I have felt rejection and hurt and offense. I am not asking for sympathy. I.t's not about me. I'm just stating the way I feel. I know others have felt this way. God lovingly tells me to get over it, let go of offense, and see her through His eyes. It becomes difficult when I don't receive anything back. So love is something I do. And I won't stop. I don't have to feel it coming back to me. I just love. And I don't stop.

Lily is 9 but not really. I'm sure she would "test" around a 3 or 4 year old level in some areas. In survival skills the girls would outshine us all. She has learned how to survive. She doesn't need anyone, except maybe to carry her everywhere which she prefers! So she is probably alive with a sane mind today because she learned how to get over pain on her own and place her focus on other things. She has done a great job because she made it out of the orphanage and is a really well adjusted child in most areas. She is happy and plays good. She cares for her babies with such nurture and love. She can exhibit great mothering skills to Hope and her babies, which is odd considering. She sleeps well, eats well, and seems to enjoy life. And she relates great to Daniel, even teasing him and playing fun games.

I'm trying to read new things everyday to give me pointers and guidance on creating a bond with Lily. How do you convince someone they need a mother when they've never had one in 9 years, and the only people they knew as mama were paid caretakers that did not meet your needs. I am grateful for friends who've adopted older children that have reached out to me and let me know that this is normal and understand how I feel. I try to just chill and know that it will happen naturally but how do I do that when I am her mother. A mother isn't satisfied until they know their children know how much they care.

I have not been confessing the Word enough over her. I am going to rub her back every night and pray the Word over her more. I will continue to ask God to make me what He wants me to be. I know that He is creating character in me that did not exist before now. I welcome the change as I know it will make me a better person. I think about how many times I've rejected God. Ugh. It makes me sick. I want to be a better daughter to Him because of not only what He did and does for me but because of WHO HE IS.

I think about how if I could've gotten to her sooner this would've been easier. She would let me in easier. I think about how so many people don't prefer to adopt older children because of things like this. But it's all worth it. Every child is worth it. Children are so precious. The love or lack of they receive as a baby and toddler make such a difference in who they are. It shapes them. It makes me want to be a better mother to Phoebe, Rob and Johnny. The school called and said Johnny was at the office today with a tummy ache and wheezing and I ran right to get him. MY CHILD NEEDS ME. Isn't that what mothers love to feel (yes, I know that sometimes WE need a break too). But it was funny because I was just so thrilled that Johnny wanted me! LOL. Hope he doesn't catch on to my vulnerability right now or he may make frequent trips to the office.

I want to give Lily what she's never had. I want her to experience life with a loving, selfless mother or will meet every need and sacrifice for her. I want her to have that security so that she will be able to love others in this same way. I long for Lily to NEED me. Although I know it may take a while and I must be patient and TRUST in things I don't see and the ONE who I look to for my Help. I'm outta my league. But in a prime position to see God move in me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lily girl. Wrongly Accused.

When I look at Lily and Hope I feel so many deep and overwhelming thoughts come over me. Their lives overflow with testimony and witness of God. Everyday God shows me something about HIM through them. I know of so many people who love them and have such passion for their lives, to hear their story unfold. That's the same way I am. It's like when you go see a fabulous movie (which are hard to come by these days) and it starts off so perfectly and happy and fun and then the opening song starts to transition into the rest of the movie and by now you are so excited and so connected and cannot wait to see the movie as it unfolds but you don't want it to go to fast because you are enjoying yourself so much!!! You know what I mean?

So many times Daniel and I in complete awe tell the kids and each other how Lily and Hope didn't do anything to be born in China to parents that would abandon them. It never grows old to think of this. How Daniel and I and our 3 biological children (and maybe you too) just happened to be born into loving Christian homes. With a daddy and mommy who fed us and loved us and held us and sacrificed for us. We had zero control over our birth. And Lily and Hope didn't either.

Yet Hope spent her first 14 months of her life flat on her back in a crib for almost every hour of every day. I am not sure how often they got out of their cribs, if ever. I say this as a fact, and not in any way to criticize the orphanage and it's leadership. I know that sounds odd, but having been there and met the leadership, I do not doubt their sincerity and competence to care for the children. My only question is what they believe is good for the children and if they see them as full of potential. While I was there, however, I did not ever see the newborn to about 2 year old babies ever leave their cribs. I am forever grateful Hope was fed and had her diaper changed regularly though. And for them for keeping Lily alive as she waited on us.

