Monday, June 20, 2011
One year ago today I met Hope and Lily
Hope and me last June 2010. She didn't know how to respond to my love and squishing and kissing!!!
Hope is used to all the love now!!!!
Lily last year in the orphanage. A precious little girl trapped inside....
Lily now! Blossoming beauty!!!
We are driving back from Dallas and Hope's one month follow up after her cleft palate surgery. Today is a very very special day for us. Last year on June 20 it was father's day and I was thousands of miles away on the other side of the planet searching for our baby in an orphanage in a dusty city in north China.
Our adoption agency had called with the opportunity to go on a mission trip to China to take supplies and gifts to them. It was perhaps the first of many trips they were planning to partner with the orphanage and bless them. We jumped at the chance! God had been stirring my heart already about foreign missions. We couldn't afford for both of us to go so Husband decided I should go and I cheerfully agreed!
That first day there was surreal, a blur, scary, and too real. Husband and I had decided to adopt years ago but the wait had gotten so long. We either switch to special needs or we wait for years longer. We knew God had led us here and He knew what we needed to do so we said yes. To think about adopting a special needs child and to check boxes on an application of what special needs you are open to, and then to actually go see and meet the children with the special needs is so different. They aren't just boxes on a paper to check, they are real eternal souls in precious little needy bodies. The first day I was there we met almost all of the children. I had hopes that if I met a certain child there that I felt we should adopt, that when we got back to the states we would inquire about the child. I had prayed and vowed to God that I would not set my eyes on the cutest or least needy child and ignore the rest, but that my purpose on the trip was to hold and love on and pray for as many children as I could.
I can remember when being in the baby room I noticed one particular girl that day on June 20 that I wrote about in my journal that night. I named her tiny round star! She was six months old, weighed 10 pounds, and she has a very wide cleft lip and cleft palate. Her eyes and hair jet black. Her head and eyes were round and she had bright eyes that twinkled! I couldn't believe that after laying there day after day for 6 months she could still smile at me although it was really hard to get her to look me in the eyes.
I loved all the children, all the babies, but at the end of the week four children had overtaken my heart and I could see them all in our family.
One of them was our Hope and another was our Lily!
I knew we could only adopt one and after spending a lot of time with all four of them by the end of the week I knew that Hope was our baby and that we would seek to request to adopt her. When I got home Husband and I started the process to request Qing Xiaodan! Every day was painful for me, feeling like she was my baby and she wasn't with me. There are never any guarantees but we were praying our adoption agency could match us with Hope. We ended up having to wait over 7 months until I saw her again when she was placed in our arms. It felt like eternity. In those 7 months every one of our family members fell in love with her and we felt like we knew her. She was ours in our hearts already!
And never in a million years would we have guessed that we would end up adopting Dang Ning Li at the same time. I knew that the China policy was one child at a time and having to wait a year before you adopt another. But I could not get little Ning Li, who we Americans called Lily because the orphanage called her LiLi, out of my mind. I told everyone about her when I got home. There was a girl that went on the trip as well named Kerri who just fell in love with the older children there and really spent a lot of time with Lily. Because there were only a few older children and Kerri spent so much time loving on them, I really focused on the babies for that week. The baby room was not that fun to be in because there were a lot of small babies there with serious conditions. You could tell that even though the babies didn't get picked up very much they were still very responsive to the human touched and desired it!
One of the babies was sick while I was there, so I held her a lot in the infirmary while she had an IV. I was drawn to her because she was the most beautiful baby there to me and because she was sick. Once I was in the room with the babies and one would cry so I'd pick her up, then Xiaodan (my Hope) would cry, so I'd put the baby down and pick up Xiaodan! Then the baby would start throwing a fit kicking her legs so I'd go back to her!!! I wanted to adopt both of them at once! If allowed, I would've brought a whole plane full of children home!
