Monday, March 31, 2014

The Other Side

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I've had this post swirling around in my head for almost two months now, but simply haven't been able to find the time or energy to figure out exactly how to write it. You see, as an adoptive mom, it's very important to me to protect my children's stories in the best way I can. I try to be very intentional about what I do or don't share with the world. Along the way, I've made many mistakes with this, sharing too much I think, so I've gone back and forth about whether or not I should write this post at all. BUT, when it comes down to it, I've always seen this blog as a way to connect with others going through a similar journey. I've been fortunate to "meet" people who say our story has been a big part of what led them to adopt. I've also been on the other end of that where I've "stumbled" upon someone's blog and God spoke directly to my heart through their words. That being said, if what I have to say can help ease some other adoptive mama's mind and heart or make them feel less alone then it will be worth it.

There was such an intense longing with Gideon's adoption. We had been through years of infertility, lost our precious baby, and had to fight so very hard to become his mama and baba. The moment they walked him into the room, my whole world became instantly brighter. I fell head over heels in love with him long before that moment, but it was instantly intensified to a place I didn't even know existed. And that love has just continued to grow from each day going forward. He IS my heart.

This time has been, well....different. We entered into this adoption process in quite a different way. We felt God nudging our hearts when we'd only been home with Gideon for about 6 months. I thought, "NO WAY!" It is too soon! But when it came down to it, we knew that in our life, when God says GO, we would say YES! I wrestled with that choice constantly thinking that maybe Gideon didn't have enough time with just us. Maybe I didn't have enough time with just him, but we knew it was what we were supposed to do. 

When we were presented with Bishop's file, VERY QUICKLY, I felt panic, but Ryan fell instantly in love. We had 72 hours to make our decision and we took it down to the last hour. Fear was paralyzing me, but I didn't want fear to be my deciding factor. Through lots of intense prayer and talking it through with one another, we knew God was saying he was ours. Even after making that decision though it took me several months to feel a connection to him. I realize some people may read to this point and start thinking how awful of a person I must be. If you're already thinking that, I warn you to just stop reading now because it gets worse. 

I'd read stories about adoptive parents not feeling connected to their child for quite some time even after having them in their arms and to be really honest I judged them harshly. Not out loud, but in my mind I thought how terrible. How could you possibly feel that way!?

Well, let me tell you something. I was about to learn my lesson. After a VERY long wait to get all of the necessary paperwork to bring Bishop home, there was a mama bear fight that grew in me. I cried many times at the injustice of stupid paperwork being what kept me from holding my boy in my arms and getting him out of his current circumstances. I really feel that God used that time to grow my connection to him. Looking back, I am so grateful for that time. So when the big day came I was anxious to finally see his face and hold him in my arms. I couldn't wait to get there. I was nervous about what changes it would bring for all involved. I was scared of how Gideon would react. But I was excited to see his face. I was excited he would finally be ours forever. 

We walked into that room and saw him and when they placed him in my arms I felt....


Hold on, this couldn't be right. This was a child I had fought for for almost a year. He was my son. He was Gideon's little brother. We had prayed for him and waited for this very moment for what felt like forever. How could I feel this way!?

As he cried and thrashed to try to get away from me, the stranger he was looking at with his fearful eyes, all I could think was no no no no no! This isn't right. What have we done? I didn't feel compassion or the feeling that I wanted to calm and comfort him. I wanted to hand him back to his nanny whom he obviously loved and run far far away. In the long 45 minutes it took to get him to calm down, I was frozen. I literally didn't know what to do. So I just did what I did with Gideon, hoping it would snap me back into reality so I could be what he needed in that moment. I sang Jesus Loves Me to him and held him close, but it didn't work. So, I walked him to a different room and sat down with him in my arms. I kept looking at his face, those eyes that were searching for something in mine to tell him he was going to be okay, but it wasn't there. My sweet Gideon came over and brought him his bear and rubbed his head saying the words he should've heard from his Mama, "It's okay Bishop. It's okay." I just held Gideon close and cried with Bishop. The tears were for the sweetness in my compassionate child who knew what to do when his Mama didn't, but they were also for all the times I harshly judged others for feeling exactly as I did in that very moment. 