And Lily's life....9 years of neglect. No matter how efficient the nannies were, without a mother and a father and proper nutrition, you are neglected. Her file says she didn't walk until she was almost 5 years old. I wonder what she did those first 4 years. Her flat head lends a clue... Plus, she has been without a surgery to repair a fistula that most certainly needed to be repaired. I am grateful for her roomates, the two older girls and the older boy that I met and love dearly, who I am sure she bonded with and loved in her own way.

Chantel and I were talking about orphans the other day and she said it's like the people who are wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to jail for years and years. And then, as in Lily and Hope's case, finally they are acquitted and released from prison to learn how to live again! That's the way we feel about Lily. For 9 years she has been falsely held captive. NINE YEARS!

Special needs adoption works like this: there is a universal data base of every special needs child registered by China to be adopted. This data base can (from my understanding) be accessed by certain communities and approved people. Someone might view this data base "looking" for a child to adopt. Agencies peruse the list, searching for a match for applicants to which they call the applicant and tell them more about the child. To which the adoptive persons usually view the entire chart and medical records of the child to help them decide if they want to adopt the child, if the child is a right fit for their family. Photos are crucial in many cases, although many photos are not the best. Medical records are even more crucial.

Here is the most recent photo that was on her official adoption file that we were given when got her referral.

That means that for the past no telling how many years, our little Lily girl has been on the universal shared list. I wonder if anyone looked at her file. Maybe not many people were looking for an older child. We weren't. Maybe they were scared by her alien photo (that's what we lovingly call this photo! it is ridiculous.) Maybe they were scared of her medical records that say she is deaf in both ears. By the way, Lily had a professional hearing test last week. She passed with flying colors. By the way, after you receive a referral you are supposed to show the medical records to a doctor and get his opinion. Daniel and I agreed that there was really no need to go outside of my brother in law's professional medical opinion. We knew well-meaning others would just probably warn us of adopting this malnourished, mentally challenged, deaf child into a family of already 4 children.

So little Lily sat in that orphanage for 9 and a half years. I wonder if she knew there was life beyond it. I wonder if she knew love. I wonder if she wondered if anyone would ever come for her. Surely, now knowing how smart she is, she saw children come and go and heard talk of family and adoption. Nothing gets past that girl around here! She had to have known. Meanwhile, her file was in cyber space. Her scary file was in the system. Why? Why didn't anyone get Lily before now? Why? Why didn't we? Why did it take us so long to get our hearts and minds and lives straight to see that Lily was waiting for us? I can hardly appreciate having her now without feeling sadness that we didn't come get her sooner. It's because God has given us a true mother and father's love for that girl.

Here is another photo of Lily that our agency gave us. I have no idea when either photos were taken but I'm assuming that this one is more recent than the one above. I think I can see the scar on her forehead.

This one makes me sad. I have it as the wallpaper on my phone so I see it everyday and never forget what Lily has gone through in her life and how much grace and love and nurturing she needs. Her eyes look so sad in this photo. In fact, in almost every photo we saw of her before us her eyes look sad. She looks lost. SHE WAS LOST! The only joy I get from this photo is to know that she was outside while this photo was taken! From the severity of her rickets, I am guessing she was seldom outside.

I love my Lily girl. I love her unconditionally. When we first got Lily I expected her to love me so much. Phoebe and I had conversations about how much she'd love us both and how she'd want to do everything we did and be with us all the time. We were wrong. She only wanted to be around Daniel and occasionally Johnny. She had this look on her face. She didn't smile much except for Daniel. Robert even asked me about the look once in China and told me that Daniel and I were gonna have to talk to her about it. It was kind of a sassy, mean, put out look. That was the ONLY look I ever got in China.

I struggled. I talked to God about it one night. I said, "God, she has no idea what I did for her. I am the whole reason she got adopted! If I had not gone there and met here she would still be there! And she treats me badly. She ignores me, turns away from me, doesn't appreciate me! And it's so hard to like her!" As soon as I said those things, He spoke so loudly and lovingly that that is exactly how He has felt when His children ignore Him. That we have no idea what He sacrificed for US. Where would we be without HIM! Yet we live our lives as if they are our own. We go through days forgetting His Presence, ignoring His Spirit, mocking His Name and mission.

Yet God still loves us. Still.

I got it loud and clear and asked Him if He'd help me love her the way she deserves. Unconditionally. Regardless of what I get back. And He has helped me.