So as the story goes, when America World called us back to tell us that China had approved us to adopt Lily along with Hope we were shocked and thrilled. Older children are considered harder to place, so I really feel like that helped us get Lily approved to adopt with Hope. After all, Lily had been in the system for 8 years and no one had adopted her. The whole time I was in China I kept thinking of my three kids back home and my sister's three kids who live nearby and how I could just see Lily fitting in. Lily seemed to be a normal little 3 or 4 year old girl....until you realize that she was 8 years old. At first I thought maybe she had a form of dwarfism. That didn't scare me. But later we would find out she didn't have that. She was like a little tiny mystery girl that I couldn't get out of my mind. I wondered why no one had adopted her in almost 9 years! And knew her chances were dwindling quickly, as older children are less frequently adopted. I just thought about if we already have 3 kids and we are adopting a baby, what's one more child! And when I was there, far far away from the American norm, I could think and see things more clearly. I would send my sisters and Husband frantic texts about how we have got to start doing more for orphans, how we have so much in America and take it for granted, how we spoil our American kids, how we only think about ourselves, how we spend money on material things that will burn up one day while children are in need of someone to love them. And I remembered that saying....Adoption isn't about finding children for families, it's about finding families for children.
I would think about what it took me and Husband to raise our babies their first year. The sleepless nights, the panic over diaper rash, the concern over teething, the exhaustion and stress I felt and wanted self pity just for having a baby that I WANTED, the feeling of needing the latest toy and invention and monitor just to keep my baby safe and my mind at peace.....and how kids in the orphanages do not get anything.....anything. I was feeling like there had to be a balance between neglect and the way I raised my babies and stressed myself out. My mind raced at night every night there. We spent $400 on our phone bill that week as Husband and I discussed every detail. He was far away from me, but right beside me in spirit! Our hearts had been changed forever!
That's why when I ran to Husband in the shower one day to tell him we had been approved to adopt Lily along with Hope I could see it in his eyes....the certainty that we were going to take Lily forever. I doubted, I feared, I wondered if I had painted a fairy tale picture to Husband and that's why he said yes.....I had nightmares one night and woke up in a sweat with the devil whispering in my ear that I was CRAZY for adopting Lily and that it was a big mistake. Husband grabbed my face and looked me in the eyes and put all my fears aside...he said he wanted Lily NO MATTER WHAT! (Yes, I know, I have the greatest husband on the planet!)
So here we are a year later, and we've had these two little Chinese twerps (we call all our kids twerps) for FOUR MONTHS now! And it seems like a lifetime. They just fit perfectly. God has led us to this. We must've done something right because we know we heard His voice leading us to these girls. His grace has been sufficient and is new every morning. I love Him more everyday. Parenting Lily has brought me closer to God as I realize how powerful and unconditional adoption is. I am so grateful God loves me no matter what I act like and that He treats me like His daughter! And that once I became a Christian, everything God has became mine....that is powerful.
Our lives have changed so much in a year. We are different, our lives are different, our days are different, our nights are different, our thoughts are different, our dreams are different, our priorities are different. To look at Lily and Hope thriving in our family brings so much joy to me everyday. When we told people we were adopting Lily along with Hope even though we had TONS of support we still got loving jokes about how we were crazy! And now, we can confirm we were crazy and we still are! When medical bills come in, when challenging days with Lily come, when I'm stressed out during Hope's cleft surgery recovery we realize that we didn't make the sensible decision by adopting them but that Someone greater was influencing us and guarding our eyes to see the world's view of what we did. And we are so grateful for His guidance and protection because we are in a place of complete trust and reliance on Him now forever. Parenting them and providing for them is out of our league and we must rely on His grace and mercy and provision and wisdom every day.
I am so thankful for Husband. He has never wavered in our decision and in his love for Hope and Lily. In fact, he bonded instantly with Lily while it is taking more time for me. He loves without boundaries and gives without limits. He gets up everyday at 5 am to work for 12-15 hours a day to provide for his family. Every year we go to Disney World at Thanksgiving for his birthday and for our family vacation. It's priceless memories and Husband's reward for working for years at this schedule. Last year we didn't go but we are already planning this years' trip and can already imagine the fun Hope and Lily will have there with us. Really, how much fun WE will have there with them!!!
Life is good, no matter what. Life is good when we relinquish control and let go of our expectations and the world's standards and let God intervene. I know that Lily and Hope are blessings from God, and that He knew years ago that we would say yes to Lily. He had to lead us to Hope so that we would find Lily! Rob (our 9 year old) says that the reason we had to wait so long was to find Lily! And he is right. We had baby Hope in our minds for years, but God had something else in mind. I wonder what else He already knows.....