I went through the motions from that minute forward...holding him, rocking him, feeding him, bathing him, changing him, until it was bedtime that night. It was then, with my parents and husband, that I was finally able to let it all out. I just sobbed and said what a horrible person I felt like for feeling this way. I prayed that it was just the shock of everything changing so quickly. I got on my adoption boards that I belong to and bravely put it all out there, hoping I wasn't the only one. Some of the ladies instantly added me to a Safe Haven group where I learned that about 90% of adoptive parents feel exactly like I did. A dear friend said something I will always remember..."Adoption is beautiful and it is redemption, but it is not natural so why would you expect it to feel natural. Give yourself grace."

Even after knowing I wasn't the only one to ever not love their child right away, I still felt like something was wrong with me. I mean, I didn't feel at all like this with Gideon. Well, through my social workers and other adoptive families, I learned that my experience with Gideon is actually the exception. I am so grateful for what we instantly shared. I guess I naively assumed it would be the same with Bishop.

I asked a dear friend of mine if I should write about this because, like I said, I never want to share something that could potentially be detrimental for my children to read. So, I figured I would wait. Surely in a few days, I will get to the other side of this and feel differently. I just knew that would be the case. Well, the days turned into weeks and weeks and weeks. I was still "faking it til I made it". I knew enough to know that Love is an intentional choice. Once you go through the motions long enough, surely the feelings will follow. Well, what I've learned is sometimes that takes a very long time. But that's okay. I was, immaturely, indulging in my dislike, instead of CHOOSING love regardless of his behavior. I see how this could definitely put a distaste for me in your mouth, but I'm trying to keep it real in the interest of hoping to help other mamas. Do yourself a favor and try your best to pull out of that funk as soon as you possibly can. Your kids deserve it, but so do you. And if you can't do it yourself, seek help. Contact me if you have no one else to help you. 

We have been VERY fortunate to have a few friends who have very intentionally been walking on this journey with us, literally day by day. They know there are many things they CAN'T help us with, but there are things they can do like coming over to spend a morning just carrying the burden with me, grabbing some groceries for us when they are shopping for themselves, bringing us dinner on a rough day, among other things. Having this help has been instrumental in helping me number one...remain sane and number two...pulling myself out of the yuck! So if you are not being offered this help, please ask someone for it!

Let me be clear, even through all of the trauma Bishop is experiencing (that which I will not discuss on the blog in detail) there really is nothing unlovable about him. He is funny and sweet and kind(when he wants to be). He is as deserving of my love as Gideon was from the beginning. 

We have been a family for almost two months. Things are slowly changing. I have more patience for his challenging behavior. I find myself smiling at something he has done or just his pure cuteness. I talk more lovingly about him and the sweet and funny things he does. I want to be the last face he sees on his surgery day and the first face he sees when he wakes up. I wouldn't have it any other way. I spend lots of time kissing him on his cute little cleft lips and hugging him and walking around with him strapped to me in the Ergo. We dance together and laugh together and act silly together. 

We LOVE together.

And the best part is...

I'm not faking it anymore.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

GUEST POST: I'm Not Advocating For A Stranger Anymore

*Please forgive me for the strange way my blog is posting stuff lately. I just don't have the time or energy to invest in figuring it out right now. ;)

I was told there were no flights out of Beijing on March 12th. No flights? How could that be? What that meant was that if we really wanted to travel on that day, our trip that would have been a 13 hour plane ride followed by several hours in Chicago followed by a 2 hour flight to Philly just increased by about 10 hours. We had the worst itinerary ever—an early morning domestic flight to another city in China, an 8 hour layover, and then a flight to Chicago and then our flights home. Great.
When I called my friend and traveling companion to tell her the bad news, she suggested we make the best of it, get out of the airport, make it a fun layover, see the town. Then, we both remembered that he lived there. But, there was no way we’d get permission to visit him. I was sure of it.
But, apparently, God was in charge of our itinerary all along.