Since returning from China, things are so much better. First of all, I think Lily just has NO IDEA what a mother is. She's only known nannies who I am not sure loved her the way a mother would. The girl is so self sufficient and stubborn and smart and able, I am not sure she thinks she needs a mother! She doesn't know what I have for her once she is able to open up to me. I have so much love ready for her. So much. But already we've seen so much differences in her.

I think also having a lot of visitors has made the transition more difficult. Daniel and I knew that we were told to have hardly any visitors immediately when we came home to enable bonding. That is impossible for people like Daniel and I. We love people. And people love Lily. But I can definitely see that it has hindered the bonding. If we had to do it over, I am not sure I would do it differently though. My friends and family mean so much to me. However next week my goal is to isolate ourselves as much as possible and have "normal" days. Daniel is going to be locking his office door most of the day so that he can work and so that Lily will have to get involved with what I am doing. The times that it's only the girls in the family have been very productive. She is interested in girl stuff and she really bonds with me. She does not like sitting still and learning, but we are working on that, as Phoebe does her home school work in the mornings. We set a timer so that Lily can look forward to when it's over!

Daniel and I received training and read information on adopting older children. We knew that often times one parent is preferred over the other. I JUST NEVER DREAMED I WOULDN'T BE THE ONE PREFERRED!!! Coming home, I have read things that confirm that often times it is the mother that is rejected in the beginning, shockingly. And that you cannot assume time will fix the problem (as I thought in China) but that you have to actively pursue this child, loving and giving and nurturing and reaching out even when they don't care or give back. I haven't felt rejected much since we've been home from China. It's just that if ANYONE else is in the house or around, she prefers them over me right now. As said earlier, I think she thinks I am the nanny! LOL! So starting tomorrow, no one FUN will be allowed in the house!!!!!!!!!!!! If you are mean and boring, you are welcome anytime!

You can see from the photos on the previous post how different Lily looks now! Her eyes are passionate. They are usually filled with delight and girlish joy. Sometimes the brow hides them when she is pouting for her way, but not much anymore. She is learning to share (a word I think she must hate) and how to be in a family.

On the records we got for Lily the orphanage described her as shy, introverted, quiet and sometimes obstinate. While I can see the sometimes obstinate (lol), I would never use the other words to describe Lily. If fact, I would use outgoing and happy and joyful and smart and peaceful! Lily is nothing like I thought she was when I wanted her last summer. She's better! I thought she was meek and quiet and slow and maybe mentally challenged. I can remember waking up in a panic last summer. I can vividly recall the feeling of oppression...i can recall feeling as if the devil himself was whispering into my ear.....WHAT ARE YOU DOING ADOPTING THESE KIDS???!!!! We had already decided to adopt Lily and fearfully in the middle of that night I wrote a long letter to Daniel that said that maybe I had made her out to be something she wasn't and could never live up to. I told him that Lily may never learn how to write her name or draw or grow or be able to understand or progress. I panicked that maybe I had painted too easy of a picture and that's why he said yes to her. But the next morning he took my face in his hands and assured me that Lily was ours! He said no matter what. She was ours.

And now Lily is SO much more than I ever thought she'd be. In fact, she's smart and sassy and quick and witty. She makes us laugh. She is FULL OF LIFE!!!!!!!!!!! She's enjoying her new found life to the fullest and not looking back. The girl loves life, her new family, her room, riding in the car, mashed potatoes, baby dolls, playing with cousins, taking baths, getting dressed in fun clothes donated by people reading this!

I am so blessed to see her life blossom. She is a new creature! Never going back to the previous life. And I am watching her life unfold just as you are and in awe. God is doing it. I hope I don't mess up anything He's doing!

I'm not sure what's going on in the background of this perfectly captured joyful photo of Lily but I assure you that no one was harmed in the taking of this photo!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hope and Lily Health Update after appointments

Hope and Lily met with our pediatrician. Hope looks great except she failed her hearing test. This is common due to fluid in the ears they say and to be expected with a cleft. When she has her surgery next month they will put in tubes to help this. We've never noticed her not hearing well. She is very quick to turn around when we play with her. Everything else looks good. She goes next week for a wrist X-ray to test for rickets. Also for a blood test. Trying to figure out what vaccines she's had and such.

