Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Heart for Orphans

Lily talks about the Big O quite often. She likes to tell us things about her life and we ask lots of questions. I try to ask her as much as I can before she forgets some of it, so I can record it for her life book. I think that she is just ready to say goodbye to it forever though. The few times she has been around someone speaking Chinese to her she acts really really shy and doesn't really want to talk. This is the way she acted to the guides in China. Before I got to know how smart Lily is, I thought maybe her mind could not comprehend well and that she just couldn't speak. We couldn't get her to talk to anyone in China (translators). But now that I know Lily is very smart, and that she has learned English amazingly fast, I figure there is another reason.

My friend Tian said that maybe she doesn't want to speak Chinese anymore because we don't speak Chinese and she wants to be like us. I think this could be exactly right. I also think being around Asian people makes her nervous. She clings to us and clams up. I think she is nervous they are connected to the Big O. And even when our Home Study Coordinator came (who is not Asian), Lily got extremely nervous. I think she noticed she was a professional and that made her scared. Lily will ask us things like, "Lily never go back to orphanage? Never ever?" I always get in her face and love her and say NEVER EVER EVER. She knows that Jesus told us to go get her and I told her Jesus told us to never take her back. Jesus gets bonus points! She loves this man named Jesus, wherever He is! One day while Daniel was hugging me he told Lily that we are married. And she repeated, "Ohhhhh, maaaaried." She said she wanted to marry one day and Husband asked her who she wanted to marry (just for fun to see if she had an idea what we were talking about). She scrunched up her nose, thought for a moment and said, "Jesus!" We grabbed her and told her what a great answer that was and as she hopped away I said, "You will marry Him one day! We all will!"

Daniel and I want to take the whole family back to Gansu Province on missions in years to come. But we realize that we will have to wait for Lily to not be fearful. She has told us that she never wants to go back.

One thing she does want us to do is to go to China and get a boy there who she shared a room with and called him her brother. We Americans called him David last summer because we couldn't remember or pronounce his name. I wrote about him last year. Lily shared a room with two older girls (who are too old to be adopted) and this boy, David. So far, he is really the only one who she has expressed sadness over, but she has never cried that she missed him.

Lily and I were talking at the table the other day and she was describing that the boy crawls on the floor. I believe he has cerebral palsy. I remember him hobbling around there, but not crawling. She seems to have genuine love for him. Which is great because she hasn't shown a lot of emotion about anything else concerning China. She seems to have be grateful to leave. The months that passed between us accepting Lily's referral and getting there to her, we always wondered if she knew that someone was coming for her. We wondered if she understood family. Or if she knew she would never come back. Would she be sad? She told me that she got to play with Hope there so I know that means they told her we were coming to get them both. And we sent her a cake and a book with all our photos. And when we got Lily that first night in Lanzhou, she acted as if she had always been part of our family. She never acted shy or confused or lonely or scared. NEVER. It was as if she knew exactly what was going on and she embraced it.

Still to this day I am in awe of Lily. After spending a week with her last summer I didn't know much about her mental development. I knew she showed signs of being able to learn and that was good, but her skills were just so delayed and we couldn't speak to her. So when we agreed to adopt her, we were prepared for anything. I can remember telling Daniel that she might live with us forever and may not be able to get a job. And that was fine with us. That's not what we think is perfect anyway. And she can still live with us forever if she wants to. But now that we have her, we are shocked at how smart she is. She is like a rare gem discovered in a dusty cave covered with tons of dirt and hidden. And the moment she was transferred into our care she blossomed like a butterfly from it's cocoon! Like someone had discovered the gem and washed it off and not everyone noticed its beauty and brilliance.

We made the decision to love Lily just as she was (whatever she was). And we didn't even think that we would pray for her to be delivered of any mental disease or trauma, to get her to be the child we wanted. Lily was Lily and that's what we wanted. Because sometimes OUR idea of abnormal, challenged, delayed or handicapped isn't at all what the reality it. I don't care about all my kids fitting into a small box I label NORMAL. (People who know Johnny are probably saying that's a good thing, since he wears long sleeves and jeans in the summer). Letting them become who God created them to be is exactly what I want. I think people spend a lot of money trying to become normal and to get their kids to be normal. As said by others, normal is so overrated.

So little Lily Love has amazed us all. She is becoming a bit softer lately, and maybe it's because she doesn't feel the need to defend herself as much anymore (common for growing up in the Big O). She is bonding with me more and I love her more every day. She wins you over for sure. She is amazingly strong, resilient, and joyful. She makes the most of each day. She is eager to go and learn and watch and do. She looks at all of us when we watch TV like, what are you doing?! What a waste of life (and I agree).

I know that Lily will be speaking to thousands of people one day about her life. My nephew Zach will be too, so they can tour together telling people to make the most of every day. Zach's motto is "You gotta look in the mirror. You gotta like what you see." He also says "You never know how much life you've been given so you gotten make the most of it!" Two kids that some might view as not so normal, kicking all our boodies calling us out from our mundane lives! How often do we complain about stupid things? My favorite pet peeve is saying you don't want that to eat because you just had that kind of food last night. WHO CARES? There are real problems in this life and they don't involve eating Mexican food at a nice restaurant two nights in a row.