He was anxious to greet us when we arrived, hurrying to put on his shoes. The boys in his room were calling his name. They all knew he had special visitors coming to see him. He was a little quiet at first and hindered by the gap created by our English and his Mandarin. But, chocolate fixes lots of things. He smiled big, showing off his dimples and at least two Enlish words as I handed him a big chocolate bar from America.
Thank you!
We spent an hour with him, hearing from him about how he likes math and basketball. We saw his classroom and his prize winning handwriting assignment. I saw his second grade workbook where he was doing math more advanced than my son the same age is doing in his American 2nd grade class. I saw the love his teacher and caregiver have for him, a boy who has had a rough start but who very much seems like a normal, active little guy. We heard from him that most of his friends including his best friend have already been adopted. We asked him if he wanted a family, brothers and sisters, a big move to America.
I touched his face, tickled his cheeks, patted his head, silently prayed over him in person as I have prayed from the other side of the world.

I told someone there that I thought he’d make a wonderful son and how sorry I was that he was still waiting. That someone typed something into a phone and showed it to me, unable to say it without the help of technology…or unable to say it aloud in the presence of others.

It read in Chinese:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

At the end of our visit, we walked him back to his room. I gave him another chocolate bar to save for later and told him how special he was and that we came all the way from America just to see him. It wasn’t about us at all; we aren’t all that. But, I wanted to give him that. I wanted him to know he was worth a trip across the world.
Today’s his 8th birthday. I wonder if he saved any of his chocolate bar to eat today. We prayed for him as a family today, praying that his family sees his face and that God would show Himself sovereign over their itinerary too and reveal to them that he is worth a trip across the world and back again to make him a beloved son.

To read more about my commitment to advocate for him, please see this post.
To read more about my first post about him, please read this post.
If you want to know more about adopting him, please contact me. I would love to share more pictures, some video, and everything I know about him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I love my dad

My dad said something so incredibly significant to me the other day. He said, "I will never again think...oh it's just a one year old. They'll adapt. They'll be fine. They won't remember."

These last two years have been so incredibly difficult for our family. So worth every tear, frustration, fight to get paperwork resolved, and much more. But just so hard. Unless you've been through it, it's truly hard to relate.

With that simple phrase that my father spoke, it's like he finally saw, for the first time in two years, exactly what we've gone through...what our kids go through...the loss, the fear, the intense grieving, the moments of "oh no..what did we do", the deep longing, the fulfillment of that longing, the intentional way we parent(that doesn't make sense to a lot of people) and everything else that's involved.

Such incredible validation and acceptance in those simple words. So so grateful for his words and his heart for our family.

***By the way, Happy Birthday Dad!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Leaving Tomorrow

Prayers for safe and calm travels tomorrow are much appreciated! We have to wake the boys up at 6am to take a three hour van ride to HongKong and then entertain them in the airport for 2 1/2 hours before boarding our 15 hour flight to Newark and then our final flight to BWI. HOME SWEET HOME! Thank you all for joining us on this journey. Your prayers and love and encouragement have been felt from so far away. We love and appreciate you all! Please continue to pray for our family as the real journey has only just begun!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Prayers please!!!

We are leaving in an hour to take Bishop back to the doctor. Miraculously, through all of your prayers and God's sovereignty, he woke up with much less rash on his face. Praise God! 

We gave him some benadryl last night and will again today before the appointment. Praying for favor with the doctor that he sees no need to do anything further. Both boys still have a cough, but it seems we are all on the mend. Oh and we all slept through the night for the first time. It felt amazing!

I will update once we know more. Thank you all for keeping us close to your hearts these last couple of weeks. We feel your prayers and we appreciate your encouragement more than you know.

UPDATE.... So, we walk downstairs to meet our guide to take us to the doctor again and she says, "We don't have to go!" She said the doctor called her and asked her if she would look at Bishop and make a determination. SAY WHAT??? But it works for me! We just have to make a quick stop there to pick up our paperwork before heading to our consulate appointment tomorrow morning at 10am. 

So, we went back upstairs and wiped off the makeup I put on the couple of spots he had left. LOL

Thank you SO much for praying!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Ok prayer warriors...we need you now more than ever!!! Bishop and Gideon were seen at the medical evaluation today and since Bishop has a rash they are treating it as a situation of a "possible serious communicable disease". They are making us come back tomorrow to reevaluate and if they determine it could be a problem (even thought we are certain it isn't...I mean, Hello....Gideon had it too. it's obviously from him) then they are going to make us take him to a chinese hospital to run a bunch of tests on him. WE DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT!!!! We have seen what a chinese hospital looks like last year and i am not taking my babies back there! 

SO, please PRAY PRAY PRAY that they see improvement tomorrow!