Lily and I went yesterday to her appointment. She is 9 and a half years old and weighs 38 lbs and is tiny and short. Everyone thinks she is 4. She is indeed much smaller than I remember her last summer. It's funny to call her Rob and Johnny's older sister when she is so much smaller. Lily will go for X-rays and blood test too next week. The doctor is 90% sure she has severe rickets. After extensive research myself I agree. She has SO many symptoms. We have her on Shaklee vitamins and eating great. Can't wait to get her blood tests.

The doctor also thinks she has congenital hip dysplasia (sp). One leg is shorter and she kinda waddles when she walks. One side of her hip really pokes out. It makes me sad to think of the pain she has gone thru in her life. I wonder if she still feels pain and has just gotten used to it.

Lily also has a fistula that needs to be repaired. We knew this was her "special need" listed but when the doctor examined her it brought her to tears. We had no idea it was as bad as it is and we will be hoping to have this surgery as soon as we can. Her records show that she had surgery to repair this shortly after she came to the orphanage (2 months after she was born she was abandoned). The doctor must have done a horrible job or nothing at all.

So Lily will need a surgery to repair the fistula and also probably a surgery on her hip. Hope will need lip surgery then palate surgery. We are hoping our insurance doesn't give us the run around and that we can get all four of these this year.

I think it's a miracle that Lily is alive. I cannot begin to understand her life and what she's been through, although I try. I've tried to piece together bits of unreliable information. I wonder if she was born with the bad hip. Perhaps she broke it in childbirth. Perhaps she was dropped as a baby. She has a giant scar on her forehead and one under her chin and on her ear. I wish I could've been there to prevent these injuries. I wonder if anyone held her when she cried. Or did she cry at all?

Daniel says his only regret is that we did not get Lily sooner.

We are so happy to have them both. The doctor teared up after examining Lily and said that it just breaks her heart. I told her what really would break my heart is to think that she could still be there...suffering. But she's not. She's in a protected, safe, happy world now called family!

But there are SO many others still out there. That need families...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Health Updates for Hope and Lily

Hope: met with the surgeon in Dallas last Wednesday. We are waiting for our insurance to confirm them and then we will schedule the surgery. They will fix her lip first, then about a month later they will fix her palate. She will not be able to drink a bottle during this whole time so I will have to pour her formula down her throat in a little Dixie cup. Yikes!

Hope has an appointment with the pediatrician this week and I'm gonna get them to do a complete physical. I feel like her mouth is the only thing we need to work on.

Lily: we will meet with the pediatrician in a couple weeks for a head to toe physical. Then she will refer Lily to a surgeon for her fistula and it looks like she has an issue with her hip. One leg is longer than the other and she doesn't walk or run normal. I hope they can find a clue to why she is so small and that we can help her grow.

I want to do an extensive blood test for LIly with a wonderful biochemist that helped me. He will be able to analyze her blood and we will get an inside look at her and be able to supplement with vitamins accordingly to what she needs. We will do that as soon as we can.

I'm getting Lily to the dentist this week. Her teeth need a lot of help. I'm going to ask the dentist if he can put us on a LONG payment plan for her teeth as from the looks of them I am thinking thousands of dollars of work will be needed soon. I don't know if she ever was given a toothbrush to brush her teeth with. My guess is no. I hope the dentist can save her teeth because they have such a cute shape to them and she has a beautiful smile.

I'm so glad we have them now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seventh Heaven

We've been home a week now. Things are going great. We really couldn't have asked for a better transition so far. We know that we are still on the outer layers of sweet Lily's life that we hope peels away quickly. She has 9 years bottled up inside her and I long for the day she can tell me all about it. As she can, I expect even more transition. But I know that God has given us divine grace during this time and she is settling in nicely.

Lily loves people! Especially MEN! Haha. She quickly bonded to Daniel. We thought it was so wonderful but then we realized that when another man who was adopting came near us she would run to him and jump up in his arms and kiss his face just like she did with Daniel. Hmmmm. We thought. Then we realized that this is part of the attachment disorder. For some reason (like living in an orphanage for 9 years with no family) she feels the need to cling onto people, especially men. I think she has never had any male figure in her life. She's only had female nannies telling her what to do (which she probably views me as one). Once home, she has bonded with Daniel's dad and Uncle Tim the same way. I wonder if she's afraid Daniel is going to leave her and she is trying to find someone else who will love her.