If we spend our lives wrapped in our little American bubble TRYING to appear normal to everyone else, buying things we don't need, disassociating with our dysfunctional family members, surrounding ourselves with only people that tell us what we want to hear and don't call us out or challenge us, then I know we will regret our lives when we stand before God Almighty.

The little boy in the orphanage, David, is about to age out of the system. Actually, he's not even in the system because the people in the orphanage may not have felt like anyone could adopt him. So for him to adopted quickly before his birthday will be a miracle! Lily wants us to go. I haven't bothered to explain to her that we cannot adopt again for 18 months because we adopted an older child. I did however tell her that we don't have the money to go back right now. Which is true. We are about to have surgery three since we got them. And unfortunately adoption is expensive. She adamantly said, "Daddy WORK. MONEY!" She knows now that Daddy has to work so much to make money, so now she understands the concept. So she doesn't understand why Daddy can't just work for money for David.

Already, Lily has a heart for others...a heart for orphans. So do I. For some reason most of us reading this were not born into neglect and abandonment. David cannot help that he was born with a disease that caused his parents to give up parental rights. I don't know if it's too late for David. I pray for a miracle. Before I went to China and saw the children at the orphanage I had my idea of what a child that we could adopt looked like. But that's all changed. Because when you realize that you can make a decision that changes someone's life and destiny it makes you stop and can I say no.

That's why so many people that adopt go back for another and another.....and maybe more. Husband says God knows our hearts and that we would take in more if we had the finances. Once you have the heart for adoption it's hard to keep it under control. It's not about building a's about giving them a family!

I realize not everyone can adopt. And I realize that not everyone should adopt. I liked what Mary Beth Chapman wrote in her book, "Choosing To See," about when she was trying decide on adoption. She writes about how she did not feel confident that she would be able to really pull it together and do it but then she thought that a kid with a half-crazy mother is better than an orphan with no mother at all! And when her friend tried to tell her she felt too old to adopt, Mary Beth told the friend that an old mom is better than no mom!!!

So many people are drawn towards the idea of adoption but for some reason or another they just never really go through with it. It's a scary thing, I admit. When we were in China with all 5 kids and Lily was giving me mean looks and clinging to Husband I thought I might've ruined our family for good. But it was worth it. And it will be worth it forever. Even if our three biological kids have to learn to adjust and love and share differently...that's good for them. There is enough love for everyone.

I get excited about things I love in life. If I use a certain product my friends and family have often told me I sound like a commercial for the product. I love to share good things. I love to share goodness! And I cannot tell you what adoption has done to me and for me. Ugh, I hate to think of living my life knowing God told us to adopt and we ignored the call. Everyday we look at Lily and Hope and we get a sick feeling of thinking about saying no to either one of them or never going through with the adoption process.

So now, I just cannot keep my mouth shut. I can't help it. And as Christians, is there not a more worthy cause, a purer religion, than serving widows and orphans. And you can help orphans even if you cannot adopt. Like all the people who helped us raise money for our China trip! We could not have done it without the support. I would've had to go alone to get Lily and Hope. And we have had people help us with dental bills and our coming trip to Ohio for Lily's surgery in September.

My heart is that the Church of Jesus Christ would help support adoptions and adopt all the orphans of the world. It's possible. It really is.

Here is a story about a new program where orphans can come to America and meet potential adoptive families!

This is our adoption agency's website.

This is the organization of our good friend's that you could give to monthly to make eternal differences in other's lives!

There are lots of them....but lots of us.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adoption Stories....YaYa

I spell her name YaYa because that's what we all called her last summer when our group went to the orphanage. Her name is actually Myla PeiYao Trammel now. They called her YaoYao at the Big O, but we Americanized it to YaYa, and I will call her that for the rest of my life! My friend Gina and her son Ethan, went on the mission trip last year. We met up in Beijing and stuck together ever since. I immediately felt a connection to Gina and her sweet son Ethan! Gina fell in love with YaYa the second, and I mean the second she layed eyes on her. There was an undeniable connection. It was amazing. Here is a photo taken last summer. Gina already knew that YaYa was her daughter to be one day!! Only one thing left to do....go home and tell her husband that she had fallen in love with a little girl with repaired spina bifida....not one of the conditions she and her husband had agreed they could handle along with their already 3 biological children. But it was clear to him soon enough that God had chosen this little YaYa for them, no matter what special need was listed on her medical papers!