She loves to snuggle with Daniel. She doesn't understand that when daddy is working she doesn't need to come in his office every five minutes and play. I think she is a bit mad that he has to work (whatever that is in her mind!). In China she and daddy played every day! She tends to pout when she doesn't get her way. Pouting I can handle. So I am grateful she isn't mean or throwing things or yelling. She just gets quite and pouts and wants to be alone. We give her space sometimes so she can just learn that she doesn't get her way. Other times we tickle the pout out of her. Regardless, we realize it's just part of the transition and we will be patient.

Lily loves to play with cousins! We went to Chantel's house today (Aunt Jimmie) and she asked if she could spend the night! She loves Uncle Tim because he grills MEAT! She loves meat!!! I bet she never got meat in the Big O. Her reports said she ate noodles and rice everyday.

Lily LOVES to play with her baby dolls. We named her China baby doll XiaoMei. That was the name of the baby I almost chose! She knows that. So it's fun to hear XiaoMei's name in our house all day long. Lily is gentle and loving and caring with her babies. She feeds them. changes them, puts them to bed, and bathes them and washes their clothes! She was watching those nannies closely!

Lily loves her new family. She and I have had some really nice bonding moments this week. We do best when it's just me and her and PG and Hope here. All the girls. She acts a lot different and is more receptive to learning. Tomorrow we will get on a schedule of homeschooling and such. I think she will not like it at first. She is not used to sitting still and focusing and has a really short attention span. But already I can see that she has a clear mind, has the ability to learn, and will be able to thrive in life regardless of schooling (these are things we weren't sure of previously). She is witty and silly and outgoing. I know that everyday she will learn to love me more. You know, when I think about why my three biological children love me, I think that maybe it's because I've been all they ever knew. Haven't you heard stories of children who were abused by their mother but they still loved them and wanted them. I think that bond of giving birth and feeding your baby is so strong. So that my 3 biological children maybe love me not because of what I DO for them, but because of WHO I AM to them. I am mom. I am always there. But Lily doesn't know me as that. I am still a semi stranger she calls Mama. And maybe she loves (or likes) people right now because of what they DO for her and the fun they are with her. But mothers aren't supposed to be the clown and entertainer. Mothers are the doers. We take care, we train, we nurture. In China I found myself thinking if I would just be crazy silly acting and wrestle all over the floor with her then maybe she'd like me more. But that's not me. And sooner or later I'd have to say, go brush your teeth, take a bath, eat your food, take your vitamins, etc. I know that in time our relationship will grow strong and true. Cause I'm not going anywhere!

Hope is an easy baby. People ask me how the transition is having a baby again. So far, it's easy as pie. But I didn't have her in that first hard year. And now she is accustomed to laying in her crib and staring at the wall so she hardly ever cries when she wakes up. I love her so much and she is really starting to bond with me. She doesn't reach out for me yet but she cries and looks at me like she is saying please pick me up!

It's so sad to see the effects of being in a crib her whole life with no toys and no physical touch and no stimulation. She has responded wonderfully to our touch and love and she wants it now! I'm sure the days in the Big O will soon be erased from her precious little mind forever. When I look at her and how she has had to learn how to soothe and comfort herself at just one year old I get really sad. But then I look at Lily and realize she has had to do that for 9 years! I'm so glad they are home with us! Lives changed forever!!!!

We are a family of 7 now! Rob asked me yesterday if we were gonna adopt any more babies? We all laughed. I think he wants to. His heart is pure and true. He doesn't like to hear Hope cry! Lily fell down today and he ran over and helped her up and looked at her hands! Precious! Johnny and Lily (the twins) go in a room and shut the door. I hear them giggling. Trouble! LOL! Phoebe is my helper. I'm so glad I'm homeschooling her now. I need her and Lily does too! We start out homeschool schedule tomorrow.

Life is good. God is good.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday, Feb. 26- GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

We were up and on the plane to America by 10:30 Saturday morning! The hotel was actually in the airport so it was quick and easy. I had grabbed as many things I could find with English ingredient listings on the back (which wasn't much) in the airport for Phoebe. I had been very nervous about her being in the air for 14 hours due to her food allergies. I'm so thankful to God that she never even had to use Benadryl the whole trip! He protected her I am sure! Plus, flight attendants on international flights are way nicer than domestic flights.

We were blessed with an empty seat beside me so Hope got to stretch out. All of our seats had personal TVs with an endless supply of movies and games and TV programs to choose from. Hope and Lily watched Baby Einsteins. Me and Adri watched a common choice of Celine Dion's World Tour documentary. Phoebe liked Annie. Rob liked Cats and Dogs. Who knows what Johnny watched. Half the time he was in the bathroom. For fun. Not to actually use the bathroom.

We got three meals and a snack on our flight. It's just so odd to be in an airplane that long. We went over Japan, Russia, the Bering Strait, Alaska, Canada, and the Rockies to get to Detroit. All went great for the most part. No one had a breakdown except for me. I felt like I was doing a great job of remaining calm in the closterphobic space I was contained to with Hope beside me, Johnny on top of me, and Phoebe there too. It's like lamaze. Deep breaths and relaxing thoughts. Don't look around and realize that you don't even have room for your feet and that there is no place to get away and get some fresh air.

Hope wakes up and needs a bottle. I think she was missing her crib! She started fussing so I tried to make her bottle with Johnny on my lap. I kindly asked Phoebe to again go get me some hot and cold water from the flight kitchen to make her warm bottle. Phoebe was really enjoying Annie and the part where Annie almost falls off the draw bridge so she was frustrated. Then Hope kicks the can of formula and it falls into my lap. My first fear is that she won't have enough to eat! My second fear is that I'm gonna lose it and cause a scene! I lose it! I tell Daniel that I might go crazy if I don't get up! Hope gets passed to him across the aisle. Phoebe and Johnny get pushed into the aisle. I survey. I have two blankets from home plus two airline blankets and a half a can of formula in my lap and ALL OVER the floor and seat. I am realizing this could turn into a sticky nightmare for the rest of the 6 hours on the flight! I decide to scoop everything up and go to the bathroom and try to shake the formula into the nasty toilet. I wanted to throw it all out the emergency hatch! When I get up from the seat I lean over and beat the remaining formula into the air and onto the floor. An older Chinese woman runs down the row and looks at what (or who) I'm beating with a concerned look on her face and then retreats to her seat after she realizes it is not the chinese orphans! LOL!

So I disappear into the bathroom for about 10 minutes. While there I have no choice but to put all the blankets on the nasty nasty 14 hour flight which no body attends to the restroom but should bathroom floor while I pick each one up individually and shake them out into the toilet or at least near the toilet. I am whimpering. I can control myself. I am almost to America. I have 5 kids. I am doing great. These are the things I am telling myself. Then I pick up a blanket and shake it into the toilet and my precious iPhone falls INTO THE TOILET! I lose it. I burst into tears. Realizing that it's just not that my iphone with all my photos from the trip and my whole life are in the blue abyss, but that I've been needing this breakdown of emotions for about two weeks now. So I just let myself cry not caring who hears while I rescue my phone (which survived thanks to its otter box) and proceed to wipe the formula off all the walls and surfaces of the bathroom.

When I return to our seats Husband has everyone calm and happy and gives me a look like he hopes I am not about to go crazy because he cannot do it alone. I am fine now. The cry served its purpose. I feel good now.

We land in Detroit and go thru some long lines and hand the man the infamous brown envelope and I am proud of myself that we (Husband) has kept up with everything we needed for our long journey. We didn't lose anything or get anything stolen. I had remembered all the important documents and all was good. Lily and Hope immediately became American citizens when we touched down in Detroit! Just like that, they were FREE!

I was born into freedom. Political and religious freedom. You probably were too. But Lily and Hope, without any knowledge or control, were born into poverty, abandonment, and health problems. Religious freedom was the least of their concerns. But now, because we paid a lot of money and went to China to get them, they are free. I kept thinking HOW EASY WAS THAT?!! How easy was that to CHANGE SOMEONE'S LIFE FOREVER!!!!! TO CHANGE THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY FOREVER!!!!!!!!! Yes, it took YEARS of waiting, months of paperwork, lots of money from us and from ALL our friends and family, and a big dose of commitment, but really that's nothing when you think about what it did for them.

AND THEY WERE WORTH IT!!! And there are millions of orphans in this world that are still worth it.

God did the same thing for us. The price was high. His Son. But He gave it all. We didn't realize how much we needed him. But He came anyway and rescued us! HE RESCUED US!!!!!!!!!! HE RESCUED US!!!!!!!!!!!!! HE RESCUED US!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love God more now because of this adoption. I realize more and more His great selfless love for me everyday and how I have no idea what it costs him. I am just so grateful.

We are home now. We are all happy. We love each other. All is good. And our story continues...