Over the next few months after our China trip last summer Gina and I would spend hours on the phone crying and talking and going through all sorts of feelings. By adopting her YaYa and my Lily, we would be out of our comfort zones, out of our original plans, and possibly out on a limb! We talked about all the practical things, would YaYa ever walk, did Lily have severe mental delay, how would we be able to care for these children already each of us having three biological children. In the beginning of our adoption journeys years ago our families had each applied to adopt a "healthy" baby girl....but all that had changed! It became clear to us that this was God's plan all along and He had known it. He was just waiting for us to figure it out and say YES!

Here is a photo of YaYa being held by a nanny from the orphanage on the day that YaYa officially was given to the Trammel family! Proud brothers on each side! Look at little YaYa in her rapster outfit!

And here is YaYa today! With her family! A mommy and a daddy and two brothers and sweet big sister Zoe! And they could never imagine life without YaYa in it!!!

Look at YaYa in her traditional Chinese outfit!

I think she is one of the cutest babies I've ever seen in my life! After Husband met her in the airport when they came home from China he looked at me later in the car and said, "Boy that little YaYa sure is cute! Is our baby gonna be that cute?" in a joking way. Then I said, "I don't know! How can you get any cuter?!"

Family Fun is instant with a big family!

Beach Baby! I don't think YaYa would ever have seen the ocean unless someone got her out of that orphanage and say YES, WE WILL TAKE YAYA, NO MATTER WHAT! I'm so glad the Trammel's did!

And by the way, YaYa CAN walk! Praise the Lord. We believe little YaYa to be healed in the Name of Jesus, every part of her body. Praise God!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adoption stories...Lily Yeatts

I love adoption and I love meeting the families that go get the babies and I love seeing their journey, reading their blog, etc. But my favorite thing to do is see photos of before they were adopted and then a year or so later! The change is not just physical, of course, it is life-changing, radical change from the inside out! I believe that so many could have been rescued just in time, due to life-threatening conditions they are up against and not able to get the care they need in the orphanage. There is nothing more beautiful than a child blooming right before's like God Himself breathing life again into their little souls! So I thought you might like to follow a few of my friend's stories! And I would love to add your photo to this post...

Meet Lily Yeatts! This is Lily when they first adopted her last year! This is her big sister with her, so precious, holding her up because she is so weak due to her heart problems. I'm so glad they got her! Lily came from the same orphanage as my Lily and Hope!

Here her parents are signing the papers! Little Lily kept covering her eyes from the light.

Now look at her a year later!!! Praise the Lord!!!

All the kids! What a blessed family!

You can read more about their journey to get Lily and Mia years ago on their blog.

July in pictures

Teaching Po how to kiss! It's my pleasure!

Po and big sister.

This is her new thing. She is learning how to move that upper lip!

I think somebody's jumpsuit is too little!!!

New face. Again, she has never made faces like this. Learning how to use her new mouth!

This fan was broken, but after Lily heard that, she fixed it! No one will ever squash her dreams in life, I can tell you that right now!!!

Lily loves a bowl with a spoon. This is her third bowl this day.

Scooping out the last bit. This is salsa her uncle makes. I wonder if he has anyone else that eats it by the bowlful with a spoon!

Lily with her "baby" in the "baby stroller!"

I gave Lily a peach and later noticed this was all that was left on the table!!! She could teach my other kids a thing or two for sure!!

Another night when Po should be asleep, but she's rather get into the kids' school supplies!

Po should be asleep, but she likes to wake up about two hours after she went to bed and cry for me! So I go get her!!!

Giggles with GuGu (that's big brother in Chinese)

When I see your face
There's not a thing that I would change
Cause you're amazing
Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

COUSINS!! Look how beautiful Lily is.

Po "learning."

Po with her Mongolian hair do!

Po loves church. We go to the chapel where people go who don't want to sit in the sanctuary. But Po gets too loud for even that. We have to put her in nursery soon. But if she cries, I don't think I will be able to handle it. So we might be back here.

Po said there is no way she was touching those Wal-Mart buggies!

Tough girls wear pink!

Po prefers healthy turkey wrappers from the trash.

Hope and Daddy going down the slide at a friend's house. She loved it. No fear!

Hope loves to play with Phoebe!

Lily going in for her new student interview at school!

Here is the application she had to sign!

Lily is signing her application for Victory Christian School!!!

Po with a bow!

She has learned how to turn on the water at Aunt Jimmie's house!

Po watches as Rob and cousin Wes play Wii. She toddles around room to room seeing what's going on!

Pat a cake!!! Throw it in the pan! Daddy taught that to her.

Rollin it up!

This is my fav outfit right can it get better than a vintage Hello Kitty shirt and bubble shorts?!

Before we adopted Lily, we weren't sure she could even draw a smiley face. We didn't know the extent of her mental delay that the orphanage labeled upon her. Now she is drawing mini R2D2s!

Po walked over to this deflated swim toy and laid down on it like this. She just stayed there for a while. She loves new textures!! It was so funny!

I love this photo of Hope. Look at this precious baby in her cute pajamas!!! Don't you want to go get one?

Lily planting flowers! She is loving life and SOOO smart!!!

Perfect and precious head to tiny Chinese feet!!!